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    Default Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Just Something I've been thinking about for a long time, really. Clerics level up like other classes, but their spells come from deities, who I would imagine stay pretty much the same, so if there power only comes from their god, why don't clerics start out epic. And for that matter why are non-theistic clerics possible?

    If their power comes from their faith, then it sort of makes xp not even make sense for them. Also if this is the case why can't someone be a cleric of herself, exalting herself through her own belief in herself.

    If his power comes from neither of the above, then why is whatever it is able to take it away?

    Do they pretty much just level up because everybody else does and the creators were too lazy to think up a reason? I can accept that, except that it still doesn't answer the question of which of the above is the actual source of their power.

    Edit: and where does number 2 leave the Archivist if Faith is the power source?
    Last edited by JennTora; 2013-08-07 at 10:42 PM.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    With regards to the first point, it doesn't make sense for deities to grant all their clerics the same amount of power. Even if we assume a god's power is unlimited, there's no reason to risk giving the small-time village healer more power than he or she needs to throw around an occasional Cure Light Wounds in the name of Pelor. If a god let all their priests call down angels and wield power over life and death and whatever else clerics can do in your game/edition of choice, sooner or later someone would go berzerk--absolute power corrupts absolutely, and all that. Sure, once that happens maybe that divine power can be revoked, but the damage is probably already done at that point. Even if the god can clean up the mess, they're going to look stupid in front of the rest of the pantheon. The way I see it, clerics become more powerful as they adventure because they prove themselves to their god.

    Also, in some settings the gods' power is limited. They only have so much divine mojo to go around, so they give it to the clerics who are more important (higher level). Cleric A is healing peasants and spreading the good news of Pelor, so he or she only needs level 1 spells. But Cleric B over there is leading an expedition into Baator itself--better give that one some Level 9s.

    Depending on your setting, there might also be a divine balance of power issue. If a god started making every priest a clericzilla demigod, then presumably it would mean nothing was stopping the evil/crazy/crazy-evil gods from joining in. In that world, every new spell level is a shifting of the precarious divine balance. When Cleric A gets 2nd level spells, maybe it means that Asmodeus gets to give Cleric Z in the next town over second level spells too. In that world, it makes perfect sense for a god to want to keep most people nice and low-level.

    Regarding non-theistic clerics, the way I always understood them was that while divine power was the power of the gods, it wasn't exclusively the gods' (mortals simply call that type of magic "divine" because gods and the followers are usually the only ones using it). Non-theistic clerics, by contrast, know instinctively how to access that power, even though nobody is giving it to them. Possibly they have some other cause or philosophy that gives their divine magic a focus, but I see it more as a totem than an abstract concept actively "giving" them divine power.

    And finally, yes--I would absolutely allow someone to play a cleric of themselves, were I the DM and someone proposed it. I'd also allow someone to play a wizardy cleric who studied the workings of magic and discovered a way to access divine magic without having to believe in anyone/anything. Presumably they'd be a cloistered cleric (or equivalent), unless you decided that while they were studying the workings of the cosmos, they picked up armor and weapon training on the side.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    XP matters for clerics because when you're an immortal, you don't just go granting spell casting powers to every Tom, Drusilla and Harold that manages to learn a couple of hymns and has a good speaking voice. One must prove themselves worthy to access the powers of their god.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Depends on the system (in 4e, I don't think clerics are directly empowered by deities), but generally, yes, clerics are directly powered by their deities.

    Why do they have levels and such like everyone else?

