The old "No one wants to play a cleric" dilemma


Advice

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I went through rise of the Rune Lords and we didn't have a cleric in the party. We did fine though. Sure there was few times when cleric would have been handy.

My character I took Oracle of Metal for 4 level to with Lame to get the immunity to fatigue. So I stocked up on wands of CLW, piles of potions and scrolls. We did pretty good. Definitely a challenge. No player character deaths but we were close many times. I think it made the game more fun.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Cures are way better than channel because they get a flat bonus that is more likely to overcome the haunts HP total than a bunch of random d6 rolls. Overall, haunts are just s+@+ty mechanics, traps that rogues can't disable because f+#$ rogues.

I rarely see haunts in games. The odd time you do. I use them in my game as creepy factor not something to really hinder the party.

Dark Archive

The need for a cleric can be mitigated by care, planning, and tactics. ...and as many have said, the best "metagame" or "tactical" use of a cleric seldom uses in combat healing...

With that said...not everyone enjoys playing a game where challenge has been optimized out. It is enticing to make a character that makes best use of the "numbers", but people should feel empowered to play the character they want. This could mean a group with no cleric, or in the case of my current character: A Cleric/Witch (Hex Channeler)/Mystic Theurge who has quick channel. She is almost pacifistic, doing little else but healing in combat (4d6 30' AoE heal...x2 a round...at level 7!) but also buffs/debuffs or helps with crowd control.

Let them play the adventure without a Cleric...even if their poor tactics cause them to die, they may learn something.

Liberty's Edge

First of all you don't need channel energy. Clerics functioned fine without it in 3.5 and Pathfinder hasn't changed things so dramatically that scaling AoE healing is mandatory for a party to function.

As for nobody wanting to play a dedicated support character/healer, that's a common problem. The other suggestions (adding a healbot NPC or simply being generous with healing consumables) are all good ones.

Liberty's Edge

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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Seriously, Druid or Oracle are great substitutions; the Druid even moreso, as they aren't a particularly effective healing class, due to reduced Cure progression (but maintain full status removal progression), and still function as a full Divine Spellcaster.

Neither Restoration nor Panacea appear on the Druid spell list. I should also point out that Remove Blindness/Deafness, Remove Curse and Remove Paralysis are also not on their list. Heal is a spell level higher. How are they full status removal progression?


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Because seriously, heal-bot 5000 is not in any way fun. Or cool. And clerics can be both fun and cool, but not if you're pushed into playing healbot 5000.

Clerics and Oracles can be so much more then Healbots. Honestly I am tired of the term since they are not just that. Clerics are more versatile then Oracles but both can do so much more then just healing depending on how they are made and played. Our group always includes one in some fashion, PC or NPC. That way when something more then just healing is needed we have it. Wands and potions are nice and can do the healing. However poison, diseases, ability damage and drains will kill a party faster then straight damage. Party has only wands and potions that heal stuck in a dungeon or wilderness they all risk being killed long before reaching civilization. Some towns and cities can't even cure the really nasty stuff.

A well built Cleric or Oracle can be an effective combatant. They have access to spells comparable to a Wizard of similar level. They can and should wear armor something a Wizard cannot. I had a player run around with an extremely nasty evil cleric that could stand up to our tank her AC actually higher then his. A few spells and he was dead.
I like Clerics and Oracles having played them. They in most cases have not been a Healbot.


Split the burden of heal-bot between 2 people. 1 person takes a 1-level dip in the Psionic Vitalist class. The other person takes a 2 level dip into Alchemist for Tumor Familiar. Someone in the party now has fast healing 5 as needed.


It's been years since anyone played a cleric in any game at our table. The last one was foisted upon a player because his character died and I needed someone close to fill in. NPC cleric becomes PC cleric.

For reference, we were running Legacy of Fire.

Anyway, we usually have healing of some kind, just never a cleric. Oracles, usually.

In our current game, it's a gestalt and I'm playing a bard/inquisitor, so healing is usually handled by me, but there are others capable of use magic device and have stabilize as an orison. I will say it was a pain in the neck to heal a few statuses, but they were handled. We were only 2nd level at the time anyway, so it made sense that we needed outside help.


As long as you have a reach weapon, being healbot isn't that bad since you can still wrack up AoOs fairly easily. There's even a fair few ways of being both healbot and something more interesting at the same time if you're willing to get creative.

The Exchange

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Osakaben wrote:

First off, no offense meant to anyone who DOES want to play a cleric.

I GM a group 4 players, running Runelords. I want everyone to have fun and to be able to build their character however they like. No one wanted to be a cleric, but the party needs the healing, channel energy, and knowledge (religion).

This is false thinking. Heal bots are actually detrimental to efficient parties, and have been for over a decade now. Do a search for Treantmonk's guide to the God Wizard and read the part about party roles.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

We had a 3 cleric party once (Dwarf, Elf and a Solar - flying Aasimar ripoff) and none of use took a healing domain. The GM had great background for each pantheon and we had fun debating mid combat! The archer Ranger was the closet we had to a heal-bot.


Bwang wrote:
We had a 3 cleric party once (Dwarf, Elf and a Solar - flying Aasimar ripoff) and none of use took a healing domain. The GM had great background for each pantheon and we had fun debating mid combat! The archer Ranger was the closet we had to a heal-bot.

Well, the healing domain kind of sucks balls, even on a healbot.


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Yeah the reason most people avoid playing clerics is largely because they don't want other people telling them what they should be doing.

"You HAVE to reserve a large selection of your spells to keep us healed!" demands the group.

"Um... I am playing a buffer not a healer. I will be using most of my magic on buffing myself and the team." replies the cleric. "Any left over slots will be healing but nothing more."

The group gets angry "NO you're playing the CLERIC it's your job to heal us."

Former cleric player "Yeah... I changed my mind. I will play a fighter instead."


...which is the exact point the GM has to say something like "Guys! Let player play his character! If you feel there needs to be a cleric focused on healing, you are entirely free to play that. Okay?"


Sissyl wrote:
...which is the exact point the GM has to say something like "Guys! Let player play his character! If you feel there needs to be a cleric focused on healing, you are entirely free to play that. Okay?"

Ahhh... how simple that sounds. And how hard in practice if you don't already have a good group dynamic. This is the point where team building wages war against individualism. The sad truth is that team building can't win that war unless the individualists surrender. A group of special snowflakes is often impossible to forge into a team. As players they all know their chances improve if the group covers all bases... but it HAS to be the other guy who takes one for the team they certainly don't want to do so themselves. And what a sad fate for the one who does take one for the team. He will be unappreciated for as long as he continues in this thankless role.


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Indeed. But the argument is easy: "Don't complain, Dave. You aren't playing a healer either, are you?"

Dark Archive

Osakaben wrote:

First off, no offense meant to anyone who DOES want to play a cleric.

I GM a group 4 players, running Runelords. I want everyone to have fun and to be able to build their character however they like. No one wanted to be a cleric, but the party needs the healing, channel energy, and knowledge religion. I REALLY don't want to force anyone to be a cleric, but one is almost a necessity if you don't twist things around a bit. Other classes can pitch in a bit, but it's not the same as having an actual cleric. I don't want to punish the party for not having one. So I'm looking at various twists.

We had another player come into the game late. I asked him what he wanted for his character. He said whatever will help the party. I said we needed a cleric but didn't want him to feel like he had to be one if that's not what he wanted. He said fine, cleric it is. Then built a cleric that strongly suggested he would have rather been a swordy fighter.

He's since dropped out of the game due to family and work obligations. The players don't want to give up the cleric so someone else has been running him. That doesn't sit too well with me, as he is more of a tool (in the non-slang sense) than a character. I have a hard time getting my players to develop their character's personalities as it is, and running 2 characters, one of which isn't really "yours", doesn't help.

So to recap, I really want the players to be able to develop their characters how they want to, and no one wants to be a cleric. But going without a cleric is a big disadvantage, and I'm not thrilled with having the cleric on as a secondary character for someone. Ideally, I'd like to adjust things so a cleric is less necessary.

Here are some options I've come up with:

1. Just take the cleric out of the game, too bad for the party. This is a little too harsh for me.

2. Continue on as is, let someone run the cleric as a secondary character. I don't care for this because of the things I've outlined above, but it's not the end of the world. Just a...

