How martial should the Cleric be?

So, various 5e communications have spurred lots of cool discussion on the nature of and distinctions between the Cleric and Paladin, as well as brining up the possibility of a non-fighty Priest class, the possible future of the Avenger, etc. One interesting thing that came out of this was a poll on RPGnet about the 5e Cleric's use of weapons and armor. The results were a huge surprise, at least to me.


What's the 5e cleric look like in your head?



  1. The cleric should be, at default, an armored guy, usually with a mace. — 20.54%

  2. The cleric should be, by default, more of a spellcastery class, without the armor. — 36.61%

  3. The cleric and priest should be represented by two different classes. — 31.25%

  4. Other — 11.61%


Now, I went for option 2 myself, but I was still shocked to see the largest percentage supporting such a major change to a Big Four class.

I can't speak for everybody else, but my reasoning goes like this: as a major iconic class, the Cleric should (at least in its default configuration) strongly embody its major themes, those things which are unique to it among the Big Four. That means healing, miracle-working, turning, and other divine magic. It does not include wearing armor and wielding weapons effectively. Furthermore, there doesn't seem like a lot of need for a martial Cleric in the same game as the Paladin.

Now, I would be fine with a martial Cleric supplemented by some kind of Priest/Invoker/Lasercleric class, sure. But I don't really want to see a whole flood of divine classes, and I think the primary divine class should be one that's purely about the whole "divine" thing, instead of one that's essentially multiclassing as a Fighter.

Fighty divine casters can just be Clerics with a Warpriest theme.

...But that's my take. How about you?

I think that the nature of the cleric should depend on the god. A cleric of Odin should corespond to a priest whereas a cleric of Thor should correspond to a normal cleric. A cleric of Balder should be a pacifist whereas a cleric of Loki should be good at illusions.

Such a mechanic would  help me imagine who my character is and how he fits in to the world.
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
I saw the cleric as the first hybrid class.  Between Fighters and Wizard there were Clerics.

Shiny full plate knight of the round table... Cleric... Merlin with a pointy hat.

But what that means to me now after all these years?  I see Fighters as bricks.  I see wizards as glass cannons.  At this point, I don't care what the cleric is wearing or using but I think they should blend that brick and glass cannon.  I think they should be tough with HPs, AC (not necessarily armor) and Saves; and they should be able to dish out weapon damage - though not as well as a Fighter.  I think they should cannons with sick Turning and powerful healing.

I never think of Clerics as Paladins which I guess would be 3 parts Fighter and 1 part Wizard.  And I never think of Clerics as divine Wizards.  I never gave much thought to laser Clerics until I read the term on these forums.

Do we need two classes?  No, I would want the priest to still be tough even if they aren't proficient in heavy armor.   I would want the Cleric to shoot divine lasers from time to time. 
I think it depends on the paladin. If we include a paladin, the cleric should be barely martial at all. If we do not, it should be heavily martial. IIRC 5e is including a paladin, so a cleric should focus on other areas. 

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Personally, I don't understand all this talk about (traditional) clerics and paladins being too much alike.  They are both divine characters in heavy armor, but then rogues and rangers are both martial characters in light armor and ardents and battleminds are both psionic characters in heavy armor.  It's a bit like saying superman and spiderman are the same character because they both have super-powers and wear funny tights.  Any meaningful understanding of the two classes reveals deep differences.  Personally I think a priest class is far closer to stepping on the wizards' toes than a traditional cleric is to stepping on the Paladin's.

Clerics are leaders.  Mechanically: they heal, they buff.  Even when they're smashing things with their mace, they're wielding divine power swing that mace harder, to shield themselves, and to do cool stuff on top of bludgeoning damage.  They let everyone else take their lumps, and then patch them up afterwards so that they can learn from their mistakes.  Flavorwise: they wield power through faith and they try to help everyone else be better.  The cleric shows people the heroic potential within themselves.

Paladins are defenders (and I don't just mean the 4e kind with divine challenge).  Mechanically: they've got HP, AC, good saves/defenses, and the ability to stand tough in the face of tough enemies.   They take the lumps so that everyone else doesn't have to, and they keep on ticking because they're that cool.  Flavorwise: they wield power through divine grace, and they try to protect others.  The paladin shows people his own heroic potential, and if he's lucky they'll try to emulate it.

