This is the second part of a multi-part series and is intended to be a contributing article to the RPG Blog Carnival #4: Religion. The first part in the series can be found here.
Clerics in 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
In a previous post I looked at Clerics in Original Dungeons & Dragons (i.e. OD&D) and made the comment that they were essentially the first multi-class character type. They bridged the divide between "Fighting-Men" and "Magic-Users" by offering up a bit of both. The description for the Cleric class was all game mechanics and the rules-as-written (i.e. RAW) of the day lacked any suggestion or guidelines as to how a player might actually roleplay a Cleric. As D&D evolved, however, so did the concept of a "roleplaying game". By the time 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was codified, the printed rules began to drift noticeably towards a more
"This class of character bears a certain resemblance to religious orders of knighthood of medieval times... The cleric is dedicated to a deity, or deities, and at the same time a skilled combatant at arms... All clerics have their own spells, bestowed upon them by their deity for correct and diligent prayers and deeds." -- 1E AD&D Players Handbook (1978).Now the reader is thinking The Knights Templar! Perhaps unimportant, but this is the first time that the printed rules specify that Clerics have their spells bestowed onto them (as opposed to memorizing them from a book, as was done in OD&D). The daily acquisition of spells, and the need to adhere to your diety's ethos lest you be striped of them, is laid out below.
"Clerical spells, including the druidic, are bestowed by the gods, so that the cleric need but pray for a few hours and the desired verbal and somatic spell components will be placed properly in his or her mind. First, second, third, and even fourth level spells are granted to the cleric through meditation and devout prayer. This spell giving is accomplished by the lesser servants of the cleric's deity. Fifth, sixth, and seventh level spells can be given to the cleric ONLY by the cleric's deity directly, not through some intermediary source. Note that the cleric might well be judged by his or her deity at such time, as the clerk must supplicate the deity for the granting of these spells. While the deity may grant such spells full willingly, a deed, or sacrifice, atonement or abasement may be required. The deity might also ignore a specific spell request and give the cleric some other spell (or none at all). Your Dungeon Master will handle this considering a cleric's alignment and faithfulness to it and his or her deity." -- 1E AD&D Players Handbook (1978).Thus, not only are clerics now required to pray or meditate, but at higher levels they must work tirelessly to appease their diety's will. This is an obvious requirement, of course, but the significance of how this governs the need for players to roleplay their characters "correctly" can nor be overlooked. Players of AD&D were, for the first time in the D&D universe, were required to roleplay a certain way to reap the benefits of their character's class. From my (incomplete) reading, I have not encountered anything such as this in the RAW of OD&D. The degree to which AD&D requires roleplaying "correctly" is further demonstrated by the following:
"It is then assumed that prior to becoming a first level cleric, the player character received a course of instruction, served a novitiate, and has thoroughly read and committed to memory the teachings of and prayers to his or her chosen deity, so that the character is dedicated to this deity and is able to perform as a cleric thereof. It is this background which enables the cleric character to use first level spells." -- 1E Dungeon Masters Guide (1979).The author (Gygax) then goes on to write that each of the additional levels of spells absolutely requires an increasing level of devotion to the ethos of the Cleric's deity. So much so that players who do not play their Clerics according to their chosen deity's ethos will not only loose spells, but will be punished (in-game of course!) for their transgressions.
"The deity (you, the DM) will point out all of the transgressions, state a course of action which must be followed ... grant the spells which the deity deems are necessary to complete the course ... and pronounce anathema upon the cleric until satisfactory redemption has been made." -- 1E Dungeon Masters Guide (1979).Quite harsh indeed. I wonder if later editions of the game professed such severe penalties on the players for roleplaying out of character, instead of acting in character.
The introduction of a new Dieties & Demigods book for 1E AD&D in 1980 was source of inspiration for both players and DMs alike. For players of Clerics, it was a boom-town addition to the game. Not only did this new book detail over a dozen different pantheons, it certified that Clerics were a key class for the progression of the campaign. It was the Cleric that was key in interacting with the non-combat environment of the game. This point is best illustrated by the following from the D&DG book:
"Of course, serving a deity is of greatest importance to clerics. This book should help that sometimes-neglected class come into its own. Players whose characters are clerics will find much more range and many more possibilities in their roles when the information herein is used to flesh them out completely. Clerics can and should have a great influence on the course of an AD&D campaign. They are prominent members of society (much more so than the common fighters or the reclusive magic-users and thieves); they often have a close relationship with the populace, and are usually well-acquainted with local leaders. They are looked up to as masters of ritual and keepers of knowledge. In addition to this special relationship with men, a cleric has a special relationship with his or her deity, an affinity usually denied to other mortals. This makes clerics a special class indeed, a class with a lot of room for creative innovation on the part of experienced players." -- Dieties & Demigods (1980).For players who enjoyed the roleplaying aspect of D&D, this was a clear signal that this style of play was where the game was headed. More 'fluff', more narrative back story, more evoking game play. This happens to be about the time I first was exposed to D&D - at the ripe old age of eight i was flipping through the D&DG book and laughing my arse off at the naked lobster chick... but I digress.
As a final point - the Cleric was no longer the iconic "multi-class" character as I suggested was true in OD&D. Instead, the Cleric now had a clear role in the game. They were the leaders, the mediators, the "face" of the party to the townsfolk, lords, and peons of the game. Their role was changing, maybe becoming a bit softer in the process, but more importantly the game as a whole was changing.
These changes to the Cleric's role in game did not stop in 1st Edition D&D. In the next edition of this series I'll look at the Cleric class in 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons and how it continued to evolve towards the class we now know. Until then, GAME ON!
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