Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Oldest RPG Clerics

I recently wrote about a blogger who was examining the original D&D rules.

In one of his posts he writes a little about the first clerics. He links to another article.

Apparently, Chainmail was very much a miniatures-based wargame. The teams were Order versus Chaos. The "Fighting Men" did the short-range combat and the "Magic Users" took care of long-range.

Gygax and Arneson stole many ideas and archetypes from fantasy authors. But the concept of "cleric" was all their own. You see, in their early games of the magic users on the Chaos team was a vampire who simply became too powerful. Since game balance needed restoring, the cleric class was invented specifically as a counter against experienced and powerful undead opponents.

Reading this surprised me, but not too much. There are plenty of old fairy tales, legends, and pulp fantasy stories about fighting men and wizards. I cannot think of any involving an priest who goes on adventures with divinely granted powers of healing and banishing undead.

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