This post is being added in hindsight after I had already moved forward in my reading. I suspect I might add a few more like this as I have been scheduling some of these in groups of posts. I’d like to thank Jonathan at The Core Mechanic for his excellent The New Cleric is the Old Cleric series which prompted me to realize I had glossed over something I felt was noteworthy.
Men & Magic
BASIC EQUIPMENT AND COSTS
“Item: Wooden Cross, Cost: 2The two items above are the only ‘holy symbols’ in original D&D. Certainly we know that the equipment list is no more than a guide for referees, and far from complete.
Item: Silver Cross, Cost: 25”
“Other items cost may be calculated by comparing to similar items listed above.”By now the reader is gaining an understanding that there is potentially more to the world, to the campaign, and that covering all possibilities is implausible. The fact that ‘Cross’ is used, rather than ‘Symbol‘, is noteworthy. I realize that my AD&D mind is taking hold here, as I know what’s in store for the Cleric in the near future. The Cleric, more so than any other class in D&D, is rooted in our world, the real world. One might argue that Fighting-Men are as well, and that Magic-Users are the only true fantasy archetype of the Three-Pronged-Crown of D&D classes. I would contend that Fighting-Men are generic by design, and meant to encompass not only historical Medieval warriors, but also pulp fiction and high fantasy heroes of bravery and daring. Clerics, as originally designed, were inspired by a vampire-hunting, Van Helsing-type character (Sir Fang) from Arneson’s Blackmoor, an archetype to which Gygax added some Medieval and historical trappings; namely Christianity. From there the idea blossomed and became one of the three D&D archetypes.
While there is no mention of God, or Christians, or of whom Clerics or Anti-Clerics worship, this is the only reference point we have to work with. One can make assumptions based on this, but I think even 34 years ago TSR realized that a potentially volatile situation could develop if the ramifications of this were spelled out. On the other hand, I truly get the feeling from reading these volumes that there was no intent to enforce real world religion into the rules of the fantastic worlds which were growing around them. In the end I am left to surmise that the Cross was specifically the literal translation of the Van Helsing tool used on the Clerics versus Undead Monsters table detailed in the pages to come, and nothing more.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee