Clerics are the emissaries of the gods. They serve the gods and receive their powers from them through their faithfulness and diligence. Clerics should receive spells in a manner that reflects this and also represents the separation between men and gods.
My idea would be a new mechanic. One that is different from Vancian spellcasting. Cleric do not receive a set number of spellcasting uses or levels per day. They do not memorize spells or study their spellbooks. Their preparation involved meditation to align their will with the will of their god. Spell lists might be limited by the domains of their deity with a generic list for all clerics.
Instead they must exercise faith and are occasionally rewarded by miracles. Oher times, they receive no manifestation and must ponder the reason for the silence, perhaps their own insufficient faith or perhaps the will of the gods is not aligned with what the cleric wished for.
The mechanic might be similar to this:
Each spell (prayer) cast by a cleric starts with a 90% chance of success at the beginning of the day (DC 3 check). This chance (DC) is then mitigated by the following:
- +10%(-2 to DC) per level of Cleric (your god hears your calls as your faith and standing increases and you can attempt greater miracles)
- -25%(+5 to DC) per level of the spell attempted (greater miracles require greater faith and sacrifice)
- -5%(+1 to DC) per spell level previously attempted that day (you weary the gods with frequent importuning and should show more self-reliance)
- +10%(-2 to DC) temporary modifier per consecutive spell prior to this one that had failed. (A reward for your continued diligence in seeking divine aid)
- Other situational modifers as decided by DM.
This would mean that a 1st level cleric could conceivably receive a 3rd level miracle at 1st level. Such a risk would lead to a -15%(-3) on future spells for the rest of the day whether the spell was successful or not.
A 10th level cleric would start with a 190% chance of success for a 0 level cantrip (automatic success unless DM wants to include chance of critical failure on a d20 roll of 1) and a 90% chance of success (DC 3) for a 4th level spell.
All combat and healing spells should be scaled by both caster level and spell level.
Clerics would have no set number of spells per day. No vancian progression like Wizards. Instead they would rely on the fickle hand of the gods to respond to their prayers. At times, they might receive a miracle far advance of their status and other times they might be answered with silence from the heavens (or hells as the case may be).
Cleric attack spells when successful should often require no attack roll, bypass armor, and grant no save. Why would puny mortal armor deflect a bolt delivered from the gods? Of course spells such as Hold Person or the like would allow a save.
This mechanic would cause clerics to use weapons more frequently if they wanted to show greater self-reliance and avoid too frequently calling upon their deity for aid. It would lead to a reduction in the constant every round Lance of Faith phenomenon that is happening in the previous playtests.
Feedback on this new mechanic would be appreciated. Of course, playtesting would be required to fine tune the percentage values.