The Unfortunate Necessity of the Cleric


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So something really big that a gaming buddy of mine brought up was that the way 2e is set up is that it heavily enforces the need for a party to have a cleric that is the healer. Basically nothing else in the game matches the power of the heal spell, and clerics of specific deities getting it additional spell slots for free means that they’re just…better at it. Like, the difference between a cleric and a divine sorcerer is vast, because a sorcerer has to use one of their three spell slots to heal someone, while the cleric doesn’t even need to tap into them.

This kind of reinforcement for healing makes it very obvious that in order for a party to survive, they need a cleric with a healing font. How is a party supposed to keep up with the encounters without one? An evil campaign (which can be lots of fun) is basically screwed in 2e unless someone wants to be a cleric of Lamashtu (or of a morally neutral deity), and a group of players where no one wants to be “the healer” (which is quite a few of them) is completely screwed over.

I honestly want an answer to this question, because while yes, you can just burn through consumables or Treat Wounds, that doesn’t help against a boss fight where the opponent is dishing out a ton of damage every round and PCs are dropping like flies (depending on the rolls). I understand enforcing that certain classes have certain roles, and that the design team was trying to emphasize playing that role for each class, but the party roles are still very fluid—your frontliner could be a rogue, or your trapfinder/skill-monkey could be the alchemist (like how the Merisiel and Fumbus pregens are built), but in emphasizing this role of “the healer,” 2e has essentially required having a cleric in the party who has to cast a 2-action heal basically every other round (depending on the combat) or else every boss fight will end in a near TPK, which just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Are you perchance trying to fight using PF1 tactics of "I walk up the enemy and full attack until they die"? Because if yes, no amount of healing will help you. PF2 plays differently from PF1, you can't expect the healers to keep if you fight that way.

Cleric's thing is that they allow you to be more reckless, but the baseline of PF2 fights, especially boss fights, isn't "win the battle of attrition" like it was in PF1, but "mitigate damage by debuffs/mobility/advantage of numbers".


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I have personally only ever played in a group without a Cleric at this point, and have run into no problems at all. Our main group is at level 13 right now, no special abilities, and we've just fought our way through a Colosseum. No cleric, only a few health potions, and my playtest Swashbuckler took like...10 damage. Admittedly that was largely because of all the fireballs being thrown around and how easily I was making my Legendary Reflex saves, but still, we often went a couple rounds in the Colosseum with no problems at all.

Besides my Swashbuckler, we have an Elemental Sorcerer, a Redeemer Paladin (who does help a bit with the healing, but more often between combats than during), and a Fighter.

We are generally very good at sizing up our opponents, applying debuffs, getting flanking with our multiple martials. Clerics seem entirely unneeded.

Liberty's Edge

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I strongly disagree.

Having anyone with Medicine maxed means you have unlimited out of combat healing, so we're talking exclusively about in-combat healing.

And in terms of in-combat healing...how much do you really need? Most combats, you probably don't need any (though it can certainly be handy), and even if (as you say) you do need it in boss fights specifically, how many such spells do you need per boss fight? And can a character other than a Cleric reduce that necessity with their other options?

In my experience, saying that in-combat healing is necessary vs. bosses is actually untrue for most of the game. It's much more true for the first couple of levels, but even as early as level 4 or so, it's a lot less necessary than you're implying it is, and that makes Cleric 'essential' for a very narrow part of the game, and really, any caster with healing on their list can just focus on healing spells for the first few levels and fill that niche fine.

Now, in-combat healing is always good and useful to have, and Clerics are thus an excellent Class, but there's a huge difference between 'useful' and 'necessary' and I think Clerics and their increased healing fall firmly on the 'useful' side of the ledger for the most part.


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Clerics are a little bit problematic insofar as that Divine Font gives them vastly better staying power as a healer than pretty much anyone else in the game, especially at low levels where a Cleric with a moderate amount of Charisma can have almost twice as many spell slots as a Sorcerer.

If you want in-combat healing, Clerics are head and shoulders above everyone else. Alchemists can put out pretty decent numbers, but have some serious issues with range and action economy and at low levels healing Sorcerers (and other casters) just can't compete with a Cleric's longevity. Frankly, it's kind of bad game balance.

But I'm not really sure it's fair to say that in-combat healing is a 'required' role. PF2 gives players a lot of ways to reduce incoming damage before it happens with positioning, debuffs and other support skills.


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Yes, clerics are amazing healers, but no that role isn’t necessary.


First of all: Holy crap, do you guys live on these forums?! (I’m aware different time zones are a thing, but still)

Secondly, I’m mostly echoing the words of that gaming buddy I mentioned (trying to get him to post here, but it’s evening where we live). I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but the gist of what I’ve gotten from him are “Debuffs with saves aren’t worth it because everything succeeds on it anyway,” “Why would I [the divine sorcerer] use one-third of my spell slots to do something the cleric could basically do for free,” and so on, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, I just haven’t found any really good evidence to the contrary. (Though admittedly, part of the problem may be switching between 1e and 2e combat mindsets.)

Liberty's Edge

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Creatures often fail Saves vs. debuffs (as long as you target middling to bad Saves, anyway), and if we're talking good debuffs (which are hardly uncommon), often suffer serious problems even on a successful Save, with only a rare critical success avoiding badness.

And yes, a Divine Sorcerer must spend an actual spell slot to heal...of course, since they always have one more slot per level, this functionally makes them identical to a Cha 12 Cleric in that regard, only with significantly more low level spells. That's not exactly a vast downgrade.

And in terms of evidence, I think the general sentiment here on the forums should serve as at least a bit of evidence to support the lack of in-combat healing as a necessity.

Also, what levels have you played at? Because, in addition to the difference in combat mindset (which is very important), as I noted in my previous post in-combat healing is much closer to necessary at the very low levels and thus if all your experience is at levels 1-3, that's gonna skew things in favor of Cleric a fair bit.


