Monday, April 11, 2016

Divine Domain: Madness [ROUGH DRAFT]

So far, I've dabbled in warlocks, paladins, and rogues. Now, let's see how tweaking a cleric works.

Madness is a popular concept in roleplaying, such that entire games revolve around it. Nearly every setting in D&D canon has at least one mad god, and it'd make sense that such gods should have equally mad clerics: fonts of enlightened insanity, sharing their manic wisdom with the world (whether the world wants it, or, more likely, not).

An interesting domain riding hard the "Chaotic" side of the alignment chart, Madness and the clerics that espouse it can range from being Good at heart, using their insanity for the benefit of others, to being malicious and Evil, truly wishing to destroy all that is sane and safe in the world.

Let's look at what makes this fun.


  • Spell list full of mental-control powers, feels functionally halfway between bard and warlock.
  • Use the message cantrip to make people go nuts. No seriously, try it.
  • A controlling/offensive first-level combat feature, essentially an ultra-light version of compulsion.
  • Two Channel Divinities, one to make your enemies crazy, the other to make your friends crazy.
  • An assortment of level 6+ domain spells delivered at class level 17. 
  • Deep Speech may not be entirely necessary on Voices in Your Head. But it seems so fun.
  • CD: Sow Madness is strong, but less strong (due to unreliability) than what an Arcane cleric gets so that seems alright.
  • CD: Berserking may be stronger or weaker than intended. Hard to tell with that one. 
  • I was originally making this as a paladin Oath of Madness. I'm still probably going to make the paladin Oath, but man, is it much easier to design for a cleric. 


  1. What a great archetype! Thanks for posting. Many of these features would fit a Great Old One warlock.

    Is "Eyes of Insanity" a little OP for 1st level? What about changing it from a bonus action to an action? Otherwise you're setting up the cleric to attack the target with bonus action, action, and reaction all in the same round.

    1. >Is "Eyes of Insanity" a little OP for 1st level?

      So I had a previous post, but I removed it because it was meandering and the balance needed a more side-by-side look.

      For Eyes of Insanity (EoI), I used the War Cleric's level 1 feature, "War Priest" (WP) as a point of comparison.

      War Priest expends a bonus action to do an additional attack, which it can do [WIS mod] times per day. This ability has an attack roll, which can be assumed to have about a 50/50 hit/miss rate.

      EoI expends a bonus action to move a creature in a direction, ending if the creature is successfully attacked, and EoI may be used [WIS mod]/2 times per day. This ability requires a saving throw, which can be assumed to have about a 50/50 success/fail rate, and requires one of a (likely) series of attacks to hit, if it is to deal damage.

      So, where WP has a 50% chance of dealing damage, EoI has a 50% chance of working at all and, if it does work, a 50% chance of dealing damage each time it would provoke an attack. However, there can be assumed to be multiple attacks to-hit on EoI, until one deals damage.

      While this makes it look like EoI is strictly worse (slightly lower likelihood of damage overall, less uses), there is one MAJOR way in which EoI outclasses WP.

      Other class features (Sneak Attack, Divine Smite, et al) can add to the damage of an opportunity attack in a fairly major way. Where WP is limited in damage only to what the War Cleric can put out (which is not insignificant), EoI can leverage what the rest of the party is capable of to deal even more damage.

      This logic is why I limited EoI to half the uses of WP. It's, overall, a more powerful ability if used wisely, and a reduction in usage should reflect that.

      As it stands now, I don't see EoI in its current state as significantly more useful or powerful than WP. Of course, I could be completely wrong, but I hope this illustrates where I'm coming from with the ability.

    2. Actually yeah, you're totally right.

      On an ability-versus-ability basis EoI is fine, but taken as a whole the Madness domain is already a combat monster that doesn't need a bonus action control on the side.