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Clerics: What should they do in combat.


Advice

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I've been reading a lot of class guides and one thing keeps coming up - action economy

What is action economy for Clerics during encounters?

It seems to me that healing during combat is pretty much frowned upon. Apparently it's a wasted action. So this begs the question - what is the cleric doing in combat.

Obviously there are different builds but I'm mainly interested in non-combat builds. The fighty Cleric is going to be, well, fighting! But what is the caster-type build Cleric doing?

If Channelling is a weak option and casting healing spells a futile attempt to compete with monster damage output [at least until the Heal spell comes online], what is considered good action economy?


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My cleric likes to criticize, but that's because he's a grizzled old Dwarf, with many opinions.

And no,...you wouldn't want to criticize HIM on when he casts HIS healing spells. Just thank Torag and carry on.

Grand Lodge

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Control spells or buffs.


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Burn things with fire

Bless Sarenrae!


Pathfinder Campaign Setting Subscriber

I hate it when the cleric wastes an action healing me. I mean really, what's going on up there? So many frivolous secondary choices, why heal?

Clerics can blast, clerics can control the field, clerics can hit things with weapons. Clerics can do a lot.

Class guides are nice, but c'mon, a cleric? Heal, buff, smash, repeat. Everyone loves a useful cleric.

And there's the whole 'roleplay' aspect, where you can bore your party with rhetoric and use the same speech to strike fear into the hearts and minds of your enemy, as you raise your holy symbol and draw fire down from the heavens. That's fun, too.


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I do recommend looking into a Fire domain cleric if you want a blasty caster cleric.

Take heighten spell and then preferred spell feat at level 5. Prepare all your normal buff, debuff, situational spells, and spend them to spontaneously cast fireballs when you need to blast s%#$ into the last century.

On mine I did go ahead and take a dip into sorcerer to get the Arcanas to change my firespells into electricity when needed. As fire resist is pretty common. There are a number of ways to go with that though. Besides if you can't blast you can still do all the typical buffs and debuffs you want since you didn't actually prepare fireball.

It has been a ton of fun so far.


Buff
Debuff
Melee
Blasting
Ranged

Pick one or two and do that according to your build.


Buffing and control, like Cold Napalm said. Bull's Strength, Bear's Endurance, Shield of Faith, etc. Healing isn't as effective at lower levels, when all you're getting back is 10-15 HP per spell, but once you get to higher levels though, a clutch Cure Critical Wounds or Restoration can save someones ass or turn the tides of a battle. Spells like Heal and Harm are especially effective at doing this.

Grog the Friendly Barbarian on his last legs? One Heal means he gets 100+ health back in one action. Grog thank kind holy man.

Mr. Level 15 AC-whore Fighter untouchable? One Harm plus a touch attack and he takes 100+ damage in one action. Let's see your full plate save you now that!

There a handful of spells you can use to supplement your party's damage output, like Flame Strike or Slay Living. Other spells like Blade Wall can completely break up a battlefield and cut off caster from their meat-shields-I-mean-fighters. You can even take spells like Summon Monster and Planar Ally and bring in extra support in especially large battles.

Clerics can do a lot in almost any situation, provided they have the right spells prepared. Get creative!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Our cleric frequently saves one or more member of the party with his channel (that no one else appears to have directly pointed at, just "heal") Then again this is in Rappan Athuk, and we *need* some serious heals all the time.


Some of those domain 3+wis/day powers can be pretty good. Luck, good, and to a lesser degree law can all significantly augment a fighter's accuracy for a round. War augments damage similarly. Strength augments both. These are pretty good actions for any time you don't want to waste a spell slot, even at higher levels. Any of them is generally going to be better than firing a crossbow. Weather gives a cleanup power for preventing a beaten enemy from getting in a last hit.

One of your domains should be for spells, but you might consider looking for "better than a crossbow" powers with your second domain.

A cleric can always stand to conserve spells. Before bed you can convert most of what's left into wand budget savings by spontaneously curing, unlike the other prepared casters who wind up with wasted slots at the end of a short day. Clerics are probably also the class that most needs to leave empty slots to prepare during the day. Being able to pull out something like restoration or cure blindness in an hour can be the difference between staggering home in defeat after a bad random encounter and pressing on to the dungeon.


Eh, at the levels where a heal spell gives you 100+ HP back, the enemy can apply 100+ back at you. In the calculus of combat that means a heal spell is often "skip your turn to negate/reduce the effectiveness of your enemies last turn".

That being said, a clerics actions should be directed towards keeping the party alive. That could mean kill the enemy (spells or your own formidable combat ability), hit the party with a buff, or keep the other party members in the fight with a clutch heal. In general combat healing should be an act of desperation.

