no clerics in the library game?

One of the library game’s biggest deviations from the White Box rules is the absence of Clerics, both as player characters and NPC healers.  Some grognards will surely gnash their teeth at the mere suggestion of this.  However, since the Cleric as such did not originally exist in Arneson’s Blackmoor game (but was created as a player response to the dreaded vampire Sir Fang), one could suggest that the Cleric is no more essential to D&D than the Thief…

My decision was largely based on the difficulty I had selling the archetype to the kids.  Why play some lame “healer” when you can swing a sword or lob Sleep spells and magic missiles instead?  The task might have been easier if not for the lack of examples in fantasy fiction and film, especially those commonly known to pre-teens.  Perhaps this cleric guy could just be done away with, and his special abilities folded into other aspects of the game.

Another factor influencing my decision to drop the cleric was my general ambivalence about detailed fantasy-game religions, whether invented or ripped out of history and mythology texts.  (If you have clerics, you need to have religions for them to piously represent, right?)  Since the Library Game isn’t going for heavy character exploration or detailed, immersive world-building, I opted for a minimalist approach.  There is a generic “Church” in my game which presently exists as so much flavor text, much like many other structures and services in the Town.  While the Church might help with mundane treatment of the sick and wounded in the “House of Healing,” characters in need of magical aid (Stone to Flesh, Remove Curse, etc.) must purchase the appropriate alchemical mixtures (potions, lotions, etc.) from the local Apothecary.

Since there are no Clerics, there is no “turning undead.”  The Church can provide holy water that will damage undead creatures and blessed holy symbols, which a Lawful character can use to temporarily repel vampires and such.   Furthermore, many White Box clerical spells (the curative ones in particular) have been folded into the Library Game’s Wizard spell list.  So far so good!

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2 responses

  1. Hey Gnom-Benitus –
    Any updates about your success/failures running a s&w campaign sans the cleric class would be most welcomed! I’m in the early stages to planning what is likely to be an extended campaign with a large group of adults (many professionals such as professors and doctors) and am strongly thinking of dropping the cleric altogether for this group but would love to read any details of on you’ve accomplished it as well as your reflections on whether or not anything is “missing” without the holy folk in the game.

    I enjoy regularly reading your site, BTW.

    04/04/2009 at 16:53

  2. Reese

    I like this idea, esp. with kids. They may have more of a Harry Potter vision of magic than us old guys, and expect a “wizard” to be able to heal with magic just like they do anything else. I may just appropriate this idea…

    06/02/2009 at 09:05

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