A Viable Healing Cleric? (Playtest Session 1)

For our first playing session, we had a cleric and a wizard. We ran our game with one Average and one Tough combat (and a green slime thrown in for old school feeling =]). 

The first encounter was 4 kobolds (re-skinned to look like small golems but the stats did not change; 40 xps). The wizard dropped three of them with Sleep. Then the cleric took out the third with Lance of Faith. Pretty straight forward combat with the spell casters burning through spells. The wizard took a hit and so the party took a short rest, so he could spend his hit dice. 

The second counter was at a Tough level: a human war chief and five commoners (80 xps). The cleric burnt through his Lance of Faith spells and the wizard depleted his spells as well. The wizard got hit again and was at 4 hit points. Therefore the cleric's at-will spell, Cure Minor Wounds, was worthless. 

The cleric followed Paladine and was therefore a protector. Breaking into metagaming, we evaluated his next move. He stated that in any other game, he would have taken the time to heal his companion with a Cure Light Wounds, but with three enemies left and only one spell slot, it was not the best choice. He therefore cast another Lance of Faith

The wizard took another hit and went down. The cleric used Cure Minor Wounds as a word of power (he liked this) and hit his foe, taking it down. The wizard now had 1 hit point and was back up. 

They won the encounter, but the question still remained. Would he not have been better off playing a Lightbringer cleric with the at-will Lance of Faith

So, my question is, Can you make a viable healing cleric? As I read it, Cure Minor Wounds is a situational spell only. You pretty much have to wait until someone is unconscious to use it. Could it be changed to work at 10 hit points are lower instead of 3 hit points? Could the limit to hit points be dropped completely? 

And what is up with the concentration rules? As I understand it, you can only cast one buff at a time. So that makes a buffing cleric impossible. How have you guys addressed this issue? 

Right now, there seems to be only one viable way to play an effective cleric: round after round of Lance of Faith. If the cleric tries to do something else, like heal others, then he is simply lengthening out the inevitable and running out of spells. 
The primary reason for the limit is to prevent the cleric from mass healing between battles
I think that you are right. But then I think the cleric needs something else. I'm just not sure what it is. 
When combats are short (between 1-3 rounds) and at lower levels (vs. frail opponents) it is far better for a cleric to be offensive in nature (especially if he has an decent "at will" attack spell).  Most of the fights I've experienced in our playtests have been short. 

From a power standpoint, it makes little sense to play any other type of cleric than a Lightbringer because with Lance of Faith "at will" he can help make fights shorter, and he can fight from a distance.   Each diety should have some type of offensive spell that allows for this type of contribution, or if it is a defensive type diety, the defensive spell should be worth giving up the offense.

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

The level 3 Lightbringer cleric in our party has complained about a general 'lack of different stuff' to do as a cleric since she is pretty much casting lance of faith every round.

Of course she gets to cast cure light wounds twice and scorching ray once per day but I think she wishes there were some more offensive options. Hitting with her mace is less useful than lance of faith so it's never really used...


Options I can think of include possibly decoupling healing spells from offensive spells when using spell slots. Or give a bonus to melee attacks to bludgeoning weapons... 
The level 3 Lightbringer cleric in our party has complained about a general 'lack of different stuff' to do as a cleric since she is pretty much casting lance of faith every round.

Of course she gets to cast cure light wounds twice and scorching ray once per day but I think she wishes there were some more offensive options. Hitting with her mace is less useful than lance of faith so it's never really used...


Options I can think of include possibly decoupling healing spells from offensive spells when using spell slots. Or give a bonus to melee attacks to bludgeoning weapons... 



I like the idea of making melee attacking for a cleric more of a viable option, especially for a warbringer type.  Warbringer should gain use of martial weapons and the same attack bonus as a fighter.   Chances are they will have have lower strength and because they don't have expertise dice, they won't rival a fighter, but at least they could hold their own in melee.

And you are right...or your player is right.   Lance of Faith is just that good.  Why use a weapon?   Maybe it should do less damage (1d4+4 or 1d6+4 max) This is especially true because a Lightbringer cleric also does 2+spell level extra radiant damage...so right now radiant lance does 1d8+7 for a lightbringer.  That's too good.

  

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Perhaps the cleric should be able to cast touch spells on those they hit with their weapon.
The level 3 Lightbringer cleric in our party has complained about a general 'lack of different stuff' to do as a cleric since she is pretty much casting lance of faith every round.

Of course she gets to cast cure light wounds twice and scorching ray once per day but I think she wishes there were some more offensive options. Hitting with her mace is less useful than lance of faith so it's never really used...


Options I can think of include possibly decoupling healing spells from offensive spells when using spell slots. Or give a bonus to melee attacks to bludgeoning weapons... 



I like the idea of making melee attacking for a cleric more of a viable option, especially for a warbringer type.  Warbringer should gain use of martial weapons and the same attack bonus as a fighter.   Chances are they will have have lower strength and because they don't have expertise dice, they won't rival a fighter, but at least they could hold their own in melee.

And you are right...or your player is right.   Lance of Faith is just that good.  Why use a weapon?   Maybe it should do less damage (1d4+4 or 1d6+4 max) This is especially true because a Lightbringer cleric also does 2+spell level extra radiant damage...so right now radiant lance does 1d8+7 for a lightbringer.  That's too good.

  


I love the idea of being able to cast a spell from a distance as a cleric. I really think its useful and that archtype can use a quarterstaff as well. I don't think melee woulld be too useless.
IMAGE(http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y152/RockNrollBabe20/Charmed-supernatural-and-charmed_zps8bd4125f.jpg)
I had the same problem as a Cleric, healing doesn't seem worth it unless you really needed to pick up your Martial character friend that did most of the damage, offensive casters usually unloaded their big guns before the monsters got to them.

Also the Cure Minor Wounds cantrip is nearly useless, sure it helps in avoiding permanent death on someone who's fallen and having bad luck at rolls, or maybe give someone another chance to unleash a death blow but it's uses are very far and inbetween compared to offensive cantrips.

In fact, healing seems very underpowered compared with offensive magic, making it a very unatracctive option.

Here are some answers to this problem that I've been toying with.

1 . Make Cure Minor Wounds heal some one to a more reasonable level, I don't think that getting someone to 3hp on a single cast would be too game breaking. You could even scale it out and allow Clerics to shoot a wounder character back to 6hp at level 7, 9hp at level 11, and 12hp at level 16.

2. Adding more healing cantrips for different situation, thus far this game lacks variety on it's at will options, which has resulted on most character on my party repeating the same action for most of the turns.

Minor Damage Absorption.
Abjuration Cantrip

Feeling the threat of hostile creatures you ask the gods for protection, turning a creature's sense of danger into a protective shield.
Effect:  Choose a creature with at least 1 hit point within 50 feet of you. If you can sense the presence of an hostile creature in a 100 feet radius centered in the chesen creature, you grant that creature 2d4 temporal hit points for a minute, only one Minor Damage Abosorption effect can be present on each creature at time.


you could even scale it like lance of faith.


Minor Reactive Healing.
Conjuration Cantrip.

You concentrate on the battle around you, ready to channel healing energies onto immediately inflicted wounds and prevent long term damage.
Effect: Until the start of your next turn, each time a creature within 50 feet of you is damaged as a reaction, you can make that creature regain up to 1d10 hit points, this creature cannot regain more hit points than the ones he lost to trigger this effect.

I would probably also beef up Cure Light Wounds and most healing spells, but that would require more math and testing.

I don't know. I enjoyed the Lifegiver Cleric here.  Had a rogue, rogue, fighter, cleric party.  I do think Lance of Faith is a little to much the "go to spell" and would like to see it tweaked a bit (lower damage maybe).  


But with Cure Minor Wounds as the initial cantrip, and taking the second cantrip as Lance of Faith I had a good deal of offensive ability and healing.  Add to that if you play Word of Power as the last playtest and tweets from WOTC suggest, you can swing your weapon when you cast a heal.


Then channel divinity gives you a decent heal and a basic self heal.  And the you get Cure Light Wounds too.


I can cast Lance of faith to start, move into melee.  Next round throw Cure Light Wounds if someone takes a big hit, Channel Regrowth if I get hit, and melee swing or Lance if I wanna kill something  Next round Lance of Faith for damage or Channel Positive Energy for a heal, Cure Minor Wounds if I need to stabelize someone that's not massivley important to the group and melee swing.  3 rounds and I still have 1 spell left at level 1, or 2 at level 2.  If combat averages 3 rounds, I can get into 3 decent combats per day before a rest.


Now if I want to keep more spells available, I set myself up as a healer out of combat too.  Herbalist feat to make healers kits and Potions of Healing.  That way the fighter can heal himself and I can kill badies.  Now I only need to toss a heal out if everyone is out of potions.  So I can probably expect 5 decent combats per day before a rest.


I would like to see Cure Minor Wounds buffed a little, heal to 3hp reguardless current hp would be good.  I also think Lance of Faith damage should go down a bit except for Lightbringer.  Let that be Lightbringers signature.  Let Lifegiver have a buffed Cure Minor Wounds to maybe 5hp.  That way your Cleric deities really makes your choice stand out more.  But I don't think either of these are crucial.  A minor tweak.


Either way I like how the Cleric has shaped up.

For my first experience with Next I rolled a Dwarf Cleric following The Reaper.  I rolled pretty excellent stats and with the class bonus had 18 Wis, 17 Con and 16 Str.  I used a Great Axe as my melee weapon and my go-to Cantrip was Chill Touch.  I noticed that in every encounter my option was basically walk around the room and either whack at someone with my axe with +3 to attack or reach out and freeze them with +5 to attack.  Chill Touch did 1d10 damage and gave that good necromancy role play feel, where my axe hit for 2d6+3.  To me this felt like a decent tradeoff and I used Chill Touch on foes I felt I was less likely to successfully hit.

The problem I saw and that everyone here has been echoing is that the caster classes get to toss a couple of spells in a given day to start and then fall into the repetition of use my go-to cantrip over and over.   I was fine with this and just role played, but the other guy who had never played D&D before went with a cliche healer cleric.  He did not like that Cure Minor was useless until someone was near dead and immediately used his Cure Light in the first encounter and then Shield of Faith in the next and then kind of lost interest once he got stuck just swinging his sword around after that.
For my first experience with Next I rolled a Dwarf Cleric following The Reaper.  I rolled pretty excellent stats and with the class bonus had 18 Wis, 17 Con and 16 Str.  I used a Great Axe as my melee weapon and my go-to Cantrip was Chill Touch.  I noticed that in every encounter my option was basically walk around the room and either whack at someone with my axe with +3 to attack or reach out and freeze them with +5 to attack.  Chill Touch did 1d10 damage and gave that good necromancy role play feel, where my axe hit for 2d6+3.  To me this felt like a decent tradeoff and I used Chill Touch on foes I felt I was less likely to successfully hit.

The problem I saw and that everyone here has been echoing is that the caster classes get to toss a couple of spells in a given day to start and then fall into the repetition of use my go-to cantrip over and over.   I was fine with this and just role played, but the other guy who had never played D&D before went with a cliche healer cleric.  He did not like that Cure Minor was useless until someone was near dead and immediately used his Cure Light in the first encounter and then Shield of Faith in the next and then kind of lost interest once he got stuck just swinging his sword around after that.



Part of the problem is that melee classes are getting so much more per round when when they have MDD and skill tricks that being a caster of any sort lags in "cool" stuff to do each and every round.   In  my games, I feel bad for the clerics and the wizards.   The fighter and the rogue are by far the stars of the campaign most of the time.   That said, I want to run an all cleric session with a party of 4 or 5 different clerics.  I think that would be a hoot. 

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog