Playtest: Priestess Class Feedback

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MichaelPfaff
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Joined: 2011-07-17 01:55
Playtest: Priestess Class Feedback
Alex, here's my first piece of feedback for the Priestess (wasn't sure if you were going to set up a specific sub-forum for this or not, if so, just move this thread there): No one wants to play it. Everyone thinks it doesn't have much potential as an "adventuring class" and seems more suited as an NPC class. Here's one player's initial feedback: //Alright...having read through the class description for Priestess I have to say "Who would want to play one?" Seriously. It might be okay for a heavy role playing based game... but then why include all the new spells for this class. The Priestess would sit at home while everyone went out and then deal with their issues once the PCs returned from the field. Keep this one as an NPC class and now we're cooking with fire. Mages have an incredible selection of extremely powerful offensive and defensive spells... and wands, staves, etc usable only by them. They are arguably the most powerful class in DnD at high level. The Priestess on the other hand has a spell list geared more for healing, buffing and informational magics. She has d4 HD like the mage, cannot wear any armor, attacks as a mage, and has a crappy weapon list. She is basically a non-fighting cleric that gets a few new spells to choose from and gets one at first level... all this for a higher XP requirement to level than her clerical counterpart. Don't get me wrong, I think the class has a lot of flavor, but as an _adventuring_ class it leaves a lot to be desired.// Yikes. Not sure how much feedback I'm going to get from my players on this one if no one is interested in playing it. On the other hand, I don't know what I would change to make the Priestess more desirable as an adventuring class. They get Turn Undead, which this player overlooked, but he's right in that this class if far more suited as an NPC who awaits the PCs return home, or a henchman healer who follows the PCs around. This may have been exactly what you were going for with this class, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to convince them to play one, when they could play a Cleric, get nearly the same stuff and have far less XP to obtain to level up. Maybe I'm missing something? Can you give me more insight into the goals of the class and design thoughts? Are there other things being overlooked that make up for the character's lack of "out in the field" worthiness (outside of being a healer). Cure Light Wounds is pretty damn useful at 1st Level, but is it worth losing most of the Cleric's combat abilities to have that? Not sure. Might this class be better with access to some divine "offensive" spells at earlier levels? I'm working on trying to get someone to play the class, "Let's see how it works in play..." But, getting someone to bite the bullet might be tough. :/ Nike Air Max 98
Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Hi Michael!
Thanks for your feedback!
I'm not hugely surprised that no one wants to play it as their main PC if they are focused on its immediate power. It definitely starts off weak. Most players prefer tough, action-oriented PCs.
That said, here is some reasoning behind the class:
1) The Priestess is a common archetype in fantasy settings. She feels a valid niche in the campaign world.
2) Some players genuinely enjoy being healer-support classes. If you have such a player in your group, they'll gravitate to the Priestess.
3) Over time, the Priestess' vast array of spells more than compensates for her weaker combat powers.
4) At lower levels, the Priestess makes a very good henchman character, while your main character is of a different character type. In our playtest campaigns, we have generally found that each PC has at least 1 and often 2 or 3 henchman and classes like Priestess were very popular. At higher levels, the Priestess comes into her own. Again, in our playtest campaigns, we often found that a mid-level PC would die and a henchman would then become the new PC.
Given what you've described about your group, I think the best way to introduce the Priestess would be to create an offer up a low-level Priestess henchman!
The Priestess' spell list purposefully excludes offensive magic at low level to avoid her over-shadowing the cleric and mage.

James C. Bennett
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Joined: 2012-01-17 20:17

From the description given above, I have at least one player in my group who would be all over this class. She's a nurse in real life, and played a pacifist healer in our 4th Ed campaign that just came to an end. Unfortunately, I won't be starting up my ACKS game for at least a few weeks, so I don't know if I could provide any playtesting feedback in a timeframe that would be useful to you (which is why I didn't volunteer in the first place). But I definitely intend to offer this class as an option to my players, and would love to see the playtest version.

MichaelPfaff
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Joined: 2011-07-17 01:55

James, this class definitely mirrors the "pacifist" healer from 4E. There are even some flavor bits about the default deity provided that reflect an ideology of non-violence. So, I definitely feel like there's some good potential here for players who like that kind of thing. If you can get a group going and sign up for the Preview Night games, I would recommend taking a look at the Priestess.
I guess I just picked the wrong playtest class for my particular group. My guys and gals seem to prefer the action-oriented classes. Oops! :)
Alex, I'll take your recommendation and put a Priestess NPC out there for a henchman and see if I notice gameplay differences than based-off-of-reading analysis.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Michael, would you prefer to playtest a different class? There's still several available. Let me know.

