Lamentations of the Flame Princess and some other OSR games suggest to use (slightly) alternate versions of our own world as backdrop for adventure games. This approach has a lot of advantages, as everybody is able to read up on a given area via wikipedia.org or other websites like this one (for the Tudor Area). And the real world was (and is) a grim-dark place for sure: there was the 30-years-war in Germany, the reign of the black plague in Europe, life in Paris during the time of musketeers was filthy and cruel, the “northmen” still were vikings as the first christian missionaries arrived, the Conquistadors were terrible savages in their own right, etc. Using the real world leaves a GM with a problem in regard to one class, so: clerics, due to their healing spells.
While witches and warlocks are expected to call forth unfathomable powers, people of the faith who are able to heal wounds with a touch of their hands would have a flock of believers around them quickly. After all, they are true saints, aren´t they? Visions and blessings are one thing, but instant wound healing is hard to incorporate into a “realistic” Europe. Our real world did not have temples of instant healing, people prayed for miracles but a clear, undeniable, unarguable miracle would be a bit much and could „break the magic“, especially when even a Level 1 Cleric may heal a wound instantly. After all, the PC cannot be the only ones who have access to that “spell”.
The following spells are meant as alternative (and replacement) for Cure Light Wounds and Cure Serious Wounds.
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Minor Prayer for Protection
Cleric Level 1 Spell
Duration: 10 combat rounds per level of the caster
With this spell the cleric calls out to his or her deity for protection. For the duration of the spell the character may negate damage of up to 1d6 hit points (plus one hit point per level of the caster) at the moment the damage is dealt. In game, the attack is only a glancing hit and/or the damage is just superficial. The prevented damage is “subtracted” from the number of points the cleric is able to “prevent” for the duration of the spell, and the cleric may choose which damage to prevent and which not. Only a number of characters equal to the cleric´s level may benefit from the protection, and to do so they must be within 50´ of the cleric. There is no reverse version of the spell.
Major Prayer for Protection
Cleric Level 4 Spell
Duration: 1 turn per level of the caster
Range: 50´ +5 feet per level of the caster
With this spell the cleric calls out to his or her deity for protection. For the duration of the spell the character may negate damage of up to 1d6 hit points per level of the caster, at the moment the damage is dealt. (see Minor Prayer for Protection). In addition, the spell may be used to negate a temporary negative condition that would be inflicted upon a character (like stun, blinded, etc.). The GM determines a number of “damage points” this negation counts as (usually, 1 to 10 hit points). There is no reverse version of the spell.
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With this little trick, the clerics are still the saviors of hit points for the party, but every heathen and heretic can easily argue that this was “just plain luck!”.
Cure disease may be tweaked as easily. Instead of having the diseases disappear at once, the character will simply succeed on all further rolls that are done to check for the cure of the disease, an all damage that will occur due to the disease is reduced to the possible minimum. If the disease would otherwise be “permanent”, a cure will set in after 1d6 or 2d6 days. Likewise, “Cause Diseases” (the reverse of the spell) should take 1d3+1 days to come into effect. As this reduces the effectiveness of the spell, the GM may wish to turn it into a “Cleric Level 3” spell.
The Heal spell is one I would personally leave as it is: at Level 6, a little miracle doing might be expected and as there are tales about marvelous healing in the middle ages, this should not become to much of a game breaker. After all, there are not THAT many Level 6 Clerics running around in the game world, are there?