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5E Powergamer Cleric= Variant Human?

Zardnaar

Explorer
Now the basic cleric is not actually that god at being a D&D cleric. That is even the war cleric is actually kind of bad being a traditional D&D cleric. This is assuming you are using the default array.Rolled sttas you can ignore this arguement.

The reason for this is MAD- multiple ability dependency. Consider a melee cleric probably wants strength (15+ if in heavy armor), wisdom, con, while dex may also be required if you are in medium armor especially if you can't use finesse weapons.

The other thing is ASIs, you get so few of them even if you went dex based cleric for example you are giving up ASIs to increase dexterity rather than wisdom.

This does not apply of course to characters with high rolled stats, ones that find gauntlets of ogre power etc. Its also doesn't apply to clerics that ey everything off wisomd and function more as a primary caster. That would be a light or arcana cleric for example and they can easily have a 1 wisdom, 14 dex/con and buff wisdom and be happy.

Now however there is a way around this. The Nature cleric can cast chillagh since it picks up a Druid cantrip. You can wear medium armor, soak up 1 less AC and similar to things like light and arcana clerics you can key everything off wisdom including your melee attacks. This matters latter on where the "melee" cleric should be using spiritual guardians, clerics that don;t basically stink at melee. This is also why I think nature clerics are better at melee than things like war and tempest clerics. The way a staff+ shillelagh interacts with polearm master is also funny. If you want a beat down cleric that is good at spells and spell buffing play a nature cleric in medium armor.

However if feats are used the variant human can have 16, 14, 14 with the default array and pick up a feat such as magic initiate taking shillagh, another cantrip and a level 1 Druid spell (faerie fire?). This means any cleric can now function like a nature cleric while a nature cleric takes pole arm master for staff based beatdown.

Now this means things like a spell buffed arcanac cleric using shillelagh+ green flame lade can actually put out very respectable damage. For example at level 8 you deal weapon damage wisdom damage X2 (shillagh+ lvl 8 arcana cleric), 1d8+ wisdom splash damage plus potentially 4d8 spiritual guardian damage. Spiritual guardians lasts 10 minutes and you can cast it 5 times/long rest. You can have an 18 wisdom+ warcaster for 1d8+8+ 1d8+4splash+ 4d8 15'.

War and tempest clerics may also be better off going staff and board and wearing metal armor and maxing out there wisdom score since they have spells+ class abilities keyed off wisdom. Death clerics get a fairly decent smite so once again pull out that staff.

So my arguement is should every cleric under the sun be using the magic initiate feat to pick up shillagh? At least from a min/max PoV.

Generally I don't see a lot of clerics being played, I am my parties healer (celestial warlock+ healer feat). Most people don't seem to know this cleric combo though.
 

Paul Farquhar

Explorer
I thought Arcana Cleric+GFB/BB + Shillagh is fairly obvious.

I also think it bacially shows that few players are pure power gamers. People don't play it because it just doesn't feel like an convincing interesting character.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
I think you are over estimating the impact of going from a 16 in your attack stat to a 20 for a class that does little attack damage. Wisdom is the important stat for all clerics.
 

Paul Farquhar

Explorer
That too. Clerics are great casters with a good AC. They don't really need to be rocking out fighter-like melee damage, once they get a few levels in they will be too busy casting proper spells to go round hitting things with a wooden stick, no mater how supercharged.

Word of Radiance is a bit of an underrated gem for any cantrip damage clerics (not to mention divine soul sorcerers), and you don't need to use a feat or pick an obscure domain to get it.
 
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TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
It really depends on what tier you're intending to play to. If the game is primarily going to be Tier 1-2, than buffing up your melee attack makes sense. If your primary focus of play is Tier 2-3 or higher, than it probably isn't worth it to spend the feats or multiclass dips just to give yourself a better at-will option.

A few other ways you can buff up the cleric at low levels:

1) Hill dwarf nature cleric. You can dump both Str and Dex, since you can wear heavy armor with no speed penalty. Perfect stat adjustments to get 16 Wis and Con. Downside is no feat, of course.
2) Fighter 1 dip to grab dueling, so with PAM you have an 1d6+2+stat/1d4+2+stat attack routine with shield bonus to AC. You can also grab another domain if you wanted, since fighter gives you armor and weapon proficiences, plus Con save for concentration. Downside is you have to wait to 5 to grab shillelagh via magic initiate unless you go nature.

If the argument is that any cleric should prioritize shillelagh, especially moving into Tier 2+, then I'd say that's a cautious yes. But since clerics really have a lot of feat and ASI needs (getting Wis to 20, buffs to concentration with either Resilient(Con) or War Caster), I don't know if I'm thrilled with the idea of burning a feat on Magic Initiate to do it. It's a great perk of Nature clerics, or even a Druid dip if your DM is lenient on the metal armor issue.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
From an optimization perspective: Instead of taking shillelagh use the variant human feat for healer or warcaster. When your making a single fairly low damage attack maxing out a little more damage and chance to hit on it isn’t very important. Keeping concentration or being able to heal out of combat without spells are much better abilities.

or don’t start variant human and get 16 str 16 wis starting out and then up to 18/18. You take a small hit in wis and melee damage to do both well without needing a feat.
 

Mistwell

Adventurer
I think Forge Cleric still makes your best melee cleric. You don't need shillelagh. It's an overrated spell. It does not hold up well beyond low levels, because that d8 never goes up, and that just cannot keep up with expected damage outputs at higher levels regardless of your Wisdom.

You will need strength, but it doesn't need to be maxed because you can make a magic weapon. And by 4th or 8th level you take magic initiate and take booming blade. Go with this Forge Cleric for a fun, effective build. Either variant human (feat earlier) or hill dwarf (warhammer and shield, higher hit points).
 

Istbor

Explorer
I mean... I see a lot of Clerics. Two of them currently in my home group. Tempest and War. Both are pretty happy with their characters.
I am not sure I have seen a 5e group yet without a Cleric.
 

Psyzhran2357

Villager
Now the basic cleric is not actually that god at being a D&D cleric. That is even the war cleric is actually kind of bad being a traditional D&D cleric. This is assuming you are using the default array.Rolled sttas you can ignore this arguement.
What does this mean? What is a traditional D&D Cleric? Hitting stuff with a blunt implement? Are Clerics who get Potent Cantrip instead of Divine Strike not good D&D Clerics?
 

Dausuul

Legend
What does this mean? What is a traditional D&D Cleric? Hitting stuff with a blunt implement? Are Clerics who get Potent Cantrip instead of Divine Strike not good D&D Clerics?
I assume he is referring to earlier editions, when a cleric was a healbot with a mace. Most of your time was spent pumping hit points into your companions. On the rare occasion that your companions didn't need hit points, you bopped things with the mace.

If you wanted to be edgy and different, you could swap out the mace for a warhammer. (But not an axe. Axes were not cool. The gods frowned upon axes. Even the dwarf gods.)
 
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Tony Vargas

Villager
What does this mean? What is a traditional D&D Cleric? Hitting stuff with a blunt implement?
The Traditional Cleric:

  • Stood at the back of the party, to be an armored rear guard and keep an eye on the Thief.
  • Used most of his spells for healing.
  • Maced the occasional orc.
  • Wished he had ranged weapons, anything better than a thrown hammer would be lovely.
  • Turned Undead, saving the party's bacon in encounters with way too many undead for the party to handle any other way - which was every encounter with Undead.
  • On rare, rare, occasions, collected a Girdle of Giant Strength, Gauntlets of Ogre Power, and Hammer of Thunderbolts and really gave the fighter a run for his money.


And the 5e Cleric doesn't do that, because he's a little too good to be doing that.
 

jgsugden

Explorer
A prepared melee cleric that devotes his concentration to spirit guardians and also utilizes spiritual weapons (both possibly at elevated slots) can be an effective contributor to combat. In my experience, they also tend to be the PCs that get first crack at 'Strength' items like Gauntlets of Ogre Power, so the Shillelagh is not necessarily required.

