For a while now, I’ve had sort of a vague dissatisfaction with the Cleric as it exists in most D&D iterations and spinoffs. I’m not sure if it’s because as it usually ends up being played as my idea of a Paladin, or if I don’t like the whole “healer” moniker, which I think tends to rather obscure other features of the class. I think it’s a valid type of clergy, but I’m not sure it’s the type I want representing as Cleric.
With Castles & Crusades, I’ve become enamored of the Friar (described here and here--thanks Rusty Battleaxe!), which seems to fall more in line with my idea of what I’d like from a cleric. I’m going to allow both Friar (slightly rewritten) and Cleric in my upcoming campaign, and see how that goes. But I like the aspects of defender of the faith, chronicler, loremaster in a dark age, etc., more than the healing. Part of me would almost like to see that ability in the hands of an arcane class, an herbalist, or limit it for the Cleric. I guess in the end, it doesn’t match my thoughts for clergy in the pseudo-medieval part of my imagination. I think of Friar Tuck, Brother Cadfael, or Saint Patrick before I think of your standard Priest of Tyr.
We’ll see. Ultimately, it’s something I’m still chewing on, and probably will be for a while. It's not that I think the Cleric as written doesn't have a place in the game--it's just I don't want it to be the only option for clergy.
For those of you who do something a bit different, how do you address clergy (and the cleric class) in your games?