• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Real life Cleric examples

Bankuei

Master of Folding Chair
Validated User
Bilal ibn Rabah was designated as the first muezzin, and Muhammad's "Mace Bearer" and followed him into war, and continued as a soldier after his death. It's probably worth researching how much that title is literal vs. the figurative, but he's probably a great example for a cleric.

Scholars looking into the history of the Shaolin monastery are finding it had periods of training soldiers for pay - and many of the monks may have been retired warriors as well. Renown for fighting with staves, and having taken part with assisting the imperial forces in battle, at least twice. Although the movies show them in their robes, it's a safe bet that there was probably armor being worn of some type for battle.

If you're willing to go into legends as well, Bhima of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata was well known for his mace and great strength. The religious angle, here, is the fact that all of the Pandava brothers were born of Gods to begin with, so Bhima is a pretty excellent cleric example.

If you let go of the requirement for a mace, then it becomes about what level of religious activity qualifies someone as a "Cleric" vs. a "Fighter" - all around the world people have used prayers, invocations, and various types of magical rituals to improve their odds in battle, up to several groups which believe being possessed by spirits is the ideal method for combat. (whether you want to call that being a Cleric or just a subset of a Berserker type class is up to you...).

- Chris
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
If you let go of the requirement for a mace, then it becomes about what level of religious activity qualifies someone as a "Cleric" vs. a "Fighter" - all around the world people have used prayers, invocations, and various types of magical rituals to improve their odds in battle, up to several groups which believe being possessed by spirits is the ideal method for combat. (whether you want to call that being a Cleric or just a subset of a Berserker type class is up to you...).
Which takes us back around to the original basis of the D&D cleric: a Van Helsing character who could go up against Lord Fang the vampire. The Bishop Odo stuff was the sort of historical precedent loved by wargamers at the time but the cleric as a character class is Van Helsing presented as Bishop Odo.

The Palladium Roleplaying Game, a game obviously heavily influenced by AD&D, has priests and shamans who are spellcasters with variable martial prowess (depending on their god and church), healers who are entirely secular and just have a supernatural healing power and monks who are pacifistic scholars who lose their class abilities if they attack anyone.

Another historical data point would be Ulrich Zwingli, who (according to at least one contemporaneous source) rode into battle wielding a sword in one hand and an axe in the other, making him, I suppose, more of a ranger.
 
Last edited:

WistfulD

Registered User
Validated User
Which takes us back around to the original basis of the D&D cleric: a Van Helsing character who could go up against Lord Fang the vampire. The Bishop Odo stuff was the sort of historical precedent loved by wargamers at the time but the cleric as a character class is Van Helsing presented as Bishop Odo.
And one can note that at that point, there was no 'blunt weapons only' requirement-only that clerics couldn't use magic swords.

Another historical data point would be Ulrich Zwingli, who (according to at least one contemporaneous source) rode into battle wielding a sword in one hand and an axe in the other, making him, I suppose, more of a ranger.
Well, again, rangers became the two-weapon fighting guys in 2e, at the same point where they stopped wearing the full battlefield armor Ulrich undoubtedly wore.

Suffice to say, once you start including specific class requirements on weapons and armor, etc., finding historical analogues becomes much more difficult.
 

Max

A dapper chap without a doubt
RPGnet Member
Validated User
He's probably why clerics are associated so strongly with healing.
Or one reason, at least. There are plenty of warlike prophets and priest-kings in the Old Testament, too, and they also manifest healing powers on occasion.
 

Spikey

Mean Mm-Mm Servant of God
Validated User
Or one reason, at least. There are plenty of warlike prophets and priest-kings in the Old Testament, too, and they also manifest healing powers on occasion.
The cleric and the magic user both have supernatural powers loosely based on folklore, myth and legend from a number of sources. But, once you've divided 'magic' up into divine power and, er, secular power, it's almost natural (at least for someone with E Gary Gaygax's background) to give most of the healing powers to the divine caster rather than the other one, since healing is about as far from transgressive as you can get.

But, again, see The Palladium Roleplaying Game for an early-eighties example including a 'healer' class totally divorced from gods and priesthood.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom