Battle Priest (3.5e Optimized Character Build)
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I've seen a couple of clericzilla builds on the wiki, and thought I'd add my own. Much of the damage from cleric builds comes from strength enchancement and holy damage (from divine favour). So a cleric can either wield a two handed weapon and get big strength bonuses to damage or they can dual wield and get their bonus damage on two weapons.
I prefer to fight with a shield to get a top AC. The bonus holy damage in my main hand is good, but to take it even further (and inspired by scenes in 300), I came up with the battle priest.
SRD, PHBII, Spell Compendium. There is an option to also use Dragon Magic, which I will discuss below.
Game Rule Components
Spells, Powers, Soulmelds, Stances, etc...
Divine Favour is key to the build. At level 10, a quickened divine favour gives you +3AB and +3DMG. combine this with the strength and bab boost of divine power and you have yourself a powerhouse.
energised shield from the spell compendium is a handy little spell to use if you have prefight buffing time. Gives an additional 2d6 to your shield's damage. It clashes spell levels with divine power though, so energised shield lesser, which gives 1d6 is an alternative.
other general buffing spells are good (shield of faith gives +3AC that stacks with most of the other enchancement I use), but long lasting buffs are best as you should be in combat, not casting spells.
NOTE: righteous might is the oft used cleric 5 spell, but it clashes with quickened divine favour. I would much rather spend one round buffing and the rest of the fight swinging than taking 2 rounds to cast divine power and righteous might. it is possible to use persistent spell to use divine favour but it kicks in much later in the character's progresion.
For the purposes of the guide, I am assuming mundane equipment, so; Any simple weapon (or martial, with the war domain)
Spiked heavy shield
Because of the greater magic weapon spell, the enhancements on your weapon should be used for extra damage (flaming, frost, shocking etc.) or keen/impact. Keen and impact are very useful enhancements because your bonus holy damage is affected by the critical multiplier.
Any type of full plate will be useful but, as with everything the cleric uses, it doesn't have to be enhanced to anything above +1 (which is the minimum to put other enhancements on the item.)
There are many useful materials and enhancements but none are essential, which is why I like the alternate class feature Dragonscale Husk from dragon magic. You give up your use of heavy armour to gain a growable set of scales that give an AC bonus of 6 + 1/3 class levels. In addition, it counts as medium armour with a +2 max dex, a low armour check penalty and you can sleep in it. Eventually it gives you fire, cold and electricity resistance. The catch is that you have to be dragonblooded, which can be accessed with a feat or using one of the dragonblood races in dragon magic.
Starting Ability Scores (Before Racial Adjustments): For a 30 Point Buy: STR 1 DEX 1 CON 1 INT 1 WIS 1 CHA 1
Race (Templates): Silverblood Human
Starting Racial Traits: feather fall 1/Day Dragonblooded Extra Feat at 1st Level
|1st||Cleric 1||+0||+2||+0||+2||Improved Shield Bash, Shield Specialisation (PHB2)||Turn Undead||Strength Domain, Community Domain, AC+6 (Dragonscale Husk)|
|2nd||Cleric 2||+1||+3||sssssssssssssssssssssss +0||+3|
|3rd||Cleric 3||+2||zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz+3||+1||+3||Agile Shield Fighter (PHB2)||Second Level Spells, AC+7|
|4th||Cleric 4||+3||+4||+1||+4||+1 Wisdom|
|5th||Cleric 5||+3||+4||+1||+4||Third Level Spells, Energy Resistance 5|
|6th||Cleric 6||+4||+5||+2||+5||Improved Initiative||AC+8|
|7th||Cleric 7||+5||+5||+2||+5||Fourth Level Spells|
|8th||Cleric 8||+6/+1||+6||+2||+6||+1 Wisdom|
|zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz| Cleric 9||+6/+1||+6||+3||+6||Quicken Spell||Fifth Level Spells, AC+9|
Level 1: Shield of Faith, divine favour
Level 2: Bear's Endurance, Bull's Strength (for other party members)
Level 3: Lesser Energised Shield, magic vestment
Level 4: divine power, greater magic weapon
Level 5: quickened divine favour
It's a very simple build. For all stats below, i'm assuming mundane equipment. at the start of your adventuring day you cast GMW on your weapon and on the spikes of your shield. You then cast magic vestment on your shield.
This gives you an AC of 26. Note that you can stack spells/potions of barkskin on this as well as amulets of natural armour.
Walking into a fight, it takes you one round to get up to full combat steam, using your move action to get into position for a full round attack. you can perform the quickened divine favour/divine power combo twice a day which gives you:
Attack Bonus: 10 (base) +5 (strength) +2 (weapon) +3 (divine favour) -2 (shield bash) = +18
Damage (Weapon): 1d8 +5 (strength) +2 (weapon) +3 (divine favour) = average 19
Damage (Shield): 1d8 +2 (strength) +2 (weapon) +3 (divine favour) = average 17
The second weapon attack is at +13 and still recieves an average of 19 damage.
Because you are not using power attack, you hit with alarming regularity - a C14 Werewolf Lord has an AC of 26. You need an 8 or higher on a d20. good odds.
When you've gone critical in 2 fights, you are no longer super powerful, but a couple of Level 1 divine favour spells, enlarge person, bear's endurance and shield of faith should carry you through. often, you'll only need to 'go nova' in those 2 fights anyway.
to keep your DM and fighter friend happy, the buff spells can be spread around, with you keeping your nova for when the BBEG show up. when you get hold of more spells, GMW is useful to give to a fighter in the morning.
Improved Initiative is almost a free feat. This can be used to gain access to any prestige class that advances clerical spellcasting. The Radiant Servant of Pelor is useful but has low HD (and I couldn't take it because I didn't have the Sun Domain).
Permanent Enlarge Person makes the Battle Priest that bit more deadly in terms of damage and reach. This would be a good excuse for combat reflexes as a feat.
Bottom line: it's a cleric. You have to hug trees to be more powerful.
Originally I went for two weapon fighting, but realised that the DEX score needed and the hit to armour class made you that much more vunerable. If you were responsible for picking everyone else up, you should stay alive yourself.
Standard minions shouldn't be able to touch the shield user and you can stand toe to toe with major threats.
Also, the character not having to pay for armour frees up a load of gold you can use to enhance the weapon with impact/shocking/flaming/thundering etc, to enhance the spikes and resistances on your shield or for utility items. Handy!
You have to be within a party who understands that you're not going to drop everything and sprint across the battlefield to heal them.
Anti magic and the like is a struggle, but you only need one round to get your offense going.
Poor Reflex Saves
Dispel Magic is the obvious one, thought this can be countered with a fully loaded ring of counterspelling.
Creatures with high damage reduction will last a lot longer against the battle priest as the damage is consistently big rather than massive (like charge damage).
Clerics should be limited by their faith. Do not let them spend all their gold on magic items. Introduce a tithe for the church, send them on holy missions (the more suicidal the better). Of course, if they are playing in character, reward them for completing said quests and give them freebie items every now and then as well so it doesn't seem like you're trying to deliberately hinder them.
Anything that targets reflex saves.
This is a simple build and can no doubt be improved with classes like oracle and others from the complete divine books, but it doesn't really fit with the battle priest theme.
It is arguable that a dwarf would be a better choice than a human. The dragonblooded dwarf variant doesn't change much from ordinary dwarves and you can use the racial substitution levels in races of stone to get extra warhammer damage, but that requires more splat books. You also have to wait much longer for agile shield fighter (getting it at level 6), which makes you less effective in the early game.
The Swift Wing from Dragon Magic has really good martial flavour to it. Unfortunately it does not advance the Dragonscale Husk class feature (which is a shame as the sight of a scaled winged holy avenger sweeping through the sky brings a tear to my eyes), but fits in easily if your cleric actually wears armour.
You can't even use a shield with this build, NO ARMOR is allowed with the husk. So this build doesn't follow the rules, sorry.
-Armor and shield are different proficiencies in D&D. You lose armor proficiency, not shield proficiency.
You can't cast quickened divine power at level 10, it uses a slot 4 spaces above. You would have to be level 15 for this to be effective.
-The build is casting quickened divine favor which is (1+4) a fifth level spell, cast-able at CL9.
Why not divine metamagic + quicken? Just eat turn attempts to bypass spell level adjustment. That lets you also quicken lvl 5 spells at CL9 rather then a lvl 1 spell. +3 hit and damage vs reach and +6 str which would you rather instant cast at lvl 9?