Since clerics aren't usually a primary combatant (though they can be if you build them that way) they should be focused on force multipliers. This means party buffs, summons, debuffs, and breaking/preventing conditions. The nice thing is party buffs also help yourself usually, so once you get your prayer/bless/whatever up in the first few rounds, you can join into the fray and help where needed (or run triage if things go into the crapper).


The same as any other spellcaster. Buff, control or attack spell as needed.

AoE fear is a common early spell

Holding, fearing, sleeping usually are the most efficient combat actions (1 action = 1 or more enemy out of the fight) , but it varies with the encounter. If a cleric has a good idea what creatures are likely to come up they can select spells that are more effective against them. Channeling is great against swarms of undead/negative energy creatures.

Some clerics tend to be conservative with spells (and hate wands), in which case they might use a sling or something, but there are cleric blasting spells.


It also depends on how well the rest of the party will work with you. The fighter should nto consider you to be a HP battery and continually expose himself to enemy attacks.

Leaving slots open is a good idea, but of course there is not always the time to sit down for 15 minutes to pray for Lesser Restore(Kicking down the door to a bandit stronghold for example)


i would like to point out that leaving slots open for divine casters isn't that feasible

PRD wrote:

Time of Day

A divine spellcaster chooses and prepares spells ahead of time, but unlike a wizard, does not require a period of rest to prepare spells. Instead, the character chooses a particular time of day to pray and receive spells. The time is usually associated with some daily event. If some event prevents a character from praying at the proper time, she must do so as soon as possible. If the character does not stop to pray for spells at the first opportunity, she must wait until the next day to prepare spells.


Surely you can pray for spells at the first good opportunity, but leave a slot open?

What a cleric does in combat depends on domain and stats. Some clerics are good melee attackers, others are better at high DC spells.


Read the next paragraph.

PRD wrote:
Spell Selection and Preparation: A divine spellcaster selects and prepares spells ahead of time through prayer and meditation at a particular time of day. The time required to prepare spells is the same as it is for a wizard (1 hour), as is the requirement for a relatively peaceful environment. When preparing spells for the day, a cleric can leave some of her spell slots open. Later during that day, she can repeat the preparation process as often as she likes. During these extra sessions of preparation, she can fill these unused spell slots. She cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because she has cast a spell in the meantime. Like the first session of the day, this preparation takes at least 15 minutes, and it takes longer if she prepares more than one-quarter of his spells.

It doesn't even say divine caster when it talks about leaving slots open so you can't use the excuse that it applies to druids only. It says clerics can leave slots open and fill them later in the day.


Ok ok.

So why is healing the dude about to hit the deck a bad option? That's in-combat healing.

Why is Channelling in combat considered a bad option?


I'm the cleric in our home game right now, and channeling does NOT keep up with the enemies ability to do damage. While it's useful now and again to keep my allies off the floor, I can't tell you how many times I've channeled for 2d6, rolled a 5, and then had our fighter get hit for another 11 points of damage.

I'm not going to win that race. He's getting hurt faster than my ability to heal him. At best, I can get him one more round to fight.

At that pace, Shield of Faith or Bull's strength would have been just as helpful, ending the fight 10% earlier.

If I stop healing, I can free up many more rounds to fight. All of my actions are now helping.


Channeling is bad healing per round. The enemy does too much damage to care. In my opinion, healing is a bad option until you get Heal(6th level spell I believe). Its 10 HP per caster level, which often will be more than your friend's HP, and removes a wide range of conditions.


tricky bob wrote:

Ok ok.

So why is healing the dude about to hit the deck a bad option? That's in-combat healing.

Why is Channelling in combat considered a bad option?

The issue with in combat healing is the enemies at each level can deal that much right back, or even more. Healing does not scale with monster/npc damage. Even the heal spell doesn't really keep up.

Channeling is bad because you have to pay a feat tax to avoid healing baddies (including guys you might have dropped, but not killed) and it heals for 3.5 hp per 2 levels on average. While the total healing is pretty decent, the average per player is not.

A better use of your spells is generally stuff that makes the combats end faster (healing makes combats go longer, long combats use even more resources). If you have somebody about to drop, the proper action is a spell that can prevent them from being attacked (like sanctuary, or with right domain, invisibility), kill/remove from combat the enemy, or buff the allies AC so when they fight defensively it's very hard to hit them (my group can achieve ACs that need 20s to hit for nearly any fight, including APL+3 fights). I also like shield other if the cleric isn't expected to be a front-line character.


tricky bob wrote:

Ok ok.

So why is healing the dude about to hit the deck a bad option? That's in-combat healing.

Why is Channelling in combat considered a bad option?

The posts above me hit it nicely on the head. Channeling is a great option out of combat or when it's the end of the day. It's a terrible option in combat.

In combat healing as has been pointed out before does not necessarily save the guy getting hit. The rare exception is when you have no better options and the person about to fall is the primary source of the groups damage. In these cases a spontaneous heal is certainly not a bad choice just not ideal.

