Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Cleric (Yet Again)

One of the funny things about being interested in the pulp fantasy roots of Dungeons & Dragons is that, OD&D to the contrary, I often feel as ambivalent about the cleric as I do about the thief. In part it's because the cleric archetype doesn't really have an equivalent in pulp fantasy. Certainly there were lots of priests in pulp fantasy, but I can't really recall any offhand that had much in common with the D&D cleric class. Those that wielded magic did so not because of a divine gift (though there are a few exceptions here and there) but because they were sorcerers in addition to being priests -- and usually evil sorcerers at that, since pulp fantasy generally takes a cynical view of religion. Still, the cleric has been there since the beginning and I'm loath to give it up, which is why I regularly look for new and interesting ways to tweak the Gygaxo-Arnesonian patrimony to produce a result that's at least a little bit closer to what you'd expect to find in pulp fantasy.

While looking for High Gygaxian quotes for my recent entry, I came across a passage in the Players Handbook I'd forgotten. In his introduction to the book, Gygax states that
Clerics and fighters have been strengthened in relation to magic-users, although not overly so. Clerics have more and improved spell capability.
On first reading, one might assume Gary is referring primarily to the fact that, in AD&D, clerics get a spell at first level, unlike in OD&D. He probably is, but there's more to it than that. The selection of clerical spells in AD&D is much larger than in OD&D and, more significantly, it includes a few spells that deal direct damage, such as flame strike and spiritual hammer. These spells don't predominate by any means, but their appearance is a deviation from the way cleric spells are presented in OD&D -- as defensive, restorative, and divinatory in character.

I wrote previously about my vision for how to explain clerical magic. I largely stand behind what I wrote earlier and think that the key to that approach is eliminating direct damage dealing spells from the cleric's repertoire, except as reversed spells. One of the many things I disliked about the 3e cleric (and, by extension, the 4e one) is the way that the class was given access to a wider variety of combat-oriented spells. If one is to envision clerics as "white magicians," as I do, then it doesn't make a lot of sense to include direct damage dealing spells, except as willful perversions of the "path" of magic they've undertaken by their vocation.

I realize that, in many people's eyes, I'm relegating the cleric to a "support" role, but I see that as a feature rather than a bug. Clerics shouldn't have spells that are as mighty or versatile as a magic-user; that's not the archetype they represent, at least as I see it. They're a defensive class, which is why they have such good saving throws, the second best attack progression, and the ability to put on plate mail armor. There is a certain logic to it all, even if it's a somewhat strained logic at times and I feel it's important to buttress it whenever I can. The end result might not be a true pulp fantasy-style priest, but it also won't be the heavily armored wizards that they eventually came to be over the years.

47 comments:

  1. Personally, I'd forward the idea that there shouldn't be a priest class. Just combine the magic users and priest's spells into one list. It just seems to me that the priest spells are things the MU should be able to do as well.

    If that seems too powerful, there could be different types of mages with preferences for certain types of spells. Healer, Priest of god X, Shaman, and so on.

    The priest as it stands just seems like a gamey way to add healing and an extra fighter to parties.

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  2. Some fantastic ideas there! The best part about D&D, something lost over time, was the idea that each role could do something special. You were wise to look after the weaker characters in your group rather than worry solely about yourself - you might need them later. Cleric as an anti-magicuser would come in pretty handy- it would be nice to bring in counterspells. The cool dilemma would be that the cleric could be out there slugging it out in the front line, but maybe he'd better hold back to check magical attacks. It also plays into the archetype- holy power dispelling the diabolical (sorcery).

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  3. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Look no further than the AD&D Lankhmar supplement.

    Using AD&D as a base, split the M-U class into white and black varieties. The white magicians use the cleric and druid spell lists and the black ones use the regular M-U and illusionist ones.

    It really is that easy.

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  4. The cleric is very much its own class in D&D. I think trying to get it to "fit" somewhere is a path to trouble. Probably the coolest depiction of a cleric I have recently come across is in Goodman Games' Saga of the Rat King, where one summons a demon to fight the adventurers and then runs off; the art is well worth a look:

    http://www.goodman-games.com/images/DCC27-5.jpg

    Let priests be priests, magicians be magicians, and stop worrying about the D&D cleric is my general advice. ;)

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  5. I've said it before, and I know it's enormously radical, but I am so over the cleric in all my D&D games. I've just stripped them out entirely, replaced them with thieves in OD&D, and simply made potions of healing available for 50gp a pop.

    I did a lot of soul-searching in the last year to come to it, but after the fact it's an enormous relief.

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  6. I found in actual play that a 3E cleric filled that support role you mention anyway. There was only one damage dealing spell that seemed out of place during our campaigns - Blade Barrier. And that was made worse by being one of the few poor spell rule descriptions.

    Of course, this may all be due to the over-powered nature of a 3E Wizard. With one of them in a party, there's not much point in a cleric picking anything other than the "support" spells.

    Note: I'm only talking about 3E, I didn't touch 3.5 as it brought back much of the bookkeeping that had been eliminated in the move from 2E to 3E.

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  7. I, too, have reservations regarding clerics. This was part of the reason that in CARCOSA I tossed-out both clerics and magic-users and replaced them with sorcerers: Elric-types (no arms or armor restrictions!) whose sole form of magic consists in conjuring, binding, banishing, invoking, tormenting, and/or imprisoning Cthulhoid entities.

    For me, these sorcerers really scratch that itch for S&S-style magic.

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  8. I am currently subscribing to a revisionist-grognardian stance: kill the Cleric, keep the Thief.

    One of the big debates I see among grognards and fellow-travelers is whether or not to axe the Thief. The argument is made both on purist grounds (it wasn’t in the original 3 books) and on practical grounds (it usurps and mechanizes actions, such as sneaking and finding traps, that should be performed by anybody and role-played out). I’ve tended to agree with the anti-party, mostly because I never liked Thieves. I don’t believe that I have ever played a Thief in three decades of gaming. Maybe that’s just because the guys I knew who played Thieves were always stealing from other party member and generally being annoying. Maybe not.

    But I was thinking again and it more and more seems to me that Thieves thematically fit the game. What doesn’t fit are Clerics. Sure, they have the pedigree (in the original game), but what the heck are they? There is no source for them from the literary tradition D&D drew from, nor from the medieval history. Yes, there is frequent mention of Archbishop Turpin (the Battling’ Bishop!), but he wasn’t a D&D Cleric. There isn’t any real source for the spell-casting, mace-wielding, cleric. It’s sui generis. That’s not a bad thing as such, lots of cool D&D things are creations of the game itself (Rod of Lordly Might!), but it seems to exist solely to give a weapon against undead (take that Sir Fang!) and be a source of healing.

    I’d argue that the role is so nebulous that even Gary and folks didn’t get it, because the Paladin came about very quickly and that class is much more aligned with Archbishop Turpin and the Knights Templar and whatnot.

    Something I really dislike about the Cleric is that, soemhow, the idea became that all priests were clerics. Which bugs the medievalist in me to no end. The idea of a Church where every member of the clergy is a mace-wielding, ass-kicker just doesn't work for me. And it gives you goofy situations in TSR products where you want to have some dodderring, old Hierophant, but he ends up being 20th level and can destroy a mid-level party without thinking.

    So here’s the idea: kill the Cleric, keep the Thief. That gives you three clearly defined roles: the Warrior, the Sneak, and the Wizard. Combine the MU and Cleric spell lists. Insert either plentiful healing potions OR (my preference) a more geenrous healing system. Dump Turn Undead as a class thing; it never seems to work well in practice for me. Either fight the damn Vampire or get out the dungeon.

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  9. I'll reiterate the suggestion someone made in the comments for a cleric post on LotFP -- call them "exorcists" to distinguish them from priests in general. In the same comments thread I suggested replacing the "no edged weapons" thing with a "no MAGIC weapons" thing, which I still think has legs.

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  10. When I think of pulp swords & sorcery Clerics I think of Elric and the sorcerer-priests of Pan Tang; all invoke the powers of the Chaos gods and can cast spells in heavy armour, though they rarely use direct damage attacks. They're much closer to D&D Clerics than to D&D M-Us (or Elf F-MUs) I think.

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  11. Clerics do a reasonably good job of fitting the idea of a holy christian crusader, but if you campaign doesn't have The Church then I found they leave a lot to be desired.

