Friday, January 17, 2020

RIP Christopher Tolkien

LONDON (AP) – Christopher Tolkien, who played a major role protecting the legacy of his father’s The Lord of the Rings series, has died. He was 95.
The Tolkien Society and HarperCollins UK confirmed his death but no details were provided.
Tolkien’s life work was closely identified with that of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien. He helped edit and publish much of his father’s writings after the science fiction and fantasy master died in 1973.
Among the books he worked on were The SilmarillionThe Children Of Hurin, and other texts that flesh out the complex world his father created.
He also drew the original maps that adorned the trilogy of books released in the 1950s.
Tolkien Society chairman Shaun Gunner said “millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us” so many of his father’s literary works.
“Christopher’s commitment to his father’s works have seen dozens of publications released, and his own work as an academic in Oxford demonstrates his ability and skill as a scholar,” he said. “We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed.”

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Great News Everyone! PvP is Coming...!

In our ongoing OSR D&D Fallen Empire campaign, players are in the level 4-level 5 range. One player has a decrepit motte-and-bailey castle with a few disgruntled peasants. They have notoriety in the city and there are fewer and fewer residents that are of a higher level. In let her words they are moving up in the world.

At this point they have been quite successful in their shenanigans, ventures and adventures.

But they’re starting to discuss their characters turning on each other... Like, one character has designs on that castle.

MUAHAHA everything is going according to plan!

Have you had / do you have players who eventually decide to go to war against each other?

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Moral Question

Is the use of a Philther of Love an inherently evil act?

If not, when is it OK to use one?

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Elias found Cheryl down at the stables where Christine had said. She had riding pants and high cowboy boots on and her riding helmet was hanging behind her head by the chinstrap. She had the same heavy denim shirt she always worked in, whether it was fifty degrees or a hundred. Her short platinum hair caught highlights from light coming in the open door. She was tacking up a Palomino, tall at the shoulder as Elias. The gelding was on crossties. Didn’t take his eye off Elias. Sometimes horses get a vibe from senses people don’t know.

Cher looked down behind her at Elias approaching and nodded to him, talking low to the horse and scratching him at the shoulder as she worked the halter over his muzzle.

“How are you, Cher?” asked Elias.

Hot today, Eli.” She didn’t look up from her hands. Come to think Elias was sweating just from the walk over from the house. “But the horses gotta get their work in.” She attached the breastplate.

“Christine said you wanted to see me,” said Elias.

“Let me tell you a story,” she said. “Maybe six years ago. It was wintertime. Had a horse named Kindred. He gave us a scare.”

“Oh?” asked Elias.

“He hadn’t eaten or drank or made for a couple days and his gums had gone white. It’s bad when they go white. But the vet came up, took a look and when she was here his bowel turned again and he seemed okay. She left, and I had a school board meeting, so I went and soon as I hit the 10, got a call from Christine, said he’d turned again. So I called the chairman and told him I had a sick horse, couldn’t make it.” Cher turned and picked up the saddle and put it over the pad on the gelding’s back. 

“I called the vet back in and she was there almost as soon as I was. Vet said it was fine and that he’d be fine. I didn’t know much back then but I knew if they turned twice it was real bad, you know? So I walked him and walked him and he would walk, but as soon as we stopped, he wanted to get down on his knees. Ohh, no you don’t! So I’d walk him some more. It was full nighttime and we’re out in the second ring and I’m talking to him and leading him around the edges of the ring. If a horse’ll graze then he’s okay, but Kindred put his muzzle down and sniffed; he didn’t want any. So that was two strikes. 

“I called Jim and he came home and by then Christine had the trailer hooked up to the Dodge and we trailered him in to Tucson. They put him in the stall where they check for colic, and he was already so bloated they had to squish him in sorta. They did the rectal and the ultrasound but we all knew he needed surgery. 

“They took him to the other stall to prep and they put the IV in and I started crying because, you know, you never know when it’s coming. That last day. He was only twelve.”

“That young for a horse?” asked Elias.

“Oh, getting on toward middle age maybe,” said Cher, tightening the girth. “He was a young twelve.” Elias saw maybe a tear in Cheryl’s eye.

“Well, he was laboring now. Probably more from nerves than pain. We walked him in to surgery. They know, Elias. They know. And he looked at me. Right in the eye he looked at me, and right through me. He looked at me as if to say, “Don’t worry, Mama. I’m coming back.” Not a hint of fear to him. Stoic, maybe. 