The exception to this rule is Alternate Channeling which can often provide some great bonuses that piggy back on small heals.


tricky bob wrote:

Ok ok.

So why is healing the dude about to hit the deck a bad option? That's in-combat healing.

Why is Channelling in combat considered a bad option?

Its usually more useful to do something else than heal in combat it's true. But don't take that as an absolute, you should use your common sense as well.

Sczarni

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The whole point of giving clerics the ability to spontaneously cast Cure spells was to break clerics of the idea that they have to be healing all the time. They can spend those slots on other spells. Take a good long look at the cleric spell list, and you'll probably find something you would like to be doing more than healing. Even at first level, Bless is your best friend.

Mind you, this doesn't mean "don't ever cast a heal in combat or you're a terrible player". It means "don't build your character expecting to heal every round of combat-- healing is a back-up plan for emergencies, not Plan A".

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
notabot wrote:
tricky bob wrote:

Ok ok.

So why is healing the dude about to hit the deck a bad option? That's in-combat healing.

Why is Channelling in combat considered a bad option?

The issue with in combat healing is the enemies at each level can deal that much right back, or even more. Healing does not scale with monster/npc damage. Even the heal spell doesn't really keep up.

Channeling is bad because you have to pay a feat tax to avoid healing baddies (including guys you might have dropped, but not killed) and it heals for 3.5 hp per 2 levels on average. While the total healing is pretty decent, the average per player is not.

A better use of your spells is generally stuff that makes the combats end faster (healing makes combats go longer, long combats use even more resources). If you have somebody about to drop, the proper action is a spell that can prevent them from being attacked (like sanctuary, or with right domain, invisibility), kill/remove from combat the enemy, or buff the allies AC so when they fight defensively it's very hard to hit them (my group can achieve ACs that need 20s to hit for nearly any fight, including APL+3 fights). I also like shield other if the cleric isn't expected to be a front-line character.

Generally you have 1 enemy that can dish out 100+ DPs each round against a party of 4 characters. If the cleric can nullify most of the enemy actions you get 3 round worth of action against 0. Instead if he can't nullify them but can add his offensive power you get a 4:1 advantage.

I see 3:0 as way better than 4:1. That "1" can remove one of you party members from the fight, making it 3:1 the next round, and so on.

If instead you have several adversaries dishing out a total of 100+ HP of damage against the party there are good chances that those HP of damage are well distributed between the different party members and a channel can restore a decent number of HP to all of them.

Playing healer in combat only isn't a good option, but it is part of the cleric arsenal.


I've always found in-combat healing works fine if that's what you want to do. It doesn't normally heal as much damage as the bad guys can dish out, but it can often heal over half as much, which means your guys stay standing twice as long, which usually buys them enough time to defeat the enemy.

If you have an appropriate spell, then casting that is probably better, but as a cleric, healing is always an option. And most of the other spells suggested here aren't that impressive.

Bless. Let's say it's a low level battle, and your side will be attacking eight more times before the battle ends, and doing eight points of damage per hit. Bless gives each attack an extra 5% chance of hitting; in this case it's worth on average 8*8*0.05 extra damage, or 3.2 points of damage; less than would be healed by the average Cure Light Wounds, and if there's someone who needs healing, you'll still have to use something to heal them after the battle, which will uses extra resources.

Bull's Strength: Doesn't stack with a belt of +Strength, which most melee fighters get early on. And since it lasts a few minutes, it's best cast before a battle rather than during, so if you're doing it mid-battle, that's not a great use of your actions.

Shield of Faith: Doesn't stack with ring of protection, best cast before a battle.

Bear's Endurance: Gives someone a few extra hit points; generally, less hit points a Cure Moderate Wounds would give them. (And doesn't stack best cast before etc.)


One other thing to note regarding channelling is that the number of cleric channels available per day does not scale with level, unlike other limited character resources like bardic performance, barbarian rage, and paladin lay on hands. The number of channels available is tied to a secondary stat and can be increased by a trait and a feat (Extra Channel) that can only be taken once.

Feats like Quick Channel, which makes channelling a move action at double cost, can increase the utility of in combat channelling, and some players value it highly. However, this starts to represent a very heavy investment of player resources (Charisma ability score, feats, possibly equipment and traits) for an ability that can only be used a very limited number of times per day.

Grand Lodge

Matthew Downie wrote:

I've always found in-combat healing works fine if that's what you want to do. It doesn't normally heal as much damage as the bad guys can dish out, but it can often heal over half as much, which means your guys stay standing twice as long, which usually buys them enough time to defeat the enemy.

If you have an appropriate spell, then casting that is probably better, but as a cleric, healing is always an option. And most of the other spells suggested here aren't that impressive.

Bless. Let's say it's a low level battle, and your side will be attacking eight more times before the battle ends, and doing eight points of damage per hit. Bless gives each attack an extra 5% chance of hitting; in this case it's worth on average 8*8*0.05 extra damage, or 3.2 points of damage; less than would be healed by the average Cure Light Wounds, and if there's someone who needs healing, you'll still have to use something to heal them after the battle, which will uses extra resources.

Bull's Strength: Doesn't stack with a belt of +Strength, which most melee fighters get early on. And since it lasts a few minutes, it's best cast before a battle rather than during, so if you're doing it mid-battle, that's not a great use of your actions.

Shield of Faith: Doesn't stack with ring of protection, best cast before a battle.

Bear's Endurance: Gives someone a few extra hit points; generally, less hit points a Cure Moderate Wounds would give them. (And doesn't stack best cast before etc.)

Your assuming that those + str items show up at level 3. They don't in MOST games. Or a ring of protection at level 1. These are low levels spells...for hey guess what LOW levels.

Bless increase chances to hit by 5% Average damager at level 1 does ~10. So if you have 3 damager, you get an 1.5 DPR a round. That is on top of the bonus to save...which means 5% extra chance one of you doesn't get taken out of the fight. At HIGH levels, your DPR is in the range of 200. 5% of that is 10...with three damagers your looking at 30 DPR for a 1st level spell...and not many sources of morale bonuses so this spell is awesome at high levels for a 1st level spell.

Some spells rock at low levels...others are better at mid/ high. Bless is good for higher, everything else you mentioned for lower.


The way I play them, buffs, battlefield control, and summons are the core of what a cleric should be doing, just like the Treantmonk-style "God" Wizard. Healing is what you do after battles, or if and when it's literally the difference between your ally remaining active or being dropped.

This isn't to say you can't make combat healing a useful secondary schtick starting at 5th level, with some investment of effort. With Selective Channeling, Quick Channel (which has a prereq of 5 ranks of Kn:Religion), and an emphasis on Charisma (for extra channels/day and for more targets you can exclude with Selective Channeling), you can heal all your allies (even the ones in melee with foes you don't want to heal) as a move action, while using your standard action to cast a spell.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules Subscriber

Well if the GM is so soft and easy that there are not going to be situations where a character or two will need healing NOW or they are going to die, then it really doesn't matter what you do during the combat as it sounds like a cake walk. Cast bless and swing with mace, be a flanking buddy with the rogue, or whatever floats your boat.

If your GM is going to lay down the beat down, then you need to keep people from dying so they can continue to contribute to the fight (and also not be dead). If a player character with 55hp takes 30 damage in round 1, and will likely take about 30 damage again in round 2, would that character benefit more from a Buff spell or a Heal spell before round 2?

I think the selective channeling feat with a decent CHA does wonders as it lets you heal multiple friendlies at range without provoking attacks of opportunity or healing the wounded opponents.

Having a wand of cure moderate wounds is nice, as it also avoids attacks of opportunity. Save it for saving people during fights though.

Try to not let others get too far away from you. If you can cast Breath of Life, it doesn't do the group any good if someone dies but they are too far away for you to move up to them and cast the spell (range touch) in time to bring them back.

Grand Lodge

demontroll wrote:

Well if the GM is so soft and easy that there are not going to be situations where a character or two will need healing NOW or they are going to die, then it really doesn't matter what you do during the combat as it sounds like a cake walk. Cast bless and swing with mace, be a flanking buddy with the rogue, or whatever floats your boat.

If your GM is going to lay down the beat down, then you need to keep people from dying so they can continue to contribute to the fight (and also not be dead). If a player character with 55hp takes 30 damage in round 1, and will likely take about 30 damage again in round 2, would that character benefit more from a Buff spell or a Heal spell before round 2?

I think the selective channeling feat with a decent CHA does wonders as it lets you heal multiple friendlies at range without provoking attacks of opportunity or healing the wounded opponents.

Having a wand of cure moderate wounds is nice, as it also avoids attacks of opportunity. Save it for saving people during fights though.

Try to not let others get too far away from you. If you can cast Breath of Life, it doesn't do the group any good if someone dies but they are too far away for you to move up to them and cast the spell (range touch) in time to bring them back.

Okay, have you thought that MAYBE your busy play a healbot because you didn't us a proper buff/BC at the start? You don't have to heal as much when you make half the field go away. Yeah when it is a big bad APL+4 encounter, your gonna need some in combat healing...but for an APL encounter? Really? I think you maybe doing something wrong is your get mucked up bad enough that you need constant in combat healing for APL encounter...hell even APL+2 can be done normally without in combat healing for the most part.


Oh good a fight, This will help Tricky Bob play his cleric.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules Subscriber
Cold Napalm wrote:
Yeah when it is a big bad APL+4 encounter, your gonna need some in combat healing...but for an APL encounter? Really? I think you maybe doing something wrong is your get mucked up bad enough that you need constant in combat healing for APL encounter...hell even APL+2 can be done normally without in combat healing for the most part.

