Clerics, shields, and the limitations of only two arms


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Simply put, how can clerics have a shield, a weapon, and still pull of spells?

I have recently been playing a cleric, my first time in any rpg playing one. Nearly every image I see of a classic cleric, I see him carrying a shield on one arm and a weapon in the other hand.

But when I look at what is required to do the bulk of my spells (prayers), they require any combination of hand movements, holy symbol waving, and producing a random bit of something from a pouch.

I'm not sure how one can perform as a shield toting cleric while still having enough hands free to perform these tasks.

Given that the iconic cleric is almost always carrying a shield, I get the feeling that this is normal and not people getting around rules with technicalities (visions of a cleric constantly juggling weapons, shields, elements, holy symbols, etc every single turn just doesn't seem like intended role playing) and that I am clearly missing something.

Can you help me out understanding the logistics and rules involved? And please feel free to get technical, my DM is very picky about rules.


with a light shield.


Or a Buckler.


lets assume light shield (I'm trying to understand the classic cleric).

So making the hand gestures required and retrieving the elements are not impeded by having to grip the shield with your hand?

Not trying to argue, just understand.


Damak wrote:

lets assume light shield (I'm trying to understand the classic cleric).

So making the hand gestures required and retrieving the elements are not impeded by having to grip the shield with your hand?

Not trying to argue, just understand.

exactly.


sorry for double post... computer acting weird

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Damak wrote:

lets assume light shield (I'm trying to understand the classic cleric).

So making the hand gestures required and retrieving the elements are not impeded by having to grip the shield with your hand?

Not trying to argue, just understand.

Correct. A Heavy shield specifically designates " A heavy shield is so heavy that you can't use your shield hand for anything else."

Light shields are easy enough to manipulate that you can still perform your basic clericly necessities while wielding one. James Jacobs even mentioned in a previous discussion on the matter that with a light shield you could use your shield hand to hold a weapon while casting with your other hand and then pass it back as a free action if it were an issue, but he just allows the casting and grasping of holy symbols with the shield hand.


and performing hand gestures and getting element with one hand (as opposed to doing them at the same time with two hands) is normal in the time it takes to cast the spell.


Nicos wrote:
Damak wrote:

lets assume light shield (I'm trying to understand the classic cleric).

So making the hand gestures required and retrieving the elements are not impeded by having to grip the shield with your hand?

Not trying to argue, just understand.

exactly.

This is because for some reason D&D/Pathfinder treat all shields as being strapped to the arm and doesn't have center grip shields.


Damak wrote:
and performing hand gestures and getting element with one hand (as opposed to doing them at the same time with two hands) is normal in the time it takes to cast the spell.

yes. is perfectly within the rules.


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Your also not thinking of what you are doing here.

First off, no one really jumbles around in their spell pouch anymore, it's basically pinches of pixie dust, I have my components so there ya go.

Second, In almost all buff cases, you are casting those spells before combat.
In almost all healing cases you are casting the spells after combat
channeling doesn't require a free hand.

So now you are down to combat specific spells.

I hardly ever see a cleric swing a weapon AND casting offensive spells. If you are casting things you are standing back a bit, If you are melee-ing you aren't likely casting spells too.

At lower levels the cleric doesn't have a bunch of spells.

at higher levels he has much more important things he can do than swing a mace.

There is definitely different behavior once the character goes up in level.

I never see kyra (iconic cleric) with a shield? She always has a scimitar and a free hand, no?


ah...there is another issue I was curious about: the holy symbol.

must it be grasped/brandished or must it simply be visible at the time of casting?


I didn't realize there was a double post for the thread, so I'll take what I put over there and post it here.

Most Divine spells have a Divine Focus (DF), which doesn't need any hands to use. If the spell says F/DF or M/DF, the the divine caster only uses the DF part. Edit: I would think that so long as the divine focus is on the character, they can use it. Imagine their holy symbol on a necklace or even painted on their shield.

If the spell has a somatic component, then the cleric needs one hand free for that spell. That's the only thing that needs a free hand (not even material components state that you need your hands free).

So basically, almost all cleric spells either require no hands or one hand.

See here.


Damak wrote:

ah...there is another issue I was curious about: the holy symbol.

must it be grasped/brandished or must it simply be visible at the time of casting?

Painted upon the shield, etched onto their warhammer, etc.

Don't think it said 'must be used like a crucifix in a bad vampire movie' :P


Pendagast wrote:

Your also not thinking of what you are doing here.

First off, no one really jumbles around in their spell pouch anymore, it's basically pinches of pixie dust, I have my components so there ya go.

Second, In almost all buff cases, you are casting those spells before combat.
In almost all healing cases you are casting the spells after combat
channeling doesn't require a free hand.

So now you are down to combat specific spells.

I hardly ever see a cleric swing a weapon AND casting offensive spells. If you are casting things you are standing back a bit, If you are melee-ing you aren't likely casting spells too.

At lower levels the cleric doesn't have a bunch of spells.

at higher levels he has much more important things he can do than swing a mace.

There is definitely different behavior once the character goes up in level.

I never see kyra (iconic cleric) with a shield? She always has a scimitar and a free hand, no?

I wish that were the case :), but I am often required to heal my party members during combat. I know what that says about my party, but you play with the cards you are dealt.

As for casting buffs before combat, that also rarely seem to be the case for similar reasons.

As for the components, not sure what you mean by "no one really jumbles around in their spell pouch anymore, it's basically pinches of pixie dust, I have my components so there ya go." This is still required by spells with no DF gets me off the hook and I'm just assuming this requires a hand to do it.

The main reason I would like to carry my weapon is for AOs.


Damak wrote:

I am often required to heal my party members during combat. I know what that says about my party, but you play with the cards you are dealt.

As for casting buffs before combat, that also rarely seem to be the case for similar reasons.

The main reason I would like to carry my weapon is for AOs.

Cure light wounds (and similar spells) have a somatic component which require the use of one hand. The somatic component is "lay your hand on the target." To me that suggests an open hand. So no, you cannot hold on to your weapon while you do that.

However, you can get a weapon cord.

Quote:
Weapon Cord: Weapon cords are 2-foot-long leather straps that attach your weapon to your wrist. If you drop your weapon or are disarmed, you can recover it as a swift action, and it never moves any further away from you than an adjacent square. However, you cannot switch to a different weapon without first untying the cord (a full-round action) or cutting it (a move action or an attack, hardness 0, 0 hp). Unlike a locked gauntlet, you can still use a hand with a weapon cord, though a dangling weapon may interfere with finer actions.

It's your turn.

Move Action: Move to your ally
Free Action: Drop weapon
Standard Action: Cast Cure Light Wounds
Swift Action: Recover Weapon

You've now cast and you are armed for any AoO that might present itself.


Fortunately, none of the cure spells require the DF to cast and channel energy only requires a holy symbol be presented. Have your cleric paint their holy symbol on their shield, armor, helmet, face, cloak, and any other exposed surface so they can always present a holy symbol.


pocsaclypse wrote:
Fortunately, none of the cure spells require the DF to cast and channel energy only requires a holy symbol be presented. Have your cleric paint their holy symbol on their shield, armor, helmet, face, cloak, and any other exposed surface so they can always present a holy symbol.

So I'll look like a NASCAR racer. swoot.

Shadow Lodge

Birthmark holy symbol(trait) you wont ever lose, have it on your palm and use weapon cord. Cant be sundered. Unless you lose the hand of course.


I'm a procrastinator, but getting a birthmark at level 7 may be pushing it ;)

I will pick up a weapon cord, though!


Could always get it as a tattoo. :)


Damak wrote:
pocsaclypse wrote:
Fortunately, none of the cure spells require the DF to cast and channel energy only requires a holy symbol be presented. Have your cleric paint their holy symbol on their shield, armor, helmet, face, cloak, and any other exposed surface so they can always present a holy symbol.
So I'll look like a NASCAR racer. swoot.

Welcome to service, this long predates nascar. Any servant during most of the middle ages wore a livery which had badges representing who they served. As a cleric (or paladin) you no longer serve a lord or yourself, but you god, so it only makes sense that you display your holy symbol prominently on your shield. The use of holy symbols on shields is also ancient. Legend has it that Constantine was facing an army twice the size of his and the night before the battle he had a dream in which an angel came to him and told him to paint a cross on all his shields. He did. He won the battle. He converted Rome to Christianity. The Knights Templar during the high middle ages used a red cross as a main part of their heraldry.


pocsaclypse wrote:
Fortunately, none of the cure spells require the DF to cast and channel energy only requires a holy symbol be presented. Have your cleric paint their holy symbol on their shield, armor, helmet, face, cloak, and any other exposed surface so they can always present a holy symbol.

This is the workaround that I typically use, especially shield holy symbols. However, bonus points if you can work your holy symbol directly into your weapon somehow.


Damak wrote:
Pendagast wrote:

Your also not thinking of what you are doing here.

First off, no one really jumbles around in their spell pouch anymore, it's basically pinches of pixie dust, I have my components so there ya go.

Second, In almost all buff cases, you are casting those spells before combat.
In almost all healing cases you are casting the spells after combat
channeling doesn't require a free hand.

