Congregation upkeep

According to ACKS 123-125, a divine caster can amass a congregation which can provide divine power to assist with rituals and creating magical items. Each 5 congregants provide 1 point of divine power per week and require 5gp per month in upkeep.

So, two questions:

  1. When working on a ritual/item/construct/undead, this is a small net loss - spend 5gp to get an average of 4.5ish divine power, which can substitute for 4.5gp of special components and/or precious materials. Is the easier availability of divine power the only intended advantage to having a congregation instead of spending (a smaller amount of) gold directly?

  2. When not working on a project, you still have to pay the 5gp/month upkeep, but divine power can only be collected for a specific project, so you don’t get any. Is there some other benefit to maintaining a congregation between projects?

The overall question, of course, is “What’s the point of having a congregation?” It seems like it’s just a money sink that provides little or no actual benefit.


  1. If you are the spiritual leader of a domain, what happens if you don’t pay the maintenance on your congregation? The number of congregants in this case is determined by domain morale, so it doesn’t seem like congregants should just leave unless domain morale falls.

The availability is a massive factor. One cannot assume there are very many vampire hearts in circulation at any given time, so that sword of lifedrinking may take a long, long time to complete without divine power.

Also, (Curse the lack of an edit button!), two other factors play in.

The congregation maintenance assumes a lower level PC who does not control a domain- It’s intended to allow clerics to bootstrap themselves before their hex-clearing phase, so that your 5th level Cleric can make Potions of Cure Light Wounds without needing to constantly search the market for troll blood. If you’re a lord saying “I, Robert Guilliman, am now administrator of these lands, and I command you to worship the God-Emperor, with me as your Spiritual Liege!” then you don’t have to pay upkeep to maintain the faithful; that’s all done by domain morale.

Second, the GP cost of maintaining a congregation can be paid in spells, and also you add the full GP value of any structures. This means that you can essentially maintain a congregation for “free” as long as you can devote the time to providing services, or if you’re frequently away, you can at least, say, build a 10k church and then pay a meagre 50 gp per month in upkeep.

Are those factors official or house rules? I reread the Congregations rules several times before posting yesterday, but didn’t find any mention of either of those things - and one thing I was specifically looking for was whether a domain’s spiritual leader or ruler needed to pay upkeep on his congregation or not. (While it’s definitely possible for the leader/ruler to simply command orthopraxy, I would expect at least some portion of the upkeep cost to be fixed maintenance expenses - buying wine and communion wafers, replacing worn-out hymnals, and so on - rather than bribes to the faithful to keep them faithful, so it would need to be paid regardless of how you build your congregation.)

House Rule is a strong word- They’re my best guess at how the really vague rules are meant to be interpreted. I’d like to think Alex will post and say that I’m exactly correct, but I can’t be sure.

This post by Alex has information relevant to the topic of this thread.

IANAA, but this is way it has worked out in my game.

  1. Divine power is much more readily availible than specific monster parts, but the other benefit to congregations is that spell slots that would have been wasted during downtime can be used to grow/maintain your congregation.

  2. Congregation maintenance is pretty cheap if you take advantage of charitable spell casting, usually this means reserving enough days in town each month to cast enough spells. Cleric henchmen are also very useful in this regard, a dedicated level 2 cleric can maintain a congregation of 330 people (10 GP/day in spell casting + wages) for you and only costs 50 GP/month. It’s also worth noting that the rate of decay for unsupported congregations is very low (1d10 per 1000 congregants per month), so you can feel free to not support them every single month.

The point of your congregation ends up being something useful for the party cleric to do during in town downtime. You can get a large amount of divine power by giving away resources that would have otherwise been wasted (spell slots).

  1. Domain worship is supported by tithing and is seperate from your personal congregation.

For example: Theocrat Sergius is the spiritual advisor to the Roman Emperor in 612 AD. He preaches in Constaninople, a city of 170,000 people and also oversees the church for the entire empire which contains 3.4 million families. Sergius is a level 14 cleric of Ammonar and can cast 6 1st level, 5 2nd level, 5 3rd level, 5 4th level, and 4 5th level spells per day. His total spellcasting ability is worth 4,635 GP per day. If Sergius is dedicated and casts spells every single day at the Hagia Sophia, he can maintain a congregation of almost 130,000 congregants or about 76% of the Constantinople’s urban population. This nets him 26,000 GP worth of divine power per week. Sergius however wants more, he issues a call for a week of prayer across the entire empire and nets an additional 1,360,000 GP worth of divine power. The sucess of this call to prayer makes Sergius wonder why he bothers working so hard on his personal congregation and he retires from active preaching to focus on magical item production.

