Paladin/Cleric in D&D Next: have it your (deity's) way

With all the talk of cleric and paladin floating around in articles and forums, I wanted to put my thoughts out there.  In the article posted today by Mike Mearls, he puts up some of their “design criteria” for how they are trying to make classes. 


1.) The class should be recognizable to anyone who has played D&D.  No matter what edition you’ve played, you should be able to identify the class based solely on a summary of its abilities.


2.) The class should have an element that makes it unique.  Playing one class should feel different from playing another one.


3.) The class should relate in some way to archetypal characters, stories, legends, and myths that form modern fantasy.  Someone who has never played D&D should understand what the cleric represents within the fantasy genre.


I would suggest a fourth criterion, more of an expansion on number three, be added to these simply for the reason that this edition is being touted by wizards as being able to reconcile the “Edition Wars”.


4.) The class should share characteristics with similar archetypes in previous editions of D&D so that someone who has played other editions can feel familiar with the character in front of them when they first experience D&D Next.


I feel this fourth criterion should drive some of the options that are being so hotly discussed in comments sections across the site.


On to the real reason for this post, Paladins and Clerics.  If Wizards wasn’t so hot on maintaining established classes from previous editions, I would suggest that we abandon the difference all together!  Many people I know draw no distinction between the two and there is so much bleed-over in the last two editions that I have played warclerics that behave like paladins and compassionate paladins that play more like clerics.  If you are sticking rigidly to your #2 guideline, then you are dropping a big barrier between them simply because people want to put a different nametag on the same archetype! 


In 3rd edition, probably the most widely played besides 4th, the cleric can be on par (or better) in combat than a paladin with a few choice self-buff spells.  Isn’t the schtick of the paladin supposed to be martial combat?  In both 4th and 3rd the paladin got “Lay on Hands”, a heal, isn’t that supposed to be the cleric’s job?  In both editions there are extras for these classes that let them move further towards the other’s archetype, sometimes even becoming a du-facto copy.  Tactical Warpriest in 4th edition allows a cleric to mark with at-wills all the time, paladins can take feats to increase their Lay on Hands and take Hospitaler to get some nice healing going.


Delving further into the issue, how you deal with clerics of Bane or Tiamat from an alignment perspective is much clearer than how you deal with their “paladins”.  Clerics always had an alignment tie to their deities, paladins always had to be LG to fit with what I would call the “Chevalier”.  I have flat ignored the alignment restriction on paladin since I learned that rules can be ignored with DM permission.  Then UA came out with Freedom, Slaughter and Tyranny Paladins.  I just about wept with joy when I read them!  When 4th dropped alignment restrictions on classes, I believed we had finally come out of the ignorant times and embraced the definition of a paladin to simply be “The weapon of their deity”.  No more shiny horse, curing poison and disease (cleric thing), or being forced to rescue the damsel in distress.  I was finally a warrior filled with divine guidance and fervor, out to crack heads and smite stuff!  Paladin of Heironeous LG, armor glistening with the blood of orcs wielding a longsword and shield, done!  Paladin of Sehanine NG, standing shoulder to shoulder with druids wielding a quarterstaff, perfect!  Paladin of Corellon CG, clad in beautiful leather armor wielding a longbow against blighters, sounds good!  Paladin of The Raven Queen LN, smiting undead left right and center with a scythe, my picture of paradise! 


If you are not going to make them one class, then I have a suggestion for the design team.  Make paladins and clerics abilities more based on their deity and domain choices than “basic class stuff”.  I realize this runs counter to #1 at first, but hear me out.  When a player walks up to your table and announces that she is playing a “Cleric”, what is the first question that runs through your head?  My question is “what deity do you worship” not “warcleric or healing cleric”. 


If you have a paladin of Pelor, he can get Lay on Hands and is less smite-y then his brother paladin of Heironeous who gets a smite-yer Smite.  Give Pelor the Healing domain and Heironeous the Smite domain.  Corellon has the Archery domain and it’s thing could be “lose heavy armor proficiency, used bows instead of melee”.  Let a paladin pick a domain associated with their deity and focus on gaining stuff in line with that particular part of their deity.  Clerics could embrace a similar system of domains with more focus on spell selection instead of martial styles. 


When it comes to what you define as a “Paladin” don’t require me to ride a horse or be a goody two shoes.  Those things should be optional, not required.  Paladins are warriors of their deity, they are martial, they are a distilled essence of their god’s might/wrath/power in mortal form, they are driven by their faith.  Anything beyond these definitions is only reflections of how their deity manifests itself through them.  The only thing I should be forced to have as a paladin is a deity and martial ability.


Clerics are the voice of their diety, they are casters, they are a living exemplar of everything their deity represents, they are inspired by their faith.  Clerics should get access to special abilities based on what domains their deity represents; after all, they are a living exemplar of their god.  However, I am still a big fan of the cleric as a support class.  Even a cleric of Bane needs to keep his warriors conscious to continue the fight.


All in all, please make paladins and clerics be able to reflect the will of their god, any god.  Not every paladin worships heironeous and not every cleric worships pelor.

2E's Build-a-Cleric system seems like a great idea to go recycle.
2E's Build-a-Cleric system seems like a great idea to go recycle.



I wouldn't mind seeing the Player's Options 'build-your-everything' system come back, myself.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
From what I hear (selective hearing) with all the talk of customization, classes should almost cease to exist as rigid designed entities and become a conglomerate of available options to be selected.  This fits with what you call "Build a Cleric".  I have never played a Cleric in 2E, but I did "Build a Fighter" with Warblade in TOB.  It it is anything like that then sign me up!
I wouldn't mind seeing the Player's Options 'build-your-everything' system come back, myself.



Agreeing with Salla, Ogiwan and Pashalik?

Cats and Dogs will be living together next.

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1.) The class should be recognizable to anyone who has played D&D.  No matter what edition you’ve played, you should be able to identify the class based solely on a summary of its abilities.

*Snip*

4.) The class should share characteristics with similar archetypes in previous editions of D&D so that someone who has played other editions can feel familiar with the character in front of them when they first experience D&D Next.

Aren't both point 1 and point 4 the same? If I am able to recognize a class just by its abilities then I would say that is shares characteristitics with the class that I know...
Im sorry but ADEU is a French word for goodbye, not a combat system. You say, "Encounter Power" and I stop listening to you. [spoiler Have Played/Run] D&D 1st ed D&D 3.5 ed D&D 4th ed Shadowrun Star Wars SAGA Cyberpunk Interlock Unlimited Run.Net [/spoiler] I know my games, don't try to argue about them. [spoiler Alignment Explained] This is a very simple problem and I will outline it below. Their are two types of people Type 1: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "I am lawful good thus I must play lawful good" Type 2: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "My previous actions have made people and the gods view me as lawful good. The difference is subtle but it is the source of the misunderstanding. Alignment does not dictate how you play your character. All it does is tell you, the player, how the rest of the world views you, and your previous actions. Any future actions will be judged by their own merits. Say you're a baby eating pyromaniac. You are most likely chaotic evil. But one day you decide, "Hey all I really need is love." So you get a wife, have a kid, and get a kitten named Mr. Snook'ems. You become a member of the PTA and help build houses for the homeless. You are no longer chaotic evil. And just because you were once chaotic evil it does not mean that you have to stay chaotic evil. Alignment never dictates what you can do, it only says what you have done. Now that is cleared up here is a simple test. What is the alignment of... A Police officer: The average Citizen: A Vigilante: The answer is simple. The Police officer is lawful good. He uses the laws of the country and city to arrest people and make them pay their debt to society. The Citizen is Neutral good. He wants to live is a place that is Good and follows moral and ethical principle, but he sometimes finds the laws impedes him, and he wonders why we spend so much on poor people. The Vigilante is Chaotic Good. He wants to uphold the morals and ethics of society but finds that the bad guys often slip through the cracks in the law. He takes it upon himself to protect the people from these criminals. That is the basic breakdown of the good alignment axis. What needs to be remembered is that any one of these people can change alignments, easily. The Police officer could be bought off by a local gang, and suddenly he drops to lawful neutral. The average citizen might find that his neighbors dog is annoying, barking at night and keeping him up. So he poisons its food, now he is no longer good, he is stepping towards true neutral. Maybe the citizen really goes crazy also kills the neighbor, hello neutral evil. It is possible that the Vigilante realizes that the cops are actually doing a pretty good job and decides to become an officer himself, leaving his masked crime fighting days behind him. Now he is Lawful good. Your alignment is not carved in stone, it is malleable and will change to reflect your actions.[/spoiler]
When I see you put them next to each other like that it does sound silly Embarassed but my intention was deeper than that as I can only assume that WoTC's was.

My meaning is more literal and *crunch* and *play feel* oriented.  I will take cleric as I have ranted slightly about it above.  Clerics in previous editions to 4th were the healer, you spent your major action healing and maybe swinging a mace at someone's face if no one needed help.  You passed out buffs before you sprung an ambush and threw a couple of the really good ones during combat just for good measure, all of this with one major action.  4th let you do your heal and some buff while still swinging your mace at someones face, and suprisingly you can actually hit things!  Healing wasn't quite as neccissary every round in 4th due to high hit point totals.  They took that opportunity to make clerics feel like more than the "fighter-holder-upper".  So in summary, don't just make the description of cleric "heal people and buff them" the only thing that stays the same.  Make a 2nd ed guy feel like he still has a touch of his 2nd ed cleric in X module.  Make it more than skin deep.
I wouldn't mind seeing the Player's Options 'build-your-everything' system come back, myself.



Agreeing with Salla, Ogiwan and Pashalik?

Cats and Dogs will be living together next.


It's too late, they're already shacking-up.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Now I don't like the cleric archetype, so I've never played one more than a session.  However, watching my buddies play them has resulted in experiences far different than what I read from online. 

If anything, 4e was the high-water mark for the clerical focus on healing in my games.  Healing was never more than a secondary characteristic of the cleric.  Far more common have been combat spells like Command, Spiritual Hammer, Hold Person, Flame Strike.

Healing as the cleric's primary function feels off.  They should be calling down the wrath of the gods.
However, watching my buddies play them has resulted in experiences far different than what I read from online. 



 
Yes, if things played out in RL even close to how you read about on these forums?  I gaurantee you nobody would still be playing D&D.....