When you roleplay a cleric in DnD they most of the time are just normal people. This is what I have experienced, but you can do even more than that!
When you roleplay a cleric in DnD you can use your religion to enhance your character, world build, and question what is the best method to serve your god.
These ideas seem pretty basic but can be expanded upon heavily. Most clerics only explore a surface level of what this class has to offer in roleplay. You can take roleplay to the next level and have a great time while doing it!
As a cleric, you have to follow a god. Each god has its own way to be worshiped, and they have their own values that are imparted onto their followers.
Since each god has it’s own way to be worshiped and values, they have to give something in return. Your god might be a god of death. Another’s might be a god of fertility. Both are completely different and would involve different tenants, values, and ideals. World views are also different based on who you worship.
In short, everything that you do is affected by your god. That is why you need to not only understand what your god offers but also your relationship with these ideas.
Do you agree with your god? If not, how well do you get along and why are you chosen to manifest these miracles? How should you roleplay someone who can literally create miracles with the power of faith? What is the best way to serve them? Should you try to convert others to your faith as religious organizations do in real life?
That paragraph of questions is what we will go over in this article. If you can answer all of these questions, or even 1 of them then you will be able to roleplay a cleric extremely well. If you noticed, all of those questions will build up lore in the world for your party and the Dm. They also enhance your character and all ask 1 key question.
What is the best way to serve your god?
This is the question that you are trying to answer, and how you answer it is what we will be exploring today. Once you answer this question, you will know how to roleplay a cleric in DnD.
Do you like random people coming up to your door trying to convert you to their religion? How about if there were hundreds of gods and you already knew which one or ones that you liked the best?
In DnD gods exist. It isn’t a question and people will most likely choose 1 god to worship above the rest. The reason why people don’t just worship every god is because whichever god they give service most to will be where they spend the afterlife. This isn’t even subjective since resurrection is a thing and people can travel through planes. People know where they go when they die.
Because of this, most people have a preferred god and trying to convert them to your way of living through forced means will not work. So in this sense, clerics will most likely not be missionaries pushing for new followers to join their god.
On the other hand, some clerics might try to guide and help others. When they do this, there might be ulterior motives to make the people they help end up worshiping their god. If you choose to convert people understand for your character if it is an intentional conversion. Next, figure out if you are willing to manipulate others to do so.
This depends on your god and their teachings. When you roleplay a cleric in DnD all of your actions are a reflection on your god and will be a part of those teachings. This is where you need to understand the influence that your god has on you.
Your god shaping you
If you serve the god of lies then you are most likely a liar. Your trust is at best questionable and truth is unimportant. If you serve a god of war you are more likely to take the valorous route and try to slay the problem than think of a good solution for all. You might even stoke the flames of war just to see people fight!
In both of these scenarios, their choice of god shaped how they acted. Or did their god just find them since they already embodied these characteristics? What if your stance on valor is a disagreement between you and your god?
Each cleric serves a god. They have to follow some ideals that are close to their god, and you will have to as well. You can, however, decide how close your personal ideals are to your god’s.
Do you agree with your god on everything?
What do you disagree with?
Did your god shape your views?
Did your god choose you because you had similar views?
These questions make roleplay a cleric in DnD interesting.
Your answer to each of these questions can shape what type of cleric you are. If you agree with your god on everything then you need to figure out how you will further their plan.
For those who disagree you must figure out why. Why do you not agree with an all-powerful being whom you have chosen to devote your life to? Are you someone who is trying to make your god and the church to your god better? You must have a very personal or good reason to disagree.
As for shaping your views, if your god found you, are you grateful? Do you think even more highly of your god because of this?
On the opposite end, if your god chose you because your beliefs are similar how did that happen? Are you joyful to be recognized or resent this attention?
How you answer shapes how you roleplay a cleric in DnD, but let’s explore this a bit further and look at some potential archetypes.
You and your god stand for something. It could be joy, war, happiness, or hatred. As an inquisitor cleric, you are trying to force you and your god’s values on the world.
If others disagree with you, they must be dealt with. Not only through violence. They could slowly lose everything until they realize what they are missing in the world. If they need to experience sorrow for your god’s creeds, then losing a family member might be in order.
As an inquisitor for joy and all things good, you might try to eradicate all forms of evil. This may seem a bit like what paladins do, but you can do it in a different way. Support those who would smite evil. Help the weak who need it in towns by offering food, water, and teachings.
An inquisitor cleric is someone who is trying to bring forth their god’s domain into the world at all times.
In order to do this, you need to understand your tenants and what your order believes.
Every religion has rituals and tenants to go by. This may be something as simple as making holy water only on a Saturday. Or always praying when the first light appears.