Like I said, in an easy encounter (APL to APL+2) it really doesn't matter what you do, just have fun (you probably don't need to heal until after the fight).

If your GM is tough (APL+5) you are going to need to be able to heal, or people are going to die.

Sometimes you lose initiative or are surprised, and you don't get to buff for 3 rounds before the fight and crowd control before they get to you. Your options are to heal the Fighter this round, or the fighter dies next round.

I wouldn't make your character just around healing, as that isn't fun. But in the tough encounters, you should be prepared to be able to keep people alive when needed.

All I suggested was to take the selective channel feat (combined with like a 14 CHA) and to carry a wand of cure moderate wounds, that still allows for lots of other things for your cleric to occupy their time with besides healing.


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The good thing about in-combat healing is that you can do it any time it seems like a good idea without actually devoting any prepared spell slots to it since you can cast healing spells spontaneously as a cleric. It's often not the best option, but more options are always better.

You do also have the option of swinging a weapon. Even if you don't have a lot of strength, you still have a halfway decent BAB, decent hitpoints, and medium armor. Again, options are good, especially early on when your spells/day are fairly limited. If you are focused on casting and don't spend resources improving your fighting, then that option will drop in usefulness as you level up, but that's fine because you'll have more spells/level then.

Clerics have a lot of decent in-combat spells. Dropping a buff before combat starts or in the first round of combat can be a good move, but keep in mind the cost/reward thing; the less rounds there are left in the combat, the less good a buff is going to do. Other then that, Cleric has some decent save-or-suck spells that might work well for you if you have a high wisdom score (cause fear, hold person, blindness, ect), some good summoning spells (often a great option), and you can do some blasting. Cleric also has a lot of debuffing spells, but I'm not as big a fan of these, personally; if I'm going to be hitting an enemy with something he can save against, it might as well be a save-or-suck spell, not just a -2 to attack or something.

As a cleric, you have a lot of options, and it costs you nothing to try out stuff and see how well it works for yourself, since you don't need a spellbook or anything to prepare whatever you want. Play around with different things, see what you like.

Grand Lodge

demontroll wrote:
Cold Napalm wrote:
Yeah when it is a big bad APL+4 encounter, your gonna need some in combat healing...but for an APL encounter? Really? I think you maybe doing something wrong is your get mucked up bad enough that you need constant in combat healing for APL encounter...hell even APL+2 can be done normally without in combat healing for the most part.

Like I said, in an easy encounter (APL to APL+2) it really doesn't matter what you do, just have fun (you probably don't need to heal until after the fight).

If your GM is tough (APL+5) you are going to need to be able to heal, or people are going to die.

Sometimes you lose initiative or are surprised, and you don't get to buff for 3 rounds before the fight and crowd control before they get to you. Your options are to heal the Fighter this round, or the fighter dies next round.

I wouldn't make your character just around healing, as that isn't fun. But in the tough encounters, you should be prepared to be able to keep people alive when needed.

All I suggested was to take the selective channel feat (combined with like a 14 CHA) and to carry a wand of cure moderate wounds, that still allows for lots of other things for your cleric to occupy their time with besides healing.

You do realize that you are argueing against something that NOBODY HAS SAID right? At no point did those of us who are against healing in combat in general say that you should not do so EVER...just not in general. Now if your game has APL+5 encounters in general...you maybe...just MAYBE not playing in what most of us consider the norm.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules Subscriber
Cold Napalm wrote:
You do realize that you are argueing against something that NOBODY HAS SAID right? At no point did those of us who are against healing in combat in general say that you should not do so EVER...just not in general. Now if your game has APL+5 encounters in general...you maybe...just MAYBE not playing in what most of us consider the norm.

In my original post, I was trying to make the point that unless you are facing very challenging encounters, it doesn't matter what your cleric does, all options are equally valid. Just pick something that you will have fun doing.

Then, I gave 3 examples of things I would do as a cleric, just in case you ran into a tough situation or had a tough GM.

I didn't think I was arguing in the original post. When you labeled me a healbot cleric, I felt the need to respond. And now that you say I'm arguing for no reason, I feel the need to defend what I said. Right now, I'm just trying to clarify what I was trying to say. I don't think there is anything here we disagree on.


demontroll wrote:

Well if the GM is so soft and easy that there are not going to be situations where a character or two will need healing NOW or they are going to die, then it really doesn't matter what you do during the combat as it sounds like a cake walk. Cast bless and swing with mace, be a flanking buddy with the rogue, or whatever floats your boat.

If your GM is going to lay down the beat down, then you need to keep people from dying so they can continue to contribute to the fight (and also not be dead). If a player character with 55hp takes 30 damage in round 1, and will likely take about 30 damage again in round 2, would that character benefit more from a Buff spell or a Heal spell before round 2?

I've found that an adjustment of overall tactics is always necessary in these situations. Healing burns very quickly through resources so anytime you find yourself in a situation where you are trying to "keep people up" something has gone wrong. The group either needs to hang back and pepper people with ranged attacks or stop trying to get in and deal damage before the casters have had a chance to drop battlefield control and debuffs so that incoming damage is greatly reduced.

One of the biggest skill marks of a cleric is situational awareness. That is knowing how the battle is flowing and what spells or abilities you need to drop and when to drop them in order to ensure that the group gets through the fight as efficiently as possible.

One easy way to do this is to grab a notepad and paper and keep up with damage totals for everyone. Heck you can even do it as part of helping the GM. In this way you can get a good feel about how much damage is being tossed around by the encounter as well as the pc's and figure out how to adjust the discrepancies (i.e. your damage taken versus theirs). Keepin simple notes like that can go a long way to figuring out whether or not healing is worth it.

Awareness of your party is also important. Take for example our guy with 55hp taking 30hp a round. That's nasty but I've been in that situation. First, what class is he? If he's a paladin he's going to be popping lay on hands to mitigate that so a heal will probably be unnecessary. If he's a barbarian that other guy is probably dead on his turn anyway if I boost his damage or drop a spell like Aid on him which boosts his attack and gives him a good Temp HP buffer to survive another assault. Is he one of our casters? Sanctuary will help him escape or he may have an abiolity that will let him escape anyway. Is he a rogue? It may be a good idea to get in there and flank with him perhaps even channel while doing so so then you can provide a flank while having him get a bit of a heal.

But what about the enmy. Where is 30 damage coming from? A nasty fireball? Communal Resist Energy will mitigate a lot of that. Archers? Some form of battlefield control will help. Troll wielding a long spear and combat reflexes? Smack the fighters for eating that many AoO's.

It also really helps when the other people in the group are competent in their jobs. Is the witch making proper use of her hexes? Great. Is the fighter controlling the battlefield very well? Great. Is the halfling unarmed barbarian lovingly punching goblins until they die of laughter? Might be an issue.

All in all healing does work if it's signifcant enough not to keep your dude up for one round, but keeps them up for multiple rounds or in worst case scenarios keeps them from dying when the encounter goes next.

Now if you are facing fringe encounters (AP+5, nasty ambushes, really bad positioning and enviornment) It's still not in the groups best interest to keep one guy going for one round. In that situation you want to reduce the relative CR of the encounter towards something manageable as rapidly as possible. If you play a reactive defense game right away you are going to struggle and in a lot of cases if you don't lose your adventuring day is over.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules Subscriber
TarkXT wrote:
It's still not in the groups best interest to keep one guy going for one round. In that situation you want to reduce the relative CR of the encounter towards something manageable as rapidly as possible. If you play a reactive defense game right away you are going to struggle and in a lot of cases if you don't lose your adventuring day is over.

I agree with everything you said. Clerics do have the choice of whether they want to try to actively control the fight or passively respond to threats.

Your method does impose one additional responsibility. When the fighter character dies due to the superior tactics of not playing healing catch-up, you will need to explain your sound reasoning to the player of the dead character.


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demontroll wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
It's still not in the groups best interest to keep one guy going for one round. In that situation you want to reduce the relative CR of the encounter towards something manageable as rapidly as possible. If you play a reactive defense game right away you are going to struggle and in a lot of cases if you don't lose your adventuring day is over.

I agree with everything you said. Clerics do have the choice of whether they want to try to actively control the fight or passively respond to threats.

Your method does impose one additional responsibility. When the fighter character dies due to the superior tactics of not playing healing catch-up, you will need to explain your sound reasoning to the player of the dead character.

It will probably go along the lines of, "You have 12 AC and a -2 will save. It is the will of the gods my son."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules Subscriber

I was thinking, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one."


tricky bob wrote:

I've been reading a lot of class guides and one thing keeps coming up - action economy

What is action economy for Clerics during encounters?

It seems to me that healing during combat is pretty much frowned upon. Apparently it's a wasted action. So this begs the question - what is the cleric doing in combat.

Obviously there are different builds but I'm mainly interested in non-combat builds. The fighty Cleric is going to be, well, fighting! But what is the caster-type build Cleric doing?

If Channelling is a weak option and casting healing spells a futile attempt to compete with monster damage output [at least until the Heal spell comes online], what is considered good action economy?

It entirely depends on the cleric and the fight. But the point of the cleric is -- it is a versatile caster class. It can cast, it can fight, it can use special abilities as needed.

And frankly, I would not say "never heal," without qualification. It might be wiser to say, "Usually, do not heal HP damage unless someone is in danger of dying soon." But I want the cleric to be able to heal the guy at 1 HP, especially if the enemy's next hit could send him straight to dead. I want the cleric to be able to stabilize dying party members. And I definitely want the cleric to be able to cure paralysis or other nasty conditions which if not handled very quickly could end in a party member being coup de graced or even if it is just keeping the party member contribute to the fight.

In short -- the question you ask yourself is, "Is healing the most useful thing I could do?" If the answer is no, which it may often be, then do something else.

"Something else" could be anything from join melee to cast buff spells to cast debuffs to channeling energy all depending on what the situation is. (And channel energy may seem "weak" but not say if you're surrounded by a horde of skeletons which could easily be taken out by one use of the ability.)

Protect the party and adapt to circumstances. There's no other answer that will fit everything.


demontroll wrote:
I was thinking, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one."

That brings up another issue, one character going Leroy Jenkins in battland expecting the cleric to prop them up. Now we can say 'Let Leroy die' but the trouble with that is not that Leroy's player is going to be mad that Leory died, but the monster who will be stepping over Leroy's corpse and laying into the squishies in the back row. So it can end up being a kind of blackmail.

Channeling in Pathfinder can quite often end up as a wasted round, especially if you try to Turn Undead. I was in a fight against some ghouls and a ghast and attempted to turn them and EVERY one saved (14 CHA, Improved Channel) Going for straight damage, even for half damage would have been better.(Even if I did turn, they would get a save every round.)


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Andrea1 wrote:
demontroll wrote:
I was thinking, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one."

That brings up another issue, one character going Leroy Jenkins in battland expecting the cleric to prop them up. Now we can say 'Let Leroy die' but the trouble with that is not that Leroy's player is going to be mad that Leory died, but the monster who will be stepping over Leroy's corpse and laying into the squishies in the back row. So it can end up being a kind of blackmail.

Only if the squishies in said backrow rely on the fighter for screen for them. And let's be honest if Leeroy can't wait for the squishies to unleash the crazy on said monster then the choices and fault lies strictly with him. If he does and still manages to get turned to mash that may be a different story.

Shadow Lodge

Andrea1 wrote:
That brings up another issue, one character going Leroy Jenkins in battland expecting the cleric to prop them up. Now we can say 'Let Leroy die' but the trouble with that is not that Leroy's player is going to be mad that Leory died, but the monster who will be stepping over Leroy's corpse and laying into the squishies in the back row. So it can end up being a kind of blackmail.

I have a Barbarian player in one of my PFS games that does this, practically to the T. He rushes into each battle shouting in character "Heal Me!!!" as a battle cry. You have just given my Cleric his new Battle Cry right after that. . . ha ha ha

"Heal Me!!!"

"Leeerrrooyyyyy Jenkins!!!"

Grand Lodge

Beckett wrote:
Andrea1 wrote:
That brings up another issue, one character going Leroy Jenkins in battland expecting the cleric to prop them up. Now we can say 'Let Leroy die' but the trouble with that is not that Leroy's player is going to be mad that Leory died, but the monster who will be stepping over Leroy's corpse and laying into the squishies in the back row. So it can end up being a kind of blackmail.

I have a Barbarian player in one of my PFS games that does this, practically to the T. He rushes into each battle shouting in character "Heal Me!!!" as a battle cry. You have just given my Cleric his new Battle Cry right after that. . . ha ha ha

"Heal Me!!!"

"Leeerrrooyyyyy Jenkins!!!"

I was in a living game...back in the 3.5 days where the fighter went charging off going heal me...and my friend who was the cleric of the party followed him going I spont cast inflicts!!! (cleric of wee jas) :P .

Andoran

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Andrea1 wrote:
demontroll wrote:
I was thinking, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one."
That brings up another issue, one character going Leroy Jenkins in battland expecting the cleric to prop them up. Now we can say 'Let Leroy die' but the trouble with that is not that Leroy's player is going to be mad that Leory died, but the monster who will be stepping over Leroy's corpse and laying into the squishies in the back row. So it can end up being a kind of blackmail.

Blackmail can go both ways.

Tell a party member that you will NOT heal him if he is hurt or cursed the next time he does such and such and he will quickly recant his heathen ways.

Of course, you need to say it before he gets hurt/cursed and preferably in front of the rest of the party (if only to see their reaction). It is even better if you can roleplay it based on your character's convictions. But even a logical expose will do wonders for the rest of your audience. After all, you are supposed to be the wise one in the party

Note however that, for this strategy to work, it must be obvious that your character is adamant about it and willing to die (not kill, die) for his convictions.

This usually makes for wonderful roleplay on everybody's part.


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demontroll wrote:


If your GM is tough (APL+5) you are going to need to be able to heal, or people are going to die.

I've always found it odd when people say that healing is only essential in really dangerous encounters. If healing is a weak, sub-optimal choice in an APL+1 encounter, surely it's still weak in harder battles?

