Why Can't Anyone Be a Priest/Priestess/Cleric?

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I hope this is the right forum as this is a question that is causing me some trouble with both a storyline scenerio and a 'campaign'. What stops every follower of a particular deity from becoming a cleric? I mean if you have a ranger or a fighter or even a farmwife who pledges to, say, Bahamut, why can't they all be granted clerical powers if they asked the deity for the power to heal? What stops a deity from simply making all his/her followers into clerics and giving them all power? Wouldn't such a thing benefit both his/her followers and the deity in terms of power and self preservation?

Thanks and sorry if this has been discussed before. But it's something I've been trying to understand for a long while. I understand that clerics "go the extra step" to follow their deity, but what about, say, a mage who is a devout follower of Bahamut and suddenly they get injured and need healing but no clerics are around to help?

Usstan kla'ath l' orn d'lil Orbdrinus Senger! Vhaeraun zhah naut elghinyrr; uk zhah er'griff velkresa wun l' veldrin...

This is entirely up to the DM and the players to determine as part of their campaign.

It's also worth noting that the metagame concept of the Cleric class != the in-game concept of a priest of a god.  Not all priests are Clerics, and not all Clerics are priests.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
"all priests are Clerics, and not all Clerics are priests"

Can you explain this to me? I guess it's been a while. I understand that a ranger might be able to do clerical stuff, and a paladin, right? But how can not all priests be clerics?

Basically I myself (sorta my own DM here) need a specific reason to explain WHY gods, who are vying for followers, won't just give the ability to heal (and do other divine magic stuff) to everyone who proclaims to follow them.

Usstan kla'ath l' orn d'lil Orbdrinus Senger! Vhaeraun zhah naut elghinyrr; uk zhah er'griff velkresa wun l' veldrin...

"all priests are Clerics, and not all Clerics are priests"

Can you explain this to me? I guess it's been a while. I understand that a ranger might be able to do clerical stuff, and a paladin, right? But how can not all priests be clerics?

Basically I myself (sorta my own DM here) need a specific reason to explain WHY gods, who are vying for followers, won't just give the ability to heal (and do other divine magic stuff) to everyone who proclaims to follow them.



Becuase clerics go out and swing maces and fight dragons and call down divine wrath on foes of their god. That's a helluva lot more then a follower or your average priest.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Because gods have more important things to do than pay attention to every measly little blob of protoplasm that calls out their name.

Because the gods don't actually exist.

Because you have to undergo special training.

Because you have to be the recipient of a ritual.

Because you have to be born with a special spark to draw the attention of the divine.

And probably another hundred possibilities that depend on campaign setting.  In other words, it's your decision.  Heck, you can even just fall back on the 'gods work in mysterious ways' copout and not explain it at all.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.


Because the gods don't actually exist.



I thought they were real? Embodiments of pure Astral 
 energy and whatnot..
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Depends on the setting. They're embodiments of astral energy in the Nentir Vale setting, sure. The Eberron setting has a completely different take on what gods are (or aren't).
"all priests are Clerics, and not all Clerics are priests"

Can you explain this to me? I guess it's been a while. I understand that a ranger might be able to do clerical stuff, and a paladin, right? But how can not all priests be clerics?



A priest is primarily a spiritual leader.  His role is to spread the word about his diety's teachings.  And while a cleric may be just as capable of being a priest, the cleric is a religious warrior, first and foremost.  His role is to act as an extension of his god's will by defending the faithful, striking against enemies of the faith, and otherwise pursuing dangerous tasks.  This is why clerics are trained for combat and are invested with divine magics.  While a cleric could settle down and be a priest for a local town, it would generally be a waste of his skills and purpose.  It's the difference between a scientist and a college professor.  A general and a drill sargent. A knight and a town guardsman.  

Now, as for why the gods simply don't make every follower a cleric, first, let me just preface this by saying that the answer ultimately depends on the campaign setting.  With that out of the way, there could be many reasons.  So think of the following as possible suggestions rather than absolutes.  Also, these suggestions are not mutually exclusive.  Feel free to combine them with any other idea presented here or with whatever you can come up with.


If you're going by default 4e fluff, the gods don't grant divine powers to the faithful.  Rather, their churches do so via special rituals of ordination and investiture.  And once this power is granted, it can never again be taken away.  In the case of a rogue cleric, it is the church that has to deal with the issue.  The gods play no part in any of this (usually, at least).  Again, this is default 4e flavor, but there are several ways we can expand upon it.

