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Bigger Bads: Clerical NPCs

Bigger Bads: Clerical NPCs

What would your game be without formidable and memorable NPCs? So let’s build more great options!

Options for Clergy

The core game presents a few NPC stat blocks with a cleric’s spellcasting abilities. The acolyte (CR 1/4)is akin to a 1st-level cleric, wielding enough power to heal simple wounds. The priest (CR 2)is a more potent 5th-level cleric, possessing the power to cast dispel magic. And the cult fanatic (CR 4) is a darker 4th-level cleric. Southlands Worldbook also offers the apostle (CR 6), a 10th-level cleric who can exert power sufficient to raise the dead—and even the potent first servant (CR 12), an 18th-level cleric. And Creature Codex offers the militaristic war chaplain (CR 3), a 5th-level cleric,and war priest (CR 8), a 7th-level cleric. (This list ignores a few setting- and race-specific clerical NPCs but is sufficient for our purposes here.)

This leaves quite the spread for GMs who want the PCs to take on the church. At very low levels, an acolyte isn’t very challenging while a priest can be a deadly foe. And obviously, as the PCs grow in power and level, they need greater foes.

As GM, you can supplement encounters with monstrous foes, but this option may feel out of place. You can add greater numbers of NPCs, but this risks longer, more cluttered battles. So let’s dive into some new NPCs!

More NPCs

Below are two new options for clerical NPCs: the adept and the exarch. Both have a feature called Domain Power that allows GMs to further tailor them to the needs at hand. Options for three common domains are also presented, representing champions of shadow, undeath, and war—but don’t hesitate to create new powers for your campaign.

Adept

The first new entry is the adept, an up-and-coming member of any church. The adept doesn’t tend to the flock like the acolyte, nor do they run a whole temple like a priest. The adept is being groomed for delegated tasks in preparation for a promotion—exactly the space where they might intersect with meddling adventurers.

ADEPT

Medium Humanoid (Any Race), Any Alignment
Armor Class 12 (studded leather)
Hit Points 13 (3d8)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
14 (+2)10 (+0)10 (+0)10 (+0)15 (+2)12 (+1)

Skills Medicine +4, Religion +2
Senses passive Perception 12
Languages any one language (usually Common)
Challenge 1 (200 XP)            Proficiency Bonus +2

ACTIONS

Morningstar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) bludgeoning damage.

Light Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d8) piercing damage.

Domain Power (1/Day). The adept has access to one Divine Domain, either Shadow, Undeath, or War. Whichever domain they choose, they can use the associated ability below:

  • Bolster Undead (Undeath). All undead within 30 feet that can see the adept regain 4 (1d8) hit points.
  • Umbral Step (Shadow). The adept can teleport up to 60 feet to another unoccupied space it can see that is in dim light or darkness.
  • Warlord’s Favor (War). For the next minute, the adept deals an additional 2 (1d4) radiant damage on melee weapon attacks.

Spellcasting. The adept casts one of the following spells, using Wisdom as the spellcasting ability (spell save DC 12):

  • At will: light, sacred flame, thaumaturgy
  • 2/day each: cure wounds, guiding bolt
  • 1/day each: hold person, spiritual weapon

Exarch

The second new entry is the exarch, the middle manager of the faithful. The exarch has been promoted beyond the administration of a single temple and now oversees a region. The exarch likely realizes that any further promotion hinges upon their ability to execute a signature project—and these are the kinds of plan that mid-level adventurers might muck up repeatedly.

EXARCH

Medium Humanoid (Any Race), Any Alignment
Armor Class 14 (scale mail)
Hit Points 45 (7d8 + 14)
Speed 30 ft.

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
10 (+0)10 (+0)14 (+2)12 (+1)16 (+3)13 (+1)

Skills Medicine +5, Persuasion +3, Religion +3
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages any two languages
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)         Proficiency Bonus +2

ACTIONS

Club. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 2 (1d4) bludgeoning damage.

Light Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d8) piercing damage.

Domain Power (1/Day). The exarch has access to one Divine Domain, either Shadow, Undeath, or War. Whichever domain they choose, they can use the associated ability below:

  • Holy Teamwork (War). For the next minute, the exarch has advantage on attacks against the creature that their spiritual weapon has attacked in the same turn.
  • Rapid Recruiter (Undeath). The exarch casts animate dead with the casting time of 1 action.
  • Shrouded Influence (Shadow). As an action, the exarch turns invisible for up to 3 rounds. This ability ends if the exarch casts a spell or makes an attack.

Spellcasting. The exarch casts one of the following spells, using Wisdom as the spellcasting ability (spell save DC 13):

  • At will: light, sacred flame, thaumaturgy
  • 2/day each: animate dead, cure wounds, guiding bolt, spiritual weapon
  • 1/day each: freedom of movement, guardian of faith, spirit guardians

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