Wait, don’t the rules only allow you to draw on the divine power of your domain, not your realm?

The wording in the rules is specific to domains and not realms. The examples support this conclusion as well. It doesn’t appear that Sergius can draw upon the divine power of the entire empire according to the RAW.

On the other hand, if constantinople has 170,000 people, that’s 34,000 families, or around 17,000gp worth of divine power per week for free. I can’t imagine what he’s crafting that requires more than 17k per week- Even a +3 Sword needs less than 50k in special components.

Actually, that means that from that point on, he’d channel all his FREE divine power into “gilt” bonuses. By the end of the three month item creation period, he’d have amassed 153,000gp “extra” divine power that could be substituted for gold and jewels for a +15 to the item creation check- The high priest of Constantinople NEVER makes a dud magical item, essentially.

Not quite, because you can’t spend more on precious materials than the base cost of the item (which for a +3 sword appears to be 35,000 gp.)

Checking out the list of magic item prices, a +3 frost brand tops out the weapon prices (at 145k). Staff of Wizardry tops out all items, at 275,000. (A cleric can’t make this, but let’s say he’s a wonderworker instead.)

The Staff’s construction time is, however, 1100 days. He would amass 2.67 million divine power in this time, and be able to spend only 550,000 of it himself. This is what assistants are for! He could concurrently be building almost 5 (4.84) Staves of Wizardry with maxed out precious materials at a mere cost of 275,000 gp out of pocket each.

All of this post after the first sentence was unnecessary.

Still, the longer this conversation goes on, the more I’m beginning to wonder what mages get in ACKS

Mages can make almost all magic items; any magic item that is not specifically restricted to clerics can be made by a mage.

Clerics can make only those magic items that they can use. (Thus, a stock cleric? Can’t make magic swords.)

If you go entirely by the book, it’s also debateable whether or not clerics can have assistants.

Mages can design new spells; clerics need permission from their deity to change their spell list.

Mages can make crossbreeds; clerics can’t.

And this is off topic so I’ll stop now, but in summary, I do think mages have neat things too.

My mistake, but it makes me wonder if a Cleric can then demand a favor from his cleric vassals to provide even more divine power, something like a call to arms for divine power (Call to Prayer?).

While I do like the notion of a Theocrat channeling the prayers of millions into some super-intensive ritual, it would probably be seriously overpowered. Either way Sergius’s bottleneck is definately item creation time rather than divine power.

Or is it? How much divine power could you potentially use per week? Lets say you have 7 henchmen and they are all being supervised by you, so thats 8 copies of the most expensive/time item. You can also double the base cost for extra success chance, so let’s do that as well. So you have eight Sword +3, 70,000 GP for max success over 3 months. That would be 43,556 GP in divine power per week or 217,778 congregants or a domain of 108,889 families. You can push it even higher, if I understand the weapon creation rules correctly, a Lance +3 only takes 9 days to produce, while having a base cost of 70,000 GP. You would have to be a bladedancer rather than a cleric to produce it, but a team of bladedancers could burn through 435,556 GP worth of divine power every week in intensive lance production. This would require a domain of 1 million families or a congregation of 2.2 million. A call to prayer might be pretty neat in that case, but I suppose you would also be burning enough gold to level someone from level 1 to 9 every week.

Don’t be too concerned… “House rule” may be a strong word, but I don’t use it as a pejorative. I love my own mass (or should that be “mess”?) of house rules too much for that! I just like to know what’s official and what isn’t.

Thanks! That does seem to cover most of what I was asking about, but, if “peasant families commanded to worship are NOT congregants”, that then raises the question of what happens if a cleric who has commanded peasants to worship starts proselytizing within his domain.

Also, magical research rolls automatically fail on a natural 1-3, so you’ll make dud items 15% of the time no matter how good you are or how much money/divine power you can throw at it.

it’s good to be reminded of what mages get, but I myself am dreading when my player’s mage reaches level 5 and I need to figure out how exactly i’m going to handle acquiring monster parts… or even determining what monster part should be used for each item.

You can always have the player do some of the work, by having them come up with a list of possibilities (and the reason for each one), and then you narrow it down to which monsters will apply and what body parts are needed from that monster. It doesn’t work for every player, since some of them won’t want to look over the monster entries that much, but if the player’s game, it cuts down on the workload.

Wasnt there a post from Alex somewhere that detailed his use of valuable gems instead of body parts for low level magical items?
I can not find that one anymore… :confused: