D&D 3E/3.5 Figuring out a role for my 3.5e Cleric

DarkMoon250

Explorer
Hello. I recently got into a 3.5e campaign, but it crashed and burned. Luckily, someone swooped in and brought me into their own 3.5e game, and it looks like this one will actually work out.

I'm wanting to build a level 5 Cleric, maybe with some prestige class thrown in if that would be a good choice. I'm attempting to figure out what role I should take in the party based on my stats, which would be 15, 14, 13, 13, 13, 13 before any level-based or racial-based increases. I'm interested in playing an elf, half-human elf, raptoran, lycanthrope (or quasilycanthrope) or aasimar (on that note, I should say that we are using level adjustment buyoff rules). We start with 12,500 gold. We also get 2 traits, 2 flaws, and a 1st level feat for each flaw.

The other players will be a Paladin, Fighter, and Sorcerer with a focus on debuffs. I'm also wanting to go with 3.5e's rendition of the raptoran god Tuilviel, the elven god Sehanine Moonbow, or the universal god Selune for my Cleric's deity, so in terms of domains, the ones they offer are the ones I want to choose from. I feel like some form of buffer/support is probably the best way to go here, but I'm not sure.

If anyone could share some advice on how to go about building this character, it'd be much appreciated.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
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Besides the suggestions from your prior thread, you should try to find out about the new DM’s campaign setting. The more you know about IT, the more you’ll have insight as to the kind of PCs likely to be in the world. If the DM hates using Undead, you might consider feats that let yo burn Turns for other mystical effects. If the DM prefers undead heavy games, Extra Turning could be a literal life saver.
 
Last edited:

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
There's a few ways to build a Cleric in 3.5. You can build yourself for melee superiority or ally support fairly easily. I wouldn't bother with Turn Undead since it requires some investment to really pop off, and scaring away enemies is always a gamble- unless your DM is ok with the Divine Feats from Complete Divine, including the dreaded Divine Metamagic, as these let you transmute your Turn attempts into other benefits.

The melee build requires self-buffing, which can be hard to pull off in some games without Divine Metamagic + Persist Spell, since a lot of times by the time you realize you're in a fight, you're giving up valuable turns to do this. And the last time I played 3.5, I went pure support and basically broke the game by powering up the team by a good 20% across the board and plinking enemies with a Reserve Feat unless I really needed to heal someone. Which was a lot of fun for everyone but the DM, as it happened.

A lot depends on the power level of the game, and how much optimization your DM is comfortable with. If both of those are average, I'd suggest a secondary melee role, with just enough Wisdom to cast spells and lots of Strength and Constitution. Wear the heavy armor, and use a reach weapon- as a Cleric you can use a longspear. This lets you attack from behind the melee, provide flanking from a distance, and if an enemy closes with you, they typically provoke an opportunity attack for a free hit. This lets you help out and be relatively close for a quick heal if needed in combat.

Cast Bless in big fights, Aid and Bull's Strength are great early. Prayer isn't the greatest buff, but in a long fight it adds up. You want to avoid spells that require saving throws for the most part.

There is an archer Cleric build but it requires more work and you still need to wade into melee range to use healing in combat. I'm not a fan of most Cleric prestige classes; you can suffer a hit to your Base Attack Bonus if you're not careful, and they tend to treat you more like a full caster than a hybrid class- unless you're going for turn attempts and then there's Radiant Servant of Pelor.

A lot of your spell list consists of "bad thing happened to ally/remove bad thing". You'll be expected to have these available at all times, and they aren't generally useful otherwise, so you might not be doing a lot of casting. This does change when you start looking in other books, as a great many interesting spells are added to the class list, but again, the more you diversify, the less ability you have to deal with fatigue, ability damage, poison, disease, curses, and all that fun stuff people expect from a Cleric.

If you do decide to use your magic for other things, you really should ask your party if they are ok with that; there are quite a lot of terrible things that can happen to a character outside of hit point loss. Out of combat healing should be accomplished with a Wand of Cure Light Wounds (Or Lesser Vigor, if available). You can invest in Scribe Scroll if you want to have utility spells on hand to use as needed. I would avoid Craft Wondrous Item- this is a very powerful Feat, if your DM gives you reasonable gold and some downtime. So powerful, that it can break the game's economy and make you and your allies far stronger for your level than intended.

OTOH, without ample gold or time, it's literally a dead Feat.
 

