by Wallace Cleaves
Admiral Motti: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you enough clairvoyance to find the rebels’ hidden fortress…
[Vader makes a pinching motion and Motti starts choking]
Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Source: IMDB, “Star Wars (1977)”
(Note: Wallace wrote this article as a response to a recent Dice Unloaded column by Graham Robert Scott.)
I would like to suggest another clerical archetype, though it requires a shift in genre.The Jedi are clerics.Clearly, Star Wars is its own universe and has its own rules and classes, literally in this case as there is an official Star Wars RPG, and a D20 game at that. My point is that, if one were to try to translate the feel, the ethos and the characteristics of the Jedi into a D&D game, I believe the class that most clearly captures the spirit of the Jedi is the cleric.
Now, I can see the argument for the monk class. After all, the Jedi have all the wire fu moves and the whole martial arts culture, but those are not the core of the Jedi and their values and ideology (though I can see a multiclass thing happening for Jedi Knights). At their center the Jedi revere the Force. They are animists. They hold that everything has a spirit and that certain individuals are able, through the honing of their instinctual connection with the spirit of the Force, to perform amazing feats and miracles. That is exactly what the cleric does, albeit usually in the service of a particular deity rather than through the agency of the more abstract notion of the Force.
Additionally, the Jedi revere life and revile the Dark Side. The Star Wars balance of cosmic powers has great symmetry with the positive energy employed by good clerics and the negative energy used by evil clerics. The Light and Dark Side are, again literally, a part of the standard D&D cosmology. Furthermore, many of the core Jedi abilities are closer to the abilities and spells of the cleric than those of the wizard and other arcane classes. Sure, they have the prestidigitation and some occasional lightning bolts (on the Dark Side at any rate), but most of what they do is “sense disturbances” in the Force. They are divination experts. They also tend to play strong support roles, aiding allies and making “luck” play on their side. They are a buffing class. Clerics have always had a big edge in divination and they are the original buffing class. Furthermore, while not a big element in the films, the larger Star Wars expanded universe clearly emphasizes the healing abilities of the Jedi, at least on the Light Side.
Sure Jedi use light sabers (which seem to function almost like a kind of holy symbol/utility tool for them even more than as a signature weapon) and don’t have armor. But clerics – particularly clerics of a war deity, which strikes me as nicely analogous to the Jedi Knight specialty – do use swords. As for armor, I already mentioned that some clerics who revere the Force might also take a level or two of monk. With the high wisdom scores they should have, they won’t want to wear armor as the monk’s “Unarmored Defense” ability (gained with only one level in monk!) will make armor pretty redundant. As for those who don’t multiclass as monk? Well, armor is pretty pointless in a universe of blasters and light sabers. (Honestly, why do the storm troopers wear it? But I digress.) Yet an armor-wearing cleric based on the Jedi would be perfectly reasonable in a more medieval setting.
Han Solo: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
Source: IMDB, “Star Wars (1977)”