Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Sage Tables, Starting with Cleric

Okay, something new.  Something other than maps.

I am more than aware that I need desperately to get my sage skills concept in better order, while attempts the last few years to do so have been inadequate or misconceived.  I think at last I have a simple solution, and one that can be tweaked over time, particularly with the help of the players.  The initial construction of the rules are going to be hell, however.  That was predictable.  What I like about it now is that a) it clearly defines what a player can know; b) it offers a decision-making angle for the player; and c) as the players think of questions to ask, the question types can be fitted into the existing system, upgrading it steadily.

Here is the rule I've done some work on since yesterday:


A field is a sphere of activity or interest that covers a wide range of knowledge. Each field is comprised of specialties, which are distinctive lines of inquiry or interest. Possible specialties which the cleric does not choose are called studies. Studies within the cleric’s field are called field studies, and those outside the field are called non-field studies.

For example, from the list below, a cleric chooses ‘The Church’ as their field and ‘history’ as their specialty. This would mean that heraldry (etc.), politics & geneology and religious architecture would all be ‘field studies.’ All the other possible subjects, such as art & music, heroes or divination, would be ‘non-field studies.”

Clerics possess four fields: The Church, Legends & Folklore, Power and Theology. The studies within these fields are listed below:

The Church: 1) heraldry, signs & signals; 2) history; 3) politics & geneology; 4) religious architecture
Legends & Folklore: 1) artifacts; 2) beasts; 3) demi-gods; 4) gods; 5) heroes
Power: 1) divination; 2) dweomercraft; 3) medicine; 4) the outer planes
Theology: 1) art & music; 2) astronomy & astrology; 3) law & customs; 4) philosophy & ethics

At 1st level, clerics gain one field, and one specialty within that field. This reflects the knowledge that the cleric was able to gather while studying their religion within monasteries and libraries. This knowledge is then expanded as the cleric increases in level, for it is presumed that the cleric is naturally inquisitive, glancing through books, chatting with other persons along roads or at the inn, even if the character never expresses their intention to gather knowledge.

The knowledge is measured by points, awarded to all possible studies, though in different amounts. The cleric’s chosen specialty is awarded 12 points; each field study is awarded 1d8, which the cleric rolls; and non-field studies are each awarded 1d4.

Upon gaining a level, the cleric increases all non-field studies by 1d4; field studies by 1d8; and specialties (for later on the cleric gains others) by 1d12.

At 5th level, and every four levels thereafter (9th, 13th, 17th, etc.), the cleric gains an additional specialty from the cleric’s field studies (that is, within the cleric’s present field). At that point, the cleric begins rolling a d12 for additional level gains in that specialty. Suppose that a given field study rated 15 points at 4th level, the cleric having rolled 4d8 up until then. At 5th, the cleric chooses that study as a new specialty; a d12 is then rolled (for gaining a level) and added to the original 15.

At 7th level, and every six levels thereafter (13th, 19th and 25th), the cleric gains an additional field. All the studies in that field henceforth become field studies, and increase at 1d8 per level. Clerics may choose additional specialties from any field they possess.

For every 10 points of a cleric possesses in any study, the cleric is entitled to one piece of knowledge about persons, places, objects, creatures, living things or features, the exact knowledge depending upon a) the chosen study; and b) the competence of the cleric.

Competence is graded as follows: possessing 10-19 points in a study defines an enthusiastic amateur; possessing 20-39 points defines an authority; possessing 40-79 points defines an expert; and having 80 points or more defines a sage.

The questions that can be answered, depending upon one’s competence, are listed below. Note that knowledge is not meant to provide any special ability or power. It is employment of knowledge, not the knowledge itself, that offers power through the creation of tactical planning. Some of the below studies, such as astrology. will offer minor skills gained from continued study.

Art & music
Amateur: century of creation, continental origin, means of creation
Authority: name of the creator, quality, regional origin, meaning of symbolism
Expert: monetary value, social importance of work
Sage: hidden qualities, magical relationships

Amateur: recognition of artifacts and items of magic
Authority: capability (melee, magic, etc.), implementation (sans result), regional origin
Expert: identify minor power (sans specifics), origin story, purpose of creation, previous user
Sage: identify primary power, identify special condition, name of creator

Astronomy & Astrology
Amateur: navigate by stars, recognize heavens, superior use of a telescope
Authority: calculate date & time, read & design birth chart
Expert: predict cosmic events; read daily astrological charts
Sage: detect invisibility; recognize non-terrestrial life

(... more to follow)

That is only three topics out of seventeen possible for the cleric ... and then there's a host more for the druid, mage and illusionist to be done.  Please keep in mind that this blog is for ongoing work.  As such, I am certainly interested in feedback or the need to clarify the above rules.  If anyone has any additional questions for the three topics listed (I'll post as I work on additional topics) then shout them out.  I won't use every suggestion, but I'm certainly interested in considering anything thrown out.

As I said, the games themselves that I run will provide plenty of ideas, I'm sure.

Oh, I should add that at the end, a page with all 17 studies will need to be added to characters, so that all the point values can be generated, then increased every time a level is gained.  There's no knowledge that can be gained from having less than 10 points of a subject, but by 2nd to 4th level, a cleric would probably acquire a number of possible topics to inquire about.


  1. When I finish the mage. All in good time.

  2. How do your books factor into this system? Do they provide free answers or give bonuses to the competency of the reader? Very interested to see more tables.

  3. What, fighters get no love? You mention clerics, magic users, etc but not the other classes. Was that just an oversight or are you restricting sages to these classes? I would prefer leaving the areas open to any class so that players can have any character concept they like. Like fighters who know about monster biology or famous arms and armour, or cultures and their military tactics, or art, science or poetry (think renaissance dandy or samurai poet), or religion and they love debating it; or thieves who know all about art and how much it is worth, or locks and mechanical devices.

    Does the lifespan of elves have any effect? I don't think that it would, I just think that they would be important primary sources of information from which other sages learn. And an actual elven sage would be so far above a human sage in the same area that it would be astounding.


  4. Arduin,

    Books also somehow need a total overhaul. At the moment, I don't know what to do with them.


    I appreciate that, and you may run your world however you wish. Fighters, thieves and monks in my world don't have the ability to read, so they wouldn't have any knowledge. These classes have other benefits, and it helps to remember that my casters take 2 rounds or more to cast a single spell (vastly reducing the power of those classes, even at higher level).

    Fighters who know biology, or samurai poets, etc., are MULTI-classed characters ... who would obviously have the ability to read and fight. Certainly, this is possible, but not a constant.

    Elves in my world have the same lifespan as humans. So do all player races.

    1. Reading really shouldn't be necessary for at least an amateur level of knowledge. Oral histories and traditions, folklore, song, spoken poetry and verse, and so on should be able to cover much of what the amateur tier of most of these skills implies.

      Perhaps fighters, thieves, and monks should be allowed to choose 1 study and increase it as a non-field study. At 5th level they may choose another study, but may only increase one of their studies per level.

      This means that you could still have a fighter, thief, or monk with an amateur understanding and appreciation of a study, but very rarely wound you have one with knowledge above that amateur level. Further, a fighter, thief, or monk would have to live to see 3rd level to even have a chance of being an amateur in any given field.

      Technically about one in one quadrillion illiterate characters that achieved level 20 would end up as sages in a particular study. As I understand it is a rare feat for someone to achieve level 20 in your world though. Regardless, you could apply a point cap to these classes, or use different point values for the given tiers for these classes.

      Of course, as you mentioned, you may run your world however you wish, and it seems that there is as much of a mechanical reason for barring fighters, thieves, and monks from this system as there is a world-building reason.

    2. Fact is, Matt, that my character generation tables, about which there is lots to say on the main blog, actually include a chance that any character will have a specialty of some kind, including fighters, thieves and so on. Remember that even though reading isn't necessarily a requirement, there would still have to be a mentor of some kind, who cared about the character enough to sit and describe all this stuff, and the character would have to care. Teachers tell oral knowledge to classrooms full of children who don't.

      So yes, agreed, you COULD have a fighter or thief with such ability, but that is not a guarantee that you're entitled to one, just because it is something you want to have.

  5. I actually completely forgot about your generation tables, Those are more than in-depth enough to account for my suggestion.

  6. A quick query: you say that at certain levels you gain new fields of study. Do you get points retroactively for previous levels, or do you just start gaining points at the next level up?

  7. Have a look at the explanation posted on Tuesday. You gain points for everything at every level; choosing a new field just changes the die you use going forward.


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