W Is the New Scarlet Letter

Gamer Bling is totally jazzed, because WotC has made it possible to create a character as challenging and rewarding to play as a Chalana Arroy healer from the glory days of RuneQuest.

See, characters in RuneQuest were very focused on their god. Not in the frosting-on-the-cake “I worship Pelor so I can cast light” sort of way, but in the deeply meaty “I seek to emulate the god I worship, so I will wield the weapons he wields, eschew the weapons of others, employ the powers in his portfolio, smite his enemies and aid his friends” sort of way. Gamer Bling’s character followed Yelmalio, god of mercenaries, truth and light (specifically a cold light, as in the winter sun). As such Gamer Bling’s character wore pale yellow, wielded a spear and a bow (the weapons of the sky), could never lie or wield a sword, was constrained only to love followers of a deity of earth, challenged creatures of darkness on sight, and pursued a very restricted diet one day a week while worshipping his deity.

Gamer Bling brings this up because one of the deities in RuneQuest was Chalana Arroy, the goddess of healing, love, and fertility. She was—and this may be a hard concept for veteran D&D grognards to understand—nonviolent. Her followers could not harm another creature save in self-defense, and some would not even do that. Think Gandhi. The point here is that Chalana Arroy was not an NPC goddess; hers was a viable, playable route to power for characters. Gamer Bling had one of his players try that approach. It was an amazing example of admirable role-playing under a challenging situation.

Gamer Bling brings this up because this nonviolent approach is now a viable option in 4e. Yes! 4e D&D has blazed a trail into the most pious of divine archetypes: the pacifist disciple! Stoke!

Is this a perfectly nonviolent character, one that never causes anything negative to happen to another, not even a runny nose? Well, you could play one that way. It would be tough, but you could do it. But then again, if we’re going to talk morality, are you not still harming another if you bless and buff your friends to do the task on your behalf?

Without artificially constraining yourself as above, it is nonetheless easy to create a character that is effective in combat, yet never stains his hands with the blood of others. You don’t even need to carry a weapon!

If Gamer Bling recalls correctly, Jeanne d’Arc would be one example of an effective martial leader who did not actually fight. A more recent example would be Lewis Nixon of the 101st Airborne, as highlighted in Band of Brothers.

Instead, you can employ the many new power options in Divine Power that have an effect on combat, yet do not have typeset within them the dreaded bracket-W-bracket of blood-W-letting.

This will totally be the very next character that Gamer Bling plays. Totally. Gamer Bling wants to advance many levels without ever so much as pimp-slapping a kobold.

Despite what you may think, the nonviolent cleric has many weapons in his arsenal. They’re just weapons like guilt and divine retribution instead of, say, a ten-pound knobbed slab of iron through your skull.

Let’s step through the Heroic tier, just for giggles (that’s levels 1-10 for you non-g4mers out there). In order, the nonviolent cleric could grab the following powers, all from Divine Power:

Channel Divinity: Healer’s Mercy – multiple healing effects.
1 At-Will: Astral Seal – lowers a target’s defenses.
1 At-Will: (see below).
1 Encounter: Bane – target suffers to-hit penalty.
1 Daily: Moment of Glory – area effect with ally protection and enemy knockdown.
3 Encounter: Astral Flare – area effect that dazes.
5 Daily: Halo of Consequence – attack penalty plus daze effect.
7 Encounter: Price of Violence – reaction to blind someone who just hit an ally.
9 Daily: Dismissal – lock the target into an extraplanar prison (save ends).

Are these effective? Well, last Gamer Bling heard, being locked in an extraplanar prison kind of hampers one’s plans for world domination. And dazed is a very effective curse to place on someone in 4e. And yet not a one of these powers does even a single temporary nonlethal hit point of damage.

Sadly, as of PHB and DP, there is only one non-damaging at-will attack available, although Gamer Bling is confident that your DM will happily strip the damage from any other at-will power you wish. Maybe he’ll give you a bit of an extra f/x boost, too. This lack of nonviolent at-will powers means that this path is not particularly good for humans, as it cramps the value of their bonus at-will attack.

On the other hand, the nonviolent approach is backed by feats. Defensive Grace gives you a bonus to your defenses whenever you use the Healer’s Mercy power. Pacifist Healer gives you a huge boost to your healing powers at the cost of punishing you for dealing damage to a bloodied enemy (which you’re not going to do anyway). There are other feats, too, which are race and/or deity specific and thus not listed here.

For your paragon tier, try the Compassionate Healer, which has not a single pip of damage in any of its powers or abilities. As for the Epic tier, Divine Power has a lot of nonviolent-suitable options, but Gamer Bling has a soft spot for Saint. Mainly because it may be the only way he’ll ever get a halo.

For this build, you’ll need Wisdom as your top score, with Charisma second (for secondary effects and also to help you negotiate your way out of trouble before the steel starts flying). You could pretty much pitch Strength altogether, as far as Gamer Bling can tell. Hee hee hee!

So, in conclusion:

ATTENTION WOTC R&D!

Gamer Bling wants demands a new non-damaging at-will powah for clerics to appear in Divine Power 2!

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~ by Gamer Bling on 19 May 2010.

4 Responses to “W Is the New Scarlet Letter”

  1. The cleric in my current campaign did not build for being a non-combatant but he ended up this way because it gave him the biggest healing bang. He still does the occassional attack but by and large he avoids it because of the negative effects he gains for doing so. He seems to be enjoying the class build nevertheless.

  2. Genius. Love this!

    I’m not generally a fan of Clerics simply because I seem to have such difficultly role-playing one effectively. But this I could really get my teeth into. Going to have to generate one, right now.

  3. Apparently Mr Gamer Bling has forgotten he also had a Broo character with some amazingly bad stats (what was it? CHA = 1 or something?).
    I bring this up only so the readership can appreciate the RP depths that Gamer Bling is willing to descend.

    • Indeed. In another campaign Gamer Bling rolled a 4 for his elf archer’s constitution score, and managed not only to stay alive, but achieve Rune Lord / Rune Priest status… without ever raising the score from its pitable state!

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