The Cleric as Holy Warrior or Why I Hate my Class
I've been playing the squad medic for a few.... Let me start over. I have been playing the groups healer for a few.... Let me start over. I have been playing the party's spiritual leader for a few.... Let me start over. I have been playing the hit point and buff/de-buff pack mule.... let me start over. I have been playing a cleric.
I have played a cleric for two years running. I have played him in several different roles; The battle cleric, the healing cleric, the spiritual cleric, the prognosticator, a mix of the above, and the sacrificial lamb. Some roles were successful and played to the cleric class's strengths. Others, not so much.
The healer role stands out far and above the others as the most successful role. The battle cleric was the second most successful role though problematic for the rest of the party. The spiritual cleric has been, overall, a failure (no one really gives a crap about religion until hit points are on the line). The prognosticator and the sacrificial lamb have proven to be of some value though, with one exception, not durable for the party. Playing the character has been enjoyable and I really like him, however, the roles for the class and the manner in which the class maximally interacts with the party has left me wanting.
The healer/ support/ buffer/ de- buffer role maximizes the class and it meshes well with the design of all the classes in reference to the 'party.' Consider the party a military unit. There is the grunt (fighter), the mainstay of the party, the rock upon which it is founded. The artillery or mortar unit (the magic-user), the scout (ranger), the point man/spy/ sniper (the rogue and assassin), the commander (knight) and medic (cleric). That's the basic idea anyway. Note that the medic (cleric) is a supportive role.
This role and the others mentioned above do a disservice to the potential for the class. The cleric is almost an avatar of the deity or pantheon worshipped. The cleric is no ordinary mortal, these people have such a strong connection to their deity or pantheon that they can cast spells, do magic, make the charms and predict with certainty that the die will roll high or low – or maybe in the middle. They can change the nature of the world to a certain extent. They have a direct connection to their deities and can speak for them. The cleric is the will of the deity acted out upon the world. Imagine that little statement. The cleric is the will of the deity, the action of the deity, how a deity interacts with the world. What power....
To heal wounded party members and cast a few buff spells. It seems paltry on one level. On another it is not. The cleric is affecting the flow of life, abating death, altering fate and, on occasion, bringing down the protection of the gods and wrath upon an enemy. It sounds better than it is. Compared to the wizard, the wrath of the gods is more or less a splash of cold water. Healing characters is little more than point buffing to insure they stay in combat longer. The buff or de-buff spells take so long to cast that the cleric is unlikely to enter combat excepting at the end. Don't get me wrong. The cleric is powerful in its roll but not as powerful as it should or could be. I speak not to mechanical aspects of the class rather to the nature of the class. I just desire something with a little more deific feel to it, a class that lives up to its nature and name and role.
Considering all that, the character I want to play, or the class/character I want to play is an emissary of a deity or pantheon. I want to the class/character to be the spoken word, the actions of and the implement of the gods. Clerics are holy emissaries carrying out the will of the gods in the mortal realms. Clerics are how gods act in the world. In this respect the cleric should be able to play many different roles more effectively and even more energetically. Imagine a holy warrior armed with the will of the gods wading into spiritual and mortal combat. The cleric is basically underwhelming in this regard.
As such, I have decided to take another look at my cleric and give him a more powerful role at the table. I want to make the class more closely tied to its supposed spiritual nature, to give the class spells and powers that might reflect that nature and allow the cleric to enact, in a more concrete manner its deific affiliations. The two major hurdles I face are first, keeping the cleric in balance with the other party memebers and secondly creating spells and powers that reflect its spiritual nature without unduly unbalancing the game.
Spells are going to be changed and be altered, new spells added; a few inherent abilities added that ground my cleric within its pantheon. There will be meta-gaming issues to be resolved (but none than are already inherently there). I’m looking at using the gods Braelick (my cleric) worships . . . he worships the Og Aust . . . and how calling on Heth the God of Dead would affect my spell craft.
Calling on the different gods, life and death, war and conflicts, justice and honor etc will have different affects. The gods designed from the game out from the basics of religion and then applied to the game's rules. Spells added will include ritual spells that have long term effects and long casting times. Some spell effects will be changed and then spells added, such as deific voice whereby the cleric influences others to join in a cause. These changes should give me, at the least, a chance to explore in greater depth the cleric class and its most important role in the game, that of emissary of the gods.
We’ll see how this spruces up Braelick. I’ll post from time to time for thoughts and opinions.