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Cleric (character class)

The Cleric, Priest, or Bishop is a character class in Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy role-playing games. The cleric is a healer, usually a priest and a holy warrior, originally modeled on or inspired by the Military Orders. Clerics are usually members of religious orders, with the original intent being to portray soldiers of sacred orders who have magical abilities, although this role was later taken more clearly by the paladin. Most clerics have powers to heal wounds, protect their allies and sometimes resurrect the dead, as well as summon, manipulate and banish undead.

A description of Priests and Priestesses from the Nethack guidebook: Priests and Priestesses are clerics militant, crusaders advancing the cause of righteousness with arms, armor, and arts thaumaturgic. Their ability to commune with deities via prayer occasionally extricates them from peril, but can also put them in it.[1]

A common feature of clerics across many games is that they may not equip pointed weapons such as swords or daggers, and must use blunt weapons such as maces, war-hammers, shields or wand instead. This is based on a popular, but erroneous, interpretation of the depiction of Odo of Bayeux and accompanying text. They are also often limited in what types of armor they can wear, though usually not as restricted as mages.

Related to the cleric is the paladin, who is typically a Lawful Good[2] warrior often aligned with a religious order, and who uses their martial skills to advance its holy cause.

Dungeons & DragonsEdit

In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, the cleric is one of the four base character classes. Clerics are versatile figures, both capable in combat and skilled in the use of divine magic, which they employ without any restriction despite encumbrance of their armour. In earlier versions of the games they were restricted to using bludgeoning weapons, such as maces, staffs, and war-hammers. In later additions this limit was lifted depending on the symbolic weapon of their deity, although other martial (non-simple) weapons were still alien to them - requiring a costly feat in the latest edition of the game to employ them. Clerics are powerful healers due to the large number of healing and curative spells available to them. With divinely-granted abilities over life or death, they are also able to repel, destroy, rebuke, or control undead creatures - depending upon whether they are good or evil.

Video gamesEdit

Clerics are a common character option across many computer RPGs, which share their heritage with the tabletop roleplaying games that originated the class. Although some games hew closely to that older archetype, there exist many variations in the conception, background and abilities of the cleric class.

  • Vanguard: Saga of Heroes has the Cleric class as one of the four specialized healer classes, in a form comparable with D&D (heavy armor, low damage output, some anti-undead abilities).
  • In EverQuest II, "Cleric" refers to both Inquisitors and Templars, which are evil and good (respectively) variants on the traditional Clerical roles.
  • In Lineage II, human mages may choose Cleric at their first class change. Elven Clerics exist as well, but are called "Elder" instead.
  • In Fire Emblem, the Clerics, sometimes known as "Sisters," are all women (their male equivalent being the Monk or Priest), later promoted to the Bishop class.
  • In ROSE Online the Clerics can prevent monsters from talking by making them no longer believe in their souls.
  • In Aion: Tower of Eternity, The Cleric is a Daeva who follows the Star of Healing. It uses magic power to strengthen the body and to heal injuries. It can also restore life by using a revival spell when a Daeva's soul and body are separated.
  • In Dragon Nest, The Cleric is one of the five classes that a player may choose at the start of the game. The Cleric's role in the game is mainly to support its party, as it possesses skills that heal and buff team mates. Their role further branches out to Paladins and Priests, available as secondary classes at level 15. They are welcomed in most parties that are about to go into difficult dungeons and nests (Paladins for tanking and drawing aggro/Priests for healing and buffing team mates). The downside is their limited mobility compared to other classes. Also, a full-support build (which makes the class a popular must-have in a party) usually results in dull gameplay because sacrifices must be made to the offensive skills in order to have high support abilities. Lastly, Clerics must be well geared in order to accomplish good support. In Dragon Nest, Clerics are shown as rivals of the Sorceress class which can be seen time to time in the main storyline. The Cleric is a male character and is not available in the female version.
  • In Happy Wars the Cleric is a character class that heals, resurrects allies, summons materials and can take away enemy enchantments.
  • In Dragomon Hunter the Cleric is a character class that heals allies with magic and has offensive skills that are dolled out via a hammer or cestus.
  • In the Dark Souls series, the Cleric is a character class that can be chosen at the start of every installment. Traditionally, the class is described as a; "Cleric on Pilgrimage. Wields a mace and casts healing miracles."

In wargamingEdit

Clerics are also seen in fantasy wargaming. In those games they are usually thought of as the archetype of strong warriors with blunt weapons. Examples are below.

  • In Hordes of the Things Clerics are a type of unit, they are considered magic users and cost more points than Mages, suggesting the Cleric's superiority.


  1. ^ Nethack Guidebook, entry 2 with character classes.
  2. ^ Gary., Gygax, (1980). Advanced dungeons & dragons, players handbook : special reference work : a compiled volume of information for players of Advanced dungeons & dragons, including, character races, classes, and level abilities ; spell tables and descriptions ; equipment costs ; weapons data ; and information on adventuring. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR Hobbies. ISBN 0935696016. OCLC 13498304.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)