In a world without gods, spiritualism on Athas has unlocked the secrets of the raw forces of which the very planet is comprised: earth, air, fire, and water. However, other forces exist which seek to supplant them and rise to ascendancy in their place. These forces have taken up battle against the elements of creation on the element’s own ground in the form of entropic perversions of the elements themselves: magma, rain, silt and sun.
Making a Cleric
Clerics are the masters of elemental forces; they possess unique supernatural abilities to direct and harness elemental energy, and cast elemental spells. All things are comprised of the four elements in some degree, thus clerics can use their elemental powers to heal or harm others. Due to their affinities with the elements, clerics possess a number of supernatural elemental abilities. Athas is a dangerous world; this practicality dictates that clerics must be able to defend themselves capably. Clerics are trained to use simple weapons and, in some cases, martial weapons; they are also taught to wear and use armor, since wearing armor does not interfere with elemental spells as it does arcane spells.
Races: All races include clerics in their societies, though each race possesses different perspectives regarding what a cleric’s role involves. As masters of myth and the elemental mysteries, most clerics hold a place of reverence within their respective societies. However, more than a few races have varying affinities for one element over another. Dwarves almost always become earth clerics, a connection they’ve shared since before they were driven from their halls under the mountains. Dwarven determination and obsessive dedication matches perfectly with the enduring earth. Elves most often revere water, fire, or the winds; as nomads, they seldom feel a deep–seated affinity for the land. Thri‐kreen are known to ally with all elements to the exclusion of fire. This seems to stem from a mistrust of flame, which is common in many kreen.
Alignment: Attaining the abilities of a true servant of the elements requires a deep understanding of the chosen kind of element of paraelement. An aspiring cleric must make a study of the element’s typical personality and role; opens the door to the element’s power. Thus, Athasians clerics align their morals to suit the traits of the element to which they dedicate themselves.
A cleric gains additional class skills in accordance with her worshiped element or paraelement, as defined below:
- Air: Fly, Stealth
- Earth: Climb, Knowledge (dungeoneering)
- Fire: Acrobatics, Perform
- Magma: Intimidate, Knowledge (warcraft)
- Rain: Knowledge (nature), Survial
- Silt: Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand
- Sun: Knowledge (geography), Perception
- Water: Disable Device, Swim
An Athasian cleric adds spells from the Athasian Cleric Spell List in addition to those found in the Core Rulebook.
The elements or paraelements a cleric may worship, and their corresponding energy type and domains, are listed on the table below:
|Air||Sonic||Soul Slayer, Furious Storm, Ill Winds, Rolling Thunder, Soaring Spirit|
|Earth||Acid||Decaying Touch, Earthen Embrace, Forged Stone, Ruinous Swarm, Mountain's Fury|
|Fire||Fire||Burning Eyes, Sky Blitz, Mountain's Fury, Smoldering Spirit, Fiery Wrath|
|Water||Cold||Desert Mirage, Drowning Despair, Sky Blitz, Living Waters|
|Magma||Fire||Broken Sands, Dead Heart, Ill Winds, Mountain's Fury|
|Rain||Electricity||Cold Malice, Decaying Touch, Furious Storm|
|Silt||Acid||Broken Sands, Decaying Touch, Dead Heart, Soul Slayer|
|Sun||Fire||Soul Slayer, Light's Revelation, Desert Mirage, Fiery Wrath|
(A complete listing of cleric domains can be found here: Cleric Domains)
A cleric may choose a bonus language in accordance with her worshiped element or paraelement (Water: Aquan; Air, Rain: Auran; Fire, Magma, Sun: Ignan; Earth, Silt: Terran). These choices are in addition to the bonus languages available to the character because of her race.
Playing a Cleric
The clerics of Athas are like the rare snows that blanket the highest peaks of the Ringing Mountains. Though the cascading flakes all seem the same, the pattern of each is as different as the faces of men are from muls. Indeed, clerics are like snowflakes, each preaching about preservation and the elements, but no two of them do it for the same reason. This makes these environmental warriors an extremely diverse and interesting class to play. Some are merely power‐hungry, some seek revenge, and some are honestly struggling to save their dying planet and reverse the ancient environmental disaster.
You are a servant of your element, your goal in life is to expand its presence in Athas, and find your element’s foes and destroy them with your cleansing element.
You adventure out of a desire to preach the words of your element, prove your worth and to destroy infidels who worship opposed elements.
Unlike clerics found on other worlds, elemental clerics do not generally congregate at temples or churches, nor do they participate in a uniform, organized religion. Each cleric’s calling to the raw energy of the elements is personal, individual. Some clerics believe that, upon their initiation, they enter pacts with powerful beings, elemental lords, who grant powers to those who contract with them. Others believe that the elements are neither malevolent nor benevolent, but a tool to be used, or a force to be harnessed. Regardless, all clerics desire the preservation of their patron element, though the reasons for this are many and varied.
