Example: the mirror holds a spirit, who acts as the keeper of the prisoners (think Snowwhite or Shrek here), and there are no commands to release them. The only way to get someone released would be to riddle him or to get the passkey (which is in the possession of whoever is in charge of the mirror or in the crypt of it's maker).
There was a module for basic D&D back in the day called "Skarda's Mirror", where the party had to venture into one such mirror, if you want to look it up.
Let me see...in the webcomic Grrl Power is a vault under the control of a council of powerful groups where they store their artefacts. Partially because they cannot be destroyed, because destroying them would be a bad idea, or because they can do something extremely useful besides the bad stuff.
I did design a vault once for my high level 1E group. There was a nasty dungeon with deadly traps, rarely seen monsters, deadly illusions, and finally a treasury that was already plundered, with the skeleton of a robber remaining. The cunning gamers smelled a rat and checked the place again and found a secret door to a small treasury, which left them satisfied. The real vault was elsewhere, behind a secret door (which was an unusually shaped golem and could therefore not be picked or knocked open) in the entrance room, and completely clad in lead to foil most divinations. After all, would you expect the high level clerics to jump through all the hoops to make a deposit?
I hit once upon a time the wizard in the party with a curse. As it turned out, when the time came when they could have broken it, that he preferred to keep it, as it was too much fun for him.
City of Locusts (6th part of Wrath of the Righteous) is level 18 (plus mythic).
There is not much of this level around, though. Adapting other adventures is not much of a problem, and it allows dipping into 3.4 and d20 modules_
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.
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.
My 2cp are:
So you end up as Arcanist 6/Evangelist 10/Pathfinder Savant 4, if I got that right. And you can add +2 CL to either the Evangelist or the Arcanist due to your trait. You could end up as Evangelist 15/Arcanist 6 when you look at the caster levels.
If you were shooting for a dual-caster, why not go for a mystic theurge and end up 13/19 casterlevel-wise?
Out of your feats I would pick Power Attack, Toughness, Weapon Focus, and Weapon Specialization plus their upgrades.
I find Diehard too situational (and that's what the healer is for), and the same goes for Cleave. You often end up with no one else you can hit´, especially later on when so many foes are huge.
My choices would be Improved Critical, Step Up (and possibly the upgrades), Vital Strike and it's upgrade for those feats. The latter is just my personal preference, since I see that you have very often to move around the battlefield and don't get in a fullround attack. It is an option to make that one hit you get after moving count for more.
Most of the melees in our games go for 2-weapon fighting instead of 1H weapons, so I have seen much more of that.
And here are my 2cp:
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
Our casters like scorching ray, as it is a ranged touch attack (and most foes have no real AC there). Later on it is easily modded with feats, due to it being only level 2.
I don't tell my players the AC of NPCs, unless someone hit it when it becomes obvious.
Telling players beforehand can give away vital information they don't have yet. It allows them to guess who is who (or what role), or if something is not real.
You use different foes, where melee has less meaning. Presenting a barbarian with straight melee mobs is always in the barbarians favor.
Here are some of the options to vary combat (and you don't use them all the time, of course), some of which you already wrote down:
Anything that allows movement plus fullround actions/attacks is extremely powerful and should probably be banned or restricted. There is a reason why every melee tries to get it in some form. It ruins many assumptions about melee, if you can do that. But I prefer to do banning stuff beforehand, not after someone picks it up, since that often causes bad feelings.
The dragon takes a dip into the ocean to hide his trail ;)
I always found it silly that someone wrote it into the rules that you can track birds in the air or fish in the sea.
Go with hard ground (no real tracks left) and medium winds (new modifier, DC +1/3mph) then. The table has no modifiers for the air, since that was not intended, so make them up.
DC = 20 (hard ground) + 5 (wind 15 mph) - 2 (huge dragon) + 20 (tracking through the air) = 43
Selective channel is OK for healing during melee. But forget any and all other channeling feats for now. Quicken channel may be hyped by many, but it really cuts your healing power from the ability in half for the meagre advantage to use it as a move action. If you really have a feat to waste on that, wait until later, when you need channel less and can afford to throw half of it away.
If you are needed as a healer, an oradin (and an archer at that) is not the optimum choice, because:
My most important feat is Reach Spell, since that is the only practical way to heal across a battlefield, where the party is occasionally split far apart. High hits or even crits are common, so waiting till the end of the fight if often not an option. Therefore I recommend picking that one up, once you have the slots to support it a couple of times.
Paladin and fighter did great, the paladin is better though, because of his superior saves and spells. Barbarian can work, but I have not yet seen a high level one in action.
I would like to try a Soulknife myself, but it is probably not better than those three, just different (unless its the power-using variety).
My 2cp about channel energy:
Btw, channel surge is a fullround action, so you cannot quick channel when using it.
The phrase "works like mythic sleep" means the basic spell description. You cannot apply the augments of one spell to the other because of that.
If you are the DM, you can do what you like to make the plot work of course. And you don't have to explain such details to your players either, to keep rule lawyers at bay :)
Steal Power is a regular spell, not a mythic one. You can find it in Mythic Adventures in the spell section after the mythic spells. As written, you can use wild arcana to cast the spell, if you like.
My thoughts about it are:
As an afterthought, look closely at the spell description. It says "...regain one use...", so you can only replenish your surges and not collect them.
Think of him as a paladin with "smite everything". He can kill pretty much all such mobs in one fullround attack, aside from special bosses (and some of them got one-shot by our pally, who also went twoweapon).
On the other hand, Instant Enemy is a 3rd level spell. The ranger gets them at level 10 soonest and has a whopping 3 of them at level 20. So he doesn't get close to how often a paladin can smite at that level.
If he gets Terrain Dominance via Horizon Walker, he can diversify his FE bonus, but it does not stack with FE, it just overlaps. Nonetheless, he accumulates more bonuses and raises his value in combat (at level 10 he gets +2 against everything). This is like the fighter class: the bonuses seem not to be much, but they add up in the end.
The planetar was just an example (and not quite serious), and of course will all such summons typically be high level and more costly than a scroll. I just thought to mention the option, since nobody else had yet.
But you can get such beings with only the core rule book, just not with the summon monster spells. There are Greater Planar Ally, Greater Planar Binding and Gate, which have the HD limit needed for an 18 HD mob, and no moratorium on spell-like abilities of the mob.
There is the spell Poison, which is delivered as a touch attack. Maybe a ring of spellstoring with that in it can simulate that?
Otherwise, a DM can invent anything...I did not use much poison that way, but I used each of the classics at least once: the ring of the sorcerer in The Scarlet Citadel (Conan story), the poisoned book (Name of the Rose, St. Bartholomews Night), the poisoned key (pope Alexander VI.), the poison grail (the inside coating poisons the fluid in it), etc....
What has not been mentioned yet?
- Line of sight/line of effect: many spells can be shut down by blocking those
I don't think there is a feat that allows a regular action when surprised. But I think there was something allowing a 5-foot step, if someone comes adjacent to you.
Basically you can't with the 3 round casting time during combat.
There is another option not yet mentioned: summon something that can heal ability drain. E.g., a planetar has the necessary spell-like ability.
Spell-wise you can use limited wish/wish/miracle. So anything that can do one of them can help, like a ring of wishes.
If you look for a cheap solution that is always available, back to the satchel it is - or someone plays a divine caster. Ah yes: you can pick up a NPC healer (maybe with leadership?).
About level 13 control spells start to decay. The reasons for this are several:
Rods are OK, but wielding one and switching back and forth can be a problem, if you have only rods.
You can check the basics:
Some feats are better than others.
When looking at the rods, the best - in my opinion - are Quicken and Maximize. Both effects are desirable, but too expensive for regular use, making them perfect for rods.
The level mentioned in spell descriptions is always the caster level of the person casting the spell. Note that a multiclass wizard/cleric has two caster levels and cannot simply add his different classes together.
If you take a level dip or MC away from your caster class, magical knack might be for you, as tchrman35 says, to keep up with caster level, if not with the spells.
All of them are mind-affecting. Something that defends against that would help. The easy solution used to be Mindblank, but it lost the "immune to mindaffecting" clause.
The power words have also another weakness: they are all single target. They won't take out your group, only one person at a time.
Everything else was already said.
In my experience clerics are bad combatants, but that might be partially the DM with his high AC NPCs.
You can get the AC and HP, but the real problem is the damage, since the cleric lacks features to enhance it.
I tried an offensive divine caster, but it doesn't work very well the higher it gets, since the NPCs start to save most of your spells later on. As much as I dislike summoning, it might be the best option here.
Bolstering the party is what clerics do best. Anything that lets your martials get more attacks in is worth more than what you can do in terms of damage. When our paladin gets going, he dishes out like 500 damage per round, and there is no way I could compete with that, or even make a worthwhile contribution. The fighter is not quite that strong (no smite evil), but still in a different league. In hindsight, Blessing of Fervor is my most damaging spell, especially combined with communal Airwalk.
The trouble with spellcasting foes is that nearly all casters have access to Dispel Magic and its upgrades, which makes buffs unreliable. This should be kept in mind past the lower levels.
While many people will swear by their wands of CLW and deny that healing is effective, I like to see that past the low levels. The more attacks get in, the more crits will happen, and then you need real healing during battle, or you lose. Therefore you need to keep some heals at hand, and prepare something to keep crits at bay. The feat Divine Interference is unfortunately in Ultimate Magic, but the easiest tool to use (at 11+). There is Shield Other, but that will not work so well, if you are in melee too. Anyway, that is the only thing you have to fend off massive damage from your martials.
The other danger besides crits are area damage spells, since they will reduce everyones HP at once, making follow-up nukes or melee attacks more dangerous. Your only effective counter is unfortunately also in the Ultimate books: the communal spells. You simply cannot buff a party against fire damage with single target spells, since you lack the number.
And finally there is a large problem: the battlefield itself. You are often not next to all of your friends, but they will be divided across the board. There is also difficult terrain, often created by enemy spells. And maybe your DM likes to play with light levels and the resulting penalties.
And about combat feats: when you pick one, make sure it will give you an advantage. Power Attack without high STR is useless, and Combat Reflexes without DEX even more so.
I did not take any channeling feats except selective channel, since the ability is second rate and falls beside the way in the teen levels. At least it does for a life oracle. Unless you get access to channeling options, the ability finally stays unused (and you need your movement actions).
Lifelink can be useful, at least in the mid-levels, when you have the hitpoints for it. Any item or power granting fast healing will improve on it. It can be used to balance damage within the group, with the ideal ending being a channel for all to top them off and one large healing for you (unless you have fast healing). Once the enemy starts hitting for 50+, it starts to become less useful in direct combat, but can still redirect fast healing within the group afterwards.
My spells at low levels were: