Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Cleric as Prophet and Saint

Continuing with my musings about spell casters, I was thinking about how the Cleric fits into Shatterworld.
Since it is intended to be a "low magic" setting, where the percentage of people who have ever actually seen a spell cast is very small, it seems that most temples would not have spell casting clerics. The "normal" priest does not cast spells. So either:

1) They aren't clerics
2) They are clerics who can't cast spells
3) They are clerics who can cast spells, but choose not to

My choice is to say that they aren't clerics, but simple priests. That is, "Cleric" is a specialty class, not unlike "Paladin". Just as the Paladin is a rarity among men who gets his healing abilities through pious devotion, so the Cleric is a rarity among priests. The Cleric's powers are derived through exemplary devotion to the gods.

When such a person enters a village, all who know of the Cleric's reputation will come flocking to touch the hem of his cloak, to beg for healing for their loved ones, or to merely stand in the awe of his presence.

A cleric who can heal wounds or cure poison or standard disease would be famous. A cleric who can cure blindness, cure permanent diseases such as leprosy, heal the cripple, or raise the dead would be legendary.

It is no wonder these "living saints" take to a life of wandering. The line of those waiting to be healed outside their temple would be endless.


  1. +1

    When you think of the traditional clerical powers (heal wounds, cure disease, purify food/drink etc and even worse create food/drink) it is completely in conflict with a typical Campaign Setting.

    Assuming a Setting is even remotely based upon European Medieval Society, almost every large village has a priest, every town has several churches, larger towns/cities have hordes of them (and remember most education was provided by the Church) - having all those Priests (some estimates put the number at 5% of the population for the Religious "Professions").

    Now how is it possible to have any disease/illness, famine etc in the world? Would villages/townsfolk accept Churches in their midst and pay their tithes knowing that Priests could sort out their daily woes (poor harvests, sick animals and people etc)? This is option #3 in your post. But would prompt a huge backlash.

    I've said before that either:
    a) Priests defacto must have very few actual powers, or;
    b) There aren't/can't be many "ordained" priests (the numbers can be made up of pious laymembers but they have no powers).

    I know many RPG games/Campaigns (typically D&D or derivative based) pay no attention to the balance of society or the repercussions of actions/events. But they ought to. In my experience players come to appreciate it and play "better".

  2. following on from my points above, there is a downside :-(

    Players don't get much healing, which is a bummer if you run a Campaign that is the typical D&D crawl and haul the tens of thousands of GP's away in the wagon train they brought with them.

    Also try telling many PC's that their cleric has little/no players and watch their smiles turn upside down.

    Not necessarily bad things. There are solutions to the lack of archetypical clerics including alchemy and herbs.

  3. I have liberal rules for healing. Each hour of rest regenerates half the character's missing hit points. (If you are supposed to have 50 hp, and you are down to 10, one hour's rest will bring you up back to 30. The next hour will get you to 40, the next to 45, the next to 47, then 48, 49, and 50.)

    Clerics shouldn't have to use "cure wounds" unless someone is dying, or combat is imminent. This frees them up to use different types of spells. Hopefully, they see that as a plus, rather than a minus.

    I also have numerous "magical" wells. Nearly every village will have some such well. Some would merely invigorate, but some would heal blindness, disease, or even lycanthropy or raise the dead.

    Water from such wells is "holy", and works mechanically as holy water.

    I think the biggest downside from a player perspective would be the nuisance of being famous.