Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bring the balance back

I suppose I don't have a HUGE amount of additional thoughts about clerics after getting that last post out of my system.  I've just always been a bit bothered by how they're often constrained to never stray far from their assumed supporting role to the rest of the party.  The 4th edition of D&D annoyingly codified official Roles for party members (Leader, Striker, Defender, etc.) to set these ideas in stone, but there's nothing new about calling for the ol' "medic:"

Click on image for bigger J. D. Webster goodness
Maybe it's the lack of easy-to-identify genre characters for fighting holy men.  Friar Tuck?  Non-magical.  Van Helsing?  He channeled powers from above, but he wasn't a "fighting priest."  Archbishop Turpin from the Song of Roland?  Maybe the closest match, but how many gamers (sad to say) even know about him?  :-(   So what was left for people to do but build the narrative trope around their most talked-about role as dispenser of the healing spells?

But come on... these are guys who channel the powers of their gods to do wondrous deeds in the world.  I think they need to interact more with that unseen world that swirls around them...

The sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know.
Oh well, the night is long; the beads of time pass slow.
Tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow.
The pain of war can not exceed the woe of aftermath,
The drums will shake the castle wall,
The ring wraiths ride in black... Ride on.

This was my motivation for Sister Rebecca's spiritual warfare.  Maybe it's something that all clerics should face as they test themselves for level advancement.  (Luke Skywalker seeing his own face in the cave on Dagobah.)  Maybe it's what DMs should make happen when clerics violate their alignment or codes of conduct.  I'm curious what kind of more psychological and introspective game that might produce.  If anyone knows of supplementary RPG resources that take clerics further in this general direction, I'd be curious to know about them.


  1. Cyg, I could never get enough of the working of your brain and spirit in concert. You have a way of framing things that just rings very true for me.

    Part of why I have never gone back to the church is that fish-bowl mentality that was so prevalent when I was very active in church throughout my adolescence and twenties. (Girl could write a book ...)

    In any event, nice tying in of Luke in the Dagoba scene. Captures the thread of these thoughts with elegance.

  2. Thanks! I'm right with you on the fishbowl. At least the internet has helped the solitary seekers to find one another and compare notes a bit...

    One of the reasons I was drawn to D&D back in the day was the implied presence of "clerics" of multiform faiths and traditions all seeming to mingle together on their journeys up the mountain. Young Cyg probably paged through books like this way more often than he delved into the actual rules for adventuring and smiting ones enemies...

    (Girl could write a book ...)

    You know, when MOST people say that, it's just empty words!