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The Wine Snob Cleric

by Neal Litherland 5 months ago in rpg
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An RPG Character Concept

Drostin swirled the glass the barkeep had handed him, inhaling the perfume of the vintage. His eyes were closed, and he smiled as anticipation sent gooseflesh over his skin. When Korek snorted, Drostin opened his eyes and regarded his thick-set companion.

"Was it something?" Drostin asked.

"Just wondering why a man as tough as you never orders a dark brew. An ale, or even a beer, might put some hair on your chest!"

Drostin raised a single eyebrow, and let the silence between them draw out for a moment. Then he said, "Korek, this is the last seasonal barrel of midnight wine. The grapes harvested at midnight during the last true day of the season, snatched from the grasp of winter. The wine made from these grapes is the next best thing to sacred, and is to be enjoyed by the living, filling their cheeks with fire to mock the King of the Dead who cannot feel such things."

Drostin tilted his glass, and took a long, slow, appreciative sip. The wine was sweet, but there was a sharpness to it as well. Even in the warm taproom it was cold enough to chill his throat. When he set his glass down, Drostin felt the heat beginning in his chest. He favored Korek with a smile.

"Besides that, my friend, a single glass of this wine is more potent than a dozen tankards of that wheat tea you're drinking."

Wine of Victory!

The drunken cleric is one of those archetypes in our RPGs that's as common as the noble paladin, the sneaky rogue, or the brutish barbarian. Going back to popular characters like Friar Tuck, and built up with game elements like "dwarven holy water," alcohol has long been used as an entheogen (chemical substance imbibed as part of holy observance, ritual, etc.) in our games.

But it's almost never wine.

From ale-swilling priests, to beer-guzzling holy warriors, wine is almost universally ignored as an element of this character concept... even though it's got a history both in practice and mythology of occupying this particular spot.

Whether it was honey wine being compared to ambrosia, the food of the gods, or mythical figures like Odin who survived entirely off of mead, wine has often been associated with the divine. It kills cowardice and provides a sense of well-being while dulling pain as well as any alcohol, but it's usually thought of as something for low-Constitution characters to drink after an adventure. The fantasy equivalent of a soft drink.

So what happens if you flip the script on this? Would a cleric of a deity associated with bravery use a battle cry like "Wine of Victory" (found in 100 Fantasy Battle Cries and Their Histories, for those who are curious)? Would a cleric of a deity associated with vengeance, desire, and wasps use poisoned wine as a weapon to more subtly slay their foes? Would a nature cleric consider wine to be a blessing from their patron, especially if made from natural fermentation on the vine?

There are all kinds of different directions to take this idea in. In the end, though, it shows what can happen when you make a small tweak to an established archetype, and go off in a new direction with it!

Looking For Even More Content?

That's all for this installment of my Unusual Character Concepts series! Hopefully this one gave you something to chew over, whether you're a player, or a game master.

For even more of my work, check out my full Vocal archive. Or if you'd prefer to read some of my books, like my alley cat noir novel Marked Territory, its sequel Painted Cats, my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife, or my most recent collection of short stories The Rejects, then head over to My Amazon Author Page!

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About the author

Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.

Twitter: @nlitherl



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