The Ranged Cleric: A Diary

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This is a diary of observations on my first Fourth Edition character, a 1st level Elven cleric with the Warrior of the Wild (Ranger multiclass) feat - in other words, what has come to be called a Lazer Cleric on these here boards.

In this first post I'll look at the character's conception, the build and my first-session experiences. If I've got time, and people are interested, I'll update the thread when future games throw up anything striking.

Character Conception

Before game release I was leaning towards Warlock. My enthusiasm for that dimmed as the rules trickled out: the Warlock felt to me like a beginner's class, prefabricated, with fewer choices than could be made elsewhere. So I looked at the Wizard, but that turned out to be the opposite; hard to design, I thought, and hard to play. What I wanted for my first 4E character was something in-between.

By now the proto-party had plenty of strikers planned, and so - not for the first time - I found myself looking reluctantly at the Cleric.

I played Clerics in 3.5. I never liked them. If you allowed the splatbooks they were broken; if you didn't, they were healbots too often and great clunking combat hulks once in a blue moon, when they had a really solid handful of rounds to buff before combat. I don't like clanking-great-hulk characters - I prefer a bit of mobility and stealth. I'm not mad keen on being a support character, either: I enjoy helping others, but I'll readily admit to enjoying my moments in the limelight. And brokenness gets old quickly too.

So I wasn't bowled over by my first brief glances at the 4E Cleric. Strength and Wisdom basis? Yep, done that before. Great healing? Read the book, seen the movie, snarfed the complimentary chocolates. Light armour and no shields seemed odd, but I didn't stop to think about what might be intended by that, at the time.

It was only when my initial ideas fell through that I looked more closely at the class, and began to notice how much versatility there is to this new Cleric. In particular, I began to see how eminently possible it is to play the Cleric I've always wanted - mobile and graceful; helpful - sure - but potent in his own right, too. In short, I began to perceive the vague outlines of the concept others here have already dubbed The Lazer Cleric.

Build

Elven Cleric. Str 10, Con 12, Int 8, Dex 18, Wis 18, Cha 12.
Longbow, Warrior of the Wild feat, and all the Wisdom-based prayers.

The first thing I noticed was that Cleric powers derive from multiple stats, but one (Charisma) has a minimal effect, and the others (Str/Wis) lead to similar groups of abilities. The PHB suggests two builds in which all three stats are well represented, with Str or Wis highlighted; but it doesn't have to be that way. Charisma can be started at 12 without harming anything much. More interestingly, the powers fuelled by Str and Wis run parallel - so much so that it is quite possible to ignore one suite entirely, concentrate on the other, and invest in a different secondary ability, either for flavour or for a different concept. For a Strength Cleric, this might be Constitution (as has been done elsewhere on this board); for a Wisdom Cleric, it might be Charisma...but I was thinking more of Dexterity, and what that might mean for a ranged character.

Enter the 4E Elf. +2 Dex, +2 Wis. Longbow proficiency, too - and in this incarnation of the game, the longbow has a good claim to being the best weapon in the PHB. Top-tier damage, top-tier range, no need for a Superior Weapon feat. The Cleric powers tend to lack range, too; a longbow would be a good balance there.

The other Elf traits also looked good. Speed and shift speed looked to be major issues in 4E; how far you can shift, and over what ground, is a key factor in combat. Difficult terrain was rare in 3.5 - I do remember a few nerfed charges - but in 4E it's all over the PHB. So speed 7 and Wild Step looked like Very Good Things for the Lazer Cleric to have. And Elven Accuracy...well, that would be good for anyone.

I thought about building the character with a lower Dexterity - 16 - and higher Con and Cha. The longer I looked at the concept, though, the more it seemed to me that a Charisma above 12 was a distraction, and that a 12 in Con could be compensated for by the Cleric's healing - perhaps augmented by taking the Toughness feat at 2nd level. On the other hand, an 18 Dex would give the Cleric a really solid longbow attack, good initiative, and three out of four good defenses. The way ability bonuses are doled out would allow me to advance both Wis and Dex, with a point for Cha (and Astral Fire) at 11th level.

By this point I was looking at the Warrior of the Wild feat, too. That could create two rounds of very good longbow attacks or enhanced prayer damage each encounter, and there would be a Ranger skill as a bonus - maybe something Dex-based, to make use of that 18 again.

That was all to the good, but there was better to come when I looked at the Ranger's exploits. Many of those are enhanced significantly by high Wisdom. With the Novice and Acolyte feats, my ranged Cleric could really make that longbow work for him. At 4th level, he could take Cut and Run; between or after two heavy bowshots, he could be shifting 5 squares - and over difficult terrain, too. At 8th level, he could add Weave Through the Fray, shifting 5 squares every encounter as an interrupt when a foe moved adjacent. Nice!

The Cleric prayers looked good to me, too. Healing Word is strong and plentiful. Divine Glow seemed to hold some merit, too, as an area attack, and Cascade of Light appeared quite meaty for those times when the stops all needed to be pulled out.

I took Stealth as the Ranger skill, which gave this Cleric all the basic scout skills: sneakiness, perceptiveness, and enough lore skills to work out what he's looking at.

That was the building done and dusted. All that remained was to see how it played...

First Session

It played beautifully.

I'm not going to go through the session scene by scene. Here are the highlights for ranged Clerics:

* Superb Healing: no kidding, right? But here's the thing: in 3.5, when called upon to heal mid-combat, a cleric usually had to burn both a move and a standard action. A full round, basically. No more!

Healing Word is a minor action with enough range (close burst 5) to cover multiple allies. To make the best of that range, you want to be just at the fringes of the fight. The upshot then is that the ranged Cleric plays like something out of the Matrix: everything else moves in slow-motion as you move, free-action, heal, and strike. Like the Psion in 3.5, the 4E ranged Cleric makes good use of all action types, straight out of the gate.

So it was. In two all-stops-out rounds of combat this session, the Cleric brought one ally back from -3, healed another to full hit points, moved up to catch three foes and two allies in an area blast, and moved again to loose an action-pointed Channel-Divinitied combination of daily-and-bowshot against a single tougher foe. Two rounds.

* Discriminating Area Effects: the last day or so I've seen this mentioned elsewhere on the board. I'll repeat the point: the fact that Cleric bursts and blasts discriminate between ally and foe is not to be underestimated. The upshot here is that the Cleric can often take down minions when it would be self-destructive (to the party, at least) for the Wizard to do so. But there's more. The discrimination of Cleric AOEs goes beyond distinguishing between friend and foe: prayers like Divine Glow actually aid allies even as they harm enemies.

It's a big advantage. In this first combat the Wizard acted midway into the initiative sequence: by that time, the Rogue and Fighter were already in the thick of it. That made a Wizard area effect a mixed blessing, but the ranged Cleric could move up close (and risk it, with AC17 and 24hp) and catch both forward allies and three enemies: 12 damage apiece to three foes (1d8+4, maximum roll), and +2 to the Fighter's and Rogue's attacks until the end of the Cleric's next turn.

* Surprisingly Good Boss Fire: I was as surprised by this as by the potency of the Healing Words. In the action-pointed attack, the Cleric moved to get a clear bowshot, triggered Channel Divinity as a free action (+1 attack), launched Cascade of Light (+5 vs Will, 3d8+4 and vuln 5 [save ends]) for 19 damage, action pointed, loosed the bow (+6 vs AC, 1d10+9), missed, rerolled using Elven Accuracy, and hit for 15, killing the foe outright.

34 damage in a round was more than I was expecting, even with an action point. The rolls were good (though once both attacks hit, the damage isn't much over average), and a Striker or Fighter could do much more, but as it happened they didn't: the Cleric did the highest single round of damage both to a single and to multiple opponents, as well as keeping the party on its feet.

* Remarkably Good Skills.

The Cleric/Ranger-as-scout angle worked out well, and made me realise that the Cleric is pretty well set up for skills even without this build. The differential between the skillful classes (Rogue and Ranger) and the rest is smaller than in 3.5, and Wisdom is the base for a lot of good skills - Perception, of course, but also Insight and Healing (both key, I think, once disease and illusion rear their ugly heads) and Nature (+2 from Elf, and good for rituals). Add Warrior of the Wild, and you have an opening onto the Dex skills, and even with 8 Intelligence, training in Religion and Arcana gives this Cleric all the skills required for rituals, and three lore skills, covering seven types of creature.

* Good Mobility.

I was very happy about this. NO MORE TIN CAN CLERICS! In this first session, speed 7 was useful both in and out of combat, and I can see already that Wild Step is going to be extremely valuable when combined with enhanced shifting, via Ranger exploits.

Conclusion

We're only one session in, and for all I know my ranged Cleric may go belly-up next week - Fourth Edition is nothing if not lethal, and the party lack anyone to heal the healer. However, I'll be very sorry if he does fall. Already I feel a fondness for this 4E Cleric that I never felt for his 3.5 predecessors. He is an entirely different beast from those ancestors: not broken, not clunky, not requiring any combat preparation. He's fantastically fast, pleasantly resilient, and when he takes centre stage you know it. When it is his turn in the limelight, he has an array of options I've never experienced in a d&d Cleric: hard-hitting single attacks, heal-and-harm area attacks, mobile bowshots from the fringes, and skill points to back him up in a variety of out-of-combat situations. Did I forget to mention healing?

So far, so good, and I'm really looking forward to the next session. :P

(edit 13 June re Hunter's Quarry applying to prayers and bow)
You do realize that almost none, or maybe none at all of your powers work through your bow. they are either ranged already, (meaning you need a holy symbol), or melee weapon. That really hurts the bow cleric.
Not at all. Or not much.

A ranged Cleric doesn't shoot his powers through anything. That's not what his symbol does. To be specific, a Cleric doesn't need to have his symbol in hand to use his prayers (in fact, he doesn't need to have a symbol at all to use his prayers: he does need to have one on his person to benefit from magic implement enhancements). It pays to put those empty hands to good use.

Note too that the Cleric is unique in not having to wield his implement. Given the two basic paths, that leaves both hands free for a sword-and-shield, a two-handed weapon or a ranged weapon. That's a class bonus, and it's worth taking advantage of. A feat for a decent two-hander, and a melee Cleric is doing significant damage: likewise, a ranged Cleric with Ranger multiclass feats can do good damage with a bow, can do it at ranges well beyond those he can reach with his prayers (at least until end-game levels), and benefits from access to weapon damage (to which I believe no monster, to date, is resistant) to go with his (also excellent) radiant and (not quite so good) fire damage.

I add the 'not much' caveat because this build will require gold to be spent on both a symbol and a bow: over time, that will make a difference. But the difference is only between this kind of build and one that only requires a single 'power' item. Some require two (including many multiclass builds), and many gain an advantage from having the flexibility of, for example, ranged and melee weapons (Ranger). A melee Cleric will certainly do well to invest in a symbol as well as a weapon.
So for now I presume you're using cleric ranged powers and sprinkling in ranged basic attacks. It's an interesting concept, but if your party already has the striker front covered, wouldn't it be better in the long run to focus on buffing instead of the bow?
Nice to see the Cleric Archer's alive and well in 4e. I'm trying my hand at one myself. Still working out the bugs, but there's potential.
Nice to see the Cleric Archer's alive and well in 4e.

Feh. The Cleric Archer was more of a symptom of Clerics' brokenness in 3rd than any conscious attempt to define an archetype. It exists only because it's an easy way to break 3rd edition. I'm not sure I even consider it an archetype.
Cool report!

I'm intrigued: how and when did you have a chance to use Hunter's Quarry?

Another question: do you foresee your bow attacks "leveling up" to be worth it at higher levels? The classes that are designed to use ranged weapons get many powers that increase attack bonus and damage...
to Fenrir423 re better to focus on buffing:

if you look at the two-round sample above, you'll see that the Cleric is buffing. Like healing, buffing is something the Cleric now gets to do via other actions (single- or multiple-target attacks).

So, in this first-session combat, the ranged Cleric gave the Fighter and Rogue +2 attack till the end of the Cleric's next turn - which for both those characters can constitute several attacks, and is a valuable bonus in 4E. I do recall that one of those +2s tipped a miss into a hit (and a kill) for the Fighter the following round. In a mopping-up round (not detailed above) the ranged Cleric also used Lance of Faith, which did 10 damage to one of the few remaining foes (1d8+4) and gave the Fighter another +2 attack vs that specific foe. On top of that, the Cleric effectively buffed himself via Channel Divinity (+1 attack) and Cascade of Light, by inflicting Vulnerability 5 against his own attacks on the Cascadee.

Four attacks, four buffs and two heals in one short combat.

The 3.5 expectation that the Cleric must choose to buff, heal or attack is redundant in 4E. One of the real pleasures of the new class is that you can do all three at once, since the first two spring directly from the third.

to NorthSaber, re using Hunter's Quarry and bow levelling:

glad you enjoyed the first post! It was almost as fun to write up as it was to play.

Hunter's Quarry didn't come into play in this first combat. Had I been able to do so, I would have added it to the bowshot against the tougher opponent - but there was a damaged and weedier-looking foe closer, and the Fighter had him in hand by that point. Speed 7 is good, but it wasn't enough to get into a position to Quarry the foe I wanted to take down fast.

On the plus side, this meant that although the Cleric (and the party) were pulling out all the stops for this first fight, there was still something left in the tank at the end. Not much, but two rounds of 1d10+4+1d6 bowshots is a nice chunk of direct damage the Cleric doesn't have access to elsewhere once the daily is gone.

Levelling up the bow: this is a good question.

I've planned this ranged Cleric up to 12th level. I spent a while looking at the paragon multiclass Ranger option. At the moment I'm leaning towards the Cleric paragon paths instead. Paragon multiclass would make the bow useful for a long time, but in the end, by 12th, I suspect that the radiant powers and other prayers will begin to be good enough to leave the bow behind.

I find that a shame, since I like the Cleric/Ranger concept. I like the sense of evolution too, though, and up until about 12th level, the bow will level well. Its attack and damage will still increase after that, of course.

Here are three snapshots of the ranged Cleric's 1st-11th level bow attacks and Ranger exploits, with level-appropriate equipment factored in:

4th level (+1 symbol, +1 longbow, Dex/Wis 19, Novice Ranger):
- Basic Ranged, at-will, creature, +9 vs AC, 1d10+5
- Cut & Run, encounter, 1-2 creatures, 2 shots, +9 vs AC, 1d10+5 per shot; shift 5 squares after first or second shot
- Hunter's Quarry, encounter, minor, nearest foe; add 1d6 to damage once/round vs nearest foe till end of own next turn

8th level (+2 symbol, +2 longbow, Dex/Wis 20, Acolyte Ranger):
- Basic Ranged, +13 vs AC, 1d10+7
- Cut & Run, +13 vs AC, 2x 1d10+7, shift 7 squares
- Hunter's Quarry, as above
- Weave Through the Fray, immediate interrupt, foe moves adjacent, shift 5 squares

11th level (+3 symbol, +3 longbow, Dex/Wis 21):
- Basic +15, 1d10+8
- Cut & Run +15, 2x 1d10+8, shift 7
- Hunter's Quarry: +2d6
- Weave Through the Fray: as above

So, at 11th, the ranged Cleric can take two bowshots for 2d10+2d6+16, all told, and shift 7 squares between or after the bowshots. That's handy weapon-type damage, for him, and even more handy movement - useful, I suspect, for getting into position to unleash prayer area-of-effects, zones, conjurations, and healing: in other words (and with apologies to the Wizard), for controlling the battle.

The bow levels up well because (a) with Dex and Wis gaining the '+1 to two abilities' rises, attack and damage keep rising for the bow as for prayers, and (b) the Novice and Acolyte feats both offer good, Wisdom-based
exploits. I'm not quite so sold on the exploits the Cleric could gain from Adept Power, at 10th, since Cleric dailies tend to be solid - it's at-wills and encounter powers that he benefits from most.

If I did take paragon multiclass, I'd take Hawk's Talon as the 11th level bonus encounter exploit: that would be a +20 attack vs AC, would ignore cover and concealment, and would do 2d10+8.

On paper, it looks to me as if the bow will be great in the Heroic tier, less key in the Paragon tier, and will finally be overtaken by the range and damage of prayers at mid-Paragon. Which is fine by me - I doubt the campaign will take us much past 10th, I like the sense of development, and if I ever wanted to retrain at higher levels, the option is there (as will be the ability prereqs for a broader variety of feats)

(edit re Hunter's Quarry & prayers)
But what I'm saying is you don't need the bow to do that. Your bow attacks don't give buffs and until you start getting Ranger exploits they are doing the same damage as your cleric at wills, maybe less depending on stats. Plus all of your ranger exploits are going to be encounter and daily powers and you'll only have one of each and that isn't for a couple of levels anyway.
Fenrir -

let's turn it on its head then: let's have a ranged Cleric without a bow, and look at his buffing ability. Is it better without the bow?

The answer is no. The bow does not detract from the Lazer Cleric's buffing ability

Nor does the bow enhance buffing ability. The ranged Cleric's buffs are secondary effects of his Cleric prayer attacks. His basic bow and Ranger bow exploits are there to give him more personal options. They neither detract from nor enhance his buffing ability. In other words, bow use does not figure in to buffing ability for the ranged Cleric.

What I think you may be missing (excuse me if I'm wrong) is that this build is fully ranged. With Strength 10 and a spear, melee is absolutely a last resort. The build this post focusses on is a specialised, ranged Cleric. The Cleric's Strength-based prayers aren't used at all: with Strength 10 they'd be poor choices, and many of their effects are mirrored by the Cleric's Wisdom-based prayers. Concentrating on one path (Wisdom) to the exclusion of the other (Strength) works, and works well, and is great fun to play, to boot.