Considering that the powers of a divine class cannot be taken away, churches will not want to give out such gifts lightly, in the same way that you don't start handing out free guns an ammo to anyone who wants them.  Giving cleric-lasers to every bumpkin who pays lip service is obviously asking for trouble.  There's a sidebar in Divine Power wherein Alandra learns the lessons of giving out divine gifts too freely when she inadvertently created the changling race.  So even the gods know this lesson.

The process of ordination might have prohibitive requirements to performing them.  With standard rituals, for example, you have to consider component casts and level requirements for mastering said rituals.  While the fluff never goes into detail exactly what ordination entails, it can be assumed granted someone divine power is not so simple as going to the local Mage Mart and buying enough holy water and magic incense.  Special components, magic location, or celestial events, or ancient artifacts could be required, for example.

It's also implied in several sources that clerics are specifically trained in their craft.  You can't simply earn the power or have it granted to you on a silver platter.  Become a cleric requires tedious physical, mental, and spirtual training.  Not every civilian can be a soldier.  Not every soldier can be a marine.  And not every faithful can be a cleric.

Channeling divine power might require more devotion than most people have.  It's not enough to attend services, abide by the tenets of your faith, or even be willing to live and die for the cause.  It requires you to have a special enlightenment regarding your faith.  To actually feel like you're a literal part of your cause and the god you serve.  And only by obtaining that enlightenment that you can realize the secrets of channeling the divine.

Similar to how sorcerers are born with the gift of magic, a potential divine character might need to have some sort of gift for channeling the divine.  It might require a soul that's in tune with the astral sea, or an innate 6th sense that allows you to feel and manipulate the energies required - Or at least do so without killing yourself in the backlash.  You are channeling the raw stuff of the astral sea, after all.

Drifting away from default flavor, the gods themselves my have limits on how many divine characters they can ordain, either by some innate limited defined by the strength of the god or mandated by some ancient law (such as the agreement with the primal spirits that prevents most gods from walking the mortal world (as detailed in Primal Power, IIRC)).

The gods may not want the world to be too dependent on them.  Clerics are a way to show that the gods are there and willing to help and aid, but still want the world to stand on its own feet.  Why the gods may feel this way could be for a whole multitude of campaign-specific reasons.

The gods may be fickle and capricious.  Or they may be using you in an ever increasingly complex game of divine batman gambitry with other gods, demons, and creatures of similar power.  Either way, they dole out power on their own whims and for their own reasons.

The investiture of divine power may be over even the god's head.  Instead, it is some other, more unknowable force, that places divine power in the hands of mortals.  In previous editions, for example, it was implied in some places that the raw powers of the alignments held some sway in shaping the world.

...And that's all I got for the moment.



Because the gods don't actually exist.



I thought they were real? Embodiments of pure Astral 
 energy and whatnot..



Depends on the campaign setting.  In Eberron, for example, the gods may or may not exist.  Unlike in other setting, there is no absolute proof that the gods exist, and whether they exist or not is one of the setting open-ended plot points.  If they do exist, you can't potentially visit them like you could in Greyhawk or the default Points of Light setting.  There are still divine classes.  Cleric, paladins, and the like still exist to take up the mantle of their respective faiths.  But do so only in faith.

In the Dark Sun campaign setting, there are definitely no gods.  Additionally, divine classes are restricted by default.
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Fireclave, thank you for that long and thoughtful response! *-* I will have to read it again later when I have my notes around me.

Basically my "campaign setting" is sorta a fanfic book I'm writing, but the world is not FR. Rather, an unknown event brought various gods of the D&D/FR world to my world, one that was abandoned by their gods hundreds of years ago, so there are 13 gods vying to get followers and play their grand sava game :D

But, the issue is magic is quite different from how it works in a D&D setting, so bringing divine power into it is going to create an interesting balance. That's partly why I needed these questions answered. Thank you muchly! I like the idea of granting divine power channeling is not wholly up to the gods; that something has to be in balance, but the mortals themselves don't know that.  

Also, thank you for explaining the differences between a cleric and a priest. I have a CG drow mage whom I wonder can multiclass as a cleric since he pretty much works for his god actively anyway... just usually as a mage, but I guess the cleric class would be a nice boost.

Usstan kla'ath l' orn d'lil Orbdrinus Senger! Vhaeraun zhah naut elghinyrr; uk zhah er'griff velkresa wun l' veldrin...

There is an "Ordained Priest" theme that suits characters who operate as actual missionaries, regardless of class.

