Introducing The New Cleric Forge Domain In Xanathar's Guide To Everything
Todd Kenreck: Every once in a while, a new type of subclass feels like it fits into the D&D multiverse perfectly. I talked to Mike Mearls about the Forge domain for the Cleric in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.
Mike Mearls: Forge domain is one of those ones where it's like, why was this in the Player's Handbook? It's the dwarf cleric. Dwarf clerics have become so iconic to the game and it's funny 'cause they weren't technically, second edition let you play dwarf cleric but people just naturally always, I don't know what it is about dwarves. Dwarves and clerics just goes together. Part of it is because you have the story of Moradin forging the dwarves. He literally makes them. That's mythically very interesting, this idea that you have a craftsman, who's a God, who basically challenges himself, can I make a lot of folk, the dwarves, my children? I'm going to forge them out of iron and metal and ingots, whatever it is.
That to me is really interesting and that would have such profound implications to that society, where your god physically made you out of iron, out of metal and breathed life into you and now, then you have that association in dwarves of crafting things. Of course, creation would be sacred to dwarves because that's what their deity does, it's what their deity did to create them. This is what I think is interesting in D&D when you have the divine, the divine is knowable. Moradin's day to day desires might be unknowable or cryptic but Moradin as a person, that is what happened. People know, there's not a question of faith it's just a question of which team do you pick.
So the idea of the dwarf cleric is essentially to my, when we were working on it, what I was thinking 100% was the dwarf cleric and the dwarf cleric who decides I am going to emulate Moradin. I want to be a great smith. That the deity that created me was a great smith and I will follow those footsteps because creation is sacred to our folk. Then since it's a cleric, you have to ask yourself, how do use creation to beat down orcs and goblins and then it just make magic weapons. That's it, you get to imbue a weapon and make it magical and that just felt very sensible, very obvious and the great thing is in our system it's not game breaking. It's powerful but it's not over the top.
This is one of the subclasses that really encapsulates when we're doing things really right. The initial play test feedback was through the roof positive. We had to tweak a few things here and there but it hit that note of ... I was joking when I said this should have been in the player's handbook but really it should have been in the player's handbook because it's so iconic. As soon as we showed it to people they were just like, yes, this makes sense. This fits, the mechanics make sense. The mechanics were easy. There was nothing in those mechanics that's tricky or strange or clever, it's just obvious. I make things magical. I make my armor better. I make my weapons better. I make things. That's it. But it just hits such a resonant tone and that's always what we're shooting for when we do these new subclasses. We want to hit that resonant tone.
You can go for the thing that's very experimental, that people haven't seen before and that's part of the approach, you need to do some of that but when you're doing things where people just look at it and go, "Yeah, that's D&D." Yes, you feel that good about yourself as a designer 'cause I filled the gap that everyone wanted to play but they couldn't play. Maybe they didn't know the gap was empty until you gave them this and then suddenly everyone's playing it. That's how we are really truly growing the game when we do that. When you could imagine, oh, if you could go back in time and give Xanathar's to the player's handbook team, this is one of the domains, one of the options they would be just, yes, of course, let's put this right in the player's handbook. That always feels good as a designer when you do that.
To me it's not, at least for this type of design, it's not the exotic new wacky thing, it's the thing that's just like, you've invented baked potatoes. Now that you've invented it everyone will have these with their steak forever.
Todd Kenreck: Right, right.
Mike Mearls: You just feel like, wow, that's kind of cool.
Todd Kenreck: It does, it has that weird feeling, it has the feeling. This should have been in first edition.
Mike Mearls: Yeah, yeah. Because it just fits. And that's when we know as designers, as creators, we're connecting with the audience, we're hitting on things that people want. We're hitting on the things that just make sense to people and that's, I love that feeling as a designer. On a game like Dungeons and Dragons that has a history, that has a big active user base, it means we as designers are in touch with players. That we're on the same page. I love that feeling.
Todd Kenreck: The cleric forge domain appears in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. You can purchase that book on dndbeyond.com and also earn pre-order bonuses as well. I'm Todd Kenreck, thanks for watching.