I don’t play clerics that much—only when no one else fancies it—and so I’m not wise in the ways of their ins and outs. That said, I’ve recently been wondering from where exactly a cleric (or a druid or whatever) gets his spells. Wizards get their spells from study, sorcerers by dint of their bloodlines and, of course, clerics I’d always assumed get theirs from their faith.
So what did Gary have to say?
“Clerical spells, including the druidic, are bestowed by the gods, so that the cleric need but pray for a few hours and the desired verbal and somatic spell components will be placed properly in his or her mind. First, second, third and even fourth level spells are granted to the cleric through meditation and devout prayer. This spell giving is accomplished by the lesser servants of the cleric’s deity. Fifth, sixth and seventh level spells can be given to the cleric ONLY by the cleric’s deity himself, not through some intermediate source. Note that the cleric might well be judged by this or her deity at such time, as the cleric must supplicate the deity for the granting of these spells. While the deity may grant such spells full willingly a deed, or sacrifice, atonement or abasement may be required. The deity might also ignore a specific spell request and give the cleric some other spell (or none at all).”
—Player’s Handbook (page 40) Gary Gygax
That’s beyond cool and something I had never really thought about before. A high-level (coincidentally name-level) cleric prays to his god for spells and he delivers them…personally! He may also substitute them for what he feels the cleric needs, which is a handy way of the DM giving the group a hand or a hint about what lies ahead. (Although some players may resent the GM meddling with their spell selection in this fashion).
Also, when you think that a 1st edition cleric of 9th-level and up actually communicates WITH HIS GOD to get 5th-level and higher spells that’s a massive deal for the cleric. (1st edition only had cleric spells up to 7th, but I think its safe to apply the same treatment to 8th- and 9th-level spells in 3.5/Pathfinder.) He or she is literally his god’s messenger on earth.
On the other hand, it could make things like raise dead and resurrection much harder to get as it’s up to the deity and not the cleric whether to grant the spell. If the recipient is not deemed worthy by the deity, he’s out of luck no matter how much gold his friends offer!
What Do You Think?
Is this cool or what? Would you—occasionally—tell a player his god granted different spells to the one the cleric prayed for? Let me know in the comments below.