    My campaign got rid of the cleric class a long time ago and I've never felt the lack. Instead, magic-using priests are actually sorcerors. They gain certain advantages over their non-religious fellows in that they can gain the ability to draw on the congregation, store magic power in an an altar or similar holy vessel, find it much easier to work together when casting magic, and have spells (prayers/rituals) that have been time-tested. The disadvantage is that they usually lack an understanding of exactly how their magic works (since they tend to cast by rote), and usually have a much more limited selection of available spells (according to the nature of the cult that trained them).

    Definitely brings back the pulp sword & sorcery feel that I wanted. And introduces story tensions between priest-sorcerors (who usually believe that their magic is a divine gift) and the other sorcerors who profane it.

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  12. I may be misremembering this, but I think the Dragon Warriors game had two basic magic-user types, Sorcerers and Mystics. Sorcerers learned spells from books while Mystics had an intuitive understanding of magic.

    So here's my suggestion for a replacement for the Cleric, the Mystic. Mystics are not priests and priests are not Mystics. Mystics are just spellcasters who cast magic in a different way to MUs. Maybe they have studied secret spritual disciplines, maybe their powers are granted by gods or demons, or maybe they were just born that way, who knows?

    Mystics fight, save, roll hit dice and use weapons and armour as Magic-users. They progress as Clerics. They turn undead and cast spells as Clerics, with one exception; Mystics do not have to memorise their spells in advance, but can cast any spell at any time until they have used up all their slots.

    There is also the Warrior-mystic. Warrior-mystics are Mystics who fight, save and roll hit dice as clerics, use weapons and armour as fighters, and progress as Magic-users.

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  13. If you are looking for a pulp-fantasy roots for the cleric archetype, you only need to read "Where Evil Dwells" by Cliff Simak. I think that AD&D rules are fine with regards to classes. Cleric is fine as it was in AD&D and does not need tweaking. Cleric is obviously based on the medieval Christian Church and probably has the strongest historic roots of any character class. The prohibition on clerics from using edged weapons is historically accurate, as the Christian clergy was forbidden from "spilling blood" in Medieval times. In most cases The Church had a political role, esp Bishop of Cantenbury, and many noblement went into Church hierarchy for the sake of furthering their political careers, while at the same time retaining their Noblesse Oblige to fight for the King. They led troops into Battle as knights would, but wielding maces instead of swords so as not to spill any blood in the literal sense. Incidentally, heretics were burned at the stake and witches drowned out of the same prohibition on spilling of blood. Ah, the interpretations of the ecclesistical law by those in sevice of greater good...

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  14. Although falling back onto the Pulp roots of D&D is quite useful and enjoyable, it does fail to see another major influence on the hobby — the war game, which is interested in an historically accurate simulation. Whereas the fighting man and magic user both have clear links to the world of pulp fantasy, the roots of the cleric, as Brooze the Bear has pointed out, are in history, not in pulp fantasy. Thus, they come to the game from its war game roots of historical simulation.

    Therefore, we are finding ourselves making a choice as to whether or not honor the historical simulation aspect of the game. Personally, I have no problem making room for the Church within my games. Clerics are deacons, not priests or bishops. They adventure at the behest of a bishop, giving the group a patron, if they so wish to see it that way. However, I do acknowledge that the class doesn't work very well outside the church, and all "evil clerics" are just magic users claiming they get power from an evil god.

    As far as Vancian magic goes, I envision the cleric spell list in much the same way as a magic user list. Each spell has its own ritual, and the prayers and rituals change over time, in accordance to the day and season. Thus, the necessity to pray and study. The source of spells is the power of the Holy Spirit. As such, I very much like the idea that no damage dealing spells should be available.

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  15. I agree regarding the cleric/wizard division, which has blurred over time to the detriment of the wizard.

    James, I have put up a post on my blog in (what I hope you agree is) a reasonably non-combative style, concerning your views on thieves and skills; it'd be nice if you could pop around sometime and have a look, give me an opinion etc.

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  16. I use the cleric more like the paladin: a holy warrior charged with the power of the divine.

    They still gain most clerical powers (except for spellcasting) as well as the ability to lay on hands, remove disease, dispel evil, and so on.

    They don't get a special steed, they can't use missile weapons or two-handed weapons, and they are required to spend time in daily prayer (and follow a specific code of conduct) to retain their divine abilities.

    They gain levels as a fighting-man, but retain the cleric's hit point progression and combat ability (in exchange for their more divine-inspired powers).

    In my campaign, clerics are the adventuring arm of the church. They are gifted with divine inspiration and immense power, and are thus sent out into the world to combat evil and bring back their spoils to the church. In contrast, priests are essentially normal men with religious rank and theological instruction (though some higher-ups in the hierarchy may be actual clerics now retired from adventuring).

    James' paladin from Knockspell #1 served as the impetus for this change, primarily because I like religious types that are NOT spellcasters. So thanks for that, Mr. Maliszewski.

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  17. I agree with the line of thinking that clerics work better when not all priests are of the cleric class. The witch hunter types, wandering miracle workers, and to a certain extent paladins all become unnecessary if you reserve the cleric class as the Lord's special ass-kickers. So in my campaign the average member of the clergy is a zero level normal human.

    And as much as I like pulp fantasy, let's not be myopic here. There are lots of other influences on the game. One of those influences is old monster movies. Do I need to rattle off the names of all the monsters that appeared in black & white films EGG probably saw at the Sunday matinee for a dime? The cleric as exorcist totally works in the context of vampire-killing, poltergeist dispelling, etc.

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  18. I agree with Mark above; it's not the cleric that's irrelevant - it's the paladin.

    As to how it fits into S&S, well, take a look at the Old Testament as one example - and it's a heck of a piece of Swords & Sorcery literature even if you have complete respect for its parallel role as a religious document. The Israelites were a moving army, led by some very bad-a** warrior-priests. Abraham and Lot has two armies working in concert, and they were taking on groups that were described as nations. This was a major migration through the fertile crescent of a well-organized nomadic fighting machine like the Assyrians before them. Armored, magic-using priests? You got 'em.

    The Christian influence on the cleric class might not be well represented in pulp S&S - it's clearly Arthurian. Does it work to import an Arthurian archetype into S&S? Sure, why not? Samurai, too. As a literary import, I'd say you can't get to the armored, spell casting priest in the pulp literature, but the Bible qualifies as pretty pulpy (Song of Solomon might not even have made it past the censors in the days of pulp). It explains one of the reasons why so many people can read the Bible and stay with it - it's a heck of a read. :) Depends on how closely you want to limit the definition of pulp.

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  19. One of the peculiar things about religion in D&D is the frequency of the phrase "the people of _____ are not particularly religious" despite the prescence of miracles on demand and the occasional opportunity to meet actual deities. Generally, a cleric's role as healer seems divorced from any relgiious function. Use of healing spells rarely inspires religious faith. From a modern perspective, the ability to cure any disease within minutes is much more impressive than the ability to cause explosions. For me, part of fixing the cleric would be finding a way to make clerical magic more miraculous (and NOT just by making it more powerful/flashy/offensive!).

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  20. While I said it very briefly above, what Matthew S. wrote (as regards to yanking clerics out of the game) I agree with in every way.

    The other thing I'll point out -- since we had the level titles debate recently -- is that I think it's the cleric level titles that are the sorest spot of the bunch. If someone's anti-level-titles argument is "Don't use real-world positional titles," then I think that if you remove the cleric that argument can no longer be made. The problem with the cleric is that it is too real-world-founded, in a specific religion, church, institution, location, and real-world time period, that smashes up against pretty much any fantastic world-building you might wish to engage in. The Bible doesn't qualify as pulp fantasy, nor are the Elric armored magic-users typified by healing and resuscitative magic from that book.

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  21. The pulp roots are strong, but Gary obviously loved Three Hearts and Three Lions (paladin) and the old Hammer flicks (cleric). D&D is pretty inclusive. I guess what matters is if either bring something interesting to the game. The more I thought about this, and the more I read the comments here, I'm beginning to waver. Maybe Fighting Men and MU'ers are all you need? Creatively played, they can pull off the same types of things a thief or a cleric might do. Both the thief and the cleric seem designed to tackle one specific special task - traps for the former and the undead for the latter. I guess it comes down to whether DMs want their well-laid plans to challenge the players (a well designed trap, a particularly tough encounter with undead who have special attacks) handily disposed of by specialist characters.

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  22. Cleric is obviously based on the medieval Christian Church and probably has the strongest historic roots of any character class. The prohibition on clerics from using edged weapons is historically accurate, as the Christian clergy was forbidden from "spilling blood" in Medieval times. In most cases The Church had a political role, esp Bishop of Cantenbury, and many noblement went into Church hierarchy for the sake of furthering their political careers, while at the same time retaining their Noblesse Oblige to fight for the King. They led troops into Battle as knights would, but wielding maces instead of swords so as not to spill any blood in the literal sense. Incidentally, heretics were burned at the stake and witches drowned out of the same prohibition on spilling of blood. Ah, the interpretations of the ecclesistical law by those in sevice of greater good...

    It is actually completely historically inaccurate, a myth based on a spurious nineteenth century reading of the Bayeux Tapestry particularly perpetuated by Dungeons & Dragons. There is absolutely no evidence to support the contention that medieval clerics fought with maces, never mind that they did so to avoid shedding blood. Pure nonesense, debunked many times over since the 1970s.

    Whilst I agree with Mythmere that it is the paladin that impinges on the cleric and not the other way round, I do not think you will find any exemplars for clerics in Arthurian myth. According to the PHB, the cleric is somewhat based on the military orders.

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  23. Just combine the magic users and priest's spells into one list. It just seems to me that the priest spells are things the MU should be able to do as well.

    Don't think I haven't considered this.

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  24. Look no further than the AD&D Lankhmar supplement.

    I definitely have a soft spot for that supplement and do think it's solution to this issue is an elegant one.

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  25. Let priests be priests, magicians be magicians, and stop worrying about the D&D cleric is my general advice. ;)

    And it's good advice. I have a cleric in my OD&D game and have had no problems with the way he's been played or how his abilities play out. The "problems" I have are more theoretical than actual, since I love to tinker and try to fit things into a large scheme. This post is just another bit of thinking out loud on the subject.

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  26. I've said it before, and I know it's enormously radical, but I am so over the cleric in all my D&D games. I've just stripped them out entirely, replaced them with thieves in OD&D, and simply made potions of healing available for 50gp a pop.

    They sell for 100 gp a pop in Dwimmermount, but then I'm trying to keep my players poorer :)

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  27. So here’s the idea: kill the Cleric, keep the Thief. That gives you three clearly defined roles: the Warrior, the Sneak, and the Wizard. Combine the MU and Cleric spell lists. Insert either plentiful healing potions OR (my preference) a more geenrous healing system. Dump Turn Undead as a class thing; it never seems to work well in practice for me. Either fight the damn Vampire or get out the dungeon.

    These are good suggestions and I'm actually considering using them in a different project I'm working on.

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  28. Whereas the fighting man and magic user both have clear links to the world of pulp fantasy, the roots of the cleric, as Brooze the Bear has pointed out, are in history, not in pulp fantasy. Thus, they come to the game from its war game roots of historical simulation.

    Absolutely. Under different circumstances, I don't mind the Cleric so much, but Dwimmermount is very much a swords-and-sorcery setting and the class feels a bit odd in that context.

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  29. James' paladin from Knockspell #1 served as the impetus for this change, primarily because I like religious types that are NOT spellcasters. So thanks for that, Mr. Maliszewski.

    Thanks; I'm glad you liked it. Of course, my inspiration was the original paladin write-up from Supplement I, which wasn't a spellcaster. I always felt the 1e version of the class was somehow "wrong," even though I regularly played it. So I went back to the original to construct one closer to what felt "right" to me.

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  30. And as much as I like pulp fantasy, let's not be myopic here. There are lots of other influences on the game.

    Don't misunderstand: I'm thinking about this in terms of my preferred feel for the game. I very much like pulp fantasy and find it an almost perfect fit for OD&D. The cleric is where things don't quite fit right and so I'm constantly trying to tweak it so that I can overcome my own hang-ups about it.

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  31. Stanham, wasn't the Bishop of cantenbury (or one of them) killed in action while finghting at the battle of Creci, with a Mace no less? And what was the ratinale for burning people at the stake. The death sentence on Giordano Bruno pronounced by Holy Roman Inquisition was that he was to be "put to death without the spilling of his blood." He was burned at the stake. His deathh sentence was a spurious reading also?

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  32. Stanham, wasn't the Bishop of cantenbury (or one of them) killed in action while finghting at the battle of Creci, with a Mace no less?

    Not that I am particularly aware of, but many medieval combatants fought with the mace, it would not be unusual. What text does it appear in?

    And what was the ratinale for burning people at the stake. The death sentence on Giordano Bruno pronounced by Holy Roman Inquisition was that he was to be "put to death without the spilling of his blood." He was burned at the stake. His deathh sentence was a spurious reading also?

    The theology of violence is very complicated within Christianity, and there may be comments as to the "spilling of blood" (as it is a biblical phrase), but there is no canon prohibiting the spilling of blood, only a canon prohibiting violence on the part of churchmen.

    The church underwent a huge reformation in the eleventh and twelfth century where particular kinds of violence were deemed "okay" (and not by every theologian by any stretch of the imagination). This was based on Gratian and Saint Augustine of Hippo, if I recall correctly. Probably a good place to start your reading on the subject would be with Jonathan Riley-Smith's "Crusading as an Act of Love".

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  33. They sell for 100 gp a pop in Dwimmermount, but then I'm trying to keep my players poorer :)

    Heretic! :)

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  34. Ken Follett depicted Bishop of Canterbury fighting with a Mace in the "World without End" and mentions not spilling of blood, but that's fiction, although Follett is known for his diligent historic detail. Also see History of the Warrior Bishiops and The Mace. Pretty decent essay on the internet on the subject. And notions of "spilling blood" may not have been in canonical law, but it was an issue under consideration in medieval Christian church and it resulted in people being executed by burning. Not all Bishops used maces. Bishiop at France also fought at Crecy, and he is depicted using a sword.

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  35. Ken Follett depicted Bishop of Canterbury fighting with a Mace in the "World without End" and mentions not spilling of blood, but that's fiction, although Follett is known for his diligent historic detail.

    Your right, it is fiction.

    Also see History of the Warrior Bishiops and The Mace. Pretty decent essay on the internet on the subject. And notions of "spilling blood" may not have been in canonical law, but it was an issue under consideration in medieval Christian church and it resulted in people being executed by burning. Not all Bishops used maces. Bishiop at France also fought at Crecy, and he is depicted using a sword.

    I am not sure what you are attempting to say here. This article, you mean?

    http://bishopsbrigade.org/history/warrior-bishops/index.html

    It says nothing about clerics using maces to avoid shedding blood, as far as I can see. Clerics were technically forbidden from violence and the bearing of arms, but they often ignored that stricture (the above essay suggests that the stricture was only meant to be taken seriously when possible).

    Indeed, it is not all that clear why the essay is titled "The History of Warrior Bishops and the Mace" since it is on one hand a short history of the mace, and on the other a short history of warrior bishops, and makes no attempt to relate the one to the other.

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  36. Addendum

    Since we are rather going off the topic of James' original post, and this particular subject has been pounded to death in other forums, perhaps we should take this discussion elsewhere. There is a thread over at Knights & Knaves that discusses the cleric as an archetype, and we could continue this there:

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

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  37. ygax mentioned clerics using maces to avoid shedding the blood, Follett is a renowned historical author, and if he writes that Bishop of Canterbury died at Crecy wielding the mace, that is probably true. I've seen the same language in a document (death sntence) that has nothing to do with AD&D or fantasy. Which means that Gygax cleric archetype has historic roots and that Gygax was picking on a genuine historic vibe when he was conceptialising D&D Clerics. Enough said.

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  38. Gygax mentioned clerics using maces to avoid shedding the blood, Follett is a renowned historical author, and if he writes that Bishop of Canterbury died at Crecy wielding the mace, that is probably true. I've seen the same language in a document (death sntence) that has nothing to do with AD&D or fantasy. Which means that Gygax cleric archetype has historic roots and that Gygax was picking on a genuine historic vibe when he was conceptialising D&D Clerics. Enough said..

    Gygax is notorious for using out of date historical books, and he actually says nothing of Christianity in regard to the shedding of blood (unsurprisingly, since he cites the military orders as the basis for the cleric).

    I am afraid Follet is talking a load of crap, or you are misremembering. Even a cursory examination of the roll of (Arch)Bishops of Canterbury reveals that he was nowhere near Crecy at the time the battle was fought, and I have found no bishop listed as an English casualty on that day, enever mind one found with a mace

    Enough said. ;)

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  39. Just made a long post about this at OD&D Discussion.

    http://odd74.proboards76.com/index.cgi?board=menmagic&action=display&thread=1837

    - Zulgyan

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  40. Maybe Folett was wrong, but the book, Battle of Crecy lists a Bishop Of Durham as being in charge of the rear column near King Edward the III.

    Are you denying that medieval clergy, including Bishops, took part in battles or that they fought with maces?

    The new translation of the Crowning of Louis, a 12th century epic poem, mentions that the mace was the preferred weapon of the fighting clergy. This doesn't mean that all of clergy fought with maces, onky that this sentiment was there.

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  41. Maybe Folett was wrong...

    Folett is writing a work of historical fiction, those tend to take liberty with the truth.

    ...but the book, Battle of Crecy lists a Bishop Of Durham as being in charge of the rear column near King Edward the III. Are you denying that medieval clergy, including Bishops, took part in battles or that they fought with maces?

    I am not sure what gave you the impression that I think either of these things. As I said from the outset, what is nonesense is the idea that medieval clergy fought with maces to avoid shedding blood. It appears to be a myth promogulated by the early twentieth century scholar William Steart Davis, and it is very prevalent in modern folklore, but it is completely baseless. Of course bishops led armies, and of course they used weapons of all types.

    The new translation of the Crowning of Louis, a 12th century epic poem, mentions that the mace was the preferred weapon of the fighting clergy. This doesn't mean that all of clergy fought with maces, onky that this sentiment was there.

    I do not know that it does, but interesting if true. There is certainly a note in the preview to that effect, but that is likely an unfortunate error on the part of the translator (it is quite common for literary works to contain these sorts of assertions). Do you know what it says at line 667?

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  42. It appears to be this:

    "I will not even draw out my longsword — But I will give him a blow with my mace. I will quickly knock him down from his horse - never have I eaten a nobleman." (ll. 665-668)

    The text has nothing to do with clerics, just the translator's note. As I said, the myth is widespread, but there is no basis for it.

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  43. Thank you very much for this. I have recently begun playing 2e after more than 20 years. My daughter invited me to join her Sunday afternoon gaming group.

    My current chracter is in fact a cleric so I will say that is what drew me to this article.

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  44. Majestic(MJS), you are probably correct, a historic myth, but a myth associated with the medieval Christian church nonetheless.

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  45. When I was a young'un and trying to learn D&D piecemeal from books borrowed from the local library, I actually thought that clerics had the same armor restrictions as magic-users, plus since they couldn't use edged weapons, my first year was spent playing with the cleric as a character who could only use a staff and wear no armor. Funny that I am now considering putting them back the way I originally envisioned them.

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  46. Gary indeed wrote in the PHB that clerics were analogous to holy military orders (the Templars). In one of the Q&A threads he explained that paladins—as per the name—were inspired by Charlemange’s paladins.

    Yet, it seems to me that even Gary tended towards using cleric for generic religious characters as its name implies. (The level titles he gave them are indeed also problematic, IMHO.)

    I realize that, in many people’s eyes, I'm relegating the cleric to a ‘support’ role, but I see that as a feature rather than a bug.

    Yes, the supportive aspects of the class are a feature.

    Fighters are boring with nothing to do but stand toe-to-toe with foes trading blows. Clerics are relegated to a support role and most of the time aren’t allowed to prepare anything but healing spells. Magic-users are useless after they’ve spent their spells and can only make it past first level on pure luck.

    I am so baffled by these kinds of statements. There was a time when I never wanted to play D&D or AD&D of any form again, and I had a fine list of grievances with them, but these weren’t among them. Because they don’t describe any of the PCs from my AD&D days.

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  47. Friar Tuck. That is what Dungeons and Dragons need. The on line roleplaying game "Dark Age of Camelot" had friars and they were perfect: only allowed to wear robes (usually very thicka nd calf-length for fighting), they used a mean staff which parried and delivered a mighty blow, enough to knock Robun Hood off his log or a knight off his horse.
    Friars also cast healing spells and soem blessings to enhance their comrades' strength and abilities. They could also cast some spells which aided their own melee combat, but usually involving self-healing, speed and strength. I use the word strength as an all-compassing term for physical ability.
    (The clerics in Dark Age of Camelot were much like in Dungeons and Dragons. After reading this article and its comments in Grognardia, I am reminded of my own discomfort when I first was taught about "clerics.")

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