I've been playing a cleric from level 1 to 15. I'm an elf with low strength, decent dexterity and charisma. I carry a light crossbow so I can try to contribute without spending resources - it's rarely been effective but it's better than wasting a spell in a battle that's already won. I have Selective, Quick & Extra Channeling. I carry multiple wands of cure light wounds so I don't have to waste my channels on out of combat healing.
I'm a travel / liberation domain cleric, which means I can easily rescue grappled allies (from level 8 anyway). I can dimension hop allies around the battlefield, for example getting someone in a position to full attack. I can cast Fly, which is useful because we don't have a full arcane caster. We do have a bard who can cast Good Hope, so Bless isn't much use.
I keep a wide selection of utility scrolls like Invisibility Purge, and status removal spells (remove sickness, remove blindness, restoration, etc.) I have a lesser rod of reach, which has been useful on many occasions. I found a ring of invisibility when I was about level 7 - it's very useful for a cleric as I'm usually not doing anything that would break the invisibility.
In tough battles I cast Blessings of Fervor, summon appropriate creatures, attack large groups of weak undead with channels, and so on. I tend to avoid Save Negates spells, because my enemies tend to pass their saves.
I frequently end the day with all my best spells uncast, because the group can usually survive without them, so I save them for emergencies, and then the emergency might not happen.
One time I died (and was later raised) because a big demon full-attacked me and got a x3 critical after I ran up to cast Heal on an endangered ally. It brought me down from a few hit points below normal to one hit point below negative Con in one round. If I'd bothered to cast Cure Light Wounds on myself earlier, I would have survived.


In PF i dont think a cleric is the essential thing it once was

speaking purely from playing a lot and not any theory

1st level: bless and cause fear and clw are all useful/effective; your AC is almost as good as anyone elses and your saves are probably about as good as any other so make yourself a target;some of your domain abilities are very good

channeling isnt great but at 3rd level cleric is seems at about its most effective (7 hp back to say 2-3 injured allys is fine)and at this level CMW is most welcome (12 hp to one PC is nice)

channeling does seem to drop off after this

clerics arent as good in combat as they used to be in 1st ed. almost any buff will be better on your warrior types than yourself.
Clerics saves are always excellent as levels go up so anytime the baddies attack you and not the rogue or fighter or wizard, then thats a win


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Not too many mentions of Summoning.

I find this a little odd as of all the normal classes [not Summoner]that can summon monster I would think the Cleric is probably the best suited to summoning monsters. It's a perfect round one option [flanking/control/defence] before your services are called upon to remove unwanted conditions and buff.

Also being a MAD class, summoning allows you to avoid the need for too much Strength or Constitution - let the monsters fight for you, not to mention that having just the right fighting abilities for each occation.

Grand Lodge

I don't know I play a moderate amount of PFS (and DM too), and have seen the Cleric (and my Cleric) be very essential. It ussually isn't in the glorious or fun ways other classe's players get, but (and this isn't including the situation with the Barabarian above), but a single spell not even workinng as intended, or burning though healings (which I do not like) has prevented some TPK's.

Luckily, I'm a level 3 Cleric now, and playing with a newer group of level 1s and 2s, so I feel like I can contribute much more appropriately now. Inspite of having fairly good saves, I tended to bomb them when it's important, inspite of having a moderately good AC, (practically maxed for PF) and trying to stay back, I still take a lot more damage than I'd like (but it keeps others alive), and I often miss more than I hit. I still think that the PF Cleric is a bit too weak since 3.5, in the sense that I feel it is less fun and mor difficult to meaningfully contribute outside of a few secondary ways. I still hate PF Domains. 5th level might change that, but thats a little late in the game, and the secondary (actually cool powers are far too late, (especially in PFS).

I do not heal normally, just when needed, and do buff and try to cast other spells, but there have ben too many times when I cast and have no affect, or the nature of the encounter simply prevents any real action besides Aid Another from really doing anything. Or casting a buff is essentually wasted with no benefit.

Shadow Lodge

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Summoning is an ok tactic, but a lot of pople do not realize that it has changed in some significant ways since 3E that really matter. Summoned creatures, well the vast majority of them, can not be communicated with, as the celestial/feindish template do not grant them Int any more. So unless you have a way to speak with animals, they can not be given instructions, only to attack (the nearest enemies basically) or th few other options listed in the spell.

Summoning is also a Full Round Casting, but is measured in Rounds, so not really affective until 3rd level or higher most of the times. (You spend a Round casting, it appeares, attacks and then vanishes). Later when it last a little while, it can absorb so damage or offer a little tactical advantage, but still it's difficult to control or place.

They really can not do most of the other things they used to be able to. A lot of people do not understand the way that Sacred Summons works, and for a NG Cleric, it is useless untill like 17th level. I think evil Clerics get some benefit around 11th, but it only applies to Summoned creatures that have an Alignment Subtype exacty matching your Aura, which does not include any of the animals.

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