Church Rules

This is a rough idea right now, but while I like the divine power idea, I’d like to see our more fleshed out.

Characters have a method of gaining church goers, based on investment, and characters can gain “divine power” for that. There is also a high priest level for the friend of the domain ruler, but it doesn’t transition smoothly.

I think it would be cool to model churches in much the same way as cities. Both require investment and grow, but only the city generates money. Historically, churches were big sources of financial benefits.

A mix of congregation, city and vassal rules could make for an interesting system. The goal of it would be to build out top to a sort of shadow rule of domains aa large church.

Of this was put further forward, high level spells could be powered by “divine power” and out could produce a nice income and plenty of plot hooks.

You might want to check out Fantasy Flight’s rules about “Small Gods” in “Path of Faith” or “Spells and Magic,” both printed for D&D 3E.

There is nothing stopping a cleric with a “fortified church” stronghold from making an urban settlement at his stronghold or gaining funds from his domain, both of which can be invested in to increase population and both of which can increase the congregation (which increases divine power). Sure you have to explicitly mark money for urban investment, agricultural investment, or church investment, but all the systems are available to a cleric who wants to make an economically powerful cleric. You can also benefit from having a powerful market for mercantile ventures.

Yes and no…

Here’s my point. At the moment, the benefit of having a congregation is sort of that you can avoid tracking down rare ingredients for research. Divine power is a money sink. You spend for convenience in magical research.

An alternative model for a church would be as a profit center and generator of Morale and good relations. The followers that a cleric gains once she builds a fortified church, and the cost break it gives you are examples of the sort of thing I’m thinking of, but they are a one time benefit, while congregation building could happen at any level (though given the money involved, it seems to be a high level activity, mostly)

There are lots of rules for organizations in ACKS, I’m mostly thinking that it should be possible to hack them from domain and maybe army/garrison rules to church rules with comparable structures that sit on top of the army rules. We have a sense of the natural levels for commanders and lieutenants, for example, and maybe those should be achievable church sizes for different levels… That sort of thing.

I’m going to sit down one of these days to hammer something out, i’m just busier than I thought :slight_smile:

If you are the religious leader of the domain (which, if we are talking a fortified church, you will be), you get a congregation equal to a ratio of the population based on moral. (iirc:) Because of this, your congregation grows as your city and/or domain does and that growth speed can be increased by urban/agricultural investment (not quite as much as if you invested directly into the church, but a large percentage none-the-less). This does restrict your church of gold to domain-building levels and the cause and effect is reversed compared to how you’re thinking (pumping resources into the development of the city grows your religion in parallel instead of resources pumped into the religion increasing your cash-flow). I think I might be wrong about the increase of congregation when the population grows, now that I think of it.

Realistically, I don’t think that all the wealthy churches of the past that you’re thinking of got rich purely on their popularity and influence. Get enough gold and power to throw around and you will find spreading influence and raising popularity is easier.

Also, you don’t have to spend too much gold on your congregation (just like mages don’t NEED to make dungeons)! You can go straight domain-builder, just like fighters and justify it with the prosperity of your people (all of whom are “officially” members of your church as it is the domain’s official religion). Really, there is little mechanical difference between the church you want to make (where invested money creates a cash and moral flow) and a normal stronghold/urban settlement investment. Just say that the money is going to “devout” men and you’re fine.


I’ll need to look at exactly what you can do with divine power again, but … My sense is that it could be expanded to be made more useful. That is sort of the point. To the extent that players respond to incentives, if one wants clerics to do more church business, give them more of an incentive.

For example, let divine power be useful for hiring mercenaries or other labor, or things of that nature. Perhaps making 4th and 5th level spells cost divine power. Remember the 1e thing about high level spells coming fromthe good directly? That would be radical, but would make 6th level a mini domain level for clerics. This is sort of what I’m thinking. A pressure away from being an adventurer and toward being a community leader as part of being a cleric, but with corresponding benefits.

Obviously, not everyone would be interested in that level of simulation, or that pressure. I’m just trying to imagine a campaign built around being in the community rather that outsiders/adventurers, and I think building up more mid level psedo domain options might make that interesting.

