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There are some who serve their gods with prayers. There are others who serve them with the crash of sword on shield. But there are a select few whose deeds often go unnoticed. Done in darkness, with subtlety and guile, these servants perform the tasks that would sully others. They slip on a wolf's skin and prowl at their deity's behest. They delve deep, pass judgment, and often act as executioners of divine will.
They are inquisitors.
Inquisitors, though, are just as varied as their gods. So if you're looking to step outside the box with your next member of this class, consider the following tips.
If you like this list, make sure you take the time to check out others in the series at 5 Tips For Playing Better Base Classes. If you'd like more content just like this, check out my gaming blog Improved Initiative, and take a look at the rest of my Vocal archive.
Tip #1: How do you serve?
The first thing you need to know about any inquisitor is whom they serve. After all, their patron is the wellspring from whence they draw their power. However, the second question you should ask is how this inquisitor serves the interests of their deity.
For example, if your inquisitor serves a god concerned with family, community, and nature, does he act as a kind of wandering monster hunter to protect outlying settlements from unnatural threats? Alternatively, if your inquisitor follows a god of law and wealth, is he more of a bounty hunter who targets thieves and highwaymen? Does your inquisitor focus on the brute fieldwork as a combatant, or is she more of a spy, or an analyst who tends to operate in more of a support role for others doing the heavy lifting?
This role will typically be your inquisitor's "day job," but this is not entirely true. They might be a smith, a soft-spoken local priest, or even a groundskeeper in between missions from their god. If you want to go that route, that is.
Tip #2: How long have you served?
Inquisitors are not just random people doing what they think is right in the name of a god... They have true divine backing for their actions. Which is why it's important for you to know when this character became an inquisitor, and received that blessing from their patron. And, if applicable, what they did to earn it.
For example, is this character the latest in a long line of inquisitors who is simply carrying on the family tradition? Alternatively, were they a criminal who found their god while in prison, and now that they've been let out (or escaped) they use their knowledge and experience to root out corruption? Was this character marked with a holy symbol from birth, or did they come to faith only when they were older, and thus bring experience as well as their judgment to the tasks their god sets them?
If you enjoy the latter idea, you might also want to check out Adventuring Isn't Just A Young Man's Game (5 Questions You Should Ask For Older PCs).
Tip #3: Who do you work with?
Inquisitors are typically thought of as lone wolves. However, they're just as often stereotyped as members of a faith's military arm. But those are far from your only options.
Who your inquisitor works with will likely be related to the capacity in which they serve their god. If they're intelligence gatherers, then they might work for a theocratic spy agency, but they could just as easily be an ally of a resistance network, a member of a peacekeeping organization, or a vigilante who works only with those he's thoroughly vetted... and even those allies he keeps a careful eye on.
Ask who commands your inquisitor's loyalty, outside of their patron. Then ask why that group, or person, has this character's loyalty. Lastly, ask what they'd have to do to break those bonds... just in case it happens.
Tip #4: What are your goals?
It's easy to lose sight of who an inquisitor is in the face of their faith and duty to their patron. But it's important to ask what goals they have, over and above the requirements set for them by their deity. Not just in broad terms, but in specifics.
For example, let's return to our traveling monster hunter. His duty is keeping towns and communities safe, but what about his goals beyond that duty? Does he want to have a family of his own someday? Settle down, and teach his skills to the next generation? Does he want to bag a particularly legendary beast as a testament to his skills? Or is he looking for vengeance against a monster that did damage that can never be undone?
Faith and duty are two aspects of an inquisitor, but they are not (or at least shouldn't be) the whole of who they are. Ask what things this character wants as a person. Whether it's to see the world, move up in social rank, or to discover lost wonders, it's important to know their desires.
Tip #5: How do you display your devotion?
Unlike clerics, who show a daily devotion to the divine in order to receive their spells, inquisitors use their powers spontaneously. So, without the need for a daily prayer to refill your supply of power, the question you need to ask is how your inquisitor displays their faith (or if they do at all).
For example, some inquisitors may be full priests. As such they follow the prescribed rituals of their faith, and any rules or bans that priests must acknowledge. Other inquisitors, though, may be extremely private about their faith. They keep their holy symbols tucked away, and unless you knew what their powers were, you'd never suspect them of being what they are. Some may utter small prayers rather than cursing, and some may view going to organized meetings as utterly redundant, given their personal connection to the divine. Some may be evangelists, while others see their faith as a hole card to be kept very close to the chest.
So take a moment to ask how your inquisitor feels about faith, and what outward displays of it (if any, aside from spellcasting) they show.