Friday, January 11, 2013

On the Power of the Cleric

I mentioned last post that I had run a few sessions of ACKS with my brother recently, and was struck by the contrasts with playing with my normal group.  He's been gaming for as long as I have, and he was both clever and cautious.  I sent him into a restocked version of the dwarven dungeon where the Morlock Massacre took place, and which the Old Guard abandoned as "too dangerous".  He took no casualties until the third expedition, which made it into the (more dangerous) second level, found a hidden part of the first level which the main group did not, and brought a mule to haul all of the crappy copper-grade treasure the previous party left behind.  I think the main reason he had an easier time of it, though, was that he had a cleric.  Not for healing, mind you - only one cure light was cast in three expeditions, and that was to remove gelatinous cube-induced paralysis.  No, the feature that really made the cleric MVPC was turning.  The rest of my players have a bad habit of leaving the bodies of their slain foes around, and the dungeon is a weak Sinkhole of Evil, which means that stuff reanimates if left there for too long.  Accounting for a fair bit of scavenger activity, this led to a lot of ambulatory skeletons, as well as a few zombies in sealed areas which were closed to large rodents.  It was all good, though, because the dice were rolling hot for turning; if he was on 7+ to turn, they could reliably be counted on to roll a 7 on the money, and after he levelled the same was true of 4+ rolls.  In seven combats with the undead, I think he failed one turning roll, and that was at the very end of a cleverly-planned combat where he had repeatedly turned a huge mob of dwarf skeletons to drive them back and forth through a wall of oil-fire to great effect (for my players reading this - this was the 20+ skeleton room that downed Gallivan and Corinth).

In any case, I was impressed with the power turning exhibited when wielded to its full potential with a little luck, as it was very different from what we saw in Bleak, where the party brought many a low-level cleric henchman only to see them devoured by ghouls.  I no longer feel any problems with first-level ACKS clerics having no spells, as they have about a 50% chance to do to an encounter with weak undead what a first-level wizard can do to an encounter with living creatures via sleep (namely ending it summarily), and the cleric can do this repeatedly, as well as wearing armor.

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