Sunday, May 31, 2009

Campaign Idea

The adventuring cleric was always a D&D concept I found a bit odd... why would a holy man go on adventures, usually with a band of thoroughly non-religious ne'er-do-wells in search of gold and glory? Though many versions of many players handbooks throughout the years have mentioned time and again about a cleric advancing his temple/deity/cause's interests, how often does your average DM or player actually do anything of the sort?

Funny, I do believe I heard a cricket, just now.

In my experience, the cleric is typically the only adherent to his deity, or in fact any deity, in a given adventuring party. It always caused me to wonder who actually tends to the temples when the clerics are out adventuring? I have seen it suggested that most priests are 0-level and that only special priest become the spellcasting, undead turning clerics, but if that where the case, would these uncommon and valued members of the temple be allowed to simply meet up with a band of grubby strangers in the nearest tavern and set out into the Wilderlands or wherever? If you think about the level of medical technology present in most D&D game worlds, do you think the powers that be would be keen on the only reliable magical healers stepping out to risk their lives against bandits and orcs?

So, in my campaign I have decided that the kingdom where we lay our scene, Avengard, is dominated by one monotheistic religion: the Temple of Aldurn. Aldurn is a Lawful Good deity who does not recognize other deities as such, but merely as minor demons and celestial creatures unfit for worship. The Temple of Aldurn is very much like the medieval Catholic church. The clerics of Aldurn are temple soldiers and healers, and generally they only go on adventures in the service of the temple. They are not really given any time to start up a freelance adventuring career, and adventures with non-clerics or non-paladins would certainly be forbidden.

However, just because the Temple is the official state religion doesn't mean that other religious orders of other deities don't exist, however, they are not allowed to build temples in the cities, nor are they allowed to gather in more than very small numbers, making it impossible to establish anything other than local shrines in minority quarters or out in rural areas. These groups did (and do) have clerics, who are more free to do as they please. Adventuring clerics, in other words, are those clerics of temples long banned and ousted when the conquering Gahlnic Empire brought the Dictum of Aldurn from the north. In the centuries since Gahln broke apart, many of these forgotten orders have began to emerge once again. Lacking much in the way of structure, many of these clerics have grown accustomed to wandering as lone advocates of their deity.

...and of course, let us not forget the pagan druids, who simply withdrew into the woods and waited for Gahln to pass into history, as every empire of man is fated to do.


  1. My personal take: adventuring clerics are the weird, dangerous mystics that the hierarchy are only too happy to have throw themselves into harm's way. It keeps the militants with maces safely away from delicate matters of cult politics.

    Nothing worries a professional priest like someone who claims to have a direct hotline to the godhead (see also: Joan of Arc).

  2. I like this idea, Chris. This also fits nicely with Lord Kilgore's recent interpretation of clerics as mystic warriors.

    On the other hand, whereas it is impossible to prove that someone like Joan of Arc has a direct party line to God, in D&D a cleric can pretty well demonstrate that link via their spells and the ability to turn undead.

    For this campaign, I think I'm going to stick with my model: adventuring clerics are those who follow a temple/religion/deity that is on the outs due to the political power of the Temple of Aldurn. However, for the next campaign (or perhaps S&W or something else) I'm going to take a closer look at your view and Kilgore's view of clerics as mystics and also as those who make the non-spellcaster priests very, very nervous. Good on ya.

  3. I like it, simple. The mind wanders to interesting campign conflict between adventureing clerics and the established order. Dose the establishment perhaps have relics of other religions tucked away in their vaults? Hmmmm...

  4. From the artwork to the abilities D&D Clerics == Crusaders.

    They are their god's tools, to go forth and smite, slay, defile that which is displeasing to their god's eye.

    They can be free agents or part of a movement.

    Unless your having "that" kind of game, clerical hierarchies and organized religions in general(unless they're the bad guys) are huge gushing fountains of unfun.

    They're just another source of "the man". Telling the players what to do, bringing them down. Adventurers are free spirits they can't be tied down by rules and hierachies.