Could you explain to me the appeal of playing a cleric?


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Trying not to be confrontational about this question, but... I genuinely don't get it. And maybe it's partly my issues bleeding into my play style, but as a cleric you're basically a servant to your deity's edicts, which already kind of sucks but then when you die you go from servant to full on slave, it seems. (that's probably an artifact, to be fair. The afterlives in any d&d setting have rarely been places you'd actually want to go if you had a chance to think about it and knew what was going on in them.)

Even good gods have been known to do things like turn people into bears for changing religions.

In addition to all this, as a cleric, all your power aside from basic class things like hp actually belongs to someone else. You have power not because you personally are powerful but because your god is powerful. It seems like a raw deal unless you go with Nethys, as basically his only rule is "don't give magic to the muggles. They haven't earned it." But even then you're still just borrowing power from a higher being.

But that's not always horrible. Druids do it too, but at least with druids, nature (in golarion)doesn't seem to be something with a sapient mind so much as a collective will. It probably won't take your sapience away unless you do something really REALLY awful.

So, while I get why people in universe would worship then, because that's what most people would do when there's powerful beings that might smite you over minor slights, I don't get why someone would want to make a character who does so.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Not every class is for every person, and that's fine.

That said, clerics are one of my favorite classes. A few reasons why:

1) I enjoy playing support characters who help other PCs and NPCs, and clerics do great at this.

2) I enjoy playing religious characters, and usually when I play a character they worship a deity or a pantheon—cleric or not. With a cleric, I get game mechanics to play with as a result.

3) I enjoy the element of "cosplaying" as a deity, which is sort of what a cleric is. Deities can serve as heroes to aspire to, muses to be inspired by, teachers to learn from, or figures to seek to honor or pay homage to.

4) Religions give your character a built-in set of guidelines for some personality traits, and you can refine those further by deciding to be super devout for some of them or not so devout for others.

5) They give you a built-in point of similarity with PCs and NPCs who worship the same thing, and that can have some fun roleplaying opportunities. They also give you built-in conflicts as well, which ALSO engenders fun roleplaying stuff.

6) The idea that, as a cleric, all of my "class things belong to someone else" is nonsensical. Faith does not belong to a deity—faith belongs to the worshiper of the deity, and it's from faith that a cleric gets all these things. No different than a wizard gaining spells by studying magic, a fighter gaining combat powers by practicing and drilling in combat, or a sorcerer gaining eerie powers by developing their own innate and inborn qualities.

I could go on, but since I'm technically taking a personal day to get some freelance writing done, I should stop here. Just wanted to pop in and explain why I prefer playing clerics or religious characters as an example.

(Personally, I don't enjoy playing dwarves or wizards or paladins, but I'm fine with that. I don't need to know why other people enjoy playing those things... I'm delighted that there's parts of the game that don't appeal to me that do appeal to others.)

Liberty's Edge

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Unless you view any kind of working for somebody to be slavery, just about none of the first paragraph is true, at least not with Good deities.

Good deities are fine with you doing things like changing religions if you're switching between Good deities (though, at some point, the new God is probably gonna stop accepting you as a full Cleric if you do it often enough)...it's when you betray everything they stand for after promising to support it (like switching to the worship of an Evil deity) that they get upset.

Working for a Good deity as a Cleric is a lot like being religious in real life, only with a lot less doubt that others of your faith, and particularly other clergy, are actually decent people. And you get to go to a literal paradise full of awesomeness as well as the love of your deity when you die. That all sounds pretty good to me.

Or, to put it in less religious terms, you are working for an employer who requires a code of conduct and will fire you for not abiding by it, but in exchange they give you literal superpowers. That seems like a fair deal.


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Cleric is one of my favorite classes, the way that you can roleplay and play a character of strong faith is so different than the normal adventurer.

One of my personal challenges after the APG was make one Cleric for each CRB deity with a different APG archetype, it was pretty fun.

Mauler Warpriest of Gorum
Marshal Warpriest of Iomadae
Beastmaster Cloistered of Gozreh

And so on.


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1. You like the class and its theme.

2. Healing. Cleric is the most powerful and sustainable healing class.


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@James Jacobs thanks for the reply, especially as I had never really considered this

Quote:
6) The idea that, as a cleric, all of my "class things belong to someone else" is nonsensical. Faith does not belong to a deity—faith belongs to the worshiper of the deity, and it's from faith that a cleric gets all these things. No different than a wizard gaining spells by studying magic, a fighter gaining combat powers by practicing and drilling in combat, or a sorcerer gaining eerie powers by developing their own innate and inborn qualities.

I never really thought of it like that. I'm not sure about it, but... Well I'm gonna have to think about this for a while.

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Unless you view any kind of working for somebody to be slavery, just about none of the first paragraph is true, at least not with Good deities.

Good deities are fine with you doing things like changing religions if you're switching between Good deities (though, at some point, the new God is probably gonna stop accepting you as a full Cleric if you do it often enough)...it's when you betray everything they stand for after promising to support it (like switching to the worship of an Evil deity) that they get upset.

Erastil is lawful good, right? Yes he is. Okay, so in kingmaker, and this is a minor spoiler, but the APs been out for a really long time, erastil turns a cleric into a non sapient bear for sacrificing a bear to "any god willing to stop trolls and other monsters from stopping the colonization of the stolen lands." So, to at least one god, worshipping another god is a crime worthy of identity death.

Quote:
Working for a Good deity as a Cleric is a lot like being religious in real life, only with a lot less doubt that others of your faith, and particularly other clergy, are actually decent people. And you get to go to a literal paradise full of awesomeness as well as the love of your deity when you die. That all sounds pretty good to me.

I mean, it happens to good souls either way, and you still become a petitioner and lose most of your memories of your life and eventually all of them when you turn into an angel or something so it doesn't really matter, anyway. And when you eventually die as an outsider you merge with the rest of your aligned plane.


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James Jacobs wrote:
3) I enjoy the element of "cosplaying" as a deity, which is sort of what a cleric is. Deities can serve as heroes to aspire to, muses to be inspired by, teachers to learn from, or figures to seek to honor or pay homage to.

just to make sure you understand you are not the deity in any way shape or form right?

James Jacobs wrote:
6) The idea that, as a cleric, all of my "class things belong to someone else" is nonsensical. Faith does not belong to a deity—faith belongs to the worshiper of the deity, and it's from faith that a cleric gets all these things. No different than a wizard gaining spells by studying magic, a fighter gaining combat powers by practicing and drilling in combat, or a sorcerer gaining eerie powers by developing their own innate and inborn qualities.

try telling that to the clerics of Aroden after he dies their powers do sound like it wasn't theirs after all

that doesn't sound very persuasive when your god can chose to take away all of your powers

you cant gain powers from a concept like oracles so yes your spell-casting powers comes ENTIRELY from your deity

also on the basis of what do you claim that non-evil deities give players a choice of whether they are allowed to just leave if they want? originally all gods used mortals and titans as slaves before Ihys freed them, you could argue its not the case but its not nearly as clearly cut as you make it to be

Iomedae is lawful good and she still wrecks you face with a sonic blast for getting a question wrong and blind/deafens permanently if you complain so i don't think alignment guarantees your freedom cause gods in the end are still individuals with self interest

all of those things are problems a wizard, sorcerer or fighter will never have to deal with so i would say they are quite different

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Erastil is lawful good, right? Yes he is. Okay, so in kingmaker, and this is a minor spoiler, but the APs been out for a really long time, erastil turns a cleric into a non sapient bear for sacrificing a bear to "any god willing to stop trolls and other monsters from stopping the colonization of the stolen lands." So, to at least one god, worshipping another god is a crime worthy of identity death.

That's a good example of us kinda messing up the way good deities work ten years ago (complicated in part by a too-busy schedule and not enough wordcount to give the topic the proper details and context), and something that I get to go into more detail aobut in the upcoming 2nd edition revision for the Kingmaker Adventure Path. In the revised version of this encounter...

