I like to devote some thought to the characters I play. I don't necessarily spend a long time coming up with elaborate histories. But I like to have an idea of who I'm playing, what their motivations are, and why they live as an “adventurer”. I also like to try new things. I have the opportunity to start playing in a new campaign soon. I realized I've never played a cleric.
So I started thinking about possible motivations for clerics, why and how someone might go about gaining divine power, and why they would become an adventurer if they did. I mean, here you are minding your own business, you get a call from god and you answer, and god tells you to strap on the armor, grab a mace, and go start cracking heads and taking treasure. Why? Why wouldn't the god tell the budding young cleric to start taking care of worshipers, building churches, collecting converts, that sort of thing?
I suppose there's a historical basis for the class, knights errant, wandering warriors dedicated to the service of their god (and don't tell me that's paladins, it's clerics too). But that's not interesting to me. And I'd like to play something a little less clichéd than that.
I started thinking about other ideas for clerics. Most of what I've come up with, most of the ideas I like anyway, don't really fit the class abilities. I can't think of a good reason for a cleric of a non-martial god to be wandering around in chain mail cracking skulls. But if I go with that, ditch the armor and shun the combat abilities, I'm basically a high HP wizard with no decent attack spells.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to violent characters. I just got done playing (or I'm just getting done, the games not quite over yet) a pirate who pretty much killed everything in sight, I'm also currently playing a barbarian who, while kind at heart, does a fair amount of people killing and stuff taking.
What I need to think of is an interesting concept for a cleric, that uses all the class abilities, that's not the typical armored heal-bot or another version of the holy warrior trope. I don't want to be lawful and I don't want to be evil. I don't know if we're playing 3.5 or 4e yet so I don't need build suggestions, I just need to think of a character concept.
I suppose I could say I'm a wandering priest, traveling around doing my god's work, and justify the armor and combat skills by saying it's a dangerous world, you gotta be ready. Seems a little typical.
If I want to justify the armor and weapons, I could say the character got his start as a warrior before being called by his deity. That's the tack I like best. Some warrior, normal guy, minding his business, kicking ass for fun and profit. Has a religious experience. Finds god. Goes and does his thing. I don't know. I'm still thinking about it. I have a feeling I may fall back on my idea for a mage. I have a good idea for a mage.
Anyway, if you play clerics a lot, or if you just have any suggestions for how I can go about this, let me know. Thanks!