Thursday, May 29, 2008

Medic!

One of the commonest complaints leveled against the cleric is that the class is just a glorified healer and nobody likes to play the healer. I have to admit that I've always been puzzled by this assertion, because in my experience, while cleric is indeed a healing class, that's not all that it is. Yet, you'll still hear lots of people make the baseless assertion, for example, that the reason the cleric was included in OD&D is because of the need for magical healing. I call this assertion baseless, because Chainmail, whose fantasy supplement is the immediate precursor to OD&D, does not include clerics among the options for play. There are "heroes," "superheroes," (both examples of what would later be called fighting men or fighters) and wizards, but no clerics. So where did clerics come from?

Like many things from the prehistory of roleplaying, the answer to this question is murky, but the most consistent explanation and the one offered by Mike "Old Geezer" Mornard, who enjoys the possibly unique distinction having played in the campaigns of Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, and M.A.R. Barker. According to Mornard, Dave Arneson created the cleric class, modeling him on Abraham van Helsing as portrayed by Peter Cushing's portrayal of the vampire hunter in the Hammer Films series. According to this version, the cleric was intended as a foil to a vampire player character in Arneson's campaign, Sir Fang by name, meaning that the class was first and foremost conceived as a fighter of the undead, a role it has retained throughout every edition, including 4e.

As presented in OD&D, a cleric can heal. However, of the 26 clerical spells offered in the little brown books, only two -- cure light wounds and cure serious wounds -- are direct healing spells. Supplement I expands the total number of clerical spells to 46, but adds no more healing spells. There were, of course, "restorative" spells of various sorts, such as remove curse (which the cleric shared with the magic-user) and cure disease, as well as neutralize poison and raise dead. Nevertheless, the bulk of the cleric's spell selection in OD&D is made up of what might best be called "utility" spells -- light (again, shared with the MU), find traps, locate object, speak with plants, create food, word of recall, control weather, and so on.

AD&D expands the spell list for clerics yet again. There are 76 cleric spells in First Edition. Of these, there are only two new direct healing spells -- cure critical wounds and heal. The majority of the new spells are additional utility spells, particularly abjurations and divinations. Second Edition follows First quite closely in most respects, but the addition of specialty priests (of which the traditional mace-wielding cleric is but one possible example) actually made it possible to play a "cleric" who couldn't heal at all. Third Edition adds many, many more spells to the cleric's repertoire, including some new direct healing spells to fill in gaps in the progression (cure moderate wounds, for example), but, again, the vast majority of a cleric's spells are utility spells. Moreover, 3e seems to have gone out of its way to ensure there were also direct damage-dealing options available to clerics, a category that was largely non-existent in previous editions. Of course, 3e also added the spontaneous casting of healing spells, which allowed a cleric to freely convert any spell into a healing spell of the same level. Thus, if any edition formally turned the cleric into the "medic," it was 3e, but, even there, the charge is weak. (As an aside, in OD&D, evil clerics -- called "anti-clerics" -- could not heal at all and cast damage-dealing spells instead)

The identification of the cleric with "healer" is a classic example of how game rules sometimes take on a life of their own through play. Because the cleric was initially the only character class who could heal at all, that ability soon became its singular distinction. OD&D describes clerics in terms that suggest it was intended to be a "hybrid" between the fighting man and the magic-user. Likewise, AD&D -- and Gygax himself -- makes a connection between clerics and the medieval orders of religious knighthood, like the Templars. Thus, they were intended to be religious militants: crusaders who went toe to toe with their enemies rather than standing in the back and healing, to borrow a MMO turn of phrase. Part of the problem is that, in AD&D, the paladin usurped that role (OD&D's paladin is a slightly different class -- it's not a spellcaster, for one), leaving the cleric holding the medkit. The other issue is that, except during the 2e era, D&D has never provided examples of non-clerical "priests," which is to say, religious leaders who tended to the needs of the faithful. That made it hard to make a distinction between adventuring clerics who bashed skulls for their gods and the parish priests who hung around Hommlet preaching and giving alms.

Unfortunately, the D&D cleric is an incoherent mess -- half what its creators intended it to be and half what players expect it to be. I can't in good conscience recommend ditching either half, because the tension between the two is part of what makes the cleric what it is. On the other hand, I'm completely sympathetic to the notion that the cleric is in need of something; I'm just not sure what that is. In any pulp fantasy game I write, I'd be inclined to ditch the cleric entirely or subsume most of his abilities into an expanded magic-user class. That seems truer to the source material. But if I were doing anything that had to be recognizable as "D&D," I don't quite know what I'd do. Moreso than any other class, the cleric has issues that aren't easily resolvable and pretty much any proposed solution is sure to tick someone off.

42 comments:

  1. I think Clerics are very powerful; they can fight, cast spells AND turn undead! I always played a Cleric on the rare occasions I wasn't DMing, although that had as much to do with the roleplaying opportunities as the fact I thought it was the best class.

    In my perpetually unfinished homebrew D&D rules Clerics have no combat role; they are basically MUs with different spells and the ability to turn undead. But humans can multiclass, so fighter/clerics are possible (also MU/clerics and thief/clerics).

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  2. From a game-balance POV, you really do need the anti-undead focus of the cleric to prevent creatures like ghouls, shadows, wights, etc. from crippling PC parties who should (in theory) be safe from them due to their character level but who succumb due to a bad save: if the cleric turns the ghasts, mummies, etc., there's no need to worry about making or missing that crucial saving throw because the undead never get the chance to engage in earnest.

    On the whole split between "bashing priests" (a la Bishop Turpin from The Song of Roland or Friar Tuck from Robin Hood) and the contemplative priests (a la EGG's Mystic and Savant from the aborted Gygax 2e; also reminiscent of Lakofka's Cloistered Clerics in Dragon 68 and Greenwood's Scribe in 62), I like the idea of doing something to make these two camps more distinctive, with the Monk, perhaps, as a bridging class that straddles both lines (in addition to having its own unique abilities/etc.).

    Allan.

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  3. To me, this one is easy: a Cleric is the hero chosen by destiny.

    From Mentzer Red Box: "A cleric is a human character who is dedicated
    to serving a great and worthy
    cause." This doesn't say anything about gods, religions, etc. If you are kicking ass in the name of something greater than yourself, you might be a cleric.

    Aragorn works pretty well as a low-level Cleric. He kills orcs all over the place, heals Frodo, turns the Nazgul, commands the Ghost Army, and can (more or less) speak with animals.

    The trappings are all wrong, but you've clearly got this guy waging a lonely crusade against the forces of darkness, aided by Destiny and the Valar. I submit with a tweak to weaponry, he works pretty well as an OD&D Cleric.

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  4. The Cleric is my personal favorite of the three OD&D classes. In reality, they have an almost unfair advantage over Fighting-Men at the early levels.

    From 1st-3rd levels the have identical Roll to Hit numbers.

    At 1st-4th levels they have nearly identical Hit Dice.

    They both have the same Armor Class potential.

    Clerics require less experience to gain levels.

    They can cast spells, and Turn Undead.

    I've never understood the Cleric bashing, maybe I never will. I do believe a lot of this attitude has to do with other players taking the attitude that the Cleric is there to cast cures. I embrace their hybrid, flexible nature. As far as the fantasy archetype thing, I do understand that attitude, but the class is a strong one as far as I'm concerned.

    ~Sham

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  5. Oh, and I forgot the importance of Saving Throws. Hands down the best class at that!

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  6. Part of the issue is the equipment.

    People see "only bashing weapons" and think it's supposed to make the cleric somehow more gentle. The truth is, it's a medieval perversion of Jesus' injunction that those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Bishop Turpin, of course, was quite ready to die by the sword to protect Christendom, but others felt it was necessary to avoid even the appearance of living by the sword, so they avoided edged weapons all together in a hilarious display of adhering to the letter while ignoring the spirit of the text.

    Anyway, at the end of the day, the only thing more useful than carrying extra hit points in your pocket is the ability to directly damage your foes. Yeah, it's good to have some neutralize poison just in case, but the lack of direct-damage spells and the weakness of the healing spells mean that a cleric best serves the needs of the party by loading up on those healing spells and ignoring most of the rest of the spell list. One thing I think 4e and Paizo's Pathfinder are doing right is giving the cleric healing powers that don't require burning spell slots. This allows the cleric to perform the medic function without feeling forced to sacrifice other abilities. The other option, of course, is to fully embrace the medic role, which is what most players end up doing.

    - Brian

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  7. I think the cleric is where the rot sets in, personally. It doesn't really make sense in terms of pulp fantasy, and it is best understood as a force multiplier. It allows one to turn undead, thus making the party much more powerful versus those specific foes. It allows healing, which greatly increases the stamina and thus the power of the adventuring party. It has also usually been one of the most powerful classes, precisely because it is understood that it will often not be used optimally for the sake of the party. (That's one reason why it is not traditionally favored by players.)

    3e embraced the cleric (and druid) and it is generally considered the most powerful base class by a fair margin. The spontaneous cure spells mean that a cleric can load up on damage-causing spells without worrying about shortchanging cures, and 3e greatly expanded the damage-dealing abilities of the class anyway.

    I'd fix the cleric by making it a "mystic" with the same basic stats of the magic-user and having a tweaked skill list, with the same access to armor and weapons. If you want a damage-dealing lead from the front holy warrior, play a paladin or paladin-variant.

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  8. The other issue is that, except during the 2e era, D&D has never provided examples of non-clerical "priests," which is to say, religious leaders who tended to the needs of the faithful.

    Which is unfortunate; it would have been so easy for 3e to slot one in among the NPC classes in the DMG, without having to worry about balancing it with PC classes.

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  9. I remember in my early days (Basic D&D), feeling that the Cleric was overpowered. It seemed to attract the type of player that is labeled a "power gamer" these days. I'm all for jack-of-all trade types, but there seemed something unbalanced.

    Thanks for the history tidbits, James - it's what drew me to your blogs in the first place.

    One of the few clerics I've played was an Egyptian Priest that continually chastised the group for looting the dead/fallen enemies (it was sacrilege!). Lasted half a session before they turned on him and killed him.

    Also had a bard that was suffocated by party members sitting on him, for "talking too much" and trying to establish communication with the orcs.

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  10. Bishop Turpin, of course, was quite ready to die by the sword to protect Christendom, but others felt it was necessary to avoid even the appearance of living by the sword, so they avoided edged weapons all together in a hilarious display of adhering to the letter while ignoring the spirit of the text.

    I hear this a lot, but am yet to see any actual evidence for it. As far as I know this idea is based on one historian's questionable (and debunked) reading of the Bayeux Tapestry, though I would be interested in any other evidence. In short, this is a modern myth about medieval Christian attitudes towards warfare.

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  11. As far as I know this idea is based on one historian's questionable (and debunked) reading of the Bayeux Tapestry, though I would be interested in any other evidence. In short, this is a modern myth about medieval Christian attitudes towards warfare.

    I'll see if I can track something down on this. But I won't be surprised if I can't find anything. Or even if I do find something, it will be one injunction written by a monk or maybe a papal bull that may or may not have been adhered to. Turpin seemed quite happy to cleave heathens in twain with a sword, after all, and he was something of the model of the crusading priest.

    - Brian

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  12. Not only Turpin, but the entirety of the military orders! I have read dozens of medieval depictions of clerics at war and never once an injunction against a particular type of weapon.

    There's a great moment in the Middle English Sir Ferumbras, where the Pope dons the arms of a Knight and fights against the pagans. When Ferumbras defeats him and notices by his shaven head that he is a cleric, he sends him home in shame.

    There were certainly blanket injunctions against clerics bearing arms, a fact that probably made it quite unnecessary to prescribe any particular sort as more okay than another.

    Still, good luck turning something up!

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  13. I'm not finding anything except the confusion around the club-like weapons on the Bayeux Tapestry that might have been a commander's baton or might have just been a hurling weapon.

    I was hoping to find something in the Second Lateran Council (1139 AD) since it has all sorts of wackiness in it, like forbidding the use of archers and crossbowmen against fellow Christians and fighting between sunset Wednesday and sunrise Monday. Alas, no luck.

    - Brian

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  14. Yes, that would be the sort of place one would expect to find provisions of that sort. The Peace of God movement certainly took some interesting measures to attempt to curtail inter Christian violence.

    Of course, complaints about the 'unfairness' of archery go back at least to the Spartans in the Peloponnesian war and turn up again in the 20th century with British cavalry corps complaining about the randomness of guns.

    The only other instance of 'blunt' weapons I have come across is that of Saint Gerald, who ordered his men to reverse their spears and se the flats of their swords.

    Here is a link to a thread at Knights & Knaves about Clerics as an archetype:

    http://www.knights-n-knaves.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=3824

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  15. I'd fix the cleric by making it a "mystic" with the same basic stats of the magic-user and having a tweaked skill list, with the same access to armor and weapons. If you want a damage-dealing lead from the front holy warrior, play a paladin or paladin-variant.

    This is more or less the conclusion to which I came some time ago. My only qualm is that it's not the way D&D has ever handled the matter and I am loath to change such a long-standing element of the game in ways that differ significantly from that laid down in OD&D.

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  16. One of the few clerics I've played was an Egyptian Priest that continually chastised the group for looting the dead/fallen enemies (it was sacrilege!). Lasted half a session before they turned on him and killed him.

    That's terrific. What a great story. Too bad about your character, but that's exactly the way a cleric should be played. I can't help but think one of the biggest problems with the class is that, in exchange for their utility, they have very restrictions on their behavior, especially once later editions gave them access to a wider range of weaponry. For all its faults, I think the 2e specialty priest was a step in the right direction.

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  17. This is more or less the conclusion to which I came some time ago. My only qualm is that it's not the way D&D has ever handled the matter and I am loath to change such a long-standing element of the game in ways that differ significantly from that laid down in OD&D.

    I would not be happy heading in this direction. The Paladin is not by necessity a 'Holy Warrior'; attaching them directly to a particular deity or church is not part of the Paladin's AD&D presentation.

    I think the Cleric and Paladin are easily conflated in the imagination, but for me the division is simple. Turpin is a Cleric, Roland is a Paladin.

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  18. I think the Cleric and Paladin are easily conflated in the imagination

    I agree, but the simple fact is that, for the vast majority of people, the conflation is a natural one, because, like so many other elements, D&D presumes a certain degree of background knowledge by its players that's increasingly no longer in evidence. The distinction between the cleric and the paladin -- heck, even the definition of a paladin -- is one not many gamers grok anymore, which is why you have the idiots wanting to universalize the paladin into a generic "holy warrior" class. If they'd ever read Anderson, they'd never dare ask for such a thing.

    It reminds me more and more that D&D is where it is today because the game never did a very good job of explaining itself. It's always assumed that its players just got it and would play accordingly. You can see where that's led us.

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  19. Sham said:The Cleric is my personal favorite of the three OD&D classes. In reality, they have an almost unfair advantage over Fighting-Men at the early levels.

    One advantage for the FM is his ability to use magical weaponry, especially magical swords. If you go by the tables in Monsters & Treasure, magical swords are the most common magical weapon, by far.

    (Incidentally, this is one often overlooked consequence of allowing clerics to use edged weapons; it nerfs one of the FM's major benefits.)

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  20. I think that the cleric/medic thing, stems from giving other players crap during the game, and newbies taking it to heart. Almost any assumption probably comes from this fact, as many gamers have odd senses of humor. I see lots of really idiot crap out there that just gives me a head-ache. Crap like magical weapons blow up if they get broken in 2e, or you can encounter 596 ogres in a 4x10 ft. room in 1e. Clearly this was an experience had with a bad DM, but many players consider this as the norm.

    A properly played cleric can lead to endless fun, just as any other class out there. If you are a weak player, then of course you are going to be used for the soul purpose of healing cause if you act like a henchman, then you will be treated as such.

    I play 2e exclusively, but I do like the 1st edition method of what grants the spell, if it is a god, so I incorporate that into my 2e system.

    -RIP

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  21. The biggest problem with the cleric has always been the name. “Cleric” suggests something more like Len’s “cloistered cleric” (whether actually cloistered or not). If the class had been called “crusader” or “templar” or “vampire-hunter”, we might have been better off.

    Moreover, 3e seems to have gone out of its way to ensure there were also direct damage-dealing options available to clerics, a category that was largely non-existent in previous editions.

    The cleric and MU classes have been so expanded by new spells so that they spill more and more out of their niche. Instead of trying to reign this in, the solution has been to amp-up the fighter as well. (Exceptional strength. Weapon specialization. Feats. Now to the point that the 4e fighter is being described as essentially the same mechanically as the spell casters with “martial spells” to match against the arcane and divine spells.)

    I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, but it has certainly become a different game.

    The other issue is that, except during the 2e era, D&D has never provided examples of non-clerical ‘priests,’ which is to say, religious leaders who tended to the needs of the faithful.

    (Len’s cloistered cleric was a 1e era example.)

    Yeah. One of the biggest failings of the game—for me—was that it perhaps failed to clearly spell out for me: “NPCs do not have to follow the rules for PCs! NPCs don’t need to follow rules at all!”

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  22. Yeah. One of the biggest failings of the game—for me—was that it perhaps failed to clearly spell out for me: “NPCs do not have to follow the rules for PCs! NPCs don’t need to follow rules at all!”

    Yep, that was a watershed moment for me. Ironically, it was actually the 2e Player's Option: Skills and Powers that set me on the path to realising this.

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  23. FWIW, 3.5e *does* have rules for non-adventuring religious dudes: they're Adepts, Aristocrats, or Experts depending on need.

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  24. Excellent post. I've long argued the point with my gaming group, that the cleric is supposed to be a militant priest, rather than an ordinary parish priest, while the paladin is no priest at all. The paladin, of course, is responsible for this confusion.

    I'll be the first to agree that the cleric is completely alien to the "pulp fantasy" milieu. His roots lie closer to Medieval literature and modern misconceptions about Medieval Christianity, rather than the writings of Howard or Vance.

    So if you want to hew closer to the greats of pulp, the cleric (and the paladin, and possibly the druid) will all have to go. But at this point one wonders, why bother playing D&D at all? There are other, better systems for sword-and-sorcery roleplaying with a pulp slant.

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  25. There are other, better systems for sword-and-sorcery roleplaying with a pulp slant.

    There are? In all honesty I haven't seen any that were particularly satisfactory.

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  26. "In all honesty I haven't seen any that were particularly satisfactory."

    "Sorcerer," and its supplement "Sorcerer & Sword," is worth a look, though it may not be to your tastes.

    This ridiculously verbose AP thread gives some indication of what play is like, in the "Dictionary of Mu" setting. It's too wordy by half, but it is a very typical game experience.

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  27. I have all three. "Sorcerer and Sword" is very good but a little too idiosyncratic for my liking.

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  28. But at this point one wonders, why bother playing D&D at all?

    (o_O) Certainly the paladin and druid aren’t so central to D&D to make it not worth playing it without them. Even AD&D—with its plethora of classes—can get by just fine without a few of them.

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  29. FWIW, 3.5e *does* have rules for non-adventuring religious dudes: they're Adepts, Aristocrats, or Experts depending on need.

    Eh. You can use those classes for that purpose, sure, but then, you can use almost any other class for a clergyman, too, especially depending on the deity in question. The text description of the classes does not suggest them for the role.

    Adepts are, for example, specifically for societies that "don't have the resources to train wizards and clerics." They come from "isolated human, elf, dwarf, gnome, and halfling communities"; they're not being sold by the game as the assistant priests at the faith's temple in Greyhawk.

    If the Expert specifically mentioned "religious minister" in its description, that alone would have helped. I still think a Priest class would have been useful, however.

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  30. The biggest problem with the cleric has always been the name. “Cleric” suggests something more like Len’s “cloistered cleric” (whether actually cloistered or not). If the class had been called “crusader” or “templar” or “vampire-hunter”, we might have been better off.

    Yes, I agree the name is one of the cleric's worst parts. I think "templar" or "crusader" would have been better, although the issue of why so many people see the cleric primarily as a healer rather than as a hybrid fighter/magic-user with a different selection of spells is another matter.

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  31. FWIW, 3.5e *does* have rules for non-adventuring religious dudes: they're Adepts, Aristocrats, or Experts depending on need.

    As others have already pointed out, the Adept isn't really a non-adventuring religious figure so much as a spellcaster on the cheap. Likewise, the description doesn't make it clear that a priest at the local village temple would be an Adept rather than a cleric. Adepts could certainly be made to serve that role, but it's a rough fit conceptually in my opinion.

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  32. So if you want to hew closer to the greats of pulp, the cleric (and the paladin, and possibly the druid) will all have to go. But at this point one wonders, why bother playing D&D at all? There are other, better systems for sword-and-sorcery roleplaying with a pulp slant.

    I would agree that, as written, D&D is a poor fit for pulp fantasy. However, I think the game can be made to serve with some tweaks and not very extensive ones. As for there being better systems from S&S gaming, I'm hard pressed to think of any, with the possible exception of Conan. But Conan is a very specific type of pulp fantasy and not quite the kind I'm after, so I'm left with the task of modifying D&D instead.

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  33. I have all three. "Sorcerer and Sword" is very good but a little too idiosyncratic for my liking.

    I feel much the same. The central problem with Sorcerer and Sword is that it unsatisfactorily attempts to make Sorcerer's central premise compatible with S&S literature as a whole, when in fact it's actually quite antithetical to all but Elric-style S&S. Now there's nothing wrong with that, since there's at least a couple really good supplements for the game that take that premise and run with it. However, any book that tries to claim that Conan is a Sorcerer-esque binder of demons is one I can't take wholly seriously.

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  34. I always though that the Lankhmar: City of Adventure sourcebook for AD&D pared down the class options to a solid set of S&S-style archetypes. What more do you need than a fighter-type, thief-type, and black/white wizards (the last being a cleric/druid combo with magic-user weapons and armor options, i.e. none :). And the restrictions on spellcasting gave a better "low fantasy" feel than the standard sytem. What could be more "Sword and Sorcery" than a game based on the characters of the man who coined the term?

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  35. Even AD&D—with its plethora of classes—can get by just fine without a few of them.

    Oh, certainly. The problem is that the cleric is part of both the original triumvirate and the now-assumed tetralogy. D&D's self-identify, both from the start and in gamer "tradition," presumes the existence of the cleric. To remove the class might be possible, but it would certainly do violence to D&D in various ways. Whether it's only a little violence or a lot is something I've not yet fully considered.

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  36. Re: Lankhmar

    Yes, I think that supplement did a good job of fitting D&D into Nehwon conceptually. And since I think Leiber was in fact one of the strongest influences over OD&D, it's certainly a better model than many. I know my own ideas for how to make the cleric "fit" better are not at all dissimilar to that sourcebook's.

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  37. To remove the class might be possible, but it would certainly do violence to D&D in various ways.

    When none of the players in a group decides to play a cleric, does that hurt the game? If—at the same time—the DM hasn’t come up with an cleric NPCs, does that hurt the game?

    I’ve played D&D without clerics. Sometimes because the DM forbid the class. More often for no other reason that neither the players or DM made a cleric character. The game is no less fun. (I’m tempted to say it was more fun.)

    And I’m not a cleric hater. (OK...I played a druid that hated clerics, but that was an in-character thing. (^_^)) I enjoy playing clerics.

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  38. I’ve played D&D without clerics. Sometimes because the DM forbid the class. More often for no other reason that neither the players or DM made a cleric character. The game is no less fun. (I’m tempted to say it was more fun.)

    I'd never argue that it's less fun. However, I think the argument could be made that it's less like D&D, though, since D&D has always had a cleric. My cardinal principle in these discussions is that "D&D is always right," which is to say, that if the game includes a concept, it's probably important. The cleric is very core to the game, certainly more core than the thief and most people can't imagine D&D without the thief.

    None of this is to say that there's anything wrong with removing the cleric, only that doing so crosses the line -- or least moves toward crossing it -- that divides "D&D from "not D&D."

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  39. SNAP! OK, I haven't read all the comments yet.. but I'm stoked (!) that I found this post. I'll no doubt link back here when I finish my wrap up of the evolution of the cleric through all the editions. thanks again for a real gem J.M.

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  40. Having now spent the time to read and digest this post and all the excellent comments; I'm left with that "its all been said before" feeling (in reference to the six-part series I'm writing at tCM, maybe some of you will take a look).

    Well done and bravo to everyone here who shared their insights! Thanks for the link to Knights & Knaves thread. And thanks for the link to The Second Lateran Council. good stuff - having this deep sense of history adds a tremendous sense of value to my hobby (our hobby?). Hats off to all of you.

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  41. "Unfortunately, the D&D cleric is an incoherent mess -- half what its creators intended it to be and half what players expect it to be... In any pulp fantasy game I write, I'd be inclined to ditch the cleric entirely..."

    Very good post (just discovered from your recent link). Fascinating report by Mike Mornard.

    The cleric has for a long time bothered the heck out of me. At the end of the day, I've done precisely what you propose: ditch the cleric entirely. In my Diminutive d20 System, there is no cleric.

    The struggle between keeping "classic D&D" elements was ferocious with me, but at the end of the day it's "tension" (as you say) with standard pulp elements was too much, and it just had to go. (Likely more comments on your more recent post.)

    http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2008/02/those-blasted-clerics.html

    http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2007/03/class-trouble-ii-clerics.html

    http://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2008/09/dans-diminutive-d20.html

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  42. "Unfortunately, the D&D cleric is an incoherent mess -- half what its creators intended it to be and half what players expect it to be... In any pulp fantasy game I write, I'd be inclined to ditch the cleric entirely..."

    IMHO clerics have always been overpowered.

    They cast spells in armor, they fight in armor, and they can heal. From OD&D to AD&D to 3.x, they've been the most powerful core class.

    They do have one neat drawback until 3.x -- if the DM gets angry, the DM can say the cleric has offended his god and loses all his powers until he can atone.

    I played one game where my cleric got his powers anulled permanently for a first-time offense. The DM commands the very gods!

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