Continuing with Dulio‘s series of guest articles is his entry regarding the Cleric, one of the Career Paths available in the Dark Heresy Corebook.
“Prayer time sinners!” –Reckless Kelly
The Ecclesiarchy is the institution dedicated to governing and enforcing the religious dogma of the Imperium. In a galaxy-spanning empire where Faith and Conformity is as much prized as Loyalty and Valor, this translates to vast temporal power that rivals (and in some cases,) exceeds, that of its counterpart institutions such as the Administratum. Entire populations are consigned to slaughter, galaxies are plunged into war and billions strong crusades are launched into the void, all upon the vagaries of whim and demagoguery of galactic pontiffs.
Yet to the average prole of the Imperium’s teeming masses, the most tangible presence of Imperial Cult are its Clerics. Fiery individuals who live and work among the populace, spreading the word of the Emperor, shepherding the masses and, if need be, taking up the sword to fight off the wolves. The Cleric is a rather paradoxical career, going against the genre grain of the typical stereotype of a curative-dispensing support role, the Cleric is closer to that of a Paladin; a passionate warrior and orator that is as much at home proselytizing at the pulpit as they are at swinging a chainsword.
The Cleric’s career path is, put it simply, a bundle of raw potential, boasting the most permissively priced attribute advances among all careers, allowing him to excel in several facets with little expense. Predictably the Cleric’s skill advances emphasize his role as a man of the people, granting him the capability to ply the nobility with honeyed words or whip the masses into a righteous frenzy with fiery rhetoric as well as everything else in between. Supplementing this are a selection of Lore skills reflecting the Cleric’s learned background and a suite of talents that reflects his charisma, resolve, particularly his hatred of all that is unholy, and growing physical fitness. Of peculiar note is that while the Cleric posses the raw talent to be potent in combat, he lacks access to more refined combat talents early on but he does have one of the highest number of potential bonus wounds on his advances, rivaling even the Guardsman in sheer staying power.
Eventually the Cleric will arrive at a junction in his career between the path of the Confessor or the Exorcist. Both take the Cleric on divergent paths but equally pay off by providing him with a greater proportion of combat talents. The former embarks upon the path of Bishops and eventually Hierophants, developing his intellect and political acumen to better lead his flock which at this point probably numbers in the thousands and eventually in the billions. The Exorcist on the other hand evolves along the mold of the valiant crusader portrayed in cathedral murals, the Redemptionist embodiment of the God Emperor, inspiring his troops to victory over the daemon, the alien and the heretic, many times after dispatching the vilest of the aforementioned personally.
Clerics represent the embodiment of Man’s faith, shining beacons of humanity’s manifest destiny in a universe bent toward its extinction. They inspire those around them to heights of heroism as they stand against the darkness. It’s only sensible that they find places within the ranks of the Inquisition humanity’s steadfast guardians. Their people skills and sheer survivability, coupled with their religious fervor and typically revered social position make them ideal face men for any inquisitorial team.
Notable Clerics: Sadly Clerics have not been desirable subjects in WH40K literature, typically being portrayed more as villains or impediments rather than protagonists. Majority of prominent, and oft times infamous, examples of Clerics come from WH40K’s extensive histories as well as the Tabletop game’s faction codex books.
Sebastian Thor and Goge Vandire are two pointed examples of extremely powerful Clerics and the sheer scale of destruction that ensues when they come into conflict, resulting in the Age of Apostasy; a centuries long galactic war that swept across the Imperium up to the gates of Terra itself. Equally notorious is Cardinal Xaphan, an apostate cardinal whose sheer charisma and machinations led a city of billions into the worship of the Ruinous powers, precipitating the two decade long siege of Vraks.
Ayatani Zweil, form Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts, comes closest to an acolyte level Cleric, providing spiritual and emotional succor to the constantly harrowed men of the Tanith Regiment as they shuttle from one hellish conflict zone to another in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade.