This work jumps straight in with all the eagerness of a new convert, beginning with the Zealot prestige class. The Zealot is one whose faith in whichever deity he has chosen to revere is so strong that it enables him to withstand trials and tribulations, and even grants him special abilities unavailable to mere mortals. Many resort to mortifying the flesh, and indeed they cannot wear armour or use shields if they wish to be able to access their powers! Fortunately one of those powers is a supernatural toughness. Perhaps that's why one requirement for the class is to be of lawful alignment - without that rigidity, respect for order, even a fanatic might turn tail and run.
The Zealot also develops unarmed combat capabilities, even if he has not studied them before, and as his power and devotion grows damage that is done to him - even by himself - is mystically inflicted on his enemies as well. He can also sacrifice himself, stepping into the path of any attack directed at a friend and taking the damage, although apart from a noble feeling he doesn't get any tangible benefit from so doing. There is clearly role-playing potential here, for those wishing to have their character develop extreme fervour for their faith. It would also be suitable for senior members of any fanatical cult that might develop in your campaign world.
Next up, another prestige class, the Exorcist. These folk specialise in using the power of their faith to defeat demons and devils, so naturally you need to choose a faith to follow that is opposed to such entities, modelled by the requirement to be of a good alignment. Various powers are granted to aid in this fight, including dealing positive energy damage and the ability to mimic the effects of silver and cold iron when attacking foes that are vulnerable to them. Fire spells are particularly potent, too.
The work rounds off with a few new feats, and an alternate special power for any cleric who fancies being a military Chaplain. This is Rites of Battle, which gives the cleric some access to the Paladin spell list. It's not very clear how this is any improvement on just taking levels in the Paladin class, although there does not seem to be any alignment requirement - normal spell requirements still apply, though.
Overall, there are some interesting ideas here and considerable role-playing potential. Some of the concepts could do with further thought and rather clearer explanation of just how they are supposed to work mechanically within the game, however. If you are looking for novel ways to develop a cleric character, this might be of interest, and it is worth noting that the only requirement for a Zealot is that he is lawful, so if it is appropriate a character of any class may develop this fanaticism!
Return to Tome of Devotion page.
Reviewed: 16 June 2011