Playing Without a Cleric
Most times, in F20 games, playing with a cleric is a forgone conclusion. It is one of the most, if not THE most, vital roles in the dungeon delving party. Few things will stress a party out as quickly as the cleric hitting 0 HP. And, as we know, 13th Age provides many great options for the cleric, not the least of which is allowing them to heal as quick actions, allowing them to play more than just a mobile bandaid box. All that being said, here is a secret. Come closer. Are you ready for this?
You don’t need one. That is right, you really do not NEED a cleric in 13th Age. I know what you are thinking. Iconic, I come to you for Epic Tier advice on 13th Age, and this seems like a quick way to turn my game into a 0-level funnel. But wait, hear us out. There are plenty of options for your groups if you want to leave the cleric behind in Santa Cora praying to the Priestess.
Option 1 – Other Choices
Dust off some of those classes from 13 True Ways! 13th Age is rife with alternative choices for healers besides the Cleric. Bards can heal. Commanders can heal. Druids can heal. That is not counting the fact other classes have spot healing (the Necromancer & Paladin come to mind) and that all characters can heal as an action at least once a fight. If you are going to adventure without a cleric, try to plan ahead and include some of these other classes. Additionally, give the group extra potions as a way for them to deal with their healing needs.
Option 2 – Go Mythic
13th Age Glorantha has less available healing classes than core 13th Age. To counter that, they include the Battle Healing rule (page 64). Steal this for your core 13th Age game to help offset the lack of power healing. Let everyone have the ability to trigger someone else’s recovery, possibly even before they hit 0 HP. An encouraging word, a slap upside the head, or a kick in the rear is all it could take to get someone back into the fight. Remember, hit points are an abstraction of luck, endurance, fighting spirit, and toughness. Theme Battle Healing however you like, but this option opens up a lot more flexibility in the party where healing is concerned.
Option 3 – Fudge the Rules
If nothing else feels like it works, you can make a couple of simple rules changes to increase the available healing. Perhaps you make drinking/administering a potion a quick action? You know your players already wish that was the case already. You could make the first use of Rally (each battle, each heal up) a quick action for characters, representing that first rush of adrenaline when the character realizes how dire the straights are. Or perhaps it goes to a quick action after the Escalation Die reaches 4, representing the surge of confidence as the party knows the battle is turning in their favor. Play around with these ideas to find a good feel for your table.
Anyway you look at it, 13th Age provides a lot of options for non-standard party make-ups. As a GM, I would caution to you start off a bit friendlier than you normally would with a party like this. Use basic build math and no nastier specials, at least until you get used to the party dynamics. It gives your players time to figure out the ebb and flow of combat sans clerics.
Players, if you are going to play without a cleric remember that you need to be more on top of your own healing; instead of just yelling ‘cleric!!’ when your HP gets low. Keep an eye on the ebb and flow of the fight to figure out when to heal and when to flee. Keep these tips in mind and you should be able to survive without a cleric.
Are you playing in a group without a Cleric? Want to try out some of these ideas? Drop us a line and let us know how it goes.
Written by JM