Thursday, March 15, 2012

Iconic D&D Cleric

This’ll be my last blog about clerics for awhile, so let’s end on a broad question, and one that doesn’t require too much set-up: What does the iconic D&D cleric look like?
A lot of people would say a cleric is an armor-wearing mace-wielder who can heal his allies, cast divine spells, and of course turn undead. A cleric also provides moral leadership, intercedes at the temple on behalf of the group, and of course, can channel messages from on high.  This was true for many editions, and I’ve certainly seen many clerics that fit this archetype.
Things changed in 2nd edition with the introduction of the priest. It then become possible to choose a robe-wearing holy man who was less concerned about wearing armor and swinging a mace then calling down holy fire on the foes of his deity. This specialty priest served far more as a sort of semi-avatar of a particular god than earlier and more recent clerics. This style of holy character fills a somewhat similar role as the armored cleric, but trades melee for whiz-bang divine abilities, and specialization for more broad exploration and roleplaying opportunities.
Essentially, the specialty priest opened up the archetype to a much wider interpretation of what it meant to be a cleric. Is the concept of the cleric wide enough to include both, or should the iconic cleric focus on just one of these archetypes, and if that’s the case, which one?
QUESTION: What does the iconic D&D cleric look like?
The cleric is an armor-wearing mace-wielder who can heal allies, cast divine spells, turns undead, and is (perhaps) a moral authority.
The cleric is a robe-wearing “prophet” who focuses on divine spells, has special god-granted powers, and is almost like a mini-avatar of his or her god.
The cleric concept is wide enough to encompass both choice one and two.

We’re actually talking two classes here, a cleric and a priest. Do them both!
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