I have suggested in a previous Saintly Saturday that prophets make very good clerics and Roger of Roles, Rules & Rolls has run with the idea. The story of Micah son of Imlah puts an interesting twist on the whole affair.
In my own games, where I emulate a medieval Christian Church, how to handle evil clerics becomes a bit of an issue. If clerics receive their spells by divine energies and there is only one God, how can pagan or evil clerics get any spells? My answer has always been to run them as magic-users dressed up as priests.
However, take a look at this passage from 1 Kings 22:20-22:
And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’In other words, one possible interpretation of how clerics get their spells is through spirits. Some of those spirits can be lying spirits. This opens the door to evil clerics who channel those lying spirits.
For those who feel uncomfortable with this story, and what it says about God one needs to understand it in context of both the image and likeness of God as well as the Cross:
- The fact that the lying spirit went into Ahab’s prophets doesn’t take away from the fact that Ahab still chose to go against the Assyrians at Ramoth Gilead. Being made in the image and likeness means he had free will to listen to Micah and avoid his own demise instead of only listening to what he wanted to hear.
- Therefore, God doesn’t create tragedy — it is something we either bring upon ourselves through our choices or as a consequence of living in a fallen world (which came about because of a choice to turn away from God). God can and does take any tragedy and turn it into some kind of good. This is best exemplified by the Cross — the worst tragedy in the history of the world (everything pales in comparison to the God of all crucified by His own creation). He turned that into resurrection.
Thus, while it might look as if those evil clerics (prophets channeling lying spirits) are actively bringing tragedy into the world:
- They are doing so of their own free will.
- God can work good even through their evil (quite possibly as a result of the PCs reacting to the actions of the evil clerics).