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So by the book 1st Edition AD&D, clerics can't use a sling.

Other than game balance (it essentially means that other than the odd thrown hammer clerics have no ranged weapon ability which further distinguishes them from fighters) is there any justification for this? Bows I can kind of see (they're pointy) but not slings.

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Actually, 1E Clerics can also throw clubs with the same expertise as hammers. – Badmike Jul 5 '12 at 23:24
up vote 19 down vote accepted

The primary reasoning for this is because of Gygax's study of anthropology.

Priests during the dark ages often favored staves and other blunt objects that could be used more for policing and self defense against other weapons than actual harm. Thus if used properly they would not cause bleeding (directly) but maybe severe bruising or a broken bone.

EDIT 1: p.166 of "The Historical Atlas of Knights and Castles", Dr. Ian Barnes

The 13th Century Mace ... was a cavalry and elite weapon, especially favored by fighting clerics (who would rather crack a skull than spill blood).

Also This article includes

The clergy was forbidden to shed blood, and thus a sword was inhibited, it might have been thought was sufficient to keep them from the battle field. But not so; They adopted the mace; though they could not cut a man's throat, yet they might break his head

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It's accurate to say that Gygax encountered these claims and believed them (or at least thought they'd be fun in a game), but from a modern historical perspective they're pretty dubious, likely a mix of fable and Victorian fabrication. There are plentiful examples of Christian religious warriors using penetrating weapons such as crossbows, lances, and swords, while the most common example of a priest with a mace/club to "avoid bloodshed" is Odo using one as a badge of leadership (a mace is both an effective battlefield weapon and similar to a scepter). – Alex P Jun 9 at 17:42
Gygax was also a student of anthropology so he probably ran into his fair share of stories. – CatLord Jun 10 at 12:04

My understanding is that sling stones generally cause bleeding on impact and I believe the whole "no edged or pointy weapons" cleric restriction stems from a "do not draw blood" prohibition. But, I do not have rule books at hand.

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Yes, well, flails and morning stars often have pointy bits too, and even a club can draw blood from a crushed nose. This restriction doesn't really hold up well to scrutiny. That's what you get for a rule that's based on an off-hand reference in the Chanson de Roland. :) – lisardggY Jul 5 '12 at 10:16

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