Soulclaine (3.5e Class)
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In the Church of Modroben, all clergy begin as a Soulclaine. Those who prove worthy may eventually join one of the more advanced orders, but entrance in the Church always begins with becoming a rank-and-file Soulclaine. Found throughout the world of Theonosis, Soulclaine play a very important role: by cleaving the dead, they protect the population from the depradations of the undead while easing the pain and grief of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones. The societal trade-off is that the Soulclaine acquire the anguish of their flock, and must spend a great deal of time meditating in order to avoid serious emotional imbalance. Regardless, most Soulclaine become mentally unhinged, and are usually seen as a creepy, morose and offputting, yet vital and irreplaceable, part of the world.
Soulclaine spend so much time and energy managing the negative energy they possess that they do not acquire any of the spells normally associated with Clerics.They must tithe 90% of their income, should they receive any, to their church; however, they do not typically have the inclination or desire to make any income, and rather survive off the charity of their flock. It is considered a gravely rude gesture to accept money from a Soulclaine in exchange for basic goods and services, such as food or temporary lodging. Acceptance of this tradition is almost universal because Soulclaine ask for very little in the first place, and and refusal to do so seems akin to refusing protection from undead for the entire region - any uncleaved soul is a risk to those who remain alive, and so it is considered vital that ordinary people assist soulcleavers with any reasonable means necessary. This applies equally to nobles, bandits, monks, monsters and barbarians, all of whom are well-aware that refusing to cooperate with Soulclaine is likely to result in their dead becoming ravenous undead beasts. Leaders, such as kings, generals and ship captains, are effectively forced by popular opinion to cooperate as well, for any deviation from full-throated respect is seen as a sign that the leadership may be sympathetic to turning their followers into undead slaves.
Normal Soulclaine are not adventurers. Aside from the act of soulcleaving, they have no special abilities or effects. Soulclaine who have the potential and desire to be more powerful join one of the Claine classes starting at fourth level or above.
Game Rule Information
Races: All races are open to joining this class.
Starting Gold: Typically none.
Starting Age: Complex.
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Soulclaine are primarily tasked with ‘’’soulcleaving’’’, the ability to utter the High Prayer to Modroben, transform their head into a sacred vulture (most commonly) and devour a small piece of the brain of a deceased creature. Soulcleaving has the following effects:
- The corpse and its spirit are protected from being raised as undead through any means.
- The deceased and his/her loved ones find their grief, regret and sadness reduced. These negative emotions are channeled to the Soulclaine.
- Soulclaine have a small chance of gaining some knowledge from the deceased individual, based on their chosen Avatar’s Ability Score.
Each Soulclaine worships Modroben in his guise of a particular Avatar, associated with a living scavenger symbol. These are each associated with an Ability Score, which the Soulclaine gains a +2 in at 1st level. This Ability Score is also used in determining the Soulclaine’s chance of learning additional knowledge when cleaving. Avatars are linked to a particular habitat, however, there are exceptions - e.g. Worshipers of the maggot Avatar exist in rural aboveground societies.
- Vulturis - Vulture - Charisma - By far the most common, associated with most land societies.
- Maggots - Wisdom - The second most common, associated with most troglodytic (underground) societies and cities.
- Crabs - Intelligence - The third most common, associated mostly with coastal and shallow sea societies.
- Earthworms - Dexterity - The fourth most common, associated mostly with cave systems and rural areas.
- Snails - Constitution - The fifth most common, associated mostly with rivers, marshes and lakes.
- Lobster - Strength - The sixth most common, associated mostly with deep sea societies.
Loaches, white draconids, beetles, owls, raccoons and other Avatars exist, but even more rarely.
Weapon Proficiency: Soulclaine are proficient with all simple weapons.
Social Role and Immunity: At first level, all Soulclaine gain the Social Role entitled to their kind. They are provided with a basic living by ordinary people and are effectively immune to most forms of banditry, thievery, punishment and extortion.
Psychism: As they cleave more and more people, Soulclaine gain in negative emotions, which they must deal with through coping techniques. Inevitably, their mental health suffers, leading to traits called Psychism.
Almost everybody in the world lives within a few days' ride of a Modrobenian, each of which is assigned to a given region that typically includes a few villages, a large rural area or a city shared with several other Modrobenians. The Church tries to keep a ratio of no more than 1000 mortals to a single Modrobenian, though this goal is not often achieved, and a more common ratio is 1:10,000 or more. Some Modrobenians specialize as travelers and go to distant lands when a hermit or other isolated individual dies. Aside from these travelers, it is rare to find a Modrobenian away from his assigned area. There are Modrobenian priests of nearly every occupation, somewhere in the world. There are monks and ninjas, paladins, rangers, druids, thieves and bards and wanderers, barbarians and shamans and wizards of all kinds.
For many people, Modrobenians only appear when someone has died, and when they do so, their attitude and appearance are off-putting. Therefore, Modrobenians are not quite feared, but are awed and dreaded by most people. Modrobenians are also greatly respected, usually more so than any authority figure in the area. Generally, it is considered polite for every person to offer gifts of food or goods to the local Modrobenian on a weekly basis; Modrobenians are typically invited to all social functions as well, even ones normally closed to outsiders. Modrobenians are ascetic by nature and dictum, however, and will refuse most such gifts and invitations. Children are especially likely to be frightened of Modrobenians, and daring each other to sneak near the home of the local Modrobenian at night is a common childhood prank throughout much of the world.
Modrobenian church law demands that most classes of priests, the Mortiss, remain aloof from society. As much as possible, they are to live away from people. Close quarters can make it difficult to achieve the kind of meditative state Modrobenians require to overcome the intense emotional burden of their position. They also almost never pay taxes, nor are they bound by ordinary social rules requiring people to join militias, contribute food for celebrations, nor most anything else. They are ignored by almost all bandits, thieves and pirates, and are frequently even aided by the lowest of criminals. They are not generally expected to conduct themselves according to appropriate rules of etiquette, and are allowed to say things to nobles and other rulers that would get the average citizen or peasant executed for impertinence.
As outsiders, Modrobenian priests do not usually get married or have children, though they are allowed to do both, as long as they believe that they can effectively parent while continuing with their responsibilities as a Modrobenian. This is rare, and the emotional toll of the position makes most Modrobenians unattractive to potential mates. Since they do not attend most social functions, Modrobenians are often ill-informed on local goings-on, and frequently speak in a stilted, awkward manner, having confused the dialects and and idioms of the numerous, linguistically diverse people they have soulcleaved. Despite their unapproachability and declared neutrality, Modrobenians are often recruited by the poor and oppressed to speak on their behalf with local elites. The Modrobenian can criticize decisions, make suggestions and even issue threats without being harmed, and no noble will dare try to force the Modrobenian to divulge which commoner approached him.
Modrobenians are taught to maintain neutrality in worldly affairs, as much as they are able. They are not supposed to intervene in legal disputes, ethical or economic issues, nor political or military campaigns. They are not allowed to vote or serve on a jury, nor join any guild or union. In many societies, Modrobenians do not even pay interest or profit - all merchants and lenders sell at cost to anyone bearing the title Mortiss, and basic goods like food are almost always given for free.
Despite their declared and avowed neutrality, Modroben himself is frequently said to intervene in folklore, always on the side of punishing evil and rewarding good, and Modrobenians themselves are often persuaded to break their oaths of neutrality to achieve a greater good, while the number of Modrobenians who have been seduced into evil and corruption is vanishingly small. Modrobenians who do not control their emotions are sometimes prone to mood swings that also lead them to acts of violence, self-harm or violations of neutrality, but there are no consequences unless they become severe or debilitating.
Typically, any Mortiss - that is, any member of a Modrobenian Class - is immune from certain laws, customs and regulations, which vary by culture and civilization. Generally speaking, they do not pay taxes or fees of any kind, and are allowed to pay whatever they are able to for most goods. Thus, a Mortiss might bring only a few chicken eggs in exchange for valuable potent healing, for example. Modrobenians are generally not charged in inns or taverns, and are given free food by most civilians, whenever possible. Caravans and other groups of travelers will almost invariably take in Modrobenians they encounter, and escort them as far as feasible. Modrobenians eschew any complex financial instruments, and do not generally own any more land than they currently use. They do not pay interest on any loans they make take out. In addition to not paying taxes, Modrobenians do not swear loyalty to anyone but Modroben himself; even in a royal court, for example, the Royal Soulclaine may not attend all otherwise obligatory functions and may disobey his liege. Except under truly egregious circumstances, no one of any station is allowed to harm a Modrobenian or interfere with his duties. The church deals harshly with anyone who does so, whether it be an emperor, warden, tribal chief or bandit king.
As they cleave more and more people, Soulclaine gain in negative emotions, which they must deal with through coping techniques. Inevitably, their mental health suffers, leading to often disabling effects called psychism. Soulclaine are known for bizarre behavior, reclusiveness and emotional outbursts, and though they receive a great deal of training to postpone the effects, it is inevitable and unavoidable no matter how rigorous a Soulclaine protects himself.
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