Help me decide on a healing caster for Abomination Vaults please!


First of all: No spoilers please! Thank you. I mention AV mostly to avoid build suggestions that don't come together before level 8. Or 10. Or 12.

I need a healing caster for an upcoming AV campaign and I can't make up my mind on which class to be or what build to use. We use free archetype. I want to avoid Medic, if possible, because it's boring and overused.

The Party has three frontliner: A Summoner (most likely arcane). A Thaumaturge. And some dex-based Frontline I don't know the class of. There's also an archery Inventor.

Before the other classes were set, I leaned towards playing a Wizard but I think having someone with actual healing potential will benefit the group and I don't mind playing a healer. I'm just stuck at building one.

I have ruled out Witch (played one, didn't like it), Psychic (not neary enough healing) and Oracle (don't like the class). My thoughts on the remaining classes:

Cleric: Warpriest seems unnecessary since we got enough people clogging up the front. Cloistered just seems... uninspired? No great feats (a few decent ones but nothing actually exciting) except Cast Down, which is a great trick but I don't want to be a one trick pony. Also the usual problems with the early game Divine Spell list being a bit ... meh.

Druid: Not a fan of Goodberry and would rather go with Storm Order if I play a druid at all. That might be a bit low on the healing, though. I'm also not entirely sure why the primal spell list has so many fans. For a pure caster it mostly gets you healing and blasting.

Bard: My last character was a bard so I'm reluctant to play another occult caster. The last bard was a melee guy, though (yes, you may laugh) so playing one as a pure caster might be interesting. I wouldn't mind getting Hymn of Healing early on to bolster my healing output and the buffs and spell list are obviously great.

Sorcerer: The Occult Bloodlines are bad. Divine ones are fine but still stuck with divine spells. Primal is either too cookie-cutter (i.e. Elemental) or too weird.

So I have successfully talked myself out of all caster classes. Yay? And even when I just say "I'm going to build a sorcerer now!" I get stuck on build minutiae and don't come to a satisfying conclusion. I'm usually mostly unsure what to do with free archetype. Caster don't seem worth it with a max level of 10-11, maritals are unnecessary...

The two "best" builds I've come up with so far are
- a Cloistered Cleric with Rogue dedication for light armor, extra cantrips (via minor magic), Mobility and Skill mastery.
- any primal or divine Sorcerer with Captivator for some interesting extra spells (our groups has the dedication set as level 2 feat).

Both are fine mechanically, but still not super interesting. I can still come up with fitting flavor for any build, but I would prefer the mechanical side to be solid AND interesting.

So... any ideas/suggestions?

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

You will get a whole lot of milage out of the heal spell in this campaign. Getting as much of it as possible is not bad, and having the stats to cast it offensively as well as to heal allies will be exceedingly useful.

The options around a cloistered cleric may look bland, but in play you will be very pleased with the frequency with which the boring things you can do are very, very useful.

Ranger with Soothing Mist at level 4? Not the greatest in-combat healing spell available though. And I think you would have to get Gravity Weapon first in order to qualify for it, unless you go with Animal Companion and Heal Companion.

Not sure what you mean by too weird or too cookie-cutter. But I think Phoenix Bloodline looks interesting. Primal list, so Heal is available. And Rejuvenating Flames is cool because it is an AOE that both damages enemies and heals allies at the same time. And since it is a focus spell, you can also spam it out of combat to heal the entire party up.

Unfortunately, casters are pretty boring to play until levels 7-9 so I'm not sure what you're looking for to spice it up, especially on a healbot.

The default advice is pretty basic. Cleric by itself scales great for being able to disregard difficult fights with big heals. You can take the feats to boost your heals to d10s and flex convert your heals to the niche heals as well if you want.

For the archetype, bard dedication gives you some occult illusion flex, mostly illusory object and the staff with it. Illusions forcing an action to see through make the DC irrelevant so no need to worry about that either. Illusory object being so open ended also makes it one of the few spells you can really play with out of combat.

If being a choir kid doesn't appeal, swashbuckler and gunslinger are good ways to gain reactions while psychic lets you play with amps since cleric focus spells are pretty mediocre on the whole.

The other option is to just keep healing as an emergency option while doing other things. The obvious choice for this is to play bard and signature soothe and use it as needed. No need for hymn of healing when a single soothe from a level-1 slot will heal almost as much as two turns of hymn and do it instantly while not eating sustain actions. A top level soothe is even better, obviously.

Like the cleric, bard appreciates either swashbuckler or gunslinger archetypes to gain a good reaction.

Blave wrote:

I'm also not entirely sure why the primal spell list has so many fans. For a pure caster it mostly gets you healing and blasting.

There is also the polymorph transformation and self-buff spells available. Some area control too.

Not so much in the way of general utility or buffing other party members though.

Scarab Sages

So, NoNat1 just recently did his review of all bloodlines, and the angelic bloodline is interesting. The 1st focus spell you get gives you an aura and anyone within the aura who receives the spell Heal (so you or your thaumaturge reading off a scroll) gets extra healing. That's a nice buff.

Other than that . . . I mean if you wanna go straight up healing, I hate to say it but the a healing cleric or life oracle kinda do the best jobs.

You could maybe pull it off with an Emotional Acceptance psychic if your first level signature spell was soothe, but that's not going to be fantastic and you'll likely need a lot of scrolls of soothe.

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Definitely advise cleric if you can stomach it. Religion is actually a super useful skill in this campaign. I'm running a group with six players and no clerics, and they need Jesus like woah.

You don't need more charisma with a summoner and Thaumaturge, so that points you towards cleric or druid. And cleric is just better for this one. I'd advise looking at the extended god lists and seeing if any of them spark an interest. Leaning into a weird god is a good way to make clerics fun.

Cleric is an exploit because of the charisma bonus extra heals ( there are really no alternatives when you can cast 2* high level heal spells, especially at lower levels).

As for the dedication, I'd consider the champion one:

- full plate ( lvl 2 )
- lay on hand( lvl 4 )
- champion reaction( lvl 6 )

Being a war priest with 16 strong would also allow you to fight if needed, and also have fun given the campaign.

Something like:

16 str ( good attack and damage)
10 dex ( +3 reflexes > bulwark by lvl 2 )
14 con ( +2 fort)
10 int
14 wish (+2 will)
14 char (+2 bonuas heal spells )

Is always excellent.

You will fall behind by lvl 13 in terms of melee accuracy, but your attack will still remain halfway between a martial first and second attack, so it's fine.

As for the deity and champion cause, it's up to you ( plenty of good ideas, but overall any champion reaction gives dr, and the majority of deity give heals).

Alternatively, given the high number of front line, consider the life oracle with its wonderful life link focus spell ( love it).

It kicks in by lvl 5 at least, but it's pretty wonderful, and mostly an alternative which is not seen at many tables, given the power of classes like sorcerer and cleric.

Cloistered cleric with wyrmkin domain is also a build which becomes more and more strong the game proceeds, resulting unbalanced at some point because of action management.

Grand Archive

The best healing build I've experienced is a heal over time focused build. After it is set up, it allows the cleric to do things other than heal with their actions.

The build is a cleric with witch dedication to get life boost. Prepare at least 1 spirit link per spell level and you are generally good to go.

Thanks for all the feedback so far!

Sounds like having Heal at hand will be very useful in this AP. I guess I'll drop Bard and Occult Sorcerer from my list of possible classes. Druid probably as well. That leaves Cleric and Divine or Primal Sorcerer.

Unicore: I should note that I don't think cleric by itself is boring. Most if its feats are (to me), though. The spell list is also a bit boring, though I did go over some of the newer ones from SoM yesterday (apparantly I haven't played a caster in ages) and there are a few decent ones to be found. I think those might get me to level 6 when I can start using Cast Down Heal/Harm from low level slots for some debuffing/control.

breithauptclan: Not going to play ranger. I'm specifically looking for a caster build here. Polymorph and self-buffing are decent on the Primal list, that's true. But I'd do neither of those on a pure caster.

gesalt: I'm not looking for a heal bot. I'm looking for an interesting caster who can also heal. Our other players are overly cautious when playing caster/healers I think, often throwing out heals when another spell might just work much better. They might be shocked how far I'm willing to let someone drop without healing them. Anyway, thanks for the suggestions on archetypes. Grabbing good focus spells and/or reactions does indeed seem like a solid way to go.

VampByDay: Angel would indeed be my favorite Divine Bloodline if I go this way. Followed by Psychopomp. But mostly for the decent (if a bit blast-y) spell list. Angelic Halo is a decent trick, but I think it's mostly good for out of combat healing when you might use area heals to top everyone up. And out of combat healing is easily covered by medicine. I'm also not too keen on NoNat's takes on most things. He keeps misreading stuff while it is literally on his screen and then either calls things under- or over-powered without having the presence of mind to double-check his reading. I'll still check out his video on bloodlines. Rushed food for thought is better than none, after all.

CaptainMorgan: Yeah, Charisma seems to be covered in that party. I would probably still start with at least 14 for font, of course. good spells granted by your deity is definitely a bonus, but I'm more concerned with getting one of the good domain focus spells (few as they may be). I'm leaning towards Sun. Decent area debuff at level 1 and a strong and flexible advanced spell at level 8.

HumbleGamer: Cleric does seem to be a favorite, that's for sure. I often water down my casters with martial stuff but I want a pure caster as much as possible this time. So I'd like to avoid Warpriest or Champion dedication if possible. I know neither forces you into melee but having no or (at best) light armor will hopefully make actually play a caster as a caster for once. I'm also pretty convinced that the oracle is not a good class, so life oracle just isn't an option for me.

Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich: I can't see a good way of adding 14 Int to a cleric. Not in any way I'd want to build one, anyway.


Ok, looks like it's going to be a Cloistered Cleric. I do have some ideas on how to do this, but I still need to think about which archetype(s) to get and maybe look for an deity with interesting flavor, at least one good domain and a few decent spells. Can't be that hard, right...?

Wyrm domain is broken because of draconic barrage ( the more the game goes on ) but even playing with the healing domain and improved communal healing can be efficient.

I also like "delay consequences" ( time domain ), because it allows you to save a target from "unexpected damage" like a special ability, a critical failure or a critical hit.

Plus, it allows you to save spells ( if the combat is about to end, for example ) and it's a reaction ( you don't have many ).

Finally... oracle ( life ) dedication, for the life link focus spell :d

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Cleric Feats not to sleep on:

Holy Castigation (this will let you use heal offensively against any demons, devlils and fiends generally. Three action healing in combat is really only worth it when it acts as an offensive weapon as well as a support ability. This feat will expand your ability to do that).

Turn Undead (same idea, only instead of boosting damage, it can do a fair bit of crowd control once you reach 3rd or 4th level).

Domain Initiate or Expanded Domain Initiate (having two very different focus spells, like one that you will use in combat a lot and one that you will use in exploration mode a lot, can help you leverage your focus points significantly better).

Directed Channel (60ft cones will let you really make sure you are hitting everyone and everything you want to hit with a heal).

Cast down (Cast down is good for when you use one action heal/harm because all you have do is any damage at all. Even when you cast it as a two action ability to keep at range, spending a third action to make the enemy prone is buffing the entire party, especially if you are targeting some creature that might be very difficult or impossible to otherwise trip or make prone).

Selective Energy is another option here for spamming heal/harm spells, but I think cast down gives you a lot more tactical uses).

Advanced Domain, Cremate Undead, Surging focus:

Part of why cleric feats look boring, is because they affect how you use your other tools more often and to do more wild things. Advanced domain or surging focus don’t look impressive on their own, but if you have the right domain spells, then getting another focus spell off in a combat an extra time a day is a very useful ability that you will use everyday. At the same time, Cremate Undead means that you use a three action heal, you are setting any undead in the area on fire, How is that boring?!?

If you are spending cleric feats making you get the most out of the heal spell itself, instead of trying to boost your out of combat healing (which you can accomplish entirely with just skill feats, if it is even necessary for your party), Consider MCing into divine Angelic Sorcerer with your free archetype. When your heal/harm spells can knock enemies prone and set them on fire, even lower level ones can do quite a bit. Getting more of them and further boosting what you can do with it

I know you asked for a caster, but...

Forensics Investigator with Medic Archetype can pull off some pretty serious Battle Medicine shenanigans and is a very capable between combat healer with Treat Wounds (Continual Recovery and Ward Medic).

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Pixel Popper wrote:

I know you asked for a caster, but...

Forensics Investigator with Medic Archetype can pull off some pretty serious Battle Medicine shenanigans and is a very capable between combat healer with Treat Wounds (Continual Recovery and Ward Medic).

