A few thoughts on OSR Clerics

I was thinking about clerics the other and how they’ve changed. No really. The modern cleric is there as a healbot. That’s their job. Keep ’em alive. However, in this gognard’s opinion, in the old days it was something else. Sure they could heal but that was a fringe benefit. The real reason that you wanted a cleric in your party was undead.
Let’s look at the class first. Clerics had armor just as good as fighter. Their weapons were meh. But they had the second best attack progression and hit points. And heck usually they didn’t did even start with a spell at 1st level. When to shambling hordes showed up, you pushed that cleric out front and yelled “Turn!” Why? Because old school undead were just freaking nasty and could screw up even a high level party. Let’s look at some undead. For this comparison, I’ll dig out my Little Brown Books, Basic, and 5E (cause that’s what all the cool kids are playing).
The big thing was Level Drain. A 3 HD Wraith drains a level. Spectres, Wights, and Vampires drained two levels. You didn’t get those levels back with an easy to find cleric spell. Nope. You sucked up it up and drove on. Adventured more to get those XP back. Generally, by going back to low level dungeons.
Let’s look at the Level 3 Wandering Monster Table. There it is 1 to 3 Wights. If your tanks were decked out with plate armor and shields, the wights would need a 15 to hit. Your Thief, they’d need about a 10 or so. You see where I’m going. Things would get ugly real fast. You push your 3rd level cleric out front and they’d need to roll a 9 or better on 2d6 to turn those wights. And that was your best chance at survival.
Now looking at 5E, the replacement for Level Drain is HP drain which at worst may take a couple of days to get over. That’s it. Dangerous but no where the consequences.
Am I saying one way is bad wrong fun? Nope. Just different.

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