Saturday, January 16, 2016

AD&D Players Handbook part 12: Clerics and Druids

I'm back from the holiday hiatus.  Time to crack on with the Players Handbook, and make some headway with this Sisyphean Labour.

The Cleric: Although the entry for clerics begins with some statistical stuff, I'd like to begin by noting Gary's description of what a cleric is.  This is the first time in the game that the inspiration for the class has been outlined, so it's of note.  Gary states that the class "bears a certain resemblance to religious orders of knighthood of medieval times", which sounds to me like the Knights Templar and other similar orders.  Not that AD&D clerics are explicitly Christian; despite the origins of the class and certain trappings things are kept vague enough to avoid real-world religions.  Clerics worship one or more deities, and wield holy symbols that vary depending on the deity worshiped.  The role of the cleric is to "fortify, protect, and revitalize."  (Talk of specific deities wasn't really present in OD&D (excepting Supplement IV, of course).  Clerics in that game were aligned with either Law or Chaos. Low-level clerics could be neutral, but by 7th level they had to pick a side.)

I'm slightly surprised to see that clerics aren't allowed to be true neutral in alignment.  Every other alignment is permissible (depending on that of the cleric's deity), but true neutral is reserved for druids when it comes to divine spellcasters.

Once again it's noted that all clerics are forbidden to use edged and pointed weapons that draw blood.  I've always felt that weapon use should vary depending on the values of the cleric's deity, but it's worth pondering the idea that there's something inherent in the very nature of divine magic that makes clerics unable to used edged weapons.  It's not an easy thing to justify off the cuff, but I'll put some more thought to it.

Something I've noticed while reading the cleric entry is just how much information is reserved for the Dungeon Masters Guide.  Their ability to turn or control undead, demons and devils is mentioned, but the table isn't given here.  The list of magic items they can use is vaguely described, as are combat ability and saving throws.

Clerics of 8th level can build a place of worship, which will attract from 20-200 fanatically loyal followers.  Again, the details are left to the DMG.  Clerics of 9th level are able to build a stronghold, and the church will foot half of the bill.  They can tax the inhabitants of their land at 9 silver pieces per person per month.  (This ability came at 8th level in OD&D, and taxes were at 20 gold pieces per year.  An AD&D inhabitant provides 108sp per year, which converts to a bit over 20gp.  Nice to see that the math is comparable.)

The number of experience points needed to advance is the same at low levels in AD&D and OD&D, but at higher levels AD&D clerics advance a little more slowly.  The level titles have also been altered, as shown below.

OD&D: 1 - Acolyte, 2 - Adept, 3 - Village Priest, 4 - Vicar, 5 - Curate, 6 - Bishop, 7 - Lama, 8 - Patriarch

AD&D: 1 - Acolyte, 2 - Adept, 3 - Priest, 4 - Curate, 5 - ???, 6 - Canon, 7 - Lama, 8 - Patriarch, 9 - High Priest

Village Priest has been altered to the more generic Priest, which is better.  No level title is given for 5th-level clerics in AD&D; I wonder if this was a mistake?  Vicar and Bishop have been removed, presumably because they are too specifically Christian. If that's the case, it's odd that the Buddhist Lama didn't get cut as well.

AD&D clerics gain spells faster than those in OD&D, and it should be noted that they can cast spells at 1st level.  Clerics in the original game had no spellcasting capabilities until 2nd level.

The Druid: Said to be a sub-class of the cleric.  They are priests of nature, viewing good, evil, law and chaos as balancing forces necessary for the continuation of all things.  Their spells are more attuned to nature, but they still serve the same support role as clerics.  They are later described as "medieval cousins of what the ancient Celtic sect of Druids would have become had it survived the Roman conquest".  (This is to be taken as an example, of course, and not a literal insertion of the Roman Empire and the Celts into canon.) 

Druids have a fairly strict code of behavior to adhere to.  They treat trees (especially oak and ash), the sun and the moon as deities.  As in OD&D, mistletoe is their holy symbol, and is said here to give power to their spells.  They have an obligation to protect trees and plants, and to a lesser extent animals and their human followers.  They won't destroy trees or crops under any circumstances, and try to avoid killing wild and domestic animals unless necessary for survival.  If they witness someone destroying their charges they are unlikely to risk their lives to intervene, but will probably take their vengeance at a later date.  (This is all pretty much as laid out in OD&D.)

A character must have a wisdom of 12+ and a charisma of 15+ in order to qualify to play as a druid.  (In OD&D the charisma requirement was 14+).

At 3rd level, druids gain the following abilities: they can identify different types of plants and animals, tell if water is pure, and pass through overgrown areas without leaving a trail.  (In OD&D, druids gained these abilities at 2nd level.)

At 7th level they gain even more abilities: immunity to charm spells cast by woodland creatures, and the ability to change their shape into any bird, mammal or reptile.  (OD&D druids gained these powers at 6th level.)

Druids still have their own secret language, and as in OD&D they gain another woodland language at 3rd level and every level thereafter.  Four languages have been added to the selection from OD&D: faun, gnome, lizardman, and treantish.  (At first I thought that fauns weren't anywhere to be found in the Monster Manual, but it turns out that it's another name for a satyr.)

Druids fight like clerics, but they can't use metallic armour or shields.  Their allowable weapons are: clubs, daggers, darts, hammers, scimitars, slings, spears and staves.  (I've always felt that the scimitar was an odd choice.  Perhaps it's meant to represent a sickle or a scythe, being the only curved sword on the equipment list.)  Darts, hammers and slings weren't allowed for druids in OD&D, so the class has become a little more versatile.  Their saving throws are the same as for clerics, but they get a +2 bonus against fire and electricity (in OD&D, this ability applied only to fire).

As in OD&D, druids have a hierarchy, an there are a limited number allowed at higher levels.  There can only be nine druids of 12th level (Druids), three druids of 13th level (Arch-Druids), and but one druid of 14th level (The Great Druid).  Any character wishing to move up into an occupied spot has to win a duel (either spellcasting or melee).  Presumably this is a world-wide hierarchy, although it's not stated as such.  (In OD&D there could be only four druids of 11th level, two Arch-Druids of 12th level, and one Great Druid of 13th level.)

The level titles are much the same for druids in OD&D and AD&D, except that the new title of Ovate has been created for 2nd level characters, resulting in all the other titles being bumped up by one.  Level advancement is a about the same rate, but an AD&D druid needs about twice as much XP to become the Great Druid, due to the extra level needed to attain that rank (i.e. you need to be 14th instead of 13th).  AD&D druids can generally cast more spells per day than those in OD&D.

Druids who attain the three top ranks gain followers, but they don't go building strongholds.  Instead they tend to dwell in small buildings of sod, logs or stone, and at higher levels may live in a complex of such buildings.