These tenants can also be parables or stories that you can insert into the game. For example, if a person is hungry you can give a line from your religion that expresses your opinion. “Never give a man a fish. For once he has tasted free food, he will never work for it again.”
These phrases can be used to build up your order, god’s opinions on topics, and help roleplay a cleric in DnD. But, how faithfully do you follow these tenants?
We have people in real life that follow a faith but do not follow all of it’s teachings. For example, Mormons do not allow the consumption of alcohol and Muslims discourage it. Some in both religions turn a blind eye to this and drink. Some followers even drink alcohol regularly.
Are there any teachings like that which you do now follow? If not, why and are there any consequences since you are a man/woman of your god?
Religious tenants can be used to further develop your character, faith, and your relationship with your god. Defying any Tenant will speak volumes about you. If you do follow every tenant, then are you lawful or very obedient/loyal? These are all questions that will be answered based on your religious tenants and how you follow them.
Religious tenants can also be a bit of fun. If you are only able to eat food by washing it, then bread would be an interesting meal to eat. This might be because you have a savage god, but these tenants are up to you. But every god has a requirement.
You are granted miraculous powers from your god. Not every follower is a cleric, so why did you get your powers? The answer is almost always service. You are serving your god in some way. How you serve your god will dictate roleplay a cleric in DnD.
If your god requires you to convert others, that is annoying but a form of service. If your god requires you to do specific rituals, that is a type of service. These rituals might even be part of your religious tenants.
Your service might be something as simple as ’embodying your god’s teachings.’ This could mean that a cleric who follows a god of freedom is always wandering. Always questioning their god and trying to help the oppressed. In this instance, questioning your god is a form of service.
You might start to understand from this that anything can be viewed as service even if an outsider doesn’t understand it. How you serve your god will also shape how you roleplay a cleric in DnD.
If your service is based on following rituals you will most likely be lawful and loyal. When your service is based on sacrifice the world might be a little bleaker due to constant strife. Service based on conversion or spreading the word of your god might make you a more pushy individual.
Once you find out how you serve your god, you will be able to figure out more about your character. This also answers why your god grants you spells instead of others and can be a beacon for those trying to find whatever your god provides.
This is where you get to make up what your god’s symbols and lore is.
Symbols and lore
This is a minor section on how to roleplay a cleric in DnD, but an important one.
The lore of your god and their symbol are extremely important. If the lore of your god is about renewal and the holy symbol is the morning dawn, what do you think your character will be like?
I highly doubt you will play a character that is sour and downtrodden for the entire game. Your character is most likely a brighter character that has a positive attitude toward something in particular. This could be helping people, the dawn, etc.
Symbols and lore should be a major consideration for your cleric. It tells a lot about your god and in the process, you.
There are some stranger topics to cover though.
Your god’s view on necromancy is very important. For example, did you know that cure wounds is evocation, but revivify and resurrection are necromancy?
When people think of necromancy they generally think of raising the dead into skeletons or zombies. Necromancy is a big topic that can shape how you and your god view death. If you both view revivify as a bad action, then death is not to be revoked. Life is a precious gift that should be enjoyed to the fullest, and come to the end when a person would naturally die.
This could be a whole religious movement. After all, who would be able to be resurrected? The rich are most likely the only ones that could be resurrected, so the poor might make a movement. Your god could have this same opinion since necromancy is bad.
On the opposite end, does your god approve of necromancy? If so, why? Do they just view necromancy as a tool to be used as anything else? If so, then your perspective will change towards many things. If a magical weapon that had the power of a nuclear bomb was uncovered, you might use it. This is, after all, just another weapon to be used.
Think about you and your god’s opinions on resurrection and all necromancy. This is an important part of how you roleplay a cleric in DnD. It will determine how open you are to ideas and how moral you view yourself to be.
It is a rarely thought of topic, but playing a cleric who believes all forms of necromancy are terrible would be an interesting character. Especially if you were revived after you died by a friend.
There are many ways to roleplay a cleric in DnD. There are so many questions that can asked about you and your god’s relationship. If you both believe the exact same things, or what deviates are important and able to shape who your cleric is.
Your personal relationship to your god is another part of roleplaying a cleric in DnD. Do you and your god get along? Why do you not even like your god?
How do you have magical powers while others don’t? Is it from some form of service and what does that even mean? Do you show this service with religious tenants or by being an inquisitor?
There are so many options and answering even 1 of these questions will make your cleric extremely interesting to roleplay. If you answer every question, you will have possibly the most well-developed cleric in the history of DnD.
I hope that I was able to help you roleplay a cleric, and that you have a great time with your new character!
Also, if you want to check out our other guides on how to roleplay different classes then check out our theory blogs here!
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