How To Build a Grammaton Cleric in the Pathfinder RPG
A Character Conversion Guide
The future is at peace. A place of prosperity, where all are cared for, and where each individual has a purpose. From old men to small children, everyone works to maintain the glory of their great society. Libria is a cold place, though, and despite its name, is a place of servitude. A place where emotion is a crime, and where every commission of sense offense is hunted down by the unfeeling warrior monks of the Tetragrammaton.
This grim, dystopian setting was striking, and it was one of the things that made the 2002 film Equilibrium so enthralling to those who discovered it. However, the stars of the show were the clerics of the Tetragrammaton. These enforcement agents practice a unique martial art style called gun kata, which uses applied mathematics and analysis of thousands of gun battles in order to predict the likeliest actions of targets, and thus to give the cleric the advantage in any fight. These highly-skilled agents of the system are immediately iconic, and they tug at the imagination. Which is why, if you'd like to bring them into your next Pathfinder game, here is a simple guide to get you started.
Also, if you're looking for more character conversions ranging from the Avengers, to Gotham City's vigilantes, to the cast of Game of Thrones, check out the Character Conversions page on my gaming blog Improved Initiative. And for more gaming content and general geekery, check out my full Vocal archive as well!
The Makings of a Cleric
Equilibrium, as a film, focuses on the future of a human society. So, while there's nothing that says you can't play a grammaton cleric as an elf or a half-orc, they're depicted as humans in the source material. So, while you have other options, you can't go wrong with a bonus feat and a bonus skill point. And, given the cleric's fighting style and weapon choices, you're going to want to focus on Dexterity and Wisdom as your two primary stats.
When it comes to your traits, you have a lot of solid options. Never Stop Shooting is one of the best choices you have, allowing you to act as if disabled when you drop below 0 hit points as long as you draw, reload, or attack with a firearm. And, if you have Die Hard, you can use your Wisdom score instead of your Constitution to determine when you actually take enough damage to die. On Guard is another useful trait, giving you a +1 bonus on Initiative checks, and if you act during the surprise round you can draw a weapon as a free action during that surprise round.
The clerics of the Tetragrammaton train relentlessly in order to turn their minds and bodies into lethal instruments. They focus on using the gun as a total weapon, and it is this single-minded devotion that makes them some of the most feared agents of Libria's Palace of Justice.
The most obvious choice for this is the Grammaton archetype from Psionics Expanded: Advanced Psionics Guide by Dreamscarred Press. It was very clearly inspired by this film and its unique style... however, it won't be available at all tables. Not all game masters allow players to use third-party content, and even those who do may not allow psionics in their games for one reason or another.
So if this isn't an option, what other choices are available?
While the description of how a Grammaton Cleric functions might look like something that would befit a monk, it's important to remember that these clerics do not use a connection to the spiritual, or the supernatural. They simply operate off of finely-honed instinct, and muscle memory. However, their reactions remain uncanny, and their mastery of the gun is unparalleled.
That's why if we're sticking with only Paizo's material, the first class that goes into this conversion should be a gunslinger; specifically the Thronewarden archetype from Heroes of The High Court. With two levels of this class, you gain Sense Motive as a class skill (a necessity for a cleric to assess a situation), all the low-level gunslinger deeds, firearm proficiency, an Initiative bonus, and you also get the ability to act in the surprise round as long as you have at least 1 grit point in your pool.
What you should mix with the Thronewarden, though, is a fighter. Fighter gives you Bravery (explaining the mental fortitude the Tetragrammaton drills into its clerics), Weapon Training (which allows you to select firearms as your first option, and heavy blades as the second), and a slew of bonus feats you're definitely going to need. There are also optional features, like Defensive Weapon Training that allows a fighter to gain a shield bonus with weapons from their weapon training groups, which might explain how these clerics always manage to avoid attacks that come their way even when their hands are full of steel, and they're wearing little more than a badass coat.
Feats and Skills
Clerics are trained in a variety of skills to carry out their enforcement duties. As a player, though, you have a select number of points to throw around. To that end, you'll definitely want Perception, Sense Motive, Acrobatics, and Intimidate at a bare minimum. If you have room for more skills, you should choose the ones that best complement the sort of missions you plan to go on.
Now for the tough part... feats. Because while it might seem like you have too many, you really don't have enough. So make sure you make the ones you have really count.
The first feats you want to acquire at level one are Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot. These are going to be the bread and butter for any character who will be slinging lead around the field. You will also want to take Weapon Focus (for the one-handed firearm you use most often), Rapid Reload, and Rapid Shot. Deadly Aim is also a good idea since you're often making touch attacks, so the negative in your attack is worth the extra damage.
Once you have those feats, you can begin acquiring the building blocks for the next phase of their martial journey. Empty Quiver Style, the next feat on the list, allows you to switch between using your gun as a ranged weapon and a melee weapon. A one-handed firearm is treated as a light mace. You then need to take Stabbing Shot as a prerequisite feat, before taking Empty Quiver Flexibility. This second feat in the Empty Quiver tree allows you to apply all your bonuses and class features that modify your attack and damage rolls whether you're using the weapon at range, or in melee. The next feat is Empty Quiver Flurry, which states that when you hit an opponent with your gun as a melee attack, and that gun is unloaded, you can load it as a free action.
The third group of feats you're going to want to take includes Weapon Specialization (with your one-handed firearm of choice), Point Blank Master, as well as Greater Weapon Focus and Greater Weapon Specialization. These will help you up your accuracy and damage. Lastly, if you have the space for them, the Two-Weapon fighting feats (Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting) will allow you to lay down a storm of lead.
Now, it's important to evaluate which options are more useful for your particular grammaton graduate. Do you want to focus more on doing maximum damage with a single gun? Do you want to fire more rounds, even if they don't do as much damage individually? Or do you want to get into melee and switch it up as you bludgeon and shoot, depending on the fight's particular needs?
The Cleric's Tools and Journey
Given that Equilibrium is a fast-paced romp through a future dystopia, the clerics have access to a lot of pretty sweet toys. For the best results, you should try to get access to modern firearms, complete with magazines and fast reloading times. While items like a Pistol of The Infinite Sky would be ideal, those weapons are rare, costly, and unlikely to be handed out easily. However, something like the Gunman's Duster, which gives you an armor bonus, a luck bonus against firearms, and which increases the effectiveness of your Gunslinger's Dodge deed, is definitely something you're going to want on-hand.
As to your story, well, that depends on the sort of character you want to play. Were you a part of an emotionless team of jack-booted gunmen who oppressed the people? Did you become the leader of a revolution? Or are you something else? A wandering weapon looking for a target? Or someone looking for a way to put down the guns that, for so long, have defined you?
If you're looking for inspiration to fill in some of the blanks, give the following a read:
- 100 Knightly Orders: The Tetragrammaton are elite warriors trained from their youth to perform their specific function. And there are more than a few orders in this supplement that would dovetail nicely with their unique combat doctrine.
- 100 Random Mercenary Companies: As a rule, mercenaries offer some skill set or exotic style of warfare that local troops cannot match, or which would take far too long to train them in. A grammaton cleric would certainly stand out as a gun-for-hire in this particular scenario.
- 100 Secret Societies: While the clerics of the film tend to be public knowledge, they could just as easily operate as the enforcement arm of a secret society, trained to take on hugely superior numbers and still carry the day before vanishing back into the shadows leaving only gun smoke and shell casings behind.
About the Creator
Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.
Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary
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