Clerics, why are you so lame?
I want to make you gifts like I do for everyone else. I want to wrap up this new spell that makes a hair fall out for every sin the recipient has committed and give it to you with amorous intent. But no, I can't. You are a magic whore and insist on having everything. An esoteric fatty! Every cleric spell is at your finger tips and every gift makes you better, stronger, weirder than before. The magic users do not approve.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not in bed with balance. I'm happy that a level 1 wizard with summon can cause no end of world altering mayhem. But you have to treat your children equally, or at least appear to.
So, to spare any favouritism why don't we just... kill 'um and take their stuff? Pretend they didn't exist and shower the magic-user with more magic. To use.
Arguments I have heard and made up for keeping clerics:
- They add variety
- I want to wear armour and cast magic
- The onus of healing just falls in the lap of the wizard
- Ninjas add variety. Dwarves and elves add variety. All of them have been CUT. Each one brings with it cultural baggage that forces you to do some mental acrobatics to slide them into a campaign that wouldn't otherwise consider them. Why is a ninja in euro-land? Secret assassin cult! I'm just badass! Why do I have to have elves in my world? Screw elves.
Clerics, though it may be hard to notice, are very very Judeo-Christian. Most historical religions have not been monotheistic. Barely any. Very few religions have been aggressively evangelical. Barely any. The roving god-talking crusader/paladin/religious nut is very specific. If I replaced the base cleric with ngangas or yamabushi people would question why. "How would I fit those in my campaign?" The same way you did with clerics. Just 'cos.
- As far as LotFP is concerned, you can get away with wearing everything other than plate. Aren't you cool enough? The fighter doesn't have much going for him other than hitting and being hit. Let them have the glory of being able to stomp around in a tank. Why take that from them? Plus high ACs make everything sloooow. I don't populate the world with things with AC 17+ unless there's a bloody good reason. It's boring as hell rolling, missing, rolling, missing. Kill, kill, done, that's the ideal
- This is a fair point. Every time a party asks "so, who's going to be the cleric?" I die a little inside. It's a symptom of choice, or lack thereof. They feel they need a cleric. Someone must make that sacrifice. True, this isn't always the case but that's how generalisations work.
Once you have said heal battery character you always have the obligation to keep a heal or two in your pocket, limiting what you could have. Fun stuff, weird stuff, anything but heal. But how about scrolls? Wands? Staves? They exist. If we just folded the cleric into the magic-user they could pump out 50 cure light wounds potions and stick them in a bandoleer on their back. Or they would finally have an excuse to get that bishop's crook they've always wanted and stuff it full of healing magic.
Also, why do all clerics heal anyway? Say I worship Mictlantecuhtli, do you really think I can magically heal you? Any wizard on the other hand would have a very good reason to learn how to fix bodies, after all they don't want to die and neither do other people. Healing rich folk could be a nice little earner for a neophyte juju jongleur
Of course you could just decide to be a religious magic user that worships a healing god(s) and heals everything everywhere. Top job! You're living the dream.
I don't think classes should make many assumptions. The fewer the better in fact. LotFP wisely changed rogues into specialists with, I imagine, the intent of releasing them from the role of professional dick. You can't help it, "I'm a rogue, I feel roguish". Language is powerful, how we label things is massively influential in how we think about things. The more specifically we name the more narrowly we view.
I'm a yamabushi, don't think of me as a magic Japanese hermit. It's hard isn't it?
If we take their name away we allow more freedom of thought. It's just a magic-user. They use magic, all magic. You want to be a druid? Cool, go summon stuff and have sex with trees. Research all kinds of weird spells that scream "druid". A sorcerer? Necromancer? Mage?
It's all the same stuff. Or at least it can be with a little elbow grease. Say there's 10 spells per level that you roll from to get your free levelling-up spells. How about we decide those lists based on what you say you are? A monotheistic vengeful healing god lover would look like a typical cleric. A wizard would look like the current magic-user. Either of them could learn heal, or summon, or lightning bolt. Go read a book, learn to raise the dead. We're just adding flavour without limiting what we can do if we really want to. What we're also doing is allowing ourselves to go mental with adding spells. All spells, steal them from everywhere and make a list a 1000 pages long, it all adds to the coolness of clerics/magic-users
You could claim that this waters them down, allowing the peaceful healing cleric to learn Power Word: Kill. I'd say you should learn restraint. If the player cared enough about her concept she wouldn't learn inappropriate spells, and if she doesn't then what the hell, go to town. Some people don't make high concept characters, some do. It's all good.
Another thing that I've considered is Gods. Much like above, if players don't care about gods when they aren't clerics then that's fine. In my case, my player's like gods regardless of their class so I'm okay. It's all down to taste. However, what if gods still gave gifts to the chosen? Only they weren't so set on just elevating those gifted in magic. How many religious warriors have there been in the real world? A fuck-ton, that's how many. Of course they would still be picky, they would still need a person to be the very embodiment of their core values. They would live and breath the god of yams, or whatever it is they're into, and in exchange he would give them a boon. Maybe a little magic ability, maybe they're just lucky, maybe they get a talking dog, maybe they can smell like a wolf and wrestle trolls naked in the name of the thunder god, maybe they let you wear platemail, you big baby.
A cleric isn't what you are, it's what you do.
One door closes, another door opens.
One of my very smart and handsome players had a great idea. Instead of making lists, why not just swap out the "every magic-user gets read magic" with a specific spell depending on what flavour of magic guy you are? A cleric gets cure light wounds. A demonologist gets summon. An enchanter gets charm. And so on. BAM, flavour.