Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Faith & Fortune - Fighters, Wizards, & Priests In Your Old School Campaigns

When we start looking at original Dungeons & Dragons clerics then we're getting right into the heart of the bed rock of the game in many ways. Clerics are so much more then their given credit for. Back in the Seventies &  Eighties clerics & their churches as well as the temples were the center pieces of adventures. Clerical orders were the movers & shakers among kings, queens, & royals. They were often the lynch pins holding campaigns together.

According to the Original Dungeons & Dragons consolidated  rules site ;

"Clerics can use magic armor and all non-edged magic weapons (no arrows) plus they have a number of their own spells. They are able to use some magical items that are denied to fighters. Remember that only men can be clerics.
The prime requisite for clerics is wisdom.
Clerics are either Law or Chaos (see Alignments). There's no such thing as a Neutral cleric. If a Patriarch receives the benefits described and he changes alignments, all benefits will be removed immediately."

Alright right off the bat I'm going to ignore the whole only men can be clerics nonsense business. Clerics are the holy warriors of their temples & churches given the handle of chaos making its way into the campaign world. We see this again & again in Arthurian literature & even in Clark Ashton Smith's  Averoigne stories.
Given the cycle of stories there isn't any doubt in my mind that the clerics of these stories have their work cut out for them; 

I wish I were joking but these poor bastards must have called in every favor in the book at times to deal with specter of dark forces that they had to deal with. Churches & temples are going to have to rely on the holy forces that protect any given area from the forces of chaos.  The single most important book for the cleric in my humble opinion comes in the form of Robert Kuntz & James Wards Gods, Demigods, & Heroes.  This book takes the cleric in the solid position of holy warrior & expands it by twenty.

I've seen various OSR Illuminati describe how their campaigns aren't about 'religion' end quote. Well the good campaigns I've played in & run are all about religion with it being at the core & foundation. Religion is the prime motivator for adventure & yet the least used that I've seen lately.
One reviewer said according to wiki ; "Glen Taylor reviewed Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes in The Space Gamer No. 9.[3] He states that as "the fourth and purportedly last supplement to Dungeons and Dragons" it "might be expected from such a 'last bow,' as it were, this newest supplement is different from all three of the previous ones, in a major way. [...] This is by no means 'standard' D&Dmaterial."[3] He commented that "I'm no scholar of ancient (and modern!) legends, but it seems to me the authors have given a view of the various mythological concepts which is both panoramic and scrutinously details, and as complete as possible within the space limitations imposed [...] Kuntz and Ward have taken material which has come down to us in a sometimes distorted and almost always nebulous form, and clarified it into a solid material which would fit in well with any fantasy game."[3] Taylor concludes his review by saying that Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes is worth the price "for the mere pleasure of reading it. For students of ancient legends it's a Type I treasure. It should much lived up any D&D campaign in which it is used""
This I completely agree with & absolutely disagree with
Lawrence Schick who  calls this book "the least important supplement to Original D&D" in his book 1991 book Heroic Worlds. Why?! Because churches & temples pay adventurers to rid the land of chaos & evil. Given the scope & breath of many campaigns it stands to simple reason that clerics would be assigned to & given over to adventuring parties.

In point of fact clerics & priests should be used as the central rallying point for the call to adventure! Yeah I said it. The fact is that priests & their ilk are going to seek out wizards & fighters for help ridding some god or goddess forsaken land of some monstrous evil. I was just speaking to a friend this morning about how a single troll seen in a kingdom was a rallying point for every adventurer in the region to wipe out the horror that had invaded the land.

Each piece of that walking abomination has the potential to create an infection that must be cleansed from the landscape. This also comes straight across in the AD&D first edition Fiend Folio with the troll variants when their first seen.
  A giant troll is a cross between a troll and a hill giant, resulting in a troll over 10 feet tall full on Chaos unbound. The cleric & its network of temples can & should be the rallying points for adventure in old school campaigns! Why?!

Clerics are the holy warriors & agents of their gods these are the boots on the ground agents against the forces of light & darkness or chaos & law. I can't stress enough how dangerous the role of the cleric is in original Dungeons & Dragons along with its latter incarnations of this class. Treasure is the fuel that keeps this holy machine running & the peoples who in habit campaign safe & free from harm that adventurers face on a daily basis.
For looking at a number of Dungeons & Dragons style clerics who do exactly this sort of work in their own world. I have to reach over to grab my copy of the Record of the Lodoss War comic books. These comic books have several excellent examples of the type of clerics that we're speaking of in this blog entry.

A most misguided character that is a perfect set up for a reverse villain turned hero is Marvel's Crusader who while he uses a sword could be used to pattern a heroic cleric quite easily. This is a solid character who is operating in the modern world. 

But the Crusader's zeal & conviction is easily the sort of holy fire that needs to burn away the infection of chaos right across the landscape. Clerics are the sort of character class whose mere presence is a balm of holy religion to the plight of the lands where evil dwell.But clerics can only hold or destroy evil there are other forces to blow it apart. Tomorrow the seed of destruction in original Dungeons & Dragons 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.