As far as the D&D standard, divine magic doesn't really need gods around to exist, since its use is granted by ceremonial investiture, and gods aren't strictly necessary for that. It's just common convention in settings like the Nentir Vale for that investiture to be performed by clergy in the name of this or that god.
While I seldom DM, in my campaign setting--the diffence between a Cleric and a normal follower is devotion.  A Cleric is a champion of his god, a normal follower is someone who occasionally sends prayers.
While I seldom DM, in my campaign setting--the diffence between a Cleric and a normal follower is devotion.  A Cleric is a champion of his god, a normal follower is someone who occasionally sends prayers.


This. If a follower works hard to spread the values and beliefs of his god around the world, and acts in accordance to the tenets of his god's faith, then the god might notice him and grant him powers.
Depends on the setting. They're embodiments of astral energy in the Nentir Vale setting, sure. The Eberron setting has a completely different take on what gods are (or aren't).


Dark Sun doesn't even have Gods.

I once played a Fallen Paladin of the Raven Queen. Fallen only because he would rather fight with his fists than a sword, which I guess didn't really make sense looking back. I basically created a character that was a lvl 8 Monk that was able to wear Plate armor, because hey why not?

Setting wise the DM liked the idea that I was a Paladin who decided to worship my Deity in a different way. Whereas the other players saw me as a weirdo and occasionally placed blasts of lightning around me. The cost of Divine powers added to the strength of the religion or so we said.
Ant Farm
Why would not using a sword make you 'fall'?  Never mind the fact that there's no such thing as a fallen paladin anymore ...
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Why would not using a sword make you 'fall'?  Never mind the fact that there's no such thing as a fallen paladin anymore ...

Ny guess would be that he's a paladin of the Godess od Death, and swords are more lethal, but I honestly don't know.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Why would not using a sword make you 'fall'?  Never mind the fact that there's no such thing as a fallen paladin anymore ...


I took it to mean that he described his character as a 'fallen paladin' because he wanted him to have the 'paladin' backstory, but used the monk class mechanics so that he could fight unarmed.

These days, of course, it would make more sense to just play a paladin (or blackguard) and take the Master of the Fist feat.

"My flying carpet is full of elves."

The way I see it, and the way I run it, is that the Cleric class is something that a person has to take up and pledge their life to, just like any other class.  If you want to be good at something, you have to practice at it, ie. gaining levels by getting experience grants you more knowledge in your profesion.  You can stop being a Cleric and multi class with Fighter, but you stop learning anything new as a cleric and begin the life of a man of war.  You can always come back to learn more things about what it is to be a Cleric of better training, but you'll never be able to surpass the high Clerics as you have chosen to split your occupation, meaning that time spent learning to be a Fighter is time lost larning what it is to be a better Cleric. Both in the respect that usualy your character doesn't live long enough to learn both profesions to their fullest, and in that characters only make it to level 20 or now-a-days 30 before they give up adventuring and retire or die.  However you never lose that knowledge and you can come back to it when you need it.

 Now, a fighter that wants to worship the god of war for exampe, can do so, however because he never pledges his life to furthering his god's beliefs or teachings, the Fighter just Fights in his name, the god doesn't have to share his/her power.  only those that pledge to the gods to further their influance, or those of great renown (usually a Paladin) gain spells from their god among other divine boons.

This is all in a role playing perspective.  Mechanically i see it a bit different.

I have found that nobody plays a Cleric in my 4e games because Clerics are no longer needed.  With every one having Healing surges to heal themselves, nobody feels the need for cure light wounds anymore.  Even the afformentioned cure light wounds uses other character's surges, so it's not even like the cleric is using divine magic to heal his party.  It's more like the Cleric is just telling the other PC to use his own surges and heal himself, it's not the Cleric or the god healing, it's the wounded PC's own abilities.
the afformentioned cure light wounds uses other character's surges,



No, it doesn't.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
the afformentioned cure light wounds uses other character's surges,



No, it doesn't.




It uses the character's surge value, sorry I forgot a word.  It's the same effect though.  It's still the Character using it's normal healing ability, without it being expended, but it just doesn't have the same feel as a Cleric asking his/her god to heal a wounded companion.  It's still "hey you, gain your surge value on your own."
the afformentioned cure light wounds uses other character's surges,



No, it doesn't.




It uses the character's surge value, sorry I forgot a word.  It's the same effect though.  It's still the Character using it's normal healing ability, without it being expended, but it just doesn't have the same feel as a Cleric asking his/her god to heal a wounded companion.  It's still "hey you, gain your surge value on your own."



