Clad in plate armor that gleams in the sunlight despite the dust and grime of long travel, a human lays down her sword and shield and places her hands on a mortally wounded man. Divine radiance shines from her hands, the man’s wounds knit closed, and his eyes open wide with amazement.
Chanting a song of glory, a dwarf swings his axe in wide swaths to cut through the ranks of creatures arrayed against him, shouting praise to his gods with every foe’s fall.
Silver hair shining in a shaft of light that seems to illuminate only her, an elf laughs with exultation. Light flashes from her outstretched hand again and again at a zombie ogre, until at last her light overcomes its hideous darkness.
Acolytes are intermediaries between the mortal world and the distant planes of the gods, imbued with their divine magic. As varied as the gods they serve, acolytes strive to embody the handiwork of their deities.
Abandoning the Faith
Sometimes the faith proves too demanding, sometimes a situation calls for the lesser of two evils, and sometimes the heat of emotion causes an acolyte to transgress against their deity.
An acolyte who has transgressed against their deity typically seeks absolution from an acolyte who shares their faith or from another acolyte of the same order. The acolyte might spend an all night vigil in prayer as a sign of penitence, or undertake a fast or similar act of self-denial. After a rite of confession and forgiveness, the acolyte starts fresh.
If an acolyte willfully violates their deity and shows no sign of repentance, the consequences can be more serious. At the GM’s discretion, an impenitent acolyte might be forced to abandon this class and adopt another.
Divine magic, as the name suggests, is the power of the gods, flowing from them into the world. Acolytes are conduits for that power, manifesting it as miraculous effects. The gods don’t grant this power to everyone who seeks it, but only to those chosen to fulfill a high calling.
Harnessing divine magic doesn’t rely on study or training. An acolyte might learn formulaic prayers and ancient rites, but the ability to cast spells relies on devotion and an intuitive sense of a deity’s wishes.
Not every acolyte or officiant at a temple or shrine is capable of being a divine agent. Some priests are called to a simple life of temple service, carrying out their gods’ will through prayer and sacrifice, not by magic and strength of arms. In some cities, priesthood amounts to a political office, viewed as a stepping stone to higher positions of authority and involving no communion with a god at all. True acolytes are rare in most hierarchies.
When an acolyte takes up an adventuring life, it is usually because their god demands it. Pursuing the goals of the gods often involves braving dangers beyond the walls of civilization, smiting evil or seeking holy relics in ancient tombs. Many acolytes are also expected to protect their deities’ worshipers, which can mean fighting rampaging orcs, negotiating peace between warring nations, or sealing a portal that would allow a demon prince to enter the world.
Most adventuring acolytes maintain some connection to established temples and orders of their faiths. A temple might ask for an acolytes’s aid, or a high priest might be in a position to demand it.
Creating an Acolyte
As you create an acolyte, the most important question to consider is which deity to serve and what principles you want your character to embody. Appendix B includes lists of many of the gods of the multiverse. Cheek with your GM to learn which deities are in your campaign.
Once you’ve chosen a deity, consider your acolyte’s relationship to that god, Did you enter this service willingly? Or did the god choose you, impelling you into service with no regard for your wishes? How do the temple priests of your faith regard you: as a champion or a troublemaker? What are your ultimate goals? Does your deity have a special task in mind for you? Or are you striving to prove yourself worthy of a great quest?
Choose an archetype, which grants you features.
Priests combine the helpful magic of healing and inspiring their allies with spells that harm and hinder foes. They can provoke awe and dread, lay curses of plague or poison, and even call down flames from heaven to consume their enemies.
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
two simple weapons
(a) a crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two spears
(a) a priest’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
A holy symbol
In a pantheon, every deity has influence over different aspects of mortal life and civilization, called a domain. All the domains over which a deity has influence are called the deity’s portfolio. For example, the portfolio of the Greek god Apollo includes the domains of Knowledge, Life, and Light.
As an acolyte, you embody your deity’s portfolio. The themes you have access to are from your deity’s portfolio. Apollo, for example, could be chosen, allowing you to learn the Divination (Knowledge), Light, and Life themes.
Acts fundamentally opposed to your deity’s belief system or ideals are anathema to your faith. Learning or casting spells, committing acts, and using items that are anathema to your deity remove you from your deity’s good graces. For example, casting a spell to create undead would be anathema to a deity who abhors undead.
If you perform enough acts that are anathema to deity, you lose all your acolyte class features. You can demonstrate your repentance by atoning for your actions. Work with your GM to devise an appropriate atonement.
The deities from Golarion are included below. If anyone wants to help convert their pantheon of choice please open a Github issue and I will add them.
Choose a Deity
Choose a deity, which grants you features.
You can create your own deity subclass. Good deities should use Holy, evil deities should use Unholy, and neutral deities can choose either (defaulting to Holy).
To convert a deity’s portfolio from another system you can equate any domain of the same name with a theme in this system and use the following table to convert other domains to themes:
|nature||beast or plants|
|sun||fire and/or light|
|travel||teleportation or omit|
|void||gravity or shadow|
|Level||Proficiency bonus||Features||Divine Blessings||Mana||Mana Limit|
|1st||+2||Divine Conduit, Armor of Faith, Second Wind||2||2||1|
|2nd||+2||Aura of Courage, Channel Divinity (1/rest), Divine Health, Divine Sense, Feat (1)||4||3||1|
|3rd||+2||Abilities Increase (1), Skilled (1)||6||5||1|
|5th||+3||Skilled (2), Extra Action, Focused Concentration||10||8||2|
|6th||+3||Feat (3), Resilient||12||9||2|
|7th||+3||Channel Divinity (2/rest), Divine Sense improvement, Abilities Increase (2), Skilled (3)||14||11||2|
|10th||+4||Feat (5), Resilient||20||15||3|
|11th||+4||Abilities Increase (3), Skilled (5)||22||17||3|
|15th||+5||Abilities Increase (4), Skilled (7)||30||23||4|
|17th||+6||Channel Divinity (3/rest), Skilled (8), Minor Deification||34||26||5|
|19th||+6||Abilities Increase (5), Skilled (9)||38||29||5|
You draw on divine magic through meditation and prayer.
Your deity bestows magical powers upon you. Your power source is the Divine power source, but you can only learn spells from themes you know in the Holy and Unholy themes and 4 themes from any power source that is inline with your deity’s portfolio, with GM approval.
You gain two divine blessings as shown on the Divine Blessings column of the Priest table. A divine blessing grants one of the following options:
- Learn a new theme and a cantrip from it if the theme is from your power source.
- Learn two cantrips from the themes you know.
- Learn a new spell from a theme you know in your power source. The spell must cost equal to, or less than, your mana limit. If the spell costs 2 or more mana, you must know a number of feats or spells from the spell’s theme equal to the spell’s mana cost minus 1.
When you gain a level, you gain two additional divine blessings and you can choose a cantrip you know and replace it with another cantrip from a theme you know or you can choose a spell that costs 1 or more mana and replace it with another spell that costs 1 or more mana from a theme you know. You cannot replace a cantrip if you would then know zero cantrips from that theme and your choices must follow the restrictions above.
You know three cantrips and three spells of your choice from the themes you know.
The Priest table shows how much mana you have to cast spells. To cast a spell, you must expend mana based on the spell’s cost.
You regain half your total mana when you finish a short rest and all expended mana when you finish a long rest.
There is a limit on the amount of mana you can spend to cast a spell. The limit is based on your level, as shown on the Mana Limit column of the Priest table.
High mana spells
Spells using 4 or 5 mana are particularly taxing to cast. Once you cast a spell using 4 mana, you can’t cast another spell using 4 mana until you finish a short or long rest and once you cast a spell using 5 mana, you can’t cast another spell using 5 mana until you finish a long rest.
Choose Wisdom or Charisma as your spellcasting ability for your spells. If you choose Wisdom the power of your spells comes from your devotion to your deity. If you choose Charisma the power of your spells derives from the strength of your convictions. You use your Wisdom or Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. The Divinity skill describes how to cast a spell.
You can cast a spell you know as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag.
Armor of Faith
While you are wearing no armor and not wielding a shield, your Defense equals 11 + half your proficiency bonus + your Dexterity + your spellcasting ability (max 3).
You have a limited well of energy that you can draw on to protect yourself from harm. As an action, you can spend up to half your Health Dice (minimum 1). For each Health Die spent in this way, roll the die and add your Constitution. You can decide to spend an additional Health Die after each roll. You regain health equal to the total.
Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.
Aura of Courage
You gain the ability to channel divine energy directly from your deity, using that energy to fuel magical effects. You start with three such effects.
Choose two faithless creature types: aberration, celestial, construct, dragon, elemental, fey, fiend, undead, or creatures with the (shapechanger) tag. With a month of prayer or a significant event caused by a certain creature type (GM discretion), you can select different creature types.
