In this thread on the Delving Deeper google+ page, Simon Bull talks about alternative level titles for clerics. I'm not a fan of the cleric, as I've indicated before. I like the idea of a crusader/holy warrior/demon hunter, etc, but the implementation of the class doesn't work for me. I have some ideas on that point. They definitely make some implications about setting, so may not be everyone's cup of tea. At any rate, new level titles were in order to better reflect what I'm thinking for clerics.
1 Novice (of the Order of . . .)
A Novice is one who is newly initiated into an Order. They are given martial instruction, and are trained in the doctrine of the Order. They are not schooled in the Rites of the Order at this time, however. Novices are only one step above the laity, and are a level between rank-and-file troops and non-comms. Most initiates never rise above this level in the hierarchy.
Chaplain is an arduous rank within the Order. It is something of a crucible. Chaplains are expected to demonstrate leadership, knowledge of the doctrines of the Order, as well as the dogma and canon of the faith. They lead the laity in prayer and perform many common functions, such as marriage, baptisms, and presiding over funerals. They are also indoctrinated into the mysteries of the Rites, and are expected to learn how to apply them to further the goals of the Order. Chaplains rarely venture out of their priory, and many clerics remain Chaplains for their entire lives, content to tend the needs of the laity.
Brother-Sergeants lead units of Novices and lay-troops in battle. They are expected to function as part of the greater whole and must exhibit deep understanding of battlefield tactics. They also typically lead the Novices under their command in prayer and minister to their religious needs.
In order for a cleric to advance through the ranks of a militant order, he must prove himself worthy. Up to this point in his advancement he has shown that he possesses the ability to follow orders as a Novice, compassion, humility, and perseverance as a Chaplain, and the ability to lead and minister his soldiers as a Brother-Sergeant. Now comes the time when he must venture into the wider world as a Knight-Errant. He sallies forth, spreading the virtues of his order by his example. Sometimes a Knight-Errant sets out upon a specific charge, such as locating a holy relic or defeating an enemy of the Order. Many simply wander, spreading their faith, drawing potential Novices to the Order. This "time in the wilderness" is crucial to their development in the Order. Clerics who lack self-direction and the strength of their convictions rarely progress beyond this point.
Once having proven himself as a Knight-Errant, the cleric advances to Brother-Knight. He returns to the Priory and gains his spurs. Brother-Knights are the heavy cavalry of the Order. They are also dispatched individually or in small units for specific objectives.
As Novices and Chaplains clerics are steeped in the doctrine and canon of the faith. The bulk of their experience and training from there is predominantly martial. Having proven himself a peerless champion of the faith on the battlefield, now the cleric must show himself a champion of the Order's justice. As a Justiciar, the cleric travels a circuit of the towns and villages under his Priory's charge, dispensing justice. Secular courts hear cases involving everyday matters, but in cases that somehow intersect with the purview of the faith, it is the Justiciar that sits in judgement. With his time as a Justiciar, the cleric has proven his worth in all aspects of Priory life and prudence in his conduct in the faith.
The next step is Knight-Commander. The Knight-Commander leads squadrons of Brother-Knights on the field of battle. This is the first step to becoming Prior.
A Knight-Marshall commands all the military forces of a Priory. Obviously, there is only one Knight-Marshall in a Priory. They are responsible for the well-being of the Novices, Brother-Sergeants, Brother-Knights, and Knight-Commanders under their command. They are expected to plan and prosecute large scale military actions.
Finally, there is the Prior. The entire Priory and all its inhabitants are his charge. Additionally, he is responsible for the religious needs of all the laity within the demesne of his Priory. He is also the final arbiter of canon justice within the demesne.
It was Simon's thoughts on this matter that started me thinking, so a big Thank You to the estimable Mr. Bull.