Friday, December 26, 2014

The Hallowed: Mortal Agents of Celestial Will

While passing the time(and more importantly serving to distract myself) in the days before my recent spinal surgery and again afterwards I found myself tinkering on a little project of sorts. I believe the initial seed for the whole thing, the proverbial pebble that started it all was an idea that came to me when I became curious about making an aasimar warlock based roughly on Constantine. While working on that character I began to ponder the nature of warlocks in general and how at their core it could easily make sense for a sort of holy warlock to exist.

Just consider it for a moment. A warlock, in D&D is in essence a spellcasting class that is bound into the service of a dark power or extra-planar/outsider being in exchange for secrets, magic etc. They cast arcane spells but they aren't quite wizards by any means or even quite sorcerers. In short they are a bit of an odd duck among the arcane classes.

Now, what if you stripped them of the thematic elements of evil and dark magics (or, yes - the whole grey area middle ground regarding outsiders like elder gods or archfey entities) in favor of their opposite. Instead of being beholden to fiends, outsider elder gods or even archfey you could have them sworn to serve angels or other celestial entities. Replacing the dark/foreign magics and arcane tricks at their disposal is divine magic and holy abilities to aid them in their appointed tasks.

The end creation, in the strictest sense of the word would be someone who was hallowed; blessed and chosen to preform as the mortal hand to a celestial's will. Among these 'Hallowed' are three different celestial aspects, each one based on the type of duty they are charged with. These aspects include: Swords, Shields and Cloaks. Hallowed Swords seek do battle with the minions of evil, Hallowed Shields protect the innocent from harm and Hallowed Cloaks act as agents of celestial authority or scouts wherever they are needed.

In the process of shaping the class into a fully detailed write-up like any official class within the player's hand book I also crafted or 're-themed' some new spells that fit along with the concept. The most predominant new spell, one that in many ways is a hallmark of the class is a divine cantrip; called Faith Blade. Basically, it allows the Hallowed to form a weapon, created by their very faith itself in order to fight their foes. In so many ways it is a sort of counterpoint to the warlock's eldritch blast spell - it gives them an attack that they can use that is tailor suited to the class without being overpowered. For the Hallowed, that magic is used in melee combat where warlocks instead blast at you from range.

Overall, I do believe the class fits in a similar capacity as a divine odd duck where the warlock is an arcane one. Hallowed aren't quite the powerful combat class as paladins but they don't quite have the range or scope of a cleric. You could say that the Hallowed did indeed become a sort of Holy Warlock or even a Divine Sorcerer in many regards. Depending on the aspect, what began as a divine class based as a mirrored opposite to the warlock soon became a mix of pieces drawn from bards, clerics, paladins and more. The finished product though, is nothing short of its own unique identity.

So, I'd like to make the Hallowed class available to anyone interested in trying them out or to those who simply find the thematic niche they fill missing from their games and worth adding. Here is is available in either Microsoft Word format or PDF.

If you are using my Digital Dossier character utility for 5th Edition, then here are three example builds to showcase each of the Hallowed's celestial aspect types:
Caelynn Liadon, Moon Elf Hallowed Sword 1st Level
Vondal BrightShield, Mountain Dwarf Hallowed Shield 1st Levcl
Carric Amberweave, Half Elf Hallowed Cloak 1st Level

Each pre-generated character is a complete write-up with background notes to provide a basic idea of how they came to become a Hallowed and/or why they chose to become bound into service. I won't claim they are all novel concepts or brilliant conceived but they do give some idea into the nature of the Hallowed class as a whole. Feel free to use them in your games as npc's or for player-use. If nothing else, I hope they might help inspire your own interesting ideas for a character or story.

As always, I am all ears regarding any feedback, opinions or thoughts.

Have fun playing and making stories to share. This began as something to preoccupy myself but became a sort-of labor of love. I had a blast crafting it and, at least to me also opens up a whole new cluster of interesting characters with which to play with. Hopefully you'll agree! Enjoy!

For where warlocks walk in darkness, beholden to shadows, Hallowed tread in the service of light, willingly sworn to serve when called upon. Wielding their very faith itself, Hallowed stand against evil in any form, ready to combat it at every turn.

- Regarding and in response to the question of why Hallowed are a viable option for players as opposed to an unnecessary one where players could simply play a cleric instead:

Granted an obvious question is why not just make them as another cleric devoted to a deity, why make them beholden to a lesser being instead? Which is a valid point, one that merits consideration. A paladin is a crusading champion of good, devoted to some cause or ideal. Clerics are themselves devoted priests to a particular deity themselves. Both are great character types, ones that are established, well known and familiar/recognizable. Much like how wizards are among the arcane classes and fighters are among the martial ones. Yet, there exists oddball blends between them like the bard, there are even fighter-wizard types like the eldritch knight. Hallowed exist within that same sort of mixed crossover space. They lack the potent martial prowess of the paladin, as well as their ability to channel divinity. When compared to clerics they enjoy a narrower scope of spells (even if they do garner access to many that a cleric simply doesn't have available), nor are they able to provide the full healing and/or the raw divine power to turn/destroy undead. Instead what the Hallowed have at their disposal is a unique knack, a niche for being a blend of battle-casting divine magic users, some flexibility for magical support, the ability to fight on their own to a degree and an overall capacity to fill in a themed roll based on their celestial aspect, one that is rich in flavor much like any warlock. If you ask yourself who would want to play a Hallowed instead of just making another cleric, the easy answer with which to counter that notion is this: who would want to play a warlock when they could just make another wizard. It lies in variety, in tastes and feel. Instead of an angel or celestial appearing to oppose the forces of darkness, wouldn't it be interesting to see an agent acting on their behalf - one invested with a measure of their holy power? It only seems somewhat more believable and/or balanced to have a 1st level player character who has been chosen or called into the service of a deva to act as their voice or intermediary in comparison to one who has a fiendish/elder god/archfey patron.

Hallowed © Matthew C. Gill 2014