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Oh, so this conversation. Again.

Debuffs are hugely important to playing tactically in this game, specifically knowing which ones to use and when to use them. Fear, for instance, applies frightened 1 even on a success, which is useful against tougher (read: often higher level) opponents. Lowering an opponent's AC, saves, and attack rolls even by 1 is huge in this edition. Not only are you increasing your own chance to hit by 5%, but also the chance to crit, the chance to not be hit or crit, as well as increase the effectiveness of your spells. Don't forget that you can be using Demoralize or Aid or... any number of things to do this!

The other big thing here is... actually moving out of the way. Going toe to toe against big monsters doesn't work the same way as it did in 1e. There aren't that many AoOs to go around, so when the gnoll is critting your two-handed fighter, maybe he should use some actions to Stride away, forcing the opponent to waste actions chasing him. A character spending 1 action to protect themselves (Striding away, Raising a shield, what have you), is a very important thing to do.

It's an adjustment if you've come from 1e. There's a larger focus on playing smarter and engaging in combats more tactically.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Having anyone with Medicine maxed means you have unlimited out of combat healing, so we're talking exclusively about in-combat healing.

Out of combat healing is very much dependent on your level and how your group and the GM are handling things after combat. So even if 10min of pause are considered a given after each combat you may easily run into limitations regarding the number or persons you can treat and/or immunity timers, at least at low level. Being the only one to have out-of combat healing ability in our group of 5 (4 players and one animal companion; via medicine) I can tell you the limitations are quite severe, respectively the pause needs to be close to 1h if I want to treat everybody at least once and they may have received much more damage than one usage of medicine will mend. In our current AP I could not at all keep the party near max health despite 10min breaks after each fight. Going for the severely damaged party members first I only managed to assure that nobody was a one-hit-kill once a new encounter started.

Having said so I still think that a sorcerer will eventually be able to outheal a cleric due to spontaneous casting. While a cleric receives extra (maximum) heals via Charisma a sorcerer can cast heal out of every single spell slot once he declared his signature spell.


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Ruzza wrote:
Oh, so this conversation. Again.

Yes, this conversation again. And while I don't have the shadow of a doubt that what you explained works mechanically it apparently does not work on a psychological level. People cast for effect, not for failure effect. Having all those nice possible spell effects only to have the enemy success effect be applied most of the time feels bad EVEN if it is a huge boon to the group effort.

Ruzza wrote:
The other big thing here is... actually moving out of the way.

I have yet to see this work in practice either as many monsters have similar speed as the player characters and/or many spell ranges are limited to 30 feet either. Striding away potentially opens up for enemy AoO and also enables the monster to deal damage elsewhere, e.g. go for the casters / weaker targets. In addition I think most melee monsters would not mind losing their -10 attack as even with their artificially inflated to-hit numbers chances of connecting those 3rd attacks are quite bad.

Please mind that despite sounding quite negative I really do enjoy playing PF2. However I just wanted to point out that I can relay to some of the topics raised in these forums and that at least at my table some of the game theory strategies do not seem to work as easy as it is always depicted.


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Ubertron_X wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
Oh, so this conversation. Again.
Yes, this conversation again. And while I don't have the shadow of a doubt that what you explained works mechanically it apparently does not work on a psychological level. People cast for effect, not for failure effect. Having all those nice possible spell effects only to have the enemy success effect be applied most of the time feels bad EVEN if it is a huge boon to the group effort.

I understand this, but slamming your face into "it's not working when I do it this way," feels worse. These discussions keep springing up, because it feels counter-intuitive to not be dealing damage with all of your actions after coming from 1e. There are numerous "What should I know before going from 1e to 2e/5e to to 2e" threads that have these same discussions.

Ubertron_X wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
The other big thing here is... actually moving out of the way.
I have yet to see this work in practice either as many monsters have similar speed as the player characters and/or many spell ranges are limited to 30 feet either. Striding away potentially opens up for enemy AoO and also enables the monster to deal damage elsewhere, e.g. go for the casters / weaker targets. In addition I think most melee monsters would not mind losing their -10 attack as even with their artificially inflated to-hit numbers chances of connecting those 3rd attacks are quite bad.

Or grapple, or trip, or have your casters use Reach Spell, or use Readied actions to move away, or use Recall Knowledge checks to determine their weaknesses and cripple them, or Reposition them to your advantage, or...

If it's not working at your table, I'm sorry. I don't know what's happening there, but there are a wealth of options available that aren't hit the thing, get hit in return. If that's happening often enough that you feel like the game mechanics aren't working, you might need to look at the game mechanics to see what you can be doing.

Edit: I think one of the bigger challenges is making sure everyone is on the same page tactically. A fighter who is tripping the opponent and Striding away isn't doing as much if the monk is going to stand next to the prone opponent anyway. I can see team cooperation as actually a bigger hurdle than adapting strategies to 2e.


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Ubertron_X wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
The other big thing here is... actually moving out of the way.
I have yet to see this work in practice either as many monsters have similar speed as the player characters and/or many spell ranges are limited to 30 feet either.

Party faced a big guy today. Nasty spymaster they've been hearing frightening tales about for months, rumoured to be some sort of powerful spellblade and a stone cold killer to boot. They're slowly figuring out his secrets, and faced him three times already, but never managed to take him down as they either took heavy losses and had to let him run, or they had to run themselves.

Why?

Because they keep letting me cast crowd controls and strike at max precision.
If they moved away, I'd have to choose between disabling or harassing and dealing damage. Since someone is always on him, I don't have to choose and I can make the most of my turns.

You want to lose a fight, just sit close to the end boss. GM's advice.


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The premise a Cleric is "needed" would seem disproven by just one group playing successfully without a Cleric.
Fair to say many, many groups have been able to play successfully, so it should pretty clear this premise is false.
I mean, ultimately I reject the idea that something being "better" means it then becomes "necessary".
Cleric could be INFINITELY better, but if groups without Cleric can survive and defeat appropriate challenges, Cleric isn't "necessary".

