A beginner's guide to playing a cleric
Feeling the calling to be a cleric? Clerics are a crucial profession in Elanthia, as they are able to powerfully resurrect other adventurers. At higher levels clerics can even resurrect themselves. Clerics are also strong casters in their own right, with a variety of abilities and flexible training paths to suit many characters. Finally, a cleric's intimate connection to the Arkati affords unique roleplaying opportunities. Up to level 20, you can switch training points between your SKILLS at no cost as well as your STATS up to 5 times, so use this guide as a starting point to experiment with different styles to see what suits you best!
Clerics have several general training paths available to them. One end of the spectrum is the warding cleric who focuses solely on warding spells. A little more versatile is the pure cleric that also trains in bolt spells. Less popular after the introduction of the paladin profession but still viable is the melee cleric, who tend to favor two handed weapons or brawling. Finally the rescuing cleric focuses on saving other adventurers from death.
Life and Death in Elanthia
No matter your training path resurrecting the dead is a hallmark of being a cleric. Clerics do not gain this awesome power initially, as they must advance to at least the 18th level to cast Raise Dead. Clerics earn a significant amount of experience from resurrecting the dead, in addition to the general gratitude of the populace. The general process is as follows. When an adventurer dies, they have a race-specific decay timer of at least ten minutes. The cleric can pause this timer with their Preservation spell, or another adventurer can use a white flask. Preservation is not required for resurrection but is generally advisable. Once the corpse is in a safe location and cleaned of wounds, the cleric must establish a spiritual link with the corpse to prevent another cleric from interfering with the rite. Finally the cleric casts Raise Dead at a cost of mana and spirit to the cleric, raising the adventurer in a weakened state; the exact costs of this spell depend on the cleric's training. More details of this process can be read in the respective spell entries.
The Arkati and You
Another nearly universal aspect of being a cleric is your relationship to the "gods" of Elanthia, the Arkati. Although it is not strictly necessary to convert to a specific Arkati, aligning yourself with a specific Arkati will effect the damage and messaging of some cleric spells. In particular the main offensive warding cleric spell Smite/Bane depends upon alignment, with Liabo Arkati strong against the undead and Lornon Arkati strong against the living. Your chosen Arkati can also have a non-mechanical influence on your character, depending upon your style of roleplay. Powerful clerics are able to commune with their Arkati, a unique opportunity to interact with a GameMaster.
While each race has different adjustments to their stats, making some races more optimal for a cleric than others, these differences are ultimately marginal and do not preclude a viable character of any race.
The main clerical statistics are Wisdom and Intuition, meaning these stats yield double training points (TPs). The wisdom stat bonus also increases casting strength (CS), maximum mana and meditation bonus. Aura is somewhat important since it determines spirit, which is necessary to resurrect other adventurers. Other stats become important depending on your training path. For example, bolting clerics will want a higher Dexterity since it affects bolt attack strength. Discipline is important for its contribution to the mana bonus from meditation.
The following stats are a good starting point for the beginning cleric:
- Strength:70, Constitution:60, Dexterity:90, Agility:60
- Discipline:70, Aura:80
- Logic:60, Intuition:60, Wisdom:90, Influence:20
A pure warding caster may set Dexterity substantially lower, taking 30 points and transferring 20 to Agility and 10 to Constitution.
You may only adjust your STATS 5 times total before level 20 and afterwards for a substantial cost. Choose wisely.
Training Paths: Pure Warder
As pures, clerics are intended to utilize magic to survive in Elanthia. The pure warding cleric is the most traditional play style and can serve as a starting point to experiment off of. All casting clerics need six ranks of Armor Use to fully train for double leather. This basic armor provides full coverage with no spell hindrance, and the goal of most pures is to avoid being hit by a foe in the first place. At least 24 ranks of Spiritual Mana Control are needed to successfully resurrect an adventurer (you can over-train in this skill to cast resurrection at level 18). Physical Fitness, Perception, and Spiritual Lore are basic skills that should be trained in once per level. Beyond level 30 some variation in lore training can be desirable, but Religion is the key lore to train early for a pure warder.
Beyond these requirements, the pure caster will want to invest in spell ranks. The cleric spell circle naturally provides the main arsenal of spells. CS is calculated so that each additional spell rank beyond the player's level increases strength at a decreasing rate. The most efficient investment is an extra 21 ranks beyond the current level (e.g., 41 ranks for a level 20 player). However clerics also have access to the Major Spiritual and Minor Spiritual spell circles, which have important spells (and also boost CS). Each player will have different priorities, but Spirit Warding II, Minor Sanctuary, Spell Shield, and Lesser Shroud are important goals. Remember you must be at least the same level as the spell to cast it.
A variety of secondary skills will also be useful and can be trained in at the player's discretion. Arcane Symbols and Magic Item Use are necessary to use scrolls and magical items respectively, providing the cleric with access to outside spell circles. These skills also contribute to runestaff defense, the cleric's main defensive weapon. Early on, training twice per level in Harness Power will provide much-needed mana. First Aid is useful to bandage bleeding wounds when no empath is available. The other two types of Spiritual Lore enhance cleric spells in different ways and can be trained in as the player sees fit, particularly if one of the below variations is used. Finally some ranks of Climbing and Swimming will be needed to access certain hunting grounds.