“So he’s in there and one of the ladies from the PTO, Edie Bowman came down. She has the Cross Beau Farm, up on North Cascabel Road north of Pomerene, to be with us, me and Kindred.

She was asking me about my presentation for the new field house and trying to keep my mind occupied.” She put her hand out to Elias to help her up into the saddle. 

“And I just stopped, and I put my hand on her arm to stop her. And I knew he would be okay. In a moment I just knew.” 

She braced on Elias’ shoulder and one stirrup. “Not 90 seconds later the surgeon called saying they were gonna sew him back up. There was no necropsy, which is when they start to die, and it was just a blockage. They cleared it and they were sewing him back up good as new.”

“Close call,” said Elias.

Cher mounted the gelding and made a clicking sound in his ear, spurring him right up to a trot. She called back to Elias, “Closer than anything this family’d ever had before Jim met you.”

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

I Stabbed Him In the Leg

Late on that languid afternoontime, Nesta sat against the curtain wall aside the gate, with knees drawn up and head bowed down, the seabreeze cooling her. Uncomfortable was she, inside and out. Her mistress then approached and was atop of her position ere ‘fore Nesta saw she had appearethed. Imogene sat down before her.

“Never trust a man of God when acting as a man of flesh,” she coolly said.

“Me never did and never will,” did Nesta then reply, but never raised her head to meet her master’s eye.

“It’s time to make your homage to the Duke.”

“And over that, my homage given ere direct to him, a priest will minister to that transaction, I suppose?”

“He will.”

She looked at Imogene, “Then what’s it mean? This homage? If between my Lord and me, there’s God’s own man to make a mockery of freely given hand?”

“Now perish!” Imogene then said, for second time this day. But here, in earnest did she grant. “These ways are the ways it’s done. Your insolence will cost me. And cost you, of course. But when you spend your reputation of your own, it’s yours to spend. Ask not for usury against my own supply, you wouldn’t mind!”

“I mind you, Imogene. I’m sorry for the folly me of questioning it.”

Imogene said, “Every man has place within the World. Tis God put down the order of the Firmament,” she said, looking up at skies unrestful now. “Some have man makes himself the order from ere Chaos where before the Gods firm hand. I mean to say, they said it in Antiquity like that. You knowest this from history, my charge?”

“Me aye, since I were very small, Cael Morth and some the tutors back at Wolvesey taught me this and other things from back in ancient times.

The girl continued thus, “My favorite is Juno, wife of Jupiter, and patron of the peacock, of all women and of Rome. For she was clever, and she loved us, Imogene. She gives us of our agency deliver out a babe, and gives us the ability to learn and grow our intellect – whacht men may scoff! But also did she have the failings of a woman, stark reminder to us always to be guarded ‘gainst our own weak failings, inspext[1] to our sex.”

“My favorite,” said Imogene, “is Leda and the swan. For Leda, she seduced by Zeus when in disguise, bore him two children: Helen and Polydeuces; but also did she bear for Tyndarus two children: Castor and the girl named Clytemnestra. Four children, each a hero or a consort to a hero be. Two men: One the king of mighty Sparta, and the other God to Greeks. She changed the ancient world through holding good fidelity to motherhood, and thought she highly now, despite her virtue take’d in subterfuge.

Came tears now from the Dame. “And now upon my afternoon in daydream wrought, and contemplating Odo and my heart, I feel a greater sistership to Leda than before.

“Now come with me and be presented to the Duke.”

And so she did. “Don’t you wish to know what thence transpired? When he came upon me, Imogene?”

She sighed. “…Non. Perhaps? I do not know!”

She spoke now not to Nesta, but herself. “For there is peace in letting that which will not change be also something one will never know. It’s done. There is no second act to play.

“But curious is she whose heart is twain: one side spurned by vile comedy, and one side t’ward his heart it doth remain. It’s worse to know than not to know, for half a heart beats firmer in our breast than none at all; however, God hast made from Adam woman to betray. And ere, within the matter of her heart, betray herself. It is our lot and pain.

“When men make feast of lamb, they are like wolves. They hunger, slaver, famished they of flesh. ‘Tis true of them, whichever were the lamb be food for stomachs or for loins. They have no high civility when the hunger in their case they feel for thee. They’re wolves.

“The lamb is slaughtered, dressed, and fed unto the wolf; the skin of her is tanned. The glover makes then iv’ry colored gloves from her, to separate the skin of precious youth from raunch and nast and slime. Tell me now, what purpose is the glove?”

