Priestly Vestments and Foci (5e)

While the details and forms of the foci and instruments of clergy will vary considerably from religion to religion, there have developed a common set of vestments that different priests and priestesses use. These Vestments mark the wearer as clergy or as one of the related professions. Depending upon the religion it will likely even identify specific orders as well as a ranks and roles. Those who wear Vestments can include Paladins, and certainly there is the potential for some Archtypes with Divine magic to use them as well. These items require Attunement – and any divine servant that loses, mistreats, or misuses their vestments suffers Disadvantage at the very least until the wrong is righted, often Curses and other punishments plague such misfortunate priests. The creation of vestments is included in the training of most clergy, though examples abound of them being created simply be strength of faith and devotion itself. Similarly, the vestments of the most devout (or wealthy) priests may have additional abilities beyond those listed here.

All of the items are considered magical and have Advantage on all of their saves.

The Priest’s Holy Text – Most priests carry at least a basic copy of their religions Holy Text. The length and breadth of this can vary considerably from religion to religion, and the beauty and ornateness of the copy or edition can also vary – much like a Holy Symbol. The primary use of the Holy Text is as a teaching aid, and as a source of Inspiration. During a Short or a Long Rest, a any sufficiently devout individual can grant themselves Inspiration by reading and reviewing their Holy Text, a priest can do it for themselves and any other members of the same faith that are present.

The Priest’s Book of Rites – Many priests also keep a copy of their Book of Rites handy, as this is required to cast Ritual Spells. For many religions it also has the information for the proper ceremonies when performing marriages, last rites, naming and dedications, along with the creation of holy water, holy oils, etc. At their most basic, a Book of Rites contains only a handful of Ritual Spells as well as basic community rites, at great temples or seminaries these may be a huge tomes with Ritual Versions of each and every spell that a cleric could cast.

The Priest’s Holy Symbol – The most basic of a priest’s vestments, the Holy Symbol is a cleric’s basic Divine Focus. Some spells may require additional components, but the presence of a Holy Symbol is necessary for all Divine magic. The appearance of a holy symbol can vary considerably depending upon the wealth and social class of the cleric or temple it comes from. Unlike a Wizard’s Wand however, any of the devout may carry a Holy Symbol, and it’s mere presence does not confirm the bearer as a priest. A priest merely openly bearing or presenting a Holy Symbol benefits from Protection vs Good & Evil (and this is a common enchantment on Holy Symbols for the devout). A priest presenting a Holy Symbol and Concentrating, may invoke Sanctuary for themselves.

As Priests gain higher levels it is not uncommon for them to gain increased magical items such as the following:

The Priest’s Robes – The most commonly visible and obvious of the vestments, these come in many different version. From the cassocks of the Church of the Lords of Light, to the robes of the En Khoda Theos Kirk, to the mask of the priest of the Midnight Sun or even the blackened splint mail of Khazan shamans. Aside from clearly marking them as clergy, a priests robes allow the priest the use of the Shield of the Faithful once between Long Rests.

The Priest’s Prayer Beads – A length of beads, usually with a set number according to doctrine and faith, often of particular materials. They may be worn as a necklace, a bracelet, or even simply hanging from the belt or kept in a pouch. The faithful use Prayer Beads to guide their individual worship, both prayers and mediation. Priests may also use their Prayer Beads in two special ways. First, it allows them to maintain Concentration on one additional spell if held in the hand. Second, using it allows them a Divine Recovery after a Short Rest if that is all that they focus on. They may recover spell levels equal to half their level, none of them higher than 6th level.

The Priest’s Girdle – Generally in the form of a belt or cincture or some sort to wear around their Robes, the Priest’s Girdle is another of the Vestments that commonly mark the wearer as a priest – and the absence of which (much like Robes) may cause some to question the authenticity or veracity of the claimant. When worn, the Girdle allows the personal use of the Resistance cantrip if they do not know the it, and also grants them the effect of an Aid spell once between Long Rests.

The term “Archpriest” in this context means that the following items, as Vestments, are often reserved for specific ranks within a religious hierarchy – or that they can only be created and gifted by higher ranks. They are often reflective of the greater divine mandate that these priests have, and are often reserved for Clerics of 10th level or greater. Exceptions have been made in some cases, and for the particularly devout but lower ranked priests, they may find that their “lesser vestments” may take on some or all of these abilities as well. These are the equivalents of Bishops, Cardinals, Abbots, and similarly ranked religious figures.

The Archpriest’s Medallion – Often an ornate piece included in either a set of Prayer Beads, the Archpriest’s Medallion often commemorates some special event or personage. In the Church of the Lords of Light it might be one of the Elect, while in the En Khoda Theos Kirk it might some special crystal or stone from the site of a significant manifestation of one of the Great Dragons. When included as part of a set of Prayer Beads, it does not require separate Attunement. This is the one Archpriest item that is most commonly found in the possession of non-Archpriests – often gifted to favored priests and other members of the Faithful.

  • Can hold Concentration for one spell cast by the Cleric.
  • Can use a Bless once before requiring a Short or Long Rest.
  • Can use an Aid spell once before requiring a Short of Long Rest.
  • The Cleric gains one additional use of their Channel Divinity

The Archpriest’s Cloak – Often a more ornate and elaborate addition to the Priest’s Robes, this is often a short cloak or mantle such as chasuble or alb – though for some religions it can be nothing more that a veil.

  • Provides a bonus to AC equal to +1 per five full levels of the Cleric class.
  • The Cleric may use a Hellish Rebuke, but the damage is Radiant and the Save is Wisdom, once between Rests.

The Archpriest’s Pectoral – A large and ornate Holy Symbol that is worn on the chest as a reminder of the status and power of the Archpriest in question.

  • +2 to Armor Class (it is treated as a Breastplate)
  • Protection vs Good & Evil at all times
  • With Concentration can invoke Sanctuary as desired
  • The Cleric has Divine Favor.
  • The Cleric also radiates a Crusader’s Mantle

The Archpriest’s Signet – Essentially the religious version of a noble’s seal, an Archpriest’s Signet is a worn by those priests that hold high rank within their religious organization. These are commonly destroyed on their death of the priest that they were made for, though some faith’s pass them along to the next holder of the office. Using one without sanction is a guarantee of getting the attention of the church authorities – not top mention the Divine Power who sanctioned the item’s creation in the first place.

  • With members of their Faith, may issue a Command as a Standard Action.
  • Can use Bless as a Standard Action.
  • May use a Guardian of Faith once per day
  • The Cleric gains one additional Spell Slot for each Spell Level.
  • The Cleric gains one additional use of their Channel Divinity.

The Archpriest’s Crown – Like the Archpriest’s Signet (q.v.) the Archpriest’s Crown is a physical symbol of the priests spiritual and temporal might using a familiar secular symbol.

  • Members of the Faithful have Disadvantage on saves against the Clerics magic
  • The Cleric has Advantage when making Charisma check with members if the Faithful
  • Advantage on Saves against Enchantments.
  • The Crown gains one additional Spell Slot for each Spell Level.
  • The Cleric gains one additional use of their Channel Divinity

The Archpriest’s Sceptre – Often a symbol of both divine and temporal power, the Archpriest’s Sceptre is usually an ornate rod of office – though in some more blood-thirsty religions it may be an actual weapon and may then share some characteristics with a Sanctified Weapon (q.v.).

  • Treated as a Holy Symbol for purposes of casting spells.
  • Always treated, at a minimum, as an Enchanted Weapon.
  • Weapon damage can vary from that of a Club to a Warhammer.
  • Treated as a+1 weapon per five full levels of the Cleric class.
  • Does additional Radiant Damage equal to the Proficiency Bonus of the Cleric
  • Weapon Bonus also adds to Spell Strike and Spell Save modifier.

The Sanctified Weapon – Some faiths, as well as most religious orders of warriors (including Paladins), have deities which are closely associated with a particular weapon. These are actually able to be used by any member of the faithful, but holy law often reserves their use to Clerics & Paladins, or a few select others who are deemed the most worthy. Considered a Holy Weapon, these are often relics and highly prized by the Faithful.

  • Always treated, at a minimum, as an Enchanted Weapon.
  • Treated as a+1 weapon per five full levels of the character.
  • Does additional Radiant Damage equal to the Proficiency Bonus of the character.
  • Some are able to Smite as a Bonus action a number of time per day equal to their Channel Divinity (and recovered in a similar manner). Smiting a foe means that the wielder may add their level to the damage done (Radiant). On a Critical, this damage is doubled.

The Church of the Lords of Light uses all of these vestments, their Robes being a simple cassock (often in specific colors and design as guided by Rule and Rite), their Girdle is the typical triple-braided cord worn by all members of the faith, the Holy Symbol being an Argentos, and the Prayer Beads being simply that (and made from a variety if materials). Their Sanctified Weapon, commonly made of sunsteel, is either a fighting knife or a broadsword (less commonly a longsword and very rarely a battlesword or greatsword).

As befits the somewhat disorganized nature of the En Khoda Theos Kirk they are not particularly organized in their use of vestments. Their Holy Symbols, a Scale (usually of a drake, but rarely that of an actual dragon) combines the functions of both the Holy Symbol and the Girdle. Similarly, while some Dorje wear Robes with the standard effects, for others they wear a sash that (confusingly) combines the abilities of the Robes and Girdle (effects do not stack) – this is an ancient style preferred by the Dragonborn. Prayer beads are commonly carried, most commonly made of stone. Sanctified weapons are commonly mainly with the military religious orders of the Kenza, and are not nearly as common within the ranks of the Dorje. They do not, however, have holy texts, and while there are a series of philosophical treatises that can function in the same way as Holy Text there are no Books of Rites.

While the Heptarchy uses all of these vestments, the individual style depends upon the actual deity, few generalizations being able to be made. Holy Symbols are the solar and lunar symbols noted in the specific descriptions, and while Robes are worn by most of the clergy, for the priests of the Midnight Sun this is a Black Mask, while for the Daughter of Blood they a considered Robed if nude and covered with a least some freshly spilled blood. The Sister of Bone only has prayer beads of bone, while Mother of Pearl uses only pearls. Sanctified Weapons are most common among the followers of Sol Invictus (usually sword, spear, or lance), Sister of Bone (bone dagger), and Daughter of Blood (battle axe of some sort).

A Note On Damage: While the damage done is generally Radiant for religions that are Good or Neutral, some Neutral and most Evil will do Necrotic damage instead. For some Deities, especially those with an Elemental or Nature portfolio, the damage may be Fire, Thunder, Lightning, or even Poison. This is determined by the Dungeon Master.

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Categories: Campaign Development, Game Design, House Rules, Magic Item | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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