The best option is a dmpc life oracle that just heals full time. They can possibly get leadership later. You have to play runelords with all your bases covered and be ridiculously optimized or the pc deaths will be back to back and it quickly becomes a frustrating and pointless endeavor, unless to dm wants to redo all the encounters to make them more reasonable.


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Your group are idiots. Our group usually asks someone to play a healer. Something I have read that most people who hate healers miss. Hit point recovery isn't the issue it's the other stuff we concern ourselves with. Poison, Disease, Blindness, Deafness and other maladies that a Cure spell doesn't touch. We like having a healer in our group for that purpose more then straight HP healing. We also design our healers to do more then just heal. I have played Oracles often being the healer in most cases. Never had a problem being useful to the party in any other situation other then healing.
For those who keep saying our party is so well designed we can't be hurt by anything stop playing because you are not being challenged and are probably cheating. A good GM challenges the party to where they fear death. Our GM actually had us face three villains who were something like four levels higher then us. Our group had played together for years used every tactic we could. We almost died every one of us hurt and pretty much out of resources. In the end we actually were happy because the fight scared and challenged us.
Another thing I'm seeing ignored or missed is this a good or neutral cleric can switch out his memorized spells for a cure spell if need be. Positive channeling is always useful for a party hurt by blast spells Fireball being the most commonly used against PCs. Clerics can be front line tanks with the right feats, spells and abilities.
I have read a lot about people bashing healers and this is what I am getting. You focus on making the party a lean mean killing machine which isn't a bad thing. However it seems you focus so much on that you ignore the most important rule. Having fun. It seems these people insist the other players play what they want do things they want rather then what the other player may want to do. I have played in games old D&D and others where a GM or players says you will play what I want the way I want. I'm miserable and often stop playing. I'd rather stay home and play a video game or read. I get together to socialize and have fun. Yes we have some problems in combat if our group isn't optimized to be efficient and lethal. Yes we have died making mistakes doing something we shouldn't have. Do we have fun, yes. That to me is the most important thing.

Dark Archive

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As I said before, if your group isn't optimized past 7th level or so, it will stop being fun because some pc's have to get raised after every significant encounter. It really gets that bad. If you have 4 people and no healer, you the dm, needs to play one. 4 pc's isn't enough for this adventure path anyway, and items do little to nothing during the actual fight. They can fix you after the fight, but if the fighter or the rogue are using a scroll, wand, or potion instead of full attacking, you have already lost.


Optimized characters is not the issue sometimes. Sometimes it's about party cohesion. I have had groups where you have great characters and they still don't survive. I have had groups where the party in general is low in power compared to what a dungeon suggests and come out doing really well.
Our group like Clerics in general. We all love Life Oracles for healers being made exactly for that purpose. We have experimented we about half the new classes introduced in Pathfinder finding some interesting others interesting on paper but in play not at all. Sometimes we choose classes we have little experience with. Me I was playing a Wizard in Wrath of the Righteous and was shockingly surprised at how well I did with him. I normally don't play Arcane classes having issues with them in First Ed.
The problem I'm reading is two things. First people are not really reading the cleric. Yes they can serve as the groups healer, getting stuck on that one aspect of that. But Clerics like any other class can be so different from one another depending on the player. The second thing is the other players insist the cleric be just the healer. That isn't right since the cleric's player isn't insisting they play what he thinks they should play. If that's the case no one is having fun in my mind and should stop playing.


Sissyl wrote:
Indeed. But the argument is easy: "Don't complain, Dave. You aren't playing a healer either, are you?"

Asking Dave rarely stops him from complaining. Dave is charismatic and the players are mostly grunting and nodding their approval of Dave while he bullies the least liked player into the healbot role.


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Then the problem is Dave, nothing else. Which suggests a simple fix.


I've seen Dave in action. Nothing is simple with him.
You could try to boot him but all those players will leave with him leaving you with no game. Worse yet, Dave will coerce one of his cronies into running the game and since the least liked player still wants to game and is used to being bullied he will go along with them and still end up the healbot.


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Well, my evaluation of the situation still stands. If push comes to shove, no game is better than a bad game. I have enough toxic personality-problem induced crap in other areas of my life to spend my escapism dealing with it as well.


Fair enough. It is much the same reaction I had to the real life "Dave". Although to be fair I had other games to retreat to at the time and so only left with one regret... Dave always wins. And I am resourceful so it did irritate me that the bad guy often wins IRL and I was powerless to stop it.


Guys like that want power over you. Leave, and they are powerless. And those who willingly follow a Dave, well, there are worse losses to go through.


On further reflection, playing a cleric wouldn't be that bad for me as long as people don't tell me how to play my guy. I think the key is to play something different and interesting if you find the typical cleric boring. For me personally, I would enjoy playing an archer cleric of Erastil, or a reach weapon using cleric with the Herald Caller archetype and all those sweet, sweet summons.


Summoner cleric is awesome. Add in reach weapon, good movement and attacks of opportunity and you have it made.


Sissyl wrote:
Guys like that want power over you. Leave, and they are powerless. And those who willingly follow a Dave, well, there are worse losses to go through.

That's not exactly true. Leaving will let Dave have the otherwise interesting gaming group.

Staying is worse than leaving, probably. But pretending you're not giving anything up is disingenious. You are, and it's worth it.


You could make it so the "Heal" skill can be used to heal hp damage at a rate of 1 - 2 per 5 or 10, meaning someone could reliably heal someone else or himself or herself out of combat (have it take 1 minute).

This would effectively give everyone Fast Healing 1 where the healing takes 1 minute of concentration for it to heal anything. Then again, you could just give everyone slotless fast healing items that only function when the items' owners are not in combat.

Liberty's Edge

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It is worth noting that the "faith healing" occult skill unlock for heal sllows you to suppress ability damage, treat curse, disease and poison, and remove an affliction.

So if you have a psychic caster on your team who took heal, they can do a fair amount even if they aren't healers.


Sissyl wrote:
Summoner cleric is awesome. Add in reach weapon, good movement and attacks of opportunity and you have it made.

I just thought of something else, a Herald Caller cleric of Erastil who summons critters to fight in melee while he stays back and shoots arrows/casts spells. Wow, suddenly I kinda want to play a cleric lol.


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HeHateMe wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
Summoner cleric is awesome. Add in reach weapon, good movement and attacks of opportunity and you have it made.
I just thought of something else, a Herald Caller cleric of Erastil who summons critters to fight in melee while he stays back and shoots arrows/casts spells. Wow, suddenly I kinda want to play a cleric lol.

Or you go with an Evangelist using Flagbearer and a Banner of the Ancient Kings on a longspear to make the whole party, including summons, ridiculously buffed...


HeHateMe wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
Summoner cleric is awesome. Add in reach weapon, good movement and attacks of opportunity and you have it made.
I just thought of something else, a Herald Caller cleric of Erastil who summons critters to fight in melee while he stays back and shoots arrows/casts spells. Wow, suddenly I kinda want to play a cleric lol.

As someone that's played Herald Caller and didn't really optimize that well (she has a few channeling feats in her mix and I'm probably going to give her craft weapons and armor for her next feat) Herald Caller is really freaking powerful. I've found myself needing to hold back a lot in fights to make sure I don't outshine the rest of the party, one of which is an archer (though to be fair to him we've faced a lot of DR that his arrows can't beat.)


Aranna wrote:

I've seen Dave in action. Nothing is simple with him.

You could try to boot him but all those players will leave with him leaving you with no game. Worse yet, Dave will coerce one of his cronies into running the game and since the least liked player still wants to game and is used to being bullied he will go along with them and still end up the healbot.
My question is why leave with an Ass like that? We have booted guys like that finding ourselves happier without a guy like that. I think guys like him ought to get outright banned from being able to play RPGs giving payers a bad name and making newer players not even want to start.


Demoyn wrote:
Osakaben wrote:

First off, no offense meant to anyone who DOES want to play a cleric.

I GM a group 4 players, running Runelords. I want everyone to have fun and to be able to build their character however they like. No one wanted to be a cleric, but the party needs the healing, channel energy, and knowledge (religion).

This is false thinking. Heal bots are actually detrimental to efficient parties, and have been for over a decade now. Do a search for Treantmonk's guide to the God Wizard and read the part about party roles.

A cleric is useful in that AP though, there's a few points in the first two books where it seems you are expected to have cleric spells.


I am a lucky man to have never had this problem. Of course, my favorite class is the Cleric. Followed by pretty much any other divine spellcaster lol!


The problem though is being forced to play a certain way. Once in 1st Ed played a cleric of Tiamat. My concept was a morning star wielding Scale mail wearing warrior priest. The GM instead made me a useless big breasted female wearing a chainmail bikini and only able to use a dagger and no clerical abilities what so ever. The other players more interested in smoking weed loved my character and made no end of sexist jokes. Needless to say I was unhappy bordering on angry.
The adventure was for us to sneak into an evil city get info then sneak out. The two players got us caught. They surrendered leaving me alone. I told the GM. "I'm taking my dagger and slicing my throat and killing myself." He actually whined asking, why. I got angry telling him rather bluntly my character was useless and hated even attempting to make the character useful. He said she will be. I asked will I get spells get better equipment, and so on. No to all of that. I told him never do that to me again. He did a second time in another game and stopped playing with him.
It's one thing if players make a request for me to play a certain character. They need a Rogue or a Healer or Arcane. I will play what is requested making the character the way I feel is best for me then the party. They attempt to play my character ends my involvement since I have been told and made to do that far too often. I in fact have quit playing RPGs for some time because of that crap.


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The game as currently designed doesn't need a cleric in a party. So I wouldn't force anyone to play a class. If the party shows up with no spell casters, then it's up to them to improvise a way to cure themselves between battles (the UMD skill exists).

Liberty's Edge

HyperMissingno wrote:
(though to be fair to him we've faced a lot of DR that his arrows can't beat.)

Unless it's DR/-, slashing or epic, that shouldn't be a thing. And even if it is there's both the versatile weapon spell, and clustered shots. Unless of course you're too low a level for those, that is.


Deighton Thrane wrote:
HyperMissingno wrote:
(though to be fair to him we've faced a lot of DR that his arrows can't beat.)
Unless it's DR/-, slashing or epic, that shouldn't be a thing. And even if it is there's both the versatile weapon spell, and clustered shots. Unless of course you're too low a level for those, that is.

One was a bit of DR/Slashing while the other was hardness, and he's close to clustered shots but not quite there yet.

Silver Crusade

I love the way pathfinder does clerics. I kind of get why people didn't used to want to play clerics, but now there are a ton of options and no one cleric needs to look like any other.

In PFS now I've got 4 active characters. 1 of them is a cleric (separatist cleric of Lamashtu), and of the other 3, two of them are divine casters (an oracle and a divine verminous hunter). There's so much variety available.

I also have a number of cleric (or multiclass cleric) concepts I'd love to try out:

lava gnome theologian variant channel (rulership) cleric of Ra
urgathoan "opera singer" cleric with variant channel + shatter resolve
cleric of Erastil (multiple versions: Growth + Feather domains for standard reach tactics, or evangelist prestige class, or multiclass with Barbarian and use variant channel for rage cycling)
cleric/monk of Shizuru with katana flurry and repose domain strike
Summoning cleric of Ghlaunder with Animal and Destruction domains for Cyclops plus aura of destruction

So I'm not really sure why so many people still have a bad opinion of such a versatile, interesting class.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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supervillan wrote:
So I'm not really sure why so many people still have a bad opinion of such a versatile, interesting class.

There's a group of game design experts that puts out a video series called "Extra Credits" to discuss various topics relevant to the industry. Recently, they talked about an interesting study they read about.

In a nutshell, people were asked to take some tests, but were told that due to recent construction at the testing site, they would be given a coat to protect their clothes from all the dust. The coats were all identical, but half the people were told it was a doctor's coat while the other half were told it was a painter's coat. The ones who believed they were wearing a doctor's coat demonstrated increased focus in their test-taking.

The speaker in the video then went on to relate how, in retrospect, he can see similar phenomena in how he's played games. If he selects a character with a certain look, he tends to play it a certain way. One of his examples was in fantasy games: if he plays a big, armor-clad, tough-looking character; then he tends to play him like a "tank" by wading into melee. But if he selected the frail-looking character in flowing wizards' robes, he would play them like they needed to hide in the back even if they had the same durable stats as the tanky-looking character.

As soon as I saw that video, my mind was flooded with memories of discussions on the forums about clerics and rogues and wizards and what they're capable of and what their weaknesses are. Just like many people have it sooo deeply ingrained into their minds that the kinds of people who wear lab coats are smart and methodical, that they'll act that way themselves while wearing the coat; so too do many people have it sooo deeply ingrained into their minds that rogues are good at sneaking/trapfinding, clerics are mediocre in combat but excel at healing and magically smiting the undead, and wizards are squishy and need to hide behind a fighter and carefully manage their very limited pool of magical power, that they might persist in these beliefs even in the face of direct proof to the contrary.

Some folks can see the data (both in print and in actual gameplay) that contradicts the roles we all associate with clerics/rogues/fighters/wizards, notice the discrepancy, and discard their original assumptions about how these classes work in favor of reality.

Others simply can't (at least not without help). Some people can see "cleric", assume all the usual tropes about how clerics work will apply, and never notice that their healing is abysmal and they're better at stabbing the undead than at smiting them with divine fire. Some people can see "rogue", assume all the usual tropes about how rogues work will apply, and never notice that they're no better at XYZ skill than a Commoner of the same level and that they almost always get spotted while sneaking around unless the GM plays favorites. Some people can see "wizard", assume all the usual tropes about how wizards work will apply, and never notice how small an impact their HD size has on their HP or how easy it is to defend themselves without armor or how vastly oversized/over-potent their pool of magical resources is.

Some people can't move past the assumptions about the dressing and see what's really happening.


Jiggy wrote:
Interesting Stuff

It can get pretty strange when you really start to explore the theory of how people - particularly in an age of media and mirrors both metaphorical and literal - are continually "performing" to subconscious roles and expectations. Whether it's "look at me, I'm the cool guy on the billboard!" or apparently "I'm not a doctor, but I play one in real life!". Even if those assumed roles are obviously stupid, or self-destructive, or maybe just plain old boring...


supervillan wrote:

I love the way pathfinder does clerics. I kind of get why people didn't used to want to play clerics, but now there are a ton of options and no one cleric needs to look like any other.

In PFS now I've got 4 active characters. 1 of them is a cleric (separatist cleric of Lamashtu), and of the other 3, two of them are divine casters (an oracle and a divine verminous hunter). There's so much variety available.

I also have a number of cleric (or multiclass cleric) concepts I'd love to try out:

lava gnome theologian variant channel (rulership) cleric of Ra
urgathoan "opera singer" cleric with variant channel + shatter resolve
cleric of Erastil (multiple versions: Growth + Feather domains for standard reach tactics, or evangelist prestige class, or multiclass with Barbarian and use variant channel for rage cycling)
cleric/monk of Shizuru with katana flurry and repose domain strike
Summoning cleric of Ghlaunder with Animal and Destruction domains for Cyclops plus aura of destruction

So I'm not really sure why so many people still have a bad opinion of such a versatile, interesting class.

Clerics don't really have a lot of options though aside from spells. Now I don't want to undersell spells, because they are an amazing source of options, but ignoring their spells, Cleric are depressing in regards to options. You get to choose 2 domains, that might give you all of 4 abilities, and of which only a small number of are actually useful.

Your only other ability is Channel, which is even *more* depressing, unless you are using a few very specific variant channels. The most depressing thing about Channel is that it begs for you to invest feats in it if you want to use it as anything more a quicker, but less efficient wand of cure light wounds. And it scales at a glacial pace that doesn't keep up with damage.

You only get 2 Skill points per level, so you are lacking interesting options there as well. And of course you lack a capstone. Which sure, most people do not get to use, but still kind of disappointing.

