Finding the Path – Clerical Domination: Destruction Domain

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Hello everyone, and welcome to the next installment in a series of articles focusing on the Cleric Domains in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The goal for each of these is to provide you with a quick overview of your domain powers, spells, and introduce you to a god or goddess from real-Earth mythology who could be a deity using this particular domain.

All that said, welcome to this week’s article on the domain of Destruction.

 

The Destruction Domain is described as “You revel in ruin and devastation, and can deliver particularly destructive attacks” -We can probably safely assume that generally speaking, you’re not going to be a nice person if this domain is one of yours. An agent of chaos and the end of the world sounds likely.

So, what does a cleric with this domain get?

First, they get Destructive Smite. A melee attack that has an increased damage equal to half your level. At 1st level, that is a mere +1, but once you start hitting 6th level and beyond, as that one hit suddenly has the equivalent of a +6 increase in Strength to your damage, at the outer edges of what magic can do. And beyond 6th level, it’s more than magic normally allows. While it’s only for a single attack, you could “chain” the attacks, and with a high enough Wisdom, get 2 full rounds of this damage in melee combat.

Secondly, you get the granted power Destructive Aura. This is basically Destructive Smite, but in a 30-foot area around you, for a number of rounds equal to your cleric level. Everyone (including you, but also your opponents, so positioning is CRUCIAL) get the same bonus to damage as you would from Destructive Smite, but any critical hits are automatically confirmed. Just be warned of the aura affecting your allies both positively AND negatively. You don’t want to be the cause of a party wipe (presumably. 😛 )

 

Spells:

The spells you get with the Destruction domain are as follows:

True Strike
True Strike is a bit of a hidden gem, in that it gives you a +20 insight bonus on your next attack roll. As long as it’s used before the end of the next round, you can use it as a bonus on a weapon attack OR a spell, almost guaranteeing that you’ll hit, regardless of the target’s AC.

Shatter
Shatter is one of my favorite spells, and one of the ones that my players hate the most. That is because it is a great spell for targeting their equipment. Nothing beats seeing your players’ favorite non-magic item go boom. That said, it’s a bit of a “NOT COOL” move, so don’t use it too often. Instead, the mere threat of it will suffice. (This goes double when the players go up in level because they are likely to forget that it doesn’t affect magical items.) For players, it is a useful tool as well, as it can be used to target things like opponent weapons or gear. My personal target when using it as a player is holy symbols and spell component pouches. That’s because it is only useful against NON-magical items, and these two are essential to casters but are unlikely to be magical.

Rage
Rage, is a great buffing spell that provides a morale bonus, though in this case, it’s a +2 to Strength and Constitution (and a +1 to Will saves). Critically you CAN stack it with the ones from heroism (another cleric spell) as they apply to different stats. Just be warned of the -2 to your AC from rage, as that can hurt.

Inflict Critical Wounds
A touch attack spell that, at the time where you get it (7th level), causes 4d8+7 points of damage. Quite a handy little spell, but it’s true strength really is when it’s combined with undead minions, as it can be used to heal them. If you’ve picked up the destruction domain, you’re quite likely to be able to convert spells into Inflict spells (as you’re likely of evil alignment), so this is probably not the most useful spell to you.

Shout
One of the few spells that cause sonic damage, though the damage is limited to 5d6 points of damage unless a creature is crystalline or brittle (at which point it’s 15d6). That said, very few creatures are immune to sonic damage, so it’s worth bringing along, especially due to the deafened condition that it can inflict: Deafened characters take a –4 penalty on initiative checks, automatically fail Perception checks based on sound, take a –4 penalty on opposed Perception checks, and has a 20% chance of spell failure when casting spells with verbal components. That is definitely worth taking since the deafness lasts for 2d6 rounds. So using it as an opener is a great option.

