Saturday, December 1, 2012

Roleplaying classes a little bit differently

Let's investigate a minor phenomenon in the game of AD&D here.  I hear semi-frequently of how people approach certain character classes and I can't help but think they are doing it wrong.

Yes, yes I know.  I am one of the first who will say that it's a fantasy game, there is almost no way you can do it "wrong".   Maybe  I don't mean "wrong", maybe  I mean suffering from a lack of perspective.

For example, one of the classes I think is most often not played in the most appropriate way is the Cleric.  Clerics are far too often talked about and referred to as "magic priests".  I would like to say that they are much more than that.

The description in the Players Handbook goes to the point of referring to Clerics as being very much like the knights of holy or religious orders.  To me, the first thing that reflects that statement are the Knights Templar.  These are no parish priests or church vicars here.  These are some of the most determined and devoted warriors around.

As a matter of fact, one could say it is their "fervent" devotion to their deity that makes them all the more dangerous as warriors and knightly types.  They are not simply out to joust and fight for king, country and honor.  It's about more than just amassing treasure and riches and pretty young girls.

No no my friends, these knights and warriors have a higher purpose to them.  They have already accepted death and often look forward to it as long as it occurs while doing the work they have been sent to do.

Make no mistake, they ARE warriors.  It's almost crazy how often I see people not approach it as anything but a knight or warrior.  Then they are bummed out and say that they don't like to play clerics anymore.  Of course they don't, they robbed the Cleric of all its potential by playing it as just a priest.

Druids I think people tend to get into a little more because they are seen as more fantastical and less "real".  They have less "false" leads to follow in regard to Druids so must immerse themselves more in the fantasy of them.  But and still,  just to share, I will tell you how I view them.

The Druid is not simply a meek and mild (necessarily) plant lover. Again, the Druid is a sub-class of the Cleric.  Now we are back to people who are action oriented with a higher purpose.  The Druid may or may not be devoted to a particular deity as much as they are to the capital "N", Nature.  Nature and the ways of nature are their motivation, their purpose for living.  They see the synthetic industries of man as something that threatens the natural workings of the world.

They are part protector of natural places and creatures as well as proponents of living in accordance to Nature.  Ecological and environmental conservation and "synergy" is their passion.  Foes who threaten that are going to be dealt with in dramatic fashion.  just as the Cleric of a deity will chase down a pack of thieves who robbed a church and dispatch them with a will, so to the Druid is a warrior of the Natural world.

Monks.  Monks are yet another poorly played class.  Most folks seem to approach the Monk as the dowdy friar who wears a brown robe and cowl and makes mead or bread or something.    I would say that this is not so.  Again, the adventurer classes in AD&D are action types.  They "Do" things.  They are protagonists.  The same applies to the Monk.

The description of the Monk in the Players Handbook is more akin to a character from a movie like the character Chow Yun-Fat played in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".  They follow a rigorous discipline in their life and that often includes a style of self defense or other fighting.  Watch the movie, pay attention to his character of Li Mu Bai

They won't do anything the situation does not call for.  If the situation does not call for killing, they will not draw their weapon but if there is some action to be taken, they are neither shy or afraid to do what needs to be done.

I think of the Monk Class as a heroic "knight" type or warrior that is bound by honor and discipline instead of a deity or Nature.  This is not some meek or wayward zen gardener by a longshot.


  1. My campaigns often feature priests as a distinct class unto their own. These guys have much greater magical ability, but they are more like magic-users in combat ability. They are also usually forbidden from adventuring. The party comes to these guys when they need a spell that their cleric can't cast. (Usually they have to make a hefty donation or do some special request in order to get what they want)

  2. For me, a priest is the one who runs a church and might sell some holy water or provide holy symbols, provide a place to hole up and rest for awhile, etc.. but never has magic abilities. I have used churches and priests of a given deity as a communications network and places where Clerics can "re-charge", kind of like a YMCA for Clerics. Even if they are not the same deity, they can get some cooperation from those of the same alignment.