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The description of Cloistered Cleric states:

The cloistered cleric spends more time than other clerics in study and prayer and less in martial training. He gives up some of the cleric's combat prowess in exchange for greater skill access and a wider range of spells devoted to knowledge (and the protection of knowledge).

If building a Gestalt character, even though I believe it would be within RAW to allow one "side" to be a Cloistered Cleric and the other a Fighter or fighter variant, it feels a bit cheesy to me. The CC gives up some combat abilities in exchange for more skill points and skills, but if they're a gestalt with a fighter class then they're not really giving up anything.

If you would allow this, how would you justify and/or role-play it? (How can I be a character who on the one hand eschews martial training, and on the other hand is training in a martial class on the side?)

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Point of order: when you're asking about a fighter|cleric, are you open to single-classed suggestions that accomplish (some) of the same thing? What aspects of the fighter|cleric do you want? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 2 at 0:38

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This is going to vary massively from game to game, but in my own games, yes, absolutely.

A gestalt game is already assuming a certain amount of changing to the classes that you are using, because you are not training discretely as one thing and then another, but rather as a homogenous whole. That is, you are not both a fighter and a cleric, you are a fighter//cleric, and what that means is left a bit undefined.

In short, if you can convince your DM/group that the combination makes sense under a given backstory, it should not be a problem. For example, though cloistered, your character might get considerable martial training. Or you might simply be a particularly cranial divine warrior. This is all about figuring out what makes sense and making a good case of it for your DM/group.

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Thanks. My question is precisely about how I might convince my DM and come up with a reasonable backstory. And it occurs to me that we've never really thought about the backstory for gestalts before, or how it is that they're training two distinct classes at once. I like your characterization that 'you are not both a fighter and a cleric, you are a fighter//cleric' –  PurpleVermont Jun 1 at 23:59

It's reasonable, so long as the rest of your group is building to the same level.

The fluff, happily, is easy. Western monks militant, (to contrast with the eastern flavoured monk class) like the Knights Templar or other military orders. As a cleric|fighter, you're an ordained priest trained in the arts of war. Unlike the Crusdaer (Tome of Battle) you don't compromise between ordained activities and the fight, you are a true knight of the church. You live in a monastery, spend your days training and praying.

Most real-world monasteries had the brethren doing maintenance and other critical logistical tasks due to their vows of poverty and humility (as well as for simple logistical hiring reasons.) In 3.5 it's completely reasonable to note that most of these logistical drags can be replaced with cleric spells (make whole, create food and drink) that provide proportionally more time for training and prayer. Beyond that, it makes sense to issue all the brethren rings of sustenance, so that they don't need to waste precious prayer time with sleep.

In terms of the fluff of the order, make a combination of the knights templar and one of the more modern orders like the Franciscans or the Jesuits.

From a mechanical standpoint, this gestalt is unnecessary. At level 7, you get divine power which gives you a full BAB, and your local wizard can cast heroics (spell compendium) on you to give you a critical fighter bonus feat, if necessary.

Instead of going to the questionable gestalt to earn a few extra feats and .25 more base attack, try exploring a non-gestalt ruby knight vindicator, as that'll provide all the capabilities you seem to be wanting,

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We're starting at level 1, so holding out for divine power at level 7 may not be the best plan. –  PurpleVermont Jun 2 at 3:45
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Brian, typically a game is all-gestalt or not; the gestalt rules, unlike the 4e hybrid rules, results in a literal “best of both worlds” situation that is (often considerably) more powerful than non-gestalt. Also, dual-progression PrCs like RKV are usually banned (though some DMs will allow them so long as you qualify purely on one side). So the player doesn’t really get to choose between cleric//fighter and RKV here. –  KRyan Jun 2 at 12:30
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@PurpleVermont That said, I strongly agree with Brian that fighter does little for you here. If you desperately need feats, Fighter 2 is OK, though I don’t see why you’d need feats that badly. Past that, fighter is a bad idea; any full-BAB class can do more for you. Barbarian may be difficult without refluffing, but paladin gets you the excellent Divine Grace (and the Serenity feat makes paladin features Wis-based), PHB2’s Knight 3 and 4 are very nice levels for Test of Mettle and Bulwark of Defense, horizon walker can get Fatigue immunity (desert), and so on. –  KRyan Jun 2 at 12:36
    
Wasn't thinking specifically of "Fighter" but rather any Fighter-type class (Paladin, Barbarian, Crusader, etc.) –  PurpleVermont Jun 2 at 14:06

Gestalt exists to allow characters to have a broader range of skill, allowing a Wizard//Factotum to have the strong Will, full spellcasting progression and familiar-bond of a Wizard, while also picking up the Factotum's dabble-in-everything shtick, compensating for the squishy Wizard hit die, and picking up more skill points and Intelligence synergy while he's at it. Though the Factotum class doesn't specialize in any one skillset, that doesn't count for beans in this gestalt, because Wizard allows him to be a specialist in arcane magic as well as holding up to a number of other challenges once his spells run out. Further...

Classes are toolkits.

Though they may have a default flavour to them (which occasionally interferes with the crunch side of things, like the Paladin), generally speaking, classes only suggest a history, rather than providing it. Unless a class has a prerequisite of, say, "Member of the Pearlescent Knights of Yeb", there is no real requirement to stick to whatever flavour text may be given. In the case of the Cloistered Cleric, the writeup is relative to a Cleric, not a Cleric//Fighter, and so doesn't actually mean much.

Remember, this is a character of your own devising, not stamped with a cookie cutter.

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Since you are basically asking for an Opinion. Here is what I think.

A reasonable backstory could involve a number of different reasons. All of these assume the distinction between cleric and cloistered cleric to be either a scholar to non-scholar or a warlike to not warlike one.

  • You are a scholar of War and your Fighting ability was the result of an attempt to learn the practical side of your field of study

  • You are basically a pacifist. While you abhor violence you nevertheless accept, that there are situations that can't be resolved without it.

  • Think Ghandi:

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.

You would like to be a pacifist, but you simply are not cut out for it, so you study the peaceful solutions ( cloistered Cleric) but you aren't peaceful yourself.

This small list is by no means exhaustive, but could give you some idea for a backstory

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