Spoiler:
... the cleric who becomes cursed to become a creepy bear monster after he loses his faith and sacrifices a bear in the name of any who would answer the call" to aid him in his plight. It's not that Erastil himself did the curse, but the cleric's own failure that opened him up to the curse—a manifestaiton of his own shame and loss of faith. In the encounter the bear can be weakened when it is confronted by worshipers of Erastil, and defeating it brings him a sigh of relief and earns thanks from Erastil for releasing one of his fallen worshipers from their own undoing.


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By my count, if you accept the premise of "bestowed power", Cleric is one of the classes with the highest degree of flexibility in terms of concept.

Story wise, and Mechanics wise (but you didn't mention the latter, so we'll leave it at that).

But yes, you got to accept the premise. If that premise is Anathema to you, then I can see why you wouldn't want to play one.

Perhaps an Oracle then? Or Blessed One? The premise for these is actually the opposite: Here is "bestowed power" you didn't even ask for. Deal with it!

Cheers.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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ArchSage20 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
3) I enjoy the element of "cosplaying" as a deity, which is sort of what a cleric is. Deities can serve as heroes to aspire to, muses to be inspired by, teachers to learn from, or figures to seek to honor or pay homage to.

just to make sure you understand you are not the deity in any way shape or form right?

James Jacobs wrote:
6) The idea that, as a cleric, all of my "class things belong to someone else" is nonsensical. Faith does not belong to a deity—faith belongs to the worshiper of the deity, and it's from faith that a cleric gets all these things. No different than a wizard gaining spells by studying magic, a fighter gaining combat powers by practicing and drilling in combat, or a sorcerer gaining eerie powers by developing their own innate and inborn qualities.

try telling that to the clerics of Aroden after he dies their powers do sound like it wasn't theirs after all

that doesn't sound very persuasive when your god can chose to take away all of your powers

you cant gain powers from a concept like oracles so yes your spell-casting powers comes ENTIRELY from your deity

also on the basis of what do you claim that non-evil deities give players a choice of whether they are allowed to just leave if they want? originally all gods used mortals and titans as slaves before Ihys freed them, you could argue its not the case but its not nearly as clearly cut as you make it to be

Iomedae is lawful good and she still wrecks you face with a sonic blast for getting a question wrong and blind/deafens permanently if you complain so i don't think alignment guarantees your freedom cause gods in the end are still individuals with self interest

all of those things are problems a wizard, sorcerer or fighter will never have to deal with so i would say they are quite different

Even though clerics gain power from their faith, when a deity they worship dies, that is such a metaphsical catastrophe that they lose their powers. It'd be the same if a fighter got hit with a curse that robbed them of their strength forever, or a contagion that blighted wizards from being able to use magic. We don't do that sort of thing pretty much EVER in current games. Note that Aroden dying happened in the past, so no PC cleric gets hit with this "unfairness." And yes, a fickle deity CAN take away your powers if you don't worship them right but that's not really all that different than a fighter who decides they don't wanna practice their swordplay and gives up on armor or a wizard who decides magic is no fun giving up on their studies.

The scene you're referring to where Iomedae "wrecks your face" is an error in our writing, not in her personality. We mistakingly leaned into the idea that PCs would be antagonistic toward her, and should have focused instead on how she can help you. It's the one thing I wish I could go back in time and fix about the storyline of that adventure path, because it's flat out wrong in how it presents Iomedae. I've said this before on these boards, but our lack of a process by getting story errata out means that this clarification and admission of error gets lost soon after each time I point it out or admit to it.

If you're playing in a game where you're afraid your GM is going to strip your cleric character of their powers by deciding that their deity is arbitrarily going to die or turn on you... that's a problem with a bad GM, not bad world design. A bad GM can just as easily say "There's a magic storm that makes all wizards stop being able to use magic" or "This adventure takes place in a region where anyone who fights is thrown in jail" or whatever. It's just as arbitrary and bad for the game as the GM who decides that a deity the PCs worship decides to cut them off for no good reason other than the GM being a jerk.


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If religion isn't your thing, then Clerics are gonna be tough.

But if you like the idea of something greater than yourself that shares your core values, whose organized other people with similar values, and looks out for those people by delegating real power to enact your deities version of good and protect their followers, then Clerics are a lot of fun.

Religion is important to every character I build, and generally reflects that characters views, desires and beliefs - because that concept appeals to me.

Remember, in most 'fantasy' settings, people are free to pick which deity to follow on their own based on what they want.

The idea that followers of a Religion are somehow slaves to it or that deity is also fairly baffling, as I've not seen almost any religion in Pathfinder that treats its followers like that, excepting maybe those literally focused on slavery.

The vengeful Erastil example given isn't just someone deciding to worship a deity - its someone actually committing bloody sacrilege and entreating evil powers for aid (those are included in 'any god'). That's the sort of thing mortals might take issue with, as well.

If Clerics were solely powered by their deity, they wouldn't need to develop or grow in order to harness greater power (Levelling up) - they'd just be chosen, and receive massive power. They may derive their power from their relationship with their deity, but its their power.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Anyway, I feel like I've said what I want to say here. Some folks don't like religion or worshiping deities, and that's fine. You don't have to play every character in the game to have fun playing the game. Focus on playing the characters you enjoy, but try not to mock or tease people who play the game differently than you or prefer to play characters you find to be unappealing.


You could also flip the power dynamic with the following question:

Q) What reasons do you provide, Oh deity, to pledge to you my unyielding fealty?


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Am I going to get a way to play a religious character (even a divine spellcaster) who subscribes to something like Rivethun or Sangpotshi or Animism?

I suppose the Ancestors oracle works for cultures that do ancestor worship, so we've got that at least.


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I'll just say that when I create and play characters, I'm not creating and playing me in another universe. I'm creating what I hope are motivated and justified fictional people, as if I were writing a book. So my real world reaction to religions, my particular views on morality, spirituality, or faith are not going to define the characters I want to explore.

Further, I don't think I COULD translate my views on religion or faith or spirituality to a world like Golarion, where Gods are demonstrably real and can cause obvious effects when interacted with. The very concept of "faith" in reality would be something completely different in that universe.

My last character was a Champion of Shelyn. He was religious because he felt he needed structure and some absolute guide to tell him how to behave. He spent most of his downtime encouraging people to explore their art. He was also very innocent and felt some pride when chopping up evil monsters. This person is not much like me.

My current character is a rogue who values freedom above all else, who sees religious devotion as a form of slavery, and who believes the concept of personal property to be loose and subject to change. He is also not much like me.


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1: Big heals you got the biggest of them all so you can keep allies safe.
2: Warpriest basically gives you a survivability on par with some martials, maybe a but behind some but still it's quite good.
3: Divine list got them buffs, your allies will look up to you.
4: Casters don't need as much gold as martials so your allies will be getting good weapons.
5: Anti-undead machine you are great at fighting them after all.
6: Well, gods are fun in pathfinder 2e edicts and anathemas make several cool restrictions.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Anyway, I feel like I've said what I want to say here. Some folks don't like religion or worshiping deities, and that's fine. You don't have to play every character in the game to have fun playing the game. Focus on playing the characters you enjoy, but try not to mock or tease people who play the game differently than you or prefer to play characters you find to be unappealing.

i don't want to mock or tease then if anything i find cleric party members to be fun specially those who roleplay the "we must free those slaves because my deity would not abide" type i even played one at some point to me they are the most rational choice if you are willing to trust gods specially if you get to become a herald then it could be one of the safest ways reach immortality and not fear death in general

its just that i tend to read and nitpick a lot of small details and so i end up focusing a lot on scenes like the previous iomedae, that combined with the outer gods and great old ones made me very suspicious of the gods, maybe i'm reading too much into it and they weren't meant to be taken too seriously


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Some characters have a deep and abiding faith, others don't. Some clerics proselytize, others don't.

