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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

diaglo

Adventurer
before we added Supplement IV to our campaign all of the clerics were godless. they followed a religion based on alignment.
 

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jasamcarl

First Post
fusangite said:
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.

You're right. I think people are thinking in a more platonic framework, though for Plato, there would have been one axis of truth, not four. You have the purity of Plato and qualitative differences of Aristotle. God this sounds pompous. I will stay out. :)
 
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Psion

Adventurer
Kormyr the Rat said:
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.

Just how is that Planescape?

In Planescape, there were priests with deities, pantheon priests, and the Athar. The Athar were considered somewhat remarkable in that they seemed to have no named divinity. Most of planescape was based around the concept of the character's deity existing tangibly somewhere -- take a look at the rules for clerical level loss when moving away from a deity's home plane.

And even the Athar's power source was known to reside on a specific plane.
 
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Bloodsparrow

First Post
hong said:
So, was it the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost who granted the Pope domain over the Catholic Church?

It was the Father, but the Son was the method of delivery... If by "the Son" you mean Jeasus. (Mathew 16:17-18)

Moving on... :D

fusangite said:
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.

But there's no reason you couldn't modify that framework, or create a new framework based on those methods, to apply to the devine.

((I think you could. As in the discussion between Donny and the Science Teacher in the movie Donny Darko. They seemed to be getting somewhere but, just as it gets interesting... :p ))
 
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Storm Raven

First Post
Kahuna Burger said:
but I've never actually seen a DM place any diety constraints on a cleric... it comes up with paladins, but not clerics, IME.

I'm currently running into this as an unexpected point of contention between myself and a player in the game I am DMing. I pointed out to him that his character was behaving in a manner not really suitable to his deity's outlook, and he has gotten upset with me for "telling him how to run his character."

I have been trying to explain to him that I am not telling him how to run his character, just the probable consequences for running his character in the manner he is running it. His response has been that "my choice of deity is nothing more than which domains I select from, and means nothing more". On the other hand, I view the deities as having particular agendas, which they bestow their followers with powers to promote and advance. Thus, we are at loggerheads.

It is annoying when your assumptions about "campaign religion" are completely ignored by the players.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Storm Raven said:
It is annoying when your assumptions about "campaign religion" are completely ignored by the players.

Yes, but I always discuss my assumptions with the player before the character comes into play. I'll bet that you didn't do so. Communication is key, especially in the religion and alignment departments.
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Xeriar said:
You are dismissing their faith as mere knowledge of the mortal realm.


No, he's describing their faith as not being conducive to having members with kewl powerz granted by a figurehead deity.

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.

Do you have to have a cadre of individuals with kewl powerz to have a spiritual bent? Divine spell casters don't have a corner on the concept of spiritual study and enlightenment, they just have a particular method of expressing it.

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.


In D&D terms, their focus would be on things like Knowledge: Philosophy, Knowledge: Religion, and Knowledge: Nature, so in D&D terms, he's pretty much right.
 

Storm Raven

First Post
Umbran said:
Yes, but I always discuss my assumptions with the player before the character comes into play. I'll bet that you didn't do so. Communication is key, especially in the religion and alignment departments.

Actually, I thought I did. For example, in each write up concerning a deity, I outlined the things that were important to that deity, and what sorts of characteristics priests of that divine power would be expected to emulate and promote. I'm getting the impression that the player in question didn't read the material on deities I gave out before the campaign started.
 

Xeriar

First Post
Wraith Form said:
(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.

There is, naturally, a small difference between your personal spiritual path and one six to seven hundred million people aspire to. :p
 

Psion

Adventurer
I am so on the same page, Storm Raven. The Greyhawk deities and the godless cleric clause have caused me countless headaches every time a player makes a divine spellcaster. I do explain the fact that these are the religions, but "what's in the book" seems to have primacy in the players' mind, despite rule zero.
 

Xeriar

First Post
Storm Raven said:
No, he's describing their faith as not being conducive to having members with kewl powerz granted by a figurehead deity.