So now you are down to combat specific spells.

I hardly ever see a cleric swing a weapon AND casting offensive spells. If you are casting things you are standing back a bit, If you are melee-ing you aren't likely casting spells too.

At lower levels the cleric doesn't have a bunch of spells.

at higher levels he has much more important things he can do than swing a mace.

There is definitely different behavior once the character goes up in level.

I never see kyra (iconic cleric) with a shield? She always has a scimitar and a free hand, no?

I wish that were the case :), but I am often required to heal my party members during combat. I know what that says about my party, but you play with the cards you are dealt.

As for casting buffs before combat, that also rarely seem to be the case for similar reasons.

As for the components, not sure what you mean by "no one really jumbles around in their spell pouch anymore, it's basically pinches of pixie dust, I have my components so there ya go." This is still required by spells with no DF gets me off the hook and I'm just assuming this requires a hand to do it.

The main reason I would like to carry my weapon is for AOs.

I mean there is no special rules you have to retrieve the components from storage (like trying to get out a potion from your backpack) so they are just assumed to "be there" in the pouch, and get "used up" (but never require replenishment). It's just a macguffin pouch as long as you have it... Ie pixie dust.

You dont have to "handle" it.

Somatic component and material component are separate.

Can't your cleric channel?

If your party needs healing in combat you can usually channel as most combats are spread out over a football field, It might be hard if you dont have selective channel though and you are fighting the non undead... its especially juicy though if you are fighting undead.

Your party needs to get it together, one of the reasons they are requiring so much healing in combat is likely the lack of prep spells before combat.
Ambushes aside, dont you usually know when or if combat is likely?

"I boot down this door and scream die!" Oh wait can some cast shield of faith on me?
wrong answer.

what are your people getting easily injured by, do they have the proper armor?

IS the mage fist fighting orcs?

some of your tactics might need to change if you are the roaming heal bot.

If you ARE the roaming healbot, then you dont really need a weapon in your hand, since what you are really doing is wandering around anointing the fallen.

If something rolls up on you, you can also always shield bash them.

but yes, the weapon cord is likely best used by divine spell casters, more so than anyone else.

In most cases a cleric has a deity favored weapon, if you use that a lot, spend the extra coin and do it up as a holy symbol. boom your Divine focus is handled.

Additionally if you just have a light shield you can do your Somatic gestures fine.


Doesn't the Iconic Paladin have her Holy Symbol worked into the Crossguard of her sword?


Damak wrote:
I'm a procrastinator, but getting a birthmark at level 7 may be pushing it ;)

Hahaha!

When no-one is looking, get the Extra Traits feat and *BAM* instant birthmark :)


No! It's not a tumor!

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Damak wrote:
Given that the iconic cleric is almost always carrying a shield

Huh? Maybe I just haven't been paying attention, but I can't think of any pictures of Kyra where she has a shield. Certainly not in her CRB portrait. So perhaps you have a false expectation?

My cleric (currently 6th level) is a cleric of Iomedae. He fights with a longsword and buckler. If I need to buff, I cast before drawing my sword. If I need to cast offensively (like, say, blindness against a caster) or need to emergency-heal someone, I can use my buckler arm to cast, at the cost of its AC bonus for that round. But if I'm casting ranged spells, I don't likely need that AC bonus that round. As for heals, well, that's why healing in combat is usually reserved for either emergencies or specialist healers. ;)


I think they mean 3.5's Iconic Cleric... Or they might be mistaking the Iconic Cleric for the Iconic Paladin...


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Damak wrote:
Pendagast wrote:

Second, In almost all buff cases, you are casting those spells before combat.

In almost all healing cases you are casting the spells after combat
channeling doesn't require a free hand.

So now you are down to combat specific spells.

I wish that were the case :), but I am often required to heal my party members during combat. I know what that says about my party, but you play with the cards you are dealt.

As for casting buffs before combat, that also rarely seem to be the case for similar reasons.

As for the components, not sure what you mean by "no one really jumbles around in their spell pouch anymore, it's basically pinches of pixie dust, I have my components so there ya go." This is still required by spells with no DF gets me off the hook and I'm just assuming this requires a hand to do it.

The main reason I would like to carry my weapon is for AOs.

Don’t worry, most parties do heal during combat and often it’s the best thing to do. It’s just a meme handed down from 3.5 where a vocal minority claim that there’s never a reason to heal during combat (just buy wands of clw for after) and that spellcasters should never bother with dealing damage. They also claim all their encounters last only a couple of rounds, also. Not to mention that somehow they manage to get their Round per level buff spells up before combat, since somehow their PC’s always know when combat is going to occur- to the second.

