When I started creating my first character for Dungeons & Dragons I quickly settled on a dwarven fighter. For some reason dwarves were my favourite, images of warhammers, armour and quaffing copious amounts of ale just seemed right up my alley. As for the class choice, well I prefer to have my dwarves casting from a mold, not casting spells. When I got the opportunity to join another campaign, I decided on trying out one of the caster classes for a change.
I was looking for someone versatile with spells, but also relatively durable. This narrowed my choices down to either cleric or paladin. I do like justice, and my stance on evil is generally anti, but I decided on trying out a cleric. In my opinion, clerics are inexorably linked to the deities they serve. With that in mind I decided to choose a deity first, and build the character from there.
After clearing with the DM what gods were available in his pantheon, I gravitated very quickly towards Bahamut. I wanted to play a good guy, and not necessarily a human. Also, I think dragons are awesome. Now who would worship Bahamut? I think any race could reasonably be chosen, D&D is quite inclusive, but the world was probably not quite ready for a half-orc cleric worshipping a dragon god, so I settled on a Dragonborn. The breath weapon was also a nice bonus, and I decided on having Brass Dragon ancestry for flame breath. At this point the rest of the character fell into place.
Shandarr is a cleric of the Light domain. Ever since he was young, he was fascinated with fire, and when he came of age his vocation became bringing the light of Bahamut to the world. I chose the light domain as I pictured Shandarr as somewhat of a pyrophile , which may not be safe for the party but there are worse ‘philes’ that a cleric can be. I read more into the history of Bahamut online, from his relationship with Tiamat to his general dogma, and it really helped flesh out the character of Shandarr. Right now Shandarr is working on converting the local populace, and I have been dreaming up methods such as a children’s story book about Bahamut and his seven golden dragons/canaries, or just trying to found a temple.
Growing up in Ireland gave me plenty of material to build a cleric with, and I can always bring a groan to the party when I extol Bahamut, when I invoke his name when curing wounds, or when my Prayer of Healing starts off as an actual prayer. I’m not religious in real life, but in a world where you can have physical manifestations of gods, it would be a struggle to be an atheist. As Terry Pratchett said,
It was all very well going on about pure logic and how the universe was ruled by logic and the harmony of numbers, but the plain fact of the matter was that the Disc was manifestly traversing space on the back of a giant turtle and the gods had a habit of going round to atheists’ houses and smashing their windows.
All this brings me to my point: If you play the cleric, you have to have a deity. I have read in past editions you could worship an ‘ideal’ instead, but that really doesn’t make sense to me. The choice of deity can provide some nice plot hooks for the DM, and can provide many ideas for your own characters development. Less is not more in this case.
Go now, in peace, and may Bahamut’s light be upon you.