Role-playing design notes

Random notes on the design of Gods & Monsters, and maybe even Men & Supermen if I can remember what I was drinking when I wrote it.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Another path for the cleric

Jerry Stratton, July 16, 2010

Georges Lemaître

Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître. Probably not an adventurer, but you never know. This could be the opening scene to an Indiana Jones-like movie.

When I started writing Gods & Monsters and looking at what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to change from D&D, the biggest issue was the cleric. Just looking at the rules, the AD&D cleric is mechanically just a fighter/magic-user with a unique spell list. Later explanations made this clear—they even allowed clerics to use magic-user spells under some circumstances.

I went with sorcerors being the kind of “scientific” wizard who does research and pores over old books; and with prophets being people chosen by divine powers to change the world. In Spotlight on: The Prophet, I described them as:

… based on the active holy man or woman with divine power, such as Moses, David, Jesus, Joan of Arc, and Joseph Turner. Some of them could fight, but their warrior skills were secondary to their religious zeal.

Over on Grognardia, James Maliszewski mentioned that D&D clerics are partly inspired by Peter Cushing’s van Helsing.

That’s cool enough in itself, but the comments section is where it gets interesting. The discussion moved quickly to the notion that clerics should be “men of science and faith”.

Chris Tichenor writes:

I think there’s something to be said for seeing the cleric as a Van Helsing-ish (or Roger Bacon-ish) man of science and faith to distinguish him from the purely supernatural magic-user, though that may be hard for us of modern sensibilities to reconcile.

Specifically, the cleric in this formulation is a “monster-hunter”, like Peter Cushing’s van Helsing, “particularly when monsters are understood to be sin personified” (FrDave).

Brunomac replied sarcastically, “Might as well tell people to run their cleric like Fox Mulder.” But while meant as a putdown, it’s a good example. Mulder is a man on a mission, who believes in a higher order and is on a mission to protect a vulnerable people from the other world. Mulder a cleric? Not a bad idea.

Taking this idea all the way, some of their powers would be knowledge of how to trap and outwit the monsters that haunt the world. Some of that knowledge is divine, such as turning, and some is scientific, such as sewing their mouths with salt. This could definitely be an interesting way of making the cleric class unique.

  1. <- Lifting and falling
  2. Outdoor hex maps ->