Mind you, this is a valid play style for some. But this vocal minority insists LOUDLY and often that they have “the only Right way to Play” and everyone else is Doing it Wrong.

Note that “healing during combat is bad’ has made the list of common Pathfinder Urban Legends


Healing during combat is bad, only because of the problem we have here with this poor soul.

Ie the party expects it.

Here we go, running into combat, flailing our selves at only the GM knows what, and now it's the EXPECTATION that this guy run around like mad to keep THEM going.

If he's low enough level to be even posting this, assume this guy has maybe 4 1st level spells and 3 2nd level spells?

That's 7 spells.

IF TWO of the other party members needs healing during combat int he first encounter, that at least 2 spells right there.

Lets assume he cast no more spells the rest of the combat.

Let's assume after combat they need to be touched up again (so one more spell) and the rest can be handled with a group hug channel.

So one encounter and he's down 3 spells which were all group healing

That's alost 50% of his casting, with just one encounter.

Now if this is my character, im going to be thinking, heck I better save all those other spells for healing too then!

It's a common trap for the cleric and it becomes an exponential hole. OF course, if this is all the cleric does, then he doesn't really have to worry about having a weapon in his hand since his actions are soaked up healing others.

But this leads back to the actions of other players.

episode 1) the listen at the door; you make a plan, cast buff spells and enter. Depending on buff spells and level these spells can last several encounters.

episode 2) having no idea combat was going to break out the characters with high initiative run off like mad men before the casters can buff them

episode 2b) having no idea the combat is going to happen, the characters with high initiative use ranged attacks to soften the enemy or engage enemy spell casters. the PC spell casters buff party members.
Round 2 the Titans clash, casters can either use crowd controls or cast a few more buffs.
round 3 what ever.

If you are fighting goblins, dont waste the buffs,

The general problem is "my character is a melee character, this what he does, great sword power attack go!"
"your character is supposed to heal my character, because ....well because!"

PC tactics is where all the theory craft totally breaks down. It's also where the idea of if I have enough HP I can make it through a fight without needing heals (but this is clearly not happening for the OPs group)
It also relies on the fact that these wands of CLW pop out a charge every 6 seconds, so...if you need 5 charges to heal up...do you always have that time between encounters?

If you just killed everyone in the room next door to me screaming blooody murder, Im not so sure Im going to wait for you to adjust your armor and comb the hair out of your eyes before I do something about it.

another great way to handle this issue is potions. Either buy some or craft them. If it were me I would craft them (yes and take a feat) and I would hand them out to people who always need healing in combat. That way they can take their action to heal themselves in combat.

Well wait, they might have to slow down, or open themselves up to an AoO? My goodness? They wont do that for themselves, but expect you to do it for them?

That requires 1 of two things in my eyes 1) you are star cross lovers or 2) you get a much steeper share of the treasure than they do (or you are directly employed by them and a heavy heavy price).

If they are willing to pay for it, then fine, heal away!

Healing in combat almost always = heal bot.

You will hear people talking about "doing your characters job" which sounds like to me "you have no choice you must do this". These are words control freaks use to tell you they want to control what your character does.

I actually play clerics quite often, because the party usually doesn't have one. But not because of the reason you think.
A cleric is almost as good as a full BAB type in combat (3/4 vs full) and often has better armor than some (barbarians and rangers). So I can hold my own with mooks, I usually try not to go toe to toe with the most powerful enemy hitter, but that's what spells are for.
If I cant take him in melee, chances are he has a weak will save, oh hello hold person.
Not to mention If I self buff? I can be just as good as a fighter.

Then, I also have healing.

As a cleric, I contribute; I can swing my weapon, cast offensive spells and tote some pretty healthy armor, have semi decent saves and am likely to be one of the least likely to go down first.
My contribution isn't limited to healing everyone with a blood pool forming at the base of their skull while they lie there helpless, If I do so, then rethinking their actions for next time might be in order, if this constantly repeats it's self, I may rethink MY actions next time (and not heal them)


I have to say that Pendagast has the right of it. Healing in combat should be the exception, not the norm. Go a couple of fights letting the "wildly flailing frontline" get themselves smacked down so they don't get to play for half the combat and just maybe they will reconsider thier actions. If they don't, then they get to reroll a new character when you aren't there to pick them up, repeatedly.


I feel like access to Positive Energy is the culprit for character role assumptions.

Most of the clerics I play are Negative Energy channelers. They can heal, they just have to actually memorize things to do it (which they do, and usually carry a wand or two to help).

But, because of the fact that it's not the default, all of a sudden other players don't expect it. They don't charge into the middle of things expecting you to be their heal juice backpack. They ask if I can heal, rather than demanding that I do.

