Xanathar's Guide to Cleavin' a Goblin Clean in Twain (feat. D&D)


How is it in character? What if I want to play a Cleric of Swordo the Sword God, The First to Swing a Sharpened Piece of Metal. Why am I restricted from using a sword in that case?

What part of becoming a Cleric or Wizard keeps you from using swords? Its an out of game balance thing that exists purely as a player choice. Why is this not a big deal to you but a later edition giving fighters something to do more complex than swinging a sword clearly a sign of decline?


As a kid that Rules Cyclopedia always seemed like such a weird deal, in that it had a bunch of oddball rules covering stuff I had never seen in AD&D, yet it still treated races as classes. As cool as hex grids and aerial combat was, I sure as shit wasn’t going to settle with all elves being fighter/mages, all dwarves being fighters, and so on. I think that that was the built-in product differentiation factor to dissuade folds from Basic.


the rules cyclopedia compiled all the rules from the BECMI set into one reference book, but it unfortunately came out too late without a proper explanation of what it was so the fact that the rules were simply… far better and far better explained than those in AD&D combined with the race-as-class thing made it unpopular at the time.

too bad child you didn’t realize you could just describe any of the characters as a species of your choice. Nothing could stop you from saying that your wizard was a dorf.


Poor classic clerics. They might not pass Tulpa’s test, but after everyone got that “what the heck is a cleric” question answered back in the day, they fit right in with the more familiar archetypes. For a counter example, what about the assassin? Folks will cite the 2nd edition clean up for the disappearance of assassin, but back in the day I don’t remember anyone I knew really being bothered by it, because they didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the group. What the fuck is an assassin going to do in a dungeon against a pissed githyanki?

We went through ages of media that was influenced by early D&D, and now we’re in a period where D&D is reacting to all the stuff that was cast in its prior image, and there’s some interference patterns happening in all these waves bouncing around.


Yeah, I fuckin’ sucked as a child.


I like clerics, I like the classic archetype of clerics! I am also totally willing to say that they’re a games invention with no solid foundation in history or myth so that there was a tanky magic user that hunted zombies because thats what one of the players wanted to play.


its also fascinating to me that the Warlock didn’t appear until 3.5 with complete arcane because it was such a clear archetype well sourced in pretty much every swords and sorcery story (a magic user who gets their power from a supernatural patron) but you couldn’t play one until 3.5.


I wonder if they felt stymied in the way Wizards’ spell library was so vast, making it difficult to carve out archetypes for any other spell domain.


the constant, awful psionics rules being shoved into every edition made me think they just didn’t think of it


The warlock is like a classified version of a 2nd Edition Skills and Powers wizard build. They’re like the only non-combat rules legacy from those books.


The trend, once everyone had finally settled on “yeah, you can still totally kill folks and be a Christian” (because the Christian Empire isn’t gonna last long if you can’t) circa the 5th century was to ask “ok but what about clerics?” The conclusion was almost always “nah.” Spilling human blood was seen as polluting, and killing as interfering with the essential role of priests in all sorts of ways! So churchmen weren’t supposed to fight, or even carry weapons (clerica non arma est) according to dozens of canons over several centuries.

After the 4th Lateran Council the Church forbid any priest of subdeacon+ from engaging in activity likely to draw blood. They could not cut into skin, and the study of anatomy was considered unholy, which both drove a wedge between the professions of medicine and surgery and reinforced the Thou Shalt Not Weapon thing heavily.

Meanwhile, a Bishop on campaign with a King might carry a staff of office or mace (like Odo on the Bayeux). Carrying a sword would be v. bad optics! Maybe he hits people with his staff of office, but it’s v. controversial on paper at least. Most of the surviving controversy (in writing) is less about the specific shedding of blood and more about the Getting Too Involved In Worldly Affairs By Being Too Active and Knight-Like On These Campaigns, much like people tutted at their roles as owners of Huge Tracts of Land.

On the other hand you have arguments that as possessors of huge amounts of land populated by Christians, Bishops may need to take a worldly (martial) role to effectively shepherd (keep from getting killed so their souls can in turn be shepherded) their flocks as in The Life of St. Bruno

In conclusion I blame the Victorians somehow


I’m pretty sure there were a number of warlock and witch classes published in Dragon. And it doesn’t really matter what the official rules are anyway. Especially with the earlier versions, BECMI and OD&D especially, it is super easy to create your own classes. I think this became somewhat harder in 3e and later because classes became somewhat more complex to start with.

There was definitely a big emphasis on customizing the game in the early days. I’m sure that persists today, but I don’t know how explicit it is in the rules these days.


I want to say there was also a Witch class that got compiled into one of the Dragon Annuals, which got its powers from a supernatural pact.




That one might be my favorite post ever. You make me regret dropping out of grad school.


I’m finding several references to bishops who weren’t shy about using a sword. One site even states

The French bishops of Caliors proudly followed a martial tradition of displaying their hardware openly in church, regularly placing their swords and helmets on the altar when they said Mass.

Though they don’t cite any sources.


Want to play a Killer Bishop of Caliors


In conclusion:

Killing bad! Drawing blood bad! Wearing weapons bad!

Sometimes they did all those things anyway.

Bishops might carry a blunt object as a symbol of office and that could double as a weapon which looked slightly better when they weren’t actively killing but didn’t have anything to do with making the killing act better according to canon law, it was an optics thing.

It’s past my bedtime.


One of the ongoing campaigns I’m a part of is with the group I go to Magfest with, usually done through Roll20. On the second day of the 'fest (Saturday), we did our first in-person D&D game for this group. It went great.

For one, my buddy guested as a warforged detective named Asker, who managed to keep our usually scatterbrained group focused. The other good tweak was that we got all the town and bookkeeping stuff sorted out in our last session, so we could just start with the new story. This is the game where I do the Froppy-style broom-riding witch, so doing the voice live was particularly fun.

We were told by the vaguely crime-aligned bar NPC Katrina that we had a price on our heads, then went to bed, at which point we were woken up by a woman’s screams. We rush out and find her, and she says some robed figures took her kid and disappeared. We meet up with Asker, who was mysteriously hired to help us, and we eventually track them to a hidden passage.

We crawl Half-Life style through some vents, then come upon an in-progress cultist human sacrifice ritual, with the captured kid at the center. Since I rolled the highest in initiative, I fly in with my broomstick, cast Darkness in the corner to disable about a third of the cultists, then realize I can’t really leave the room again without taking a bunch of attacks of opportunity. So, I stay, figuring the rest will be in soon anyways, but! There were about 4 cultists in the Initiative order between me and the next player. I proceed to get crit on twice, in what I imagine is essentially a loony tunes fight cloud.

I’m downed, then revived as the group moves in, then healed a bit, so I fly over to grab the kid. After we mop up and ultimately subdue the final enemy by throwing my shoe at him. My friend and I’s characters go to take the kid back to her mom, while the rest of the group interrogates the prisoner. Asker has some pretty wild abilities, including one that lets you see everything in the last 24 hours around a specific object (e. g. You can see from the perspective of the object). Through this, the group sees that the woman who had her child stolen was in fact part of the cult, and this was an attempt to get us into a trap.

So, my wounded witch and my friend’s tiefling ranger are oblivious to this, since we were bringing the child back. The mom graciously thanks us, then crit stabs me in the gut, dropping me off my broom and into my death saves. My friend then proceeds to have a city alleyway shootout with advancing cultists while the rest of the group rushes to find us. It was awesome.

I got two fails, two successes, then miraculously, my last was a success, so I lived (which, thank god, because I love this character). The group has a brutal fight between buildings, made doubly so by the fact that we’d just come out of a different major battle. In the end we succeed, but dramatically, it was a nail-biter.

Loved it.


As a player, I hate being prodded by the DM like this. What do other ppl think?

(I’m not saying it’s wrong or anything, i’m just curious about other players preferences.)