MichaelPfaff
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Joined: 2011-07-17 01:55

Instead of opening my big mouth, let me take a poll from my players and see what //they// would be interested in playing, since they are the ones who I'm trying to get to actually playtest the damned thing. ;) I'll get back to you.
What's left available that needs playtesting?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

The remaining classes are:
Dwarven Spelunker (a dwarven explorer-thief)
Elven Enchanter (an elven magic-user)
Elven Ranger (an elven explorer)
Mystic (a bene gesserit-type monk)
Warlock (an evil caster suitable for Conan-esque settings)

MichaelPfaff
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Joined: 2011-07-17 01:55

Alex, we had a close call between Warlock and Dwarven Spelunker. So, they are down for either.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I'll send you the Warlock. Priestess re-opens for play-testing elsewhere.

MichaelPfaff
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Joined: 2011-07-17 01:55

Great.

Tywyll
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Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12

Are these playtests only open for the groups running the Demo games? I've just started (well we've done PC creation) an ACKS game with my group, though we are in Edinburgh so don't qualify for the Demo games.
BUT...if it's possible, I know a few players of mine who would love to get in on the Elven Ranger.

prototype00
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Joined: 2012-02-10 19:38

Hello,
I'm actually in Tywyll's group and had a blast with the character creation. On the strength of that I contributed to the kickstarter for the player's companion, and I was recently sent version 1 of the document, I'm just asking to check if I can share it with my gaming compadres so we can playtest the awesomeness within?
Cheers,
prototype00

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Tywyll, you can playtest the Player's Companion by becoming a backer on Kickstarter or by signing up to be a Registered Judge for the game. That entails sharing your name, location, and committing to run preview nights of ACKS at your local game store/con.
Prototype00, you can certainly share print copies but we'd prefer that folks not send the digital file around too much.

Tywyll
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Don't worry, I've already become a backer. :)

Tywyll
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Joined: 2012-02-06 14:12

As to the Priestess though... does she really need so much more xp than the Priest? The priest is so much more effective. Yes, she gets lots of spells, but pays for that with the loss of so much already. Does she really need to pay more xp too?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

All of the classes in the Player's Companion were built using the class creation rules in Chapter 4. If you are interested in why the XP costs work out how they do, it's fruitful to explore those mechanics.

luftmensch
Player's Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

Priestesses have a Divine Value Code of 4 and thus have very strict vows. The given example, Keeper of the Hearth Fire, cannot take a life.* Do ALL flavors of priestess have this pacifism vow? What are some other good examples of appropriate vows? This might be something useful to list with the different templates.
*Speaking of that no-kill rule, how strict is that. I assume a priestess is allowed to put down undead. What about beastmen and other inhuman monsters?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

The priestess is not supposed to take human or demihuman life. Beastmen and undead are abominations in the eyes of the Empyrean gods and should be put down! I'll update the rules to make that clearer.
PS The above partially stems from how much I detest in-game debates about the ethics of killing baby kobolds. Baby beastmen are brutish spawn that eat the weakest spawn in the brood, tear off their mother's teats in a feeding frenzy, and should be put down, too.

luftmensch
Player's Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

Wicked! That unique definition of "pacifism" says a lot about the implied setting of ACKS.
So are chaotic priestesses forbidden from murder, too?
I'd still like to hear a few more suggestions of moral restrictions of Divine Value Code 4 classes. For instance, I'm thinking about tweaking the Priestess* to make a chaotic ritualist of pseudo-Bacchus**. Would "the opposite of chastity" or "never be sober" be acceptable vows, balance-wise?
Thanks for the help!
*("Tweaking the Priestess" would be an awesome band name.)
**(Along with Chaotic "Maenad" Blade Dancers.)

luftmensch
Player's Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

Ooh! One more thing, since the standard Priestess isn't supposed to kill people "Combat Trickery (Incapacitate)" might be a good proficiency to add to her list.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

UPDATE:
In order to use spells and turn undead, priestesses must uphold the strictures of their order and their goddess. If the Judge has not specified particular religious orders in his campaign, the default priestess is assumed to be from the Keepers of the Hearth Fire, the order devoted to Mityara, Goddess of Civilization and Mercy. The strictures of their order are many. When in public, they must always wear the white mantles and shawls of their order. Every seventh day, they must keep a flame lit throughout the night, representing the light of civilization. They must refrain from the taking of human or demi-human life (Of course, beastmen, undead, and other monsters are abominations and should be put down!) And they must remain both chaste and celibate until they reach the rank of Mother (7th level).

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Luftmensch, regarding combat trickery, the priestess' fighting skills are so bad that it wouldn't be worthwhile for them to take. Plus I'd have to remove another proficiency to make room. All things being what they are, I left the proficiencies as is.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

UPDATE:
A code of behavior need not demand virtue – a class’s code could dictate strange or vile behavior if appropriate to the class’s concept. For example, a cultist class devoted to chaotic powers might require ritual sacrifices, or use of strange drugs. The Judge is the ultimate authority on the permissibility of any class’s code.

luftmensch
Player's Companion Backer
Joined: 2012-02-10 14:21

Excellent! That's exactly what I was hoping to hear.
Thanks!