Simply put, negative energy gets respect. :)


Well the healing expectation existed before there was channel energy or spontaneous heals. So it's definitely not the culprit.

Most of the clerics I usually play (at least with an experience group) are the aloof "oh you want something from me? " types. Only because if you whip out a spell the moment someone springs a leak, they think that's you and you are type cast.

If anyone wants to tell you what your role is, quote the CRB:

Role: More than capable of upholding the honor of their deities in battle, clerics often prove stalwart and capable combatants. Their true strength lies in their capability to draw upon the power of their deities, whether to increase their own and their allies' prowess in battle, to vex their foes with divine magic, or to lend healing to companions in need.

healing looks like the last thing in line, there buddy, Ill get to that when I'm done working my way down the rest of the list.

Until then, enjoy your spells and abilities, and grab a weapon cord :>

Contributor

I think clerics need to be holding their holy symbol and "present" it for spells that use it as a divine focus and when channeling energy and adjudicate that way when I GM.

As for this business of "painting on" a holy symbol to a shield or suchlike, doesn't the existence of channel foci as something that have to be paid for (specifically consecrated weapons and sanctified shields in Adventurer's Armory) suggest it's not something you can just do? Heck, doesn't the existence of holy symbols as something you have to pay for as equipment purchases suggest that?


No, I agree with Dr. Death to a certain point. I'm just saying I have taken a different route. I just dont dish out healing like a Vegas dealer because it's expected of me.

The loud vocal crowd from 3.5 about no healing on combat was pretty prevalent and it has snuck over to PF.

That's the "be way more powerful than the encounters" theory crafter club.

In MMO these types are referred to as ZERGERs and as you trot through the encounters you just find dead bodies, they always run faster (way faster) than you and keep killing things in a few shots (if not one).

they are festooned with the most powerful dangly they can get in every slot and play for hours and hours grinding through the same quests a million times until they have garnered out every last material component to make the mega magic items they wield.

Somehow between beating the pulp out of everything else so quickly you cant keep up, they have time to type insults at you about how lame and suboptimal your character is and how they killed everything and you are just dead weight.

this same attitude flows over into PnP, generally. I think, because the process of building the character, theory craft, and optimization is exactly the same (even tho PnP happens at a much slower pace in actual game play.

These types of Zergers, are what caused me to make a bard/favored soul/rogue. the bard could cast feather fall and expeditious retreat (and some needed weapon proficiencies) which i needed to keep up. the favored soul had seeming endless heals (which i needed to stay standing) and the rogue had the evasion and the trap skills that got me invited to the party at all.

Every party always wanted a healer and/or a rogue and my character was both.
My most successful MMO character to date, and he was essentially a trapper/heal bot,

It wasn't that fun, It was actually stressful as all heck n gone.

But it doesnt stop me from playing clerics.

I just view my cleric as something different. I like the idea of a dark destrier, a tattered cloak and a flail. possibly a nice horned helm....Now a fitting name.... Lord Verminaard, that will do nicely!

In fact you can name your cleric anything you want as long as it sounds menacing, and has "Lord" infront of it.

Ad never forget the line "Oh Im sorry, Im all out of healing today"


Christopher Rowe wrote:

I think clerics need to be holding their holy symbol and "present" it for spells that use it as a divine focus and when channeling energy and adjudicate that way when I GM.

As for this business of "painting on" a holy symbol to a shield or suchlike, doesn't the existence of channel foci as something that have to be paid for (specifically consecrated weapons and sanctified shields in Adventurer's Armory) suggest it's not something you can just do? Heck, doesn't the existence of holy symbols as something you have to pay for as equipment purchases suggest that?

Under spells it says you dont have to pay for spell Foci, including divine foci, which holy symbols are. The only reason more expensive ones are there to be bought is if you want a nicer one made of out silver or something..

the sanctified items (combining the symbol with a shield or weapon) are there so you can do this, so would be the route needed to go if you want to do so. Otherwise the foci and the shield/weapon are separate items.

Of course doing so proclaims to the world who/what you worship, not ALWAYS the best idea.


JustKhaos wrote:
I have to say that Pendagast has the right of it. Healing in combat should be the exception, not the norm. Go a couple of fights letting the "wildly flailing frontline" get themselves smacked down so they don't get to play for half the combat and just maybe they will reconsider thier actions. If they don't, then they get to reroll a new character when you aren't there to pick them up, repeatedly.

Or they get tired of not getting healed so stop playing tanks, so that your Spellcaster gets run over like a toad in the road. Or they go “full defense” rather than doing something helpful, etc.

Contributor

Hmmm, I'm not so sure about your interpretation on the focus components there. It says that focus (F) components have a negligible cost but divine focus (DF) have a separate entry in the section and are defined as "a holy symbol appropriate to the character's faith." I think you have to buy a holy symbol in order to have one to use as a divine focus.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Every game is different.

In games I run and play in, clerics always heal in combat, and often that ends up being the thing that lets the players survive.

A player of a cleric needs to be comfortable with the fact that he's there to support the group with healing and similar spells—that's kind of the whole point of the class. If I'm playing a cleric, and my in-combat healing keeps the fighter alive for one more round and in that round he manages to kill the bad guy, but if I hadn't healed him he would have been killed before he got that attack, then effectively I'm as much to thank for the death of the bad guy as the fighter is.

In fact, in Jason Bulmahn's weekly grind game (which he hasn't run since last Gen Con, alas), I was playing a cleric who pretty much was healing EVERY ROUND in combat, or something close to it, it seemed. And the one time I wasn't able to do this (because of what I still maintain to be a grossly unfair ambush that got me killed before my initiative got to me)... the lack of healing in combat resulted in a TPK.

I've never agreed with the "healing in combat is a bad idea." But again... every game is different.

In any event, to confirm to the original poster, if you're a cleric you should probably either favor the buckler or light shield, as those shields were designed in part to serve the game as things that let you use that hand for other things like spellcasting. Or, alternatively, do a heavy shield and don't carry a weapon. Clerics don't need weapons to kick ass and be a valuable member of a group, unless of course they've used up all their spells and channel energies and the like.


James Jacobs wrote:

Every game is different.

In games I run and play in, clerics always heal in combat, and often that ends up being the thing that lets the players survive.

A player of a cleric needs to be comfortable with the fact that he's there to support the group with healing and similar spells—that's kind of the whole point of the class. If I'm playing a cleric, and my in-combat healing keeps the fighter alive for one more round and in that round he manages to kill the bad guy, but if I hadn't healed him he would have been killed before he got that attack, then effectively I'm as much to thank for the death of the bad guy as the fighter is.

In fact, in Jason Bulmahn's weekly grind game (which he hasn't run since last Gen Con, alas), I was playing a cleric who pretty much was healing EVERY ROUND in combat, or something close to it, it seemed. And the one time I wasn't able to do this (because of what I still maintain to be a grossly unfair ambush that got me killed before my initiative got to me)... the lack of healing in combat resulted in a TPK.

I've never agreed with the "healing in combat is a bad idea." But again... every game is different.

In any event, to confirm to the original poster, if you're a cleric you should probably either favor the buckler or light shield, as those shields were designed in part to serve the game as things that let you use that hand for other things like spellcasting. Or, alternatively, do a heavy shield and don't carry a weapon. Clerics don't need weapons to kick ass and be a valuable member of a group, unless of course they've used up all their spells and channel energies and the like.

This is usually how it goes, as long the the party members dont run off getting splattered as a matter of "what they do"

What level is that cleric JJ?

Every round? Man you must run out of juice fast!

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Sovereign Court

Weapon Cord: Weapon cords are 2-foot-long leather straps that attach your weapon to your wrist. If you drop your weapon or are disarmed, you can recover it as a swift action, and it never moves any further away from you than an adjacent square. However, you cannot switch to a different weapon without first untying the cord (a full-round action) or cutting it (a move action or an attack, hardness 0, 0 hp). Unlike a locked gauntlet, you can still use a hand with a weapon cord, though a dangling weapon may interfere with finer actions.

Drop Weapon (free)
Cast (standard)
Recover weapon (swift)
¿move?


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James Jacobs wrote:

Every game is different.

In games I run and play in, clerics always heal in combat, and often that ends up being the thing that lets the players survive.

A player of a cleric needs to be comfortable with the fact that he's there to support the group with healing and similar spells—that's kind of the whole point of the class. If I'm playing a cleric, and my in-combat healing keeps the fighter alive for one more round and in that round he manages to kill the bad guy, but if I hadn't healed him he would have been killed before he got that attack, then effectively I'm as much to thank for the death of the bad guy as the fighter is.

In fact, in Jason Bulmahn's weekly grind game (which he hasn't run since last Gen Con, alas), I was playing a cleric who pretty much was healing EVERY ROUND in combat, or something close to it, it seemed. And the one time I wasn't able to do this (because of what I still maintain to be a grossly unfair ambush that got me killed before my initiative got to me)... the lack of healing in combat resulted in a TPK.

I've never agreed with the "healing in combat is a bad idea." But again... every game is different.

Wow, confirmation from the Great Tyrant Lizard himself.

Look, guys- I do know that some games are run in a “all offense- combat is over in two rounds” way. And, that’s great if everyone is having fun. I got nothing against different play styles.

But to say that “In almost all healing cases you are casting the spells after combat “ and “In almost all buff cases, you are casting those spells before combat” you invalidate many other’s play style. My group’s play style seems to be a lot more like JJ’s here (we often buff, control then heal, heal, heal) . Now, that doesn’t make our style "right"- what’s right is what works for *YOUR* group and is fun. But is does make our play style at little bit more common that was suggested by saying “in almost all cases “ because it’s hardly ‘almost all”.

Sure, barbarians going screaming into combat before you have a chance to plan, buff or cast battlefield control spells are asking for it, and I can understand why you’d want to have a talk with “that guy” OOC and IC. (tell him about this thing we call “teamwork”)

But a Tank up front, absorbing the damage that would otherwise be dealt to your squishy Spellcaster body? That’s his job, and your job is to make sure he survives (again, we call this “teamwork”). Whether that be by battlefield control, buffing, blasting the foe or… yes, healing the tank right before he drops. Tactics is NOT ignoring that last choice or saying it’s “sub-optimal” but by knowing it’s one choice of several and DOING IT WHEN IT’S THE BEST CHOICE. No doubt, there are many times when one of the others will be better, but sometimes in combat healing *IS* the best choice.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

DrDeth wrote:
My group’s play style seems to be a lot more like JJ’s here ... But is does make our play style at little bit more common

Your group and JJ's group are only two data points among millions of gamers. I think you have about as much insight into what's more and less common as do the folks you're reacting against.

In my area, there's a PFS player with a now 14th level cleric, with a slogan of "Nobody dies on MY watch". Although he has backup options, he's primarily a healer and damn he's good at it.

My brother has a PFS cleric who, in a nutshell, is a "caster cleric". He mostly focuses on spells, which includes control, buffing, and healing. He's not like that first guy as far as healing goes, but a Channel or two and maybe a Cure X in a 5-round combat (more if it drags on) is pretty normal for him.

I have a tanky cleric of Iomedae. My spell slots mostly go toward self-buffs and situational spells (like blindness or pilfering hand to screw enemy casters). I get a heroism and/or divine favor going, then go in and chop up the baddies, protecting my allies by putting myself in front of them rather than by healing them. At 6th level, I think I've cast a Cure spell in one, maybe two combats EVER.

So which one is normal: the uber-healer, my brother's caster, or my tank? Which one's the "minority" (vocal or otherwise)? And how would you (or I) even know?


DrDeth wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Every game is different.

In games I run and play in, clerics always heal in combat, and often that ends up being the thing that lets the players survive.

A player of a cleric needs to be comfortable with the fact that he's there to support the group with healing and similar spells—that's kind of the whole point of the class. If I'm playing a cleric, and my in-combat healing keeps the fighter alive for one more round and in that round he manages to kill the bad guy, but if I hadn't healed him he would have been killed before he got that attack, then effectively I'm as much to thank for the death of the bad guy as the fighter is.

In fact, in Jason Bulmahn's weekly grind game (which he hasn't run since last Gen Con, alas), I was playing a cleric who pretty much was healing EVERY ROUND in combat, or something close to it, it seemed. And the one time I wasn't able to do this (because of what I still maintain to be a grossly unfair ambush that got me killed before my initiative got to me)... the lack of healing in combat resulted in a TPK.

I've never agreed with the "healing in combat is a bad idea." But again... every game is different.

Wow, confirmation from the Great Tyrant Lizard himself.

Look, guys- I do know that some games are run in a “all offense- combat is over in two rounds” way. And, that’s great if everyone is having fun. I got nothing against different play styles.

But to say that “In almost all healing cases you are casting the spells after combat “ and “In almost all buff cases, you are casting those spells before combat” you invalidate many other’s play style. My group’s play style seems to be a lot more like JJ’s here (we often buff, control then heal, heal, heal) . Now, that doesn’t make our style "right"- what’s right is what works for *YOUR* group and is fun. But is does make our play style at little bit more common that was suggested by saying “in almost all cases “ because it’s hardly ‘almost all”.

Sure, barbarians going...

Wait a minute. we are talking clerics here, exactly HOW squishy do you think a cleric is?

If you take a standard cleric at 1st level
S 12 D 12 C 12 I 10 W 17 Ch12
that's a 15 point buy.
very generic.
Breast plate, heavy shield, random melee weapon.
Thats a 19 AC
9 hp
Swings at +1 deals damage at +1

Fighter in the same group.
S 17 D 13 C 14 I 10 W 10 Ch 10
breast plate, Two handed sword
Ac is 17
Swings for +4, damage is much higher.
hp is 12

the difference here is the fighter does a lot more damage.
But the cleric can self heal, buff and/or cast a fight ending spell.

