A perennial topic around the Cleric class is the prohibition against edged and pointed weapons. As the story goes, this prohibition came from legends that Archbishop Turpin used a mace based on the notion that they who live by the sword will die by the sword. Wikipedia tells us though that Archbishop Turpin was depicted in art as bearing both a sword and spear, and the origin could be from Bishop Odo, also Earl of Kent who bore a club into battle. Even with an error of origin, the prohibition makes sense.
The Cleric “serves to fortify, protect and revitalize” according to AD&D Players Handbook 1st Edition, yet also “bears a certain resemblance to religious orders of knighthood in medieval times”.
Both traditional Western and Eastern religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism) have traditions against blood pollution. Blood pollution occurs if blood is shed in a way that brings bad fortune upon your faith or country – even touching blood can cause religious pollution. Consumption of blood can also be impure. In Islam, the Prophet is clear about the consumption of blood being taboo.
Most early religions also practiced the shedding of blood in sacrifice, through the shedding of the blood of animals or humans. If there is a proper way to shed the blood of a sacrifice, then for ritualized practitioners there are even more ways in which blood should not be shed. Ritualized killing is found among many cultures.
What about the use of weapons associated with a cleric’s god? That’s the real question. For example, is it reasonable for a Cleric of Odin to use a spear, much like Odin himself? We know from DDG that specific mythos and individual god requirements can override other general requirements of Clerics. Im going to toss this idea out to the community to see if there is any significant reference to using divine weapons in 1st Edition.
Should Evil Clerics Be Able to Shed Blood?
Following the logic of reverse versions of spells being associated with evil, it follows that evil clerics must shed blood while good clerics should not. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. The two quotes above for the definition of a Cleric holds true also for evil faiths. An evil Cleric can serve to fortify, protect and revitalize for the purpose of supporting evil actions and deeds so long as the Cleric does so for that purpose.
Also, since this prohibition affects all Clerics (but not Druids), there must be some overriding reason for it. That is something I want to investigate further.
Cleric Weapon Prohibitions in The First Age
My intention is to preserve the prohibition against edged and pointed weapons, however I am going to leave the door open until I can be sure of the origin of the divine weapon question.