There's a hugely different design space there, suitable for hugely different characters.  They don't fight the same, they don't act the same, they don't have the same capabilities, at best they look the same until you see what kind of weapon they're holding.  So I wouldn't worry too much about a martial cleric becoming indistinguishable from a paladin. 
I'd like to see priests (non-armored clerics) as a build of the cleric that gets some neat options as a trade-off for dropping armor and physical combat skills.  This would allow people to play it however they want without adding another class.

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.

 

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I'd like to see priests (non-armored clerics) as a build of the cleric that gets some neat options as a trade-off for dropping armor and physical combat skills.  This would allow people to play it however they want without adding another class.

That seems like a great way to go.

Stick your guy somewhere along the Martial/Magic spectrum, and then figure out what kind of "magic" (healy stuff, blasty stuff, shrubbery stuff, or thinky stuff).  The guts of pretty much any class can be derived just from doing that, and then gluing on some assorted flavor-swag.

I'd like to see priests (non-armored clerics) as a build of the cleric that gets some neat options as a trade-off for dropping armor and physical combat skills.  This would allow people to play it however they want without adding another class.

That seems like a great way to go.

Stick your guy somewhere along the Martial/Magic spectrum, and then figure out what kind of "magic" (healy stuff, blasty stuff, shrubbery stuff, or thinky stuff).  The guts of pretty much any class can be derived just from doing that, and then gluing on some assorted flavor-swag.


Well, I'm not advocating classless (I don't think you are either).  I like some classless systems, but I don't think D&D and classless are a good fit.  Perhaps in the future.  Maybe at the 60th anniversary release of 6e (here's hoping 5e is great and lasts that long).

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.

Well, I'm not advocating classless (I don't think you are either).

I advocate classes whenever possible.  Except right now, I guess

It never really made sense to me why the Thief has to have a worse THAC0/BAB than the healbot, or why there wasn't a substantial tradeoff in being a Pally or Ranger over a plain-old fighter (especially in 1E/2E, where Ranger was just an uber-fighter and Pally was essentially an uber-fighter Mountie).
Part of the reason (actually, the biggest reason) "Fighters drool" is because they were traditionally the de facto 'dump-class' for everyone who didn't roll awesome enough to be anything else.
I can't speak for everybody else, but my reasoning goes like this: as a major iconic class, the Cleric should (at least in its default configuration) strongly embody its major themes, those things which are unique to it among the Big Four. That means healing, miracle-working, turning, and other divine magic. It does not include wearing armor and wielding weapons effectively. Furthermore, there doesn't seem like a lot of need for a martial Cleric in the same game as the Paladin.

Armor and weapons may not be unique to the cleric but they are an iconic part of the class. The D&D cleric has always been a battle front melee cleric, a combat medic type. The range spell casting cleric is the odd ball exception, not the standard.

Really though, I don't care much how they divide up cleric/priest/paladin as long as they cover the major archetypes. For most class related things the functions and features can be divided up a lot of different equally valid ways. As I see it there are really 4 major archetypes that need to be covered. The divine warrior, the combat medic, the pacifist healer and the divine caster (with several possible variations within this).

The most natural way of covering those four looks like paladin for the divine warrior, cleric for the combat medic, and priest for the divine caster. Pacifist healer is a type of either cleric or priest, depending on how healing works and where it fits most easily. However, that certainly isn't the only way to do it.
Armor and weapons may not be unique to the cleric but they are an iconic part of the class. The D&D cleric has always been a battle front melee cleric, a combat medic type. The range spell casting cleric is the odd ball exception, not the standard.



This is the argument winner for me; that's all that really need be said.

If the Cleric does not wear heavy armour and wield a mace, it will not be the D&D Cleric. 

People complain about the Cleric treading on the Paladin's territory, but I see absolutely no need for yet another robe-wearing magic dude, like the hypothetical "priest" class; the Magic-user already has that squishy territory adequately covered, I think.

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.

Armor and weapons may not be unique to the cleric but they are an iconic part of the class. The D&D cleric has always been a battle front melee cleric, a combat medic type. The range spell casting cleric is the odd ball exception, not the standard.