Her Nesta tried to answer her, but Imogene was speaking to her naught.

“The glove protects the hands from fraudulence and base, and keeps good virtue good and whole, against poor custom and some down acclivities. But also from the touch of something greater: ere, good passion. Good passion dost it cloister off a woman from her wedded master.”

In daydreams then, did Imogene continue thus to speak now to herself: “Why then, do we wish ours to keep the glover’s wrought between ourselves and hands most gentle, Imogene? Ah, Genny! Would but thought this raptor would take to us and together make a roost! And so dazzled by him, Sunna in the Eastern morningtide, mistook his claws for plumage of the crest. He rent me, Leda! Ach! He rent me!

“But were this child here before me, Leda, gloved before she were in hand? Or were she now made shewn the fallen world, the foul fallen dignity, and gobbled up her virtue by a predatory swan? Were she made a roustabout by artisan of basest infidelities? Woulds’t she be Medusa, laid to rape, and then admonished for her fall? And he, Bayeux of deviltry, there residing up within the girl ere now?  She pregnant? What to say! Oh, Imogene, would William think of me, should bring him up an ingénue, when lioness the promised be?”

At this her squire shook her with great vigor. “Odo didn’t take my virtue, marm. I stabbed him in the leg.”

[1] Inherent.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Little Miracles

I posted this story before but I've fixed a lot of the verse.

At dawn the cocks did crow. And bantam Ebren added in his little voice to the refrain. The monks attended to their early prayers and chores, then came together for a morning prayer and breaking fast.

Each brother had his purview and Guy minded well coneygarth, the home to rabbits was it be. He fed them and then cleaned their little home. He brought the mess to compost there behind the second barn, the one that’s painted grey.

He lingered with the rabbits afterwards for precious moments take’d; his secret joy. He stroked the doe that he had named Biche-Tachetée (for she was brown with spots of white.) She was his pet and he’d be sorely gutted when to kill, to clean and dress her when her time became; but she would be delicious nonetheless.

In these three ages of the life this eyesome doe did Guytonnet reflect upon the days and nights and seasons of the World, and the births and deaths of men, and rise and fall of kings and even nations. All these things: the man, the king and country rose and fell anon.

God alone Eternal be.

Today would be the Service of eld St. Addai, he of Edessa were. He was a faithful servant of Our Lord whilst Christ was still a man who trode the World. This were a thousand years ago! There in Edessa lived a goodly king who was named Abgar. He had fallen ill with something horrid but the Scriptures don’t record its name. King Abgar sent his messenger unto St. Thomas, begging for Lord Jesus to come heal him. He could not be spared, but vested elseway into St. Addai healing power to abey the pox of sick and feeble men. Addai did heal King Abgar and the king was overcome by this great miracle. Right then and there did Abgar pledge convert to Christianity. All his people likewise underwent conversion when they heard about the miracle Addai performed through righteous power of Lord Jesus.

In those days, there were many great miracles that did inspire men around the realm to love and fear the Lord. But in our days we witness miracles as well, as Father did he shew. An instance close at hand is that the simple rabbit in the coneygarth: She makes with rabbit scat the fertile earth to feed the case of men.

She dost provide good counsel to the heart while she doth breathe, as Guy well knows.. She, when she in good season, issues forth a myriad of kits to bring her linage to forth. And in her noble end, she does make a hasenpfeffer dish with leafy dress to satisfy a king, and feedeth man again. And all these things did God put upon the Earth for Adam and his issue to enjoy in such a tiny pretty.

Multiplying out these miracles of life and death and of the time and season, Guytonnet could scarcely understand how anyone across Creation coulds’t deny the Lord our God His due. These miracles, of petty scale but great repeatability, easily a measured up to eld St. Addai’s great work!

Already Guy were on his knees and so he offered up a quiet prayer: “Lord Jesus, help me recognize that all my life’s miraculous.Me help appreciating You in every tittle, every jot, in all my earthly days. Amen.”

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Abbot and the Knight

Outside the monk’s good sanctuary, Piérrin took out a perfect aubergine from his musette, cleaved atwain it with exsanguinette[1], and crumbled off some salt upon a piece, a precious sumptuary for a lowman like the Abbott, who did sit below the salt. He drank him deeply from his red wine-filled decanter. Was blind he in this blackest hour, save for precious, the good stars above him. Le chemin de Saint-Jacques[2] had arisen recently to Father’s right, above the poplar trees his predecessors planted at St. Florentin’s fair founding back in eight-and-seventy, ninth century, while excellent King Rollo still athwarted throne of our sweet Normandy, the upper part. Also did a certain visitor[3], celestial, mark omen most corrupt and monstrous abid the fraught milieu!

God showed to Father Piérrin what needed him to see. It benignant, but discouraging: three horsemen riding on the western path. Ere, held they above the murk then torches high aloft. And as they neared within a quarter-lieu de poste, he saw the double lion rampant on the bloody field, the blazon of the Duke of Normandy, the Bastard William, and he knew the time drew dear; conclusionary actments were the near.

He drank up deep again and tossed the empty vessel to the yard, so chasing off some vermin scavenging who had come close, the carrion they thought would come to come for them to feed. The aubergine as well he dashed out to these snakes and vermin for his fill he’d take’d, from filling up on mortal victuals make, and further had he no more need where his path lead him trake.

He breathed a’deep and stood, now leaning on his staff of yew, what taller than himself, and straighter did it hew.

He walked deliberately to them as these three horsemen turned up Floren’s path and through the little gate of stone then front to shew the congregants withstand. Behind him he could hear upraising voices of his men and boys, and some kind of commotion aural bright and troubling made he there out to note that night.

The vanguard rider halted next to Piérrin. He had a blond mustache. “We almost could not find you in the dark. Have you run out of tallow for your candles, little fellow? Yes, it must be so. You would not hide from Baron Hamelin. No one who lives long as you could be so simple. Foolish alderman!”

“I have no need your brand of wisdom, Sir. The Lord dost guideth me, as he guides every one. Sir Knight, what shall I call you? For I wish to speak with you tonight at length.”

The knight said, “Thierry of Falaise, the second of the name, me Son of Thierry, son of Rollo. Do address me with my title for I earned it: I am Sir. I fought beside the Duke in two campaigns. I’m quite notorious within the conquered Lowland states.”

“Then why would you be as the errand boy the Bastard treat you nigh? William, Bastard be the Duke, has he you banished to the hinterlands because your mustache makes remind of nothing else but two thin pine cones with stem betwine?” The other riding men could not suppress a laugh. So Thierry glared to them at aft.

“I see that insolence runs in the communy, old man. Why, has your branded wether turned to manger, or now is he hiding still, perhaps beneath some petticoats within the nunnery? For so now, that is how we three took leave of him this afternoon behind: he hiding hind two drunkard women, throwing skirts traversely so that we would pause our interrogatories of his puny brain, conversely. Should tied around his neck a bell of brass so everyone could hear him pass. But he did bleat so, we thought not to expect to have this trouble.”

“Yes, he is a loud one,” Piérrin conceded. “And your thinking got you into this, so, mayhap, you leave thinking to your aldermen to get you out?” And Piérrin raised brow and met the gaze of Thierry proud, awaiting Thierry to ring out. But Thierry, he did not.

So on, our Piérrin: “But now, the younger man. Now, you may hear him, even ere now, making quite the racket in the doors of my fair little church. He plays there with his little friends, and well beneath that trouble for the Baron you to send. They play in dark when I am not around there to admonish them to be austere and keep their playthings rudimentary and stark.”

Now Thierry, did he out. “No more of this. Shall not you tease me any longer! Here: I have a writ from Baron Hamelin, and sealed by the Archbishop, giving way two men from every 40 from each monastery, from the service of the Scepter to service of the Crown. We are to conquer England and we’ll do it in this very year! It will be glorious, for William, and for God. They’ve heathens in the wilderness and pagans in the north. Harold, phony king himself, consorts with pagans down from Danish Marches and the Norse. This so our spies have told us, feeble man. Please now away, so we may take your lamb and just three more. And, of course, the oafish goon we see fled here before.”

Behind them, Father heard the breaking of a door frame. So he hastened.

“I have n’ether man for you.

“No, let me think. There is no oafish goon about but that which saddles on a jackass, overgrown, in front of me. I think he called his carcass Thierry, by the Lord! By Od! Ha ha!” He spun about his yew pole in a silly little jig.

And then as if to play him to remember through the fog of years he faked down now to gull the bull upon the courser here, with best men Occs and Oriental[4]: “Ah! You mean the boy! The little boy inside who plays with cock-horse and his wooden soldiers! He’s the one you mean to march him off to war! He’s just a toddler, teether, but a biter be! A whelp! A wet! A teary little thing! Or maybe you believe there’s mice inside, who with your commandeering them, will fight aside your pretty ponies and ward off the Angle-ish of Harold, who did win the throne whilst William sat bemoaning?”

