Agh. The Cleric is a thorn in my side. It’s not that it’s unbalanced or bad class. I just have some weird ideas when it comes to the class. There’s just a lot of little things that bug me.
Let’s start with a couple of the simple and basic things. I always thought the idea of “blunt” weapons that don’t draw blood was silly. Hey, I smashed your skull but didn’t “draw blood”. Huh? I understand that in the old game that Fighters needed something to make them special but this little rule bugged me and is already taken care with the little “everybody can use any weapon” rules. Another little thing that is later addition to they way clerics are viewed is making Turn Undead a 1st level spell. I’m all for that. I know that in the old days our clerics as healbots was a secondary thing. The reason they were there was for the party to push them out front as soon as undead showed. Especially, those nasty level drainers.
There’s a couple more things that really bug me and this where things do all crazy in my head. First, I was never that fond of cleric’s praying to their god for a list of the spells each day. Part of me wants them to almost like a Televangelist and just call down those powers as needed. I thought about using that option for a while and well. Threw it aside. Mainly, it’ll really slow down play while the cleric player flips through the rule book for just the right spell. With that being said, there should be an option for cleric’s to call down or switch a spell in an emergency but there has to be some risk and a cost. There’s another great option out there and that’s the Cultist class from Low Fantasy Gaming. Instead of “spells”, the class gets the standard array of cleric powers as class abilities.
Those are the little things. Here’s the big one. Out of all the classes, the cleric is most tied to the campaign setting. The cleric gets their power for their god and that god should be a part of the setting and despite different worlds and gods, the clerics were the same. The only effect the god was as a RP element. Later editions gave us Specialty Clerics and Domains. Those took care of some of the blandness of clerics. But in essence they were still the same. If you want to go all crazy, and maybe some one has but I suppose you could make a cleric class for each god. But I think that’s a bit of overkill. Now I’ve thought of two ways to approach this. One is the sort of “generic” cleric. The cleric acts as a conduit of the power of the gods. Need healing then cleric prays to the God of Healing. Need protection in battle then go to the God of War. I like the idea but I feel it’s a good option depending on the setting.
Since I’m using Swords & Wizardry as my base there’s no specialty clerics so I’m going to go off on my own little tangent here sort of make them. Basically, the cleric gets some extra ability or bonus based on their god. However to qualify, the cleric will need a WIS of greater than 15. Along with the other little changes at the beginning of this post, I think that’s about all I need to mess with on the cleric. What’s makes them special is the gift that they get from their god. So like I said earlier, I’m getting ready to run The Blight. So, here’s my ideas for clerics for some of the Gods of The Blight.
Mother Grace: The Holy Mother, Mother of All, Goddess of Family, Order, and Tradition: Extra 1st Level Spell.
Brine: Ocean’s Anger, Fish-Brother, God of the Sea and Unsea: Can breathe under water for WIS Bonus Turns per day.
Father Canker: Brother Choke, The Silent Assassin, God of Poison, Silence and Smog: Gain bonus to Save versus Poison equal to WIS Bonus.
Lord Shingles: The Shadow on the Rooftop, Sovereign of the Heights, God of Builders, Gables, Rooftops and the Sky: Add WIS Bonus to skill checks involving buildings or architecture.
Mithras: Lord Storm, The Battle, The Soldier God, Mithrae Invicto, God of War, Battles, and Soldiers: May use WIS Bonus in place of STR (Melee) or DEX (Ranged) bonuses on Attack Rolls.
Papyri: The Archivist, The Quiet One, The Lost Apprentice, The Thoughtful Silence, Goddess of the Written Word: Add WIS Bonus to Wits. Gain additional languages based on WIS Score.
Sister Shadows: The Unseen, Goddess of Alleys, Streets, Piers and Pathways: Add WIS Bonus to Stealth and to any skill checks involving navigating within a large city.
The Ash Queen: Queen of Whores, The Hunger, Goddess of Lust, Nature, and Witchcraft: Add WIS Bonus to Appeal and Survival skill checks.
I know these aren’t all the Gods of the Blight but it’s a start. And, of course, to make complete sense of this you’ll just have read your way through the Blight. And it’s still very much a work in progress.