Clerics suck: Gods and Religion in AFG (also excerpt)

Clerics suck in D&D.

No, not because the class is weak (it’s mighty fine, let me tell you), but because the religion and worshipping is completely unrepresented in the class mechanics and completely unrelated and unnecessary to casting spells. It’s like giving thieves extra money but no pick-pocket and lock-picking skills.

It sucks, really. And, please, clerics apologists, don’t try to make me change my mind. I got rid of the cleric class in AFG already: all spells are available to all casters (well, if they can learn them).

So, yes, clerics are gone from AFG land, but not the clergy, the faithful, the fanatics and the cultist. AFG has plenty of these: the first “real” cleric in the Western League campaign was a worshipper of Cthulhu. Cthulhu the Harbinger of Life. Yes, you read that correctly, it’s described in the excerpt linked below.

I wanted religion to be meaningful: worshipping brings benefits, and simply picking a class with meh spells and limited weapon selection is not enough. AFG structures religions so that blessings are awarded based on specific criteria:

  • Worship, such as sacrifices and praying, will bring some limited benefit.
  • Charisma (grace given from the gods) is reserved to those few that are chosen.
  • Henosis, getting one with one’s god, makes one similar to a god (and thus powerful) through sympathy of action.

In addition blessings can be gained by making offers at various altars and statues around the world: feeding golden demon statues confers small blessings too.

Faith is all-powerful. Clicky clicky and read the excerpt from the religion chapter of AFG from the latest draft.

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6 thoughts on “Clerics suck: Gods and Religion in AFG (also excerpt)

  1. You’re proselytizing to the Temple Singers here.

    In a world with clerics, wouldn’t everyone be trying to be a cleric? After all, religion requires absolutely no FAITH. You have direct proof that the gods exist. So, some other form of devotion must be required, and in return for that, you get magic powers. How would wizards even come into being? Why would anyone have bothered when they could be clerics or at least try to be.

    Caught a typo in the religion excerpt: 5.2 (Dove) 3rd paragraph, 2nd line, insert ‘to’ between ‘pray’ & ‘Dove'; unless you are using pray in an unusual way with which I’m not familiar.

    • First, thanks for the typo. I’m (obviously) not a native English speaker and that’s really helpful. Don’t you say “pray God” and “pray Jesus” in English?

      Second, all the writeups I’ve done so far require sincerity in worship and effort for henosis (charisma happens when gods personally like you, so it’s a completely different concept). Dove requires daily prayers or violence against authority. Cthulhu is a bit of an odd case because he’s not conscious. Saint Ulther requires groveling in time of need and pilgrimages, temple-building or a sacrifice.

      As for the theological and sociological aspects, I don’t fully grasp your argument. I don’t really want to write for long, but even nowadays there are people, even in the first world, that believe that medics are useless because praying will deliver us from evil and disease. Or people that say that the existence of God is obvious so faith is not needed because the divine is true.

      My personal views on religion are quite complex and they are totally not channeled in the writing. It’s a fantasy game, where divinity can understand whether prayers and worshippers are honest and make wonders, and I like it this way. :)

      • I honestly had no idea English wasn’t your first language. You write better in English than a lot of the people I know for who have it as their birth language.

        It’s “pray to God” & “pray to Jesus” as far as I’ve ever heard it. Although down South, English is more of an art than science and it might be said that way, but it is written as “pray to”.

        My main point was that in the real world, the central tenet of the major religions is Faith, the belief in a divine being without any actual proof that he/she/it exists.

        But in FRPGs with Clerics, that sort of faith isn’t required. Because you have proof the gods exist. A cleric just prayed and created a ball of light, a meal for 7 people, or healed that guy. So people still worship or pray to their god, but there’s no leap of faith, they’ve seen proof that the gods exist and if you worship or pray hard enough, or kill enough enemies, or sacrifice properly-you can get magic powers.

        • Oh, thanks. I guess you refer to the southern US. Here “south” refers to England :D

          Anyway, yes, you have a point. But I have two objections: one more theological, the other more player-oriented. To the argument of Faith I answer that, to some believers, it’s obvious that gods exist, so faith is not needed because not being faithful would be denying reality. I was raised as a Catholic in Milan, so this view is for me culturally distant, but I won’t go as far as denying the option in AFG.

          Second, testing showed that not all players want to worship all gods, or any god at all: in-game miracles and portents were effective means of winning worship from some PCs, but not for everybody. Which is way cool.

          And for sacrifices and prayers there’s often a reaction roll involved. Keeping them PCs on their toes. :)

  2. Pingback: Idol of Cthulhu – Claire Maclean for Adventure Fantasy Game « Lost Papers of Tsojcanth
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