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Blotz and Jamused,

The variant HP system is an M20 adaptation of a system I used in the early 1980s. The major change is monsters don't have Body Points — in the original they had twice their hit dice in Body Points. I decided that an M20 variant did not need that complexity, especially when it really did not add much to the game.


While Clerics as a special class will be gone, anyone who wants to play a cleric-type character with access to special "holy powers" could take a Specialist with his area of expertise being his religion and its rituals. As anyone can use elaborate rituals to cast "magic" in FG&G, a Specialist (Cleric) would be able to do some rituals like Raise Dead using the rituals of his religion. They wouldn't be cast a quick spell type, but more like (for raise dead) an hours long ritual in a temple or shrine with multiple people and some special materials involved. Actually, one wouldn't even need to play a Specialist, a fighter could do this, but he'd have to find the rituals.

This would also be how evil sorcerers are handled. The would be Specialist (Sorcerer) with access to all sorts of strange powers and rituals through their pact with some demon or godling. Generally lots of nasty stuff like human sacrifice would be required making them pure Swords & Sorcery style villains.


That was a great series of articles on the Cleric. Thanks much for posting the link. I've added your blog to my RSS reader.

Jonathan Jacobs

hey randall.. this is somewhat off topic, but I ran a 5-part series about the cleric and its historical development across editions of D&D over on The Core Mechanic last fall. Here's the round up (part 5 of the series). anyway.. thought you might be interested.

On topic though : i now think of clerics as soldiers more so than priests. ANY class can be a priest of their diety imho. in this way, it stripes clerics of their duties as a pastor and opens up some “twists” for players expecting the usual. “What? That ‘cleric’ is _backstabbing me_ ?”

Michael S/Chgowiz

I can see pluses and minuses to getting rid of the cleric. If it matches the setting, it’s nice to have the option to get rid of it. Personally, I am so ingrained with the 3 (4) classes that I almost instinctively justify them.

Secular Transhumanist

I actually thought about the same thing a while ago. Clerics, as a class, do seem somewhat superfluous. In the literature, priests are invariably either magicians (i.e., REH’s Conan stories) or scholars of some non-arcane sort.

The repeated references that EGG made to basing the cleric class on a combination of Bishop Odo and Van Helsing is interesting, but doesn’t really justify putting them into a spellcasting position. If the special clerical spells are either eliminated or folded into the magic-user spell-lists (and there really isn’t much justification for *not* doing so, other than the desire to have a different sort of spellcaster), “priest” becomes more of an occupation and less of an archetypical “class”, much the same way as an innkeeper can be a 3rd level thief, or a blacksmith a 2nd level fighter.

Joshua Macy

Interesting. I'm planning on using a very similar mechanic to what you're talking about with HP/BP for the home-brew I'm working on (except I've been calling them Stamina/Hit Points).

As for eliminating clerics, I'm neither for nor against. 3e (and maybe even 2, I'm not sure) definitely took it too far in the direction of wizards and clerics are essentially the same thing, just with different spell lists. On the other hand, I've never been particularly sold on the "sword & sorcery didn't have them" line of thought. Sword & sorcery had darn few MUs as protagonists, either. And you can't get more Old School for RPGs than Fighting Man, Cleric, MU.

I'm sure you can make a perfectly workable game without them. (Probably without MUs for that matter.) But I'm not sure that I see their lack as enhancing the game.


As a variant HP system I like it. Anything that further clarifies D&D's hp system is cool with me. I'm thinking of replacing clerics in the C&C game bubbling in my head with a non religious "mystic" class that covers most of the bases spell wise (power over undeaed, recovery of hp) and using a similar injury and recovery system.