Volume 1 Issue 28 – Cleric!

Klerikos, clericus, clerk, clergy, cleric… it’s one of the most storied words in the Romance languages, and one of the most versatile classes in AD&D. We examine clerics, from their roles in an adventuring party to the rationale (or irrationality, depending on your viewpoint) of prohibitions on edged weapons.

Also this week, a classic Monster Manual baddie – the Anhkheg.

Show notes – be sure and hunt down issue #85 of Dragon Magazine (May 1984) for a massive special section entitled “The Cleric Collection.”
Also of note is “The Cloistered Cleric” by Len Lakofka in Dragon #68 (December 1982) and “Clerics live by other rules” by Gary Gygax, Dragon #92 (December 1984).

Finally, you might want to review the debate over clerics and edged weapons in Dragon #66, and this letter which appeared in response two issues later. Written by one of the authores in #66, John T. Sapienza, Jr., and printed in “Out on a Limb,” I felt it was an excellent defense of DM Nick’s argument. (He’s still wrong, of course. -Jayson) I will reproduce the relevant excerpts here:

Dear Editor:
I enjoyed seeing my article on the use of weapons of choice in DRAGON #66 printed with a rebutting article by Bruce Humphrey, defending the rules limiting certain character classes to specific weapons…
…I strongly disagree with Bruce concerning clerics, however. Here we part company on the very nature of religious faith. It seems to me that Bruce insists on transferring the Christian aversion to the shedding of blood to the priests of all pagan deities. He argues that even less-than-good deities would limit their clerics from spilling blood in other than ritual grounds and temples. The problem with this is that it ignores the gods of war. Granted that most religions that required blood sacrifice, including human sacrifice, did so for the most part at the altar or sacred grove in ritual conditions. But the logical place for a sacrifice to a god of war is on the battlefield, and a study of history yields a number of instances in which societies were formed around this concept…
…If a god uses weapons at all, and at least half of the gods are so described, then it logically follows that the worshipers of that god will use the same weapons for the same purpose their patron deity does, in furtherance of his commands. If a cleric is a follower of a war god, he is going to regard spilling blood as an inherent part of his duties – and a mere incident to the main activity, which is killing enemies.”


22 thoughts on “Volume 1 Issue 28 – Cleric!

  1. I don’t know why people whine about playing clerics. Maybe because those deal with religious zealots in real life. I think clerics are a great class to play. You dont have to find spells. You can wear armor AND your almost as good in combat as a fighter. Hands down clerics are my personal favorite class to play. If your like me and evil is your thing, you get animate dead as a 3rd level spell instead of 5th for MUs and you get to turn/rebuke or command them. Nothing beats an evil cleric for me!

  2. people whine because they think they are going to be stuck as the group healbot, but there is so much more to a cleric than the endless healing. At least as long as your group is mature and willing to see other aspects of the class. If not then you are going to do a lot of arguing with them. I like to play a warlike cleric with a heal or two for emergency use only.

  3. Great episode guys. On Lodess, which I wasted hours watching now thanks to you, apparently a dvd set was released of the series.

  4. Not one, but maybe two old-school d&d podcasts?


    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    O frabjous day! Calloo!, Callay!
    He chortled in his joy.

  5. haha its so funny how stressed you guys are to stay away from 2E, but 2E was basically a huge coalescence of Dragon Magazine articles, player suggesstions, etc. to streamline some of the play. so 2E isnt necessarily a “hard and fast” rule set, its basically AD&D modified a tiny bit with a LOT of optional rules. also, 2e’s CORE rules are the same as 1e about using blunt weapons only (its equally as “simple”). the edged weapons for SOME clerics comes in a splatter book of OPTIONAL rules (its stated 900 times in the book that everything in the books are optional and have to be approved by the DM).

    both games work, both games offer options/optional guidelines

  6. Great show guys! Love the differing views on cleric weapons you guys have. I want to say Jason is wrong…but I can’t since these are not rules, but guidelines and if wants to stick with the books guideline there is nothing wrong with that at all. Now if you will excuse me I have to go watch a ton of DnD vids I didn’t know existed, thanks for the wasted day! 😉