If you want non-Cleric Healing, consider Divine Sorceror including their Feats as well as basic +1 slot/level advantage:
Divine Evolution (4) grants bonus max level Heal/Harm (that is flexible unlike Cleric Font).
Greater Vital Evolution (16) grants 2 free bonus slots (effectively of max and max-1 level).

A Cleric can start with a max of 16 CHA (+3 modifier) which can only be raised to +5 by level 15
(starting 14 CHA can also reach +5 modifier but later, at level 20).
So Cleric has +5 max level Heals VS Divine Sorceror's +3 max level + 2 max-1 level +1 all other level Heals...
Not really a huge advantage in high level Heals, and certainly not more total healing...
(higher level slots may actually "waste" their power when "topping off HPs" or when max level Heal isn't needed to survive and win)
And for a Cleric to achieve that they need heavy investment in CHA, which comes at opportunity costs of other stats...
Such as DEX/STR which could support effective "3rd action" weapon attacks, which might end fight earlier and prevent damage in first place.
(Sorceror doesn't have "split" magic stats like this, so can more easily manage auxiliary stats, and will be better at CHA skills as well)

Even the Primal Sorceror manages fine with base +1 slot/level advantage and Greater Vital Evolution...
Although a max CHA Cleric would fairly be ahead at least most of the game, much less so for medium CHA Cleric build (12-14 starting).

Even Bards and Druids (with Goodberry Focus spell) can do fine by healing, solid enough on own merit,
but more importantly with buffs and debuffs (mostly Bards) or direct damage (mostly Druids) they have instead,
they can kill enemy quicker (preventing them from damaging allies), and protect allies from potential damage that would "need" healing.
That kind of goes in general, because in-combat Healing (which is only real differentiator in the end) only is of critical importance
if you don't have (or don't think you have) other good options to avoid damage (either by offense or defence or both).

And while every character can have Medicine and Battle Medicine, and having it at least Trained seems normal for most PC characters.
(which goes huge distance in terms of covering low level healing, which is where "max CHA Cleric" seems to stand out the most)
The irony is Clerics (and Druids) are probably best characters at Medicine and Battle Medicine with max WIS for better results.
At 1/ character / day (normally), Battle Medicine typically has more usages than max CHA Font Healing, without further stat investments.
(allowing them to invest in other useful stats, whether for 3rd action weapon usage maybe with Deity Weapon, or other usages)

If you're just picking up the game, you do want to "win", and you want a simple formula. OK, use whatever works for you.
There is a learning curve for the rest of the game in general, and it can be nice to have simple and easy "bumpers" while learning that.
Cleric was always a classic element of D&D party with healing as major part of their role, and they did and do now fulfill that well.
But don't think this is the one and only way just because it works for you immediately, the options in the game are meant to be used,
not be false choices with just one max CHA Healing Font play style the only viable play style. So take your time,
check back to see what other classes can do, and what different options each bring to the game, directly comparable or not.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'm going to add my voice to the chorus of "my play experience says otherwise" people. I'm GMing Age of Ashes right now with a party that consists of a ranger, a fighter, a druid/alchemist, and a bard. They've made it to just shy of 6th level. The healing the two casters can supply has proven more than sufficient so far, and I see no reason to expect that to change going forward.


Ruzza wrote:

Or grapple, or trip, or have your casters use Reach Spell, or use Readied actions to move away, or use Recall Knowledge checks to determine their weaknesses and cripple them, or Reposition them to your advantage, or...

If it's not working at your table, I'm sorry. I don't know what's happening there, but there are a wealth of options available that aren't hit the thing, get hit in return. If that's happening often enough that you feel like the game mechanics aren't working, you might need to look at the game mechanics to see what you can be doing.

I am aware of all this, however this may or may not help building a "viable" character. For example our dwarf fighter. Uses an axe and shield and is as generic a dwarf as you would expect one to be. And here the trouble begins. Occupying both hands and not using a weapon with a suitable trait means that he can not use any athletics action at all, so no grab, trip or shove. Having dumped CHA because of his ancestry and occupation he can not hope to successfully use Intimidate to demoralize either. Being dwarf he is slower than most monsters, so once engaged staying away is not easy. All this character in his current iteration does is try to tank and spank which as we all know does not work well versus bosses.

Bottom line is, building a character or group without having fully understood all the pitfalls of the current game mechanics can easily limit your options as has happend at our table. Entirely new to the system most of our group made their feat & character set-up based on roleplaying decisions rather then game mechanics which is now comming back to us full circle.


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Ediwir wrote:

If they moved away, I'd have to choose between disabling or harassing and dealing damage. Since someone is always on him, I don't have to choose and I can make the most of my turns.

You want to lose a fight, just sit close to the end boss. GM's advice.

You are entirely right, however it is not easy to stay away if the boss and his reach almost occupy the full room, cavern or whatever you will be fighting in and he has AoO on top of that.

Also I assume that most melees really do want to enter melee range, because thats what they are there for. If primarily using ranged weapons and spells and always fighting skirmisher style and whitteling down every single boss is for everyone I can't really tell.

Note that this is not about the mechanical side of things because I do know most of these, this is about player expectation how to play in opposition to how to play most effective from a game mechanics point of view.


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Shisumo wrote:
I'm going to add my voice to the chorus of "my play experience says otherwise" people. I'm GMing Age of Ashes right now with a party that consists of a ranger, a fighter, a druid/alchemist, and a bard. They've made it to just shy of 6th level. The healing the two casters can supply has proven more than sufficient so far, and I see no reason to expect that to change going forward.

How did your group go with the Vision of Dahak encounter?

My group took the repeated area fire damage, and soaked it up with healing.

Which requires a cleric for multiple burst heals.....
Its very nice in some circustances. But I do agree there are other ways to go, clerics aren't compulsory anymore.


Ubertron_X wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Having anyone with Medicine maxed means you have unlimited out of combat healing, so we're talking exclusively about in-combat healing.
Out of combat healing is very much dependent on your level and how your group and the GM are handling things after combat. So even if 10min of pause are considered a given after each combat you may easily run into limitations regarding the number or persons you can treat and/or immunity timers...

Yes its game amd GM dependant. It would not be unreasonable for a GM to run a couple of encounters close together. But normally I'm finding that there is time.


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Gortle wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
I'm going to add my voice to the chorus of "my play experience says otherwise" people. I'm GMing Age of Ashes right now with a party that consists of a ranger, a fighter, a druid/alchemist, and a bard. They've made it to just shy of 6th level. The healing the two casters can supply has proven more than sufficient so far, and I see no reason to expect that to change going forward.

How did your group go with the Vision of Dahak encounter?

My group took the repeated area fire damage, and soaked it up with healing.

Spoilers and different person, but...

Spoiler:

My group - which at the time was a negative-energy cleric, sorcerer, barbarian, and alchemist - assumed it was a battle to be fought. After two rounds of getting burnt, they retreated back through the gate. They had a discussion, brewed up a ton of Frost Vials, and went in guns blazing. The sorcerer realized that the problem could be circumvented through divine assistance, and the cleric made the Religion check to disable the hazard.

In my experience, in-combat healing is more of a "Wow, I don't want to be using my actions to do this," sort of thing. If you find yourself constantly healing, something is wrong.


Ubertron_X wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

Or grapple, or trip, or have your casters use Reach Spell, or use Readied actions to move away, or use Recall Knowledge checks to determine their weaknesses and cripple them, or Reposition them to your advantage, or...

If it's not working at your table, I'm sorry. I don't know what's happening there, but there are a wealth of options available that aren't hit the thing, get hit in return. If that's happening often enough that you feel like the game mechanics aren't working, you might need to look at the game mechanics to see what you can be doing.

I am aware of all this, however this may or may not help building a "viable" character. For example our dwarf fighter. Uses an axe and shield and is as generic a dwarf as you would expect one to be. And here the trouble begins. Occupying both hands and not using a weapon with a suitable trait means that he can not use any athletics action at all, so no grab, trip or shove. Having dumped CHA because of his ancestry and occupation he can not hope to successfully use Intimidate to demoralize either. Being dwarf he is slower than most monsters, so once engaged staying away is not easy. All this character in his current iteration does is try to tank and spank which as we all know does not work well versus bosses.

Bottom line is, building a character or group without having fully understood all the pitfalls of the current game mechanics can easily limit your options as has happend at our table. Entirely new to the system most of our group made their feat & character set-up based on roleplaying decisions rather then game mechanics which is now comming back to us full circle.

Our "generic" TH weapon fighter realised after the first 2 games he needed to be adaptable so he got a shield and a back up 1h weapon. He also picked up Exacting strike. This feat makes the fights where he would be swinging for the fences at a -10 now only -5 which is much better and with his higher base to hit he often is connecting with those swings as well.


From my experience. As a healing font cloistered cleric with the medicine skill at level 1.

My heals while appreciated. They were honestly far less impactful than battle medicine.

Given the nature of the encounter's it wasn't often where I had the need to ranged heal spell for 2 actions.

So do I think they are necessary? I think it depends on group composition and group tactics.

Even with 18 ac I was bright from 17hp to dying... Twice in the same day.

My monk with 21ac 19hp. Dying one hit.

Then most encounter's where this didn't happen I or another party member were brought under 5hp in a single round.

Rather than battle medicine to conserve my heals I healed to conserve my battle medicine lol.


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As everyone else here, I disagree.

My party consists of a Monk, Dual-wielding Ranger, Necromancer and a Alchemist and we've been doing fine in Age of Ashes. We don't have much healing power in combat, but Battle medicine and potions have been doing the job quite nicely. You know what the difference is? Even if we don't have the best healing in the game, we still manage because all of us can dish out enough damage and have enough utility to not need a Cleric's level of healing.

Clerics are great at healing, but that doesn't mean that they're absolutely necessary. Other forms of healing are just as vital even if they don't reach a Cleric's benchmark. Not everything a party creates should be "the best" in a particular field, you can be "subpar" (both terms mentioned here are just a plain wrong mentality and is what create these types of opinions) in something while having other benefits that aren't readily apparent.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My group of four doesn't have a cleric and they have no problem getting to almost max HP between fights. Two of them have a decent Medicine skill and one of them has Battle Medicine (which doesn't need to be used in combat). They take a lot of damage in fights, but it is almost always healed before the next fight.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
KingTreyIII wrote:

or else every boss fight will end in a near TPK, which just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

See, I think an issue your table might be having is that PF2 designs real boss fights to "feel" like near TPKs with much higher frequency than PF1. Any boss fight where no one drops are much less common by design. Dropping in combat, especially at higher levels is no longer as much of a straight up death sentence as it was in PF1, but it is also a more tense and less predictable situation than it was in PF1. No one is sitting safely on the ground for 3 to 4 rounds.

In combat, emergency healing is something every party needs eventually, especially in boss fights. But it isn't something that you need more than 3 to 4 instances of in day. You can have a healing font cleric, and play a more direct style in PF2, but you don't have to. I would say that it is true that your party's fighting style needs to take into consideration your healing options (in combat and out of combat), And that a party with only one fighting style is going to meet its match eventually because every style has weaknesses that will eventually be exposed in varied combats.

But there also seems to be a tendency on these forums to always look at the boss fight for defining what tactics the party must specialize in, and for defining what abilities are optimal for all characters. In a party with three casters, it is sometimes the case in combats against important foes that one of us does nothing important in a round, often the case that 2 of us apply different lesser (saved) debuffs, but it is also likely that one of us does something truly nasty and combat defining. Usually it is a different person each combat so even if one of us is only ever doing something amazing every 3rd combat. It never feels like any of us are useless.

And this is with two casters only having 16s in their primary casting stat.


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Clerics make effective characters, but other characters like reach fighters and bards are effective too.

I think a problem is comparing a cleric to a sorcerer, 4 slot casters are really underpowered at low levels. Things get better for other casters as they level and get more powerful relative to non casters.

Clerics also by default don't get electric arc, which is twice as effective as other damage cantrips for general use…


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The Cleric in my AoA party has definitely saved party members before, but he mostly saved them from bad decisions (and considering how he plays his character, the most common person he is saving is himself).

For most fights, when the PCs are not doing silly things like "let's stand right next to the golem and let it full attack us", the Cleric doesn't even touch his healing spells.


Striding away is only so possible when the ooze grapples you and you just go down because of that.

Hi. I'm the player Trey mentioned. Let me bring up my points.

1. It's true. I've never really played above 5th level, but considering my experience has been at these levels since release, it's a valid issue for low level play. How does one get through these early levels without the Cleric healing? Is the 2e slog just going to be that much worse?

2. Striding away isn't always a possibility. Many, many times have I had to stride up to the monster so I can actually do something. Sure, this may be a bit of leftover from 1e, but sometimes you just have to spend your turn adjacent to a creature so somebody else can live to see another day. I shouldn't be punished unfairly, and the Cleric shouldn't have to use two actions, just because I didn't have an extra action and I dropped to a crit, even with all the proper precautions.

3. Boss fights are designed to drop people. I understand that. I embrace that. This is actually the main reason I feel like a Cleric is needed, and the main reason I don't want to play the Cleric. When crap hits the fan, somebody has to be on heal duty, or combat has to drag on. 1e managed to avoid this, for the most part, simply due to how short the battles were, but now that the battles are longer, dropping out of combat on round one feels like $#!7! I'll just go walk away for 45 minutes and come back later because the sorcerer's slots are better spent on (as you've all mentioned) debuffs and damage so that the other party members can survive. I really don't like the feeling of being taken out of combat simply because I decided I wanted to do something in round 1 with my good initiative roll, and it happens all the damn time.

4. Out of combat, healing isn't a problem, it's actually typically trivial, assuming there isn't a time crunch. But point 3 still is my main concern. It may just be the group I'm with, or how I WANT to play a game like this, but in combat healing just seems so lackluster and boring.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Looking at our party composition and tactics in Age of Ashes, I'd say we'd be dead 10 times over if not for our cleric. Once we reached 3sea-level, we had not one, but two characters invest in Battle Medicine and Continual Recovery.

That being said, I understand that,that is anecdotal, and I believe other groups have managed just fine without a cleric.

I also think some of you are vastly underestimating the healing ability of the divine sorcerer. Sure a cleric has 3-5 heals at the highest level, but most don't prepare more than that.

Contrast that to a divine sorcerer with heal as a specialized spell. Cleric can still heal 3-5 times per day, more if they bothered to prepare more. The sorcerer though, can literally dedicate every single spell slot to heal, as needed, without needing to guess in advance or having it negatively impact their other options. Need an offensive spell? Good thing I didnt give it up this morning!

I'd even argue that divine sorcerers are the better healers due to sheer quantity.


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Reading you, it looks like bosses drop a character per turn, it also looks like you have only one character able to heal. All of that points to a lack of defensive abilities to me.

First, on average, half of the party members are supposed to be able to heal. There are 4 healing classes (Cleric, Sorcerer, Alchemist and Bard) + a few secondary healers (Champion, Battle Medicine, MCD + scroll-based healing). If you just have a Sorcerer as healer, you are low on healing. It has nothing to do with the lack of Cleric but with the fact that healing has to be spread between characters.
Then, it's not normal to have so many characters dropping. If, thanks to a high initiative, you rush alone towards the monsters, then you get what you owe. If some of your characters lack range attacks, it's also pretty concerning. In some situations, you have to stay away from the monsters.

So, could you describe your party? It would certainly help us understand what's happening.


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@SuperBidi: The party isn't set. It's PFS, so the unfortunate side effect of organized play comes in here. We can't guarantee the table has anybody capable of healing at it, which is definitely the first problem.

Though, I do have to say the "just have two healers" solution is actually a pretty dang good solution I hadn't managed to come up with. Two people capable of healing definitely reduces the strain of "Hey, I want to do something else please, can you stop getting hit!" and turns it into a more "My turn or your turn to heal him?" approach. Definitely makes bosses a bit less scary if two people can help revive the Rogue who wanted to flank.


SuperBidi wrote:
First, on average, half of the party members are supposed to be able to heal. There are 4 healing classes (Cleric, Sorcerer, Alchemist and Bard) + a few secondary healers (Champion, Battle Medicine, MCD + scroll-based healing).

While I agree to all you posted just remember that the classical group is composed of fighter, wizard, rogue and cleric, thus also containing just one "natural" healer. In PF2 it certainly helps if one of the other 3 slaps some skill ups into medicine and picks up battle medicine...


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In general agreement, Clerics are good but not "necessary." Out of combat healing seems up to the task (with Druids and Paladins being pretty good at pumping out Goodberries and Laying on them Hands), and "spot healing" during combat to keep people fighting can be done in a number of ways and by a number of classes.

Tactics can make healing much less necessary, and I think a lot of folks are still figuring out how many interesting things they can do in a turn that don't include Move > Attack > Attack. Recall Knowledge can help get you a shortcut to a monster's weaknesses or give you information on what to avoid (depending on DM; the rules are a little vague). Debuffs like Fear are potent, as others have mentioned.

Cleric is a great class, even if not necessary. If you're in a campaign where you're fighting a ton of undead a Cleric is a really potent ally to have because all of those free extra Heals can turn into extra 3-action novas, especially if you invest heavily in some of the Heal feats. While a Divine sorcerer may have similar throughput just because they're spontaneous, Clerics are sort of like Wizards in that their free spell slots let them use their remaining slots for more interesting or dynamic spells on a daily basis.

At higher levels the Cleric has a ton of utility and their slots can solve a lot of problems while still having a baseline amount of on-demand healing available.


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Ubertron_X wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
First, on average, half of the party members are supposed to be able to heal. There are 4 healing classes (Cleric, Sorcerer, Alchemist and Bard) + a few secondary healers (Champion, Battle Medicine, MCD + scroll-based healing).
While I agree to all you posted just remember that the classical group is composed of fighter, wizard, rogue and cleric, thus also containing just one "natural" healer. In PF2 it certainly helps if one of the other 3 slaps some skill ups into medicine and picks up battle medicine...

I have 5 PFS characters, and all of them are able to heal. My Barbarian has a scroll of Heal, and my Rogue one of Soothe. Ok, for the Barbarian it's a bit special as Rage limits him to 1-action heal.

When you take into account Medicine (better not to have the Cleric as only healer) + Dedication, you can have tons of healers in a party. And parties with all players able to heal are not unheard of.

@X Hums: Maybe having one healer is like having one frontliner: it's a good reason to switch one character for another. Especially if the only healer doesn't want to be a healbot during combats.

Dark Archive

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X Hums wrote:

Striding away is only so possible when the ooze grapples you and you just go down because of that.

Hi. I'm the player Trey mentioned. Let me bring up my points.

1. It's true. I've never really played above 5th level, but considering my experience has been at these levels since release, it's a valid issue for low level play. How does one get through these early levels without the Cleric healing? Is the 2e slog just going to be that much worse?

2. Striding away isn't always a possibility. Many, many times have I had to stride up to the monster so I can actually do something. Sure, this may be a bit of leftover from 1e, but sometimes you just have to spend your turn adjacent to a creature so somebody else can live to see another day. I shouldn't be punished unfairly, and the Cleric shouldn't have to use two actions, just because I didn't have an extra action and I dropped to a crit, even with all the proper precautions.

3. Boss fights are designed to drop people. I understand that. I embrace that. This is actually the main reason I feel like a Cleric is needed, and the main reason I don't want to play the Cleric. When crap hits the fan, somebody has to be on heal duty, or combat has to drag on. 1e managed to avoid this, for the most part, simply due to how short the battles were, but now that the battles are longer, dropping out of combat on round one feels like $#!7! I'll just go walk away for 45 minutes and come back later because the sorcerer's slots are better spent on (as you've all mentioned) debuffs and damage so that the other party members can survive. I really don't like the feeling of being taken out of combat simply because I decided I wanted to do something in round 1 with my good initiative roll, and it happens all the damn time.

4. Out of combat, healing isn't a problem, it's actually typically trivial, assuming there isn't a time crunch. But point 3 still is my main concern. It may just be the group I'm with, or how I WANT to play a game like this, but in combat healing just seems...

1. Honestly, you just need tactics customized to your group. If you have all melee martials, you need to gang up and crush the opposition as quickly as possible, but also use your shield. If you’re all ranged you need to kite as much as possible and use the environment to your advantage. There are many more group dynamics, but you’ll have to think about it tactically.

2. This is the same as 1. If you’re a rogue, don’t rush in unless you know for certain will back you up or you’re okay with being out of the fight (or out of a character). If you’re before everyone else and all the enemies are after you but before your allies, don’t rush in. Personally, I wouldn’t waste a spell saving you (though I have a caster who will for me, but I’d change if the group dynamic changed).

3. Back to 1, tactics. You don’t need to just sacrifice yourself. The best way I’ve found to fight bosses is to destroy their action economy, while debuffing them as far as possible. Trip bosses so they need to spend an action to stand; try to put as many conditions on them as possible (fear, flat-footed, stunned, slowed, fear, enfeebled). Still, boss fights are hard, but clerics aren’t necessary in the slightest (they make being reckless less risky though).

4. A level 2 rogue will have good in combat healing with battle medicine and expert proficiency, though only once a day. Using actions to down a potion is also an option. Of course, don’t try in front of a creature with attacks of opportunity. I do agree that in combat healing is boring, but that is for most games as a dedicated healer. That’s not necessary in this edition though as long as you play smartly. Though heal is great against undead.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Narxiso wrote:
If you’re before everyone else and all the enemies are after you but before your allies, don’t rush in. Personally, I wouldn’t waste a spell saving you (though I have a caster who will for me, but I’d change if the group dynamic changed).

I know a few groups that would consider that metagaming, especially on the first round.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Narxiso wrote:
If you’re before everyone else and all the enemies are after you but before your allies, don’t rush in. Personally, I wouldn’t waste a spell saving you (though I have a caster who will for me, but I’d change if the group dynamic changed).
I know a few groups that would consider that metagaming, especially on the first round.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with that. But it's stuff like that (and putting all the big strong monsters on the same initiative) that really screws over players into this lull of "guess I need a Cleric".


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One of my parties lacks a cleric, heck their healer is a primal list sorcerer with champion dedication and two other characters with battle medicine and one with continual healing.

Ravingdork wrote:
Narxiso wrote:
If you’re before everyone else and all the enemies are after you but before your allies, don’t rush in. Personally, I wouldn’t waste a spell saving you (though I have a caster who will for me, but I’d change if the group dynamic changed).
I know a few groups that would consider that metagaming, especially on the first round.

The non metagame approach is to use delay to make sure the party acts in tandem.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Narxiso wrote:
If you’re before everyone else and all the enemies are after you but before your allies, don’t rush in. Personally, I wouldn’t waste a spell saving you (though I have a caster who will for me, but I’d change if the group dynamic changed).
I know a few groups that would consider that metagaming, especially on the first round.

