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Poll : Do you allow godless clerics?

Do you like/allow clerics without a diety?

  • I don't like godless clerics for mechanical reasons.

    Votes: 14 5.4%
  • I don't like godless clerics for flavor/homebrew gameworld reasons.

    Votes: 115 44.6%
  • I don't like godless clerics for other reasons I will outline below.

    Votes: 5 1.9%
  • I'm OK with godless clerics.

    Votes: 76 29.5%
  • I love godless clerics!

    Votes: 40 15.5%
  • I never knew you could have a cleric without a patron god until reading this thread...

    Votes: 8 3.1%

  • Total voters
    258

adwyn

Community Supporter
For nearly twenty years I have used a church of deicidalist "godless" clerics who have usurped the divine magic as a focal point of my campaign. In the beginning (i.e. 1st ed) I was ridiculed by a few players, but most took well to the concept. I later felt validated when the 2E Priest's Handbook included their more abstract clerics. I have also found it is the aspect of the campaign most remembered by past players, so up with the godless clerics.
 

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the Jester

Legend
Mercule said:
Quite right. But, since no real world religions grant spells, it isn't an apples to apples comparison. I've got no problem with an organization forming around a philosophy. They could even be called a religion. I just don't think the Cleric class is an appropriate way to represent them. If they have spells, then they would be better off being statted as a Wizard/Sorcerer/Bard.

Or perhaps an adept. My point was simply that there are clergy (i.e. clerics, though the definition in the real world doesn't include spells and all that, of course) of religions without deities. Personally, I don't think the cleric class reflects well any priest type other than the medeival western-European type. I'm pretty fond of alternate core religious ideas (like OA shugenja, shamans and sohei, etc.) for flavor purposes, though it depends on the culture your character is from of course.
 

Kodam

First Post
Subtle Gods

Hi!

Nobody in my Planescape Campaign plays a Cleric at all but if s.o. asked I'd allow it. But I'd have the Player describe to what the Character is dedicated "good", "preservation", "change" or whatever. Then there wouldn't be so many options for domains left.
The lower level spells or domain powers come from the intense faith of the cleric only, no god has to be involved at all. When the character rises to fifth level (when he first gets 3. level spells) he'll have attracted the interest of some god by his former actions. For example by attacking the temple of one god, its one of this gods divine foes, by studying its a god of knowledge and so on. This divine being will then unbeknowst to the "godless" cleric "sponsor" him with spells for he still furthers that gods goals.

Kodam
 
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tzor

First Post
Sometimes we make assumptions that are not in the rules. There seems to be an assumption that a "godless" cleric is a cleric who doesn't believe in gods or who doesn't follow any gods. But if you look at the SRD quotes the exact wording is "If a cleric is not devoted to a particular deity."

This would allow a cleric who is devoted to a range of deities, including an entire pantheon, or a cleric who receives his powers from one or more deities without being specifically devoted to that deity.

There are some situations where a peronsal relationship with a deity is the norm within a pantheon and some scenarios require this. Temple clerics are good examples, even within a pantheon the cleric of specific temples is dedicated to the deity of the temple. But some temples are also for a general pantheon, others might be for a cross pantheon arrangement based on one or more factors.

I like to run highly modified Lankhmar campaigns. Here I take the question and flip it around. Not only do I allow "godless" clerics (although I have had none come up in my campaign) I also allow "clericless" gods. Why would the god of lawful good thieves (yes he's a bit odd in the divine head) want to have clerics for assistants. Instead his servants are thieves.
 

DiamondB

Explorer
I have no problem at all with godless clerics. In fact they are a significant aspect of my homebrew world. In my campaign world, the ElF, Dwarf and Gnome clerics are all godless. The elves have 3 major religious philosophies, Life, Elemental Power and Arcane Power, with a couple of "prestige" philosophies as well. My dwarven religious philosophy is based around brotherhoods/sisterhoods, gaining power for concepts (i.e. the concept of War) as opposed to dieties. Gnomes are just a little wierd and are still in development, but secret societies (i.e. Masons) are more accurate for their religions.

Anyone interested in more info can click the link in my signature.
 

fusangite

First Post
Dimwhit said:
I like the idea of having Clerics with no God. Or, perhaps, having a Cleric who worships the Gods as a whole. The latter I think could also be a good reason for a Cleric to be able to pick up any two domains (probably the main reason to go Godless). If a Cleric worships the pantheon as a whole, I see it as the same, mechanically, as not having a God, and it works really well for roleplaying.

Hey -- I have no problem with pantheon-based clerics. They are probably closer to the flavour of my campaigns than single god clerics.

Umbran said:
Think Aristotelian, man! To you, in your modern mindset, a "philosophy" is a nebulous thing with no real substance. An idea, nothing more than a construct inside the mind. But that'snot the only possible scenario.

Thanks for bringing this up. No. Aristotelianism gives you an understanding of how physics/magic works so you can manipulate it. Aristotelian magic is exactly what I imagine when I think about arcane (especially wizard-based) magic.
 

Psion

Adventurer
Incidentally, the Platonic angle is the only way I could stomach the idea of "direct faith" in the second world setting. The philosophical ideal is not just an idea, it's a form that has tangible existence somewhere that forms the basis of reality. I can relate to it on that level (and since Peterson speaks of creatures like forms in the Forge, it fits in with the setting.)

But even that is more to go on than "faith alone" and has a credible difference from arcane magic.

Edit: Plato not Aristotle. Been too many years since Philosophy 101. ;)
 
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Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
I require clerics to have a patron diety. Most of the people in the Flanaess don't only worship one diety they will pray to the diety in the pathenon they believe in that has power over thier fate at that time. If you are a Suel and you are praying to avoid a deadly plague you may pray to Wee Jas, if you are praying for the power to lift a log off your son you may say a quick prayer to Kord, etc. However to get divine power channeled to you, ie spellcasting power, one must devote oneself to a diety mind, body, and soul.
 


d4

First Post
the Jester said:
One thing that's barely been touched on that's very relevant to the discussion is whether the deities are independent from their followers or spawned by thier belief. Does the religion change over time? If so, it's prolly created by the collective belief of the followers. If this is true- if belief empowers the gods- then there's no inherent reason a sufficient amount of belief couldn't also empower a philophy to "grant" spells.

On the other hand, if the gods predate their worshipers, they probably are superbeings that throw tremendous amounts of magical energy around, granting it to their followers, and then there's a good chance that philosophies won't be able to "grant" spells.
i think this is my main beef with godless clerics. in the worlds i homebrew, the gods always predate the mortal races and are independent of them. gods do not receive any power from mortals' belief and belief can not create divine power -- the relationship is strictly from the deity to the mortal, not the other way around.

that's only one way of looking at the situation, but it's the only one i'm comfortable with as a world-builder. so no godless clerics in my campaigns.

Um, also I'd just like to point out that not all real-world religions have gods either. That doesn't mean they don't have priests.
a religion without a god would have a clergy consisting of Experts focused on knowledge and social skills, not clerics. ;)
 

Xeriar

First Post
d4 said:
a religion without a god would have a clergy consisting of Experts focused on knowledge and social skills, not clerics. ;)

That seems like a rather insulting way of looking at Buddhism and Taoism.
 

d4

First Post
Xeriar said:
That seems like a rather insulting way of looking at Buddhism and Taoism.
what, that they are experts with a broad range of knowledge and interpersonal skills, learned through years of study and devotion to their philosophy, as opposed to have KEWL POWERZ granted by some divine figurehead? i fail to see how that is insulting to those of a more philosophical bent.
 

Gellion

First Post
If i Dmed a game, i would allow godless Cleics. I would not even care what two domains they pciked. Although, only Humans would be able to be godless Clerics.

Then again, there would be Chaotic Good Ur-Priests in my game...
 

fusangite

First Post
I must say that I have trouble with the idea of an Aristotelian cleric. Aristotelianism was physics; it was science. Understanding Aristotelianism didn't make you an adherent of a worldview, it provided you with an analytical framework. Magic derived from Aristotelianism is arcane magic: you come to understand your world's physics so you can exploit it. Aristotelianism doesn't demand allegiance; it explains the world; that's why it could be grafted onto Christianity so easily to create high medieval thought.
 

Wraith Form

Explorer
Teflon Billy said:
I wouldn't allow it for Flavor reasons.

A "Godless Cleric" is a bookeeper (at best)

I'm not even sure I understand the idea of a Priest who foloows no Gods.
I'm mostly with TB on this one, although Dark Sun's "clerics" "worshipped" (drew power from) the elements, which I kinda liked.

What is a cleric, anyway? S/he's a catalyst for what we would perceive as a miracle. In a D&D game, the source of that miraculous event could be any number of different....persons/places/things. In AD&D 2nd Ed Priest Handbook they used to have the Philosophy of Man. I enjoyed having monks take that when I was a player.

I feel that any source of power that a mortal draws from to "fuel" spells, ASIDE from magic (which is latent energy) could be considered "god-ish". [old physics crap: magic = potential energy, psionics/deific influences = kinetic energy :p ]

Aww, heck...magic, psionics, holy powers, miracles, supernatural occurances--they all fall into the same boat somewhere on a metagame level. I'd require something to fuel a spell/spell-like ability, simply because it makes the game more fun!
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Not allowing godless clerics can be a campaign descision, and I've got no beef with it. If Gods -> Matter -> Creatures, and that's why they worship them, and godless clerics are like "WTF?!", okay. That's no more a drastic campaign decision than outlawing Paladins, or allowing Shugenja. It's just part of how you define your world (though I still think it's misguided, but meh). A philosophy can easily be reprsented by a deity...you pledge yourself to Goodness and Protection, and there's a god for it. You pledge yourself to Evil and Destruction, and there's a god for it. You pledge yourself for Enlightenment and Self-Awareness, there's a god for it. I can live with that.

I have a LOT of trouble accepting that the very concept of a godless cleric is stupid, munchy, and nonsensical. It isn't. There doesn't have to be some dude in the clouds allowing the clerics to cast spells. To assume there must be is not only narrowminded, but also a house rule.

WHY DOES THERE HAVE TO BE A DEITY?!

I can understand if that's not your personal preference, or if you don't allow it in your campaign. However, I can see no reason to think that there has to be one, or it's arcane, and there's no reason to think that things are somehow redefined because of that...how is a philosophy more nebulous than "some guy in the sun"? Or even more nebulous than Arcane magic, which doesn't even HAVE a source according to the SRD...the only 'source' for arcane magic is mentioned in that every bard spell has a verbal component...how is that more nebulous than adherence to a philosophy?

According to the SRD:
Unlike arcane spells, divine spells draw power from a divine source. Clerics gain spell power from deities or from divine forces. The divine force of nature powers druid and ranger spells. The divine forces of law and good power paladin spells. Divine spells tend to focus on healing and protection and are less flashy, destructive, and disruptive than arcane spells.

See divine forces? It's wonderfully open-ended...philosophies could be divine forces...Nature is called a divine force...the Moon could be a divine force...hell, by the rules, Paladins are *nessecarily* godless (instead gaining power from Law and Good), and don't need to appease any deity.

How does that mean we have to re-define divine magic?

Arcane magic, meanwhile, doesn't even specify a source, hinting that you could even cast arcane magic from a deity or divine force...imagine that....a Sorcerer could be a 'clergy member' in any world, and *actually* gain *real* spells from the deities.

It's also weird that those who have trouble with godless clerics have no trouble with pantheon-worshipping clerics, which is in effect ALMOST like allowing a cleric to choose any two domains ANYWAY....why do you have to have a pantheon?

There's no real balance issues (otherwise it wouldn't've made it through the intense playtesting of the Core Rules, and there'd be more advice in picking domains for new dieties than 'whatever fits'). There's absolutely no definition issues. Thus there is only the issue of personal preference...which is all well and good as far as it goes, but then you have to allow others to have equally as valid, if differing, personal preferences, no?
 

Xeriar

First Post
d4 said:
what, that they are experts with a broad range of knowledge and interpersonal skills, learned through years of study and devotion to their philosophy, as opposed to have KEWL POWERZ granted by some divine figurehead? i fail to see how that is insulting to those of a more philosophical bent.

You are dismissing their faith as mere knowledge of the mortal realm.

Just because Buddhism, Taoism, Confucionism and others (including some forms of early Christianity) have no 'god' does not mean that they aren't spiritual - it's just that the existance or nonexistance of such a god is secondary to the point.

You might lump Confucianism in with Druids (make a class called honorary or something?)

The thing about Taoism and Buddhism is that they aren't about knowledge and interpersonal skills. I don't know why anyone would think that unless they haven't studied these religions.
 

Xeriar

First Post
Wraith Form said:
What is a cleric, anyway? S/he's a catalyst for what we would perceive as a miracle. In a D&D game, the source of that miraculous event could be any number of different....persons/places/things. In AD&D 2nd Ed Priest Handbook they used to have the Philosophy of Man. I enjoyed having monks take that when I was a player.

Siddhartha Guatema walked on water too (according to legend) - amongst a large number of other miracles - but he never espoused faith in a god.

In fact, when asked whether or not there was a god, he refused to answer, because in knowing the answer you would focus overmuch on it and risk losing touch with your path along Nirvana.

I feel that any source of power that a mortal draws from to "fuel" spells, ASIDE from magic (which is latent energy) could be considered "god-ish". [old physics crap: magic = potential energy, psionics/deific influences = kinetic energy :p ]

If you can accept magic and psionics, why not a faith in an understanding deeper than normal observation may know?

Aww, heck...magic, psionics, holy powers, miracles, supernatural occurances--they all fall into the same boat somewhere on a metagame level. I'd require something to fuel a spell/spell-like ability, simply because it makes the game more fun!

We're talking about our own respective little universes here.

Taking your statement though, who says something isn't fueling it? The draw of Nirvana or the power of The Way, or whatever.

Like I mentioned, I had a campaign world where there were no gods (re, they all got smaxxorred) - and thus they needed 'replacement'. The way of it was - the Planet was, indirectly fuelling all magic - but to the 48 clerics of the world, it was because they had an understanding of how the world worked and, through force of will, they could manipulate it.
 

Wraith Form

Explorer
Xeriar said:
Siddhartha Guatema walked on water too (according to legend) - amongst a large number of other miracles - but he never espoused faith in a god.

In fact, when asked whether or not there was a god, he refused to answer, because in knowing the answer you would focus overmuch on it and risk losing touch with your path along Nirvana.



If you can accept magic and psionics, why not a faith in an understanding deeper than normal observation may know?



We're talking about our own respective little universes here.

Taking your statement though, who says something isn't fueling it? The draw of Nirvana or the power of The Way, or whatever.

Like I mentioned, I had a campaign world where there were no gods (re, they all got smaxxorred) - and thus they needed 'replacement'. The way of it was - the Planet was, indirectly fuelling all magic - but to the 48 clerics of the world, it was because they had an understanding of how the world worked and, through force of will, they could manipulate it.
(in best Keanu voice): Whoa.

You're all, like, Matrixing out on me, dude. :D

My personal spiritual belief is, like, way different from what I'd accept in a D&D setting....err, or something.
 

Viktyr Gehrig

First Post
See, my D&D campaigns tend to lean heavily on Planescape ideas (in fact, my current game is Planescape), so things like Philosopher-Clerics and other varieties of godless Cleric make sense to me-- as do Clerics who are dyed-in-the-wool representations of their chosen deity and woe be it unto them who would say otherwise. Right now, our only divine caster is a Druid, but we're about to pick up a Ranger and a proto-Blackguard. Amoung the available sources in the game is Oriental Adventures, which has a couple non-deific Divine-casting classes, and I have no problem with someone using those.

(Hell, I'd be happy to see a Sorceror/Shugenja/Mystic Theurge... we're more than a little low on the mojoslingers.)
 

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