Base Training Plan
|#||PTP/MTP||Skill||Level 0||Level 10||Level 20||Level 30|
|0/3||Spirit Mana Control||1||11||24||30|
|1x||0/6||Spiritual Lore, Religion||1||11||21||31|
|0/8||Cleric Spell Research||1||20||41||51|
|0/8||Major Spiritual Spell Research||1||4||4||13|
|0/8||Minor Spiritual Spell Research||1||3||7||13|
|1x||0/2||Magic Item Use||1||11||21||31|
Training Paths: Bolter
The bolting cleric supplements the pure training with two ranks per level in Spell Aiming to utilize the three bolt spells available to clerics (Holy Bolt, Fire Spirit, and Web) and a maneuver attack (Condemn). Bolt and maneuver attacks can be particularly devastating in combination with the various disability spells available to clerics. Bolts also help the cleric fight effectively against a wider variety of foes as well as provide access to a variety of wands with sufficient magic item training. Early rapid training in magic items is recommended for bolters.
The main lore for bolt spells is summoning, however religion remains important for warding attacks and a bolting cleric will want to split their early lore training between the two. A few ranks in Multi Opponent Combat is important for ball spells and a cleric should aim to have one rank by level 20, two by level 30 and three eventually for the splash benefits.
Bolter Training Plan
|#||PTP/MTP||Skill||Level 0||Level 10||Level 20||Level 30|
|0/3||Spirit Mana Control||1||11||24||31|
|0/8||Cleric Spell Research||1||11||21||31|
|0/8||Major Spiritual Spell Research||1||4||15||15|
|0/8||Minor Spiritual Spell Research||1||7||7||16|
|0/2||Magic Item Use||2||22||40||40|
The rescuing cleric focuses on defensive and utility magic to find and resurrect fallen adventurers while maintaining offensive capabilities. The hallmarks of this training path are Transference and Spirit Guide, which allow the cleric to teleport from town to adventurer and back. Of course, Raise Dead is necessary to return players to life. As these are high-level spells the beginning player is advised to focus on a more combat-oriented path until they gain a familiarity with the profession. As a low level cleric, there are still ways to assist the fallen. Using the spell Preservation (305) will prevent the corpse from decaying or being able to depart. The cleric can also use the DRAG verb to take the corpse back to town. The strength stat is an important factor in being able to successfully drag a target, for example a giantman will find it easier to drag a heavy corpse than a halfling or gnome with low strength.
Training Paths: Melee
Although less common since the introduction of the paladin, a melee cleric is still a feasible training path. The melee cleric relies on spells to disable rather than kill their target, forgoing spell research to train in physical skills. The first training decision a melee cleric must make is whether to use a shield or two handed weapons, a classic choice between offense and defense. The shield path requires a bit more training points. For the shield user, edged and blunt weapons have the same training cost, while brawling is a slightly more physical pursuit. While a comparison of weapon types is not the purpose of this guide, the differences are generally marginal and many clerics choose a weapon based on personal preference. The melee cleric will also need to train more heavily in armor, generally up to 35 ranks for chainmail. Basic training in mana control, physical fitness, and perception remains the same as a pure, but the melee cleric has different spell and lore training goals. Bravery, Heroism, and Spirit Strike are important attack strength boosters. These spells benefit from Spiritual Lore, Blessings.
Combat Maneuvers can be ignored for the first 30 levels, but a cleric continuing to melee beyond level 30 will want to train at least once per level in it until caught up to 1x training. Feint for offensive use and disarm or cunning defense for defensive reasons are the best maneuvers available but its the effect on melee attack strength that is the most important reason for training in it.
Base Training Plan
|#||PTP/MTP||Skill||Level 0||Level 10||Level 20||Level 30|
|1x||0/8||Cleric Spell Research||1||11||21||31|
|0/8||Major Spiritual Spell Research||1||11||19||19|
|0/8||Minor Spiritual Spell Research||1||3||8||17|
|1x||0/6||Spiritual Lore, Blessings||1||11||21||31|
|0/3||Spirit Mana Control||1||11||24||30|
|0.5x||0/2||Magic Item Use||1||5||10||15|
Variation: Two Weapon User
A more expensive but damaging training path is Two Weapon Combat. Similar to a two-handed weapon cleric in principle, this style is particularly effective with two flaring weapons. The extra training points will come at the cost of spell research; the player will need to prioritize achieving certain spells or CS in a particular circle. This path requires a bit more experience with the Gemstone universe but is certainly viable.
Now that you have a skill set for your cleric, it is time to gear them up! As noted above most clerics will target double leather as their main armor (even melee clerics will spend their first levels in this armor class). Most players target 4x (+20) as the baseline for gear, so you should aim for a relatively inexpensive set of 4x gear by level 10. Due to its popularity among the various spell casting professions cheap 4x leather can easily be found. (Many players in fact reach level 100 with 4x gear.) Some shops even sell 1x and 2x leather for only a coin or two, which can be particularly helpful in the first few levels. Your choice of weapon naturally depends on your training path. Pure clerics will use a runestaff, whose contribution to defensive strength depends on the amount of training in certain magical skills. Since a runestaff's enchant does not contribute to CS, and may even be sheathed if channeling a spell, investing in a powerful weapon is less of a priority for pures. Melee characters rely on their weapon for offense and will want a weapon with a powerful ability such as weighting, a flare, and/or an enhancive.
All pure professions including clerics have access to Arcane Blast (1700). This spell allows a new cleric to function as a caster immediately they enter the game. Use it from offensive stance if you are following a bolting pathway and which to use it as a bolt spell. Use it from defensive if you are training primarily as a warder. Once you are efficient at your main spell attacks, you will no longer need it, but its the main spell to use prior to level 2, and when you run out of mana but want to keep hunting for a little longer at higher levels.
Like other pure professions the goal of clerical combat is to avoid being hit, as magic users have fewer hitpoints and weak damage reduction. Even the melee cleric will want to avoid taking a direct hit. Clerics survive combat using defensive buffs, disabling magic, and tactical engagement. Defensive buff spells can be prepared while in town (most defensive spells can be repeatedly cast for a maximum duration of 250 minutes). Some key defensive cleric spells include:
- Spirit Warding I (101) and Spirit Warding II (107)
- Spirit Barrier (102) (particularly for warding clerics)
- Spirit Defense (103)
- Spirit Shield (202)
- Spell Shield (219)
- Prayer of Protection (303)
- Benediction (307)
- Warding Sphere (310)
- Prayer (313)
- Soul Ward (319)
Most battles will require the cleric to weaken or disable their adversary in some fashion, particularly as your encounter more dangerous foes. Some useful spells include:
- Unbalance (110)
- Web (118)
- Silence (210)
- Interference (212)
- Prayer of Holding (301)
- Blind (311)
- Censure (316)
Of course the cleric must also inflict damage. Many offensive spells are affected by your stance, meaning that a careful combatant can wait in defensive for their foe to attack, switch into offensive for their attack, and switch back into defensive before their foe launches their next attack (known colloquially as "stance dancing"). This tactic becomes more difficult when multiple foes are in the same room. While warding spells are generally not affected by stance, some spells can be channelled for additional power. Common offensive spells include:
A fireball spell. Best used against swarming opponents that are susceptible to fire. e.g. skeletal ice trolls, troll warcamps. Too mana heavy for much use before level 20.
The main spell for low level clerics. Much more effective when channeled with empty hands in offensive stance. Channel dance critters with it by waiting for the critter to act, going offensive, stowing your runestaff and channeling it and then going defensive again. Channel dance on 302 is the key tactic for effective play of a low level cleric.
Fairly ineffective until you have Bravery and Heroism, which should be at level 15. Extremely effective on poorly armored undead such as Anwyn wights, less so on the heavily armored Graveyard wights. Use a macro to jump in and out of offensive stance so you are virtually never vulnerable when bolting or waving a wand.
A maneuver attack that uses Spell Aiming training. This spell is most effective if the target is first incapacitated, so it is often ideal to lead with a disabler like Prayer of Holding then cast Condemn. Early on you may not have the mana pool to make this worthwhile, but it can be a devastating combination for more experienced casters.
Another channel dance spell but with an additional step. Charge it for the full six seconds in defensive (using PREPARE). You don't want to be using this spell before level 30 except in channel dance situations and with a decent quantity (at least 20) of ranks in Religion lore. If you want high quality skins, and have the training to get them, this is the spell to kill with.
Too heavy on mana to be used much before level 30. At higher level its a way of getting heavy damage fast for heavy mana expenditure but you'll do far, far more damage for the same mana with 302. It really comes into it own against targets with critical padding.
All beginning magic users find their mana supply to be limited early in their career. Due to this limitation some players advise playing a more melee-oriented character (perhaps using a claidhmore) before fixskilling into a more magical path. Other players rely more heavily on wands or hunt in groups. Choosing your battles is also important as some foes are just not suited to the young cleric, particularly living foes for the smite cleric (and vice versa). Importantly clerics can meditate, increasing their mana regeneration on nodes. Many low-level hunting grounds contain nodes or are close enough to nodes that a cleric can run back to quickly recharge their mana supply before venturing back into battle. Once the cleric knows Minor Sanctuary, that can be cast to make a room meditation friendly even when a distant area does not contain a suitable natural sanctuary.
There are three mutually exclusive societies in Elanthia that can be joined at level three: the Council of Light, Guardians of Sunfist, and Order of Voln. The New Players' Guide provides a general overview of these options, and each individual entry has more detail which should be reviewed before making a selection. It is common to find clerics join the Order of Voln, because clerics are especially adept at fighting undead, or the Council of Light because clerics have high spirit regeneration.
- Cleric (main article)
- New Players' Guide (a comprehensive beginner's guide for new players of any profession)
- Cleric Guild
- The Art of Roleplaying in GemStone IV (guide)
- Player Guide Contest