Clerics are the servants of the gods among the faithful. They nurture their church and their flock, guide them and provide for them, always observant for threats to them.
What Clerics Are Not
Though clerics are servants of the gods, they are more colored by their function than by their deity (though their deity does have an influence!). Certain gods may not have clerics, preferring thieves or rangers or fighters or wizards instead. Not every god will have a cleric as a minister to the people: only the gods of civilization care to nurture their churches. Clerics have a specific role as a defender and a healer, rather than a general one as a weaver of all divine magic. Other classes may gain divine magic in other ways (such as via domain themes).
Core Cleric Abilities
- Clerics use divine magic to power their mystical abilities. Their spells are granted to them by their deities.
- Clerics use heavy armor, but only relatively simple weapons. They are melee-based, and defensive, protecting others.
- Clerics can turn aside creatures of true evil, such as demons, devils, and the undead, causing them to flee or destroying them outright.
- Clerics can heal wounds and remove ailments with powerful divine magic.
- Clerics can create wards and protective circles, defending their allies, even over long periods of time, often providing divine feasts.
- Clerics can see hidden things, uncovering what others seek to conceal, or what is unseen.
- Clerics can use a limited number of powerful divine attacks, calling light and fire down on their foes.
- Clerics have several divine abilities centered on the specific god they worship, ranging from a sun god providing light in the darkness to a god of the fields providing food and shelter.
Iconic Cleric Abilities
Clerics can heal wounds, restore hit points, remove disease, break curses, and even bring the dead back to life. A big part of a cleric's role is to undo the effects of battle and adventuring on their allies.
In addition to removing afflictions, a cleric can preemptively stop them, divining the future and invoking the power of the gods to defend the faithful — or just those who may be useful to the faithful. Many clerical abilities offer blessings and benedictions to those about to undertake danger, asking the gods to guide them.
Clerics uncover the truth about the world, tearing away deceptions and laying bare the truth about the world. Their wisdom enables them to see the consequences of very disparate actions, and they can even foretell what fate has in store for people, by consulting their gods. Their function as protectors is enhanced by their ability to pierce lies and illusions, ensuring that no hidden adversary comes near those they protect.
While many of a cleric's abilities avoid, resist, and undo the effects of evil in the world, a significant portion of them also obliterate those who dare challenge them. Divine light, shining blades, magical hammers, words of power, and even transformations using divine power all can turn a cleric — for a few moments — into an engine of destruction, to give retribution to their enemies.
Cleric Play Experience
Clerics are melee-focused mostly, with ample protection, though their damage output isn't much. They feature great endurance, with decent HP and a high AC, making them fairly safe even in melee with aggressive, dangerous monsters.
The divination of clerics is useful in laying the groundwork for exploration and understanding the terrain. A cleric can also provide for a safe resting place, protecting the party against wandering creatures and natural disasters effectively. They are not as reliable in this as classes like the Thief, but they can deliver potent "spike effects."
Clerics are trusted and relied upon. As ministers to the people, they are confided in. Their advice is often wise, and their powers of persuasion are often backed by a divine mandate, making them persuasive. They rely mostly on simple ability checks for this, though they may magically gain the power to employ those ability checks more often.
Clerics are part of the church of their deity, and serve the civilization in which their church is embedded. The church provides for people in any way they can, casting divine magic or doing more practical counseling and ministerial work. Because clerics serve as the mediators between the gods and mortalkind, they are often needed to decipher some prophecy or analyze some legend. The churches can be bastions of history, lore, and knowledge because of this.
A cleric that advances through the ranks of her church often finds bold support wherever they look. Though there can be some tense internal politics, most cleric orders are happy to embrace those who display promise, and there is a collective sense of community there, of everyone working together for the goals of all.