Some Channel Divinity effects require saving throws. When you use such an effect from this class, the Difficulty equals your spell save Difficulty. If you do not have a spell save Difficulty, the Difficulty is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom or Charisma.
You learn an additional effect at 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th level. Beginning at 7th level, you can use your Channel Divinity twice between rests, and beginning at 17th level, you can use it three times between rests. When you finish a short or long rest, you regain your expended uses.
You can cast bane without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
You can cast bless without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
You can cast ceremony without expending mana.
You can cast conviction without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
Choose one of the following when you use Divine Assistance.
Divine Inspiration. You take inspiration from your deity. On a long rest you can choose 1 spell you know and replace it with another spell from a theme you know, which must cost equal to, or less than, your mana limit. Once you use Divine Inspiration, you can’t use it again for 3 days.
Divine Intervention. As an action, you can call on your deity to intervene on your behalf when your need is great. Describe the assistance you seek and if the need is great and your deity is willing and able to intervene (GM discretion), your deity intervenes on your behalf. Your GM chooses the nature of the intervention; the effect of any spell would be appropriate. If your deity doesn’t intervene you regain mana equal to your mana limit. Once you use Divine Intervention, you can’t use it again for 7 days.
You can cast detect evil and good without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
You can cast protection from evil and good without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
You can cast shield of faith without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
You can cast find steed without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
Lay on Hands
You can cast heal without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
Smite the Faithless
You smite the faithless at the command of your deity. Once on your turn when you hit a creature of the type you selected with an attack, you can deal 2d6 + your spellcasting ability extra damage of a type associated with your deity.
The damage associated with your deity can be acid, cold, concussion, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, radiant, or psychic damage. It might be cold for a god of winter, concussion or lightning for a storm god, fire for a nature or fiendish god, force for a god of magic, necrotic or poison for a god of death, radiant for a sun god, or psychic for a god of madness.
If the creature’s true form is concealed by an illusion, shapeshifting, or other effect, that form is revealed for 1 minute.
You can augment this feature further by expending mana, increasing the damage by 3d6 for each additional mana expended, up to your mana limit as if the base of this feature cost 1 mana.
Turn the Faithless
You can cast divine word without expending mana. If you have mana, you can augment it further by expending mana.
The divine magic flowing through you makes you immune to disease.
The presence of strong evil registers on your senses like a noxious odor, and powerful good rings like heavenly music in your ears. As an action, you can determine the presence and nature of creatures in the area. You know the location of any creature of the type you’ve selected as faithless as part of your Channel Divinity feature, within 10 meters of you that is not behind total cover. You know the type (celestial, fiend, or undead) of any being whose presence you sense, but not its identity (the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich, for instance). Within the same radius, you also detect the presence of any place or object that has been consecrated or desecrated, as with the hallow spell.
Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again unless you expend your Channel Divinity to use it. Beginning at 7th level, you can use your Divine Sense twice between rests.
A feat represents an area of expertise that gives a character special capabilities. It embodies training, experience, and abilities beyond what a class provides.
You gain a feat of your choice from the general feats or from a theme you know.
You gain additional feats at 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, and 20th level.
When you gain a level, you can choose one of the feats you know and replace it with another feat that you could have learned when the replaced feat was chosen.
Increase two abilities of your choice by 1 and one of your lowest two abilities by 1. If multiple abilities are tied for one of your lowest abilities, you can choose any of them. As normal, you can’t increase an ability above 5 using this feature.
Increase your abilities again at 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th level.
Choose any skill to improve your proficiency with. If you are untrained, you become capable. If you are capable, you become proficient.
There are some limits for what can be done with two actions. See Actions in combat section.
You can use two actions on your turn instead of one.
If you fail a saving throw to maintain your concentration on a spell, you can use your reaction to reroll the saving throw.
Once you use this feature, you must finish a long rest before you can use it again.
Choose another saving throw at 10th level.
You attain a fragment of godhood. You can understand any spoken language you hear and when you speak, any creature that knows at least one language and can hear you understands what you say.
Additionally, as an action, you can transform into an avatar of your deity. For 1 hour, you gain the following benefits:
- You gain a flying speed of 10 meters.
- You can reroll a saving throw that you fail. You can reroll a saving throw twice while transformed.
- As a reaction, which you use when you take damage, you can reduce the damage by an amount equal to your level + your spellcasting ability. You can reduce damage twice while transformed.
Once you use this feature, you must finish a long rest before you can use it again.