In Charlatan’s Saltbox run (more please!) I started out as a Level 6 Cleric, and they are terrific. PRO-TIP: If you are upset that the Level 1 Cleric has no spells and isn’t fun to play, the problem is that you’re not starting out with 30,000 experience points. Not only do I have access to fourth-circle spells, but I own three boats (two folding, one normal size). Clearly God wants me to find the New World.
Anyway, in our very first voyage, we’re out hunting Sea Dragons, when we come across a group of sharks. My recollection of the conversation, after several months:
OTHER PLAYERS: “Sharks! Let’s kill them for sport!”
ME: “Cease! That is not best practice. Speak with Animals on the bull!”
ME: “Get ready, buddy! Today’s the day! Growth of Animals on the bull!”
ME: “You’re big now! Invincible! Thanks to me! Now, use your group of–”
SHARK: “NOM NOM NOM” (eats rest of sharks because it can)
ME: “–uh, sharks, and serve us as scouts to find–”
SHARK: “NOM NOM NOM” (begins eating boat because it can)
ME: “That is not best practice! No, seriously, knock that off and serve us, I helped you.”
OTHER PLAYERS: “How long does this spell last?”
ME: “Two hours.”
OTHER PLAYERS: [Expletives deleted]
ME: “This was not best practice either.”
So as you can see, I have problems playing characters with exceptional Wisdom, but there are fun things you can do with Cleric spells. Just make sure you don’t give a gift to a shark. They are dickholes.
OTHER PLAYERS: “Yarr, a grotto full of walrus-creatures. Let us slay them for their blubber.”
ME: “Cease! Let us interrogate them of Sea Dragons. Speak with Animals on the bull!”
WALRUS-MONSTER: “You see, Lurleen? Invaders! I’ll kill them so you see who’s the real Walrus Stud here! Urk urk urk!”
SUITOR: “Screw you, Darryl! Lurleen is my sea-cow! I’ll kill ’em for you, Lurleen, while you think of my hot lovin’! Urk urk urk!”
ME: “This is–ow!–not best practice. High-quality females prefer–quit biting me!–mates who treat guests hospitably to treasure!”
Anyway, again: speak with animals is something of a mixed blessing in the Dungeons & Dragons world where everything wants to kill you anyway. But it is fun as the dickens.
Another fun spell: speak with plants. You are probably thinking, “Pff, plants. All they do is make the air breathable.” And you would be right. But what’s cool about all the speak with _______ spells is that you can have a social encounter with practically anything. If you have ever wondered what it would be like a role-play a conversation with a big patch of seaweed, now you can force your DM into doing so.
joesky tax: a relevant house rule
I’m not sure who started it–maybe Tavis, and then Eric adopted it very quickly? I don’t know–but we usually play that spell-casters cannot “double up” on memorized spells. So the Magic-User can’t just stock up on sleep spells, and that forces her to solve problems more creatively even if it limits the party’s firepower. But there’s an additional benefit, which is that Clerics can’t stock up on cure light wound spells, and thus gets to explore the rest of the spell list without other players accusing him of forgetting his duties. Don’t hate the player, hate the DM!
This rule means that from 0 to 25,000 XP, one B/X Cleric is limited to a single cure light wounds spell. That is rough times. If you want more, hire more Clerics. But I don’t think this has been a serious problem for us. I’d guess that there’s about 3 substantive hours in each of our sessions, which is enough time to get into 1-2 fights, and usually some very modest healing is enough to see us through while leaving enough tension toward the end to keep things exciting.