Thierry watched the jig with mouth agape and did not know what of our Piérrin to make!

“Yes! Ye wish to march the mice, to march on English marches and their fens and moors, for with your brave vociferating yawping, they will rise up to the stature of a mercenary man and take them over, these our mice!

“But mice doth drown in wetlands, do they not? You’re wet, you are the wet one, Thierry, knight benighted of the Bastard! Nary do you ken what dost ye wrought! These mice be men? Do you believe your orders can? They can’t! Your bullying will come to naught!” teased Piérrin.

Now Piérrin stopped jigging baldly and presented up quite serious and stern. “For my boys in the commune are no soldiers. Not a one. They are not equal, ere, to peasant men who work the fields and trod the grooves behind an ox until their epoch has been done. They sit in quiet contemplation, Thierry, Sir Abomination! Never do their hands become as rough as peasants’, for they sit in hierarchy nearer to the Duke than earthworm workers in the mud and dust who feedeth you unprofitable eaters there within the upper crust!”

Thierry was gobsmacked. He had not been dressed this way by lowborn Abbots or their charges in his history!

“Pray, let me see that paper, good ye towheaded and mustached and side-burnished Sir Thierry. I wish to see the seal upon it with mine own yeux anciens, so I can be sure Archbishop has so blessed your holy expedition into Kent and Mercia and Wessex and Northumberland.”

“Very well, Gra’mpère.”

The knight brought down the writ to Piérrin’s eye level.

Fatal measure.

Father struck his fateful beat within the heart of goodly Son of Man, a little prayer he whispered out!

And quickly then did Piérrin strike Thierry reaching low, square in the head with staff of quarter yew! So well-astonished was the knight buffoon, the blow unhorsed him there in midnight’s gloom!

Using unseen thin and horny plate, shaved in the springtime from a palfrey’s hoof that needed shoe, embedded secretly by Piérrin within the quarter yew, the Father pierced this courser’s eye and slapped it in the head as well with yew he fell, sending it arrearing back into the other knights. Like ninepins as they flew! Father stepped beneath the beast of eighteen hands, a creature marvelous in peace or war. Marvelous the beast in stature and in majesty, but in the moment spooked and injured, reared it, and good Piérrin did roll and duck beneath. Brought he quarterstaff again upon Sir Thierry’s naked jaw, again and to the other side his yellow, hare lipped maw.

Piérrin, he grabbed the torch and set the tabard of this knight alight! And Father also rolled away and back up to his knee. His heart did race and blood came up into its proper case. For it had been a half a score of years and nine since he had fought another man so properly in crucial time.

Sir Thierry howled and rolled about. His courser came around again from scaring both the others, and its hoof came down quite squarely ‘pon the prone knight’s chest. No maille can yet protect a man from hoof that falls from such a mammoth beast. A case of iron or Italian steel might work, but he had owned, nor worn it not. And so Sir Thierry’s chest cracked sickly as the hoof did meet quite neatly with the ground beneath. It was a horrid sound! Red blood shot forth from Thierry’s mouth, alit there in the gloaming by the flames consuming Thierry in his body and his clothing. Some of Thierry’s blood hit Piérrin right in the eyes.  The courser, riderless, insensate,  bolted back the path to town and Piérrin did watch it go, its red and gold rump-cover now alight as well, and aft the beast it chased, the courser’s course directed by unruly Fate and running now, it galloped at amazing pace. It surely flew! Father breathèd heavily and leaned up upon the yew. Adrenaline began to drain. He used his browning cowl-sleeve to wipe the blood off from his face and brow.

He stood, but then was doubled over with exertion. Turned he fast away from pyre there, and then turned back to Thierry, snatched the writ up from his hand, and burned it in the fire that was even then consuming up the dying knight. He was to Hell.

Sir Thierry’s masque de mort was that of utter shock. His face was coated with his own black blood and bile, and his phlegm and yellow bile did erupt from him from time to time. Some wet thing there inside Sir Thierry popped and hissed repeatedly, like cackling of firewood the sound so wicked be.

Then Piérrin knelt down near Sir and tell’d the dying fellow,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword, and piercing even to dividing up asunder soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow; is discerner of the thoughts, intents and malintents of heart.[5] So goes the Word of God, Sirrah.”

He then could barely see through pyre’s burn the brothers finally freed themselves and running to his aid. He stood to greet them, open armed and shewing he was well to all his babes.