On the other hand, precision damage will have a rough go of it, lower wisdom will hurt in a few places, and there's not a ton of time pressure to make the enhanced Treat Wounds shine. (Continual Recovery is probably still worth it, though.)

Here's my breakdown of spells on each of the four lists that are useful for healing damage or removing unwanted conditions. I thought it might be useful here for reference.

Spells for Healers

One other thing I'll mention for the cleric. Having your entire list available to you and having extra top slots to cover healing and the niche healing spells means that you can get a lot of value out of flexible casting. Something to consider if you aren't or can't use your second level class feat to grab a second archetype while you free archetype.

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HumbleGamer: I'll most likely stick with the Sun domain. Wyrmkin is a bit too good for my liking. It's also a bit rare with few dieties even granting it and none of them catches my interest. Same with the Time domain.

Unicore: I've read and thought about all those feats. Still not a big fan of them because they are so situational. Holy Castigation does nothing if I never run into fiends. Turn Undead works only on a crit fail and against lower level enemies, who will probably not a thread for long after critfailing a save. Directed Channel is only really useful if you're fighting multiple undead and preferably if multiple of your allies have taken damage already - and even then only if you happen to be a good bit behind the action. Cast Down is absolutely amazing - but it being the only real stand out trick of the caster cleric feels a bit sad. Selective Energy is decent if you want to counter enemies that spread out their damage a lot. Advanced Domain is hit or miss depending on the domain, but I'll go with sun, so I will get it. Cremate Undead is too specific and the damge a bit too low to excite me.

You're suggestion with the Angelic Sorcerer Archetype did give me a good idea, though. So big thanks for that! (see below for details)

Pixel Popper: Investigator is pretty much THE reason I specified caster. I've played such a medic investigator in a short adventure once and I can say that the class is without a doubt not for me. Still, thanks for your suggestion.

Gisher: Thanks for that! Good to have at hand.

gesalt: I thought about flexible casting. I just think it's not ... flexible enough? Having all spells as signature spells is amazing, but compared to a true spontaneous caster your "spell repertoire" is very limited. By level 10 I could prepare only 10 different spells instead of 15, which seems more limiting than it is worth. Reduced number of Slots is also an issue (though not a terribly big one with font) and having fewer cantrips in the early levels when you need them the most is just annoying. Overall not an archetype for me. But thanks.


Ok, it's still a bit rough around the edges, but for those of you interested, here's what I'm thinking about.

Human Cloistered Cleric of [Insert good-aligned Deity with Sun domain and healing font].
Start with 18 Wis and 14 Cha.

Important Ancestry Feats: Adopted Cantrip for some reliable damage cantrip. Probably not Electric Arc because that's just everywhere. Maybe Scatter Scree or Produce Flame. Get Natural Ambition at level 3 for either Holy Castigation or Reach Spell

Class Feats: 2- Healing Hands; 4- Directed Channel; 6- Cast Down; 8- Advanced Domain; 10- Selective Channel

Free Archetype: 2- (Divine) Sorcerer Dedication; 4- Basic Blood Potency; 6- Basic Sorcerer Spellcasting; 8- Advanced Blood Potency: Divine Evolution; 10- Bloodline Breadth

Now, I think divine sorceer is great here. Two extra cantrips for utility, two extra skills (always in short supply on a cleric). Basic Blood Potency can get me something like Dangerous Sorcery, a Familiar or Reach Spell. Spellcasting comes with more low level slots to use for utility or Cast Down. And Divine Evolution gets me an extra slot of a reasonable level which I can use spontaneously for either Heal or Harm.

Depending on the chosen Bloodline, I could also get something like Slow or even Haste from it. Seems like a very solid package overall.

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If you don't care about the god that much, there's a temple to Saranrae called the Dawnflower library in town. Also, ask your GM if Troubles in Otari happened yet.

I'll just add that Cleric has a huge selection of powerful metamagic feats that modify heal and harm. So you're rewarded for preparing even more heal/harm spells, because you get a diverse amount of effects from them. Versatile Font Clerics are fun, because you can keep your top level slots for healing, and use your bottom level slots to cast the various fun evil metamagics on harm, which often don't require saving throws or have incapacitation traits.

For instance, the feat "cast down", which is essentially a no-save knock prone effect. (they have to critically succeed on the save against the damage to avoid being knocked prone, or have enough of an uncommon resistance to avoid taking the damage).

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