Spontaneous Divine Casters
As a twist on the traditional divine spellcaster, this variant converts the cleric and druid into spontaneous spellcasters. Such characters have a limited number of spells known, as the sorcerer does, though their selection is not quite as limited as the sorcerer’s list.
Like other spellcasters, a character using this variant system can cast a certain number of spells per day. His base daily spell allotment is the same as a normal cleric’s number of spells per day (not including domain spells), plus one spell per day of each spell level he can cast. For instance, a 1st-level cleric using this system can cast four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells per day.
However, the divine caster’s selection of spells known is limited. At 1st level, the character begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of your choice, plus his two 1st-level domain spells (if a cleric) or summon nature’s ally I (if a druid). At each new level in the character’s divine spellcasting class, he gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Spells Known.
Characters who use this option lose the ability to spontaneously cast cure, inflict, or summon nature’s ally spells in place of other spells. However, each time the character gains a new spell level, he gains one or more bonus spells known to add to his list. A cleric may add his two domain spells to his list of spells known, while a druid may add the appropriate summon nature’s ally spell to her list of spells known. (An entry of 0 on the table indicates that the cleric knows only his domain spells of that level, and the druid knows only the summon nature’s ally spell of that level.)
Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered class level after that, a cleric or druid can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. This functions identically to the sorcerer’s ability to swap out known spells, except that a cleric may never choose to lose a domain spell and a druid may never choose to lose a summon nature’s ally spell.
For example, a cleric has chosen the domains of Good and Healing, which means that at 1st level, he automatically knows cure light wounds and protection from evil. In addition, he chooses four spells from the list of 0-level cleric spells (cure minor wounds, detect magic, light, and read magic) and two spells from the list of 1st-level cleric spells (bless and shield of faith). He now knows four 0-level spells and four 1st-level spells.
Another example: At 4th level, a druid learns a new 0-level spell and a new 2nd-level spell. She can also choose to replace one of her 0-level spells known with a different spell of the same level. She chooses to replace know direction with detect poison.
Metagame Analysis: Spontaneous Casting
This option trades versatility—one of the divine spellcaster’s strengths—for sheer spellcasting power (much like the difference between sorcerers and wizards). Since the cleric and druid spell lists depend on versatility of effect, particularly defensive or utilitarian spells the spontaneous-casting divine caster is allowed to know more spells per spell level than the sorcerer (by adding domain spells or summon nature’s ally spells on the list of spells known). No longer is the divine caster the character who can come up with any effect under the sun; instead, he becomes a much more specialized member of the adventuring group.
This variant has the secondary effect of individualizing the divine casters in your game, since no two characters choose to learn the same set of spells. With only a limited number of spells known from which to choose, characters must make tough choices each time they gain new spells known. For instance, is it more important that a 4th-level cleric learn cure moderate wounds—particularly if he already knows cure light wounds—or bear’s endurance? Should your druid learn resist energy as a 2nd level spell, or should she wait until she gains access to 3rd-level spells and learn protection from energy instead? The cleric’s choice of domains becomes crucial, because those areas form the backbone of his available spells.