The traditional Dungeons & Dragons character known as a cleric is a wonderful blend of warrior and spellcaster with a number of additional abilities thrown in for good measure. They are universally recognized by their higher than normal wisdom scores and a knack for healing spells that range from healing light wounds to resurrecting the dead. But there is a lot for a Game Master to determine when a player opts to tackle the cleric as a roleplaying option.
Now in most gaming worlds the determining factors for what abilities and skills a cleric has are determined by what deity the cleric serves. Players familiar with the traditional D&D setup would realize that a cleric serving Zeus would have a different skillset than one that served Osiris or Mars. But in my gaming world there isn’t a widespread use of pantheon-style theologies. Instead I have opted to shape the various religions based on historical differences within and between religious institutions historically accurate to the time periods depicted. That is just a wordy way of saying “There ain’t no Church of Zeus in the dark ages onward so knock it off.” The differences in what powers and abilities are displayed and utilized in my gaming world depends on where the cleric is starting their adventures.
In the continent of Partum there are a plethora of options for clerics based loosely on national identity. In Fanolania and Geldenreich there are no modifications to the cleric at all, but they observe somewhat different chains of command within their organizations. The head of the Church of Fanolania is the Archbishop of Avondace, the capital of Fanolania. However there is a small number of clerics that have become wary of the schemes of the Archbishop of Avondace and instead serve as royalists, looking to the King of Fanolania as their leader. In the grand scheme of things the differences between the two factions will seem somewhat trivial, but it does give the GM the chance to serve up some delicious inter-church intrigue and plot development. Fanolanian clerics tend to be suspicious of Deklatines and are ambitiously aggressive towards the “Caliphate invaders” across the mountains to the southwest.
In Geldenreich the Church is divided with no real central authority higher than the Archbishops that represent the four archduchies of the empire. Geldenreich clerics are virtually indistinguishable from those in other parts of the empire or even from those in Fanolania save for the obvious language differences. Clerics from Geldenreich might be more inclined to be hostile towards the eastern barbarians and the denizens of the Caliphates to the south. Geldenreich clerics are also more openly antagonistic towards the clergy in Forkanza.
Forkanzan clerics are notably different from others of their type in a number of ways. First, they cannot turn undead but rather are capable of trying to assert control over undead that they might encounter. Forkanzan clerics are also not prevented from using bladed weapons in battle and have in fact been known to use poisoned stilettoes against their enemies even in the most innocent of settings. Forkanzan clerics cannot cast sixth or seventh level spells no matter how far up in levels they progress as long as they serve the authority of Callidus Magna, the Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Imperium Church.
Slothjemian clerics are traditional for the most part, but are given minor access to the sphere of weather. Slothjemian clerics are traditionally adept at dealing with undead and are prone to viewing their Caliphate neighbors with hostility. However, they tend to not be at all uncomfortable with Deklatines and treat them as they would anyone else that they might encounter in a land as diverse and bewildering as Slothjemia. Slothjemian clerics also enjoy unrestricted weapon use, but usually choose to stick to bludgeons and refrain from using ranged weapons.
Clerics from Chute de l’Ombre are almost always gnomes. In most regards they follow the same setup and rules as other clerics except that they are permitted to use firearms. The rationale behind this is that primitive guns are notoriously inaccurate and therefore prayer is especially useful in their ability to hit a target. In fact the standard ammunition bag contains a dozen cartridges which are referred to by the clergy as the “twelve disciples.”
Condamner and Lotharingian clerics are notoriously untrustworthy, although there are a few that remain true to their spiritual calling and endeavor to do all they can to improve the lives of those they serve and care for. Like their Forkanzan counterparts clerics in Condamner and Lotharingia will find that their access to higher level spells is restricted as long as they remain within the structure of their respective churches. Certain of these clerics are bound to take to adventuring as a way to tip the balance away from their cruel and violent countrymen.
As one can see from this small sampling, there are a lot of options for clerics in Partum. The Game Master will have more information available to those playing clerics and priests that they will for virtually any other characters because religion by its very nature demands more backstory than does secular life. It is this backstory, after all, that provides the basis for all of existence as the players know it.