D&D (2024) The Cleric should be retired

Yaarel

He Mage
And socially those are more akin to the way Paladins work with orders and generally ideals.
People think of the Paladin as a Fighter subclass because of AD&D tradition.

But really, Paladin could be a Cleric subclass, because it is the melee-competent gish. A feature choice between "Paladin" or "Thaumaturge" makes sense.


That said, I am happy with the 5e Paladin. It is a sufficiently magical warrior. The class is versatile and can accommodate many different character concepts. To replace the default Radiant smites, with other damage types like Thunder and Lightning can open the class to even more concepts.
 

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Vikingkingq

Adventurer
I guess what I'm having trouble with, in this analogy, is what counts as someone's Background and what counts as what they've done to attain a given level in their Class. A Wizard is described as having undergone academic study and apprenticeship, a Cleric as having done both religious and martial training as well as a personal connection to a deity, and so forth.

So why is an Archbishop Turpin not a Cleric with an Acolyte Background, when he had been a monk before becoming a bishop, or Julius II a Cleric with a Noble Background since he was born into the Della Rovere family?
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Let's put this another way. Why aren't all Clerics Acolytes? Why aren't all Wizards Sages?

The Class identity and the things you supposedly would have to have done to gain your Class powers generally points towards this being the most likely origin...but you can be a Street Urchin Cleric and a Noble Wizard just as easily.

"Well", one can say, your Background was what you did before you got your Class, and it's in addition to your Class identity.

But when a Background and a class coincide in identity, you run into some issues. Is that overly-litigious Abbot a Cleric? A Monk? A Rogue with the Acolyte Background? If he's an NPC, he doesn't have either a Background or a Class, and his mechanics simply reflect what he needs to be, which might not even include skills!

Thus it's just as easy (and possibly as correct) to say a medieval warrior-priest could be a:

*Cleric, quite easily one with a Noble background if he's the second son of a prominent family and thus could easily ascend to the highest ranks of the Church.

*Fighter with the Acolyte background.

*Paladin with either.

*Or something else entirely.

Where in previous editions, you could naturally assume an Archbishop is a high level Cleric, there's no longer any reason to assume that's the case. Maybe he's an Acolyte Warlock using his Pact powers to pretend to be a deeply holy man! Who can say?

This means that the "Class Identity" is somewhat irrelevant, even if the "Class Role" mostly exists- though in 5e, the game takes pains to make a particular Class Role as vestigial as possible, since players value freedom, and don't want to feel forced like they are being sorted into a preset role. Thus you have Fighters who only care about damage and don't want to protect people, Wizards armored like walking tanks, and Clerics who only cast Spirit Guardians!
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The cleric has three fundamental problems as a class. The first is that there are basically no fictional clerics outside near-explicit D&D fiction that match D&D clerics. The second is that their holy spellcaster schtick is pressed on from all sides by people who do it better. And the third is that thanks to the nature of prepared casting that their magic is very cookie cutter with, other than domain spells, all clerics being able to prepare the same spells.
That may once have been the case, but isn't any longer. Game of Thrones has clerics, Raymond Feist has clerics, the Dresden Files has clerics and paladins and I'm sure that there are others. It's not just D&D books that have them.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Let's put this another way. Why aren't all Clerics Acolytes? Why aren't all Wizards Sages?

The Class identity and the things you supposedly would have to have done to gain your Class powers generally points towards this being the most likely origin...but you can be a Street Urchin Cleric and a Noble Wizard just as easily.

"Well", one can say, your Background was what you did before you got your Class, and it's in addition to your Class identity.

But when a Background and a class coincide in identity, you run into some issues. Is that overly-litigious Abbot a Cleric? A Monk? A Rogue with the Acolyte Background? If he's an NPC, he doesn't have either a Background or a Class, and his mechanics simply reflect what he needs to be, which might not even include skills!

Thus it's just as easy (and possibly as correct) to say a medieval warrior-priest could be a:

*Cleric, quite easily one with a Noble background if he's the second son of a prominent family and thus could easily ascend to the highest ranks of the Church.

*Fighter with the Acolyte background.

*Paladin with either.

*Or something else entirely.

Where in previous editions, you could naturally assume an Archbishop is a high level Cleric, there's no longer any reason to assume that's the case. Maybe he's an Acolyte Warlock using his Pact powers to pretend to be a deeply holy man! Who can say?

This means that the "Class Identity" is somewhat irrelevant, even if the "Class Role" mostly exists- though in 5e, the game takes pains to make a particular Class Role as vestigial as possible, since players value freedom, and don't want to feel forced like they are being sorted into a preset role. Thus you have Fighters who only care about damage and don't want to protect people, Wizards armored like walking tanks, and Clerics who only cast Spirit Guardians!
There is no need for that warlock to pretend. The acolyte background makes you a member of the priesthood. Not all priests are clerics, and in my game 99% of the priests of the various gods are not clerics.

The last character I played was an elven bladesinger. I added to the game that bladesinging was taught to the gifted faithful of the elven gods and took the acolyte background. I was 100% wizard, but I lead prayers and was a devout priest of Corellon.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
The acolyte background makes you a member of the priesthood. Not all priests are clerics, and in my game 99% of the priests of the various gods are not clerics.

Behind this comment is an observation about the brilliant strengths of the 2014 Background system: this is absolutely the distinction that backgrounds originally promised, but which were not explained well, and which subsequently the designers pulled away from.

And Acolyte is a great example to think with (here's me in 2017 doing so): the background defined whether one was a priest; the class was a separate thing, and one could have a warlock acolyte, a rogue acolyte, a cleric acolyte, and all of them would be priests able to perform the rituals of the god. It was this flexibility that truly made Backgrounds sing, in my view, but it wasn't something that caught the fanbase, and we see the designers moving away from it with things like the Ceremony spell, which as terrible (form the point of view of this aspect of game design).

I get that the key part of this aspect is being removed from the game for 2024 (there are no more background features, and players get the starting feat instead); consequently I know my view is that of a minority.
 

Yaarel

He Mage
I guess what I'm having trouble with, in this analogy, is what counts as someone's Background and what counts as what they've done to attain a given level in their Class. A Wizard is described as having undergone academic study and apprenticeship, a Cleric as having done both religious and martial training as well as a personal connection to a deity, and so forth.

So why is an Archbishop Turpin not a Cleric with an Acolyte Background, when he had been a monk before becoming a bishop, or Julius II a Cleric with a Noble Background since he was born into the Della Rovere family?
Age helps me here.

What a person is likely to accomplish around the age of 16−19 is "background".

What a person is likely to accomplish around the age of 20−24 and afterward is "class".



Of course, the medieval cultures are different, but for example, today the average age when Catholic priests get ordained is in their 30s. So I wouldnt refer to this kind of priesthood as a "background". It seems more like the D&D Master tier (levels 9−12).
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Age helps me here.

What a person is likely to accomplish around the age of 16−19 is "background".

What a person is likely to accomplish around the age of 20−24 and afterward is "class".



Of course, the medieval cultures are different, but for example, today the average age when Catholic priests get ordained is in their 30s. So I wouldnt refer to this kind of priesthood as a "background". It seems more like the D&D Master tier (levels 9−12).
I've had characters start older than 30. There's nothing that requires PCs to be teenagers. Rabbis start in mid 20's, and priests of Ilmater start at the age of 6. Made that up, but this is fantasy, so nothing says you have to be 30ish to be a priest.
 

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