Some other points:

You say that this ranged Cleric's bow at-will and at-will prayers can do equal damage. This is shy of the mark. The basic bow does 1d10+4 at first level, with the potential to add +1d6 (through Hunter's Quarry) and +5 (through Cascade of Light). The at-will prayers do 1d6+4, or 1d8+4, with again, the potential to add +1d6+5. The longbow also has a far greater range, and the best type of damage (weapon). As a basic damaging attack, in terms of damage (since that's the yardstick you're using) the longbow is superior to the at-will prayers.

(I don't think this is necessarily the best yardstick to use, mind you. The longbow's range, and the prayers' secondaries, are at least if not more important than the raw damage)

From level 4, this ranged Cleric adds some Ranger exploits. I've drawn him up with Cut & Run, because I think the ability to shift 1+Wis modifier squares (over difficult terrain) is a Very Good Thing. If you prefer to go for maximised damage - which I suspect is often a mistake - you might prefer Two Fanged Strike instead, which gives two bowshots for 2d10+[2xDex mod]+[Wis mod] - plus the potential for +1d6 (from Hunter's Quarry) and +10 (from Cascade of Light).

You say that the Ranger exploits are encounters and dailies. This is incorrect. For the Novice and Acolyte feats, this ranged Cleric takes an encounter exploit, and a utility exploit which is usable every encounter. So, this build gains two encounter exploits by level 8, plus a good long-range basic at-will.

You say that Dexterity may be lower than Wisdom. In this ranged Cleric build, that is also incorrect. 4E gives the ability to keep two abilities at high levels, and this build keeps Wisdom and Dexterity equally high. 4E also doesn't allow you to race ahead with one ability: there is no option for enhancing Wisdom by +2 instead of two stats by +1. In other words, keeping two high stats at an equal level is a fairly standard 4E pattern. Nor is the high Dex being gained at the cost of a higher Wisdom - not unless you want to start with 20 in one ability, which I think is a mistake.

The main point here, though, is that, as a ranged 'Lazer Cleric', the bow doesn't affect your buffing ability either way.

(edit: as discussed later in this thread, Hunter's Quarry should be potentially applied to prayer damage, and now is here)
I guess my main road block is that you're concerned with a Leader type character's damage output in a party that "has plenty of strikers". Kind of like my friend who was so focused on his Fighter's damage that he forgot that he was supposed to at least TRY to keep the brutes from crushing the squishy Wizard (he didn't bother with his challenge since it didn't make a difference with his damage -_-). As long as it works I'll quit nitpicking.
Toward the end of combat, it's nice to have the damage. Twin strike is also great for minions.

Its not like you're only using striking powers, you're still a cleric, but here's a few tricks they can pull off that I'm hard pressed to do with a straight cleric.

If you notice, there's some pretty crappy Enc/dailies/utilities for cleric (least in heroic) when ranger gets stuff like distracting shot: Immediate interrupt and damage, and 3+wisdom to that attack? Save your ally in a pinch from that nasty blow. Or shift as an immediate interrupt, now you can move to heal quickly.

The cleric targets reflex/will mostly, the ranger targets AC which is in general equal to Fort defense+2. You can now hit almost every defense reliably.

This build also have the combination of divine oracle + devastating critical (feat) + ranger shots that deal 3W or more + ranger feat+ Vicious enhancement for... 40+Xd12+Dex+Xd8+Enhancements. And with elven racial, this shot shouldn't miss much.

Basically, if warlord can move their allies and a little bit for themselves. This build can move themselves to heal in a pinch, and deal crazy damage from afar still.
"Its not like you're only using striking powers, you're still a cleric, but here's a few tricks they can pull off that I'm hard pressed to do with a straight cleric."

That's what I like! Fun, eh? You can do everything the Cleric needs to do for the party (healing, buffing), but do all this mobile damage stuff too. You can...

(1) Fulfil your role as leader, healing and buffing;
(2) Support the strikers, with okay single-target ranged damage;
(3) Support the Wizard, with decent area effects and zones;

and you can do it all at the same time, without sacrificing anything. As well, you can be stealthy and mobile (and moderately knowledgeable) outside combat. And you have good ritual access too.

Fenrir - no, pick away at the idea all you want; peer criticism is part of what the forum's for, after all.

I hear what you're saying, too, but as I reiterate above, I don't think healing or buffing are sacrificed by adding (2), or concentrating on (3). 4E doesn't pigeonhole you in this; it's not an either/or. You can do all three as a ranged Cleric, and at the same time too, without so much as a lost action.

What you do lose is the Strength-based prayer path, of course. But my feeling is that there's so much overlap between the Str and Wis prayers that trying to focus on both creates redundancies. It is possible, and possibly efficient, to stick close to one or the other.

That's how it feels at the moment, anyway. There's plenty of time for me to be proved wrong in play ;)

Three new points, as they occur to me:

(1) The bow-using ranged Cleric can still take Opportunity Attacks. They're rubbish, but against a minion a hit is a hit. Basically, a bow user in 4E can still make an unarmed attack (a kick, probably), and an unarmed attack is a basic at-will melee attack, and so can be used for OAs. At 1st level this ranged Cleric will be kicking at +0, for 1d4, but if he's lashing out at a fleeing minion or two, that's still useful.

(2) Customer Services have now said that the Cleric and Wizard do get their ritual book and spellbook (respectively) for free, as implied by their being detailed in the class ability sections ("You possess a ritual book", for the Cleric). That's nice for a ranged Cleric, who wants 30 gold for his longbow and 30 for hide armour. He then has a bit left over for ritual ingredients, ammunition and an adventurer's kit - and a symbol, if he decides to start with one.

(3) The ranged Cleric's area of effects do less damage and have less range than the Wizard's, on the whole. I think the range is a much bigger issue than the damage. Just as with the bowman's kick, a hit is a hit against minions, and the main function of area effects (it seems to me) is to put down minions.

The real trade-off, then, is between the Wizard's better range and number of AOE uses (at-wills from the start) against the ranged Cleric's doubly discriminating AOE harm-and-buffs. Quite different types of AOEs, really, and both with distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Slight hiccup to your character design...

