Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The Church teaches that the God of Law divided all of the world according to a divine plan.  Just as he separated earth, water, fire, and air from each other, so to did he divide the people of the world into three great orders: those who work, those who fight, and those who pray.  The strict maintenance of these orders and their presumed hierarchy is necessary to the ultimate defeat of the Adversaries, or so many Clerics claim.

Clerics are a class apart.  They alone receive divine wisdom from their God, and they are tasked with using it to protect the people of the World from the workings of Demons and others who would tempt them astray.  In the West, Clericalism is believed to be a a hereditary trait.  One does not become a Cleric, one simply is a Cleric.  Usually this is because the Cleric comes from a line who possess  a "Magic of the Blood."   This quality allows them, just as it allowed their forefathers and mothers, to communicate with the Divine in a way that is impossible for the other people of the World.

Since they are such a small and selective group, they would be ill suited to serve as the machinery of the Church.  Rather, they lead by example.  Clerics find their callings out in the world where their tools and gifts are best suited to helping the other orders of society and defeating the servants of Darkness.  The Church itself is largely composed of lay ascetics and bureaucrats who maintain the collections of doctrines so necessary to the function of the Church as an institution.

Clerics are carefully watched.  The Adversary has many ways to trick mortal men, and one of the foulest is his use of Anticlerics.  Proper orthodoxy must be maintained so that the righteous might be separated from the wicked.  Demons are capable of granting desperate men the powers saved only for those chosen by the God of Law.  In order to prevent these men and women from leading the downtrodden astray, Clerics and Priests must keep abreast of proper theology.

Recent heresies have questioned the need for Clerics.  They point to Magic-Users and note that they are capable of working wonders just as Clerics are.  Some of the literati in the realms of the West believe that Clerical magic is simply a set of formulas guarded by certain families.  They call for these to be revealed to the world so that Magic-Users may study them and better understand the nature of magic.  Those who work, for their part, continue to toil in the fields awaiting the day that creatures pour out of the woods.


It's been awhile since I've done a kinda-sorta in setting post and I thought it was time to try another one.  Much of this entry was inspired by Georges Duby's The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined.  While I have some issues with the book, his notes on how bishop's saw their roles in Medieval society are quite fascinating.

The bit at the end owes itself to the recent urge by many OSR types (myself included) to jettison the Cleric from their preferred system.


  1. I never could play a cleric. Just not my style.

  2. This is terrific, as usual. I love the idea of Clerics as wandering mystics, distinct from the church hierarchy and gifted with a direct link to the divine: saints and hermits, not priests and bishops. It also gives the anti-cleric a better grounding in myth: the saint who is targeted for tempation by devils, and who has succumbed.

    This feels a lot better than the default setting, and provides a much better reason for Clerics (who should be relatively rare) to get mixed up in adventuring. It also eliminates the banality of paying the local church to cast healing spells on you -- now they don't have access to that kind of magic. Even better, it frees up the members of the church hierarchy to be Fighting Men or Magic Users. Lots of good ideas here.

  3. That was definitely thought-provoking, and good fun in the final paragraph, but in the last line sadly telling. I'm definitely with Picador on what you've done here.