Coordinating yourself with the other players is not metagaming. Metagaming happens when you use information your character doesn't have. In that case, you character is pretty aware the other melee characters have been surprised by the fight and not ready to follow him.

Dark Archive

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X Hums wrote:
Though, I do have to say the "just have two healers" solution is actually a pretty dang good solution I hadn't managed to come up with. Two people capable of healing definitely reduces the strain of "Hey, I want to do something else please, can you stop getting hit!" and turns it into a more "My turn or your turn to heal him?" approach. Definitely makes bosses a bit less scary if two people can help revive the Rogue who wanted to flank.

Some of our more fun games (in previous editions) have involved a bunch of jack of all trades-y characters, where everyone had a little bit of healing, like a party that included an alchemist, a bard, a ranger and a witch. (No cleric, but *everyone* could cast cure light wounds, at least.) We joked that we could add a monk and a barbarian if Paizo would only come up with some way to a fast healing rage power or a monk that could use ki healing on others and have an all-backup-healer party. :)

It's also useful in any event to spread stuff out so that no single party member becomes utterly indispensible, in the sense that, 'oh, X is feared / petrified / fell down a pit, now we all die!'

That said, it totally flies in the face of the characters I usually play, the dedicated healer cleric, whom I feel has to be able to handle *everything,* even if I should be expecting other party members to also take on some of the load. But that's just extra stress I put on myself, because I'm a masochist, I guess. :)

Silver Crusade

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In PFS I would argue having a Cleric in the party is a very good idea. I have played a number of scenarios (as a Cloistered Cleric) and have pretty much rescued the party from at least one TPK and allowed us to keep up and fighting to a good outcome in many other scenarios. In society games you can't count on the party makeup and great character build decisions nor proper preparations for fights where certain resistances/etc can make it extremely challenging for the party.


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X Hums wrote:


(and putting all the big strong monsters on the same initiative)

I saw this in your post and wanted to chime in on this. The Initiative order in PF2 is balanced around each creature acting on its own Initiative, not lumping them together. Your GM is giving groups of monsters an advantage that makes the combat more deadly by doing so.

In PF1, I always consolidated enemy initiatives by creature type (goblins on one count, goblin dogs on another, etc.) to make combat run faster, but I'm having to change that based on the game balance. I just hope that it doesn't make combat drag.


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Phntm888 wrote:
X Hums wrote:


(and putting all the big strong monsters on the same initiative)

I saw this in your post and wanted to chime in on this. The Initiative order in PF2 is balanced around each creature acting on its own Initiative, not lumping them together. Your GM is giving groups of monsters an advantage that makes the combat more deadly by doing so.

In PF1, I always consolidated enemy initiatives by creature type (goblins on one count, goblin dogs on another, etc.) to make combat run faster, but I'm having to change that based on the game balance. I just hope that it doesn't make combat drag.

I actually think tracking initiative separately makes combat feel faster. Doing five monsters at once feels like you're filing taxes, and letting the players have a solid block of actions can lead to situations where they overthink how they're going to combine their uninterrupted action economy resources. Plus combat feels more dynamic, which I think retains player interest.

The magnetic initiative trackers work really well, I love mine. Things like Roll20 make it easy, if you're on that. Or just having a table pre-printed and ready to write in for each encounter.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

While I am not, based on my experience so far (which certainly has limits), going to agree that a cleric is required (though they are absolutely a solid addition to a party), I would like to point out that you do sometimes end up with monsters acting together by coincidence, when rolling all initiatives separately.


That is a good point, HammerJack. I just know a lot of people who GM'd that way with 1E (most of my GM'ing these days is over PbP, so it's especially helpful there), and early on in PF2, some GMs still did things that way.

Sovereign Court

So what about a party with a fighter, bard, cleric, and a wizard? In the game I'm playing, I've never felt so dependent on another character having a healing spell available. What do your defensive numbers look like (people who don't feel clerics are necessary)? Maybe we are not well equipped. Maybe our tactics suck. All possibly true points, but I feel like everything we fight hits 80% of the time and hit quite hard.

I'm enjoying the game I'm in and I'm doing my best to learn the system, but I'm frankly shocked that so many people disagree with the importance of clerics that my experience has suggested. Even in the playtest stuff I did with some friends (totally different group), we were stunned at the amount of damage that got thrown around.

Help? :)

Paizo Employee

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Puna'chong wrote:

I actually think tracking initiative separately makes combat feel faster. Doing five monsters at once feels like you're filing taxes, and letting the players have a solid block of actions can lead to situations where they overthink how they're going to combine their uninterrupted action economy resources. Plus combat feels more dynamic, which I think retains player interest.

The magnetic initiative trackers work really well, I love mine. Things like Roll20 make it easy, if you're on that. Or just having a table pre-printed and ready to write in for each encounter.

Yep, grouped initiative was just as bad an idea in PF1 as it is in PF2. I'd actually argue that it's a worse idea in PF1 since PF1 is a much more swingy and much less balanced game. And that applies to both meta and mechanical reasons, as you note.

From a meta perspective, grouped initiative means the GM is spending a longer period of consecutive time managing the monsters and the players are waiting longer to do things with their characters. You increase the risk of lowering player engagement and the stress the GM puts on their mental faculties while lowering the PCs' odds of success and the players' chance to use their characters' abilities for heroic comebacks.

From a mechanical perspective, grouped initiative means the players don't get as many opportunities to recharge their swift/immediate abilites (or reactions in PF2) between enemy attacks, which means you're artificially increasing the difficulty of the combat. You also make it much less likely that the PCs can reasonably respond to major turns in fortune. If an enemy gets a crit but none of the PCs can react until e.g. all 8 opponents have finished their turn, that character that got crit is probably going to die, so the crit has become much more severe for the party. If you have multiple spellcasting opponents with AoEs that are normally supposed to soften the party up and force them to respond tactically, you instead have a situation where the party might be TPK'd before they ever get a chance to do anything.

