High Priest (3.5e Class)

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Author: Sulacu (talk)
Date Created: June 17, 2007
Status: Completed
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The High Priest[edit]

Where clerics very often fan out to dispatch the justice of their gods, high priests commune with them, and devote a not small part of their lives to study and uphold those things that their deity finds most important. The high priest then is a very specialized theologist with a powerful grasp on the domains that he studies.

Making a High Priest[edit]

The high priest's effectiveness depends mostly, if not solely upon the deity to whom he pledges his servitude. In any case, the high priest most soundly reflects his deity's code of conduct, and uses in battle methods and tactics as they are most appreciated by the deity in question. A high priest of Heironeus, to whom honor and valor is paramount, will reflect this much preferred behaviour and appreciate it in those whom he travels with. Such a high priest would be able to make an excellent connection and companionship with a Paladin. A high priest of a god that favors trickery will for instance be quite ready to deal with rogues and bards.

Abilities: Wisdom determines how powerful a spell a high priest can cast, how many spells he can cast per day and how hard those spells are to resist. A high constitution score improves a high priest's hit points and a high Charisma score improves his ability to turn or rebuke undead, as well as the tenacity of his Domain spells.

Races: High priests are as versatile as the races that worship gods, and any intelligent creature with a strong communion with his or her deity may become a high priest. High priests are however more numerous in large cities and civilized areas, although they also exist in the more primitive cultures. There, however, they are often called shamans.

Alignment: Like the gods they serve, high priests can be of any alignment, but high priests do face a special restriction. Like a cleric, his alignment may differ by one step on either moral or ethical axis from that of his deity's.

Starting Gold: 1d4×10 gp (25 gp).

Starting Age: Complex.

Table: The High Priest[edit]

Hit Die: d6

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Spells per Day
Fort Ref Will 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Domain, Improved Focus (Standard Spell, Release), Spontaneous Casting, Turn or Rebuke Undead 3 1
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 4 2
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 4 2 1
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Improved Focus (Enhance Spell) 5 3 2
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 5 3 2 1
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 5 3 3 2
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 Improved Focus (Contingent Spell) 5 4 3 2 1
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 Bonus Domain 5 4 3 3 2
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 5 4 4 3 2 1
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 Improved Focus (Swift Spell) 5 4 4 3 3 2
11th +5 +3 +3 +7 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
12th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 5 5 4 4 3 3 2
13th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 Divine Emissary 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
14th +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 Improved Focus (Additional Contingent Spell) 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2
15th +7/+2 +5 +5 +9 Bonus Domain 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
16th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2
17th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 1
18th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2
19th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 3
20th +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (arcana, history, religion, the planes) (Int), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the high priest.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: High priests are proficient with simple weapons. They are not proficient with any form of armor or shields.

Aura (Ex) A high priest of a chaotic, evil, good, or lawful deity has a particularly powerful aura corresponding to the deity’s alignment (see the detect evil spell for details).

Spells: A high priest casts divine spells, which are drawn from the cleric spell list. However, his alignment may restrict him from casting certain spells opposed to his moral or ethical beliefs; see Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells, below. A high priest must choose and prepare his spells in advance (see below).

To prepare or cast a spell, a high priest must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The DC for a saving throw against a high priest's spell is 10 + the spell level + the high priest's Wisdom modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a high priest can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The High Priest. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Wisdom score.

High priests meditate or pray for their spells. Like a cleric, a high priest needs to pray to his deity for one hour at the end of the day. Time spent resting has no effect on whether a high priest can prepare spells. A high priest may prepare and cast any spell on the cleric spell list, provided that he can cast spells of that level, but he must choose which spells to prepare for the next day during his daily meditation.

Deity, Domains, and Domain Spells: A high priest's deity influences his alignment, what magic he can perform, his values, and how others see him. At 1st level, a high priest chooses one domain from among those belonging to his deity. His domain gives the high priest spontaneous access to all levels of spells from his domain that he can cast, from 1st on up, as well as a granted power. The high priest gets the granted powers of the domain selected. The high priest receives additional domains at 8th and 15th level.

Spontaneous Casting: A high priest is forevermore able to channel stored spell energy into spells belonging to his domains that the high priest did not prepare ahead of time, not unlike the epic feat Spontaneous Domain Access. The high priest can "lose" any prepared spell slot in order to cast any spell of the same level or lower that belongs to one of his domains. This means that a high priest never has to prepare any spell that is contained within his domains. This also means that he will never need to select the Spontaneous Domain Access feat. Unlike a cleric, a high priest cannot spontaneously cast healing spells unless, of course, he has the Healing domain.

Chaotic, Evil, Good, and Lawful Spells: A high priest can't cast spells of an alignment opposed to his own/his deity's. Spells associated with particular alignments are indicated by the chaos, evil, good, and law descriptors in their spell descriptions.

Improved Focus: A high priest may choose to imbue his holy symbol (his divine focus) with a number of spell levels less than or equal to his caster level each day. Charging a divine focus is done during the preparation of spells, which takes place during prayer and can thus only be done once per day. The high priest chooses which spells to imbue within his holy symbol. Only spells with a casting time of 1 round or less may be imbued. 0 level spells are treated as having 1 spell level for this purpose. The spell slots so expended can not be used the next day, as the spell energy is stored within the holy symbol. Any XP cost tied to a spell will have to be paid during the process of imbuing the focus. When a high priest prays to prepare spells for next day, any spell still left within the focus is lost. With a charged focus, a high priest can do several things.

  • Standard Spell: The high priest can cast the spells imbued in his holy symbol normally. Casting an imbued spell is a standard action, but does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
  • Release: Once per day, at any point during that day, the high priest may choose to release all of the remaining stored spell levels at once. This causes a burst of raw energy that spreads out in a hemisphere cone with a radius of 10 ft. + 5 ft./5 caster levels (max 30 ft.), doing 1d6 damage per remaining stored spell level. Reflex DC half, DC 10 + ½ caster level + high priest's Wisdom modifier.
  • Enhance Spell: From 4th level on, the spells imbued within the high priest's focus are enhanced. He adds his Charisma modifier to the DC of imbued spells, caster level checks concerning imbued spells to overcome spell resistance and caster level checks concerning imbued spells to overcome an enemy's dispel effect. He also applies his Charisma bonus to attack rolls concerning ranged touch spells imbued within the focus.
  • Contingent Spell: Starting at 7th level, the high priest may instruct his divine focus to release an imbued spell when certain conditions that are specified in advance are met. These conditions may not be elaborate and they must occur within short range (25 ft. + 5 ft/2 caster levels) for contingent casting to work. When conditions are met, the spell is automatically cast and the divine focus loses all additional charges. At 14th level, he may instruct the focus to release an additional contingent spell. From this point on, the first daily usage of Contingent spell does no longer deplete the focus of all charges. When the second contingent spell is discharged, the focus loses all additional charges.
  • Swift Spell: From 10th level on, the high priest can cast spells imbued within his focus as a swift action. This also does not provoke an attack of opportunity. A high priest wishing to cast a swift spell must have an instance of that spell imbued in his focus, and furthermore sacrifices four or more extra spell levels in the shape of other imbued spells whose combined level equals or exceeds four. The high priest may only cast one spell imbued within his focus each round, even if that spell is swift. He is however allowed to cast a swift spell from his focus and cast a spell normally in the same round. The high priest may not cast a swift spell and a quickened spell in one round. The improved focus does not allow him to cast more than two spells per round in any case.

Turn or Rebuke Undead (Su): Any high priest, regardless of alignment, has the power to affect undead creatures by channeling the power of his faith through his holy (or unholy) symbol. A good high priest can turn or destroy undead creatures. An evil high priest instead rebukes or commands such creatures. A neutral high priest of must choose whether his turning ability functions as that of a good high priest or an evil high priest. Once this choice is made, it cannot be reversed. A high priest may attempt to turn undead a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier. A high priest with 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (religion) gets a +2 bonus on turning checks against undead.