Harm
This causes an automatic 10 points of damage per level of the caster (or 110 hit points at the time you get it). Even if they make their save they still take half that damage (i.e., a minimum amount of 55). It cannot reduce a creature to less than 1 hit point but think of this as an opportunity instead of a restriction. If a creature is severely injured when you cast this (or just has low hit point in general), you do not run the risk of killing them by mistake, and you greatly increase your chances of catching the target alive (after all, someone with only 1 hp left is much more likely to surrender).

Disintegrate
One of the highest damaging spells in the game, causing 2d6 points of damage per level, and at the level where you get it, it’s 26d6. If someone is killed by it, their body is disintegrated, leaving behind only fine dust. (Although high Fortitude Saves are a great help against this, a creature making the save still takes 5d6 points of damage, and could be reduced to dust).

Earthquake
A localized earthquake that does damage depending on your location (you don’t want to be underground with this), it presents a lot of ways for a cleric to make things go bad, like creating quicksand, or trapping someone in a destroyed building. Note that the damage given to a building is a flat 100, not the 8d6 that creatures take – buildings can’t dodge.

Implosion
This is basically Harm writ large. You can now do an attack causing damage (a minimum of 170) per round, with a save negating the damage. But you can attack a new creature (or the same one) each round, up to ½ your level in rounds. So, at level 20, you can attack 10 creatures over 10 rounds, or one creature 10 times, as long as you maintain concentration. You’re basically summoning black holes inside people, though this is described as a “destructive resonance” that causes people to collapse in on themselves. Very thematic, very cool, and very deadly.

 

New Deity

Apep
Embodiment of Chaos, the Suneater, the Giant Serpent
Alignment CE
Worshipers madmen and the insane – no right-thinking person worships Apep

Cleric Alignments NE, CN, CE
Domains: Chaos, Darkness, Death, Destruction, Evil, Madness
Sub-domains: Catastrophe, Corruption, Entropy, Hatred, Insanity
Favored Weapon: Whip
Symbol: A black serpent chasing a golden sun (usually engraved on a medallion)

Apep the Serpent is chaos and destruction given form, in the shape of a giant serpent. His goal is ultimately the destruction of the world and the multiverse, and he is the enemy of all other gods. Supposedly he existed, alone, before the creation of the multiverse, but any questions in that regard have been ignored by other deities, leading scholars to question the veracity of this claim.

No sane mortal worships Apep. Most insane ones don’t either, but there are those few raving lunatics, the ones who foresee the end of the world who may seek the oblivion that Apep brings. They will shout his name from street corners, trying to bring understanding to the masses, that Apep brings the only truth in the world: “that all life must die.”

Other mortals do not worship Apep, but may still sacrifice to him, in order to stave him off a little longer, typically doing so when a particularly bad storm or disaster is about to hit (or is going on at the time), hoping that he will spare them for just a bit longer. While that’s happening, the madmen are screaming his name to the heavens, hoping that Apep’s time has come.

Those few who become clerics of Apep are more coherent than his normal worshipers, hiding in the clergy of other faiths, undermining them from the inside, and trying to smooth his way back into the world, by distracting the other deities from their attempts to keep him away.

They do not worship him at any specific points of the day, adhering instead to the times dictated by the faith that they’re plagiarising, but spending that time instead praying to Apep. It should be noted that these clerics are often not successful at impersonating other priests for a long time, as they tend to be extremely short-tempered, hot-headed, and violent. This means that they’re often hopping from region to region and religion to religion.

Next week, we look at the Earth domain. Let us know in the comments if you have anything you wish to add or see addressed.

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Kim Frandsen

Kim Frandsen

37 years old, and a gamer since I was 13. These days I freelance as a writer for various companies (currently Fat Goblin Games, Flaming Crab Games, Outland Entertainment, Purple Duck Games, Rusted Iron Games and Zenith Games) as well as editing the Pathfinder and D&D 5th edition lines for D20PFSRD Publishing. I've dipped my hands into all sorts of games, but my current "go-to" games are Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics and SLA Industries. Unfortunately, while wargaming used to be a big hobby, with wife, dog and daughter came less time.
Kim Frandsen

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