Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Starfinder


Pathfinder Society


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Curious - what are the pros and cons of a channel focused cleric?


Advice

Grand Lodge

My group, when it comes to clerics, uses them more for martial or spellcasty builds. I was wondering the above question.

I'm not making a build. I'm just curious at early levels, mid levels, and late levels the pros and cons of channel focused builds.


Channeling is a short range thing and for clerics it requires investing in a stat which provides little other bonuses to them. It needs feat investment to be a class feature which matters.

That said negative channelers can impose some nasty effects with feats or variant channeling, and positive channelers can give some modest bonuses with the same sort of investment. Rulership variant channeling and Fateful Channel are the best of these, respectively IMO.

Because of the feat investment required it's easier to make a cleric a good channeler late than early. On the other hand the 30' range becomes more of a problem later on.


As mentioned, variant channeling is pretty effective. I've seen one build that absolutely debuffs all the enemies into uselessness, and one that slaps temporary AC on all allies equal to your channel dice. It's not a lot, but it helps enough to dodge some attacks. Furthermore, it can add to the damage output of your martial-ness if you invest in Channel Smite. DC will probably not be astounding, but it adds up. Finally, you have the Bless Equipment line. One of my first characters was a Cleric, and he wasn't very well built. Halfway through his career I retrrained into this feat line, and it's amazing. If I win initiative, I can slap Bane on people's weapons and I've already contributed enough to the fight. Really, Bane alone makes that feat totally worth it.

Finally, healing in-combat isn't effective, but it screws with combat math. If enemies hit for 40% of your HP each turn and I can heal half that, I have bought my party members a full turn of extra attacks before they'd go down. You don't even have to "focus" on Channels, but in my experience, having a few Channels lying around isn't to be underestimated.


I think I am in the minority, but I don't think it is as bad as the hyperbole claims.
With 5 ranks in a decent skill you gain access to a Feat that lest you Channel as a Move Action. Granted you can't exclude enemies without a second Feat, but I often find a Channel is most needed at the start of a fight when some kind of surprise has occurred. At which point using your Move Action to Channel combined with a Spell as a Standard is excellent Action Economy.
If your build can fit in 14 Cha, then selective Channel becomes a nice bonus, especially with the item that increases the range by 5ft and allows you to exclude an additional enemy.
So to answer the OP.
Pros: potential action economy for minimal investment, AoE.
Cons: debatable issues around scaling, limited range of the AoE


Channeling is fairly terrible for many reasons....

I have seen one build make fun use of it.... Undead Lord with a Requilary weapon (ie a portable altar for Consecrate)... but even then it wasnt that great

Its simple really... it all boils down to the 'Law of Action Economy'..... very quickly as a cleric you will have many things better to do with your standard action and that dont require serious ability score and feat (and possibly item) investment.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Channeling is somewhat underwhelming before you can get a phylactery. I've never seen a good in combat healer without the ability to channel and the best heals I've played have had multiple channel pools.

Now the question of if combat healing is good or not is a whole other story that is going to depend on your group. In our group the players want multi-round fights and healing to have its place. Other groups I hear like rocket tag play where healing in combat is unheard of.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

On the other side, a negative energy channeler can be very effective too. I reacently sent one after my players and he quickly became the main target of the group.

I also sent groups of undead after these players early in the campaign. The first group I sent was on a day the cleric couldn't make it and they had a tough time taking the undead horde down. The second time the cleric was there and able to channel, this fight was trivial. I would easily suggest a channel focused character in any undead heavy campaign.


Pro: It doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

In-combat healing becomes a much better option when using the wound threshold variant from Unchained. Trust me, when the wizard loses his highest level or 2 of spells he'll be begging for some healing, quick.

Personally 'tho, I normally use channeling more for the harm undead aspect than the healing aspect.

Sovereign Court

I have one character focused on channeling, it's actually a shaman (witch doctor, life spirit, wandering spirit: lore) with 2 level of ninja. The ninja levels are for swift invisibility and the ki pool (and skill points).

The ki pool is especially important, because of the feat Ki Channel (Irori), and because of the item (consumable) tea of tranferance.

Channel becomes just 40 gp each, and all spells 2 levels lower then my highest (which is 3 levels less then a full shaman). Currently at level 9 I can cast resist energy on everyone for 40 gp each. Buying 50 is like a 2000 gp wand, but gets better the higher level I am by applying to get levels spells.


Childeric, The Shatterer wrote:

In-combat healing becomes a much better option when using the wound threshold variant from Unchained. Trust me, when the wizard loses his highest level or 2 of spells he'll be begging for some healing, quick.

I've never seen that before.... IMO that should be made canon. It makes perfect thematic sense and does help with the caster vs martial balance.

Why should a caster be just as effective casting spells when theyre on 1hp ?!?

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

doc roc wrote:
simple really... it all boils down to the 'Law of Action Economy'.....

Precisely.

That means that, while single-target healing in combat is usually not all that effective, healing the entire party for a single action (or better yet, a move action) may well be worth it. Because of action economy.


Reuhne wrote:

My group, when it comes to clerics, uses them more for martial or spellcasty builds. I was wondering the above question.

I'm not making a build. I'm just curious at early levels, mid levels, and late levels the pros and cons of channel focused builds.

Pros:

The Hangover Cleric is the only good build on the Cleric

Cons:
Reactive healing is a Terrible and Sub par way of playing a Support character. This method usually brings about longer fights, more wasted resources, and Deaths. It is better to end the encounter so enemies do not have the opportunity to continue to do more harm and eat your resources.

Oracles do it better than anyone else because they are Cha focused and can do Life + SPirit Guide Life for 2x the Channels a day.

Hospitalier Paladins Do it better because they are Cha focused.

You are not CHA focused and it eats your Point buy.

It requires you to dedicate feats to a sub par ability. You are already feat starved and can get more out of your feats than the crappy channel feats give you.

You end up being a band aid that the rest of the group relies on and they end up playing dumber and more risky because they have a pocket healer licking their wounds.

The Exchange

A channel cleric isn't going to be optimized, but it is a fun build to play.

I have a 9th level PFS cleric built as a channeler, and I've never had a scenario where I'm useless (although like any other class there has been an encounter or two that completely blocked me). As a 9th level human I don't have any feats that don't have the word "channel" somewhere in the name. Would another build be "more powerful?" Sure. But I'm powerful enough.

I wouldn't recommend being a channel focused cleric if you only channel positive energy. The healing just doesn't scale well in comparison to other options, especially once you can start spontaneously casting mass cure X spells. Channeling negative is where you can really make a difference. (Exception if your campaign is very undead-heavy).

The important positive thing to remember is that as long as you have at least the minimum Wisdom needed for casting (13 at 5th level, 14 at 7th, etc.) you still have access to all the cleric spells. Your DCs won't be high enough to be an attack caster, but you make a fine buffer/support/utility caster.

The biggest downside (to me) is that channeling itself is a severely limited resource. With a 26 Charisma and Extra Channel I have only 13 channels a day. If I channel and Quick Channel in the same round that eats up 3 of them. So I've really only got 4 rounds of "Max Power!" in a day.

My particular build:
Is actually an Envoy of Balance. Which means that I can choose to both damage and heal with the same channel. So if I channel and Quick Channel at 9th level that's 10d6 healing to my allies and 8d6 damage to my foes. It's fun.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I've made two channelers (aasimar brother and sister). The first was a negative channeler that went down the aasimar Channel Force chain, so he could move people around a bit too. When he started there was the Whimsy domain for massive channel damage, but then they neutered that. He's still decent about dishing out some damage, but not great.

BTW, Hanspur is a great deity for a negative channeler. Chaotic Neutral, with Death and Travel domains. And his Permanent Altars are built into rafts. So you can put them into a wagon and cart them around with you to target with your desecrate spells.

The other is a positive channeler of Sarenrae. Specialized in channeling to harm undead, but also harms outsiders (alignment channel). There was some big evil outsider that came after us once, I blew 3 channels in a round (standard, move from quick channel, and Swift from Ring of Protected Life) to take it out.

When there are only mundane threats, she uses the Bless Equipment feat chain to hand out Bane weapons to everyone.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Oh, positive channelers also have an easier time carting around an altar for Consecrate than negative. Grab an Exorcism Kit from the Demon Hunter's Handbook. The box counts as an altar for Consecrate. It's still 44 pounds, but it's manageable.

Negative channelers have to get creative to find a portable altar.


Not that creative, try a reliquary.


Channel energy as bad as some people claim. What is the purpose of Channel Energy? "I'm a cleric and I'm sick of spending half of my spell slots on sure spells to keep try party alive." Here you go, you can heal your entire band of murderers and grave robbers at once with a class feature that doesn't consume spell slots. It isn't meant to be on equal footing with your best spells. It exists as a response to players' complaints.

PROS (for positive energy)
One use will heal as many creatures as you like. The more the better.
Heal without using your spells.
Heal without provoking attacks of opportunity.
Heal at range.
With one feat, you can heal as a move action.
Even with a mediocre Charisma, you still heal the same number of hit points.
Harm undead without using spells.
Harm swarms of undead with a single use.

CONS (for positive energy)
Three uses per day probably will not handle every bit of healing.
If you heal during combat, you might heal the enemies too.
When harming undead, it targets their best saving throw.

Channel Energy doesn't require investment in Charisma or feats, but a player could choose to invest in those things. It is best used after combat is over, but it can be used during combat if you're in a tight spot and need to save an ally.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
avr wrote:
Not that creative, try a reliquary.

Not legal in PFS.


thistledown wrote:
avr wrote:
Not that creative, try a reliquary.
Not legal in PFS.

The OP sounds like PFS is not an issue.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Making channeling useful comes from having the right domains.

Having the Sun Domain and the Death (Undead) domain along with Postive channel, and a Conductive Weapon + Channel Smite allows you to brutalize anything because the Death (Undead) domain power has no saving throw.

Hit them, make them be treated as undead thanks to Conductive Undead Domain's level 1 power, and then channel smite at the same time for the win. Not only can you burst down undead, but you can also single target down even living opponents.

Scarab Sages

I'll second the Envoy of Balance PRC.

I know, I know, PRCs typically blow chunks.

This one tho, OMG.

One of my favorite characters is a Human Cleric of Pharasma, Neutral.

Pumped Wis, Cha. 10s in all other stats.

Guided hand feat. Dagger, shield. AC solid.

Versatile Channel feat. Chose to channel Negative as "primary".

Typical "Channel" feats, raise DC, Channel Smite, Extra Channel.

Take PRC at 6th. By 10th, the Twinned Channel power takes effect and from there it's VERY, VERY solid.

Is it the MOST powerful?

Nah, not even close.

But flavorful? Man, its a trip.

Scarab Sages

Another really fun choice, if you get to be a bad guy, is the Tiefling racial Archetype Fiendish Vessel .

This thing is amazing, you twin channel to heal evil people and harm good people all at the same time.

You get a planar familiar at lvl 3. Imp or Quasit or Cacodaemon. At lvl 3!!

This is also VERY flavorful and fun to play, but you are pretty much super evil.


Now if only some way existed to get Negative Energy Channeling on a Good character (Positive Energy on an Evil character is possible with an Oracle or Shaman of Life, but Negative Energy on a Good character is not possible except for a couple of versions that are limited to using it only for Command Undead).


A medium channeling the Hierophant can be a good, cha spellcaster with negative energy channel.


^I guess technically this works, although it looks like you have to channel a non-Good Hierophant spirit, so it seems even more risky than a Medium usually is to themselves . . . .


Variant channeling can be very powerful. The harm forms of Ale/Wine and Rulership are very good, nauseating or dazing the creatures who fail the save for a round. Madness is decent too, confusion for one round.

That said, it's pretty boring and one note, but a very effective channeling build. But as for focusing on positive energy, it is very unlikely to be helpful. I often find myself using CHA as a dump stat with a cleric. It's usually that or sacrifice skills. Channel can go, unless I am building with that as my main offense in mind.

The Exchange

Yeah currently testing hangover clerics. I suspect its good for low levels, but at higher levels you cant keep up with the DCs, since you're MAD and need some Wis to get your spells out.

Look on the bright side, when I'm not doing my hangover shtick, the group gets a buffbot/summon bot. I'll even healbot =)

And for spells you have spell focus, greater spell focus, for channels only 1 feat, improved channeling. Well, there's a trait too...

But later you'll have more spells then you have channela.

On the other hand you don't have to bother about SR for negative channeling.

I also think envoy of balance was for TN deities only(I.e Gozreh).

Last post here

Pharasma is LN.

Grand Lodge

The main downside of being a channel-focused cleric is that you're spending points in Cha that could be spent elsewhere; the same goes for feats. You need at least 13 Cha to take the Selective Channel feat, which anyone expecting to channel regularly should probably take.

Some deities offer feats that can significantly improve the usefulness of channeling, usually by adding a buff or debuff effect. By far the best one I've seen for positive energy clerics is Milani's Beacon of Hope, but I also like Iomedae's Protective Channel, Pharasma's Fateful Channel, and Torag's Steelskin Channel.


The primary weakness of channeling is the numbers involved. That 1d6 per two levels? Yeah, not going to do much for you even in the not-so-long run. 3d6 for a level 5 cleric is 11 dmg on average. 5d6 for a lvl 9 is 18 points, and not very useful. 8d6 at 15 is 28 points, which is at the level where you will almost always have something better to do with your time. Having spent a lot of feats and stat points in channeling very soon becomes a huge missed opportunity.

Channeling is all about SEEMING to be useful. In truth, the numbers make it a non-starter.


Just a Mort wrote:
Pharasma is LN.

Pharasma is actually true neutral.


Sissyl wrote:

The primary weakness of channeling is the numbers involved. That 1d6 per two levels? Yeah, not going to do much for you even in the not-so-long run. 3d6 for a level 5 cleric is 11 dmg on average. 5d6 for a lvl 9 is 18 points, and not very useful. 8d6 at 15 is 28 points, which is at the level where you will almost always have something better to do with your time. Having spent a lot of feats and stat points in channeling very soon becomes a huge missed opportunity.

Channeling is all about SEEMING to be useful. In truth, the numbers make it a non-starter.

For a level 5 Cleric, 3d6 on 1 creature isn't very useful. For a level 5 Cleric, 3d6 on 4 party members = 12d6 total for average total 42 is not too shabby (it gets better if you have a bigger party). For a level 5 Cleric, 3d6 on 12 skeletons assuming half of them save for half damage = 27d6 total for average total 94, which is pretty good. And that's before getting into potential rider effects you can put on it, although those have the problem of requiring substantial investment (including Variant Channeling, which locks you into 1 particular rider effect and usually reduces your channeling die size).

avr wrote:
Just a Mort wrote:
Pharasma is LN.
Pharasma is actually true neutral.

^This.

The Exchange

Ooops. I'm going to have words with that paladin of Pharasma then...I thought it was an LN thing else how do LG paladins worship her.


Only problem is, few enemies stand in formation anymore. A twenty times twenty foot room isn't a good combat arena unlike in 2nd edition. Yes, if you can hit twelve skeletons with it, you do good total damage, but how often will that happen in the campaign you play? I'd put that at a solid "maybe" for usefulness. With healing, it is rarely the case that all your party members will be wounded at the same time. If the fighter has forty points of damage, and the wizard took an arrow for six, with two healthy, channeling is not going to be very powerful for you.

The answer to the OP question is that at low levels, it is a neat boost that you can use and sometimes get some good out of. Beyond that, don't bother.


Just a Mort wrote:
Ooops. I'm going to have words with that paladin of Pharasma then...I thought it was an LN thing else how do LG paladins worship her.

I've also heard mention of a Pharasmin order of Paladins in a PbP of an AP (one of the fairly early ones, but not necessarily pre-PFRPG), but having heard of an actual publication error having resulted in an apparent Asmodean order of Paladins but not having heard of a similar order for Pharasma, I came to the conclusion that it was a misunderstanding of some kind of other knightly order devoted to Pharasma.

Sissyl wrote:

Only problem is, few enemies stand in formation anymore. A twenty times twenty foot room isn't a good combat arena unlike in 2nd edition. Yes, if you can hit twelve skeletons with it, you do good total damage, but how often will that happen in the campaign you play? I'd put that at a solid "maybe" for usefulness. With healing, it is rarely the case that all your party members will be wounded at the same time. If the fighter has forty points of damage, and the wizard took an arrow for six, with two healthy, channeling is not going to be very powerful for you.

The answer to the OP question is that at low levels, it is a neat boost that you can use and sometimes get some good out of. Beyond that, don't bother.

If the Skeletons are trying to swarm your party and your party didn't split up, they're probably going to be in range, and you'll be glad to have Channel Energy. And if your whole party got Fireballed or Swarmed, everybody is likely to be hurting, and you'll be glad to have Channel Energy.


the multi healing aspect of it is basically only useful if entire party got hit by and AoE opening spell and are still grouped up on your turn.

That or when it's after a fight and you're wanting to patch up everyone before going to wands.

BUT doing that sort of healing requires no investment. your 2 channels a Day is enough for that. you don't care about selective because your party grouped is the only thing hurt and in range.

Trying to damage undead, while potentially useful, comes down to whether your channel is enough to match someones attack. Meaning if an enemy takes 3 hits from the barb to kill, is your channel doing enough to count as 1 hit? If it's not then the barb still takes 3 hits to kill it and your channel didn't really do anything. Yes mulitple uses and mulitple targets help it be useful. But this is just something to remember.

trying to use it in combat or otherwise focus in it is really rough, not really viable as a main plan, and makes you not great in other fields. Which is annoying cause I'm wanting to build a channeling cleric, but there's aren't any good archetypes yet that help me feel good about actually building them yet.


I can imagine being up against a Necromancer that first swarms you with Burning Skeletons to get you to form up into a tight group, and then Fireballs you.

Scarab Sages

Currently playing with a Cleric who got the Phylactery as a campaign item, and her channels are a godsend. Maybe it helps that we tend to be high-AC characters, so healing seems less futile. It can really turn the tide after the alpha strike of an ambush has left the party in "oh crap we're dead" mode.

Shadow Lodge

Cenorin wrote:

The main downside of being a channel-focused cleric is that you're spending points in Cha that could be spent elsewhere; the same goes for feats. You need at least 13 Cha to take the Selective Channel feat, which anyone expecting to channel regularly should probably take.

Id say I play Clerics about 75% of the time, heavily favoring Divine characters, and I have never taken Selective Channeling on any of them, (I don't think). I know of at least one encounter in PFS where NOT having Selective Channeling would have been a TPK, and I honestly can not think of a single time where basic manuvering wasnt enough not to catch enemies in my healing as a first or second line combatant.

Its hardly required, though I do not have any Negative Energy Channelers, and I would say about 95% of Channel Energy uses is either after combat or to smite Undead/Outsiders. The one exception is that I sometimes purposefully Channel, again after battle, and include fallen enemies so they do not just die from bleeding out.

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo / Pathfinder® / Pathfinder RPG / Advice / Curious - what are the pros and cons of a channel focused cleric? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002-2017 Paizo Inc.® | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours, Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific time.

Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, Starfinder, the Starfinder logo, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Legends, Pathfinder Online, Starfinder Adventure Path, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.