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Evil Cleric anyone? Are they viable?


Advice


Anyone on these forums play a Cleric? I have mixed feelings about this character because last year when I first got involved in this game I read Treantmonks guide to Wizards and he spoke of Clerics as "the waste of space" <----- LOL. However I have read on these forums that they are not all that bad. Certainly in game healing isn't the best play 90% of the time so I ask you fellow Paizonians, how do you play them? Why are they better than say a Druid? (This is very subjective I know sorry) There spell list certainly isn't anywhere near as good as a wizards or say even a Witch. Are they backliners like Wizards and Witches or are these characters formidable in the front line? I'm interested in the idea of an Evil Cleric, the ability to use channel energy to harm enemies seems cool, what are some of the best features of the Evil Cleric? Any and all advice is welcome.


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You have to remember that Treantmonk's guides are very tongue-in-cheek. Were he to do a cleric guide, he'd probably say the reverse. Take a look at the guide "Tark's Big Holy Book of Clerical Optimization", it's a pretty good as a primer on the cleric class.

Using channeled energy for damage is probably not a good idea, you're gonna run out of channels and not do a competitive amount of damage. There are a few different things that the Cleric can do well, mainly buffing, debuffing, and healing.

Since you're going evil cleric, debuffing might be your most thematic choice. Look into the variant channeling rules from Ultimate Magic, some of them turn your channel into a potent debuff. Spells like bestow curse, or prayer can be pretty powerful.

Alternatively, you can focus on a few buffs that you can cast on yourself or allies, then wade into combat yourself. Spells like Righteous Might, along with a few great domain powers, make you into a melee beast.

Avoid healing in combat, it's usually better to prevent damage by killing your enemy than heal it in the heat of battle. Instead, leave a few spell slots open to prepare status removal staples like restoration or remove curse, that's the kind of healing most people rely on Clerics for.

If you want to be really evil, you could play a necromancer. Though that's something you should discuss with your GM first, as managing an undead army can really slow your game down.


Hmm thanks. Ya channel energy seems to be only good in the early game then falls off rather quickly it appears. You say he's a good debuffer, I'm currently playing a Witch in one of my campaigns is he as good as him? I'm playing a tetori and soon a multiclass Monktopus can the cleric be a melee beast like those two? We have an alchemist in our group for buffing can the cleric buff as good as him? The more I read about this cleric the mode it appears they are like the jack of all trades, but master of none?


Negative channeling is a nice weapon against swarms or else lots of mooks, but much of the time your melee types can handle those without breaking a sweat. Positive channeling is nice to patch up your friends after the battle, especially if they all took moderate amounts of wounds. Both of them are less effective against single big foes, unless you have the right variant channelling to debuff them.

Clerics are amazing buffers, and really amazing damage preventers. Healing and, especially, status removal are easier for them than any other class, thanks to the flexibility to pray for just the spell they need.

You can build a cleric as a good debuffer. It probably won't be quite as good as a focused witch or system-master wizard, but that leaves a lot of room to excel at making your enemies wish they'd never met you.

You get spells, lots of them and whichever ones you need to pray for. You can probably do one other thing really well -- pick melee combat, ranged combat, item creation, or face time -- and support it with whatever feats aren't supporting your spellcasting. Then support it again with the right spell picks.


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"Viable"? A well-played cleric will totally break the game over its knee and beat it like a dead goat. Spells are how things get done in Pathfinder, and before scoffing at the lack of fireball, remember these, and a few more like them:

  • Animate dead gives you a free army (2x your level in HD is nothing to scoff at), and then you can use desecrate to make them stronger, and heal them by channeling negative energy.
  • The summon monster line of spells has essentially no limits on it except for creature type (by level) and duration. With the number of spell slots you get, you can spam these every round to bolster the army you already have.
  • Planar ally is limited by HD rather than by CR, so you can pick up an insanely powerful long-term bodyguard as long as it doesn't have too many HD. You know, in case someone manages to get past your army of the dead and summoned monsters.
  • Plane shift lets you move the whole party, so that if an encounter isn't going well, you always have an escape plan. When you get to the point where you can cast it 2/day, it beats camping out -- you shift the party to a fast-time plane, heal a few days, then return not long after you left.