Clerics are found everywhere on Athas. Most common clerics are wanderers, who preach the concept of preservation with the hope of restoring Athas to a greener state. Wanderers are generally well received by those that dwell in the desert, such as villagers and slave tribes. They cure the sick and heal the wounded, sometimes even aiding in defeating local threats. Other clerics act as wardens of small, hidden shrines, which they hope creates a clearer channel to the elemental plane of worship, and fortifies their powers and spells. Tribal and primitive societies include shamans, who see to the spiritual needs of their groups, offering advice to the leaders and providing supernatural protection and offence. Lastly, some clerics stay in the cities, where they most commonly work against the sorcerer‐kings and their templars. There they quietly preach the message of preservation to the citizenry, and even sometimes work with the Veiled Alliance.
In an adventuring party, the cleric often fills the role of advisor and protector. Clerics often possess an unshakable distrust of wizards and their arcane spells. Most clerics are well aware of the danger that sorcery represents to the dying planet, and watch those who wield such power carefully. Generally speaking, the elemental clerics are all on friendly terms with each other, recognizing an ancient pact made by their ancestors to put aside their differences in the opposition of Athas’s destruction. However, clerics whose elements are diametrically opposed often clash regarding the means used in furthering their goals, and at times this has led to bloodshed.
Athasian clerics make use of the same general combat tactics as those described in the Player’s Handbook―that is, stay back from melee and use your spells to either destroy your enemies or enhance your allies’ abilities. Your tactics on the battlefield depend largely on your element and domains chosen. Air clerics are not very offensive, but when needed they usually employ sonic attacks from the heights. Earth clerics believe the best defense is a good offense, but they also employ the strongest of metal weapons. Fire clerics are feared and unpredictable, appearing to thrive only when everything around them is being devoured by the fiery appetites of their patrons. Water clerics are usually healers, but they can be known to be meticulous in the cruelty of their vengeance when someone wantonly wastes water. Donʹt neglect your ability to heal yourself or your allies, but donʹt burn through your spells early in an attempt to do so; make the most efficient use of your spells in battle, saving the healing until combat is over or it becomes absolutely necessary.
Your first steps towards becoming a cleric were witnessing your element in action. After learning what your element could do, and that they could grant such powers into you, you dedicated yourself into serving your element. Your elemental pact marked the beginning of your journey and unlocked the first of many new abilities other creatures can only dream about. You have only just begun your quest to become worthy of your element, and a lifetime of striving still lies ahead of you. If you truly want to serve your element the best you can, consider taking the ementalist prestige class.
Clerics on Athas
“As for the elemental clerics, some say we are mad―driven insane by the chaotic beings we serve. But others see the gleam of patience in our eyes, and know that one day the clerics of Athas will throw off the yoke of oppression and return the flowing rivers and the sprawling forests to our withered lands.” ―Jurgan, Urikite earth cleric
Like the Athasian deserts, the elemental powers are neither benevolent nor malevolent, caring only that their natural forms are preserved in the material world. This is the source of their power, and the impending ecological collapse in Athas has created an unusual and dynamic power struggle on the elemental planes. The clerics of Athas are nothing but the pawns of this titanic struggle.
A cleric typically begins his day by finding a suitable locale where he can commune with his element and pray for the spells he desires. He then spends the rest of the day engaged in whatever task seems most important for advancing his element’s goals while trying to avoid too much trouble. When not adventuring, clerics often spend their time seeking out scraps of information about the elemental planes and other clerics. The pursuit of such knowledge is often quite dangerous and can result in the cleric undertaking additional adventures.
The pursuit of his element’s goals garners notoriety for a cleric, but it also can bring about his death of force him into exile. The Wanderer, famous for compiling the history and geography of Athas, is said to be an earth cleric. The sun cleric Caelum (page 285) became famous for leading his Dwarven army in their metal armor against the sorcerer‐kings and helping re‐imprisoning Rajaat back in to the Hollow.
A cleric usually finds a role in an adventuring party or other organization that allows his free time to explore his divine abilities freely. Since no organization specifically caters to Athasian clerics, many find themselves in drastically different circumstances from those of their comrades.
Within the ranks of elemental clerics, prestige and influence is measured by the depth of their devotion to their element. The most highly admired are those who have further accomplished their element’s pact and those who most wield elemental power. When two or more clerics come into conflict, they usually defer to the one with a greater knowledge of their element, relying on wisdom and experiences to provide a reasonable solution.
The elemental clerics are much more tightly tied to their temples than paraelemental ones. Because the elements are losing the battle against the paraelements, they cannot afford to be without staunch allies.
The reactions clerics receive from communities are directly tied to how those cultures regard their specific element. A silt cleric is viewed in a much friendlier manner near to the Sea of Silt than near the Forest Ridge, for example.
As a general rule of thumb, an NPCʹs attitude is one step nearer helpful for elemental clerics and one step nearer hostile for paraelemental clerics.