Thursday, February 7, 2019

Re-Skinning Clerics (B/X)

And hot on the heels of my last post...

Folks who dig hard on the sword & sorcery fiction that inspired Dungeons & Dragons sometimes have difficulty reconciling the (largely based on) Judeo-Christian cleric class. Over the years, a common solution to "the cleric issue" has been to drop the class from the game. While some have rolled the cleric's spell list into that of the magic-user (giving wizards a kind of "white magic" option), others have simply removed all that healing magic from the game...which isn't a terrible idea if you like a more grim and gritty form of D&D (make sure to have plagues break out regularly and give PCs a chance of contracting tetanus or bad infections from their wounds!).

For those who'd like a third that A) doesn't lose the spells, yet B) doesn't pull priests out of their temple, soiling their vestments in dank, dirty dungeons...I offer the following, fairly easy re-skins of the class:


Bards are wandering minstrels. One day may find them singing for royalty and the next find them on the street busking for enough coin to eat. Bards pick up many tales and rumors in their travels, and their music can produce magical effects.

The prime requisite of bards is Wisdom. A bard with a 13 or more in Wisdom adds +5% to earned experience; a bard with 16 or better in Wisdom adds +10%.

RESTRICTIONS: Bards roll six-sided dice (d6) for hit points, adding the +1 HP per level after 9th level. They can use any weapon and wear any armor except plate mail; bards do not use shields. They use the same experience, attack, and saving throw charts as a cleric of equal level. All bards must possess a stringed instrument such as a harp, lute, or mandolin (cost: 25 gold pieces); without such an instrument, bards cannot perform magic.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Bards learns spells as a cleric of the same level; all spells must be chosen from the clerical spell list. Each bard spell is a song; to cast the spell a bard must have both hands free to play her instrument, and must be able to sing. All bards have the ability to sing for their supper, earning 1d6 gold pieces per day playing in town (the coins they receive may include silver and copper). Bards have a 25% chance to know a useful rumor or legend about any place or dungeon they visit, and a 10% to identify any permanent magic item they come across.

Bards never build strongholds or acquire apprentices; however, bards are welcome to the hospitality of any household of noble rank after sundown, provided the host does not already have suitable entertainment for the evening.


Witches are practitioners of low magic, a humbler form of spell craft than the more flashy sorcery practiced by magic-users. Sometimes called "wise women" or "hedge wizards," most witches come from humble origins and focus on magic helpful to the common villager: healing, protection charms, spells to preserve food or combat the elements. Even so, many face prejudice and persecution by the superstitious, and choose solitude (or practice in secrecy) to protect themselves from the very people they could otherwise help.

A witch's prime requisite is Wisdom. A witch with a 13 or more in Wisdom adds +5% to earned experience; a 16 or better Wisdom adds +10%.

RESTRICTIONS: Witches roll six-sided dice (d6) for hit points, adding the +1 HP per level after 9th level. They face the same armor and weapon restrictions as a magic-user, but advance as a cleric and use the same attack and saving throw charts as a cleric of equal level.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Witches cast the same number and level of spells as a cleric of the same level. Unlike clerics, witches do not have free access to the spell list but are instead limited to the spells they actually know, which are learned in the same way as a magic-user (being taught or else acquired through spell research). The spells available to a witch are the same as those found on the cleric spell list (including all reversed spells), plus the following:

1st: Spoil Food and Water (reverse of Purify Food 
    and Water)
2nd: Charm Person, Phantasmal Force, Sleep
3rd: Fly
4th: Charm Monster, Polymorph Other, Polymorph Self
5th: Animate Dead, Magic Jar

Witches perform spell research as a magic-user and may also create magic items after reaching 9th level. A witch of any level may brew magic potions (with the usual time and cost for creating magic items), so long as the potion's effect is equivalent to a spell the witch already knows. Witches are masters of herb lore and healing and can create poultices for treating wounded characters (cure 1d4 hit points of damage) at a cost of 25 gold pieces per dose; such a poultice may only be administered once (when a character is first wounded), and will have no further effect until the character has a chance to heal fully through normal rest and recuperation.

A witch may build a home or stronghold whenever she has the money to do so. A witch of Name (9th) level that has settled in place will attract 2d6 1st level acolytes seeking to form a coven under the matriarch's guidance and leadership.

[okay, I have to say it: this may be my favorite version of all the "witch" classes I've created over the years. I'm tempted to throw it into my own B/X games in place of clerics!]
; )


  1. I like them both, JB. A bard that isn't the usual jack of all trades is always a pleasant surprise and your witch makes a nice source for healing back at home base. Not sure how well they'd fit with an adventuring party though. They seem much more of a stay at home type.

    1. @ Reese:

      I'd think (in B/X) that the bard would be a nice addition to a party in place of a thief: a little more durability, same combat, and gathers intelligence in a slightly different fashion than scouting ahead. A higher level thief is more useful at scouting, sure...but the higher level bard (as given here) would provide spell-casting ability.

      The witch is a bit more "delayed gratification," though the ability to provide multiple minor healings at 1st level is useful (since she's not buying armor, she can pick up multiple doses of herbs). At higher levels, she'll have plenty of spells, plus some nice "witchy" additions (charms, polymorphs, etc.) that offer more utility than the standard cleric, but she's definitely someone that will need to be protected (by the rest of the party) till she's picked up a couple extra dice of hit points.

    2. Bah - must not have clicked "Notify Me"...

      Anyhow, I was unclear in my comment. bards look good, I can see them adventuring. A nice new class option. My comment about them not being obviously suited to adventuring was directed at the witch in particular.

      I see what you are saying though. Better HP than magic-users, if just as squishy, but she'd bring some neat options to the party as long as they protect her. Thanks!

  2. Turn undead? Very important in Basic play.

    1. Could maybe rework this as some kind of banishment/exorcism spell for the witch.

    2. @ Scott/DMW:

      Here's the cleric spell Smite Unliving (reverse of Animate Dead) that I developed for my B/X Companion:

      As it would already be on the "cleric spell list" (for folks using the B/X Companion), I'd assume your witch of bard character could learn it (at 6th level, since it's a 3rd level spell).

      ['Course, then you'd probably want to replace "animate dead" as the witch's 5th level spell...control weather might be a good option]

  3. Bro, I fucking *love* this version of the witch class. Stealing it, no joke.

    It gives me some ideas for a B/X bard, though I'm going to go a different route with the spells.

    1. @ DMW:

      This is...what?...the third, maybe 4th version of a bard I've put out there (one in my B/X Companion, a different version in The Complete B/X Adventurer, and another "Holmes version"). I may not have hit my sweet spot with the class, so please knock yourself out.

      But, yeah, I dig this version of the witch the best.

  4. Damn, I really like these two reskins, especially the Witch. I've been a fan of the blog for a while now, but AFAIK this is my first time commenting. Good work~

    1. Thanks, R.J....I'm trying to find more time to blog these days. Glad you took the time to comment.
      : )

  5. Stolen, adapted to AD&D 2, and will see action this Friday. Thank you!!

    1. Awesome! Hope it works for your game!
      : )