The cleric can best be described as a type of battlefield priest. While he in some ways is like a knight of holy orders (and is so described), such a designation better describes a paladin or cavalier. The cleric is much less a fighter, much more a “man of the cloth”. They serve a fully religious function within the game, rendering aid to those in need, but at the same time are able to fight adequately, better than any other original non-fighter class, should the need arise.
The cleric has a minimum wisdom of 9; if wisdom is greater than 15, the character gains a 10% bonus on experience in the cleric class. All other ability scores must be at least 6, except for dexterity, which may be 3, and comeliness, which has no minimum. High wisdom also will increase the spell power of the cleric. High strength, constitution, and dexterity are also especially desirable, but not required.
The cleric gains d8 hp per level, plus non-fighter constitution bonuses. He is dedicated to one or more deities. Any alignment other than true neutral is possible (only druids can be true neutral cleric types), but should be reasonably related to that of the god or gods served. Holy symbols of the faith are used in the performance of ritual spells. They may not use edged or pointed weapons, weapons which principally draw blood.
The combat table for clerics is not as good at advancing levels as that for fighters, and they do not gain multiple attacks; however, they are better and advance in combat skill faster than magic-user or thief classes, and may use any armor. Likewise, their spells are much less aggressive. Although there are attack spells, these are less powerful than those in the magic user classes for the same level, and are overwhelmed by the number of healing and protection spells.
Unlike magic user classes, the cleric does not need to keep a spell book, and has access to any spell of any level which he is experienced enough to cast; at higher levels, the cleric may have to justify the selection of certain powerful spells to his god, who ultimately controls the granting of such more potent spells and expects them to be used in a way consistent with his alignment and interests.
Clerics also have the power to “turn” undead creatures, such as skeletons, driving them away from or destroying them by virtue of his own holy presence. Such power has a chance of working against ghasts, ghosts, ghouls, liches, mummies, shadows, skeletons, spectres, wights, wraiths, vampires, zombies, many other undead creatures, certain minor demons and devils, and rarely character types who have an extremely powerful connection to a god opposed to the cleric (an evil cleric may for example drive away a paladin). Generally the power is effective against creatures whose hit dice are not greater than the level of the cleric.
Clerics may use most potions (those not restricted to another class), clerical and protection scrolls, most rings, some wands, rods, and staves, many other magical items, any magic armor, and any magic weapon which they would be permitted to use if non-magical.
At level 8, the patriarch or matriarch may build a place of worship of at least 2000 square feet with an altar and appropriate facilities such as a chapel or a shrine. If this is done, between 20 and 200 followers will come to the cleric, plus additional men-at-arms to assist in defending the place.
At level 9, the high priest or priestess may construct a religious stronghold, such as a castle, monastery, or abbey. It must contain within it a temple, cathedral, or church of at least 2500 square feet on the ground floor, and dedicated totally to the character’s deity or deities. Costs for this will be cut in half due to volunteer labor and increased contributions. If the cleric subsequently clears the surrounding area such that humans (or other character races if the cleric is not human) can and do settle the area, the cleric will earn nine silver pieces per inhabitant from trade, taxation, and tithes.