  • Kirth Gersen wrote:

    "Viable"? A well-played cleric will totally break the game over its knee and beat it like a dead goat. Spells are how things get done in Pathfinder, and before scoffing at the lack of fireball, remember these, and a few more like them:

  • Animate dead gives you a free army (2x your level in HD is nothing to scoff at), and then you can use desecrate to make them stronger, and heal them by channeling negative energy.
  • The summon monster line of spells has essentially no limits on it except for creature type (by level) and duration. With the number of spell slots you get, you can spam these every round to bolster the army you already have.
  • Planar ally is limited by HD rather than by CR, so you can pick up an insanely powerful long-term bodyguard as long as it doesn't have too many HD. You know, in case someone manages to get past your army of the dead and summoned monsters.
  • Plane shift lets you move the whole party, so that if an encounter isn't going well, you always have an escape plan. When you get to the point where you can cast it 2/day, it beats camping out -- you shift the party to a fast-time plane, heal a few days, then return not long after you left.
  • This is the type of thing I'm looking for. Nice post thank you. I can't seem to get over this though in the creation of an undead army:

    Components V, S, M (an onyx gem worth at least 25 gp per Hit Die of the undead)

    That's a problem, how can I overcome this?


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    By buying onyx gems? How many HD of undead do you think you need?

    (250gp for a level 5 character is not a lot in a normal campaign.)


    Atalius wrote:
    Anyone on these forums play a Cleric? I have mixed feelings about this character because last year when I first got involved in this game I read Treantmonks guide to Wizards and he spoke of Clerics as "the waste of space" <----- LOL. However I have read on these forums that they are not all that bad. Certainly in game healing isn't the best play 90% of the time so I ask you fellow Paizonians, how do you play them? Why are they better than say a Druid? (This is very subjective I know sorry) There spell list certainly isn't anywhere near as good as a wizards or say even a Witch. Are they backliners like Wizards and Witches or are these characters formidable in the front line? I'm interested in the idea of an Evil Cleric, the ability to use channel energy to harm enemies seems cool, what are some of the best features of the Evil Cleric? Any and all advice is welcome.

    Are you looking for general advice or actual builds?

    There's so much a cleric can do, since the jump from 3.x to pathfinder clerics have changed quite a bit. While it's true they are not as powerful unilaterally as they once were, most of us view it as a good thing. CoDzilla for the most part doesn't exist, at least not without enough legwork to where as a DM, I don't want to punish my players for reading all the material and learning how to do it.

    Treantmonk's guides are also largely out of date, and iirc, mostly only cover the initial CRB releases. I would recommend looking into Brewer's guide to the Reach Cleric and if going evil, you can also add in Channel Smite much more often for some nice damage boosts on a single hit toward an enemy. Sort of like a magus' Shocking Grasp, but without wasting spell slots.


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    Evil clerics are exceptionally viable, even without necromancy + channel negative energy shenanigans. Before archetype nonsense and even before heavy optimization, though you can optimize and with your party makeup as described you should.

    They're a divine wizard, essentially. Domains are roughly equivalent to arcane schools, and they're prepared spellcasters with a huge list of powerful spells. Getting to know that list and picking good domains (or subdomains) is the majority of the battle.

    Keep in mind that at lower levels, like a wizard, you'll get less mileage. But with armor proficiency, favored weapon, channel, and domain powers it's a lot less painful. Once you break into higher level, you'll have spells for days.

    As stated above, don't bother preparing healing in combat except maybe one or two burst heals. Do however feel free to convert prepared spells to inflict spells if you need a quick burst of damage. And unless you have selective channel, don't channel negative energy to damage your enemies while allies are in the radius. Also, assuming this is an evil (or neutral but morally flexible party), a wand of infernal healing will be more efficient per charge than a wand of CLW. I'd be amiss not to mention that.

    I prefer playing spellcasters, and cleric holds it's own. You have a better animal companion than a ranger starting at level one just by taking the animal domain (though I suggest the feather subdomain).

    I could keep going but there's a lot of great cleric guides out there that cover this.

    TL:DR version: Yes, of course cleric (of any alignment) is viable. It's one of the strongest classes in the game!


    Clerics do have one limit on summon spells -- since they can't cast spells with an alignment descriptor opposed to their god's alignment (no evil spells for a good god, no chaotic spells for a lawful god, etc.), and summoning/calling spells take on the alignment descriptor(s) of whatever you're summoning/calling, you can't summon everything on the list the way a wizard can. No lemure summons for the clerics of Sarenrae!

    Planar ally spells do have a cost, though if you find something your god and the outsider really approve of, the cost might be considerably lower. Very much a GM call on these particular spells, so work with yours.

    Plane shifting is a great escape spell, but keep in mind that it usually lands you somewhere within about 50 miles of where you want to go on the arrival end of the journey, so it's not quite as accurate as teleport for popping in/out. Still, very few foes will be able to scry/follow you to another plane, so it's a great getaway spell -- word of recall is probably better, though.

    Onyx for creating undead isn't a huge cost, though you probably want to create bloody skeletons so they'll regenerate after death (unless they were blasted with holy energy), sparing you the rebuild cost. At higher levels you can create spawning undead: control them, they control their spawn. (Be wary of heroes cutting out your middle management layer!)

    Treantmonk's guides are still good for the basic philosophy, but a lot of details have been added.

    Generally, as a cleric I like to buff my friends rather than make myself a combat monster (which is a viable cleric strategy, but works very differently). Make friends. Have friends. Work with your friends and figure out what they need to not get killed and/or kill their foes faster. (Or convert your foes, especially if you're an evangelist cleric... That works too.)


    I guess I'm looking for general advice and some builds. I would go a ranged (caster) cleric since we have melee already in the group. Could someone steer me in the direction of who's guide is best for building an optimized evil caster cleric. Its a shame they don't have Spectral hand to deliver those melee touch spells.


    Also, keep in mind that as a cleric, much like any spellcaster, your primary job isn't doing HP damage. Sure, you totally can and sometimes will need to, but you won't generally be competitive with the devoted damage dealers if they're doing their job right.

    As a prepared caster with access to the entire cleric spell list, you'll need to be versatile and craft your prepared spells to the task at hand. Clerics actually get some very strong save our die and control spells, as well as utility, buff, and debuff. Anyone who can hold a wand is the party healer, so definitely don't get relegated to heal bot.


    I played an evil cleric levels 5-19.

    I was the party's healer, tank and nuker. Though it got alot easier when we got a devoted healing cleric allowing me to focus more on tanking and nuking.

    Taking the undead domain allowed me to gain the ability Death's kiss which allows my spontaneous negative energy based spells to heal party members. This did mean that most of my healing was out of combat unless I memorized healing spells directly.

    I used animate dead and craft construct in order to create a buffer between the party and our enemies. My undead I could heal with negative energy channels and my glass golem could be healed with my fire spells.

    I also made liberal use of the bloody template in order to make my undead last. Bloody is incredibly hard for enemies to permanently kill since most enemies you face don't have access to the abilities required to kill them off for good. So even if all your undead get wiped in a battle you can get them back just by waiting around for an hour.

    Tomb legion was also nice since it gave me free mummies every day that I didn't have to worry about getting killed. At higher levels your minions are less about doing damage and more of just physically being between you and your enemies.

    You normally don't start getting good offensive spells until 5th level when you get flamestrike. So, I took levels in Pathfinder Savant so that I could get fireball as a 4th level spell. My 1st - 3rd were devoted to healing and buffing while 4th and higher were offensive spells.

    They can be fun, just know that unless you memorize healing spells or have some other work around you won't be a combat healer the way a good aligned cleric is.


    Ya great ideas so far. I like an undead army controlling type of gimmick sounds intriguing. With channel energy being used to heal my undead buddies. Anyone have a build for this type of a thing or a guide that has one for this style of Evil Cleric?


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    Take a look at ShakaUVM’s guide to Necromantic Success. Interesting ideas on how to play a Necro-Cleric. Posting from my phone - having a little trouble copy/pasting the link.


    If you're going ranged cleric, you'll probably want a longbow as a deities favored weapon. Unless you're using spells. Guided hand is a good feat to allow you to use wisdom to hit. Unfortunately there's not many evil deities in golarion with that weapon.


    How does a cleric land touch spells without Spectral hand? Or should I just avoid touch spells?


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    Atalius wrote:
    How does a cleric land touch spells without Spectral hand? Or should I just avoid touch spells?