If you want to really pump these guys up, consider taking a level of Warlock to gain access to Armor of Agathys. When you cast that with a 5th level slot it can often give you 25 tem hps, but also deal 50 or 75 damage as well. There was a lore bard in one game that pretended to be a priest. At 10th he had Armor of Agathys, Spirit Guardians, and Spiritual Weapon. He was a beast.
 

Radaceus

Villager
a note on Shilellagh, this cantrip is very handy if you do not have a magic weapon, so if you are a melee orientated cleric, this beats using a spell slot (Magic Weapon spell) to mitigate resistance to normal weapons.

now, regarding the 'classic/original' cleric versus it's 5E iteration, they didnt have an action economy other than 'move, attack, orcast a spell' so swinging a weapon and using a shield was mainstay, they were basically 'Main Assist' +'Main Heals'
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
So my arguement is should every cleric under the sun be using the magic initiate feat to pick up shillagh? At least from a min/max PoV.

Generally I don't see a lot of clerics being played, I am my parties healer (celestial warlock+ healer feat). Most people don't seem to know this cleric combo though.
The combo described isn't particularly good. Attempting to enhance a particularly subpar aspect of the cleric class to a decent level of output is worse than making them really good at something they are good at and ignoring the subpar aspect - optimizationally speaking
 

Dausuul

Legend
The damage numbers look decent (at least until 10th level), but consider that you are sacrificing the opportunity to take War Caster or Resilient (Con) and you are taking an Arcana cleric, who would normally stand in the back lobbing spells or ranged weapons, and putting them on the front line. That's a big hit to your ability to hold concentration spells, which is generally much more important than your at-will attacks for a primary caster. If you're holding bless on a couple of martial PCs, and you lose it to an enemy hit, you just sacrificed all of your bonus damage and then some.

I wouldn't dismiss this build out of hand, but I also don't feel like it stands head and shoulders above all other cleric options.
 

FrogReaver

Explorer
The damage numbers look decent (at least until 10th level), but consider that you are sacrificing the opportunity to take War Caster or Resilient (Con) and you are taking an Arcana cleric, who would normally stand in the back lobbing spells or ranged weapons, and putting them on the front line. That's a big hit to your ability to hold concentration spells, which is generally much more important than your at-will attacks for a primary caster. If you're holding bless on a couple of martial PCs, and you lose it to an enemy hit, you just sacrificed all of your bonus damage and then some.

I wouldn't dismiss this build out of hand, but I also don't feel like it stands head and shoulders above all other cleric options.
The bigger problem with maximizing attack damage with a cleric is there are a number of rounds any given fight that you won't be attacking. All that optimization is wasted that turn if you cast spirit guardians like every other cleric. Or god forbid you need to use an action on a lesser restoration spell or a mass healing word or a control spell of some sort.

Besides, the basic cleric that takes booming/greenflame blade later and simply has a 16 str is only doing a little lower damage per attack than the one described right? I just don't get taking the feat for a little extra at will damage given the situation.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
My comment about being a traditional cleric was about them being an ok fighter thype but they are fairly mediocre at that in 5E due to MAD etc.

At higher levels the difference might be 14 vs 20 in terms of to hit and damage and one less AC over a cleric going strength and wisdom.

That cleric could buff strength I suppose but then you're not buffing wisdom. Wisdom is also buffing spiritual guardians.
 
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Zardnaar

Explorer
I think Forge Cleric still makes your best melee cleric. You don't need shillelagh. It's an overrated spell. It does not hold up well beyond low levels, because that d8 never goes up, and that just cannot keep up with expected damage outputs at higher levels regardless of your Wisdom.

You will need strength, but it doesn't need to be maxed because you can make a magic weapon. And by 4th or 8th level you take magic initiate and take booming blade. Go with this Forge Cleric for a fun, effective build. Either variant human (feat earlier) or hill dwarf (warhammer and shield, higher hit points).
It will scale via cleric levels or gfb.

I'm a big fan of cleric that don't melee, just wondering how to make them half decent at melee. Your build plus shillagh;).
 

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