This article is part of the class warfare series, to see the rest of the articles click here
Dungeons and dragons is in its fourth edition now and has been for several years. Through those years the basic classes that started the game Fighter, Magic User (now called Wizards) Cleric, Thief (rogue) have remained. Looking back how have these core ideas changed over nearly 40 years of product evolution? Lets take a look at the divine Cleric.
More after the bump
1st edition - Clerics are the primary healing class in Dungeons and Dragons. The cleric has an eight-sided die (d8) per level to determine how many hit points he or she has. The cleric is dedicated to a deity, or deities, and at the same time a skilled combatant at arms. All clerics have certain holy symbols which aid them and give power to their spells. All are likewise forbidden to use edged and/or pointed weapons which shed blood. All clerics have their own spells, bestowed upon them by their deity for correct and diligent prayers and deeds. (players handbook 1st edition) Clerics have the ability to turn undead creatures and cast beneficial as well as some offensive spells.
2nd edition - Second edition clerics don't change much from first edition. There is some diversifying of the spells they get selection to such as low level druid type spells but for the most part they remain basically the same class.
3rd edition - In third edition clerics retain the primary access to healing spells and pick up a class defining ability called spontaneous casting. Spontaneous casting allows clerics to use another memorized spell as a healing spell. so for instance you can use that bless you memorized as though it were a cure light wounds instead. This really frees clerics up to diversify their spell books no longer are all your spells that are int he healing levels automatically all cure spells. Clerics retain the ability to turn undead from previous editions. clerics also are aloud to still wear any type of armor and get the second best attack progression only more martial classes like fighter get more. Clerics still are only able to pick from a small selection of weapons and they tend to have fewer skill points than other classes.
4th edition - 4th edition does away with the way that clerics choose spells instead integrating the classic role the class fills with the new system of at will encounter and daily powers. The cleric is the premier leader class in 4th edition. A leader bolsters his groups ability to survive through healing and defensive effects.
Clerics were always one of the classes that many players shied away from due to the fact that often instead of doing something cool you get to band-aid the rest of the group. This necessary job has been spiced up some in 4th edition and a properly balanced group even can exist without a leader to heal. That said leaders bring much more survivability to the group.
The four at will spells for cleric in 4th edition are: Lance of Faith, Priests Shield, Righteous Brand, and Sacred Flame.
Lance of Faith - allows the cleric to do damage as well as give another ally a better chance to hit good pick ****/5
Priests Shield - somewhat limiting by being a melee attack it is still a good deffensive bonus on this attack ***/5
Righteous Brand - A possibly better bonus to an allies attack roll than lance of faith, however it is limited by being melee and it attacks AC rather than reflex which is usually the higher of the two defenses. solid choice for melee build ***/5
Sacred Flame. - low damage but it allows your to give allies a buffer to hit points or the ability to stop a damaging effect before it hurts again good choice - ****/5
Clerics suffer from being a necessary but less fun class to play in past editions, in 4th they see new abilities that make them able to wade in with everyone else and have fun while doing triage