There is a problem with that view, however.

Do you have to have a cadre of individuals with kewl powerz to have a spiritual bent? Divine spell casters don't have a corner on the concept of spiritual study and enlightenment, they just have a particular method of expressing it.

Taoist and Buddhist practicioners frequently end up with kewl powerz in legend. If D&D is supposed to emulate legend, then calling them merely scholars is WestoCentric.

In D&D terms, their focus would be on things like Knowledge: Philosophy, Knowledge: Religion, and Knowledge: Nature, so in D&D terms, he's pretty much right.

If you can tell me how any skill, partial skill, group of skills represents Taoism, then I might consider conceding the point that they should be experts in those skills or at least have them.

From my understanding of Taoism, the idea that they would all (or even a majority) take even one of those knowledge skills makes no sense at all.
 

diaglo

Adventurer
Psion said:
I am so on the same page, Storm Raven. The Greyhawk deities and the godless cleric clause have caused me countless headaches every time a player makes a divine spellcaster. I do explain the fact that these are the religions, but "what's in the book" seems to have primacy in the players' mind, despite rule zero.

well it could be your choice of editions.... :D
 

Xeriar

First Post
Storm Raven said:
I have been trying to explain to him that I am not telling him how to run his character, just the probable consequences for running his character in the manner he is running it. His response has been that "my choice of deity is nothing more than which domains I select from, and means nothing more". On the other hand, I view the deities as having particular agendas, which they bestow their followers with powers to promote and advance. Thus, we are at loggerheads.

By the way, I'm by no means advocating that these philosophies can allow someone to pick two random domains and ignore the philosophy, either. A boddhistava has still followed the eightfold path (a long way), and though the religion does not have the concept of sin as such, you can lose your way, and stumble backwards on the path.
 

Psion

Adventurer
well it could be your choice of editions....

Yes, you're right. For both of the players I mention, they had only played prior editions, and were used to the rulebooks being "the law from on high" as spoken by Gary instead of a toolkit. ;)

Edit/Clarification: No, I don't really beleive my players are worth deriding because of the editions they prefer/are experienced with/choose to play. This is merely a "right back atcha" for diaglo.
 
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Kahuna Burger

First Post
Storm Raven said:
No, he's describing their faith as not being conducive to having members with kewl powerz granted by a figurehead deity.

Because they are instead conductive to having the class abilities assigned to the spiritually active spellcasters. Using stupid terms to implicitly insult anyone who thinks a cleric can represent non deity centered religious or spiritual traditions is just making you look immature...

Do you have to have a cadre of individuals with kewl powerz to have a spiritual bent? Divine spell casters don't have a corner on the concept of spiritual study and enlightenment, they just have a particular method of expressing it.

In D&D terms, their focus would be on things like Knowledge: Philosophy, Knowledge: Religion, and Knowledge: Nature, so in D&D terms, he's pretty much right.

I'd say you're missing the point, but its looks more likely that you're ducking it.

The cleric class represents divine casters... casters who derive their powers through some form of spirituality. The actual descriptions of divine power indicate that sentient dieties are only one source of it. There are numerous real world examples of diety free spirituality. Saying that they could only be represented by a magic free npc class is saying in almost so many words that "they aren't real religions". Its insulting and serves no purpose.

With the exception of faith healers and other frauds, there aren't a lot of real world traditions that claim to give access to planned, controllable bursts of supernatural energy. Therefore, NO religion should have "in D&D terms" spellcasting power. So I guess clerics don't exist... :rolleyes: In fact, cleric is a class. Its used to represent a) a certain style of magic and b) a certain kind of character. I and others have easily fit characters unconcerned with gods, or even rejecting of gods into both the mechanics and flavor of the class with no problem.

Now, a lot of people run campaigns that they feel those characters wouldn't fit into, fine. But I'm frankly amazed at the level of insults, false information on real world spirituality, deliberate bending of others' words and dogmatic insistance that those who don't have your 'limits' are doing it wrong... To the point that I'd encorage any mods around to just close this thread as having served its purpose (its true that a lot of folks don't like godless clerics and its a flavor issue) and having no where good to go from here.

Kahuna burger
 

Zappo

Explorer
Psion said:
Just how is that Planescape?
Planescape had generic priests. If I recall correctly, it even specified that a follower of the Athar could not receive healing by a priest that follows a deity, but that at faction headquarters they could find friendly generic clerics. I think that they were mostly assumed to be worshipping an alignment, rather than a generic ideal. However, expanding the concept to let a cleric worship an ideal is very in theme with Planescape.

A cleric with a deity, however, has the advantage of an established church to rely upon.
 

Kahuna Burger

First Post
Psion said:
Yes, you're right. For both of the players I mention, they had only played prior editions, and were used to the rulebooks being "the law from on high" as spoken by Gary instead of a toolkit.

Which you have replaced with "the law from on high" as spoken by you, regardless of the enjoyment of the group as a whole? :confused: When you say :

I do explain the fact that these are the religions,
It seems like your players can't contribute to your world except by filling the roles that you've laid out and approved. Maybe that works for you, but I've always had success allowing the players some latitude in expanding the game world through their character creation, and that includes religious and societal choices.

Just to clarify your policy here, if someone wanted to play a non cleric class with an alternate religion (say a small one centered in their home village) would you reject that even as a background choice with no impact on the stats?

Kahuna burger
 

Psion

Adventurer
Zappo said:
Planescape had generic priests. If I recall correctly, it even specified that a follower of the Athar could not receive healing by a priest that follows a deity, but that at faction headquarters they could find friendly generic clerics.

Did you bother reading my post?

The priests of the Athar were considered exceptional/remarkable in planescape, and even those priests had a plane-located source.
 

Psion

Adventurer
Which you have replaced with "the law from on high" as spoken by you, regardless of the enjoyment of the group as a whole?

Before I begin stating how I disagree with you, let me emphasize that my statement was phased specifically as a retort in mock-diaglo mindset. In actually, I wasn't/wouldn't deriding the players. They are good players overall, and the whole issue could have been avoided if the PHB better emphasized the DMs role in establishing the prevailing cosmology. The game should serve the players, not the players the game.

That said: I am sorry to have to differ with you, but it is the GMs duty and responsibility to provide the enviroment for the players. When the books facilitate in this endeavor, this is good. When they are intrusive in this endeavor, it is bad.

It seems like your players can't contribute to your world except by filling the roles that you've laid out and approved.

They sure can contribute -- if they are willing to create a divinity that works with the existing cosmology; I don't allow players to insist I use a deity from another setting (and I have had them try). I allow players to make suggestions. In fact, my closest accomodation to this godless cleric thing is that I allow the player to define a minor power/demigod that fits a role closer to that the player desires if none of the presented ones will do. In my game, the pantheon of deities that exists is extensive like some animist faiths, with thousands of powerful spirits worthy of being called demigods and capable of granting spells.

But I as the GM reserve the final say on what it appropriate, and I am not going to write something into the game that is inconsistanct with the cosmology as it is defined. Large aspects of the campaign are based around the idea of the pantheons, the divine compact that exists between them, and their relationship with the world as it exists.

Just to clarify your policy here, if someone wanted to play a non cleric class with an alternate religion (say a small one centered in their home village) would you reject that even as a background choice with no impact on the stats?

What do you mean "non cleric class". Non divine spellcasters can beleive anything they want; it is not going to have a bona fide impact on the game beyond their behavior. Divine spellcasters of all stripes, though, need to get their divine power from a divine source; the concept of the faith itself generating the power is simply not part of my cosmology, at least not directly. Faith is power that divinities can use, but IMC, expecting faith alone to power spells is like expecting a full can of gas to cruise down the road like a car. You are missing a necessary intermediate step.
 
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