All Dungeons and Dragons edition I'm familiar with have its Cleric character class. Apparently, D&D Cleric is a trope of its own.

Many D&D "clerical" spells were still inspired by popular fantasy tropes, like priests' blessings and healing hands. However, the Create Water spell seems to stand out, in that it seems less archetypal associated with its class (clerics/priests) than the others.

The "Create Water" spell is now widespread in other media, like games and anime: Create Water Kazuma

It is neither a rainmaking ritual, nor a divination ability that helps to find water. It is an ability to make water appear out of nothing, and it's clerical for some reason. I can't remember any older fantasy book or movie where clerics actually do that.

Does the idea of priests/clerics having a water-creation ability exist in any earlier source (including mythology and religious texts), or is it an original D&D invention, like the Cleric class itself?

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    I just figured the association was primarily with holy water, secondarily with health. (Originally I think it was a more generic "create food and drink" but I'm not positive about that.) I also remember a "purify water" spell, purification being very priestly, and a "part water" spell with obvious religious connotations.
    – DavidW
    Sep 16, 2019 at 13:21
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    I have a bunch of issues with this question. First, it mention a trope but it's not about a trope. If the cleric in D&D in 1960 (random year) could create water, then in the next edition he still has the same power, and then again, and he keeps having the same power in every subsequent edition of the rule, that's not a trope at all. A trope is when an idea is widespread, not when it's just consistent. My motorbike is Yamaha, and it has a logo with 3 diapasons. It had always had a logo with 3 diapasons. How does it make it a trope?
    – motoDrizzt
    Sep 16, 2019 at 16:07
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    @motoDrizzt D&D is clearly on-topic here, and the trope not being a trope isn't a problem. If you can put up a decent answer challenging that claim, then it is an answer. Voted to leave open.
    – Jenayah
    Sep 16, 2019 at 16:58
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    @motoDrizzt Well, there was no D&D in 1960. It was first published in 1974! That being said, there was a "Create Water" clerical spell even then. It was level 4 (out of 5).
    – Brian
    Sep 17, 2019 at 14:25
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    @Jenayah that's right. Questions about D&D lore, magic, technology, history and similar things are very much on-topic here, though perhaps more commonly found on rpg.stackexchange.com , where they are also on-topic but where there are many specific experts in D&D. RPG.SE additionally accepts questions about game mechanics, such as when to roll dice or how many points your Cleric needs to reach Level 5. Those are mostly off-topic here. Sep 17, 2019 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


A lot of cleric spells in early D&D were explicit Bible references; the one that comes immediately to mind is Sticks to Snakes, which is based on Exodus 7:12 (thanks to @RossThompson for this catch).

It's possible that Create Water spell originates in the Old Testament (which comes from Torah). In the Book of Numbers, Moses, who was the people's spiritual leader, got water from a rock.

20 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

Num 20:1-11

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    The rock pours out "its water". The implication is that you tap the aquifer, not transmute rock into water, or create water out of nothing.
    – einpoklum
    Sep 16, 2019 at 23:33
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    +1. Note, incidentally, the implication that as long as Miriam was alive, there was water for the community. Opinions vary slightly regarding exactly how Miriam's presence provided water -- she clearly wasn't doing what Moses did -- but she may be an even earlier precedent. (See chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3916196/jewish/… for more information.)
    – ruakh
    Sep 17, 2019 at 0:14
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    @ruakh: That interpretation doesn't really work, given the earlier episode in Exodus 17 when Miriam was still alive.
    – Ben Voigt
    Sep 17, 2019 at 1:01
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    A lot of cleric spells in early D&D were explicit Bible references;the one that comes immediately to mind is sticks to snakes, which is based on Exodus 7:12. Sep 17, 2019 at 13:06
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    @RossThompson it's a general rule that being well-read in Biblical, literary, and classical sources is a huge advantage to approaching nearly any role playing game. If it's not Biblical, it may be from Tolkien, from Greek mythology, from the stories of King Arthur, etc. Knowing traditional cultures is also helpful - the Druid spell shillelagh makes a lot more sense if you know a little bit of 19th century Irish culture. Sep 17, 2019 at 14:58

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