One thing I like about clerics is the breadth of options, so that even two clerics of the same faith may embrace different aspects of their deity and have distinctly different vibes from each other.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

Am I going to get a way to play a religious character (even a divine spellcaster) who subscribes to something like Rivethun or Sangpotshi or Animism?

I suppose the Ancestors oracle works for cultures that do ancestor worship, so we've got that at least.

I feel like a witch could work well for animism, actually, if your gm is okay with your being many beings instead of one. While druid leans more pantheist, it could be animist too. Though that's primal, still.

James Jacobs wrote:
Corwin Icewolf wrote:
Erastil is lawful good, right? Yes he is. Okay, so in kingmaker, and this is a minor spoiler, but the APs been out for a really long time, erastil turns a cleric into a non sapient bear for sacrificing a bear to "any god willing to stop trolls and other monsters from stopping the colonization of the stolen lands." So, to at least one god, worshipping another god is a crime worthy of identity death.

That's a good example of us kinda messing up the way good deities work ten years ago (complicated in part by a too-busy schedule and not enough wordcount to give the topic the proper details and context), and something that I get to go into more detail aobut in the upcoming 2nd edition revision for the Kingmaker Adventure Path. In the revised version of this encounter...

** spoiler omitted **

Oh. Okay then. Thanks for clearing that up.

KrispyXIV wrote:


The vengeful Erastil example given isn't just someone deciding to worship a deity - its someone actually committing bloody sacrilege and entreating evil powers for aid (those are included in 'any god'). That's the sort of thing mortals might take issue with, as well.

Even though that example was basically just confirmed as a mistake, I feel a very strong need to point out that calling out to anyone for help because your deity apparently isn't shouldn't result in a lawful good deity effectively killing you because the person who ends up helping you instead might be evil.


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I was raised without faith, so it’s a fun difference from what I know - and became pretty into my own little quiet brand of religion later in life, so celebrating that in fiction is fun. Being a voice of comfort, advice, and reason is a blast. Healing is nice. Crises of faith are dramatic. Where you agree with your deity and where you clash are great sources of character guidance.


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rainzax wrote:

You could also flip the power dynamic with the following question:

Q) What reasons do you provide, Oh deity, to pledge to you my unyielding fealty?

Sarenrae: How do you like the sound of fireball?

Silver Crusade

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KrispyXIV wrote:

If religion isn't your thing, then Clerics are gonna be tough.

I very well may be misinterpreting you, but if you're saying that you have to be religious in real life to enjoy playing clerics then I strongly disagree.

In real life, I'm an atheist with a quite poor opinion of just about all organized religions. But I LOVE playing clerics (or other devoutly religious characters) in role playing games.


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TheGentlemanDM wrote:
rainzax wrote:

You could also flip the power dynamic with the following question:

Q) What reasons do you provide, Oh deity, to pledge to you my unyielding fealty?

Sarenrae: How do you like the sound of fireball?

it depends on whether i will be the caster or the target


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pauljathome wrote:
KrispyXIV wrote:

If religion isn't your thing, then Clerics are gonna be tough.

I very well may be misinterpreting you, but if you're saying that you have to be religious in real life to enjoy playing clerics then I strongly disagree.

In real life, I'm an atheist with a quite poor opinion of just about all organized religions. But I LOVE playing clerics (or other devoutly religious characters) in role playing games.

I was more focused on the presupposition that serving a deity was equivalent to slavery.

If that's how one views religions, then Cleric's likely don't sound appealing because you have a fundamentally different view of what being a Priest or Cleric is than... well, most.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Deities are one of my favorite parts of the whole D&D fantasy. I love imagining living in a world where there are beings of pure good and virtue, worthy of being followed. I like playing a character who takes up the cause of their god, not because they're told to when they're a child, but because the message of the deity resonates with them to their core.

I also like the mechanics of the class, and how they have historically been a bit gishy from the get go.


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The best is when you’re in a group with other devotees - I’ve even had other players have their PCs sing hymns with me in games past.