Divine power can be used to replace the monster parts or rare materials for spell research, item creation, and rituals, etc.

At high levels, the right ritual can do all sorts of interesting things, and certain rituals (namely miracle) can ONLY be performed with divine power. The harvest ritual can be used to improve crop yields, increasing domain income. Unfortunately, ritual magic is an 11+ level option.

I’m not sure if giving the clerics a mid-level pseudo-domain is all that fair considering that they already get to domain level relatively quickly and have some of the nicest domain perks of any class (cheaper building, more followers than anyone else, plus followers are zealots that work for free) and they already have the option of making crafting easier at mid-levels with congregations and divine power.

I see what you mean, but as a counter argument… 5th level, or the “Adventurer” tier is a place where the characters get their first taste of what it is to be a leader. They aren’t conquerors, yet, but they are not nobodies. They can function as commanders/generals, warriors get Morale bonuses, lesser crafting opens up, etc.

This is also the region where many of the lieutenants and such appear in the men npc entries. It’s a level of power consistent with someone who can exercise a fair amount of authority, but is not the boss.

If it’s about balance, how about this thought experiment? Reduce the fortified church bonus and make the followers normal, but allow all construction to be paid (up to half) with divine power, and let clerics hire fanatic followers with it, as well, up to limits equivalent to the size of peasant levies, from their congregations… About 1 per 20 in the congregation, and this causes the congregation to drop by one.

Mongoose Publishing’s “The Quintessential Cleric” gives rules for hymns, which are spells that an entire congregation can sing. In ACKS terms, treat them like rituals in that they take a while and have a costly component (you need lots of people in the church singing the hymn at the same time). These hymns can have effects like ending a plague or summoning a small army. Start with 6th and 7th level spells for inspiration, particularly in the ACKS Players’ Companion.

There is the question of what, exactly, happens to all the money that domain rulers pay in tithes. I mean, clerics need to eat, churches need repairs, and almoners need money to distribute to the needy, but who gets to decide how those funds are allocated?

A PC could, at least in theory, become and emperor and the highest temporal authority in the land, but there don’t really seem to be any rules for PC clerics to gain authority within the hierarchy of the church. I mean, the pope has at various times ruled over lands in central Italy, but I don’t think that was ever his number one source of income.

Maybe there could be a system by which a cleric could “invest” Divine Power in advancing their position within the church, similar to the way that you can make urban investments to increase the maximum population of an urban center. Once you hit certain benchmarks you could start receiving a fraction of the tithes paid in a realm (and potentially beyond) as income, and possibly some other perks as well to reflect your growing influence and renown.

It’s a little more convoluted than simply allowing a cleric to pay for things directly with Divine Power, but it might help keep DP meaningfully distinct from gold income, and adds some flavor and adventure seeds by making the character more involved with the church.


I looked at the open game content for the Quintessential Cleric on your recommendation. It looks like a bunch of that might be close to what I’m imagining, so thanks!

The stuff I especially liked was the material talking about recruiting help and/or troops from your congregation, and other ways to think of them as people under your control. The church and sacrifice rules were also inspiring, and the idea of hymns. It would all need to be converted from 3.5, but it’s definitely given me some ideas.

Catdoom, I’d imagine that the money spent to maintain the congregation and would come from tithing for npcs, though the ruler’s tithe may be in addition to that, for the dominant religion. It says the upkeep cost for congregations should be in cash, but it seems reasonable to make it payable in the same ways as recruiting… Through service. Getting the appropriate fraction of the tithe as income seems plausible.

Lessee, 1 gp/person/month for 1 gp of divine favor per week per family doesn’t work out as “profitable” in terms of divine favor, but it’s more useful than money for research purposes. The tithe produces about 1 gp/ family/month, depending on the details of the domain. This tells me this about the assumptions of the game world… Churches mostly operate at 1 per domain. Sizable second religions are funded at great expense from bases which are profitable, in the form of theocracies. They serve to undermine the stability of the realm, a Morale is tied to number of adherents to the domain religion. In other words, if they can establish a foothold of 30%, domain Morale can’t go above +3 without some kind of conversion.