Medieval Dark Ages Classes – The Holy Friar (A.K.A. Fraire Provençal or Religious Sister)

When it comes to European holy men and women in the middle ages, we’re generally looking at more-or-less Christian types. There were a few others about – occasional Jewish Rabbis, Pagans, and Mullahs might appear – but they were vanishingly rare and were well-advised to keep their religious ideas to themselves. Of those…

  • Hermits didn’t deal with others much, although they were your best bet for mystic visions, getting weapons blessed, and similar interventions. There weren’t any major Prophets in the period, but it’s no coincidence that most of the classical ones spent most of their time alone in the wilderness listening for the voice of God. A hermit might join a party of adventurers for a specific mission if they have a vision or something about it – but that’s very rare.
  • Monks and Nuns were firmly based in religious communities, where they worked and prayed – although they fairly often went out into the nearby towns and villages to help out. If you needed long-term care, or food, or a base for your assault on the forces of darkness, or someone to take in some orphans, or to teach classes, or similar help, they were a good bet – but they basically stayed in one place, and so made poor adventurers.
  • Priests were were normally assigned to minister to the needs of a group – staying in one place where the population was dense enough, traveling on a regular circuit of smaller communities, or running a shrine, church, or other religious institution. They saw to baptisms and burials, arbitrated disputes, administered the sacraments, and ran religious institutions – but they were busy people. If you want their services. you needed to go to them. Priests have little time for adventure unless the need is immediate and urgent.

When it comes to clerical-styled adventurers, we’re looking at Friars and Religious Sisters – people who felt a religious calling, but who felt called to go forth and work amongst the people of the land, serving either by setting an inspiring example or by teaching and directly confronting the darknesses of the world. They were free to be pragmatic, to be heroic, and to go forth and do what needed to be done. Examples range from the fictional Friar Tuck and the Canterbury Tales, yo St Francis of Assisi, John of the Cross, and Brother Juniper, and on to various currently-extant orders.

To build a basic Friar we’ll want…

  • Attributes. Charisma is important, but Intelligence and Constitution have their uses. After that… well, it’s best t0 avoid any major penalties elsewhere if you can.
  • Disadvantages: Broke (Friars are Mendicants and vowed to poverty. They may carry basic personal and religious possessions, relics (Charms and Talismans) of higher powers, and own a donkey or horse, but they rely on Charity for their supplies, may not own property, and so on), Vows (religious), and Obligations (religious and to their superiors). That gives them a total of 58 CP (64 counting their bonus feat, although that’s been left open in the build below) at level one.

Basic Items:

  • BAB: +0 (0 CP). Friars may be able to defend themselves, but they are rarely specialized warriors.
  • Hit Points: L1d6 (2 CP). Friar’s aren’t usually all that militaristic, but they do a lot of hiking around and a certain amount of general labor, and so are usually in fairly good shape.
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP). Some Friars might not be skilled with much of anything beyond a knife (which everyone uses), but any of them that go adventuring will generally know at least this much.
  • Saving Throws: +2 Will, +2 Fortitude (12 CP). Friars tend to be strong-willed and enduring.
  • Skill Points: (Int Mod + 2) x 4 + 6 (6 CP).

Other Abilities:

  • Theological Training: Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills (for +2 SP/Level), Corrupted / only to keep Adept skills maxed out (4 CP).
  • Studious: Adept: Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge/Religion, and Perform/Oratory (6 CP).
  • +3 Skill Specialties: Knowledge/Religion/Christianity (1 CP), Perform/Oratory/Preaching (1 CP), and Specific Knowledge / Christian Religious Ceremonies and Sacraments (1 CP).
  • Sermonizing: Skill Emphasis (+2 Perform/Oratory), Specialized for Double Effect (+4) only while preaching the Word of God (3 CP).
  • Tis Only A Flesh Wound!: Damage Reduction 2/-, Specialized / only versus physical injuries, Corrupted / damage prevented by this should be tracked, since it represents bruising, strains, minor flesh wounds, and similar non-critical damage. As long as any remains, half the characters healing will be devoted to removing it (1 CP). Unlike the purely positive-energy based “hit points” of standard d20, a Dark Ages character actually has meaningful biology. With them, being stabbed ten times in the foot for one point of damage per blow is not at all equivalent to being hit in the head once with an axe for ten points of damage. Major wounds will blow right past this resistance, but they can take lots of minor ones. Warrior-types may upgrade this to DR 3 / – for an additional 1 CP, but that’s the upper limit. No dark ages character is ever immune to being stabbed.
  • Adamant Faith: Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to make Will Saves and Checks (3 CP). A Friar’s faith is strong, and will help him or her resist influences to which others would fall all too easily.
  • Minor Privilege: Clerics, even lower level ones such as Friars, are respected, enjoy various legal privileges (the “Benefit Of Clergy”), and are normally welcomed and supported by the general population (3 CP).
  • Words Of Faith: Mystic Artist (Oratory / Preaching) with +4 Bonus Uses (8 CP). Specialized for Double Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / blatantly proclaims the user faith, attracts enemies of the faith, makes the user a notable public figure, positive effects only work on those who follow the speakers faith, negative effects only work on enemies or betrayers of the speaker’s faith, gives the user’s enemies a basic understanding of the user’s capabilities, the user may only call on (Knowledge /Religion score) differing power sources, each of which empowers a particular effect when it comes to abilities that potentially have a broad range of effects. Thus, for example, Greatness normally provides a positive level. Calling on St Francis might grant the ability to communicate with animals, while a more martial choice might grant an extra attack per round for a combat (Reflex Training (three extra actions per day variant) with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in attacking, 6 CP).

Even a first level Friar is should have at least +4 (Skill Points) +4 (Skill Emphasis) +3 (Skill Speciality) +(Cha Mod) = +11 to +15 in Oratory / Preaching – giving them a fair selection of mystic artist abilities and making them able to supply a party with some fairly impressive bonuses at level one.

Higher-Level Friars may have Echoes (+6 CP), allowing them to “trigger” the effects of their words at a later date.

Truly powerful Friars may have some or all of the Path Of Dissonance, Specialized and Corrupted / only works against true evils – undead and creatures of the lower planes and their effects. Distracting, Disrupting, Stunning, Maddening, Banishing, and Shattering (2 CP Each, 12 CP in total – bringing them up to the 36 CP maximum).

A Friars strength lies in their social advantages and in the impressive bonuses that they can offer the more direct combatants of a party. At higher levels they may take the lead against undead, demons, and other unholy abominations, using the holy force of Gods words to destroy or drive back such things,

Further Advancement? A realistic Medieval game probably won’t go past level four or so (if it does, it’s almost certainly no longer “realistic) – but up until then contacts, connections, buying the rest of those religious powers, and more social talents is probably the way to go.

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2 Responses

  1. 36 CP is a lot in a low power game, and that allowed list makes it really easy to create say, a witchcraft powered enhanced fighter or a psuedo-traditional spellcaster using reality editing.
    I’d probably implement stricter controls on that sort of thing, maybe with a set of mandatory limitations on a lot of those powers or a set of packages to choose from, rather than access to the systems within point restrictions.

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