The Trouble with Clerics
I have a bit of a love-hate thing going on when it comes to the Cleric class. Of all the core classes, this is the one which I have most difficulty playing, yet at the same time I’m vey happy when I’m DMing and there’s a Cleric in the party. Here’s why.
To a DM, a Cleric is like a “get out of Jail free” card. If one of your monsters wipes out a hero, hey – it’s not your fault. The Cleric should have been there to heal him. And let’s face it; everyone blames the Cleric.
The Cleric is the goalkeeper of the team. He’s the one who exists to save the party and stop the other heroes from reaching 0hp. If he fails and they fall, then it’s not the DM, it’s not the teamwork, and it’s definitely not the fault of the hero who took the hit: it’s the Cleric. “Dude!”, they’ll cry, “Why didn’t you heal me when I asked you to? This sucks! You never heal me!”.
You, as DM can just sit back, your work done. Without a Cleric on the team they would be blaming you right about now so you tip the Cleric’s player a knowing wink and a few extra XP in thanks while the other players aren’t looking. Oh yes, he’s in on it too.
Ok I’m exaggerating just a tad, but I’ll bet there’s a fair few DMs nodding right about now. You know what I’m talking about.
So how come I just can’t play them? I mean, it’s only fair that I man up once in a while and carry out the same self-sacrificing (yet pleasantly XP earning) role which I applaud in others, right?
I think a part of the problem is the duality of the Cleric’s nature. On the one hand, they Heal. But put a mace in that hand, and they Hurt. All this Heal/Hurt, Heal/Hurt, Heal/Hurt rubs me the wrong way. Can’t they just pick one and stick to it? I’ve tried playing a Cleric as more of a Field Medic role who entirely swore off violence and hid in the background with his medical kit ready to aid his comrades as required.
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. Maybe next time I’ll play the pack mule.
The one time I had a blast playing a Cleric was for a one-shot game where I played Melissandra, a kick-ass Raven Queen Cleric who was essentially a nun with a halberd. Oww. She emphasised the Hurt side of the class, bigtime, and was really stingy when it came to offering healing. “Are you sure you wish these injuries healed?", she would ask, “Each wound brings you closer to the Raven Queen’s Blessing. Do you deny her, believer?”. Watching the other heroes squirm was priceless :D
With that one notable exception, my Clerics tend to fall flat, and I end up feeling like I should have picked the Paladin class instead, if only for the cooler armour and weapon selection.
Any suggestions Cleric lovers?
If you want to post your own the Trouble with… article and link back here, I’d love to read ‘em. What classes (or races) give you difficulty, and why?