Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Priestly discounts in Felltower

Ulf Sigurdson follows in a long line of clerics in my game who want special benefits for being priests of the Good God.

I've heard this from both directions:

- the church should give us stuff for free, or at a discount, because we're doing work for the Church. Free healing, free holy water, free information, etc.

- people should give the PCs stuff for free, at a discount, or otherwise help or volunteer to the best of their ability because they have a cleric in the group, and the cleric is doing the work of the Good God.

Often it's from the same PCs. So money and resources flow in two directions - one to the church, in the form of the PCs, and from the church, to the PCs. Oh, and anything the PCs recover will belong to them, and if it's valuable to the church, the church should pay a premium to get it. So the PCs want a "church servant" discount from the church, and a "church representative" discount from everyone else, and a "church servant" premium for loot, plus a reward for anything good done, plus free healing . . . and anything they find is theirs to keep.

Yes, one guy tithes to the church. It's a fraction of the hoped-for recompense for being a cleric, or from having a cleric in the party, or from doing good deeds in return for rewards.

I asked in game yesterday . . . is this all a thing from somewhere? My background in historical reading doesn't put anyone into this position.

Game-wise, Clerical Investment gives a +1 reaction from those who respect your faith (which Ulf gets), lets you buy holy water for 1/2 price, potentially favorable prices for selling things to the church (but only certain items, church-specific, and not for cash - see DFRPG Exploits, p. 15-16). Holy Warriors don't get this, as they aren't clerics.

That's it.

No discounts on anything else.

No special price back in cash.

No special help from people unless that +1 reaction roll dictates it (and often won't, if you're backed with 3 skeletons and a mob of over-armed folks including half-naked barbarians and shabby scouts and so on.)

Do you get that +1 from the church? Yes, and it's already included in how I do church interactions.

So that's all you get. It's still pretty substantial, but it's far from what PCs ask for. But it's what they get. "We're on a mission from God!" quotes are appreciated, but not necessarily rewarded. It won't always work, either, even with the +1. Like the Queen said, "Don't you blaspheme in here!"


  1. "I asked in game yesterday . . . is this all a thing from somewhere? My background in historical reading doesn't put anyone into this position."

    Kinda, but kinda not. It's more "What can a Priest get away with..." same with Nobility depending on the time period. Usually though they would have some level of Claim to Hospitality among the flock and churches.

    Now, you could offer an Advantage, something from the "Claim to Hospitality"/"Better Equipment" lines if you wanted to allow Ulf (or any other Cleric) to have it. I usually do, but it comes with certain responsibilities and expectations.

    And I allow Holy Warriors to buy Clerical Investment if they want, after all, they have pretty much everything else Clerics have (I also let them upgrade Holy Might to Power Investiture and pick up spells, but I consider Holy Warriors and Clerics to be two sides of the same coin)...

    1. I get that people try to get away with what they can get away with, but the assumption that the church and all believers charitably support delvers and also reward them is just a weird view of society. It's like having the Church *and* all believers as free Patrons, with no commensurate duty or responsibility. How would that even work?

      I don't allow the upgrades you do, otherwise "Holy Warrior" and "Cleric" blend too much for my taste. Plus the appropriate lenses are basically meaningless.

  2. Honestly, I suspect the root cause is the fact that Clerical Investment is not an optional part of the template.

    Most players likely see it as dead points, and given that it's obligatory, it probably feels like a point tax to them.

    1. So being required to buy an advantage that gives you template-defining, concrete, repeatable, fairly-priced in-game abilities is a point tax?

      I think players that see it that way are really being unreasonable. It does stuff, it just doesn't do more than 5 points worth while costing 5 points.

    2. Clearly the verisimilitude of the advantage being the justification for Clerics getting to do the cool things they are supposed to be able to do is of such value that numerous players haven't tried to wrest every drop of benefit out of it, leading to you to wonder why people keep trying to do that.

  3. Looks like players trying to reap the benefits of standing on both sides of the fence. To the church they want to be seen as non-church employees and thus paid like contractors and also not beholden. To the citizenry they want to be seen as an extension of the church to get all the benefits (for themselves) the church might be able to finagle. If I were encountering this it would probably result in the church coming after them as impostors and pretenders. They get one of "You outsiders dare lay claim to what belongs to the church?" or "You are an extension of the church so anything you gain in our name belongs to us, hand over all your treasure or face excommunication/persecution/execution." In a roleplay oriented campaign. In a megadungeon which glosses over town and other non-adventure matters I would just make it clear I don't care what you think you deserve, the religion stuff is part of the glossed over town portion and just like there are no consequences in town, there is no benefit of religion except as proscribed by the adventuring rules.

  4. My take? I would give some occasional extra perks (perhaps reduced costs on a piece of gear, hospitality from a fellow worshipper, etc), but only to the actual PC who had the advantage - his non-faithful friends get zilch. Would that help everyone? Nope. But it's an individual advantage, not a team one. Ymmv.

    1. I figure that comes up when a reaction roll dictates it - and a +1 seems tiny but it could take you up a reaction level.

      I could just do without people asking for benefits, and begrudging the church for not giving them everything for free just because they kill evil monsters sometimes. It's not a small thing, because it takes real time out of our time every social interaction and every trip to town.

    2. Fair enough, especially given your play schedule. When you are trying to get to the action, it would just drag the game down. I agree that it's decent "value for points" - funny how "+1 to dodge" seems like a lot but "+1 to reaction" doesn't. Everyone wants something for nothing!

  5. this reminds me of an adage among general contractors... avoid working for the three Ps: politicians, police,en, and priests. None will pay you, because each is on the side of righteousness, and can convince themselves it is only fair to get the work for free.


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