This is the argument winner for me; that's all that really need be said.

If the Cleric does not wear heavy armour and wield a mace, it will not be the D&D Cleric. 

People complain about the Cleric treading on the Paladin's territory, but I see absolutely no need for yet another robe-wearing magic dude, like the hypothetical "priest" class; the Magic-user already has that squishy territory adequately covered, I think.


I agree with you that it (the non-armored priest character) shouldn't be a class.  Is there any reason however, why it shouldn't be a possible build of the Cleric class?

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.


I agree with you that it (the non-armored priest character) shouldn't be a class.  Is there any reason however, why it shouldn't be a possible build of the Cleric class?


I'm perfectly fine with it being possible (it's not hard--just buy robes for your 1st-level Cleric instead of mail), but I'd be bothered if it were optimal, or even represented in the game as being anywhere near as good at combat survival as the armoured Cleric.

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.


I agree with you that it (the non-armored priest character) shouldn't be a class.  Is there any reason however, why it shouldn't be a possible build of the Cleric class?


I'm perfectly fine with it being possible, but I'd be bothered if it were optimal, or even represented in the game as being anywhere near as good at combat survival as the armoured Cleric.


I'm a little leery of your use of the word optimal.  If you mean that it shouldn't be inherently better than the traditional cleric, then I agree.  Of course, I also expect the same in return; the traditional cleric shouldn't be inherently better than the priest version.

With regard to combat survival, I agree.  A priest version of the cleric would have less focus on their physical attributes in that they wouldn't need the extra strength for wearing heavy armor or hitting stuff real hard, and they would likely have a less rigorous focus on endurance for the same reasons.  Generally, I see a priest as mostly casting spells but perhaps having some nifty abilities they can do with uses of channelling energy.

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.

The Cleric should be more martial than the wizard and less martial than the thief. I think the cleric should be somewhat similar in HP's to the thief but not be as good at hitting with weapons. The thief may have a few less HP's but be better at hitting with weapons.

I didn't like how 2e Clerics were hardier AND better at hitting things AND could cast spells.
"If it's not a conjuration, how did the wizard con·jure/ˈkänjər/Verb 1. Make (something) appear unexpectedly or seemingly from nowhere as if by magic. it?" -anon "Why don't you read fire·ball / fī(-ə)r-ˌbȯl/ and see if you can find the key word con.jure /'kən-ˈju̇r/ anywhere in it." -Maxperson
The Cleric should be more martial than the wizard and less martial than the thief. I think the cleric should be somewhat similar in HP's to the thief but not be as good at hitting with weapons. The thief may have a few less HP's but be better at hitting with weapons.

I didn't like how 2e Clerics were hardier AND better at hitting things AND could cast spells.


I'm ok with making some classes better at combat, but I really hope we don't have another system like THAC0 or BAB.  I'd much rather have it be a flat bonus based on class skill.  For example, Wizards could get a +0, Clerics a +1, Thief/Rogue a +2, Fighter/Paladin/Barbarian/Monk a +3.  That makes some classes explicitly better at hitting, but it keeps the numbers from scaling out of control.

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.

I am of the opinion that it shouldn't be martial at all. There's the paladin for that. And various multiclassing combinations. I think the cleric should be a divine spellcaster, and that's it.
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
People complain about the Cleric treading on the Paladin's territory, but I see absolutely no need for yet another robe-wearing magic dude, like the hypothetical "priest" class; the Magic-user already has that squishy territory adequately covered, I think.

A sit back and spell cast class that invokes divine wrath upon it's foes is an obvious class, and needs to be supported somewhere. One of the more obvious problem in 3e was that it didn't support that concept well because a cleric's healing and offensive spells pulled from the same reserves. There are really three archetypes I would consider obvious here for a divine caster. The fire and brimstone divine wrath invoker, the type that uses pillar of fire and locust swarm to destroy foes. A divine summoner who brings forth blessed creatures and angels to fight his foes. Finally, the more mystic type that uses blessings and curses to assist allies and weaken foes in a more subtle and indirect way.

I am of the opinion that it shouldn't be martial at all. There's the paladin for that. And various multiclassing combinations. I think the cleric should be a divine spellcaster, and that's it.

Putting the divine warrior and combat medic into one class and the rest of the divine spell casting in another would work. However, if you want to go that way you should drop cleric entirely and call the divine ranged spell casting class a priest because it will be very different from the classic D&D cleric.


Really though, I don't care much how they divide up cleric/priest/paladin as long as they cover the major archetypes. For most class related things the functions and features can be divided up a lot of different equally valid ways. As I see it there are really 4 major archetypes that need to be covered. The divine warrior, the combat medic, the pacifist healer and the divine caster (with several possible variations within this).


I guess I see the combat medic as kind of an uninspiring middle ground between the divine warrior and the healer, best achieved through themes or multiclassing.  For that matter, I see healing as something the pure divine caster ought to be able to cover, too.

I guess, for my money, I want a holy warrior whose shtick is primarily about enhancing his own combat abilities and inspiring his allies, and a miracle worker who wields a whole mess of divine powers determined by the domains of her deity.  That miracle worker might be more or less martial depending on theme choices and things like that, but I don't see the default chosen-of-the-gods type relying on armor and weapons any more than a Wizard does.

I'd also like to point out that I don't really want either of those classes to be spell-casters.  It's always struck me as really weird that divine "spells" were a thing, and I loved how 4e changed the terminology to "prayers" (or was it miracles?).  Now, if only they'd actually make divine powers work differently from arcane ones, I'll be happy.
To my mind, if you are going to have the paladin be its own separate class, the the cleric should be more of a light- or non-armored divine spellcaster. That way, you have the mostly combat, slightly magic variant (paladin) and the mostly magic, slightly combat variant (cleric/priest). And you can add themes/backgrounds to read a more middle-ground if you want.

In generic terms, I see the two classes as:

Cleric (as is)
- heavy armor use, shield use (= high AC)
- moderate weapon selection
- moderate combat damage
- high spellcasting
- high healing

Paladin
- heavy armor use, shield use (=high AC)
- excellent weapon selection
- excellent combat damage
- low spellcasting
- low healing

That seems like a lot of overlap, to me. Separating out, or changing those items that are similar would help to differentiate.

Cleric/Priest
- Low or light armor use, no shields (or buckler/light shields only)
- Low to moderate weapon selection
- Low to moderate combat damage
- High spellcasting
- High healing

Paladin (same as above)

And the cleric/priest should NOT have any spells that allow it to become a better fighter than a Fighter (or paladin, barbarian, ranger, rogue, etc.), as existed in 3/.5e and below. 5e should do away with one class being able to invalidate other classes due to spellcasting.
Balance = Equally effective, but different, ways of reaching a goal or overcoming an obstacle.
Really though, I don't care much how they divide up cleric/priest/paladin as long as they cover the major archetypes. For most class related things the functions and features can be divided up a lot of different equally valid ways. As I see it there are really 4 major archetypes that need to be covered. The divine warrior, the combat medic, the pacifist healer and the divine caster (with several possible variations within this).


I guess I see the combat medic as kind of an uninspiring middle ground between the divine warrior and the healer, best achieved through themes or multiclassing.  For that matter, I see healing as something the pure divine caster ought to be able to cover, too.

I guess, for my money, I want a holy warrior whose shtick is primarily about enhancing his own combat abilities and inspiring his allies, and a miracle worker who wields a whole mess of divine powers determined by the domains of her deity.  That miracle worker might be more or less martial depending on theme choices and things like that, but I don't see the default chosen-of-the-gods type relying on armor and weapons any more than a Wizard does.

I'd also like to point out that I don't really want either of those classes to be spell-casters.  It's always struck me as really weird that divine "spells" were a thing, and I loved how 4e changed the terminology to "prayers" (or was it miracles?).  Now, if only they'd actually make divine powers work differently from arcane ones, I'll be happy.



The thing to be careful of is making the cleric so passive to get back to the point where most people don't want to play them again.  Clerics (healers) are the single most essential class archetype in the game.  If ANY should be overpowered at all, this is the one.

