Author Topic: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build  (Read 2882 times)

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Singularity

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Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« on: March 16, 2010, 11:50:27 AM »
I hadn't played D&D since 1st edition. A friend talked me into joining a 3.5 FR campaign that was starting up. The party didn't have a cleric, so I went ahead and built one. With no experience and limited access to the books (I am working on resolving that), I came up with what I know think is a fairly weak (awful?) build.

So far, I've mostly been a heal-bot, and this is boring me. I know everyone says that parties don't need dedicated healers, but so far this one does. I had a little more fun last session using some offensive spells. However, this cost me some precious heals, and meant we had to leave the dungeon after the third encounter so that I could rest and pray.

I've looked at AfterCrescent's guide, but it's a bit over-whelming for me at my level of knowledge. I'm thinking a primary role as buffer or caster could be fun, with archer as a secondary role. I'd like to relegate healing to a last resort role. This will probably require a discussion of tactics (don't tumble past the light source and don't expect me to follow you when you do, don't block attack paths and provide cover against our archers, etc.).

I'm not necessarily looking for an optimized build. I'm looking for ideas for a more interesting path for my character. I'm currently thinking of taking Divine Oracle at 6th and running it to 11, then switching to Comtemplative, for the evasion and extra domains. However, I am open to any suggestions. I am a little leery of any path that will cost me more than a level or two of casting. I'd like to be more effective in combat, but mostly I'm looking for a path that keeps me interested. I like the group, so I don't want to get so bored that I quit or suicide my character in order to build one that is more fun. Tips, tactics, spell combos, helpful links, anything to help this build appreciated.

The rest of the party : Half-orc Barbarian, Half-Elf Warmage, Halfling Rogue, Elf Bard, Human Marshal, Half-Orc Paladin. The bard, paladin and marshal just joined last session, so not sure how they will affect the party yet. The paladin is an NPC, created to cover for a player that stopped showing up. All are 3rd level.

Rule set: nothing explicitly ruled out yet. DM seems fairly open. Doesn't seem to like re-training/re-building though. He's let me make some minor changes, because I am inexperienced, but will probably be a little leery of future changes.

My build:
Human NG Cleric 3 of Lathander
STR: 14 DEX: 12 CON: 12 INT: 14 WIS: 16 CHA: 13
Domains: Sun, Renewal
Feats: Scribe Scroll, Combat Casting, Zen Archery
Weapons / Armor: Banded mail, H. Wooden shield, H. Mace, L. Crossbow
Skills: Concentration 3, Craft (Alchemy) 1, Craft (Weaponsmith) 1, Diplomacy 4, Heal 6, Knowledge (Arcana) 3, Knowledge (History) 1, Knowledge (Religion) 4, Knowledge (The Planes) 2, Profession (Scribe) 1, Spellcraft 4

Current spell list:
0 - Detect Magic, Light, Fleeting Flame, Read Magic
1 - Nimbus of Light, Lesser Vigor, Faith Healing (will usually be swapped, only one other has Lathander as patron), Charm Person (domain slot)
2 - Bull's Strength, Sonic Blast, Heat Metal (domain slot)

archangel.arcanis

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2010, 12:03:17 PM »
Bard and martial should do a fair job buffing the party. Cleric is the powerhouse of D&D 3.5 you just need to be patient. Depending on what is available you may want to look at getting Divine metamagic quicken or persist. this would allow you to spend turn attempts to fuel metamagic for the appropriate feat.

In early levels my experience is that a cleric just needs to be a secondary warrior that heals party members if they get too low on health. Once you get to about level 7 you can open up the whopass, at least a few times a day.
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Rebel7284

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2010, 12:14:15 PM »
- Close Wounds in a spell (Spell Compendium?) that lets you heal as an immediate action so you can use your standard action for smacking the opponents in the face.
- I don't like the crossbow.  It takes actions to reload and doesn't apply strength to damage.  Sadly, not being an elf limits your options here.
- You constitution is fairly low.  I'd try to get at LEAST 14 starting.  Why do you need 14 INT?  You already have bunches of skill points from being human.  Ask if you can swap CON and INT.
- Combat Casting is a pretty bad feat, concentration checks are easy (plus, Zen Archery would imply that you're going to try to fight at range).  See if you can swap it for something else (Like the prerequisite for divine oracle :P)
- Based on your DM's style, will you be able to use Scribe Scroll Effectively?
- Belts of Healing from Magic Item Compendium are cheap.  use those and you will very rarely need to heal.
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Dictum Mortuum

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2010, 12:37:15 PM »
Your build is just fine. Not optimized but workable. If you have access to PHB II, check if you can use the retraining option for feats (swap a feat for another that you would qualify for at level-up). Good options are the previously mentioned setup for divine metamagic (persistent spell).
Your con is low, but you can get away with a low score if you purchase an item that provides an enhancement bonus to constitution.
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PhaedrusXY

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2010, 12:38:16 PM »
On top of the Healing Belts, Wands of Lesser Vigor heal 11 hit points per charge, which is very cheap and efficient out of combat healing. These will allow you to use your spell slots for other things. Get the party to pitch in on them, and tell them you aren't a walking bandaid.

