Genesis of the cleric class

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Sorin_777
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Genesis of the cleric class

Post Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:47 pm

I have a few discussion points about clerics and paladins.

In another thread we are talking about magic users and whether or not they can transcribe spells from a scroll into a spell book. What would you guys say about Clerical "prayer" books? I think the idea that all clerics of various gods have the same spells is a little strange, and have always thought there should be at least a little bit of built in diversity. I think that is something that has been approached by various campaign settings, and a cursory perusal of 3.5/pathfinder seems to have a more complex structure. For a fun example there is a gazetteer that has essentially Native American tribes, in which there are shamans with a whole new list of spells, since they are outside of the core D&D-ish world of influence, possibly "across the sea" and what not.

But within the idea that a cleric is casting "spells" that are governed by their deity and/or ecclesiastical structure, would a clerics prayer book be set from day one? Or would clerics gain higher level spell books based on experience, but issued to them by their church? Are they allowed to create new spells in the way a MU can spend time in research, and if so would they need church approval?

Never really been a huge cleric fan when it comes to the explanations of their abilities. Fun to play of course, and I especially loved the paladin class in Diablo II. But in trying to shoehorn actual mythology into the game, especially as a seminary student, the paladin and cleric classes don't really seem to represent an actual religious character. Which brings me to a historical question, what prompted the creation of the clerical class in general? Does some of the Appendix N material include wandering monks who could rain down holy terror from the gods? If one cleric has spells are granted by god A, and my spells are granted by god B, and god A is stronger, should he or she be able to demolish me in a cleric on cleric epic death match?

Have fun in reply, I look forward to hearing how you guys play with clerics.
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Dimirag
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:14 pm

Clerics have never used spell books, they can use pray/religion book just for info, they gain they spells by praying directly to his/their god/s.

Original the cleric didn't have deities to choose, he was an all purpose kind of spell caster.

I use Deities in my games, and as such they simply don't allow any spells outside their area of influence and or persoanlity and morals.

They don't research nor create spells, they are "gifts/miracles" they know the diety can do. Either by instinct, religionous teaching, divine conection, etc.

If they think on some new spell they could, if allowed by the gm, talk with the diety in order to see if its possible, I would let only high level clerics do this, and with a lot of good reason on why the god must create a new magical effect.

About the creation: A long, long, really long, time ago I read that some of original players where playing, one of the players was a huge Bela Lugosi's Dracula fan. So he wanted a vampire. The GM created one suitable for dungeon combat (hence the more combat vamp instead of the roguish one), the problem ith the vamp was that, in time, it grew up really powerfull, so the GM needed someone to vanquish it, so, inspired by van helsing, jonatah harker and the battle priest of religious battle the cleric was born with the solely power to fend of an even destroy undeads with the power of his faith.

After that the vampire took the place of a monster and the cleric was put as the new third class.

Thats the history I know.
Sorry for any misspelling or writing error, I am not a native English speaker
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Metroknight
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:49 pm

Dimirag wrote:Clerics have never used spell books, they can use pray/religion book just for info, they gain they spells by praying directly to his/their god/s.

Original the cleric didn't have deities to choose, he was an all purpose kind of spell caster.

I use Deities in my games, and as such they simply don't allow any spells outside their area of influence and or persoanlity and morals.

They don't research nor create spells, they are "gifts/miracles" they know the diety can do. Either by instinct, religionous teaching, divine conection, etc.

If they think on some new spell they could, if allowed by the gm, talk with the diety in order to see if its possible, I would let only high level clerics do this, and with a lot of good reason on why the god must create a new magical effect.
That is mostly how I view their casting and books also. Their books are just prayer books which they review and use to pray to their diety for their divine magic if you want to use the books inline with the way the magic user uses theirs. The more complicated/higher level the "spell"/prayer the more reason to have the book to read and use in their prayers.
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Sorin_777
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:13 pm

The creation in response to vampires a la Van Helsing is an interesting anecdote. Does this exist in writing, maybe from an interview?

I saw this quick note on wikipedia:
The cleric is largely inspired by folklore of the medieval cleric of Templar. Like the Templars described in White's The Once and Future King, clerics in D&D were forbidden edged weapons by religious vows. Their spellcasting abilities parallel the miracles of saints, but bear little resemblance to the folklore of the fighting priest
I always wondered why edged weapons were called out specifically. I am admittedly as casual a fantasy novel reader as I am a gamer, so I have never read this book.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:08 pm

I'd read that same Story about the origin of the cleric as well. don't remember where i read it, but here is a different source.

http://blackmoormystara.blogspot.com/20 ... leric.html
DiceClown
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:16 am

Great question. In the Basic Fantasy RPG I try and work with players. With Clerics specifically, I and the player will discuss the "Faith" of the cleric. From this we will determine the faith perspective and the deity's characteristics. Depending on how the player shapes his/her character will determine the spell-like benefit. For example, If Roryn is decided to be a cleric of war we might decide that all attacking spells can be cast as if Roryn were 1 level higher OR may choose to drop the weapon restriction. If Roryn was determined to be a Cleric crusader we might allow him/her to turn undead as if he/she were 1 level higher.
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bobtheoldcrank
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:38 am

I view religious magic as the PC calling upon the intervention of a supernatural entity to intervene in the material world. "Oh merciful and beneficent Gawd, aid thy servant, who hath need of 1d8hp." :mrgreen:

Clerics pray - or sometimes they're just holy - and miracles happen. Take St Vincent Ferrer, for example:
At Pampeluna an innocent man had just been condemned to death. St. Vincent knew of his innocence and pleaded for him, but in vain. As the grim procession led the poor man to the scaffold, they met another procession, that of a man already dead. The corpse was being borne on a stretcher to the burial place. Vincent seemed to have a sudden inspiration. He stopped suddenly and addressed the corpse:

"You no longer have anything to gain by lying. Is this man guilty? Answer me!"

The dead man sat up, then spoke the words: "He is not!"
As the man began to settle down again on his stretcher, Vincent offered to reward him for his service. He gave him the opportunity of remaining alive on earth. But the man re-sponded, "No, Father, for I am assured of salvation." With that he died again as if going to sleep, and they carried his body off to the cemetery. - See more at: http://www.miraclesofthesaints.com/2010 ... Na7d5.dpuf
I sincerely doubt that, in game terms, St Vincent prayed that morning for speak with dead, in case he needed it that day. :lol:

That's why I don't make my players pre-select spells. A Cleric intercedes with his gawd, and other casters cast what they know by manipulating energies in different ways. As they gain levels, they get access to more and more powerful spells, and getting better at casting (gaining XP) means they can manipulate more magic each rest period. It works for me and my group.

Now, my homebrew game world has three "religions" - Light, Dark, and Nature. PCs aren't allowed to be Dark Clerics, so they get neither the negative reverses (Cause Light, etc.) nor undead control - just turning. Dark don't get any of the positive spells, and can control undead. Druids get the Nature "sphere" and they get their own spell list based on the BFRPG Druid pamphlet.

It all balances out. 8-)
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Sorin_777
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:24 am

Interesting point of view Old Crank, and welcome to the forum.

I wonder, why is it that you don't allow PC's to be dark clerics?

Dice, the trade off between attacking skills and weapon restrictions is an interesting house rule as well, thanks for that. I think the both of you have house ruled the class nicely.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:35 am

sorin, I can't speak for oldcrank, but I don't like playing in games where a PC may be evil so I would like the rule that PCs can't be dark clerics. We do enough horrendous stuff just being neutral or good without blackening our souls by playacting as murderers, rapist and such :) On another note, I don't think most DMs do enough punishing of clerics who act outside their Deity's code.
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bobtheoldcrank
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Re: Genesis of the cleric class

Post Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:53 am

I've played in and refereed games with evil players, and I can count on one finger the number of times it hasn't been a complete pain in the tuchus. If played properly, they disturb party cohesion.

Moreover, the presence of evil PCs offends my sensibilities as a fan of speculative fiction and fantasy RPGs. The PCs are supposed to be heroes. There's room for shades of gray - I'm not talking about everyone being Galahad (unless he's a Paladin! :mrgreen: ). If you look at the archetype of the heroic fantasy protagonist, I think you'll be hard pressed to find an iconic character that was Evil, whether Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic. Conan wasn't Galahad, but he sure as hell wasn't Thulsa Doom, either! The heroes are supposed to fight evil, not forward it.

Hence Bob "the Old Crank". I'm very old-fashioned that way. 8-)

Now, as for dealing with PCs who diverge from their faith(s), if their powers are dependent on maintaining that faith, you're durn tootin' I make their lives miserable if they fall from grace. Usually that's when the Cleric tries to cast a Cure spell at a critical moment. I like making obvious statements. :P Then again, I also track encumbrance and water and rations and stuff.
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