[1] A knife.
[2] The Milky Way.
[3] Halley’s Comet again.
[4] Occs and Oriental: East and West,
[5] Hebrews 4:12.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Actual Play Report - Fallen Empire Session III

Saturday September 27, we had our third installment of the Fallen Empire campaign based in the City of Port. And thanks to random tables, we were able to generate a whole fun night of adventure.

I had prepared to go back into the castle, Castle Triskelion. But I did know that soon (2-3 sessions) it would be Summer and new events would be happening in the city.

So for my own benefit, I rolled up what kinds of things would be happening in the summer so I could put some clues or foreshadowing in. I got:

  • large war (reasons TBD)
  • shortage (food or water)

Then we  all made random die rolls and we generated a rumor - that the Rugg family keeps a monster in the basement and is feeding people to it.

I decided that since one of the players owns a pub that's their base of operations, ale, wine and spirits were in good supply, but the BEER had stopped flowing!


The players immediately realized that the beer shortage was a cool mystery and possibly an opportunity for windfall profits.

So they went the the biggest brewery in the city and heard that the reason beer has dried up is that their main source of malted barley had stopped. That source is the fields about a day and a half out of town.

The dwarves rode out and found that there was an enemy army out there hanging out and burning the fields. about 500 peasants were displaced and about 100 were dead or dying.

One of the dwarves is friends with the head of the Merchants' Guild. He secured space for the refugees in the old disused custom houses.

The Wizard and her man went to the university to tell them about the army, but the head was somewhat unconcerned, saying that someone else would handle it- but if not they would.

The other dwarf went to the head of the Dockworkers and found that he knew what was going on and was going to send his men in exchange for money. 

Both dwarves were asked by their guild heads to become captains in the new army.

Finally the unguilded mercenary man spent a few days hunting down a merchant ship, some maritime weaponry, and some marines.  They took the ship and went to two towns down the bay and up a river and came back with 10,000 GP of beer which they then sold for 20,000 GP. 


They also met some Mermen and became real estate brokers on the way.

All in all a very Chris Tamm adventure and one that went better than I could imagine. All from scratch and a couple of random rolls. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

How Common Are Clerics?

How common are clerics?

In AD&D and going forward the official literature seems to indicate that people are busting out with miracles left and right. Every village has a cure light wounds guy. Every city has a raise dead guy. And so forth.

The simulationist in me balks at this. The gamist balks too.

If you have a guy running around healing broken legs and so forth (or even curing diseases) then that’s going to change the demographics of a town. It also means that being irreligious or unobservant is kind of out. I mean, miracles left and right, right?

Same with clean water and safe food and a diminished fear of dark and frightful places fraught with disease and the restless dead. In other words, things are way less scary than maybe they should be. More folks would be adventurous and fewer would need to become adventurers. The world would be tame, which doesn’t fit with d&d at all.

Worldbuilding-wise it means that the assumptions of danger and fear of the unknown are diminished. It means fear of harm and death are diminished for the characters in their world.

And at the table, the same reduction in fear of harm means that the risk - that which creates meaningful drama - is also lessened. Less drama = less fun.

Therefore I have decided to make spell-using clerics rare and restrict them further than that, but also give common folks some pseudo-cleric power. Like so:

Not every religious figure can perform miracles (cast spells.) Just a very few special men and women can do it - people like Moses and Jesus and some of the prophets. In fact if you look at the early cleric spell list you will see an abundance of spells simulate miracles performed in the Bible. In fact clerics who can perform miracles might be outcasts, hermits, or otherwise viewed with suspicion. People may offer to pay them to teach the secrets of their tricks.

FURTHERMORE, and this is important, these clerics can’t just bust off miracles whenever they want to. On adventures they can. In dramatic situations they can. But they can’t just heal your broken leg in town or force you to tell the truth when haggling over the price of donuts. Miracles only happen when you really need them.

But on the upside, clerics of all kinds have a chance to diagnose monsters from their studies, knowing something useful about a strange beast on 3-6 on d6. Turning is also linear rather than with a 2d6 triangle-shaped probability distribution so it’s more likely they can turn higher-level bad guys.

For lay people, if they are Lawful and attend church, they can hold undead, demons and devils at bay with a holy symbol as a cleric of half their level. They can’t turn or destroy these entities but can hold them away indefinitely.

That’s how I do it. PC clerics are still powerful; churches function mostly as they do in real life; and commoners have a fighting chance against monsters as they come up.