Personally when I think of cleric I tend to almost reflexively envision an armored spellcaster, often with a holy symbol, and a lot of the time channeling divine energy as undead flee and/or disintegrate. Really though I think that a cleric class could have enough flexibility to wear heavy armor and emphasize melee, hang back and call down the wrath of her god, or something more in between. I guess I have just really never liked the idea that clerics all get heavy armor, a generally poor weapon selection, and either chase off or command undead.
As with my prior post on how I might do a wizard, here are some ideas I have been kicking around concerning the cleric.
No Turn Undead
I know that this is a staple of every basic cleric class, but it just does not make sense to give it to every cleric as not all gods really seem like they would care too much about undead critters. Instead it becomes a type of prayer (which I'll get to in a tick), perhaps limited to specific gods and/or requiring a feat.
Weapons and Armor
I like the idea of clerics sticking with weapons that their deity uses, so I would not restrict them. As for armor...well, I am on the fence here. One of the Legend & Lore or D&D Next articles mentioned a priest class as a more "wizardly" version of the cleric, and I kind of want them to have armor proficiencies based on their god as well. Like, I could see a cleric of Kord running around in heavy armor and a big sword, but I see a cleric of Ioun or Corellon as more lightly armored. I'd like to reflect that sort of thing, perhaps by letting them add Wisdom to AC or getting a flat AC bonus through some kind of arcane/faith shielding.
Almost every edition of D&D has included gods with associated domains, and it makes sense to keep them. The cleric chooses one of these domains (for now), perhaps gaining a benefit, but mainly determining the list of prayers and miracles that she can choose from, perhaps also proficiencies. A feat could let the cleric pick stuff from other domains, or she could just add more as she levels up. Depends on what they do and the initial power structure I want.
I would not want them to all necessarily be combat oriented, though I am having a hard time figuring out how to make it work otherwise. For example, a cleric devoted to a god of magic might be able to mutter a prayer while trying to identify a magic item, disable a ward, keep an arcane forge from exploding. Stuff like that. I just do not want it to happen all the time. I am thinking that some could be on a per-encounter basis like guidance, x times per day, or use some kind of other resource management system (who knows, could be points!).
It could be a general cleric feature, but only applicable to situations where it makes sense. Kind of how like in Exalted: Infernals you can use their excellencies on anything, but only when it fits the purview of whatever yozi you serve.
Ideally I would like to incorporate some sort of mechanic where the cleric could regain the use of miracles over the course of a day, such as by tithing, performing ceremonies, converting followers, following her god's ideals, etc. I could also see clerics sacrificing defeated enemies and the corpses of creatures. At the very least it could be good for ritual purposes. Speaking of which...
These basically work like the 4E stuff, except that they probably won't have as a diverse amount as wizards. I would still want to rely on specific types of ritual components, however; focuses like the bones of saints, burial shrouds, ashes, etc, and consumables like holy water, wafers, and incenses. Make it at least read differently.
So which--if any--of these ideas do you like? What would you change? What do you think a cleric needs to be "cleric-y" enough?