If you really want to change your feats, and your DM won't allow retraining, what about psionics? You could pay a psion for a Psychic Reformation. It won't be cheap, but you could redo your feats and skill points like that.
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Lycanthromancer

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2010, 01:00:51 PM »
You could take Shape Soulmeld (therapeutic mantle) from Magic of Incarnum to dramatically increase the healing of that wand of lesser vigor or the Persistent casting of mass lesser vigor. Yes, it's another feat, but you'll be able to keep your party in better shape with fewer per-day resources, which means more blasty-4-U.

Just a thought.
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Singularity

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2010, 02:31:47 PM »
Rebel
I don't need an int of 14, but I have it. This isn't a starting build. These are the choices I made when I created the character at 1st level. The DM specifically complained about redoing skill points when I talked to him about fixing my stats, so no go there. He also seems to go strictly by the book on magic item costs, so it looks like scribe scroll should be ok, as long as I keep the caster level low enough to make it cheaper than buying. I took Combat Casting at creation, thinking I would be in melee, since the party was smaller then. I sucked at it, so I took zen archery at 3rd, and have been a little more effective. I'd like to ditch it. I'll see what the DM thinks, but my guess is I am stuck with it. As for Close Wounds, the drawback is that since it's not a "cure" spell, no spontaneous casting, unless I've read that wrong.

Dictum
haven't broached the DMM subject with him yet. He's nerfed a reasonable spell from the Spell Compendium, adding a save for half, simply because it's a low-level AOE mage spell. It costs 5gp in materials and is easily countered by spreading out, but he didn't like it. Thinking DMM will get nerfed by him, but I'll check.

Phaedrus
No idea if he's even allowing psionics. Need to ask him, cause a level or two in a psi class might be up my alley. It even fits into the grim, slightly paranoid and bi-polar image  I have of him.

Thanks for the suggestions on magic items. I don't have access to books at the moment, so I don't know if I can afford them. ATM, my 850-ish gp is waiting for 400 more friends so I can get plate mail. I'm willing to spend some of it, but I don't think I do so alone. So far, the party attitude seems to be "Why? That's your job." on the subject of buying healing items / potions.

ninjarabbit

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2010, 03:30:49 PM »
The Radiant Servant PrC from Complete Divine looks good for this character. Plus it grants proficency with martial weapons so you can use a bow instead of a crossbow.

Beyond that I'd max out your concentration and knowledge (religion) skills.

Spell selection is going to be very important. Here's a few more spells to consider

1st level-sanctuary, protection from evil, shield of faith, bless
2nd level-aid, hold person (normally a 3rd level wizard spell), lesser restoration (though this is better as a scroll), resist energy
3rd level- Summon monster III (celestial bison for damage and celestial hippogriff for flying), magic vestment, dispel magic, magic circle against evil

A lessor rod of extend spell would be a good investment at some point

Akalsaris

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2010, 04:39:09 PM »
Don't worry, your build isn't that terrible at all.  My first 3.5 character was a human druid with Toughness taken 3 times and Natural spell :P

Anyhow, a 14 strength isn't terrible in melee, and crossbows kind of blow, even with zen archery.  I'd change out Combat Casting for Improved Toughness (1 HP/level, from Complete Warrior) - the logic here is that with a 12 Con you'll need a bit more HP than you currently have. 

I'd switch out Zen Archery for a divine feat of some kind.  There are several nice ones in Complete Champion, Complete Divine, and the PHB II.  Divine Metamagic is the 800 pound gorilla, but most of them are fairly decent.  Sacred Healing (PHB II) would improve your in-combat healing a bit if you want to be a better healbot, while Good Devotion (Complete Champion) would give you and your party free DR (reducing the amount of damage you take).  Lots of options. 

It's true that you have to prepare Close Wounds, but it's still a great spell, and it retains its value until the very high levels.  I'd swap out the Sonic Blast for it.  I'm also a fan of Hold Person if you consistently fight humanoids.

Next level, I'd suggest boosting your Charisma by 1.

Good luck & have fun!

Ikeren

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2010, 05:45:50 PM »
You're fine. You can't really screw up clerics.

Just pick something to focus on (Casting, Melee, Range) and spend feats towards that.

Casting: Focus/Spell Focus with your save or dies, extend metamagic, other feats mentioned in the cleric handbook.
Melee: You're well set with the strength, drop zen archery, go with a morningstar and find a way to get better weapons later (Contemplative + War domain, numerous prestige classes). Level 7 you get divine power, and even if you can't persist it, you can still use that + magic vestment + magic weapon + other buffs to lay down some serious smackdown.
Ranged: You've spent a feat towards this. There are ways to be ranged clerics, but you really need a bow proficiency sometime in the near future. I think Ruathar might do it, which you probably qualify for.

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2010, 06:01:44 PM »
You have a fair number of ranks in knowledge skills--You might want to look into Knowledge Domain (Complete Champion) and the skill trick Collector of Stories (Complete Scoundrel) to help expand on that.

Dictum Mortuum

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2010, 06:48:57 PM »
I'm sure you mean Knowledge devotion.
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Bozwevial

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2010, 11:21:08 PM »
I'm sure you mean Knowledge devotion.

Right, right. *facepalm* My fault.

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2010, 11:30:50 AM »
So far, the party attitude seems to be "Why? That's your job." on the subject of buying healing items / potions.


THis is why I always play inflict clerics instead of cure clerics. Inform them your job is to patch them up only when stuff goes so far south someone might die, but it is their job to defend themselves properly.

Also party use items aren't your job to buy. If they insist, then charge them for heals. Lay down the law early.

solara

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2010, 12:31:17 PM »
I agree on not becoming a healbot. Get a nice buff or two, cast them on the main melee character, and inform him/her that if you are forced to heal, you can't buff them. I did this - I was expected to heal, but instead of healing, turned the monk (a variant monk our group uses) large-sized and pumped his strength, and told him he could either hit the tar out of stuff or have me patching his wounds. The combat lasted ONE ROUND, the monk told everyone else to shut up about the healing and buy the belts, and presto-change-o rearrange-o, we had a buffing, debuffing, caster cleric. I cast ONE healing spell in the last three sessions, since everyone likes their buffs and has stopped playing stupidly.

If that doesn't work, just switch out your spontaneous healing for a spontaneous domain and prep only lesser vigor and other vigor spells, and those only once a day. The hit points healed per spell will go up, you'll be able to cast and buff in combat, and they'll still get their healing . . . once the bad guys are dead, unless THEY want to buy wands of Cure Light Wounds or a Healing Belt (an awesome item all-around, anyway).

You could also point out that, if they buy healing items like a Healing Belt, they don't have to get beaten up in combat and almost die while you try to get to them and cast a healing spell, since they're all touch spells.

As for your build, it looks good, but see if you can change your deity to Mystra, and take the Magic domain, and use spell completion or trigger items (scrolls and wands, etc) as a wizard of 1/2 you cleric level. A change to Cloistered Cleric (from Unearthed Arcana) will help you if you want to be a primary caster, as will the Spell Domain. If you have to keep Lathander, and you can change your domains, take Strength devotion and keep the Sun domain. These ARE just suggestions, though, and your build is fine - not optimized, but your party isn't either.

For prestige classes, consider asking your DM to ignore the Lathander prestige class and let you take Radiant Servant of Pelor (since they are pretty much the same god, anyway) if you decide you really, really like killing undead or just like Lathander's flavor. Which prestige class one you want really depends on the amount of undead and evil outsiders in your campaign - if there are a lot of either, Sacred Exorcist is nice and easy to fit in, and Contemplative has always been one of my favorites overall, while Divine Oracle is just fun.

Sorry about the wordiness and stuff, but I like clerics quite a bit, and want everyone who plays them to have as much fun with it as I now do. Remember that THAT is the really important thing - everyone having fun, including you.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2010, 12:56:16 PM by solara »

PhaedrusXY

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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2010, 01:24:06 PM »
I agree on not becoming a healbot. Get a nice buff or two, cast them on the main melee character, and inform him/her that if you are forced to heal, you can't buff them. I did this - I was expected to heal, but instead of healing, turned the monk (a variant monk our group uses) large-sized and pumped his strength, and told him he could either hit the tar out of stuff or have me patching his wounds. The combat lasted ONE ROUND, the monk told everyone else to shut up about the healing and buy the belts, and presto-change-o rearrange-o, we had a buffing, debuffing, caster cleric. I cast ONE healing spell in the last three sessions, since everyone likes their buffs and has stopped playing stupidly.
lol, I love the RP aspect here, too.

"Oh brother Maynard, I have SEEN the light! No longer will we beg you for healing, for you have shown us the way of the TRUE WARRIOR!"
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Re: Advice on saving a craptastic 3.5 Cleric build
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2010, 02:28:53 PM »
Take the Touch of Healing reserve feat from Complete Champion. 

It allows you to heal anyone upto 1/2 their normal hitpoints as long as you have a 2nd level healing spell or higher to cast for the day.  You don't expend the spell, either, as it is kept in 'reserve'. 

And since you can spontaneous cast cure spells, so long as you have a 2nd level spell or higher available, you can heal all day long.   

Tell your party they are responsible for any healing they need beyond that, and you're good to go.
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