DarkMoon250

Explorer
There's a few ways to build a Cleric in 3.5. You can build yourself for melee superiority or ally support fairly easily. I wouldn't bother with Turn Undead since it requires some investment to really pop off, and scaring away enemies is always a gamble- unless your DM is ok with the Divine Feats from Complete Divine, including the dreaded Divine Metamagic, as these let you transmute your Turn attempts into other benefits.

The melee build requires self-buffing, which can be hard to pull off in some games without Divine Metamagic + Persist Spell, since a lot of times by the time you realize you're in a fight, you're giving up valuable turns to do this. And the last time I played 3.5, I went pure support and basically broke the game by powering up the team by a good 20% across the board and plinking enemies with a Reserve Feat unless I really needed to heal someone. Which was a lot of fun for everyone but the DM, as it happened.

A lot depends on the power level of the game, and how much optimization your DM is comfortable with. If both of those are average, I'd suggest a secondary melee role, with just enough Wisdom to cast spells and lots of Strength and Constitution. Wear the heavy armor, and use a reach weapon- as a Cleric you can use a longspear. This lets you attack from behind the melee, provide flanking from a distance, and if an enemy closes with you, they typically provoke an opportunity attack for a free hit. This lets you help out and be relatively close for a quick heal if needed in combat.

Cast Bless in big fights, Aid and Bull's Strength are great early. Prayer isn't the greatest buff, but in a long fight it adds up. You want to avoid spells that require saving throws for the most part.

There is an archer Cleric build but it requires more work and you still need to wade into melee range to use healing in combat. I'm not a fan of most Cleric prestige classes; you can suffer a hit to your Base Attack Bonus if you're not careful, and they tend to treat you more like a full caster than a hybrid class- unless you're going for turn attempts and then there's Radiant Servant of Pelor.

A lot of your spell list consists of "bad thing happened to ally/remove bad thing". You'll be expected to have these available at all times, and they aren't generally useful otherwise, so you might not be doing a lot of casting. This does change when you start looking in other books, as a great many interesting spells are added to the class list, but again, the more you diversify, the less ability you have to deal with fatigue, ability damage, poison, disease, curses, and all that fun stuff people expect from a Cleric.

If you do decide to use your magic for other things, you really should ask your party if they are ok with that; there are quite a lot of terrible things that can happen to a character outside of hit point loss. Out of combat healing should be accomplished with a Wand of Cure Light Wounds (Or Lesser Vigor, if available). You can invest in Scribe Scroll if you want to have utility spells on hand to use as needed. I would avoid Craft Wondrous Item- this is a very powerful Feat, if your DM gives you reasonable gold and some downtime. So powerful, that it can break the game's economy and make you and your allies far stronger for your level than intended.

OTOH, without ample gold or time, it's literally a dead Feat.
Thanks for the advice. All core books are allowed, so I can pull from Complete Divine and Complete Champion.

Any suggestions for the race I should choose?
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Thanks for the advice. All core books are allowed, so I can pull from Complete Divine and Complete Champion.

Any suggestions for the race I should choose?
As much as I hate to say it, probably Human. You don't get tons of skill points, or Feats, and even if you don't use turn undead much, penalizing Charisma is probably not the way to go (Half-Orc or Dwarf). Any race that would give you a bonus to Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom (your three best stats most likely) comes with a penalty somewhere else you probably wouldn't want, or a level adjustment, which is almost assuredly not something you want.
 

DarkMoon250

Explorer
As much as I hate to say it, probably Human. You don't get tons of skill points, or Feats, and even if you don't use turn undead much, penalizing Charisma is probably not the way to go (Half-Orc or Dwarf). Any race that would give you a bonus to Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom (your three best stats most likely) comes with a penalty somewhere else you probably wouldn't want, or a level adjustment, which is almost assuredly not something you want.
3 questions:

1. Despite LA, could an aasimar be worth it if LA buyoff is allowed? Because that is a rule the DM has confirmed will be in this game.
2. What bloodlines from UA or templates (on a human) might be useful for this stat set or for a buffing build? Are there any good templates that won't be too much of a hassle to buy off?
3. Would you suggest I start as a middle aged character, for a -1 on physical stats and a +1 on mental stats?
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
3 questions:

1. Despite LA, could an aasimar be worth it if LA buyoff is allowed? Because that is a rule the DM has confirmed will be in this game.
2. What bloodlines from UA or templates (on a human) might be useful for this stat set or for a buffing build? Are there any good templates that won't be too much of a hassle to buy off?
3. Would you suggest I start as a middle aged character, for a -1 on physical stats and a +1 on mental stats?
LA Buyoff is a good system, but you will be behind somewhat early on as a result. The question really comes down to, what are you getting from it, and is it worth the xp? In this case, you get darkvision, minor resistances, +2 Wis, +2 Cha, and the occasional "oh this spell doesn't work because I'm not a humanoid".

Ironically, these advantages are better early in your career; later on, you can easily get magic items that increase an ability score, or provide the ability to see in the dark (not goggles of night though, they are overpriced. Continual Light on a burned-out ioun stone however is fairly cheap). Need better turning checks? Circle of Persuasion is a bargain. Need more turning attempts? Nightsticks from Libris Mortis (I think, it's been awhile).

As for Bloodlines, no. They are a trap. You have to pay up front with a mostly useless bloodline level for benefits you get later, and only the Major Bloodlines give you abilities worth noting.

If you want to be a caster cleric, and the option to start older is on the table...there's probably not much reason not to. But do remember some very important spells on your list are touch range. So you are going to need to get close to enemies to cast, and penalties to Strength can make it harder to wear armor (and harder to smack something in melee if you want to conserve spells), as well as reduce your hit points and Concentration checks.

Further, even though they attack touch AC, some of your offensive spells require a touch attack, and that is Strength-based (a minor penalty, but it's worth noting).
 

DarkMoon250

Explorer
LA Buyoff is a good system, but you will be behind somewhat early on as a result. The question really comes down to, what are you getting from it, and is it worth the xp? In this case, you get darkvision, minor resistances, +2 Wis, +2 Cha, and the occasional "oh this spell doesn't work because I'm not a humanoid".

Ironically, these advantages are better early in your career; later on, you can easily get magic items that increase an ability score, or provide the ability to see in the dark (not goggles of night though, they are overpriced. Continual Light on a burned-out ioun stone however is fairly cheap). Need better turning checks? Circle of Persuasion is a bargain. Need more turning attempts? Nightsticks from Libris Mortis (I think, it's been awhile).

As for Bloodlines, no. They are a trap. You have to pay up front with a mostly useless bloodline level for benefits you get later, and only the Major Bloodlines give you abilities worth noting.

If you want to be a caster cleric, and the option to start older is on the table...there's probably not much reason not to. But do remember some very important spells on your list are touch range. So you are going to need to get close to enemies to cast, and penalties to Strength can make it harder to wear armor (and harder to smack something in melee if you want to conserve spells), as well as reduce your hit points and Concentration checks.

Further, even though they attack touch AC, some of your offensive spells require a touch attack, and that is Strength-based (a minor penalty, but it's worth noting).
In that case, are there any templates a human might benefit from? I just don't feel like playing a normal, regular human dude. Or could lesser aasimar offer some good options without needing LA buyoff?

Also, is it even worth it to cast melee touch attack spells or to use some form of weapon with my stats? With middle age or without it, I'm only going to have a +1 to Str.

Also also, based on what's been discussed so far, which of the deities that I'm interested in might offer the best domains for where this build seems to be heading?
 


James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
In that case, are there any templates a human might benefit from? I just don't feel like playing a normal, regular human dude. Or could lesser aasimar offer some good options without needing LA buyoff?

Also, is it even worth it to cast melee touch attack spells or to use some form of weapon with my stats? With middle age or without it, I'm only going to have a +1 to Str.

Also also, based on what's been discussed so far, which of the deities that I'm interested in might offer the best domains for where this build seems to be heading?
If Lesser Aasimar is allowed, then that's fine, you aren't giving anything up really. And as for the attack bonus, if you're determined to be older, then no, it's probably not worth it. This is doing to mean that you should go hunting for a Reserve Feat to use (fiery burst is a favorite of mine) because you'll need to lean heavily on your spell list to find something to do each turn, which will cause you to run out of spells faster. You may need Reach Spell at some point. At level 1, Command and Inhibit are decent spells to ruin enemy action economy. At level 2, you can use Frost Breath or Sound Burst. Damage isn't great, but daze and stun are good conditions. Level 3 gets you Darkfire and Mark of Doom.

As for Domains, I would suggest Fire to be one of them. There's some offense there, and good spells to feed Fiery Burst if you want to go that route. Glory is great if you're going to the Turn Undead route. Travel is an all-time favorite, Magic gives you a nice ability to use Wizard scrolls.

If you do end up getting Divine Metamagic, Planning or Time are probably must haves.
 

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