So really... all the Cleric has going for it is the odd level progression full casting. Your most interesting choices as a cleric in PF are what spells you prepare each day. Now compare the Shaman, who gets hexes, flexible hexes, a "domain" with more abilities, a flexible "domain" with more abilities and double the clerics skill points and the lack of interesting choices for Clerics becomes pretty clear in my opinion.

The Exchange

412294 wrote:
Demoyn wrote:
Osakaben wrote:

First off, no offense meant to anyone who DOES want to play a cleric.

I GM a group 4 players, running Runelords. I want everyone to have fun and to be able to build their character however they like. No one wanted to be a cleric, but the party needs the healing, channel energy, and knowledge (religion).

This is false thinking. Heal bots are actually detrimental to efficient parties, and have been for over a decade now. Do a search for Treantmonk's guide to the God Wizard and read the part about party roles.
A cleric is useful in that AP though, there's a few points in the first two books where it seems you are expected to have cleric spells.

Nobody said anything about cleric spells. I said HEALING spells. There should always be a character capable of casting divine spells, that player just doesn't need to focus on healing... like ever in combat.


Jiggy wrote:
Others simply can't (at least not without help). Some people can see "cleric", assume all the usual tropes about how clerics work will apply, and never notice that their healing is abysmal and they're better at stabbing the undead than at smiting them with divine fire. Some people can see "rogue", assume all the usual tropes about how rogues work will apply, and never notice that they're no better at XYZ skill than a Commoner of the same level and that they almost always get spotted while sneaking around unless the GM plays favorites. Some people can see "wizard", assume all the usual tropes about how wizards work will apply, and never notice how small an impact their HD size has on their HP or how easy it is to defend themselves without armor or how vastly oversized/over-potent their pool of magical resources is.

But clerics have never been that. They originated in Chainmail as vampire slayers. Or possibly it was lich slayers. Some sort of intelligent undead that was overpowered without clerics as a counter. They are and always have been a cross between Moses and the bishop depicted on the Bayaux Tapestry cracking Saxon skulls.


Yeah, but "break glass in case of intelligent undead" isn't a fun role to play either.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Atarlost wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Others simply can't (at least not without help). Some people can see "cleric", assume all the usual tropes about how clerics work will apply, and never notice that their healing is abysmal and they're better at stabbing the undead than at smiting them with divine fire. Some people can see "rogue", assume all the usual tropes about how rogues work will apply, and never notice that they're no better at XYZ skill than a Commoner of the same level and that they almost always get spotted while sneaking around unless the GM plays favorites. Some people can see "wizard", assume all the usual tropes about how wizards work will apply, and never notice how small an impact their HD size has on their HP or how easy it is to defend themselves without armor or how vastly oversized/over-potent their pool of magical resources is.
But clerics have never been that.

Yes, they have. Heck, they are, right now, in some current games. Maybe not in the handful you've played, but the fantasy gaming genre is HUGE, and has been for a while. (And so help me, if somebody responds something like "MMOs don't count", as though any reference to fantasy gaming outside of D&D/PF is obviously just referring to WoW, I'm gonna scream.) The cleric (sometimes under a different name) in fantasy gaming is quite often presented in the manner I described: bringing the power of holy light to heal the living and destroy the undead, plus maybe some middling combat ability.

Folks who absorb that image and rely too heavily on it often then fail to notice when one particular game (such as Pathfinder) paints a cleric in a similar fashion but fails to deliver on it.


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It's also important to keep in mind not only the perception/assumptions of the person playing the cleric, but those of the rest of the table. In my experience it is extremely common - practically normal - for most tables to assume that the purpose of a cleric's spell slots is to heal and buff the party. This pressures the cleric's player into surrendering (or at least compromising) their control/agency over their own character in order to keep the group happy.

That said, there are some people really enjoy the sense of being "helpful" that casting buffs and healing spells gives, but in my experience they're the minority.

My wife once made a cloistered cleric in a 3.5 game because it was the closest to the character concept she had in mind. She then deliberately made them channel negative energy and categorically refused to prep most buff and healing spells. Because she had zero interest in being pressured into the "party band-aid" role, and was actually doing a storm-themed bonded summoner. And still, many players at the table kept being surprised that she wasn't healing or buffing. For months. Because the word "cleric" appeared on her character sheet.

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