I dont think you can call the cleric "squishy"

Now as the fighter goes up in level, this difference grows greater but so do the clerics spells, and their duration.

We have wandered through entire APs without so much as a full BAB character in our group, in most cases the fights do last a little longer, but surprisingly, the resources dont get used up as fast. the fighter/barbarian may ned fights quicker, but doesnt necessarily mean less resources are used.

what the OP is experiencing (or so it seems) is a situation where he's running about playing doctor to a group he describes as "always needing healing during combat"

this can be caused by two things, the behavior of the other characters/players, or the clerics perception this is what he MUST do.

It's not clear which.

I'm simply putting out there are OTHER ways to play a cleric, ones that are less worrisome.

We frequently squeak through combats where everyone has 3 or 4 hp left.

Sometimes one or two are down.

It's not always "I have to heal him or we are doomed"
You CAN walk over to the downed persons body, and cast stabilize. thats your action.
you are still crouched by his body hiding behind your shield when the bad guys take their turn.
you have used no resources except action economy to do so.
If you had cast heal sure the fighter is conscious, but a few HP conscious makes him a target again, and he could also get hit for more damage and actually die.

Laying there they arent focusing on him yet and you havent used any resources.
Of course if you are outnumbered, then maybe action economy is more important.
Your next action you could cast a a spell, in some cases, if you have the right spell, it could be fight ending.

In one case such as this, I decided to cast shield of faith.

there were three bad guys (teiflings if I recall) So my fighter buddy was stabilized, and I had cast shield of faith.
The three teiflings couldnt hit me I spent another 6 rounds busying himself bullying them all over the battlefield with my 21 ac, compared to their 14 ac.
Eventually I killed 2, and routed the other (he ran away, I couldnt run as fast to catch up)
The sorceror who was out of spells kept them from flanking me by kiting one of them with his cross bow (run, shoot, run shoot) was funny.

The rogue and fighter were later drug together I channeled and everyone got a heal.

"why didn't you heal us to begin with??!"

"why didn't you wait for us in the first place?"

"oh"

It's a group activity. The cleric is a character with ALOT of options. Many Players don't use them BECAUSE it's the idea of 'you're the healer'.
as a result many people don't play them, and then you never have the healing at all.

then you run into this silly game of everyone with high UMD and wands of healing and then there is NEVER even the option for in combat healing.

So it's not that noone heals in combat.

but more along the lines of you dont HAVe to heal in combat, and if you constantly do, you are either over your head, or need to reapproach what you are doing

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Pendagast wrote:

This is usually how it goes, as long the the party members dont run off getting splattered as a matter of "what they do"

What level is that cleric JJ?

Every round? Man you must run out of juice fast!

We started the game at 1st level, and I believe when we stopped playing we were 3rd level.

I actually never ran out of juice; I had a lot of channel energy uses and domain powers to back up the spells.

Now, granted, it was an unusual campaign in that we would do only one room at a time during an hour lunch and Jason was turning up his evil GM powers to 11... but I've also played plenty of clerics in normal campaigns who focus on the healing and support first and trying to get in the front line to play fighter third.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Jiggy wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
My group’s play style seems to be a lot more like JJ’s here ... But is does make our play style at little bit more common

Your group and JJ's group are only two data points among millions of gamers. I think you have about as much insight into what's more and less common as do the folks you're reacting against.

In my area, there's a PFS player with a now 14th level cleric, with a slogan of "Nobody dies on MY watch". Although he has backup options, he's primarily a healer and damn he's good at it.

My brother has a PFS cleric who, in a nutshell, is a "caster cleric". He mostly focuses on spells, which includes control, buffing, and healing. He's not like that first guy as far as healing goes, but a Channel or two and maybe a Cure X in a 5-round combat (more if it drags on) is pretty normal for him.

I have a tanky cleric of Iomedae. My spell slots mostly go toward self-buffs and situational spells (like blindness or pilfering hand to screw enemy casters). I get a heroism and/or divine favor going, then go in and chop up the baddies, protecting my allies by putting myself in front of them rather than by healing them. At 6th level, I think I've cast a Cure spell in one, maybe two combats EVER.

So which one is normal: the uber-healer, my brother's caster, or my tank? Which one's the "minority" (vocal or otherwise)? And how would you (or I) even know?

To be fair... I probably have a much greater insight into what's more and less common than most GMs, since I've worked at Paizo for 10 years, and for WotC for 5 years before that. I've been exposed to quite a lot of gaming style market research information, as a result.

And that's part of why I say "every game is different."

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