If the cleric didn't get beaucoup bonus healing, and do so without the healing character actual requiring an action of his own instead of using a Standard ... I still wouldn't agree with you.

Besides, it's a good thing that nobody has to play the cleric.  It means the players can play what they want, which is how it should work.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
*Shrug* I know how you feel, BuddhaKai.  That's why I tend to play 3.5e (and earlier). 
the afformentioned cure light wounds uses other character's surges,



No, it doesn't.




It uses the character's surge value, sorry I forgot a word.  It's the same effect though.  It's still the Character using it's normal healing ability, without it being expended, but it just doesn't have the same feel as a Cleric asking his/her god to heal a wounded companion.  It's still "hey you, gain your surge value on your own."



No. It means that the Cleric is asking  his/her god to heal wounded companion, and the amount healed (Which has no bearing on fluff) is the same as the character's healing surge, which is a balanced amount.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
The effect is functionally identical to "the target regains one quarter of his/her maximum HPs". Given that HPs are an abstract metagame concept and 1 HP for a fighter is not intended (and was never intended in any edition of D&D) to represent objectively the same amount of 'injury' as 1 HP for a wizard, I don't see the problem.

"My flying carpet is full of elves."

"all priests are Clerics, and not all Clerics are priests"

Can you explain this to me? I guess it's been a while. I understand that a ranger might be able to do clerical stuff, and a paladin, right? But how can not all priests be clerics?

Basically I myself (sorta my own DM here) need a specific reason to explain WHY gods, who are vying for followers, won't just give the ability to heal (and do other divine magic stuff) to everyone who proclaims to follow them.


Cleric is a game-mechanical construct, a WIS- or STR-primary leader, with a wide variety of healing options.

Priest is an in-story occupation, one who leads a congregation devoted to a particular religion or whatnot.

There is no equivalence between the two.  A person in-game can be a priest, without having the PC class of Cleric (and, indeed, almost all priests will share this fact in common - the PCs are a VERY small proportion of the world, and nobody else has PC classes, at east in 4e).  Conversely, a character can be a Cleric, and never have even entered a church, let alone worked as a priest.

Game mechanical concepts do not have to mean in-world concepts.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
""Basically I myself (sorta my own DM here) need a specific reason to explain WHY gods, who are vying for followers, won't just give the ability to heal (and do other divine magic stuff) to everyone who proclaims to follow them.""

And if you give it to everyone, then why would anyone come to pay tribute and make offerings to me and support my chosen "favorites", thereby making me have to feed them. 

No, the heck with that.  If you want my power to heal you, you better come with cash, barter goods, or a pledge of service.  These bitches are mine, and they require upkeep. 

It ain't easy pimping healing.  Cool     

"As with any other set of miniatures rules, they are guidelines to follow in designing your own fantastic-medieval campaign."
And once this power is granted, it can never again be taken away




Ooh.
Thanks, you just gave me a way better explanation for something.
An evil god kills the raven queen and takes her powers. First i thought this would make the player who's a cleric of the raven queen lose it's power. and as an explanation i'd claim the evil god thought nothing of them and allowed him to use his powers.

But this, this works way, way, way better.

Thanks 
"Into the heart of battle, I shall walk In the eye of the storm, I will stand Onto the end of the earth, I shall hunt In defence of others, I shall fight For honour and glory, I will live And for justice, I would die"
Play with this possibility a bit:

Gods are real. But they are uplifted beings from history - possibly the history of other worlds or other planes.

They are gods because of their connection to the source of divine power. They are not THEMSELVES the source. They may or may not understand the source, or understand their connection to that source.

Gods have a ritual for investing others as gods. However it takes several of them working together, and as they are somewhat jealous of their power and less than fully trusting of other beings (gods or not) it takes quite a lot to convince a group of them to agree that (a) another god is needed and (b) "*I* would be a good choice to be that new god."

Even the gods have no idea how the first few gods became gods. Some of the more intellectual gods have been investigating this question for thousands of years.

A single god on his own can invest a cleric. A cleric thus invested gains his power through the god, and if that link is broken the cleric loses his access to the divine power. Gods very rarely choose to do this other than shortly after their investiture.

However, clerics have also developed a ritual to invest others as clerics. Again, it takes several of them - and it establishes a direct connection to the still-mysterious source of divine power, without going through any god. Even if all clerics participating in the ritual are directly invested by a single god.

Clerics can tap similar quantities of divine power - and vastly less than any god can tap - regardless of how they are invested. 

"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose