I started compiling a list of house rules and ideas for running a game just as soon as I finish school this spring. The ruleset will be LotFP Weird Fantasy, either boxed set or the upcoming grindhouse edition, but I could put forth this argument for any sword and sorcery, law vs. chaos campaign.
In LotFP, magic users (and elves) draw their magic from the forces of chaos. They are tapping into a power source to make reality not-as-it-should-be. They are using chaos to cheat reality.
I’d go further for my game and all clerics must be lawful (keeping in mind this doesn’t mean ‘good’). Why?
A cleric has aligned himself with a god or religious axiom that in most cases is seeking to grow and copy itself onto reality, making all of reality bend to the will of that god or belief set. Any cleric (or god, if they do actually independently exist in your setting) would believe that his or her way is the right way, the way it should be. All other ways should be either destroyed, subjugated or exist only according to the terms set forth by a cleric’s god. There are no exceptions and this is no compromise.
This is the sort of will that is needed to become a cleric, with the power to cast spells, heal, etc. Anyone can be a priest, monk or mere believer. To be a cleric, it’s all or nothing on behalf of your religion.
That sounds lawful to me.
Notice I didn’t say all gods have to be lawful. Where would be without the gods of chaos? Perhaps. A god of chaos, it could be argued, can have lawful clerics because the every whim of that god is as good as law to that cleric.
But if we approach alignment not from a personal belief system and look at it as taking a side in a great cosmic struggle between two forces (which is how LotFP approaches it), then probably not. A chaotic god would not have clerics. She might have priests, mages, sorcerers and shamans in her employ. She might be able to teach new arcane spells to her followers through ritual, she might even grant boons to her servants that function as spells, but she wouldn’t have clerics.
A recent post by James Raggi hints that the grindhouse edition of LotFP will be tweaked to put the cleric and the mage more at odds with one another, which is something I have been moving towards in this blog over the last year. It will take some work to make sure the two classes can work together in a single party.