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Your Sacred Cows' Mad Disease

Challenging the Tired and Used assumptions in MMO's - and gaming in general.

Author: badgerbadger

The Sacred Cleric-Cow part 1: roleplaying.

Posted by badgerbadger Thursday September 13 2007 at 5:28PM
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  In my quest to examine and question the underlying assumptions that may well be responsible for the  trends that many people complain have made gaming stale...

 Combat brought up healing; and with healing and role-playing; comes the cleric.  Some of the attendant assumptions about class & role are central to many other metagame aspects.  I will just touch on two aspects - roleplay and "class" mechanics. 

 Since so little is true role-playing discussed; I will cover my thoughts on that as quickly as possible. if you ask most gamers about their characters; you're likely to hear a bunch of statistics; a list of favorite weapons and "trophy" kills. If you ask a roleplayer; you will hear something entirely different - you may well hear of the character's children; motiavation; and his rivals... Without going too far into this tangent; my point is that character advancement is; from the earliest days of "role-playing"; often confused for a role-playing element. So I know full well that I'm whispering into the winds here.. but:

  The first "sacred cow" I want you to question is "Clerics are there to heal you". 

Simply put; NO THEY ARE NOT.  Clerics are there to serve the purpose of a higher power. Period. The chess pieces serve the player; NOT vice versa.  I won't belabor this; but I just want to point out how overlooking this - assuming that Greater Powers are there to serve pawns - allows quite a bit of  other conventions that undermine the Internal Consistency required for suspended disbelief of the story - what we refer to as immersion.

 Most of what i have seen players do in RPG's and MMO's goes quite counter to role-playing the Champion of a higher power.

  Whats ironic about this is that mechanics to enforce faction or "alignment" loyalty have existed since -at least - Ultima 4's Virtues( to become an avatar)

  Whats ironic is; people will grind quests to curry FAVOR or reputation for a Faction but yet that i have seen; to EARN the right to be a champion of a higher power.

   Most people never consider this: Berserkers; Knights Templars; Ninjas; Assassins:

                                                ALL : RELIGIOUS FANATIC "CULTS".

  i joked before; if you think 'clerics' are there to heal you; go ask Moses how many people he healed; or ask a priest of ol' Set (or Vecna?) to heal you...

but aside from that joke;  the reason all this is overloooked is that almost no one minds... most games are so weak on story for the same reason no one questions these long-swallowed conventions:  

99% of playersdon't care about role-playing; they are interested in the hack'n'slash loot'n'level game-play model; and couldn't care less so long as SOME kind of "walking medicine cabinet" healbot enables that :)...

..or an IV of heal potions:



neschria writes:

Hehe... I'd love to see clerics given a little more RP depth. When playing a priest, one would think that the religion aspect would come into it somewhere. In EQ, it always struck me as a little weird that clerics were supposedly clergy for a diverse set of gods, and yet they all had exactly the same powers. Why is a priest of The Plaguebringer still a healer?! One would think he'd be the one laying down the heavy DoTs (to put it in terms of mechanics)... but the religion aspect just doesn't matter. Maybe they should quit calling them clerics and just call them "Heal Me Nows".

Thu Sep 13 2007 10:32PM Report
barrem01 writes:

Well, yeah ALL clerics aren't just there to heal you.  But ALL clerics don't go on quests.  In the real world, cleric is generally a pretty cushy job. You don't ask a priest of Set to heal you because he's at home, not out on adventures. In foreign lands, or at the edge of civilization, you might run into clerics who are missionaries, and very rarely, you might run into missionaries who have overly immersed themselves in the culture of their flock.  But the fact that my tale is worthy of telling means that I and those I travel with, are very rare individuals.

That said, your point, that the clerical professions are rife with opportunities for rich role-play that most gamers don't take advantage of, is a good one.

Fri Sep 14 2007 10:57AM Report
badgerbadger writes:

Thank you - but :

Actually a good part of my point was challenging the assumptions people have about clerics.

Neschria made the point about clerics' abilities by cause/deity.

You wouldn't ask a cleric of Set to heal you because - ESPECIALLY if you found him at home; he would SACRIFICE you.

In the REAL world; you wouldn't ask a cleric of Odin to heal you - he'd split your skull or maybe make you a slave - those priests (no not all) were known as BERSERKERS.

Or - a real world Aztec priest for example... or the priests of Kali -the Thugs - whose 'holy' murders the British had enough of...

 But barrem01's point re: roleplaying was valid and i agree - but i want to point out that convention in 'role' of priest is a big part of WHY no one thinks to roleplay.

  Not all religions were (or are) about conversion or aiding people/ missionary work...

Fri Sep 14 2007 12:06PM Report
Olgie writes:


So I was playing my Cleric in Rappelz, and this Dark Magician who was PKing NooBs outside Katan runs up to me demanding buffs...  I charge him 500R for each buff, and he yells out "YOU ARE A CLERIC!  YOUR PURPOSE IS TO HEAL AND BUFF ME!"  I tell him where he can shove that sentiment, and he threatens to PK me...  So I ganked him.  Hopefully he has a better understanding of the purpose of a Cleric now. ^_^

Sat Sep 22 2007 9:10PM Report writes:
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