Divine Emissary: From 13th level on, a high priest may petition to his deity for a powerful servant and protector. This divine emissary must be an outsider and her alignment may be no more than one step away from the alignment of the high priest and his deity. The divine emissary of a neutral high priest faces the special restriction that she must also be neutral, while the divine emissary of a high priest with one neutral axis may not be true neutral. The emissary's ECL (her HD + her LA) may not exceed the high priest's level minus 2.

The emissary further functions as the cohort that you may attract with the Leadership feat. The divine emissary gains her experience in the same way as the cohort granted by the Leadership feat, dividing her ECL by the high priest's level and multiplying this number with the XP gained. If a divine emissary gains enough XP to bring it to an ECL one lower than the associated high priest’s level, the cohort does not gain the new level; its new XP total is 1 less than the amount needed to attain the next level.

A high priest may only have one emissary or cohort at any time. If the high priest already had a cohort through use of the Leadership feat or the Thaumaturgist's planar cohort feature, he must dismiss his current cohort in order to gain the benefit of a divine emissary. The same is true vice versa.

Table: Divine Emissaries

Divine Emissary HD ECL Alignment Advancement1
Archon, Hound 6 11th LG By character class (as Hero)
Azer 2 6th LN By character class
Couatl 9 16th LG 10-13 HD (Large); 14-27 HD (Huge)
Demon, Succubus 6 12th CE 7-12 HD (Medium)
Demon, Vrock 10 18th CE 11-14 HD (Large); 15-30 (Huge)
Devil, Bearded 6 12th LE 7-9 HD (Medium); 10-18 HD (Large)
Devil, Chain 8 14th LE 9-16 HD (Medium)
Devil, Erinyes 9 16th LE 10-18 HD (Medium)
Eladrin, Bralani 6 11th CG 7-18 HD (Medium)
Genie, Djinni 7 13th CG 8-10 HD (Large); 11-21 (Huge)
Genie, Janni 6 11th N2 By character class
Hellhound 4 7th LE 5-8 HD (Medium); 9-12 HD (Large)
Hellhound, Nessian Warhound 12 16th LE 13-17 HD (Large); 18-24 HD (Huge)
Howler 6 9th CE 7-9 HD (Large); 10-18 HD (Huge)
Lillend 7 13th CG 8-10 HD (Large); 11-21 (Huge)
Mephit (Any) 3 6th N2 4-6 (Medium); 7-9 (Large)
Nightmare 6 10th NE 7-10 HD (Large); 11-18 (Huge)
Rakshasa 7 14th LE By character class
Salamander, Average 9 14th Any Evil 8-14 HD (Medium); 15+ (as Noble Salamander)
Shadow Mastiff 4 7th NE 5-6 HD (Medium); 7-12 HD (Large)
Triton 3 5th NG 4-9 HD (Medium)
Xill 5 9th LE 6-8 HD (Medium); 9-15 HD (Large)
Yeth Hound 3 6th NE 4-6 HD (Medium); 7-9 HD (Large)
  1. Divine Emissaries may advance further than their usual maximum HD. A divine emissary advanced beyond usual advancement retains the largest size category that it has had.
  2. Usually (and not always). Usually neutral creatures can be emissaries of a high priest of any alignment.

The high priest's divine emissary has a couple of special abilities that are channeled through the high priest.

  • Team Strategic Casting: When the high priest and his divine emissary work together to flank one opponent, the high priest may cast spells without provoking an attack of opportunity from this opponent. This even applies to melee touch spells, attacks of which are made with the regular +2 flanking bonus.
  • Share Spell Effect (Su): When the high priest casts a spell with range and target "You", the divine emissary also gains the benefits of the spell provided she is within 20 ft. of the high priest at the moment of casting.
  • Imbue with Spell Ability (Su): Once per day, the high priest may transfer some of his currently prepared spells and the ability to cast them to his divine emissary, provided that this emissary has an Intelligence score of at least 5 and a Wisdom score of at least 9. Only spells from the cleric spell list can be bestowed, and only spells from the abjuration, conjuration and divination schools. The number of spells that the emissary can be granted depends on her Hit Dice. After the spells are imbued, the high priest loses spell slots corresponding to the amount and levels of spells that he has imparted upon his divine emissary. Spells imbued like this not cast by the end of the day are lost.

Table: Spells Imbued

Divine Emissary Hit Dice Spells Imbued1
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
1-3 1
4-6 2
7-9 2 1
10-12 3 2
13-15 3 2 1
17-18 3 3 2
19+ 4 3 2 1
  1. The numbers on this table are maximums. The high priest may imbue less spells of any level if he sees fit.
The transferred spell’s variable characteristics (range, duration, area, and the like) function according to the high priest's level, not the level of the cohort. To cast a spell with a verbal component, the subject must be able to speak. To cast a spell with a somatic component, it must have humanlike hands. To cast a spell with a material component or focus, it must have the materials or focus.

Ex-High Priest[edit]

Whenever a high priest grossly violates the behavioral statutes or code laid down by the deity that he worships or changes alignment, he loses all spellcasting abilities, the allegience of his cohort and class-related abilities except for his weapon proficiency. He cannot thereafter gain levels as a high priest of that deity until he atones (see the atonement spell description).

Epic High Priest[edit]

Table: The Epic High Priest: Hit Die: d6
Level Special
23rd Bonus Feat
26th Bonus Feat
29th Bonus Feat

2 + Int modifier skill points per level.

Spells: The high priest's caster level is equal to his or her class level. The high priest’s number of spells per day does not increase after 20th level.

Turn or Rebuke Undead: Use the high priest's class level to determine the most powerful undead affected by a turn or rebuke check and the turning damage, just as normal.

Bonus Feats: The epic high priest gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic high priest bonus feats) every three levels after 20th.

Epic High Priest Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Automatic Quicken Spell, Automatic Silent Spell, Automatic Still Spell, Bonus Domain, Enhance Spell, Epic Spell Focus, Epic Spell Penetration, Epic Spellcasting, Ignore Material Components, Improved Alignment-Based Casting, Improved Combat Casting, Improved Heighten Spell, Improved Metamagic, Improved Spell Capacity, Intensify Spell, Multispell, Negative Energy Burst, Permanent Emanation, Planar Turning, Positive Energy Aura, Spectral Strike, Spell Stowaway, Spell Opportunity, Spontaneous Spell, Tenacious Magic, Undead Mastery, Zone of Animation.

Epic Divine Emissary: The Epic high priest may take a cohort that is out of reach for a non-epic character. Here follow some possible choices of epic divine emissaries. As usual, the epic cohorts must have an ECL at least two lower than the high priest level.

Table: Epic Divine Emissaries

Divine Emissary HD ECL Alignment Advancement1
Angel, Astral Deva 12 20th Any Good 13-18 HD (Medium); 19-36 (Large)
Angel, Planetar 14 28th Any Good 15-21 HD (Large); 22-42 (Huge)
Archon, Trumpet 12 20th LG 13-18 HD (Medium); 19-36 (Large)
Demon, Glabrezu 12 23rd CE 13-18 HD (Huge); 19-36 (Huge)
Demon, Hezrou 10 19th CE 11-15 HD (Large); 16-30 (Huge)
Devil, Horned 15 28th LE 16-20 HD (Large); 21-45 (Huge)
Devil, Ice 14 21th LE 15-28 HD (Large); 29-42 (Huge)
Eladrin, Ghaele 10 20th CG 11-30 HD (Medium)
Leonal 12 20th NG 13-18 HD (Medium); 19-36 (Large)
Nightmare, Cauchemar 15 19th NE
  1. Divine emissaries may advance further than their usual maximum HD. A divine emissary advanced beyond usual advancement retains the largest size category that it has had.

Human High Priest Starting Package[edit]

Armor: None (speed 30 ft.)

Weapons: Light Mace (1d6, crit ×2, 4 lb., one-handed, bludgeoning). Light crossbow (1d8, crit 19-20/×2, range inc. 80 ft., 4 lb., piercing).

Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 3 + Int modifier.

Skill Ranks Ability Armor
Concentration 4 Con
Diplomacy 4 Cha
Heal 4 Wis
Knowledge (religion) 4 Int
Spellcraft 4 Int
Gather Information (cc) 2 Cha
Listen (cc) 2 Wis

Feat: Scribe Scroll.

Bonus Feat: Combat Casting.

Deity/Domains: Pelor/Good and Healing.

Gear: Backpack with waterskin, one day's trail rations, bedroll, sack and flint and steel. Case with 10 crossbow bolts. Wooden holy symbol (sun disc of pelor). Three torches.

Gold: 1d4 gp.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a High Priest[edit]

Religion: As a high priest, far be it for him to judge the gods at what they do. They follow them blind it, and take the privileges and burdens of their devotion without question. High priests, as the greatest embodiments of faith and devotion to the deities they serve, are expected to from young age to lead the religious world and be spokespersons to their interpretation of the will of the Gods.

Other Classes: High priests are often haughty, and want to subvert and submit all around them to the divine decree of the gods they serve. Despite their own outlook on life as it is mirrored by these deities they prefer characters of lawful stock that respect, if only falsely, their authority on many matters religious, political and mundane. Mostly, however, the behavioural codes that influence high priests are as numerous as there are Gods, and while high priests to those deities that value honor and valor like Heironeus might prefer to work with Paladins, lawful fighters and monks, high priests to deities who prefer trickery to straightforward action likely prefer the company of rogues and bards.

Combat: High priests are of less sturdy stock than their closest relatives, the clerics. They are not trained for combat and they do not usually wear armor, but they do apply all of their knowledge and academic facilities to studying the divine. Their place in a party is close behind the front, in order for their influence to benefit the party. Their spellcasting prowess however depends greatly on the domains they choose, and thus on the gods they worship. A high priest with the Healing domain is much like an ordinary good aligned cleric and keeps the party on their feet, whereas a high priest with the Trickery domain might rely on using various forms of deception and misdirection in order to help the party.

Advancement: High priests can maximize their ability best when mixed with other spellcasting classes. Coupling high priest levels with cleric levels allows for three or more domains, at least one of which is spontaneous, whereas coupling with sorcerer levels and using the mystic theurge prestige class allows for great spellcasting prowess.

High Priests in the World: High priests can almost only be found in large cities. They are educated from a young age on to become what they are today, and they often are slightly socially isolated and haughty. They stand at the head of many religious cultures as prestigious casters, and often treat clerics as subordinates.

Daily Life: Normal day to day activities for High Priests take place in temples and cathedrals, where they bless and anoint the newborn and provide services to the sickly or engage in activities that the deity in question appreciates. They are rarely seen on the streets, as they spend their usual hours preaching or praying, and evenings in study and contemplation over a cup of tea or a goblet of wine.

High Priest Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (religion) can research high priests to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

DC 5: This man/woman is a high priest. Her bearing suggests a place of power. He is a central figure of a local church/cathedral/temple

DC 10: This holy symbol belongs to Pelor (or whatever god). He or she might therefore be an agent of good, and a prolific healer.

DC 15: They have a strange and potent communion with the deities they serve, and an unusual ability to specialize on spells of a certain domain. High priests can imbue their holy symbols with energy from spells, to cast them swiftly on the battlefield or when in need of them.

DC 20: When threatened with deadly force, a high priest can release an equally deadly burst of raw energy from his holy symbol as a sign of the might of his deity.

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Article BalanceVery High +
AuthorSulacu +
Identifier3.5e Class +
Rated BySnafusam +
RatingRating Pending +
SummaryA variant type cleric more specialized to his deity's portfolio and with great mastery over his Domains. +
TitleHigh Priest +