    By walking up and touching things. You have 3/4 bab and good armor available. Sure touches aren't for all builds, but that's how you do it if you want to.

    RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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    Clerics are like wizards with a better BAB, better Saving Throws, more hit points, and better weapons and armor, and they automatically get access to every single spell on their list of class spells.

    They do get fewer skills, though, since most clerics will have a lower Intelligence than most wizards.

    A reach cleric with Combat Reflexes, Quicken Channel, and Quicken Spells can cast a spell as a standard action, Channel Energy as a move action, cast another spell as a swift action, take a 5 foot step, and possibly make several AoOs depending on enemy positioning and movement. That's some of the best action economy in the game.

    Prior to combat, you can create allies using animate dead, summon monster I-IX, and, um, planar ally, which further increases your action economy.

    Also, a lot of people condescend the use of in-combat healing, but it can literally be a lifesaver. Doing damage is a lot easier to do than healing damage, but occasionally, healing in combat can turn the tide of battle. If one side has in-combat healing, and the other does not, the side with the healing will usually win. And hardly anyone heals better than a cleric.

    Some other feats to consider is Extend Spell (for buffs, divinations, and summons), Power Attack, Reach Spell (for ranged "bad touch" and healing spells), Selective Channeling, and Sacred Summons (if you want to summon as a standard action).

    The trait Magical Lineage can reduce the cost of metamagic on one spell, which negates the cost of Extend Spell or Reach Spell for the spell you want to specialize in. Fates Favored might be useful if you plan to use a lot of divine favor.

    EDIT:

    With at least one domain (Animal), you can get an animal companion, which also improves your action economy.


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    As I recall, Treantmonk spends most of his time talking about some spells that God Wizards want their Cleric allies to cover instead of them, since Clerics do their job of Clericing pretty well so that the GOD Wizard can focus their efforts elsehwere without redundancy.

    There are also many spells that Clerics have that Wizards can't really replicate, such as Glyph of Warding.

    In combat, healing is often the worst thing you can do, unless it keeps a party member in the fight when your other options for acting would not avert their demise. That unless is a pretty important caveat. Recognizing those situations does tend to require a fair amount of experience and knowledge of your capabilities, though.

    How viable Evil Clerics will be depends mostly upon the setting and focus of the game. If it's a kind of game where an Evil Cleric makes sense (so, not Wrath of the Righteous or Hell's Rebels), then, yeah, they can really shine, though only having items to rely on for emergency healing and having to play the resource minigame with undead does mean they need to think about more things when allocating their WBL.

    Of course, Clerics come baked in with a few ways to break WBL from level 1, so if the GM isn't married to it, then with any amount of downtime you can at least cover the cost of onyx for undead minions.

    Atalius wrote:
    how do you play them?

    Honestly, depends on the individual build. You can do well as a Sacred Summoner, for instance. Clericzilla isn't as much of a thing as it was in D&D 3.5, but you can still buff yourself up and break face as a melee beatstick or deal damage from range while throwing in the odd strategic spell or buff.

    Atalius wrote:
    Why are they better than say a Druid? (This is very subjective I know sorry)

    Well, in certain regards their spell list is stronger, but for the most part I'd say that neither class is really better than the other except when it comes to accomplishing more specific goals.

    Atalius wrote:
    There spell list certainly isn't anywhere near as good as a wizards or say even a Witch.

    Well, no, they don't have the best spell list in the game, but they still have one of the strongest spell lists, though, of course, the balance of power for the race for second place does change as further products are released.

    Atalius wrote:
    Are they backliners like Wizards and Witches or are these characters formidable in the front line? I'm interested in the idea of an Evil Cleric, the ability to use channel energy to harm enemies seems cool, what are some of the best features of the Evil Cleric? Any and all advice is welcome.

    Clerics can fit wherever they want to fit, depending upon whether you rolled or used point buy and how well you rolled if you rolled.

    Not much point in being on the front line if all you could get was a decent wisdom and constitution and the rest of the ability scores are meh at best.

    Scarab Sages

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    I think one of my favorite characters ever was a Cleric of Pharasma.

    This was a neutral Cleric, to a Neutral goddess, and I played that up quite a bit.