If you can't keep track of all the monsters' turns while you're GMing, buy or make an initiative tracker like the magnetic ones with the tabs you can shuffle around, or use a smaller number of slightly more powerful monsters. A good rotation between the GM and players will give the PCs more agency, decrease the deadliness of encounters, and boost player interest and engagement. It'll also make the cleric seem less like a necessity since the party won't feel like their only choice is to apply maximum burst healing every single round.


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I too disagree that the cleric is "necessary." Powerful healers? Absolutely. But not required.

A few anecdotes to highlight why I feel this way - noting that both the parties I GM for actually HAVE clerics in them:

Party A: warpriest cleric, storm druid, dragon barbarian, bomber alchemist, precision ranger
Party B: warpriest cleric, thief rogue, talky rogue, animal druid, primal sorcerer, abjurer wizard

1) The cleric in group A often goes whole combats without using a Heal spell. She's casting other spells, swinging her sword, whatever.. But she hardly uses Heal. It comes out for boss fights or when things get really out of hand. I think she's only once used her whole Divine Font in a day.

2) The cleric in group B is also the tank. Fought a party level +3 owlbear. Stood in the front, raised a shield, ate a crit and went down bleeding out. Several other characters are capable of healing in group B, so while the others tried to play tag with the owlbear, one of them saved the cleric's life with a timely spell. For the remainder of the fight, the owlbear put a character down and dying 3 more times. The cleric used one heal spell from his divine font, otherwise it was skill-based healing, focus spell based healing, or regular spell slot healing. I think the cleric used only one divine font slot.

The 2 times that the cleric's healing ability was most useful, in spoiler tags - avoid reading this if you don't want Fall of Plaguestone spoilers:

Spoiler:

A) Party A fought Hallod, didn't do a great job of avoiding his traps, and opted to "stand and deliver" in melee range, which is Hallod's most dangerous way of fighting. They also closed the distance to him. If they had forced Hallod to come to them by pummeling him at range, which was possible for this party, it would have gone far easier for them. The cleric used some of her divine font to get party members back in the fight.

B) Party A fought 3 whole encounters all at once when entering the Yard of Spite's Cradle. They took immense amounts of damage. But it amounted to a quite severe encounter, so that makes sense. The cleric ended up using her whole divine font to keep party members on their feet. Everybody was single digit HP by the end of the fight.


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Ubertron_X wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

Or grapple, or trip, or have your casters use Reach Spell, or use Readied actions to move away, or use Recall Knowledge checks to determine their weaknesses and cripple them, or Reposition them to your advantage, or...

If it's not working at your table, I'm sorry. I don't know what's happening there, but there are a wealth of options available that aren't hit the thing, get hit in return. If that's happening often enough that you feel like the game mechanics aren't working, you might need to look at the game mechanics to see what you can be doing.

I am aware of all this, however this may or may not help building a "viable" character. For example our dwarf fighter. Uses an axe and shield and is as generic a dwarf as you would expect one to be. And here the trouble begins. Occupying both hands and not using a weapon with a suitable trait means that he can not use any athletics action at all, so no grab, trip or shove. Having dumped CHA because of his ancestry and occupation he can not hope to successfully use Intimidate to demoralize either. Being dwarf he is slower than most monsters, so once engaged staying away is not easy. All this character in his current iteration does is try to tank and spank which as we all know does not work well versus bosses.

Bottom line is, building a character or group without having fully understood all the pitfalls of the current game mechanics can easily limit your options as has happend at our table. Entirely new to the system most of our group made their feat & character set-up based on roleplaying decisions rather then game mechanics which is now comming back to us full circle.

Your dwarf fighter is using a pretty effective weapon set up with the right feats. With a shield boss, the character can used double slice followed up by raise a shield. The numbers on that set of actions are better than just about any other build, and it should work well versus bosses because the character is effectively at +2 to max level to hit due to fighter and +2 to AC due to raise shield. Versus multiple enemies, using shielded stride to get into position then swipe with the sweep trait on the dwarven waraxe gives a 17+ critical range versus even leveled enemies. There's nothing wrong with a dwarfy dwarf fighter.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Queaux wrote:
Ubertron_X wrote:
Ruzza wrote:

Or grapple, or trip, or have your casters use Reach Spell, or use Readied actions to move away, or use Recall Knowledge checks to determine their weaknesses and cripple them, or Reposition them to your advantage, or...

If it's not working at your table, I'm sorry. I don't know what's happening there, but there are a wealth of options available that aren't hit the thing, get hit in return. If that's happening often enough that you feel like the game mechanics aren't working, you might need to look at the game mechanics to see what you can be doing.

I am aware of all this, however this may or may not help building a "viable" character. For example our dwarf fighter. Uses an axe and shield and is as generic a dwarf as you would expect one to be. And here the trouble begins. Occupying both hands and not using a weapon with a suitable trait means that he can not use any athletics action at all, so no grab, trip or shove. Having dumped CHA because of his ancestry and occupation he can not hope to successfully use Intimidate to demoralize either. Being dwarf he is slower than most monsters, so once engaged staying away is not easy. All this character in his current iteration does is try to tank and spank which as we all know does not work well versus bosses.

Bottom line is, building a character or group without having fully understood all the pitfalls of the current game mechanics can easily limit your options as has happend at our table. Entirely new to the system most of our group made their feat & character set-up based on roleplaying decisions rather then game mechanics which is now comming back to us full circle.

Your dwarf fighter is using a pretty effective weapon set up with the right feats. With a shield boss, the character can used double slice followed up by raise a shield. The numbers on that set of actions are better than just about any other build, and it should work well versus bosses because the character is effectively at +2 to max...

heh, I assume that double slice + shield boss/spike is a combo a lot of the playerbase is sleeping on right now, since the assumption has probably been that Double Slice is explicitly a TWF pathway, and that weapon + shield fighters should be using something else.

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