The worst thing that could be done, is to make them have no offense and be squishy so that whoever draws the short straw is "stuck" playing the cleric like it used to be in 2e.  Yes, you'd have your rare person who likes that but it's not for most.
I think the Paladin and (armored) Cleric have their own spaces.
Also, from the poll it is pretty clear that two classes (Cleric/Priest) would be much better than a single class.

As to buff spells, the easy solution is (1) limits the cumulation of buff effects, (2) buff spells that affect the entire party and (3) buff duration set to 10 minutes or so (and only as dailies).
I think the answer to the question has to wait until we answer, "what is the purpose of the cleric?" 

If the answer is "healing" then he or she really needs no martial ability or defense.

But, the 1e cleric wasn't merely a healer.  The 1e cleric (and 2e cleric/priest) were designed to be support for the rest of the party and a 2nd line of defense/combatant.  As such, better AC is necessary, but unless there's some other reason, anything greater than chainmail is probably unnecessary.  A cleric should be able to get into combat when necessary, for a short term, but they aren't designed for the long term viability as a fighter or paladin.  Even in that case, it's more important that they have a better defense than a better attack.  And that is why, in those editions, the cleric had a slower to hit progression than F/R/P.  I believe they were on the same table as thieves (which makes sense - thieves aren't really front-line combatants, but they would get better to hit bonuses based on circumstance, etc.)

So, I think good armor is necessary (and depending on the deity, maybe even plate mail would be appropriate.)  Good weapon proficiency and to hit progression would only be necessary to reflect that component of their deity (if appropriate), but should come with a corresponding reduction in other abilities.

This is what 2E did so well with spheres - you could really balance the cleric out in that regard (3e's domains were an evolution of that concept, but still were generally too generious to clerics.)

MArk 
The purpose of the cleric is /to be fun/, while providing certain things to the party that other classes may not provide.  The to be fun part should never be forgotten.
I guess I see the combat medic as kind of an uninspiring middle ground between the divine warrior and the healer, best achieved through themes or multiclassing.  For that matter, I see healing as something the pure divine caster ought to be able to cover, too.

I see combat medic as one of the defining archetypes for the divine classes. That is probably because I'm much more likely to play a combat medic then any other divine class though. That doesn't mean it couldn't be covered with a theme or multiclassing, depending on how the system works. It just needs to be clearly covered somewhere.

I think healing should be a defining feature of divine classes, but should vary across classes. The pacifist healer gets the best naturally, and should probably have a mix of healing powers that work at different ranges. The combat medic is next, his healing should be powerful, but have some limitations in range and how much he can use. The Paladin and Priest are at the end, the Paladin has fairly weak close range healing, often used to heal himself in battle, and the Priest has weak but long ranged healing to let him support people from a distance.

I'd also like to point out that I don't really want either of those classes to be spell-casters.  It's always struck me as really weird that divine "spells" were a thing, and I loved how 4e changed the terminology to "prayers" (or was it miracles?).  Now, if only they'd actually make divine powers work differently from arcane ones, I'll be happy.

I don't care about the terminology change, but changing the mechanics is just asking for trouble. If you go that way you need enchantments for bards, something for sorccers, whatever psionics ends up as, and probably a couple more systems. Just handling psionics on a seperate system has always been a problem, adding more would just be a mess.
The thing to be careful of is making the cleric so passive to get back to the point where most people don't want to play them again.  Clerics (healers) are the single most essential class archetype in the game.  If ANY should be overpowered at all, this is the one.


Honestly, I question the necessity of having a healing-focused class at all.  If we're convinced that people do not (as a rule) find healing to be a fun role by itself, why design the game so that healing is both extremely important and the primary job of one class (or even one role)?  The way I see it, CoDzilla was built to design a way out of a problem that didn't need to be there in the first place.

The worst thing that could be done, is to make them have no offense and be squishy so that whoever draws the short straw is "stuck" playing the cleric like it used to be in 2e.  Yes, you'd have your rare person who likes that but it's not for most.


Yeah, I'm definitely with you, here.  I don't think the Priest / unarmored Cleric should be limited to healing at all.  On the contrary, I think giving up the mace and shield would open up the possibility for loads of offensive divine powers, preferably based on domain choices.  The Invoker was one great example of how this could work, but certainly not the only possibility.
I don't care about the terminology change, but changing the mechanics is just asking for trouble. If you go that way you need enchantments for bards, something for sorccers, whatever psionics ends up as, and probably a couple more systems. Just handling psionics on a seperate system has always been a problem, adding more would just be a mess.


I know I'm asking for trouble, but that is seriously what I want.  I mean, I miss the diverse supernatural subsystems of 3e, even though half of them were badly broken.
Honestly, I question the necessity of having a healing-focused class at all.  If we're convinced that people do not (as a rule) find healing to be a fun role by itself, why design the game so that healing is both extremely important and the primary job of one class (or even one role)?  The way I see it, CoDzilla was built to design a way out of a problem that didn't need to be there in the first place.



Here's to hoping I didn't break the quotes to hades and back again...

I think that healing is something that's necessary; the party's heath is a resource to be managed like spells, potions or other consumables.  I think the key is to determine why healing is not fun, and come up with ideas that make it more fun.

In my mind, what made older edition clerics not fun, were silly mechanics and the fact that if I chose to be a heal bot that round, I didn't to do anything else.  It felt like my job was to enable other people to kick butt and have fun.  For the most part, offensively, my cleric smacked things with his morning star, but had a crummy thac0 and thus missed all the time.  Missing isn't fun.

4e clerics are a world apart.  As much as I hated being the cleric in 2e, I enjoy being a cleric in 4e, because while healing may be my primary job, it's not all I can do.  Depending on my power selection and my stats, I can smack things around with a hammer, or I can blast them from range  My damage isn't spectacular, but it's adding on.  I can kill-steal the strikers and give people bonuses.  My healing is minor action so it doesn't take my only chance to bring pain to the enemy or, it's a component of an offensive strike.

I'm getting to do go on the offense, /and/ heal my party; not /just/ heal my party and listen to them groan when I choose to do something besides heal.

now I'm not trying to say that 4e's system is perfect for clerics...but I definitely think that a 4e cleric is more fun then a 2e cleric, and the reason why is that the cleric isn't limited to /only/ healing on his turn.  Keeping the cleric player engaged and interested is key.

EDIT:  While I'm easily a striker at heart, and love my sorc to death, my second choice would be a healer type.  I just love what they have done with them in 4e.  I like helping my party and still being able to smack a baddie in the face too.
Honestly, I question the necessity of having a healing-focused class at all.

Mostly because of the raw apoplexy the very concept of 'martial healing' invokes for some unknown reason.
Armor and weapons may not be unique to the cleric but they are an iconic part of the class. The D&D cleric has always been a battle front melee cleric, a combat medic type. The range spell casting cleric is the odd ball exception, not the standard.



This is the argument winner for me; that's all that really need be said.

If the Cleric does not wear heavy armour and wield a mace, it will not be the D&D Cleric. 

People complain about the Cleric treading on the Paladin's territory, but I see absolutely no need for yet another robe-wearing magic dude, like the hypothetical "priest" class; the Magic-user already has that squishy territory adequately covered, I think.



I agree with you that it (the non-armored priest character) shouldn't be a class.  Is there any reason however, why it shouldn't be a possible build of the Cleric class?



It IS a possible build.
Always has been.  (well, at least in non-4e games)

See, it's real easy, you just don't kit your cleric out in armour.  Voila; an un-armoured priest.... 
And then? If your vision of an unarmoured priest also doesn't involve swinging weapons or casting certain spells?  Guess what, you don't choose to use those options either.

What you don't need in order to do this is;
WoTC permission,
Any special benifits for choosing not to use an option.  

I think that healing is something that's necessary; the party's heath is a resource to be managed like spells, potions or other consumables.


I think the resource management minigame is fun, but I don't know if the damage-vs.-healing race is really fun in the middle of combat.  For my money, I'd be satisfied with healing being a thing that happens (and consumes resources) after the fight is over, without occupying any one character's actions.

In my mind, what made older edition clerics not fun, were silly mechanics and the fact that if I chose to be a heal bot that round, I didn't to do anything else.  It felt like my job was to enable other people to kick butt and have fun.


Yeah, I think this is the big issue.  But what about more active forms of butt-kick-enabling?  For example, is playing a lazy Warlord boring?  I've never done it myself, but it looks really cool.  I think you can have a lot of fun without doing direct damage yourself, as long as you're still rolling dice, making decisions, and having a progressive (rather than merely preventative) effect on the fight.

So, if in-combat healing has to be a thing, I really like the idea of getting rid of "cure" spells and instead sneaking healing effects in along with buffs.  That way, you're never "just" healing.


Really, I think I'd like to see the 5e Cleric work a lot like a 4e laser Cleric, Invoker, or combination thereof.  With lots of theme/domain options, as well.


Mostly because of the raw apoplexy the very concept of 'martial healing' invokes for some unknown reason.


Yeah, that's a problem.  I suspect a shift in presentation might make a difference, there: if we stopped calling every effect that restored hit points "healing", maybe people would realize that the Warlock is not shouting people's wounds closed.
To truly explore this topic, I think we need to look at where these class concepts came from.  The concepts of Paladins and Clerics were born of role-played restrictions and modified equipment lists.  If future concepts of these classes will change such concepts, these iconic classes must be redefined, and the entire D&D community mustn't be upset at any core-concept changes to these classes.

In earlier editions, a Paladin stepped on everyone's toes.  He was as capable as a fighter, he could (eventually) heal and use prayers like a cleric, and he was as diplomatic as a bard.  However, he had to maintain a certain standard of behavior; if he deviated by any margin, he became a standard fighter.

Clerics used reduced weapon lists and didn't gain the high-Consititution HP bonuses that Paladins received.  But clerics could use prayers to augment their abilities and provide boons to allies and hindrances to enemies.  

 If we keep the role-played restrictions in place, Paladins won't step on fighters' feet too often; each class will have a distinct feel and approach toward the game.  If we impose limitations on what the cleric can use in battle, its spells become more important to the class' concept.

However, if we want to find a balanced cleric that functions mostly as a prayer-wielding priest, we will have a hole in the entire schematic.  Traditional (iconic) clerics were powerful for a reason; they could stand side-by-side with a fighter, handle themselves in combat, and use prayers to turn the tides of battle while they stood in the thick of things.  A priest class won't have that ability.
To truly explore this topic, I think we need to look at where these class concepts came from.

Chainmail, and the earliest bits of D&D74.

The Fighting-Man and Magic-User are theoretically murdering things on every action.  The Cleric, meanwhile, had to be given not-quite-as-good-as-Fighting-Man combat abilites, so it would have something to do apart from stand around waiting to heal the Fighting-Man, while not obsoleting the fighting-man (that came later, with Ranger and Paladin).

I agree with you.  I've tried out many different versions of clerics in 4e, and my preference is the stand in the back and blast things type rather then the get up close and personal with a hammer type.  The fact that both are feasible is a good thing.
Armor and weapons may not be unique to the cleric but they are an iconic part of the class. The D&D cleric has always been a battle front melee cleric, a combat medic type. The range spell casting cleric is the odd ball exception, not the standard.



This is the argument winner for me; that's all that really need be said.

If the Cleric does not wear heavy armour and wield a mace, it will not be the D&D Cleric. 

People complain about the Cleric treading on the Paladin's territory, but I see absolutely no need for yet another robe-wearing magic dude, like the hypothetical "priest" class; the Magic-user already has that squishy territory adequately covered, I think.



I agree with you that it (the non-armored priest character) shouldn't be a class.  Is there any reason however, why it shouldn't be a possible build of the Cleric class?



It IS a possible build.
Always has been.  (well, at least in non-4e games)

See, it's real easy, you just don't kit your cleric out in armour.  Voila; an un-armoured priest.... 
And then? If your vision of an unarmoured priest also doesn't involve swinging weapons or casting certain spells?  Guess what, you don't choose to use those options either.

What you don't need in order to do this is;
WoTC permission,
Any special benifits for choosing not to use an option.  


So your answer is just to build a character and not play it to its potential?

That's not a helpful solution.  You could say the same thing about fighters and martial arts.  Do we really need the monk when we can just make a fighter with no armor and weapons?  Of course, if we do that, then we get all the joy of watching him die exponentially more often and being almost useless because he was built to be competent/effective when using the very things that would be stripped away.

You can build any class to be strictly inferior (both to others of its class and characters of other classes) just to fill a character concept or archetype, but what good reason is there for having to do so?

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.

My experience, with both TT games and MMOs, is that there are people who like to play support characters, who have little or no useful direct offense. However, they need enough options to be tactically interesting, and thus have to do more than just heal -- usually, the result is a character who alternates heals with buffs and debuffs.

The problem, however, is that the number of people who want to play such characters is relatively small, meaning your average group of players has a high chance of not having anyone who actually wants to play that character. This leaves something of a dilemma: either you have to make that character unnecessary, or someone has to play a character they really don't want to play.
Option 3.
Acting like it's necessary to hog-tie the class to either a robed or an armored concept is pretty silly.  If designed competently, it could easily encompass both concepts - which is precisely what it should do.  

Either that or make them 2 separate classes, but that really seems unnecessary.

 
I think I would vote for option 3.  Make cleric the hit them in face with a mace build.  His spells tend to focus on ally/self buffing or are close range offensive, he's tougher and is not a liability in melee combat.  Make priest the ranged caster who also heals.  He gets to do offense through things like cause fear and flame strike, but is not good at melee and not as tough.  Maybe think of the lazer/pacifist or invoker in 4E for the priest and the battle cleric/warpriest for the cleric.

The main thing is that they need keep healing something like what happened in 4E, where if you heal it is not the only thing you get to do that round or if it is the only thing you do that round, its a really massive amount.  I like playing support characters and have always liked playing clerics to some extent, but they need to be interesting.

And domains should be written up before the classes are published so they can implemented to make each domain get some interesting and flavorful options from day 1.  Putting domains off until divine power was a mistake IMO and should have been done more like the PHB domains in 3.5.
You could take healing away from combat.  It would work too.  But then front-line fighters would have to retreat when low on HP and let others fill the gap.  Perfectly acceptable in concept, but equally as likely to garner complaints from the fighters who don't think its "heroic" to have to retreat all the time.

I understand that many people don't want to be the healbot/buffer, so they are asking to be able to heal and fight at the same time.  The real question is whether they would be satisfied with healing half as much and being half as effective in combat.  My guess is the answer is no.  They want to heal and then, in the same round, fight as well as any other character.  The problem is if that becomes the case, why would anyone play anything other than a cleric. 

In fact, I heard of a party that consisted of all clerics in 3e.  Built one way using Divine Favor and Righteous Might (prior to FAQs) they could fight as well as almost any fighter.  Built others they were as good as wizards in terms of casting divine lasers or fireballs.  Then of course they would have healing specialists.  A complete party in one class...

The point being there are gives and takes.  Asking to both heal and fight in the same round means, for class balance sake, one's fighting is going to be vastly inferior to all other party members.  If not, we end up with the 3e scenario mentioned above.

Personally, I'd rather be able to heal fully one round or fight fully another.  To pick and choose, round-by-round, is easier and more versatile than doing both every round and being mediocre at both.
Dragon Magazine, Issue 52 (August 1981)
The cleric-adventurer is not a meek priest; he is a warrior who has spells and magical powers to aid him as he destroys the enemies of his god. Like Archbishop Turpin, he can use his powers to bless and support his comrades, and he is an able fighter in his own right, second only to a professional warrior in skill.
[...]
Clericadventurers are trained warriors; they fight better than trained men-at-arms, are comfortable with armor, and are bold enough to enter places no cynical mercenary would dare come near. They are warrior-priests, and it should show in their outlook. This warlike outlook is evident in a properly motivated cleric player character. Why does a cleric-adventurer go on adventures? Certainly not just to play medic; he could do that where it’s safe — people get hurt everywhere.
[...]
His motives are basically aggressive: he wants to destroy his god’s enemies, wrest away their wealth, and accumulate personal experience in a rapid but risky manner; and all for his god’s benefit. This is a cleric worthy of Turpin’s approval. After all, how meek can you expect a person who fights terrible monsters to be? Just descending into a dungeon is an act of uncommon boldness. The cleric-adventurer isn’t, and really can’t be, a meek healer. His purpose demands that he be a bold killer, a champion of his god.