    I used the feat: Versatile Channeler so that I could choose which version of channel to use.

    I actually chose positive, but then could channel negative if needed at a -2 CL.

    With that in mind, I then went ahead and chose a PRC that I know most people scoff at, but honestly I loved the flavor and thematically it worked GREAT. I went with Envoy of Balance.

    Badass. Suddenly at LVL 10, the character can channel positive AND negative at the same time. Bam.

    OF course, a phylactery to boost channel, channel feats to increase DCs and number of times per day, all that.

    PLUS, you can choose to cast inflict or cure spells spontaneously.

    Lots of fun.

    There are plenty of Neutral gods to pick from.


    Matthew Downie wrote:

    By buying onyx gems? How many HD of undead do you think you need?

    (250gp for a level 5 character is not a lot in a normal campaign.)

    Best way to overcome this magic jar spell and bloodmoney spell.

    Keep a strong humanoid as a faithful slave, magic jar him, then blood money then cast your spell.


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    Blood Money coming as a reward at the end of RotR adventure path means at least some GMs won’t let you access it without equivalent story effort. Also isnt it arcane?


    It is arcane. But there are ways to get it.


    Just want to throw this out...if you can get your party behind it. Everyone goes VMC, and everyone takes oracle. The entire party. Theme yourselves around a curse. Specifically...

    Quote:

    Mystery: At 1st level, she must select a mystery. She never qualifies for the Extra Revelation feat.

    Curse: At 1st level, she must select a curse. She gains all effects of the curse, treating her effective oracle level as equal to 1/2 her character level.

    Revelation: At 3rd level, she gains one of the following revelations from the list of those available to her mystery as an oracle of her character level – 6 (minimum 1). She must have an effective oracle level high enough to select the revelation.

    Battle: Battlecry, battlefield clarity, combat healer, iron skin, resiliency, skill at arms, surprising charge, war sight.

    Bones: Armor of bones, bleeding wounds, death’s touch, near death, raise the dead, resist life, soul siphon, spirit walk, undead servitude, voice of the grave.

    Flame: Burning magic, fire breath, form of flame, gaze of flames, heat aura, molten skin, touch of flame, wings of fire.

    Heavens: Coat of many stars, dweller in darkness, guiding star, interstellar void, lure of the heavens, mantle of moonlight, spray of shooting stars, star chart.

    Life: Channel, delay affliction, energy body, enhanced cures, healing hands, life link, lifesense, safe curing, spirit boost.

    Lore: Arcane archivist, automatic writing, brain drain, mental acuity, spontaneous symbology, think on it, whirlwind lesson.

    Nature: Erosion touch, life leach, natural divination, speak with animals, spirit of nature, transcendental bond, undo artifice.

    Stone: Acid skin, clobbering strike, crystal sight, earth glide, mighty pebble, rock throwing, shard explosion, steelbreaker skin, touch of acid.

    Waves: Blizzard, fluid nature, fluid travel, freezing spells, ice armor, icy skin, punitive transformation, water form, water sight, wintry touch.

    Wind: Air barrier, gaseous form, invisibility, lightning breath, spark skin, thunderburst, touch of electricity, vortex spells, wind sight, wings of air.

    Orison: At 7th level, if she has a Charisma score of 10 or higher, she chooses an oracle orison to cast as a spell-like ability at will. She uses her character level as the caster level and Charisma as the orison’s key ability score.

    Curse Focus: At 11th level, she adds 5 to her effective oracle level for the purposes of determining her curse’s effects.

    Improved Revelation: At 15th level, she gains one additional revelation.

    Greater Revelation: At 19th level, she gains one additional revelation.

    Quote:
    Vampirism (Horror Realms pg. 15): You crave the taste of fresh, warm blood. You take damage from positive energy and heal from negative energy as if you were undead. At 5th level, you gain channel resistance +4. At 10th level, you add vampiric touch to your list of 3rd-level oracle spells known and undead anatomy IIUM to your list of 5th-level oracle spells known. At 15th level, you gain damage reduction 5/magic.

    The main part is now the entire party is healed by negative energy. So when you channel, you heal the party and hurt the enemy (unless you are fighting undead).

    Also....just pointing it out. Soul Siphon ("Soul Siphon (Su): As a ranged touch attack, you can unleash a ray that causes a target to gain one negative level. The ray has a range of 30 feet. This negative level lasts for a number of minutes equal to your Charisma modifier. Whenever this ability gives a target a negative level, you heal a number of hit points equal to your oracle level. You can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time at 11th level and every four levels thereafter. You must be at least 7th level to select this revelation.")

    If the entire party had this, then you could all point at an enemy and level drain him severely.


    In my PFS Seeker-level group (started at level 12, currently 15) we have a cleric of Dispater/Diabolist basically built around the Rulership variant channeling. It does half damage or 1/4 on a save, but the ones that fail are dazed. He's got a stupid number of channels/day, can toss off a quickened channel or a targeted ray (save DC is +4). A lot of our opponents never really get to act.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:

    "Viable"? A well-played cleric will totally break the game over its knee and beat it like a dead goat. Spells are how things get done in Pathfinder, and before scoffing at the lack of fireball, remember these, and a few more like them:

  • Animate dead gives you a free army (2x your level in HD is nothing to scoff at), and then you can use desecrate to make them stronger, and heal them by channeling negative energy.
  • The summon monster line of spells has essentially no limits on it except for creature type (by level) and duration. With the number of spell slots you get, you can spam these every round to bolster the army you already have.
  • Planar ally is limited by HD rather than by CR, so you can pick up an insanely powerful long-term bodyguard as long as it doesn't have too many HD. You know, in case someone manages to get past your army of the dead and summoned monsters.
  • Plane shift lets you move the whole party, so that if an encounter isn't going well, you always have an escape plan. When you get to the point where you can cast it 2/day, it beats camping out -- you shift the party to a fast-time plane, heal a few days, then return not long after you left.
  • I am intrigued, what would your stat block look like on a 20pt buy for this type of character? A ranged cleric. I really have no idea how to build a Cleric


    Atalius wrote:
    Matthew Downie wrote:

    By buying onyx gems? How many HD of undead do you think you need?

    (250gp for a level 5 character is not a lot in a normal campaign.)

    I'm jewish

    I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean, but I am unsettled by many of the implications.

    In any event, remember that your character is not you. A necromancer would understand that they have to spend some money to make a powerful army.


    Sometimes I become so immersed in my character he becomes an extension of myself


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    Well, if you had Command Undead you could make people get infected with Zombie Plague by Plague Zombies so that they die and become zombies and then you take control over them. Free after the first one you make, unless you manage to find one and take control over it.

    Even without Command Undead, it can help save some money by getting you zombies that you then destroy and then you use the bodies to make Necrocraft.


    I'd like to note that channel energy doesn't work the way a lot of people think it does. You have to pick whether to heal undead or harm living, for example, when you channel, or the other way around for positive energy. It's not a big burst that automatically does the certain effect to all targets in range- if you channel to harm undead you are NOT healing your party at the same time. Go read the class feature, its true.


    Coidzor wrote:

    Well, if you had Command Undead you could make people get infected with Zombie Plague by Plague Zombies so that they die and become zombies and then you take control over them. Free after the first one you make, unless you manage to find one and take control over it.

    Even without Command Undead, it can help save some money by getting you zombies that you then destroy and then you use the bodies to make Necrocraft.

    Very nice. Do I need to have Wisdom and Charisma my two highest stats for this type of a Cleric?


    Artofregicide wrote:

    Evil clerics are exceptionally viable, even without necromancy + channel negative energy shenanigans. Before archetype nonsense and even before heavy optimization, though you can optimize and with your party makeup as described you should.

    They're a divine wizard, essentially. Domains are roughly equivalent to arcane schools, and they're prepared spellcasters with a huge list of powerful spells. Getting to know that list and picking good domains (or subdomains) is the majority of the battle.

    Keep in mind that at lower levels, like a wizard, you'll get less mileage. But with armor proficiency, favored weapon, channel, and domain powers it's a lot less painful. Once you break into higher level, you'll have spells for days.

    As stated above, don't bother preparing healing in combat except maybe one or two burst heals. Do however feel free to convert prepared spells to inflict spells if you need a quick burst of damage. And unless you have selective channel, don't channel negative energy to damage your enemies while allies are in the radius. Also, assuming this is an evil (or neutral but morally flexible party), a wand of infernal healing will be more efficient per charge than a wand of CLW. I'd be amiss not to mention that.