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/UpdatePH20080610.pdf

The Warrior of the Wild feat has been "tweaked". Your character should still be plenty cool but some of the assumptions about dmg output will be affected by this change.

edited - seems you were already taking this into account. Many of the followup posts make it seem like you weren't aware of it though. My bad.
Shadowlance - no, the errata is taken into account: if you read the initial post again, you'll see I apply it to two rounds of bow attacks (which is what it amounts to).

It's still a good feat, and needed rewriting.

edit; to reflect your editing
You say that this ranged Cleric's bow at-will and at-will prayers can do equal damage. This is incorrect. The basic bow does 1d10+4 at first level, with the potential to add +1d6 (through Hunter's Quarry) and +5 (through Cascade of Light). The at-will prayers do 1d6+4, or 1d8+4, with the potential to add +5. The longbow also has a far greater range, and the best type of damage (weapon). As a basic damaging attack, in terms of damage (since that's the yardstick you're using) the longbow is superior to the at-will prayers.

It was posts like this that had me thinking that you didn't realize the change. You mention the boost from Hunter's Quarry without mentioning the limited duration. Totally my error. As an aside, you also apply Hunter's Quarry to your bow dmg but not your prayers damage...its damage bonus can be applied to either, so your point is valid, but the damage difference is far smaller than you make it seem.

Anyway, yeah, I realized that you had seen it and edited my post to reflect that before you responded.

Despite the tweak to Warrior of the Wild and whether or not you knew that it can work with prayer damage....it's still a fine way to go character wise and I hope he treats you well.
I'm participating in a quick two encounter one-off tomorrow, just so my friends and I can get a sense for the new edition. I wanted to create a bow-using cleric, so your outline and experiences were incredibly useful.

We're starting at level 6, so I extrapolated on your beginning. Here's my list of feats and powers:

Feats:
Warrior of the Wild
Quick Draw
Novice Power - Cut and Run
Weapon focus (Bow)

Powers:
Lance of Faith - At Will
Sacred Flame - At Will
Divine Glow - Encounter
Cut and Run - Encounter (Novice Power)
Cascade of Light - Daily
Spiritual Weapon - Daily
Bless - Daily Utility
Bastion of Health - Encounter Utility
@ lotofsnow

That looks very much along the lines I was planning.

I've sketched out similar powers for my Elf, but slightly different feats - that might mean you're going for a different race, or it could just be a difference of taste - 4E allowing quite a bit of leeway on feats. Anyway -

Powers: I've two different at 6th; Consecrated Ground instead of Spiritual Weapon, and Cure Light Wounds instead of Bless.

CLW: Must be honest here - I'm not mad keen on this, but I can't see anything better, either, and more healing never goes amiss. There's a thread over an enworld lamenting the single party member who runs out of surges long before the rest of the party: I suppose the utility Cures are meant to plug that gap. It's not great, though, and Bless may be just as good. (It may also be that CLW is meant specifically for that final dire battle when an ally is completely out of surges mid-fight, at which point there are only limited ways for a Cleric to heal him aside from these 'as if he spent a healing surge' utilities)

Consecrated Ground: Cleric dailies are a harder choice than encounters, I'm finding. Spiritual Weapon has plenty to say for itself too; I like the look of both for doing damage with a minor action, and the ability to move both around. Both are good battlefield control, and leave your standard action and another minor for Healing Word if you substitute your remaining Move for a Minor. I opted for Consecrated Ground provisionally because these Cleric buff-and-harms are generally good bets, I reckon; essentially you're getting two sets of multiple effects with every casting (if you catch both friends and foes; and with a movable zone, you will). It's also worth noting that, as a power with the Healing type, you add your Wisdom modifier to the 1+Cha modifier the power gives as healing.

Feats

I was planning to take Toughness at 2nd, and Elven Precision as the 4th open feat by 6th.

Toughness is very good. The hit points in themselves are only part of it; it's the knock-on effects on surges that's nice. I like this especially with a specialised ranged Cleric, who may lack a bit of Constitution. So, taking mine as an example: at 1st level 24 hit points and 8 surges, each healing 6hp: at 2nd level (with Toughness), 34 hit points and 8 surges, each healing 8.

Quickdraw is nice, too, but of course you don't need the actual item-swapping much as a ranged Cleric (because you never need have your symbol in hand, and you're rarely going to opt for your backup spear or other melee weapon). I'm also not sure the plus to initiative would stack with Improved Initiative, which you might want later.

Elven Precision - if you're thinking of taking an Elf - is also solid. I used the Elven reroll in the first encounter sketched above, and blimey, was it useful. An extra +2 on that reroll is probably going to be +2 attack once per encounter. Which is unusually good, for a Heroic feat. I suppose Weapon Focus may be better, statistically, since it applies to both rolls and all bowshots - but of course it only applies to the bow attacks. What you really want the Elven reroll for is the Daily power. I haven't missed with that on day one, but I know it's going to suck majorly when it comes.

Anyway, happy adventuring. Very glad to hear that this thread was useful to you.

@ shadowlance

...Now you've got me: I'm going on the errata as they were originally leaked on the enworld boards. There was no mention there of Hunter's Quarry applying to prayers (because it specified weapon damage): has that changed? If so, that makes a big difference to the ranged Cleric. You're right that I had assumed not, and may be going on out-of-date information here...?
@ shadowlance

...Now you've got me: I'm going on the errata as they were originally leaked on the enworld boards. There was no mention there of Hunter's Quarry applying to prayers (because it specified weapon damage): has that changed? If so, that makes a big difference to the ranged Cleric. You're right that I had assumed not, and may be going on out-of-date information here...?

Yeah, it seems like it clearly works with any damage that you generate (limited to once per round, with a duration on the quarry of "til the end of your next turn")

Hunter's Quarry
"Once per round, you deal extra damage to your quarry."
It goes on to talk about the dmg bonus being level based and how you can choose which attack gets the bonus after you roll all of your attacks for the round in the case of multiple attacks. It says nothing about being limited to ranger attacks or weapon attacks.

So...an extra bonus for your build. Happy I could help.
Stuff

You make some excellent points. For some reason I thought the Elven Accuracy power only applied to weapon attacks, but I see now that it doesn't specify. I might have to work that in because, due to the usage you mentioned, it seems too good to pass up.

Thanks.
lotofsnow - good

shadowlance - that's very good to know. Thanks. (and now I look at the PHB again, I can't see any reference to weapon damage there, either. My mistake, then, and I'll edit the previous posts that reference this)
So the campaign I am going to be playing in is using the standard array. what would you recommend for stat placement? I was thinking of
10 str
13 con
16 dex
10 int
14 wis
11 cha

any suggestions?
to the OP: Is there any reason you put your 8 in int and not str? I understand they're both fairly useless to the sort of cleric you are building, and if you put it in str you make it possible to someday get the Scale Mail proficiency...(str 13 is one of the pre reqs), but with your dexterity growing every four levels, your AC wouldn't be too different in light armor.

Of course, a 10 int would only give you a little better ritual casting..but it might fit your concept of a crafty, woodsman elf cleric a little better.

Unless there is another reason you went with strength that I'm not seeing? I'd be interested to know, as I've been wanting to play a cleric like this as well
@TaerelPhelan

I'd put the top score in Wisdom, and the 14 in Dexterity, for 18/16 with an Elf: at the end of the day you're still a Cleric, and Wisdom affects a shedload of things for you - for example, Healing Lore, which with Wisdom 18 makes your Healing Words and other healing prayers really potent.

I might also stick the 13 in Charisma and the 11 in Constitution. Your healing (and perhaps the Toughness feat at 2nd) will make up for the low-ish Con, while Charisma 13 opens up the option of taking the Astral Fire feat as early as you like: for example, you could have Warrior of the Wild, Toughness, Novice Ranger, and Astral Fire by 6th.

The 13/11 choice is quite swings-and-roundabouts, though. I haven't played enough yet to know how often a ranged Cleric gets seriously wounded - less often than a melee build, obviously, but 4E lays a lot of emphasis on tactical encounters with clever monsters...in short, even a ranged character is going to get ambushed sometime. So 13 Con isn't a weak choice.

@ Gavilan

I put the 10 in Strength and the 8 in Intelligence because (a) my gear at 1st level weighed in at 90lbs, and (b) I'm not mad keen on a penalty to Strength-based checks for a character who will probably be scouting quite a bit. So, I suppose I was thinking of his scouting athleticism, rather than scouting braininess

He's hardly going to be the greatest endurance athlete/tree-climber/river-leaper in the world in any case, but he probably will get into all that at some point. In the longer term, I'm kind of hoping to get some gear to help here - Boots of Spiderclimbing, for example, or Wavestrider Boots.

Encumbrance seems to be downplayed in the PHB, but the rules are there all the same, and looking at gear a 100lb load (as given by Str 10) allows a fairly standard pack of stuff, whereas 80lb is just a little low for a character in hide armour with bow, arrows, spear, ritual book and adventurer's kit. As an archer he also needs a decent supply of arrows, and a climber's kit is a good cheap skill bonus, but weighs 11lbs.

The PHB is a bit hazy on what happens if you exceed your normal load, but I think what is implied is that you are Slowed anywhere over [Strx10], all the way up to [Strx20] (if there is a different penalty it isn't spelled out, that I can see; and it is implied that there is a penalty). If your DM reads it that way, then 10 Str is really quite a good thing to have.

Armour...scale armour is lovely - I really enjoy the quirkiness of its out-of-step goodness, too, in a game which is elsewhere so methodical - but a ranged Cleric does just as well with hide armour and 18 Dex, and saves his ability rises and a feat to put somewhere else into the bargain.
Beautiful. Nothing pleases me more than reading about well-fleshed out and fully-thought out builds which perform flawlessly in actual gameplay the way you envisioned them to.:D
thanks, runestar. Seeing it come together has been fun.

I suppose a useful update might look at the build's weaknesses. The low Fortitude defense is going to bite one day, and I'm sure a session will come when he's trapped in melee. But where would the fun be without a couple of Achilles heels?

I'm wondering, too, what a really specialised Strength Cleric would look like from 1st level - how does that shape up?
One thing that seemed unclear from your original post:
Did you have a single use of Healing Word affect multiple PCs? Even though it's a burst as far as range, it still has a single character target.
Very nice build you have going there.

I'm in the process of writing up my first RPGA character right now and I choose the opposite. A Elf Ranger/Cleric. Now this pretty much completely negates all of the Leader type aspects, but adds alot of options for you elf bow ranger.

If you've read up on the bow ranger at all, you can see with the area effect attacks that he actually plays a lot like a controller, and with the area effect attacks that you can grab from the cleric class with the power swap feats, you can be a better controller as well. The smattering of cleric abilities too, covers one of the rangers weaker points. Attacks the don't target AC. So it works to your benefit when you have to fight the BBEG and his AC is ludicrously high.

Also, if you choose this route, you still will have access to rituals based off of nature and religion. Lot's of fun to be had there.

So good job so far, I'll kjeep up to date here to see how your build works. I might end up stealing a trick or two.

Also as far as character concept goes, what deity did you go with?

I'm going "the Raven Queen," it seems to work well being the Hunter of the Goddess of faith. Great quotes like, "The Raven Queen has foretold it is your time to move on from this realm, and I will be her vessel to deliver you to her..."

If I deiced to go Divine Oracle too, the "prophecy of doom" power would work well with concept.

Anyway, now I'm rambling... Good concept though, though I'd like to see some more back story.

-Rob
@ chipacabra



Holy symbol, Batman, but you're observant.

Yes, we played Healing Word incorrectly in this first session. It was our first 4E session, and so there were incorrectnesses of all kinds flying around. I haven't gone back to edit this here since the Cleric did burn both per encounter uses, given which I didn't notice a contradiction in what I wrote: but yes, in the heat of the Big First Fight I looked at the blast area and wrongly assumed it could heal both the Rogue and Fighter each time it was used.

As it happened, only one of the two characters out front was heavily wounded in this fight. The real Oomph Factor in the Healing Word uses was when the first got the Rogue back from -3 (to about +14), and when the second put him back to full hit points. The Fighter was actually fine (and very tough and useful, too)

In the mistakes department, I also didn't realise that Hunter's Quarry could be applied to prayer damage, which I would have tried out in the final couple of rounds if I'd clocked it. Swings and roundabouts, and two fewer mistakes to make next time out. Good catch, anyway.

@ Kagehito

I imagine an Elven Ranger/Cleric is a sleek and awesome customer. The longbow proficiency is redundant, but the other racial traits must go very well. Are you going ranged, or mixing it up?

As someone noted way back up above, there are quite a few unappealing Cleric encounter and utility prayers at lower levels...but I can see that having a bit of healing, and a few more area effects, could be good additions for a Ranger/Cleric: healing more than area effects, maybe? The Ranger gets a few limited AOEs, doesn't he?

Maybe you wouldn't mind posting here again when you know how he plays? Ranger/Cleric and Cleric/Ranger are both on topic, I reckon.

Character concept: I was also tempted by the Raven Queen (she reminds me a little of Susannah Clarke's excellent novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell ), but a Cleric of the Queen seemed potentially a rather gloomy and forbidding and portentious character, and one thing I noticed in 3.5 was that my Clerics always seemed to end up being gloomy and forbidding and portentious....so in the end I went for Sehanine, who offers just the opposite. Trickery, moonlight, and love, and so a very different kind of priest ;)
Hello!
I just have one question.
"4th level (+1 symbol, +1 longbow, Dex/Wis 19, Novice Ranger):
- Basic Ranged, at-will, creature, +9 vs AC, 1d10+5"

How do you get +9 vs creatures?
+4 from dex
+1 from the +1 enhancement
+2 from the bow.

That is +7 where do the remaining +2 come from?
Hello!
I just have one question.
"4th level (+1 symbol, +1 longbow, Dex/Wis 19, Novice Ranger):
- Basic Ranged, at-will, creature, +9 vs AC, 1d10+5"

How do you get +9 vs creatures?
+4 from dex
+1 from the +1 enhancement
+2 from the bow.

That is +7 where do the remaining +2 come from?

+2 from being a 4th lv PC.
as Runestar says.

A small and loosely related observation: by 4th level, Cascade of Light's secondary effect becomes very nice for a ranged Cleric on big occasions, when you're willing to action point and use a power that embodies multiple attacks: the Vulnerability 5 then kicks in several times, if you're lucky.

For example, with a two-shot attack like Cut & Run as the post-action point attack, you're then getting a potential +10 to damage, in the same round, before the foe ever gets a chance to save.

At 4th, in one round, with Hunter's Quarry: 3d8+5+1d6, then 1d10+10 and 1d10+10. Three hit rolls required, and two vs AC, but Elven Accuracy's there to help with one.

Not too shoddy as backup for the Strikers.
Very nice, I do say that the Ranger/Cleric is very good and interesting build. I was building a Cleric my self, who is a Dwarven Pirate/Buccaneer and focuses mostly on his "Lazers".
Yesterday, some of my friends got together to roll characters and "try out" 4th edition before our campaign begins in two weeks. I played the Cleric(Ranger) at level 3 in a group with a warlord, a paladin, and a warlock against a young white dragon. The dragon didn't fair very well (to the point where I suggested the DM find out if the dragon got a healing surge... it didn't).

I had one great round where I was able to heal the heavily injured Warlord (minor action), blast the dragon with Cascade of Light, move, action point, and then blast the dragon again for well over 30 damage in one round due to some nice die rolls. I understand that damage-dealing shouldn't be my primary role, but, as you can see, I was easily able to perform my healing duties as well.

Unfortunately, those were the last of my good die rolls, since I seemed to miss with every attack after. I'd bought new dice for 4th edition and I'm considering returning them as defective. The warlord and the paladin had some very good rounds though, and we made short work of the dragon.

All in all, it was a pretty good experience... That said, with both the paladin and warlord in the party, I'm starting to rethink my choice as cleric. I was under the impression that the healing role would not be filled in my group.

So, in case I don't continue on with this character concept (which I will definitely use in the future), thank you, all in this thread, for your insight.
Build

Elven Cleric. Str 10, Con 12, Int 8, Dex 18, Wis 18, Cha 12.
Longbow, Warrior of the Wild feat, and all the Wisdom-based prayers.

Sorry, but correct me if i'm wrong. as i read my PHB ,warrior of the wild feat requirement is STR 13 and DEX 13. how your char can get warrior of the wild without fullfill the requirement.
Sorry, but correct me if i'm wrong. as i read my PHB ,warrior of the wild feat requirement is STR 13 and DEX 13. how your char can get warrior of the wild without fullfill the requirement.

Prerequisite: Str 13 or Dex 13
ouw sorry my mistake:embarrass
Great build porp! I love it when a plan comes together. /pose

As Kagehito is, I am going Ranger (multiclass Cleric) as well. So far one session in it's great. The extra healing comes in VERY handy. I've noticed that 4th ed seems a lot more...lethal than our previous 3rd ed games. Every possible healer you can get helps a ton.

I was thinking about going some version of Cleric (ranger) myself but another character expressed interest in playing a purely support cleric (healbot, more or less). Our party is currently Ranger (Archery, multiclass Cleric), Cleric, Paladin, Warlord, Fighter (2h), Rogue, Warlock, Wizard, and Ranger (TWF). I'm a little concerned about only having 2 defenders but with 4 characters that can heal to some degree I think we'll be alright.

I would love to hear some status updates as you try out the character more and more each week!

Also, it's a shame that you need to be level 10 to take a multiclass daily power. Weapon of the Gods (Cleric Daily 5) is SILLY GOOD for rangers (2d6 more damage every round with twin strike assuming you hit with both AND as a bonus they're easier to hit for everyone) and it's something to consider for you when you use your quarry/twin strike encounter powers or heck, just for the entirety of a big encounter. Personally I'm not really sold on Spiritual Weapon or Consecrated Ground; I generally don't like abilities that require sustain minor. Much rather keep my options open.
This is indeed a fun sounding build to play. If I can ever convince my RL group to give 4e a try, this will probably be the first character I run, thanks for the inspiration! And please, keep up updated on how your sessions go!
Update No.1

In which our heroes discover the meaning of fear

Well, this isn't quite the tale of Clerical derring-do I was hoping to relate, but it may be informative nonetheless, so here it is.

In short: it had crossed my mind that 4E seemed pretty lethal (and posters here had confirmed the thought), and that my much-loved new Cleric/Ranger might not live a long and fruitful life. Even so, I hadn't expected his life - nor the lives of his party - to be quite so lacking in longevity, or fruitiness.

Yes, in our second 4E outing, we suffered a TPK: our first in many years of gaming, over half a dozen gaming systems. As it happens our DM had kindly endowed us with one Fate Point apiece at character creation - get-out-of-Hades-free cards for the new game - so we didn't end up dead, just trussed up like deli hot-spit chickens by our kobold conquerors: but let's call a spade a spade; we got slaughtered. By kobolds. Welcome to Fourth Edition.

There is a danger of getting off-topic here (and besides, I'm embarrassed by our strategy and tactics), so for a multitude of splendid reasons I'll stick to the Cleric/Ranger's effectiveness. Since the party under his pastoral care were all killed, effectiveness is a relative term, but let's give it a go anyway:

The TPK

At the end of the first session, we had maneuvered ourselves into something of a self-inflicted ambush. As it turned out, we faced roundabout 15 foes, versus the standard party of five. This included 6 minions, but four of those were at missile range with superior cover, and unreachable in melee.

The Cleric (being an Elf) was in the lead as the party attempted to rush the enemy. His first two rounds were useful. His first attack was Divine Glow, catching three foes for 12 damage apiece (maximum roll, again), and giving the Fighter +2 on attacks till the end of the Cleric's next turn.

By the time his second turn came round, the Ranger and Rogue were already at 1hp each, and the Fighter was at -3 after a 19hp critical from a kobold guard dog (I think it was called a Guard Drake). Both the Cleric/Ranger and Wizard were on full hit points, but we had not yet dropped a single foe. Already things were looking dicey.

The Cleric/Ranger's second turn was therefore: minor action Healing Word on the Fighter (which took him to +15hp); minor action Healing Word on the Ranger (which took him to +11 or so); shift to escape skirmishers (but they followed - shifty little devils); free action Channel Divinity (+1 attack, for the daily), action point to get off Cascade of Light (which missed, before Elven Accuracy came to the rescue again; both enemy AOs on the Cleric also missed) for 12 damage and Vul 5 versus a Guard Drake.

So, at the end of the Cleric's second turn the party had its Defender unbloodied, its strongest Striker ready for another round, the Cleric and Wizard untouched, but the Rogue remained in horrible shape. There just wasn't enough healing in one Cleric, in one turn, to reach and heal three allies - not at 1st level. Still, the Cleric seemed to be doing his job well - keeping the party in the fight, while at the same time laying on heavy supporting fire. The situation seemed improved, if not wholly recovered.

As it turned out, the DM's 19hp critical was the first gambit in a vile plan which involved no fewer than 7 further DM crits. The Rogue was killed on the kobolds' next turn, the Ranger followed, and the Cleric went down not long after. The Dwarven Fighter survived a long time (Second Wind as a minor action is really excellent), but once he fell the Wizard had nowhere left to go. And that was that. We awoke trussed to poles, and escaped with the DM's tacit blessing some time later.

Post-TPK Cleric/Ranger analysis:

One thing I noticed was that while the Cleric's moments of glory were echoes of the ones in the first fight, they seemed markedly less glorious against foes with higher hit points. The area attack (Divine Glow) paid off handsomely, and the big turn (Healing Words, Daily, action point, Elven Accuracy, Channel Divinity) still seemed impressive. But neither turn saw a foe go down, and in general we were woefully slow in getting the kobolds to hit the dirt.

At the moment, I'm sensing that raw damage just isn't the way to go: conditions rule. But respect for adversaries that in 3.5 would have been a cakewalk - that would also be helpful.

Oh well. It's all part of the learning curve

Post-Unlikely Escape

The party proceeded on stealthily (Cleric and all) through occupied territory. The kobolds had stolen most of our rations, but four of the party (including the Cleric) were able to forage for themselves. Even so, our supplies were worryingly low.

Thus it was that the final encounter of the session involved the ambushing of a ferocious tribe of... farm animals. Under shadow of darkness we crept up to a homestead, where the Wizard cast Sleep on a small herd of sheep. He missed two of the four sheep (to much merriment) and the other two succeeded on their first saves (to general hilarity). The fruits of Arcane Power: two really slow sheep. Humiliated and enraged, the Wizard Magic Missiled them, and we escaped into the hills laden, not with gold and artifacts of power, but at least with several days' supply of mutton.

Party consensus on Sleep (the most broken spell in 4E?) after illegal animal experimentation: 'Semi-effective versus livestock'.

Final thoughts: we had area effects, a tough Fighter, healing, two Strikers, and some vague semblence of strategy and tactics. Fourth Edition is lethal. Our first fight was tough, but this was really touch and go. And as it happened, we went.

I don't think the Cleric/Ranger performed badly. Having a second healer - a Paladin, I suppose - might have helped, and I can see the Healing skill coming in to play soon as backup for healing powers. But it may just be that odds of 3 to 1 are to be avoided in 4E. The party is currently huddled in a river boat, licking its numerous wounds and keeping its heads down at bilge-level in case of passing enemy patrols.

Things can only get better.
Beacon of Hope daily is pretty nice in these situations. Then use the healing words.

Nice story, I enjoyed it.