If you ran a village, would you rather have wizard or cleric spells?
January 10, 2014 1:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm in a Dnd 3.5 campaign in which players are helping to develop a small town. Would a town get more benefit from cleric or wizard spells? Which spells and of what schools/domains?

In my current DnD campaign, we (players) have a town we take care of. We build buildings, make sure there are enough resources to feed people etc.

We have an option to build a parish (which unlocks clerics and cleric spells) or a library (which unlocks wizards and wizard spells.) Even if players do not choose to be clerics or wizards, we can have the person who will staff the building cast one spell a week (and because it's over the course of a week, I believe there is some added benefits though the DM hasn't been specific on that account)

While we can get both eventually, I was wondering which of these should come first and, more importantly, what spells I should try to get. Spells from any books other than vile darkness/exalted deeds go. Also, no wish and planer travel. Mostly looking for things that would help the town at lower level.

If you are protecting/providing for a small town, do you think access to wizard or cleric spells would be more useful? If so, what spells?
posted by becomingly to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've never played pen-and-paper DnD, but based solely on my experiences with cRPGs I would imagine cleric spells - with their focus on healing and protection - would be more useful to a fledgling village.
posted by Ted Maul at 3:05 AM on January 10, 2014

I think cleric spells are more broadly useful in a situation like this - create food and water for droughts and famine, make whole for building and infrastructure repairs, zone of truth for police investigations, control water in case of floods, remove disease and all the other healing spells.

I forgot that druids get all the plant spells and clerics don't; those would top my list for usefulness. (Not to mention Control Weather, but that's another druid spell!)
posted by Jeanne at 3:14 AM on January 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

One factor -- clerics might in general be more useful for a village because they have access to their full spell list; wait a day, and the cleric can get whatever spell is needed. Wizards usually have to pay for the bulk of their spells and therefore generally do not have access to the full list, which means if an obscure spell is needed, the wizard might not have it on hand.

Low level (say up to 3rd) cleric spells that could be especially useful to a nonadventuring person might include: Cure Light/Moderate/Serious Wounds, Light, Mending, Stabilize, Create Water, Purify Food and Drink, Endure Elements, Summon Monster, Augury, Bear's Endurance/Cat's Grace/Etc, Gentle Repose, Make Whole, Zone of Truth, Create Food & Water, Continual Flame, Daylight, Locate Object, Remove Disease, Speak With Dead, and Water Breathing.

Low level wizard spells that could be especially useful to a nonadventuring person might include: Light, Mending, Prestidigitation, Alarm, Endure Elements, Hold Portal, Mount, Summon Monster, Animate Rope, Enlarge Person, Arcane Lock, Detect Thoughts, Locate Object, Continual Flame, Bear's Endurance/Cat's Grace/Etc, Make Whole, Spider Climb, Whispering Wind, Daylight, Gentle Repose, Water Breathing.

Analysis - at low levels, both seem pretty equally useful for purposes of construction, location, repair, lighting, and jurisprudence. A wizard is a little better for protection and travel. A cleric, however, has the serious advantage for dealing with injury, disease, famine, and future prediction. I'd say the cleric wins handily.

(At mid-to-higher levels, I'd predict that wizard spells would start getting the serious edge when it comes to construction and protection; spells like Wall of Stone make building a castle much easier. A cleric, however, will start getting Raise Dead capability around the same time. At higher levels, both clerics and wizards are capable of such astonishing feats that the differences to your average peasant or merchant start to become a little moot.)
posted by kyrademon at 4:29 AM on January 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Not only are many more cleric spells explicitly designed protect, feed, heal, etc., but parishes involve the greater community in a way that wizards' libraries do not.

(Then again, maybe not everybody in town wants to be helped by $YOUR_GOD!)

IMHO, the thing about wizards is that there's a reason why they're often seen as mysterious beard-carriers who hide in ivory towers. They can become very powerful, but first they have to spend lots of time and resources on fairly, well, arcane stuff.

D&D 3.5 did a decent job of making wizards more useful at lower levels, but the fact remains that wizards are not nearly as self-sufficient as members of other classes. This affects how useful it would be to attract lots of low-level wizards to a town. It would be better to have lots of low-level wizards than no wizards at all, but it would be even better to have lots of clerics who can heal light wounds, divine the truth, create sanctuary, turn undead, etc.

All in all, I would compare a parish to a community center with an infirmary attached, whereas I would compare a wizard's library to a tech startup or a satellite campus of a university. If you could only have one, the first choice wins hands-down.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:47 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a potential story telling development down the line (if, say, you're playing this game with these players, in this setting long enough to make the payoff worth waiting for), you could really get some mileage out of going with the parish, then dealing with the potential pitfalls of theocratic dominance in a small town setting. The clerics parish could, as stitcherbeast mentioned, have the "not everyone is a fan of God X" storyline problem.

Or, and maybe more interesting, down the way, a new cleric, or group of clerics (as the small town grows) comes to the parish, much more orthodox in their faith, and finds fault with the players' actions, leading to a story where, even though they helped build the town, the town, led by leaders of the religion the players helped establish in the region, turns against the players.

This should be easy enough to do, and could be a lot of fun, especially if the religion is ostensibly one of the good or lawful ones. It's not hard for nearly any adventure to involve the players doing something, no matter how small, the parish could find fault with. Lawful parish? Why do you consort with this thief, and so on. Especially if (as I imagine players helping build a town to be) the players are 'good' it could be a great test of their commitment to their alignment if, in being persecuted by the town, they are forced to confront the fact that the town and parish aren't 'evil' and that reacting with any sort of physical force would, in a way, be a total failure on their part.

After all, how does the lawful good paladin react to the parish denying him entrance because he murdered a bandit? How does the neutral good ranger react to children throwing stones at him, or the parish cleric denouncing his connection to nature as unholy? Man, I'd love to play in a campaign that developed like that.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:31 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Oh, shit, my bad. You're a player. Ignore what I wrote. Email it to your GM. You remember nothing
posted by Ghidorah at 5:32 AM on January 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'd go cleric too. You can have the person cast one spell per week, (this sounds like once a week, you can waive the customary fee for a spell-for-hire) they still get the full complement per day, how they use it is their choice. For a small town, the utility of a lot of low-level cleric spells trumps the wizard ones. For instance, an injured commoner will almost certainly be restored to full health with a simple cure light wounds.

The biggest threat to productivity in a small town, and thus the choke point at this level for how quickly it can grow and thrive, is going to be the health and welfare of the citizens. Kyrademon nails it - injury, disease, famine. A cleric is the best bet for that.
posted by mrgoat at 5:57 AM on January 10, 2014

whereas I would compare a wizard's library to a tech startup

Oh God, that's fantastic! Your village gets taken over and gentrified by a bunch of smug hipster wizards whose heads are too far up their own asses to realize how horrible they are. They make all kinds of racket and weird lights in the middle of the night so the kids and animals are always twitching and starting at any little thing. They trash the local economy by magicking up basic commodities, so now the only way anyone can get the things they need is by scouring up spell components for them. And they can't figure out why people don't love them because hey, they came up with a better way to make shoes and mend pots!

What do you do now?
posted by Naberius at 6:06 AM on January 10, 2014 [14 favorites]

Assuming your campaign has a sort of standard high fantasy feel to it, if everything Kyrademon says doesn't convince you that a cleric is the right choice, also consider the fact that clerics are more get involved in the day to day types and pretty much call for a temple of some sort, which, among other things, will attract a big wad of skilled labor - masons, carpenters, metalsmiths - who will set up shop in your village and are likely to stay as long as you keep them in work.

Wizards tend to be individualistic big picture types, conjuring earth elementals to build them a tower or what have you, harvesting mandrake by the light of the full moon, burning things to ash and reluctantly giving partial answers to odd bits of lore and not involving themselves in day to day trivialities.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:26 AM on January 10, 2014

In various editions and expansions of D&D and other games of the same genre I always took note of spells like Sand to Stone and Mud to Stone, which usually as druid or wizard spells were the inverse of Stone to Sand and Stone to Mud for getting rid of inconvenient walls. It always seemed to me that they'd have utility similar to casting concrete and shaping it (and come to think of it, isn't there usually Shape Stone somewhere?) So if you guys are constructing buildings or bridges or fortifications, maybe look into that.
posted by XMLicious at 9:29 AM on January 10, 2014

Thank you all for your awesome answers! It appears as if I'll be building a parish first!
posted by becomingly at 2:32 PM on January 10, 2014

I'd take Gandalf over the Pope any day.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:52 PM on January 10, 2014

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