And I’m not a religious person - I just play one in a game. But there’s something incredibly fun about screaming “For X god!!” and it’s even better in PF2E because that’s how I demoralize in combat - a shouting, zealous nemesis bringing doom as the hand of a deity!

Also really enjoy the character development - growing with your other PCs in or out of faith, converting the repentant, inspiring the faithless, and weighing your own actions against that which you serve.

And ofc, when I role play I try as best as I can to fit into a role that’s not me.


pauljathome wrote:
KrispyXIV wrote:

If religion isn't your thing, then Clerics are gonna be tough.

I very well may be misinterpreting you, but if you're saying that you have to be religious in real life to enjoy playing clerics then I strongly disagree.

In real life, I'm an atheist with a quite poor opinion of just about all organized religions. But I LOVE playing clerics (or other devoutly religious characters) in role playing games.

Ditto.


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rainzax wrote:
By my count, if you accept the premise of "bestowed power", Cleric is one of the classes with the highest degree of flexibility in terms of concept.

What do you mean by "accept the premise of bestowed power?"

KrispyXIV wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
KrispyXIV wrote:

If religion isn't your thing, then Clerics are gonna be tough.

I very well may be misinterpreting you, but if you're saying that you have to be religious in real life to enjoy playing clerics then I strongly disagree.

In real life, I'm an atheist with a quite poor opinion of just about all organized religions. But I LOVE playing clerics (or other devoutly religious characters) in role playing games.

I was more focused on the presupposition that serving a deity was equivalent to slavery.
To be fair, what I said was
I wrote:
And maybe it's partly my issues bleeding into my play style, but as a cleric you're basically a servant to your deity's edicts, which already kind of sucks but then when you die you go from servant to full on slave, it seems.

There's a slight difference between a servant and a slave. Being a servant's usually not great either, mind you.

Edit: also, a lot of it was that one erastil incident, so if clerics can change religions more or less freely without fear of losing their sapience privileges, then I guess they're not either one.

Of course, having reread how petitioners work, I'm not sure the term slave properly applies to them, since most of them don't quite seem to be people anymore at that point. You have few memories of what you did in life to begin with, and by plane Elysium turns you into a celestial animal which eventually evolves into an agathion. Nirvana strips away what few memories of life you had left and slowly turns you into an angel, etc. Though oddly, heaven's petitioners don't seem anything horrible done to them other than the standard petitioner memory wipe. you know what, forget the afterlife tangent. Like I said it seems like an artifact. Also, there are story reasons that maybe the afterlife shouldn't be perfect.

KrispyXIV wrote:
If that's how one views religions, then Cleric's likely don't sound appealing because you have a fundamentally different view of what being a Priest or Cleric is than... Well, most.

Growing up in the Bible belt with Christian parents that don't believe in evolution on the grounds that dogs can't randomly turn into cats and people can't slowly turn their arms into wings by flapping them can give you a pretty distorted view of... well... everything, really.


For me, it is a class that can draw a lot of thematic interest out of gods. I was playing a N Cleric of Norgorber that was functionally a spy that sought to gather information and knowledge. Secrets are very important to Norgorber and I took that as a springboard to make the rest of the character. You can, of course, take divine inspiration in any class, but there are mechanical aspects that you infuse your character with.


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ArchSage20 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
3) I enjoy the element of "cosplaying" as a deity, which is sort of what a cleric is. Deities can serve as heroes to aspire to, muses to be inspired by, teachers to learn from, or figures to seek to honor or pay homage to.
just to make sure you understand you are not the deity in any way shape or form right?

In a Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 game, I played a cleric of Pelor. To give an impression of wisdom and humility, I had him frequently quote advice out of his favorite book, Travels with Pelor. No such book exists, I was making up the quotes on the spot.

A roleplaying god is not fully expressed by edicts, anathema, and domains. Instead, the players view the god through the actions of god's cleric and other religious PCs. My cleric of Pelor quoted humble advice and healed people. My cleric of Corellon Larethian expounded upon the superiority of elven culture and spend his feats on being a good archer. A fairly religious lawful good ranger who worshipped chaotic good god Desna embraced her travel aspect and went out to see the world. He loved visiting new places and meeting new people. My wife played a lyrakien bard who worked as an emissary of Desna and had a different tack on Desna, a goddess who taught the enjoyment of food, life, and nature even to her minions.

It is like the difference between playing an alchemist as a crazed pyromaniac or a careful scientist. In one view, alchemy is reckless and in the other it is studious.

ArchSage20 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
6) The idea that, as a cleric, all of my "class things belong to someone else" is nonsensical. Faith does not belong to a deity—faith belongs to the worshiper of the deity, and it's from faith that a cleric gets all these things. No different than a wizard gaining spells by studying magic, a fighter gaining combat powers by practicing and drilling in combat, or a sorcerer gaining eerie powers by developing their own innate and inborn qualities.

try telling that to the clerics of Aroden after he dies their powers do sound like it wasn't theirs after all

that doesn't sound very persuasive when your god can chose to take away all of your powers

you cant gain powers from a concept like oracles so yes your spell-casting powers comes ENTIRELY from your deity

I once played an NPC time oracle, Amya of Westcrown, who believed that she had gained her divine spells from Aroden, even though that god had died a century ago and she had gained her oracle status due to Shizuru, the Tian-Min goddess of the sun, honor, ancestors, and swordplay. Amaya had joined a reform movement, Children of Westcrown, whose leader still followed Aroden, so she had an inclination toward Aroden herself. She could see visions from past centuries, so Aroden still seemed alive to her.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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ArchSage20 wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
3) I enjoy the element of "cosplaying" as a deity, which is sort of what a cleric is. Deities can serve as heroes to aspire to, muses to be inspired by, teachers to learn from, or figures to seek to honor or pay homage to.

just to make sure you understand you are not the deity in any way shape or form right?

Just noticed this. Yes. I understand that, as much as anyone who cosplays at a convention understands that they're not really Thor or Daenerys or Darth Vader. Doesn't diminish the delight cosplayers get by dressing up.

That said, what I really meant by "cosplaying" was an attempt to convey in quick and playful way the idea that when you play a cleric, you're roleplaying the deity to a certain extent by serving its will. The gods in Pathfinder generally don't come down to do things in person; that's the role of the faithful, so when I play a cleric I like to get into that headspace; that I'm following out my deity's desires in all that I say and do. I'm the deity's mouthpiece. Their agent in the world.

When I play a cleric who worships Desna, I know that my PC isn't Desna, but I do know my PC is doing her best to represent Desna's interests in the world.

That said, I'm also the person who invented Desna (along with many other deities in the setting), so in a way, I am Desna, since I'm the one who decided who and what she is. :-P


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The large number of deities in the setting makes becoming a cleric far more appealing than it would be in the real world. With so many different philosophies, there is a very good chance that a potential cleric can find a deity whose philosophy he already 99% agrees with. In such a case, dedicating oneself to doing what one was strongly inclined to do anyway would be a great deal.


James Jacobs wrote:
That said, I'm also the person who invented Desna (along with many other deities in the setting), so in a way, I am Desna, since I'm the one who decided who and what she is. :-P

may i ask what what was going on your mind when you wrote pharasma?


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Speaking to the point that almost all of the afterlives on offer seem unappealing, I agree, but for any given mortal there just needs to be one that sounds lovely. If you personally think heaven is the only one that sounds good, you're probably a Lawful Good sort of person. I would describe my brother as Chaotic Good, and he thinks turning into an animal and wandering through an idealized wilderness sounds great. A place for everyone, and everyone in their place, I guess.


Classic fantasy deities can have very little to do with real world religions.

You don't have to play a subservient priest. You just have to have a cause.

You have such a range of beliefs to chose from. Typically there is so little material out there about them that you just have to make it up.

Invent your own religion and then follow it passionatly because your character thinks it is good. Or because he is doing what is right for his community or just what is real and works. Don't limit yourself to a narrow western way of thinking.

The relationship of a priest to his deity can be about servitude, respect, or of the example of the deity, or of fear, or a deal for protection, or a mutal sharing of a goal.

A priest can value his race, his community, his family, himself, all sentient life, the righteous, just plants, the journey, only his god, all the pantheon, the greater good. Or none of these


I love cleric bc of the dedication angle mostly from the idea of many priests having day jobs. The idea of a ranger of Erastril being a guardian of his frontier community is just great character flavor in my mind (flavor that still aides itself to a very competent PC). It just opens the door to lots of interesting character concepts.


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Fun challenge:

Step 1) Start with a concept for a personality or world view.
Step 2) Then go find a deity that "meshes" with that personality / world view.
Step 3) Try to build a cool Cleric character that leans into the strengths of that deity!

Liberty's Edge

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Gortle wrote:
Classic fantasy deities can have very little to do with real world religions.

Depends on the real world religion.

As a hard polytheist pagan, my own religion looks a lot like those in most fantasy worlds in broad strokes (I mean, obviously not specific deities or metaphysics, but a lot of the stuff you're discussing), and my religion is certainly real.

Heck, even something like Hinduism, which is soft polytheism and quite different, is a lot more similar to the religion in something like Pathfinder than Judaeo-Christian religion is.


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Perhaps the best way to answer the titular question is with an example:
I recently made up a cleric character: a leshy cleric of Hathor. I had decided I wanted to try a leshy, and the idea that a plant would worship the sun seemed too appropriate to deny, so I began looking through the deities with the sun domain. When I came across a happy dancing cow god, I couldn't help but have fun pretending to vigorously espouse those beliefs.


What I like about Cleric is that you can explore a specific part of philosophy/human psyche to crazy levels.
For example, I like divinities of death (Pharasma in PF2). Playing a character who's obsessed about death, its meanings, accompanying the dying, leading funerals while still being an adventurer is a lot of fun to me. By being a Cleric of Pharasma, I embrace all of these points with some internal logic. If I wasn't a Cleric, I'd had to justify why this guy is obsessed by death and still living the life of an adventurer. It would be more clunky to me.
I also like to play wise characters. And I like when the party considers my character as wise. I can use aphorisms, metaphors and things like that.

All in all, I quite like playing a Cleric, as I like to explore their divinities associated concepts and devise about them.


Some people don't play cleric because they want to help but instead because they get to decide who lives and who not


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If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.


I don't like religion!
I'm waiting for someone to cast Searing Light to believe in god.

The fact that you don't need faith to believe in gods in Golarion makes a pretty big difference with real world.
But mostly, I play characters to play something different than me. I can play a bigot and have fun doing it.


Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.


Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.

Few are like that. In truth


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Martialmasters wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.
Few are like that. In truth

Religion in the real world and religion on golarion can not exactly be compared imo

If religion was so tangible and not just a bunch of imaginary friends I would totally be down for it


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Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

The thing is that in RPG's you probably need to be a lot less preachy than you need to be in real life, at least that is my observation. The difference is that in RPG's the powers granted within the game are real, so you do not have to trust in faith only but can also lead by example. And it is a lot easier to get people to follow your deeds than your words. In my 3 decades of playing (mostly good) clerics I never had to (or did) try to convert other players, no did I hold sermons very often, instead most new followers have simply been aquired by practicing the little I would preach.


Martialmasters wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.
Few are like that. In truth

In my opinion, it's part of roleplaying game magic. Playing a character who's far away from me. And I don't speak of big muscles or ability to cast spells, but of the psychological part, the acting part of roleplaying games.


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Martialmasters wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.
Few are like that. In truth

I STRONGLY disagree. The late majority of people one played with enjoy playing characters substantially different than themselves.


Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Sapient wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:

If you don't like religion at all on some level cleric isn't for your, neither is champion.

I can play either but I don't play preachy characters.

I enjoy playing religious characters while not personally liking religion.
Few are like that. In truth
I STRONGLY disagree. The late majority of people one played with enjoy playing characters substantially different than themselves.

Not in the circles I've ran in then. Yes different from yourself. But that seems to fall apart when it comes to religion.

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