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Is the 'Healer' a necessary or useful role?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Is in-combat healing really necessary for a player to handle, or can the party easily coast through on simply out-of-combat healing, say with wands or potions? Is a 'healer' character actually hampering the group, even if he can be, say, a secondary front-line character (classic cleric)?

For context, my friend is running a Legacy of Fire adventure path game this week; it's myself, him, another friend, and three people we're unfamiliar with.
I knew right off that I wanted to give some sort of monk a shot, so I put it out there. My friend who's playing wanted to make an ifrit sorcerer, fire spells out the wazoo... our friend GMing advised against it, so the player was stumped and took a few days to decide on what he wanted to go with.
In that time, the other three players went with a Magus, a two-handed fighter, and a Gunslinger. My friend now feels that he's shoehorned into playing a Cleric, a 'healer', or party balance will be out the window because no one will be there to heal, buff, etc. I'm trying to convince that he should play whatever he wishes (except a for a single-element character in a game with tons of energy resistant/immune enemies).


I think general consensus is that the sooner the enemies are dead, the happier the party is.

Buffing is nice because it'll help the party end encounters faster. Healing and buffing, however, do not necessarily need to go hand in hand. A sorcerer can be a great buffer without a single bit of healing potential (short of wands).

I would agree he should play whatever he wants. Advising against putting every possible resource into a single element is good advice, but otherwise I think sorcerer would be a fine addition to the party, and lack of a healer shouldn't be that bad.

Just my own opinion though. YMMV.

Edit: And of course, having different options in battle does not necessarily prevent him from being fire-themed. As long as he's got one fire spell, he can spam it all he likes. Having other elements or other spells that'll help out the party or debuff enemies is just good in case he needs them. Otherwise, he can flame away.


there is lots of threads about this, but i think the general consensus is that someone who spends their action healing is less useful to winning encounters than someone who is able to deal large amounts of damage, for various reasons.

some healing however is pretty important OOC yes.


You don't NEED a healer.
Someone who has CLW on their spelllist (ranger, druid, alchemist, bard, paladin, inquisitor, oracle, witch and of course cleric) to be able to use wands of CLW for OOC healing is useful, but even then you can wing it with UMD. It works we've done it.

During the first 3 or 4 levels or so, incombat healing is not completely wasted, as you have little HPs and a lucky hit might actually nearly drop people, so getting healed is useful.
But not necessary, and after that usually it's better to help kill people faster than to heal.

So if he doesn't want to play a cleric, he doesn't have to.
Even with a cleric the Wand of CLW is the main healing device and will usually be used out of combat, as its the cheapest heal wand.

Actually that's not quite true, Infernal Healing heals more per cast but takes longer (and is evil), and Sorcerers and Wizards can do that for example.

Cheliax

Playing under the newer, set-piece encounters model, other roles will be more important because the party will work together to not be hurt.

However, in more open and sand box campaigns where there are fewer guarantees that the heroes of the story won't step into a trap or ambush or be targeted by assassins in the street, the healer retains a tremendous amount of utility. Furthermore, if the party uses henchmen or fights alongside allies, the healer becomes even more important. There's still a niche for it.

In Legacy of Fire? Unless you roll in more random encounters and the like, you can do without a healer.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

don't forget, too, that there are plenty of options for characters who can heal when necessary but aren't 'just' a healer. bards can heal and can also buff all those damage dealers in the party. inquisitors can be decent in combat, have skills that are useful ooc, and can heal when needed. witches have blasting and controlling spells, as well as heals. a fire oracle can do some blasting and still heal. a neutral human cleric who channels negative energy could start with channeled smite and guided hand to be a pretty solid melee combatant and still be able to heal (especially if they take versatile channeler at 3rd and quick channel at 5th to be able to either aoe damage or aoe heal as a move action while still attacking...) just to name a few :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

You know there are more considerations than just pumping back hit points, and higher level options that CLW wands just don't cut it.

AOE healing, Condition removal, ressurection, regeneration,

And of course there's the other casting stuff to. Unless you're playing that Healbot class from the Minatures Handbook, there are other options as well.

What exactly is the problem? Afraid you'll get stuck doing a "woman's" role? Are you writing this from the traditional fear of getting stuck rolling the healer? If that's the case, then your problem is that of group dynamics, not class roles.


