A cleric was a divine servant of one or more gods, usually, though not always associated with the Empyrean Church, serving through martial might and divine magic fueled by their own strength of faith and the divine energy, or orenda, of a higher being. As agents of a divine authority, clerics were empowered both by ritual training and their god's particular favor. Relatively rare, clerics inspired both reverence and terror, depending on their aims and who they serve.
All clerics drew power through sheer faith. Clerics that doubt the power of their patrons often lost the ability to channel the divine orenda and cast spells. As a priest of a deity, the most important influence on your life is your faith.
Religion was deeply important to the majority of people on Ord, who felt that the gods were a very real and active presence in their lives, something that was not very far from the truth. For this reason, serving the gods was something that most people did as just a regular part of their lives. Clerics were elite agents of gods, empowered beyond the capabilities of regular priests and sworn to follow and obey the tenets of their religion in ways that the average mortal couldn't. Some clerics served primordials or even fiends, offering foul sacrifices in exchange for a portion of the fiend's might. Clerics had to be close to the alignment of their patron, usually within one step of the deity's alignment or less.
Godly powers were as varying as people and, as a result, so were their divine agents, such as clerics, who might be good or evil, lawful or chaotic, dependent on who they worshiped and why. Good clerics healed and protected, helping those in need while evil clerics terrorized and destroyed, increasing the power of their deity and themselves. Generally, non-evil clerics were more common, since good or neutral deities tended to attract more worshipers than evil ones did. However, some evil gods, such as Azogun, were popular in their own right, with a large legion of followers and clerics willing to do their bidding. Similarly, though many clerics belonged to orderly and structured churches, chaotic gods had clerical servants as well.
Relatively few priests became wandering clerics, leaving for adventure only if they felt compelled to do so for their god, perhaps out of a desire to spread their deity's works or by order of their superiors and the church hierarchy. A few clerics took on the adventuring lifestyle for more mundane reasons. Regardless of motivation, clerics were highly valued companions, serving as healers and occasional leaders to their compatriots. Additionally, clerics may have been specialized in ways, based on the deity they worship, that put them on agreeable terms with other adventurers.The most active clerics were typically humans or dwarves, though half-elven, elven, and dragonborn clerics were also relatively common.
Nearly all clerics are ordained members of a religious organisation of some kind, though a few operate more independently and even those who are bound to a hierarchy do not necessarily answer to a direct superior. Most clerics make their career choice relatively early in life, though some are compelled to service unwillingly by their god. Churches are often, but not always, tied to a specific god and a few gods preside over more than one church at once, some of which war with one another over differing interpretations of their god's (or pantheon's) dogma.
Clerics commonly used light or medium armor, shields, simple weapons, and divine magic as their chief tools while adventuring. Many clerics were also skilled in the use of heavy armor. Clerics augmented these spells, also known as "prayers," through holy symbols of their deity that they wore or carried with them. Clerics were also experts in casting rituals, enhanced spells that require an incredible amount of time and preparation to use but which often had dramatic effects.
Clerics could also learn to directly access the power of their deity through their body in an ability known as Channel Divinity. This power manifested it in several ways, the most common of which was the ability to turn undead, repelling or even destroying the undead. A few clerics learned instead to control the undead, particularly those of an evil nature. A cleric might have also gained an individual variant of Channel Divinity based on their domain specialisation or the nature of deity they worshiped. Clerics of Materan and Morrigan, for example, had access to wildly different variants of Channel Divinity.
Sufficiently experienced clerics could even invoke their deity's intervention directly, without using Channel Divinity. If successfully petitioned, the deity's aid could come in one of several forms, from a spell to something more unusual. Such calls for aid, however, were difficult to make and the gods were disinclined to respond much more often than once a tenday.
Clerics were powerful healers thanks to special training and the blessings of their gods, both of which increased the potency of the curative prayers available to them. Many clerics were capable of casting the healing word prayer, while more experienced clerics were often capable of much more. Some clerics were also trained in transforming other prayers into powers of healing or, if the cleric worshiped a non-good god, into spells of necrotic power.
Many clerics were also fluent in Supernal or Abyssal and their related dialects.
In addition to the abilities common to all clerics, clerics also could access a number of powers through aspects of their god's portfolio known as divine domains. At the beginning of their career, a cleric chose one - or occasionally two - of the domains associated with their patron deity, giving them access to a number of unique prayers and abilities. These domains allowed clerics to prepare domain prayers each day from a list particular to that domain, in addition to their more general prayers.
Each domain also had a number of other benefits associated with it. For example, the Tempest domain allowed its clerics to return an enemy attack with thunderous or electrical power. Similarly, the Life domain made clerics more adept at casting healing prayers.
While not every cleric specialised in a particular domain, most did. Some of the most commonly accessed domains are listed below.
Instead of focusing simply on their role as healers and inspirational icons of their deity, battle clerics preferred to get into the thick of a fight, leading the charge of the faithful. These clerics were almost always physically well-built, building their muscles and fortitude to make them effective melee combatants in their god's service. These clerics still put an emphasis on strong judgment and awareness of both others and oneself, but an additional priority was put on physical power, as was leadership ability and strength of personality. Examples of Battle Clerics include; Geshran Herat and Gruntal Brightstone.
Devoted clerics took the opposite philosophy of battle clerics and put all of their efforts into becoming the very best ministers of the faithful that their god had to offer. Wholeheartedly loyal to their god and his or her followers, devoted clerics trained primarily in prayers that enabled or healed their allies. For this reason, devoted clerics felt that wisdom and charisma were of far greater importance than physical strength, though they did not wholly abandon its usage. Examples of Devoted Clerics include Erin Greenwood and St. Geshran the Temperate..
Shielding clerics, like devoted clerics, believed that it was more important to protect and shield allies rather than to fight directly. While other clerics often used prayers to both deal damage and inspire their allies, shielding clerics hung back, using their divine gifts to heal and protect others rather to deal attacks. When shielding clerics did strike, it was often from afar, rather than in a melee. For instance, unlike battle clerics and devoted clerics, shielding clerics didn't have the ability to use the turn undead prayer. Instead, shielding clerics channeled their deities' divine power through the healer's mercy prayer. Shielding clerics also put a higher emphasis on wisdom and charisma than strength, similar to devoted clerics. Examples of Shielding clerics include Aust Silverfond and Marcelyina.