    I prefer playing spellcasters, and cleric holds it's own. You have a better animal companion than a ranger starting at level one just by taking the animal domain (though I suggest the feather subdomain).

    I could keep going but there's a lot of great cleric guides out there that cover this.

    TL:DR version: Yes, of course cleric (of any alignment) is viable. It's one of the strongest classes in the game!

    "necromancy + channel negative energy shenanigans" tell me more. How do I do this? And is this one of my most powerful options?


    And here are my 2cp:
    Divine casters are a far cry from what they were in 3.5, where they dominated. Pathfinder used the heavy nerf-bat on the cleric and they are now somewhat sub-par from what I have experienced.
    The reasons for this are manifold and add up: loss of heavy armor (not that important), loss of most longterm buffs and the feat that made them run forever (this is the major point; I'll get to it), loss of turn undead and the feats for it, which are not made up by the channel feats (90% of them suck), many horrible spells on their list, and last but not least, he is MAD.

    About the longterm buffs: all your combat buffs that turn you into a semi-fighter run for 1 round/level. And you need several of them to stay somewhat significant (lets say divine favor, divine power and prayer). Each buff takes a round to cast and battles usually last 4-6 rounds. At the time you are ready the fight is as good as over. Later on you can quicken a buff, but sacrificing an 8th level spell to be a somewhat less worse fighter hurts. Your buffs can give you mostly to hit, but damage-wise you have nothing.
    This ties in with being MAD. You would need STR to get some damage in, because your class lacks a damage mechanic like all the melees have. You also need CON, if you want to go into melee. You need enough WIS to cast your spells, CHA for channeling and possibly skills, and a little DEX wouldn't hurt either, for the intiative at least. This split makes you a very sub-par fighter, and there is no real way out. Furthermore, to stay in the game you need to stack up more STR, as there are no alternatives, which is the kind of loot your melees are looking for, too.

    The channel feats are mostly useless, no matter how much some people praise them. As an example, look at channel smite. If I just channel, I can hurt all within 30'r., if I use channel smite I can hurt only one target, which I can miss, and who still gets a save to halve the damage. So why not use the AE since it is more effective?
    Channel runs off 1d6/2 levels (and can be saved against) while HP run on d8+CON bonus each level. So it is easy to see why this is not going to be a great source of damage. At level 9 you would get 5d6 against a mob with about 70 HP, which will dent him by 9 or 18 damage. At level 20 you can pit your 10d6 (average 35, saved 18) against 400-600 hp mobs, which is not even funny.
    The most useful thing you get out of your channels past level 9 are the side-effects of variant channeling, if your DM allows this. Some of them can be useful and stay relevant.

    The cleric spells are often very bad. Usually you get a save to avoid a spell or you have to succeed at a ranged touch attack. As cleric you get things like bestow curse, which require a touch attack (in melee range) and can still be negated with a save. This is one of the really bad examples, though, but there are spells where you have to jump through every hoop (spell resistance, touch and save), and which in consequence rarely work (you run full against mathematical averages here).
    Your damage spells usually suck, at least below spell level 5. You get holy smite, which does 5d8 at most, which isn't exactly effective against equal level monsters, and the alignment part makes them useless against all others. Or the 3rd level one that deals 1d8+lvl (and so to you) which deals double that if you forfeit your save. The lack of low level nukes means also that you have little to use metamagic feats on. While wizards can manipulate magic missile, scorching ray, fireball and lightning bolt, you have nothing coming close.
    Your best spells are buffs and heals. Some of the buffs are usually useless (check out holy aura, it's buff types and fixed SR), because the overlap with comething common, like a ring of protection, but you get something out of most of them. Typically you get your damage from supporting melee characters. Each attack you can make them hit more often *is* your damage. It does not matter if you raise attacks by 5% with bless, add another attack with the 4th level blessing, or allow him to move freely (freedom of movement and airwalk are good), this is what you can do best.

    Now there is a prevalent opinion that healing is a bad option. I can only say that it is often the only option and without healing your party will die, unless the DM is really lenient.
    For an example I pick the cleric NPC in RotR, who an crit for a really nasty amount, slaying a weak PC in one round or cripple him enough to make him die the next. If you cannot somehow heal that PC, he is dead and his DPR with him. And crits don't get lower with rising level...I had to deal with crits of 120 damage now and then.
    Often worse than crits, which are not certain, is AE damage. When you get fireballed by a couple of sorcerers you will find out that a wand of CLW is just a toy.

    Btw, summoned critters and undead hordes share the same weakness: you can fireball them away easily enough...or whatever the current popular AE is. Just nuking the controller and leaving the undead next to his friends is of course even better ;) A simple dispel magic can undo many such schemes, too.

    So, after pointing out some of the problems you are forewarned, which is the same as fore-armed. You need to address the problems and patch them up with whatever build you have in mind. If you can come up with an answer on how to overcome your specific weakness, you will be fine.


    Animate dead has duration Instantaneous; dispel magic has no effect.

    RE: AoE spells, you get sound burst as a 2nd level spell, inflicting the stunned condition in a spread (and, incidentally, some minor damage). For its level, this is one of the best spells in the game. Yes, holy smite pretty much sucks, but to say flame strike isn't comparable to cone of cold is an outright falsehood.

    Re: Save negates spells and MAD, because Wisdom provides bonus spell slots and also determines the save DCs, you pump that as high as possible, neglect Str, and stay out of melee. (You are a 9-level caster; melee is for minions and bodyguards.)

    Re: Ranged touch spells, 3/4 BAB makes these very attractive.

    So, if you roll up a cleric but try to play it like a fighter, it's going to be sub-par. If you roll up a cleric and play its strengths, it's absolutely one of the best classes in the game, and possibly even tied for the best.


    Chess Pwn wrote:
    Atalius wrote:
    How does a cleric land touch spells without Spectral hand? Or should I just avoid touch spells?
    By walking up and touching things. You have 3/4 bab and good armor available. Sure touches aren't for all builds, but that's how you do it if you want to.

    So basically I cast it that provokes and then I try to land it. I have to hope I'm able to cast defensively?


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

    In all the High level games I have run (good and evil) the use of Heal spells by the Cleric/Oracle has been critical to victory because it heals enough to keep up with high level damage. Offensivly Harm with a reach spell metamagic (rod or feat) has been devastating and Buffs like Divine Fervor , Unholy Aura , Communal Energy resistance and Communal Spell immunity (Greater) have been very important

    Flame strike can be nice particulary if empowered or similar as some of its damage gets past the inevitable energy resistance spells a competent opponent has up


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    Atalius wrote:
    So basically I cast it that provokes and then I try to land it. I have to hope I'm able to cast defensively?

    No; read the rules.

    PRD wrote:

    Touch Spells in Combat: Many spells have a range of touch. To use these spells, you cast the spell and then touch the subject. In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) as a free action. You may take your move before casting the spell, after touching the target, or between casting the spell and touching the target. You can automatically touch one friend or use the spell on yourself, but to touch an opponent, you must succeed on an attack roll.

    Touch Attacks: Touching an opponent with a touch spell is considered to be an armed attack and therefore does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The act of casting a spell, however, does provoke an attack of opportunity. Touch attacks come in two types: melee touch attacks and ranged touch attacks. You can score critical hits with either type of attack as long as the spell deals damage. Your opponent's AC against a touch attack does not include any armor bonus, shield bonus, or natural armor bonus. His size modifier, Dexterity modifier, and deflection bonus (if any) all apply normally.

    Holding the Charge: If you don't discharge the spell in the round when you cast the spell, you can hold the charge indefinitely. You can continue to make touch attacks round after round. If you touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates. You can touch one friend as a standard action or up to six friends as a full-round action. Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren't considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal for the attack. If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack normally doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.


    About casting in melee: yes, there is such a thing as holding the charge, but in the end it comes down to defensive casting. Casting defensively is not that difficult at all, and if you have the feat combat casting, only your highest level spells will occasionally fail.
    Your real problem will always be that you have to roll an attack and the enemy must fail a save. The first is not that bad, except that it is subject to all miss chance shenanigans.

    My solution is to use the feat Reach Spell, but since I play oracles, I can do that on the fly. As a cleric you would have to prepare in advance.

    RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

    Or get some Rods of Reach Spell.

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