How to play Cleric of Sharess
Wywernywin last edited by
I was browsing through Candlekeep.com, and happened to encounter a query made to Ed Greenwood on how to play a cleric of Sharess without going the full-slut route. The response was quite interesting, thought I'd paste it here.
The key to playing a “true to the Realms” cleric of Sharess is that such people are the ultimate sensualists.
That doesn’t necessarily mean sex (although eventually a veteran cleric of Sharess will have had sex in unusual places, with more than just partners of both genders and her own race, and involving various kinks and athletic positions - - though not necessarily all together in the same encounters - - just for the experience).
Rather, it means that the cleric of Sharess loves to feel and experience things. So she’ll walk out naked into fierce storms, to stand and feel the rain or snow lashing her. She’ll thrust her hand (briefly) into flames. She’ll try new cuisine, with odd combinations of sweet and bitter.
She’s all about experiencing things in life. This does NOT mean she’ll necessarily be foolhardy (“Stick a knife in me. I want to feel what it’s like.”) or reckless of the safety of others. Nor will she want to offend against local laws or make things difficult for companions because of her behaviour. If she knows (or it seems likely) it’s illegal to have sex draped all over the statue in the public square, she won’t try to do so.
It does mean that she won’t wear underwear (except for “play” purposes), and that her outer garb, even when it covers her from ankles to throat (usually it will bare rather more, to let her skin feel life around her directly), will have slits or unbuttonable darts or the like, so it can readily be hiked up or parted. Again, not just for sex, but so that if she has to sit on a stone wall or tree bough waiting for someone, she’ll be able to arrange her clothing so that her bare skin is in contact with that surface. NOT for “public display” of her body (the garments may well conceal her skin completely from observers), but so that she can feel the bark or stone directly.
For the same reasons, except in unbearably hot situations, a cleric of Sharess will always prefer to sleep nude, with someone, skin on skin, even if no sex is going to occur. (This does NOT mean she’ll be foolish enough to deliberately go into battle nude or badly covered, when armor is available - - but it does mean that in an emergency she’ll snatch up useful items or weapons, not waste time on getting dressed.
It also does not mean she’ll insist on trying to sleep with a sick or wounded person, when her presence will cause them discomfort, but it does mean that she isn’t embarrassed about climbing into bed nude with anyone or anything. Lonely half-orcs and the maimed and disfigured love clerics of Sharess.)
Textures, temperatures, tastes and smells; clerics of Sharess are all about these things as they go through life.
They are also about pleasure. Again, not just sex, but footrubs and backrubs and scratchings, of both themselves and others (IF they know that whatever activity they’re contemplating brings pleasure to those others). Combing out hair, stroking, masturbating themselves and others, and “grooming” (and yes, in the Realms this can mean literal picking of lice or other crawlies off bodies) and other such activities are all activities good clerics of Sharess do without hesitation or distaste (part of the training of novices is to make them embrace this way of thinking and living).
A cleric of Sharess is NOT ashamed of her body or natural processes (defecation, et al; in battle, being drenched in the blood or fluids of an enemy won’t bother them, and sucking poison from a wound or holding the innards of wounded self or ally in place won’t bring any distaste). If, for example, a Sharessan cleric feels an itch between her shoulderblades, she won’t hesitate to bare them and either ask someone to scratch her (perfect strangers if they seem safe, or a companion) or rub herself against a tree as a cat does.
That’s why some clerics of Sharess, of high rank, wear garters (bands worn tight and high up on the thighs) adorned with burrs, thorns, patches of silky fur, and so on - - not because they are closet masochists or secret worshippers of Loviatar or Ilmater, but for the ongoing sensations. Such garments are kissed reverently when put on and taken off, because they are in themselves offerings to the goddess.
And yes, many clerics of Sharess signal enjoyment of sensations by purring.
It is important to note that clerics of Sharess are sensualists rather than hedonists; they want to experience pain and discomfort as well as pleasure, and aren’t primarily concerned (as a hedonist is) with maximizing their personal pleasure. So a cleric of Sharess wants others around them to experience life to the full, too, and maximize THEIR pleasure and enjoyment of it. That’s where the wisdom and understanding of others, and consideration for their feelings in the things your cleric says and does, comes in. A cleric of Sharess is NOT interested in embarrassing or scandalizing anyone, but is interested in getting them to “unwind” and “relax” and “try new experiences.” Something as simple as a new sort of food dish, for example.
If a cleric of Sharess is traveling with, say, a paladin of Torm who makes it clear he’s NOT interested in sex and regards any attempt to remove his armor as a dangerous distraction, the cleric of Sharess will not make overtures to him. She will secretly wear dildoes to gain her own pleasure, and offer to wash the paladin’s hair and his underarmor padding (and scratch his itches) when he disrobes at night, making it clear that she intends no seduction by these friendly aids, and going only as far in these activities as he wants her to. She will NOT be a constant tease, a flirt who bares herself to tempt him.
In another setting, with folk who enjoy such behavior, she may be the world’s wildest flirt (eating food off the bared body of someone else is a favourite activity, and in fact some temple rites of Sharess involve “calming” homophobes among the novice clergy by having them dine in private with another postulate of the same gender, where all foodstuffs must be eaten off the body of the other participant, so they’ll get over difficulties with being unable to separate sensual pleasures from sexual matters). Clerics of Sharess enjoy a good drink, but dislike becoming drunk, because it deadens their faculties for experiencing the world around them (and their memories of having done so).
If a cleric of Sharess is raped, she would NOt welcome the experience, may hate it, and will probably fight hard to avoid it or escape it (if possible), and try to see that the rapist subsequently gets punished - - but she will also try to derive as much physical enjoyment as she can while it’s happening. In like wise, if she is wounded in battle, she wants to feel the pain, even while she might desperately want and seek healing. Which is why heat, cold, and floggings are usually experienced by novice clerics of Sharess (again, outsiders may mistake them for Sharrans or devotees of Loviatar, but this is mistaken; they are merely trying to experience all things, and sometimes the whip will be of stinging nettles, but the next time it may be made of feathers - - it’s tasting the full range of experiences that clerics of Sharess are all about).
None of this should make your cleric of Sharess an all-yielding, “Hey man, please hurt me” sort of person, or a happy-go-lucky “got to rush out into that meadow and feel the storm lightning strike me” idiot, nor yet a “oh, look, a cadaver or someone who can’t run fast enough to get away - - time to have sex again!” ruled-by-lusts sort. She can be ambitious, a fierce warrior (the prowling cat) and pride herself on being able to deal death swiftly and deftly, and she can be a capable adventuress, loyal to her companions and eager to win fame and/or fortune and/or reputation, influence, and worldly rank - - nor do senior clergy of Sharess do anything to discourage such interests and drives.
Clerics of Sharess always look on the bright side of everything. If the party gets lost, or drenched, it’s an opportunity to enjoy experiences they might otherwise have missed, not a calamity. If they want to have a group orgy, she’ll be the one making sure everyone feels involved and is fully enjoying it. In any group, she’ll notice the lonely or unhappy (iest) one and try to “fix that.” When someone is confused or grieving or depressed, she’ll be the silent or gently comforting companion. She is the one who wants all of life, no matter how uncomfortable, to be enjoyed.
Fraoch last edited by
Another one from him, on weddings, last post on the page.
This is something someone who plays a Sharessian cleric wrote, drawing from official sources