  7. Buzz — They did make up a DVD Set? never knew that. PM me that link where I can get it on D20.

    D4= – Yup not one but two 🙂

    Death – Meh. No. 2E they renamed everything and screwed things up to take D&D away from EGG as he was being squeezed out. Also the options was the problem (and the downfall) of the company. WoTC is doing the same thing as TSR did, book after book, after new rule, new option and book.. wow look 4E is a totally different game. Much like what happened to 2E.

    Chuck- enjoy man. They are great bunch of vids to watch.

  8. The buzz around here is that people are hoping that WoTC puts out another version of D&D that is just as bad if not worse than 4E. Maybe then they will sell the license and someone who knows what to do with the franchise can get it back on track. I guess we can hope!

  9. Listening to your Cleric discussion about whether clerics should be able to use edged weapons. I think it is important to remember that religion is full of restrictions which heighten the commitment of the votary. It makes sense that a cleric in AD&D would labor under certain restrictions and the ban on edged weapons makes sense as one of them.

  10. Chuck — WoTC will never drop D&D. It would take quite a lot for them to drop it like they did with Star Wars Saga. Which would mean decline in sales. WoTC has 4E and all those stupid books, and now 4E has slightly been revamped… plus they have the RPGA… and they have the biggest name in history for gaming D&D and the legends behind it. IF they were smart, they’d re-release or allow the other editions back as “official” products of D&D and the RPGA.

  11. Oh c’mon Vincent your stepping on my dreams man! Don’t bring logic and intelligence into the mix now.

    I know WoTC would be insane to let in go. I agree with you though, I would be very happy see new first and second edition material from Wizards. Not sure how they would go about bringing it all back, but sure would like it.

    As far as a 4E revamp or another full on edition, I keep hearing stories about the game kind of merging DnD with CCG’s which makes me ill. I like both style games, but in their own environment.

  12. Ahh yes Atoe the priest of Falis. He was actually an interesting character because he really played a support role. He is trained to fight but the only time you see this is near the very end where he takes on a greater demon, but if you notice he really is one of the two party negotiators, the other being Slain the sorcerer.

    @ DM Vince. I tend to actually mix a lot of material from 1st ad&d, 2nd ad&d, 3rd, and basic when it comes to my games. I’ve looked over 4th and pathfinder but haven’t really taken much from it. In fact I think the only thing I’ve used from 4th was the dragonborn race.

    A Cleric of War would go out to experience war with all weapons because they are all part of war. Mace or Sword it makes no difference in the case of war because they are all made for the same purpose. A God of war would not have the same problems as other gods when it comes to theological meanings… it’s war… think about it. The gods themselves are really who decide what a cleric’s behavior is going to be anyways. If your god tells you “Here use a sword because I don’t give a damn about that mace, it has no meaning for me.” Guess what your gonna do?

  13. Sorry if this came in twice, not sure if my first post was actually submitted.

    As always, I really enjoyed this RFI podcast, though as for my own two cents on the weapons of clerics–at least how I do it–clerics are allowed the preferred weapon of their god. Hence if one worships a god whose iconic weapon is a 2-handed sword, his clerics too, wield 2-handed swords in battle. But may use no other bladed weapon. In fact, they may use no other martial weapon period. No mace, no flail, no war-hammer. Just a 2-handed sword.

    If their god doesn’t use it, neither do they. For it is their god whom they ultimately seek to emulate as an example to others as they spread the faith. Paladins, of course, get the full spectrum from which to choose from. The exception to this rule being clerics serving deities who do not wield weapons, then I review the god in question along with the mythos and culture and decide upon a suitably appropriate default weapon for that culture. My main emphasis placed on that it make sense within the background of the religion over any blanket OOC rule that may or may not have anything to do with the religious or cultural background in question.

    Incidentally, a cleric of Thor would likely favor the warhammer:)



  14. I’ve gotta say, I have to side with Nick on the whole “blunt weapons only” thing.

    Sure, you can bring up the idea of the mace/club/flail being extensions of the staff, and the churches longstanding role of guiding people towards the faith, but I get the feeling that Jayson and Vince are falling into the trap of worshiping the god “Genericus” as was jokingly brought up on the podcast.

    Different, distinct faiths call for different, distinct tenets and dogmas. What’s anathema to one religion may be embraced by another. I’ll avoid any real world examples for reasons of not stepping on anyone’s toes, but suffice it to say, there are plenty of examples there.

  15. I believe the original mold for clerics where the medieval religous orders such as the Hospitallers, Teutonics, Templars, … Healers who definitely used swords. The restriction there is much like class level limits, it is a game-balance/equalizer. Otherwise, just give the cleric d10 hp and always play it instead of the fighter all the time. These quirks are what make 1E so different than 4E. 4E basically gives everyone the sames types of powers but with different names.

  16. “I believe the original mold for clerics where the medieval religous orders such as the Hospitallers, Teutonics, Templars, … Healers who definitely used swords.”

    Not that I want to argue against clerics with swords, but I would think of those religious orders more has holy warriors better fitting the paladin class than cleric. I can’t think of any historical religious groups that fit the cleric class as it is written. They are more like dedicated preachers and clergymen that happen to be battle trained. Templar’s and such seem just the opposite to me. Fighting men who just happen to spread the word of religion.

    If the priests in the Vatican were to take up arms to keep the people of Rome safe. I would call that a DnD cleric. My 2 coppers anyway.

  17. I just finished listening to the podcast, and I liked the discussion about what happens when a cleric gets cut off (excommunicated?) from whatever divinity is worshiped. It got me thinking about the role-playing aspect of it…

    The one thing about Clerics being “cut off” would be the silence. The AD&D world is populated with living, breathing gods whose presences can be felt constantly and seen everywhere, especially by their clerics. Nothing embodies this more than the cleric praying for the selection of spells to be used throughout the day. It may not be a direct line to that particular deity, but the power is definitely manifest.

    An cleric cut off by his or her god would be alone and isolated, almost like someone losing the use of a sense like hearing or touch. It would be a deep psychological blow, to live in such a world of wonders but know that the right to participate in it–to be a part of that wonder–is lost.

    The specifics of how this could be done would depend on a discussion with the player. There would definitely have to be a process of loss and recovery. Depending on the reason for the deity disconnect, I might even be tempted to give the PC a temporary insanity related to some aspect of the god. It would be reflective of the symptoms experienced by a drug user undergoing withdrawal, though at the milder end of the scale (not quite on the Trainspotting level of things). Perhaps some form of obsessive-compulsive behaviour (e.g., a cleric of a god of thieves could become a kleptomaniac, or a cleric of an earth-aspected god would feel the need to be constantly caked in dirt or mud, and so on). This insanity would disappear if the cleric became re-connected or somehow moved on either through a role-played recovery or similar circumstance (like a human cleric dual-classing into another class).

    Thanks for another good podcast, fellas.

  18. I just listened to this issue. I had missed it earlier.

    1) I would be interested to hear a discussion about the multi-class cleric/fighter’s use of bladed weapons.

    2) In the boxed set World of Greyhawk, 1983, by Gary Gygax, the clerics of Trithereon can use spears at 4th level (curates) and broadswords at 8th level (patriarchs). All Nerull’s clerics are trained to used sickles as weapons. Prefects (is that 5th level?) are trained to use scythe-like polearms similar to hook-fauchards.

  19. 2) above
    This is found in the Guide to the World of Greyhawk which includes the Deities of Greyhawk.

    3) In the Glossography, clerics of some gods have special abilities not usual to their class. To gain these, they must pay for them with additional xp. Obad-Hai clerics can use druidic weapons (which include some bladed weapons) for a 5% xp penalty.

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