D&D 5E Playing non-healer clerics

ECMO3

Hero
I have seen a lot of posts that talk about Clerics being healers and I have played at a few tables (not many) where players expected Clerics to be healers.

Personally, my PCs are never really healers per se. I will pick up healing word and aid for bringing back downed party members during combat in a pinch, and I will keep revify on hand as long as the party pitches in for the diamond. But I am not going to top you up between combats because that is generally not the character I like to play and I am generally not spending my spell slots on your healing. That is what your gold is for - to spend on potions for this.

It is totally cool if that is the cleric you want to play, but I really don't like the trope/stereotype that seems to exist saying that is the only way to play a Cleric or that you are not a team player if you don't play a Cleric as a healer. I am just wondering how common or uncommon it is, how Clerics are played at your tables and what other players expect.
 

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Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
I refuse.

I play battling clerics. I will heal if it is dire. I would rather remove a curse and beat enemies to a pulp. That said, killing stuff quicker is as good as a lot of healing.

I have a cleric of wee Jas with heavy armor and I lay the smack down with blade cantrips and spiritual weapon/guardians.

I have no taboo against healing; but I don’t just do it as a matter of course. It would have to be really necessary—-
 

aco175

Legend
I find that clerics still have a role in play and one is healing. It is the same as a rogue that does not open locks or a fighter that does not melee. Some of the problems are avoided in a session 0 where you tell the players my cleric does not heal, so maybe someone else can also play a cleric. I view it as a bit selfish. Not like a rogue who steals from the party or playing an evil PC, but similar.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
The game is not designed like World of Warcraft, where healing output is supposed to keep up with damage intake. In D&D the monsters will win that race.

Certainly anybody with some healing ability should know when to toss out a heal, but generally there are more useful things to do with actions and spell slots.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
IME about half of the Clerics are "healer-based" and the other half aren't.

I've ran groups without a single healer at all except maybe the Healer feat.

If someone is playing a wizard or sorcerer, are they not a team player if they don't play big-bang casters with fireballs and such? Of course not, they can contribute in many ways, and Clerics can do the same via buffs and some utility spells, etc.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
The optics of the situation have long been an issue. Most characters have limited ways to heal. At low levels, a healing potion is a significant resource, so if you get injured, your choices are A) take a nap, which may or may not be allowed, or B)....well there really isn't a B until you can get a Feat, then you could slow your progression to get Healer and invest in medkits.

Or wait until money is trivial and stock up on healing potions.

Since each class has it's "thing" that it's sort of expected to do, like fight monsters or bypass traps, it's natural for players to go "ah! you can heal us, that's your thing! do that!".

But healing is a thankless job. Most of your spells are woefully inefficient compared to anything else you could be doing. Much of the time, you're expected to save other players from their own lapses in judgement. Be it the Barbarian using Reckless Attack too much, or a dual-wielding Rogue bellying up to a powerful melee enemy.

"Oh it's fine, the Cleric will heal us!"

Except the Cleric will run out of spell slots fast that way, while many other classes can keep doing their thing all day long as long as they have hit points. And it's not very fun, either- even just using Healing Word every turn to pop up characters relegates you to nothing more interesting than cantrip spam.

Cure Wounds isn't even twice as good as Healing Word, and requires you to run up and touch a guy to heal him. It's just not a battle you can win.
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
I find that clerics still have a role in play and one is healing. It is the same as a rogue that does not open locks or a fighter that does not melee. Some of the problems are avoided in a session 0 where you tell the players my cleric does not heal, so maybe someone else can also play a cleric. I view it as a bit selfish. Not like a rogue who steals from the party or playing an evil PC, but similar.
What I would say is it’s situation dependent.

I would dump every spell I have into healing if it was party life or death. And in 1e, that was all the time.

In 5e I find it’s not often that is required. And that people go into some fights less than full is ok with me.

I just don’t want to play the role of gas pump for hit points where people are brash and expect me to do that all the time. Hit die are often sufficient.

If I took life cleric I dunno. It sort of signals intent. But I just would not take a war cleric or tempest cleric (or my creepy arcana cleric) with the expectation of always doing that.

With arcana and spell breaker….well it’s like this: I will heal but not be a healbot. I will healnto save lives but not to just make careless play more comfortable. I would prefer to blight a creature before it hurts the party vs. let it run rampant and heal up after.
 


Oofta

Legend
I rarely do a healer cleric, the best defense is a good offense after all. My clerics tend to have strength as their primary ability, slap on the heaviest armor possible and wade into combat.

I'll use healing word to get someone up in combat, but I'd rather use my spell slots for other things. One aspect of 4E that I did like was that it let me do a decent amount of healing and attacks in the same round, but I still have fun with it in 5E.
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
I rarely do a healer cleric, the best defense is a good offense after all. My clerics tend to have strength as their primary ability, slap on the heaviest armor possible and wade into combat.

I'll use healing word to get someone up in combat, but I'd rather use my spell slots for other things. One aspect of 4E that I did like was that it let me do a decent amount of healing and attacks in the same round, but I still have fun with it in 5E.
Str cleric for the win! My arcana cleric took heavily armored. At level 4, I took fey touched and misty step right up to the spellcaster if possible!
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I like my Druid/Barbarian for good combat durability and then non-combat utility including Goodberries and healing word
 


Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I built my cleric to wear heavy armor and be a tank, while dishing out damage from spirit guardians and spiritual weapon. But even with that, I will heal when needed. Can't let someone go down if I have a healing word. And if a short rest won't get them mostly back to full using their own hit dice I will kick in with spell or two during that break from battle. But none of that is more than the bard will do, or the Paladin or Druid.
 


Amrûnril

Adventurer
I find that clerics still have a role in play and one is healing. It is the same as a rogue that does not open locks or a fighter that does not melee. Some of the problems are avoided in a session 0 where you tell the players my cleric does not heal, so maybe someone else can also play a cleric. I view it as a bit selfish. Not like a rogue who steals from the party or playing an evil PC, but similar.

Ranged Fighters and Rogues who focus their proficiencies on social skills (for instance) are entirely valid character concepts. And a party with no dedicated healer, lockpicker or front line fighter can succeed at most challenges, so long as they plan according to the skills they do have. If a player does feel it's important for one of these roles to be filled, though, the onus is on that player to fill it. Playing an unorthodox character isn't selfish. Demanding that another player conform to the character concept you think they should be playing rather than the one they actually want to play is.
 

Clint_L

Hero
In the recent Critical Role one-off adventure where the Mighty Nein reunited to defeat the titan Uk'Otoa, Laura Bailey's cleric Jester Lavore showed what she called "character growth" by finally casting a healing spell at a clutch moment, after around 140 games.

In my experience, there are Life domain clerics who can usefully focus on healing, and then there are all other clerics who are probably better off just using healing word as needed, and having a revivify on hand.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I have seen a lot of posts that talk about Clerics being healers and I have played at a few tables (not many) where players expected Clerics to be healers.

Personally, my PCs are never really healers per se. I will pick up healing word and aid for bringing back downed party members during combat in a pinch, and I will keep revify on hand as long as the party pitches in for the diamond. But I am not going to top you up between combats because that is generally not the character I like to play and I am generally not spending my spell slots on your healing. That is what your gold is for - to spend on potions for this.

It is totally cool if that is the cleric you want to play, but I really don't like the trope/stereotype that seems to exist saying that is the only way to play a Cleric or that you are not a team player if you don't play a Cleric as a healer. I am just wondering how common or uncommon it is, how Clerics are played at your tables and what other players expect.
Most clerics I’ve seen in play do healing word/revivify, and only spot healing beyond that. Dedicated slots for healing should really go to healing spirit or aura of vitality anyway.

The only thing I would caveat is that depending on the game, the other players supporting themselves with healing potions may not be an option. So in the case of heavily injured PC where a short rest/long rest isn’t feasible, some off healing may be necessary.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I built my cleric to wear heavy armor and be a tank, while dishing out damage from spirit guardians and spiritual weapon. But even with that, I will heal when needed. Can't let someone go down if I have a healing word. And if a short rest won't get them mostly back to full using their own hit dice I will kick in with spell or two during that break from battle. But none of that is more than the bard will do, or the Paladin or Druid.
Yea, exactly. Any character that has access to healing word should take it unless there’s a strongly compelling in-character reason not to, it’s just too useful to have and not use.
 


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