I don't know anything about legacy of fire, but as long as you have someone who can use CLW wands you should be good. Later on you may want someone who can deal with negative status conditions such as curses/diseases or ability damage (if there is any). Or you could always just give the party some potions to handle with that sort of problem. Alchemists and oracles are my favorite for this type of role, they can fight well and heal when needed.


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Keep encouraging him to play what he wants. Just because he was last to choose doesn't mean he should be the party gimp.


I don't think it is absolutely necessary, but I think it's helpful.

For one, the cleric is one of the strongest classes and is pretty versatile to boot. For out of combat healing, Channel Energy is usually enough, with a wand of CLW to fill gaps. You get to memorize your normal spells, then convert them if absolutely necessary.

Clerics can be summoners, buffers, debuffers, even blasters occasnally... and they can switch it up every day.

Paladins, inquisitors, alchemists and (probably a bit better) witches can all be healers too. I love paladins for out of combat healing, you spend the whole battle hitting stuff like normal, then you top everyone off, plus they do it without expending resources devoted to anything else and save a little money on expendables.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

It is not a must at all to have a cleric, but it is very useful. I find clerics contribute well to killing monsters fast, either through self buffing and fighting, or more of a spellcasting/summoning role.

One thing that really makes a cleric usefull imo is they can remove all detrimental status effects on the group after combat in addition to healing the group up. Very helpful if you want to do more than just one or two encounters per day.


In-combat healing is not a necessary party slot, and it's only occasionally that even a cleric is better off doing in-combat healing than something else.

I personally think a casting-focused druid would be a good idea, here. Can blast fire a bit like the sorcerer he wanted, can do much of the "God Wizard" stuff (heck, can even spontaneously summon), has decent status-fixing spells on the spell list for out-of-combat recovery, and has that nice animal companion that gives the player another action to take.


It all depends on spell selection and your definition of "healing."

A character that focuses almost entirely on HP recovery is usually boring to play and, honestly, not that necessary. It takes a special kind of person to enjoy this playstyle.

A character that focuses on curing status ailments first and HP recovery second is a little better, but still not very necessary, and still somewhat boring to play.

However,

A character that focuses on damage prevention can be loads of fun to play and is a huge asset to any party.(The difference between "Protection from X" and "Cure X Wounds.")

Also, the "Buffer" and "Debuffer" can both be rewarding playstyles that are of use to a party (especially Clerics who can convert their spells into healing when absolutely necessary.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It depends entirely on your dm. If encounters are static, IE playing a module as written, then a healer is in fact not a good idea, at least not hit point healing. The thing you need is some means to remove ability damage, negative levels and other negative conditions. In particular the restoration line of spells becomes a neccessity at a certain level.

That said, the above comes with a big caveat about dm impressions and reactions. The reason a 'healer' isnt needed is because usually if everyone is focused on taking out the enemy, it will be killed faster and thus do less damage to you. Lets take an example.

You are fighting a monster, it does 50 damage a round on average. You can heal maybe 20 damage with a cure spell. If instead of healing that 20 damage, you kill the thing a turn earlier, its like you healed someone for the 50 damage they didnt take.

but there is a condition, and that is that the Gm wont change future encounters based on how quickly you kill monsters. Most gms want to challenge their players. For most that means having them in dire straights (low on hp usually) in encounters you intend to be hard. Many (but not all) gms will increase the difficulty of future encounters if the monsters in encounters they expected to be hard die to quickly. So the above method of killing the monster faster may backfire in the future. DM perceptions can matter quite alot in whether a certain kind of character is 'necessary' in a given party.


GMs who translate "challenging encounter" to "PCs are always reduced to near-zero hit points" are misunderstanding what "challenging encounter" actually means.

But yes, there are lots of GMs (and lots of posters on these boards) who simply assume that if the PCs aren't routinely having to heal in combat, the GM isn't doing their job.

Sad, but true.


A "in combat healer" is not neccesary role. It is good to have a healer though.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Maps Subscriber

I would hazard a guess, we GM's want to make sure that the PCs are worried that there is a very good possibility that their character will soon be monster lunch. One good way to make players nervous about loosing their characters is to have monsters chew on them a bit.....if that gets them down to near zero hit points or in negative HP territory so much the better.

I much prefer a hard won fight, and there is nothing less satisfying then watching a PC come along and smack your hill giant etc and drop him in one blow. For me this goes for when I am on the other side of the screen. If I'm a player, and we are dropping everything left right and center...where is the fun in that? I find I get bored quite quickly. I find a fight much more interesting if we are scrambling.

But then that is the delicate balance a GM would hopefully try to get, between things being too easy for the player characters, and completely deadly for the player characters.

But then again I can only speak for myself, how I like to GM, and the style of games I like to play in.

I often play clerics, and I enjoy playing clerics. To answer the OPs question is a healer necessary?

Well I guess you can get by without one....but when playing in Pathfinder Society organized Play, I have yet to find a table where the other players were indifferent when they found out I was playing a cleric of Sarenrae with the healing and sun domains. Most often I was greeted with a " your a cleric? a healing cleric....? great come sit at our table we could really use a healer".


Healing in combat is often not necessary, but when it is it can mean the difference between success and failure.

Anybody that thinks playing a cleric is being gimped is crazy.

Nobody should be forced to play a character that they don't want to play. A party with out a primary healer can function fine, though they may need to be more cautious and tactical minded than a party with one.


ElyasRavenwood wrote:
I would hazard a guess, we GM's want to make sure that the PCs are worried that there is a very good possibility that their character will soon be monster lunch. One good way to make players nervous about loosing their characters is to have monsters chew on them a bit.....if that gets them down to near zero hit points or in negative HP territory so much the better.

The feeling that their PC is about to become "monster lunch" is indeed a way to make a player nervous. However, it has been my experience that a little of this goes a long, long way. In fact, the more frequently a player finds their PC hovering on the verge of unconsciousness only to be healed back and emerge victorious, the less "nervous" they will be in future encounters. Eventually getting reduced to a tiny fraction of their hit points only to be immediately healed by the local "bucket-o-hit-points-dispenser" just becomes part of the job, and loses virtually all of its ability to engender a feeling of potential mortality. There are many, many other ways in combat to make a character feel "nervous" about their character's status. Those include ongoing effects (almost every player I know is truly more worried about ability loss than they are about hit point loss), disease, blindness, loss of a weapon, etc. The attitude that hit point loss is the only way to make a player nervous is one of the most common GM educational opporunities I know of.

ElyasRavenwood wrote:
I much prefer a hard won fight, and there is nothing less satisfying then watching a PC come along and smack your hill giant etc and drop him in one blow. For me this goes for when I am on the other side of the screen. If I'm a player, and we are dropping everything left right and center...where is the fun in that? I find I get bored quite quickly. I find a fight much more interesting if we are scrambling.

I prefer a fight where the PCs demonstrate superior tactics. If that means they execute their tactics so effectively that my monsters/NPCs barely get a chance to respond, I reward that tactical behavior. But then I step up my own tactical game to give them more of a challenge.

ElyasRavenwood wrote:
But then that is the delicate balance a GM would hopefully try to get, between things being too easy for the player characters, and completely deadly for the player characters.

The singular focus I see on the reduction and restoration of hit points is the problem here. I see way too many GMs interpret "too easy" to mean "nobody was knocked unconscious." As I said above, there are many other ways to make the encounter meaningful and threatening without resorting to the least problematical PC effect in the game. Nothing is easier to recover than hit points. So knocking a character's hit points down to 1 during battle is pretty meaningless when they just whip out a CLW wand and pump themselves back up after the fight. Having to deal with a blind PC, or one with a -4 to dexterity, that's a whole 'nuther thing.

ElyasRavenwood wrote:

But then again I can only speak for myself, how I like to GM, and the style of games I like to play in.

I don't know your style or how your games go, but if you are relying on hit point loss and recovery to determine how "challenging" your encounters are, I think you have an opportunity to improve your GMing skills and provide your players with some seriously memorable encounters, some of which they may not even lose a single hit point but will still think "Jeez! That was CLOSE!".

Grand Lodge

I once had a PFS party with three rogues and no healer. We ended up getting one, but if we hadn't we'd be dead.


Once you get the spell Heal, its an extremely useful spell. You can remove most status effects and full heal most party members. Prior to that, in combat healing is pretty weak.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

GMs who translate "challenging encounter" to "PCs are always reduced to near-zero hit points" are misunderstanding what "challenging encounter" actually means.

But yes, there are lots of GMs (and lots of posters on these boards) who simply assume that if the PCs aren't routinely having to heal in combat, the GM isn't doing their job.

Sad, but true.

My point isnt that this mentality is right or wrong, its that the GMs perception is extermely important.

The REALITY of high level pathfinder (and 3.x) is that it is essentially a game of rocket tag. Fighter types do a TON of damage, so to monster. Casters have save or lose spells in significant quantity. With luck, good tactics, (or bad luck or bad tactics) an 'appropriately challenging' encounter can be over in a round or two if everyone in the party is focused on offense. Regardless of 'actual difficulty' this sort of thing leaves a bad taste in a fair amount of gms minds.

It is also something that is very difficult to grasp conceptually. In terms of cinematics, real life fights are supposed to be long drawn out affairs (think born trilogy). In reality fights are quick and dirty (think Taken). That same disconnect exists in fantasy fights. We imagine this long back and forth bout with a dragon, or a band of trolls, but the truth is when things get that big and that tough, the first hit is usually the last (like with real life trained fighters). We as humans are not really good at grasping this (and certainly dont find it entertaining or exciting).

It is something you have to be concious of when making the healers are not needed' argument. Depending on the DM, encounters can get artificially harder if they seem easy instead of hard. and one simple way for them to seem hard is for a healer to have to bring the big fighty type back from the brink of death with a healing spell.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Given that Legacy of Fire is 3rd edition, the GM will have to make some adjustments to get it up to Pathfinder specs. Depending on his GM style the need for a cleric (or something along those lines, Oracles work as well) could be minimal or large. Depends on if he tends to generate meatgrinders and how much he enjoys ganking PCs.

If he's a softie, sure no heal/buff/de-status potential can be survived easily enough.

If he's moderate, you might get by OK, but it will be a hell of a lot harder than it would need to be.

If he's hardcore, you will get mulched.


I like clerics, I dot get to play them because someone decides to play a goofball character (or two) and other roles aren't filled. So I usually play a EK (or magus) Or a rogue.

In a party of "classic four" (rogue, fighter, mage, cleric) I'd pick cleric or rogue. I'm usually the last to pick a class, because I'll play what we "need".


The problem with relying on CLW wands is it takes recourses my group prefer to spend on sexier stuff. A 5th level ftr, cavalier, ranger etc after a hard but not massive fight can easily be 20-30 hp down, taking 4-6 charges to recover. Those wands disappear very quickly at mid levels. I am sure it can be done but the party pays a price in it soaking up disposable income.

Having said that a paladin can act as group OOC healer at a push and does lots of fun stuff in combat.

I agree with previous posters Clerics are powerful and fun, but that a personal thing which I understand not everyone will agree with


No. It's SO much more rewarding to play the cleric for the OPPOSITE reasons.

My clerics are generally the Chaotic Neutral priest of tempest types.

Slay living, a personal favorite for spell selection, as are flame strike and blade barrier.

Usually some sort of sword and board character.

Healing? you want healing... sure... no problem, right after we divvy up the treasure.

anyone give you guff, fine, a cause serious wounds will shut them up. Now what was in that treasure bag?

There is nothing wrong with healing party members that aid your mercenary goals of becoming rich and powerful. Others who are not so valuable, counter productive, or their success depends on them being damage spounges and having a heal battery (so essentially two characters to do the job of one) become convenient cannon fodder, oops did I catch you in that blade barrier? What your almost dead, my gosh all I've got left is this harm spell.

Now I'm not saying attack your party. I'm saying the CLERIC has the power to chose WHOM he adventurers with. If these guys are kicking arse and taking names and just need some support casting, heck yea. If they have the redonkulous builds that require your slave services, obviously you hold the upper hand when they are wounded or conditioned, to the point where they are beseeching your services.

You can also simply refuse to do anything, So sorry, out of that spell.


here is some advice on healers.

even if your character is capable of healing, you need another role for recreational purposes, whether hitting things, summoning, or battlefield control.

healers are needed for both hit points, AND condition removal. while hit points could take a character out of the fight, conditions can do so much more expediently. but one shouldn't build themselves 100% around healing. makes for a boring character. a casting focused healer could use summons and battlefield control for example, or the divine class could take a more martial role and lose a bit on the healing department. if you truly want a healer who does absolutely nothing but heal, that is what the life oracle cohort is for.

good cohort classes include the life oracle, ( a free self restocking medical kit for the price of a feat.) the bard (a buffer and face that few appreciate. always nice to have), a utility wizard or sorcerer (someone to cast the utility spells our primary caster doesn't want to deal with), an arcane trickster (skills, spells, and utility that few appreciate. keep this person out of combat) or an alchemist (self replenishing pile of potions otherwise deemed illegal, and a means to deal with swarms and quickly produce poison or other alchemical goods)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I play a cleric in PFS (well rarely anymore since he is 10th level and my opportunities to play him are lessened these days) - even at the very highest levels I've played him however I have found that burst healing especially (but occasionally single target healing) in combat can be exceptionally useful.

A few caveats - the character is built in part to optimize action economy and healing ability - he has quick channel (so can channel as a move action if I spend 2 uses of my channel for the day) meaning I can take a standard action and still channel or I can channel 2x in the same round (each channel for 5d6). And since I'm a healing domain cleric (I'd have taken Restoration subdomain if I were to rebuild this character today) healer's blessing means when I do cast a cure spell it is empowered - so even a cure light wounds is fairly potent - mass cure spells are also quite good (not least because they can harm undead and heal allies in the same action)
(and of course this character has Selective Channeling and a reasonably high CHA)

Equally however most of the actions my cleric takes are casting - stuff like Spiritual Ally or Blessings of Fervor or Prayer. Occasionally I'll self-buff and wade into combat (mostly just to stay near enough to the party to heal as needed. And with a fairly high WIS score he definitely has gotten great use out of various Save or Suck spells (even the lowly Command can be a big tactical advantage - spells like Compassionate Ally are even better (force someone to spend a lot of rounds doing nothing but attempting to heal their allies - yup this may mean the neuromancer starts healing his undead minions but as noted healing doesn't typically keep up with damage dealing...

But spells like Breath of Life have, literally, been lifesavers. But so to have good action economy spells like the Immediate Action spell of Liberating Command.

The best part about a Cleric, IMHO, is the customizability and flexibility - you first get a huge array of options (God, domains) and then every day you get to change up a great deal of your spell list - meaning you can adapt to the changing needs of the party with a bit of careful planning.

Shadow Lodge

Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
...if you truly want a healer who does absolutely nothing but heal, that is what the life oracle cohort is for.

Anyone who considers playing a Mystery of Life Oracle should play as a Dual Cursed Mystery of Life Oracle. You will be so much more than a healbot if you are a smart player:

-Liberal use of Ill Omen and Misfortune straight out prevent damage or conditions on a regular basis.

-Life Link and Shield Other automagically ameliorate damage.

-Swift action Combat Healer, move action Quick Channel and standard action Channel/spell supernova healing round should keep even the most fragile party alive during combat (and Positive Energy Elemental will help with post-combat heals).

-Spontaneous divine casting allows you to be a buff/debuff/summon monster as well.

-High CHA and skill points make you the party face with a solid UMD, giving you non-combat options as well.

Shadow Lodge

Rycaut wrote:
yup this may mean the neuromancer starts healing his undead minions but as noted healing doesn't typically keep up with damage dealing...

When we start fighting console cowboys and cyberjockeys in Pathfinder, I'll definitely have to re-evaluate my build choices.


Pendagast wrote:

No. It's SO much more rewarding to play the cleric for the OPPOSITE reasons.

My clerics are generally the Chaotic Neutral priest of tempest types.

Slay living, a personal favorite for spell selection, as are flame strike and blade barrier.

Usually some sort of sword and board character.

Healing? you want healing... sure... no problem, right after we divvy up the treasure.

anyone give you guff, fine, a cause serious wounds will shut them up. Now what was in that treasure bag?

The only downside to said Cleric is out of all the potential spells you have, I think you just listed every good damage-dealing option.

Fill up your other spell slots with buffs? Great, by the time you're ready to fight, the rest of the party finished the encounter.

:(


Healer is sometimes an important member in combat. Through dumb luck, a tough fight, prolonged battles, etc., even the D12 hit die folk will get dangerously low on hit points, and escape may not be the best option. It may not be an option at all. In that instance, it is better to "waste" your round with a high-ish level heal spell, rather than let your buddy get slain by a high rolling attack. Because raising the dead is a LOT more costly than wasting your turn.

That being said, most healing should go on out of combat. Use wands of cure light wounds, or spells from 3.5 like vigor, faith healing, etc., to get everyone back up to full hit points. Or expend some low level healing spells.

Bards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, Rangers and some Rogues can all make good healers. Clerics are obviously the best choice, but only rangers and rogues are truly sub-optimal.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I can not count the number of times I have seen a party saved by a well placed in combat heal. Taking the edge off the damage at higher levels can keep your cannons up for another round. I've seen numerous times where a party gets a few roles against them. Suddenly someone drops and everyone follows after because there was no one to take the edge off the damage.

All combat is a horse race. Reduce them to zero before you are reduced to zero. A healer slows down their horse.


Meat Shield is a more important "role" in my experience. Someone who can soak up enough damage to survive the encounter. Most of my players favor hybrid classes like Alchemist, so they always have someone with at least a little healing, but if they don't I'll just drop more potions in the loot.


As state depends on GM style.
Im playing in a low loot campaign at present and so wands of healing ARE NOT standard equipment on every Kobold we kill. Nore are healing potion brewed in a factory and sent out in Hogshead barrels. So for use a Healer is needed. So without a healer we would spend alot of time in town healing the slowly.

Andoran

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Should you have someone that can heal? Yes.

Should you have someone that can ONLY heal? No.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A smart healer will find ways to do more than just heal even as you mostly heal.

- before healing is needed buff the whole party or debuff the enemy (or both via great spells like Prayer)

- while positioning yourself for healing also help with flanking for your rogues and other fighters (even if you don't hit try to at least threaten)

- at higher levels look into useful feats or spells that break regular action economy so even if you are healing with your standard actions you have other things to do as needed. For example Liberating Command is an immediate action that gives a party member who was grappled another chance to get free with at higher levels a noticeable bonus. Later also look at feats like Divine Interference (sacrifice a spell to force an enemy to reroll a hit with a penalty based on the level of the spell sacrificed. Even a first level spell can save a party member from a big crit.

Buffing is a balancing act - gauging who will benefit best from which buffs applied when. Some are easy (freedom of movement on your party members who can least afford to be grappled, communal air walk on the whole party etc.


TriOmegaZero wrote:

Should you have someone that can heal? Yes.

Should you have someone that can ONLY heal? No.

Should you have someone that primarily heals? Not really.

One of my biggest issues in playing with groups with dedicated or focused healers is that the players depend on the healing, which leads to combat decisions that tend to require healing. So it becomes a self-fulfilling tactic. It has been my experience in the games I've played that not having a dedicated healer focuses the party's attention on tactics that don't require healing.

Also, in those cases where I have played with dedicated healers it is almost always the healer who first cries out "Stop! I need to rest and regain my spells!"

Just my experience. Since I don't care for either of those situations, I tend to prefer to play without a dedicated healer. So far, in the decades I've played that way, it hasn't reduced effectiveness at all. It has, however, tended to result in a party that manages resources much more efficiently, and I like that too.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Also, in those cases where I have played with dedicated healers it is almost always the healer who first cries out "Stop! I need to rest and regain my spells!"

Just my experience. Since I don't care for either of those situations, I tend to prefer to play without a dedicated healer. So far, in the decades I've played that way, it hasn't reduced effectiveness at all. It has, however, tended to result in a party that manages resources much more efficiently, and I like that too.

Strangely, in my primary group, the person most likely to push for resting never plays a divine caster. Though it would not mater what he plays. In a current RotRLs he has a monk, and is the first to cry for the party must stop and camp. In a current homebrew, a wizard, and he begs for us to camp. In a past kingmaker, an archer and begs to camp.

The guy who primarily plays healers? We are lucky if he lets it be known to the group he is out of channels.

In other Pathfinder groups, I have found the players of clerics manage resources very well. Seldom have I ever played with a "healbot".

I did play with a gal that declared that was how she was going to play. But, the group quickly encouraged her to take a more proactive role, and soon she was dealing damage, buffing and channeling. Out of combat, she would have her character provide mostly wand use. She seemed to have great fun.

So, I guess it is anecdotal.

In AD&D, 2nd, and 3.x, my mains usually were clerics or a multiclass of somesort. Come Pathfinder, I play mostly rogues and arcane casters.

Though, strangely, I have made an inquisitor for a Carrion Crown campaign starting sometime early next year. We have a paladin, inquisitor, archeologist bard, and an alchemist. The DM is disappointed no one is playing a cleric and thinks it will be a party wipe. This is the same guy that always begs for us to rest :P

Greg


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

GMs who translate "challenging encounter" to "PCs are always reduced to near-zero hit points" are misunderstanding what "challenging encounter" actually means.

But yes, there are lots of GMs (and lots of posters on these boards) who simply assume that if the PCs aren't routinely having to heal in combat, the GM isn't doing their job.

Sad, but true.

Or those players are bored out of their mind because the encounter was both pointless, and guaranteed safe. There's nothing wrong with placing real dangers on the battlefield if that is what the players find most entertaining. And frankly, the "1/4 of resources" rule of thumb is inane anyhow. I personally want one or two good fights which force me to think tactically, where if I play with a lazy hand I could lose my character. I love my character, and thus I feel rewarded by my success(which is the point of playing an RPG).


igotsmeakabob11 wrote:

Is in-combat healing really necessary for a player to handle, or can the party easily coast through on simply out-of-combat healing, say with wands or potions? Is a 'healer' character actually hampering the group, even if he can be, say, a secondary front-line character (classic cleric)?

For context, my friend is running a Legacy of Fire adventure path game this week; it's myself, him, another friend, and three people we're unfamiliar with.
I knew right off that I wanted to give some sort of monk a shot, so I put it out there. My friend who's playing wanted to make an ifrit sorcerer, fire spells out the wazoo... our friend GMing advised against it, so the player was stumped and took a few days to decide on what he wanted to go with.
In that time, the other three players went with a Magus, a two-handed fighter, and a Gunslinger. My friend now feels that he's shoehorned into playing a Cleric, a 'healer', or party balance will be out the window because no one will be there to heal, buff, etc. I'm trying to convince that he should play whatever he wishes (except a for a single-element character in a game with tons of energy resistant/immune enemies).

Well, I would suggest he play an Oracle. They have a bunch of versatility, and they still have a decent amount of healing power to offer. They can be destructive nukers, they can be amazing healers, they can be monstrous martials; you name it, that's what it can be, and more. The best part is, they aren't as MAD as a Cleric, have more spells to select (and have access to in general), and they have a great level of versatility.

Even so, a Cleric/Oracle can do much more than just Heal. If your group is tactically smart, they might not need much in-combat healing, allowing him more resources to divert to other, more important aspects of his character, such as buffs, debuffs, nukes, or melee combat. Without that, a Cleric/Oracle doesn't need to specialize in healing in order to be able to maintain the group's health.

Honestly? I'd tell him that playing a Cleric isn't going to be all that bad, and that if he really dislikes the word "Cleric," perhaps the word (and class) "Oracle" may be better music to his ears, for the purpose of the character he would like to play.


Given this party so far:

  • Monk
  • Magus
  • Fighter (Two-handed)
  • Gunslinger

I would probably take one of the following 8 classes:

  • Alchemist
  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Druid
  • Inquisitor
  • Oracle
  • Paladin
  • Witch

Any of these characters can be build in multiple interesting ways that don't focus on healing, yet can still throw out a little heal when it will save a character's life. Also, they're all capable of wielding a Wand of Cure Light Wounds bought by the party.


By the way, if you're going to play Legacy of Fire, look out for these guys.

Cheliax RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

I don't feel that it's NECESSARY to have a healer, but having access to out-of-combat healing between encounters is extremely important. So long as you have someone who can use a wand or a whole bag full of potions, you should be okay.

As to whether or not it is USEFUL, well, I can say that it is very useful to have someone on hand who can dish out a massive heal during an emergency. Whether it's simply a higher level cure spell with a decent caster level behind it, a breath of life, or an actual heal is irrelevant. Emergency healing can be (and has been) the difference between a rough encounter and a TPK.


Irontruth wrote:
Clerics can be summoners, buffers, debuffers, even blasters occasnally... and they can switch it up every day.

They can be a strong class, but they are not a straightforward class to play strong. They can't blast very well and their good save or suck spells are few and far between for instance. It's very easy for a new player to feel ineffective as a cleric ... something with a more straightforward damage focus like an inquisitor is easier.


igotsmeakabob11 wrote:
My friend now feels that he's shoehorned into playing a Cleric, a 'healer', or party balance will be out the window because no one will be there to heal, buff, etc. I'm trying to convince that he should play whatever he wishes (except a for a single-element character in a game with tons of energy resistant/immune enemies).

You do realize that he CAN make a hard hitting melee cleric right?

Find a god who uses a two-handed weapon (Szuriel comes to mind) get to heavy armor, make sure he channels negative energy, get the channel smite feat.. and go to town!

Heck there is this STUPID Paladin/Oracle build that gets Cha to both saves and AC.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Maps Subscriber
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
ElyasRavenwood wrote:
I would hazard a guess, we GM's want to make sure that the PCs are worried that there is a very good possibility that their character will soon be monster lunch. One good way to make players nervous about loosing their characters is to have monsters chew on them a bit.....if that gets them down to near zero hit points or in negative HP territory so much the better.

The feeling that their PC is about to become "monster lunch" is indeed a way to make a player nervous. However, it has been my experience that a little of this goes a long, long way. In fact, the more frequently a player finds their PC hovering on the verge of unconsciousness only to be healed back and emerge victorious, the less "nervous" they will be in future encounters. Eventually getting reduced to a tiny fraction of their hit points only to be immediately healed by the local "bucket-o-hit-points-dispenser" just becomes part of the job, and loses virtually all of its ability to engender a feeling of potential mortality. There are many, many other ways in combat to make a character feel "nervous" about their character's status. Those include ongoing effects (almost every player I know is truly more worried about ability loss than they are about hit point loss), disease, blindness, loss of a weapon, etc. The attitude that hit point loss is the only way to make a player nervous is one of the most common GM educational opporunities I know of.

ElyasRavenwood wrote:
I much prefer a hard won fight, and there is nothing less satisfying then watching a PC come along and smack your hill giant etc and drop him in one blow. For me this goes for when I am on the other side of the screen. If I'm a player, and we are dropping everything left right and center...where is the fun in that? I find I get bored quite quickly. I find a fight much more interesting if we are scrambling.
I prefer a fight where the PCs demonstrate superior tactics. If that means they execute their tactics so effectively that my...

Adamantine Dragon you do bring up some good points. There are plenty of other ways to make PCs nervous. I was playing in a PFS game a little while ago, and my 4th level oracle of life got poisoned and then paralyzed because his dex dropped to 0. Of course with my characte being a Dhampire, there was plenty of jokes about "is he dead yet? poke him with a stick" and " I feel happy I think ill go for a walk". Anyways the other PCs dragged my character to a temple of Pharasma, and luckily my character had joined a temple of Pharasma earlier. My character was able to get a free Lesser restoration cast on himself and he was then able to move after that.

But yes I agree there are lots of ways other then hit point loss to keep PCs on their toes.

Cheliax

Playing a level 1 Cleric of Iomedae in PFS.

Can I heal? Oh my yes.
Do I only heal? Oh my no.

I mean damn it feels good to be a gangsta, it just does, mom. But I also buff the party and give some baddies well-timed smacks with my longsword. I Aid other melee-ers, I use Touch of Law to help with skill rolls and I bring a solid diplomacy score with some knowledge skill as well.


Is an in-combat healer necessary? Rarely. But it depends upong the GM, group, and adventure.
A) With some GM's, their style almost always makes it necessary or at least highly desireable.
B) Some groups play with poor tactics or their builds are so glass-cannon that as soon as they start taking damage they are about down for the count.
C) Some adventures are almost impossible without it. {Carrion Crown, I'm looking at you.} Constant incorporeal attacks, lots of draining/damaging/poison/disease attacks, and distinct lack of healing magic items available.

Is an out-of-combat healer necessary? Almost always. But that can be a bard, paladin, ranger, etc... or anyone with a decent UMD.

I've seen groups get by just fine with a max UMD sorc and a source for recovery potions and wands.

Now as others have also said. It is very possible to make a cleric that is not much of a healer. But he has them on his spell list so he can use the wands and scrolls that others buy.

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