It takes a lot to transform an idea from concept to rules mechanic–come watch as Jeremy Crawford, lead rules designer for D&D talks about taking the Order Domain through the design process.
Last week, we talked a little about what the design process is like for an element of D&D (an element being a spell, a mechanic, a monster, a subclass…basically any discrete part of the game). Today, we look at how that process is applied specifically to the Order Domain. Join Jeremy Crawford on the Dragon+ vodcast to hear him go through his revision process for taking the Order Domain from its initial draft on the Mike Mearls Happy Fun Hour to a product ready for players to look at in this month’s Unearthed Arcana.
via Wizards of the Coast
What’s interesting to me is how subtle some of the revision is–but what a massive impact it seems to have. Again, it all comes under the guideline of how to make the design more polished, including not only the mechanical but the story aspects of the design.
One of the guiding principles for Crawford’s decisions is “how does this serve the story of the subclass.” For instance, the Unearthed Arcana version has a long list of gods to it, bringing in a wider variety of gods that represent the Order domain. Including a few Earth deities, to give players something to relate to.
This last is especially important because as Crawford puts it, they want to cast a wide net to reach as many different possible concepts out there. He wanted to make sure that there were deities who represent: evil, good, civilization, death–the whole works, all comprising the veritable buffet of different options and paths you can take to arrive at the Order Domain.
The unquestioning obedience of undead to a necromancer is a KIND of Order…
And this showcases the variety of different kinds of characters that could take this class. Just like how you can have a friendly charismatic rogue or a tough, hardy one–the different concepts that an Order cleric could make are nigh-limitless. But not the one with Bradley Cooper, just the regular kind of limitless. One of the other big revisions to the class was on its domain spells.
Domain Spells are one of the features that let Clerics gain access to spells they wouldn’t normally have (and a few that they would, but are perhaps too corner-case to take with you every day). But one of the big design purposes is to feed Clerics non-Cleric spells and to help them lean into their role in the party, in the world, in the game.
But in order to get there, Crawford has to understand how well the Domain Spells interact with the rest of the class abilities. He wants to make sure you understand what the subclass does, what is the story of this class, of this domain, of this people. To wonder what do members of this domain do out in the world?
As you can see, this is one of the biggest areas that was changed between the two versions. Bless got dropped from the initial pairing, as we talked about, a number of Cleric spells got swapped for spells from the Bard list, and so on. But it’s all centered around the idea of helping the Order domain cleric get out there and enforce Order. But the swaps are made with intention.
Bless gets dropped, but it’s replaced with another buff because the class feature’s Voice of Authority lets you give another character an extra attack any time you cast a spell on your allies. So Bless gets replaced with Heroism, which is still very strong, and it plays well with the rest of the class. After all, these Clerics are about the joy of/enforcement of Order. So why not have spells that help them both compel Order from their enemies, and at the same time act as bastions of civilization while buffing their friends.
Fascinating stuff, all in all. It makes me curious to see what the editing process would be like a little more–but Crawford has promised to return to the Dragon+podcast to continue the conversation. So stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.
Until then, happy adventuring!