    1) Deities are somewhat stingy. They only give large amounts of power to those who have proven they can handle it AND will use it in the deity's interests.
    2) Arms control. If a deity gives crazy power to an individual, then other deities can do the same.
    3) Deities sometimes break these rules. Those are the saints of RPGworld... humans empowered to become semi-avatars of a given deity.
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    @ lawfulnifty A "wizardy cleric" like you describe actually makes great sense as an answer to the archivist question. Thanks for the rest of your answer as well.
    Last edited by JennTora; 2013-08-07 at 11:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Corwin Icewolf View Post
    Just Something I've been thinking about for a long time, really. Clerics level up like other classes, but their spells come from deities, who I would imagine stay pretty much the same, so if there power only comes from their god, why don't clerics start out epic. And for that matter why are non-theistic clerics possible?
    To me, the Cleric proves himself worthy of receiving or capable of handling more power as he progresses. Also, the gods have plenty of their own reasons for not handing out loads of Divine power to their flocks.
    Non theistic clerics might gain power from a belief, ideal or portfolio rather than the god presiding over it. As long as their is sufficient faith there will be access to the divine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Corwin Icewolf View Post
    If their power comes from their faith, then it sort of makes xp not even make sense for them. Also if this is the case why can't someone be a cleric of herself, exalting herself through her own belief in herself.

    If his power comes from neither of the above, then why is whatever it is able to take it away?
    Faith and personal power would be the keys in this case. A cleric that has their own faith might not be able to instantly pluck out all the divine power they need, that kind of ability comes with experience and practice (like an Ur-priest can catch more wayward divine energy for his spells as he levels up)
    A cleric that worships himself as a god would be controversial but possible. I'd narrow down the two most likely approaches to this as either unshakable faith in one-self or a misguided belief that they deserve to be (or are) a deity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Corwin Icewolf View Post
    Do they pretty much just level up because everybody else does and the creators were too lazy to think up a reason? I can accept that, except that it still doesn't answer the question of which of the above is the actual source of their power.
    It helps in terms of simplicity and game design if everyone progresses in more or less the same fashion and speed. Also keep in mind that there need not only be one source of divine magic and or divine power. Druids, for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Corwin Icewolf View Post
    Edit: and where does number 2 leave the Archivist if Faith is the power source?
    A cleric might have an innate sense of faith and/or the natural ability to manipulate divine energies, whereas an Archivist would take a more scholarly and scientific approach to access divine magic. Much like the sorcerer and the wizard one is gifted and the other is learned.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Another thing to consider; perhaps the cleric simply can't handle the raw power a god can grant him without those levels under his belt.
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
    Another thing to consider; perhaps the cleric simply can't handle the raw power a god can grant him without those levels under his belt.
    Doubtful. If a level 1 cleric picks up a level 9 divine spell scroll they can still cast it provided the spell is on their spell list.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by LawfulNifty View Post
    Also, in some settings the gods' power is limited. They only have so much divine mojo to go around, so they give it to the clerics who are more important (higher level). Cleric A is healing peasants and spreading the good news of Pelor, so he or she only needs level 1 spells. But Cleric B over there is leading an expedition into Baator itself--better give that one some Level 9s.
    I don't buy this one, because if a level 15 and a level 13 cleric in the same party worshiping the same deity exist, then what the heck?

    Although it would be funny to inform the cleric that he has been granted the spells of a level 1 cleric on the days when they aren't doing anything important (followed up immediately by an AMBUSH! for trolling fun)

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    Faith and personal power would be the keys in this case. A cleric that has their own faith might not be able to instantly pluck out all the divine power they need, that kind of ability comes with experience and practice (like an Ur-priest can catch more wayward divine energy for his spells as he levels up)
    So basically, it's their connection to the source of their power strengthening over time coupled with increasing their ability to draw on that connection. Makes sense.

    A cleric that worships himself as a god would be controversial but possible. I'd narrow down the two most likely approaches to this as either unshakable faith in one-self or a misguided belief that they deserve to be (or are) a deity.
    The first with a touch of the second is what I had in mind. Basically believing in themselves to the point where they feel they are destined to become gods, and drawing power from that as an ideal

    It helps in terms of simplicity and game design if everyone progresses in more or less the same fashion and speed. Also keep in mind that there need not only be one source of divine magic and or divine power. Druids, for example.
    I wasn't objecting to the first point. I'm just the type of person that has to look for an explanation for everything, I guess. The part about Druids is a good point.

    A cleric might have an innate sense of faith and/or the natural ability to manipulate divine energies, whereas an Archivist would take a more scholarly and scientific approach to access divine magic. Much like the sorcerer and the wizard one is gifted and the other is learned.

    /2cp
    Right, but what I was getting at was whether Archivists get that power from deities, faith or what. But looking over these answers, and thinking about the class a bit more, I think they just find ways to access divine power directly without the faith that clerics have, and maybe the archivists that have deities often just want to question someone who is directly hooked up to divine power.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by holywhippet View Post
    Doubtful. If a level 1 cleric picks up a level 9 divine spell scroll they can still cast it provided the spell is on their spell list.
    Actually, I believe in that situation the power is in the scroll itself, rather than the mind/body of the cleric.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kornaki View Post
    I don't buy this one, because if a level 15 and a level 13 cleric in the same party worshiping the same deity exist, then what the heck?
    Easy, the god doesn't want to invest as much precious spell-juice in the lower-level cleric, since they're more likely to get killed. Gods only grant spells, they can't/won't do anything to boost your HP, weapon attacks, armor, etc. directly.
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by holywhippet View Post
    Doubtful. If a level 1 cleric picks up a level 9 divine spell scroll they can still cast it provided the spell is on their spell list.
    Only with a CL check.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    In Gods' eyes, Clerics go through various ordeals (the fights they sustain), remaining strong in their faith.
    More power is their prize.
    Last edited by Killer Angel; 2013-08-08 at 06:09 AM.
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Perhaps it makes mor sense if we reverse something about this situation.
    What if it is not the god giving power to the cleric but the cleric drawing power from the god? (With the gods permission of course.)

    In this case the clerics ability to draw power from the deity increases with experience.
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    A cleric channels divine power through their soul. Think of it as like scooping up water from a very big lake and then carrying it to where it's needed.

    As the cleric levels up, their soul gets stronger and they can scoop up more water and do it more times before getting tired. A level 1 cleric can scoop up the equivalent of a cupful at once. A level 10 cleric can get a big saucepan's worth. A level 20 cleric can dunk a whole water tank in there and pour it out wherever he likes.

    The power (ie the water) isn't the cleric's, but their soul's strength and experience is. The god controls access to the water and can bar them from access to the lake, but in that case the cleric can just find a different lake (though they might not want to). Hence why clerics can change deity.

    A deity can't grant an ordinary level 1 cleric the ability to cast level 9 spells, because their soul isn't strong enough. Even if they have free access to the water, they don't have the implements or the strength to scoop it out of the lake and use it.

    Non-theistic clerics draw their water from 'unclaimed' lakes which don't have a deity watching over them.

    Archivists use the same resource (water) but they don't get it directly from the lake, they collect it from rain or out of the earth via wells. It takes them more work and it's more complicated than just going straight to the lake (hence why they have to learn their spells individually) but it also means they don't need the god's permission.

    Does that explain it?
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by holywhippet View Post
    Doubtful. If a level 1 cleric picks up a level 9 divine spell scroll they can still cast it provided the spell is on their spell list.
    The power is contained with in the scroll not within the cleric. A rogue with UMD could pick up the scroll and use it just fine. A scroll of heal made by a cleric of Lolith could be used by a cleric to Corellon
    Last edited by Lord Vukodlak; 2013-08-08 at 01:04 PM.
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    The way I see it, clerics by default take their powers directly from their deities. Godless clerics are a joke that should never be used in settings that have normal clerics, unless the setting explicitly allows their existence. Otherwise they're just an attempt to get the power without having to pay attention to the fluff that comes with it.

    However!

    Deities don't grant powers directly and personally to their clerics. Instead, clerics learn to tap the power of their god the same way wizards learn to tap the inherent magic of the world. A cleric who becomes more experienced learns how to draw a bigger amount of this power at once and shape it into more powerful spells. Deities usually don't intervene with this process, unless they feel something is wrong - for example an evil cleric tries to tap the power of a good deity.

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Depends on the system. In 1E, lesser clerics drew upon their education, training, and experience to gain 1st and 2nd level spells. Higher level spells (3rd, 4th, and 5th) required the aid of the deity's servants or (for 6th and 7th level spells) the deity itself. If the cleric is unfaithful, the deity and its servants could block access to 3rd level and higher spells unless the cleric somehow atoned. Changing deities was tricky; if the cleric switched deities, he would have to be absolutely faithful to the new deity. If the cleric tried to switch deities a third time, the cleric would likely be instantly slain.
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    A cleric's power comes from his training and his congregation. The training is his own, the congregation waxes and wanes depending in a number of factors. So, yes and no.
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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Deities don't grant powers directly and personally to their clerics. Instead, clerics learn to tap the power of their god the same way wizards learn to tap the inherent magic of the world. A cleric who becomes more experienced learns how to draw a bigger amount of this power at once and shape it into more powerful spells. Deities usually don't intervene with this process, unless they feel something is wrong - for example an evil cleric tries to tap the power of a good deity.
    I think I generally view cleric power like this, with the note that the way clerics do this is by a method that enables their god to cut off the power source and a god only lets his/her own clerics tap in.

    It seems similar to some divination magic (ex. Contact Other Plane? I forget the exact spells). The magic only divines what the dice rolls dictate, even if the god would probably want you to know more. Their attention is elsewhere, so this, like granting spells, is routine.
    ---

    The Ur-Priest adds an interesting element to the metaphysics of divine magic. They steal small bits of divine energy from multiple/all the gods. So perhaps clerics tap into divine magic via faith, and their understanding/capacity grows as they level (like Saph's example or what I quoted above). Druids and rangers draw theirs from their relationship to nature, which has its own divine element. Non-theistic clerics draw from the divine energies of whatever plane has the aspect they venerate. Archivists are trickier, since they seem kinda like Ur-Priests in this mode of thought.

    Even if how I use the existence of the Ur-Priest isn't the best, I do think that class existing adds deeper understanding to the metaphysics. At least for any setting with Ur-Priest
    Last edited by JeenLeen; 2013-08-09 at 09:55 AM. Reason: elaboration

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by LawfulNifty View Post
    Easy, the god doesn't want to invest as much precious spell-juice in the lower-level cleric, since they're more likely to get killed. Gods only grant spells, they can't/won't do anything to boost your HP, weapon attacks, armor, etc. directly.
    But what if the level 13 guy is better optimized? If he has more HP, AC, and a better melee attack does he get more spells?

    The only explanation is that DnD deities are so lazy they can't be bothered to figure this out for real, and let their clerics slog through a mass of solar bureaucracy to get clearance for higher level spells. It takes two levels to cut through the crap and get to the next spell level

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    Default Re: Is a cleric's power his own or not?

    Since a Cleric can transfer to other deities and beliefs, I'd say it is his own, mostly. With divine magic, it takes two to tango; Both a strong worshipper who can use the magic properly, and a willing sponsor (whether it be a god or ideal) who can supply it.


    Personal ability: It takes special skill, understanding, and devotion for a mortal to wield godly powers. Not everyone can do it, and precious few have the Wisdom to even learn to cast high-level spells. Much like a Wizard must progress in skill and understanding of magic to learn higher-level spells, a Cleric simply can't prepare higher-level spells until he has the chops for it, no matter how much his god wants him to be stronger.

    Another big part of it is divine favor: A god needs a Cleric to prove himself a worthy representative and champion before giving him such power. It functions in part as an incentive to become truly devout and give your god lots of souls, and also as a sort of merit-based promotion.

    I like to imagine gods have limits too. A god simply isn't strong enough to supply epic-level magic to every worshiper, so he has to prioritize: Only those who are skilled at magic, most enthusiastic, truest to the faith, and who happily comply with divine mandate can ever hope to attain divine spells. A god can't afford to give spells to the unworthy.
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2013-08-09 at 02:16 PM.

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