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I've recently started my first Pathfinder campaign with my friends. I'm playing a priest and I want him to both heal and fight with his bow. I chose Erastil as my God but apart from that I don't really know how should I build him, how should I dispose his stats, what skills or feats should I choose, in order to make him a good Archer priest.

I know one should choose based on his taste and not only on strength, my problem is that I have a quite clear idea on how I want him to be but I don't know the game mechanics enough to make that idea a concrete character.

I want him to be a simple Cleric, I would like to avoid advanced ones since it's our first run and we want to keep it simple (I could use some prestige class later in the story I guess?), and Erastil is both helpful with archer class and well integrated in my character's backstory.

Here's some more info on my character, since I've been requested in the comments:

He's a friendly 25 years old Neutral Good priest who's not too much rigid with the formal aspects of religion but really cares about it's core values (he's one who would gladly have a beer with his comrades), and thus lives in a city despite Erastil's clerics preferring life in the wild to give people an example of how the good old values of Erastil's cult can improve their lives.

I want his use of the bow to reflect his ability to survive in the wild, and also his not being completely defenseless as some may think a cleric is, and his healing to show how he's more concerned with protecting people than with "prevailing in battle".

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good question, but more details could help. If you have a quite clear idea on how you want the character to be, describe him! That will help us tailor our ideas to what you want to do. It’s also helpful to know how important you consider different aspects of the character: what’s must-have, what’s nice to have, what’s unimportant to you. For example, an answer might suggest some deity as being good for archers, is that useful or are you set on Erastil? Or, by “priest,” are you looking for specifically the cleric class, or would you be interested in how other classes might work? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 9 '17 at 22:09
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It seems that your question is more about making your character's theme a viable play option, since you already have a fleshed-out idea for the flavor, theme, and personality of the character itself.

Being a Cleric, there are a few things to be aware of:

Spellcasting

You get spells and you get higher tiers of spells at every odd level (starting at level 1). You also have knowledge of all spells you can cast, but will only get to select a choice few each morning for casting throughout the day.

Also, your Wisdom stat is going to be associated with the irresistability of your spells (Spell Save DC) and the number of bonus spell slots you'll have at your disposal for each level.

Domains

You get two domains associated with your deity of choice. For each domain you get, you gain access to certain magical abilities which scale with your level to some extent. As a result of having domains, you also get a bonus spell slot for each level of spells that you can cast which can be used to cast a spell associated with either of your domains; these are called your Domain Spells.

For evaluations of which domains you should pick, you should look through a Cleric guide that touches up on domains.

Moderate Base Attack Bonus

There are three tiers of Base Attack Bonus progression. These denote your class' to-hit rating, attack accuracy, before any of your character's individual stats are included. Clerics have the Moderate tier, which towards Level 20 comes out to +15, five points behind Full Base Attack Bonus characters who get a full +20 BAB.

In the earlier levels, you'll only be 1 or 2 points behind these characters, and the difference in accuracy can be mitigated.

Favored Weapon

Because Erastil is your Deity, you are proficient in Longbows. Otherwise, a Cleric is only proficient in simple weapons (which a longbow is not).

Feats for Archery

Feats are the building blocks which distinguish your character from other characters of your same class in terms of what they can do. These are generally mechanical advantages, passive stat boosts, or unique types of actions only the feat bearers can accomplish.

There are actually quite a number of feats which get taken by most archers.

Point-Blank Shot
This feat grants +1 to attack and damage with ranged weapons within 30 ft. Often, combat happens close, even if you're an archer.

Precise Shot
This feat requires Point-Blank Shot. It solves a major penalty to archery combat: shooting at targets which are hostile to each other and are within smacking-distance of each other nets YOU, the archer, a -4 penalty to attack. This feat removes that penalty.

This penalty is a problem because your targets will often be fighting with your allies in melee. You'll want this just to avoid inaccuracy in this very common situation.

Rapid Shot
This feat requires Point-Blank Shot. It allows you to trade accuracy for an additional attack. At the cost of reducing your attack rolls by -2 for the round, you can shoot an additional time.

This feat provides benefits two-fold: (1) by shooting twice, you're more likely to hit at least once and (2) if you hit twice, you deal your damage twice. Later on, you'll get additional attacks when your BAB hits +6 and +11, but the extra attack from Rapid Shot is more valuable because it's at your full Attack Bonus -2, where as the others you gain will be at -5 and -10, respectively.

Later on, getting Manyshot will be an option for continuing this feat line.

Deadly Aim
This is another feat that allows you to trade accuracy for something. In this case, it's damage. At the cost of -1 attack for each +2 damage the feat provides, you're getting attack damage that scales with level.

Normally, this feat is one picked up by Full BAB characters without question, but it requires consideration for lower-BAB characters since the trade may not be as valuable to them in terms of expected damage output.

To decide when to use Deadly Aim, you can do some math:

  • Take your average damage on a hit, call it \$x\$.
  • -1 to Attack is equivalent to doing \$\frac{x}{20}\$ less damage on average.
  • Take your chance to hit as a decimal, call it \$y\$.
  • +2 to Damage on hits is equivalent to doing \$2y\$ more damage on average.

In the fresh early game, you'll likely want to focus on Attack Bonus, even if your average damage increases from the trade. Those are the levels where hitting or missing are most crucial, and you'll likely be dealing finishing blows with less damage. However, later on, the bonus damage is integral to ending a combat.

Weapon Focus (Longbow)
This feat gives +1 to attack bonus with Longbows. This feat is one you should definitely pick up if accuracy becomes an issue. that exists.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 12 '17 at 14:54
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Simply be a cleric of Erastil

Yes, Erastil gives you a lot of good options, from traits to feats, to spells.

  • Deadeye Bowman is a trait that allows you to ignore soft cover (+4 to ac) from one creature between you and your target if attacking with a longbow. They still gain soft cover if there are more than one creature, but this definitely will increase your accuracy.

  • Erastil's Blessing feat will allow you to attack using your wisdom modifier instead of your dex modifier when using a bow, greatly improving your ability score builds possibilities, like having a low dex and wearing have armor, or investing in wisdom like a primary caster and so on. It has Weapon Focus as a requirement, which makes it balanced with other options. But since clerics are feat starved (no bonus feats anywhere), you have to consider if it's worth taking this or not, as you will also need Precise Shot (with Point-Blank Shot as a requirement) to be an efficient archer.

  • Hunter's Blessing is a 5th level spell that will grant your entire group the ranger favored enemy against one type of creature and one type of terrain you choose bonus for several hours.

  • Worshippers of Erastil also have access to the Kinbonded Bow, which allows you to attune one creature with your bow and your arrows will ignore soft cover provided by that creature (again, canceling that +4 to AC they would gain).

The only options to gain this ability to ignore soft cover, other than the trait and magic bow, is the teamwork feat Friendly Fire Maneuvers, which other party members would have to take as well, and the feat Improved Precise Shot, which has a high requirement of 19 dex and +11 BAB, which is only available at 15th level for a cleric.

Followers of Erastil also have access to spells that makes them better trackers, if that's an option you want to have.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically there's also Improved Precise Shot for ignoring soft cover, though it has high requirements. \$\endgroup\$ – BRW Sep 11 '17 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ That is actually a good thing to point out. The high requirement makes the other options more attractive. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Sep 11 '17 at 15:25
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The hybrid class warpriest seems like a perfect fit. Just pick archery based feats, sacred weapon, and weapon focus.

However you say you want to stick to base classes, in that case you have a decision to make, in combat are you going to focus on spellcasting or archery. If it is archery look at Axorens post above or multiclass with ranger, both are base classes. Especially with Erastil as your god multiclassing with ranger fits quite well. For a cleric spellcasting role look below.

As for feats, Precise shot is the the big one you must have otherwise you can't target any enemy engaged in melee without a decent chance of shooting your ally. If your weapon is bow you want this regardless of whether you focus on spellcasting or archery.

Selective Channeling is a big one, a cleric can channel energy to heal in an area around them, however enemies in that area also get healed, this allows you to designate a number of individuals to NOT heal, so you are not healing your enemies.

Combat Casting basically makes it harder for enemies to cancel your spell casting by attacking you.

For a cleric Brew Potion can be a very helpful feat being able to create healing potions so you allies can heal even when you are not around is a huge help, (more importantly they can heal you if you get knocked out). the cost and time involved in making potions is small enough you can crank out potions on a continuous basis. Alternatively, Craft Wands will do the same thing, wands cost more but are reusable.

Defensive Combat Training is very good for clerics, cleric CMD is usually awful, this improves it by a lot.

Later Divine Interference can be a very useful spell for dealing with those surprise attacks or lucky hits. As written it is a great way to counter criticals and using up those prepared spells you realize you don't need.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Sep 12 '17 at 14:54
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First and foremost...

Take the trait Deadeye Bowman. I cannot stress enough how important this trait is for an archer.

Archer Oradin! (Divine Hunter Paladin/Oracle of Life)

I'm going to throw in a recommendation for an archer Oradin (Paladin/Oracle) build. I've both played one myself and played alongside one in my party and they're great to have, and make both solid healers and solid archers. Note: This build does use a non-core class, the Oracle. Oracle is to Cleric as Sorcerer is to Wizard, essentially. It does a lot of the same things as the Cleric, but instead of being based on Domains it's based on a Mystery.

The basis of the build is to use the Life Link ability from the Oracle Life Mystery to passively heal while using the Paladin's Lay on Hands ability to heal yourself as a swift action. Life Link heals your linked allies and simultaneously drains health from you, and then you can just heal yourself much more easily than you can heal allies. Effectively you turn yourself into a big HP battery for the party.

Sample Build

Race: Human
Alignment: LG, Deity: Erastil
Ability Scores: 12/18/13/10/8/15 (20 point buy)
Traits: Deadeye Bowman, Blessed Touch

Class Levels: Divine Hunter Paladin 4/Oracle 3

Level Progression + Feats
1) Paladin: Fey Foundling, Human B: Point-Blank Shot, Paladin B: Precise Shot
2) Paladin: -
3) Oracle: Rapid Shot (Life Link Revelation)
4) Oracle: - (Ability Score Increase to CHA)
5) Paladin: Greater Mercy
6) Paladin: -
7) Oracle: Selective Channeling (Channel Energy Revelation)

Gear:
+1 Composite Longbow (+1)
+1 Mithral Breastplate
Belt of Incredible Dexterity (+2)
Headband of Alluring Charisma (+2)
Ring of Protection (+1)
Amulet of Natural Armor (+1)
Cloak of Resistance (+1)
Efficient Quiver
Meditation Crystal x3

With this sample build, at level 7 you:

  • Can passively heal up to 3 allies at once
  • Lay on Hands yourself for 3d6+7
  • Have two sets of both Channel Energy and spells for even more healing just in case you need it
  • Have access to solid buff spells for yourself and your party as needed
  • Full attack with your bow for three attacks per round at +11/+11/+6 for 1d8+3
  • Can Smite Evil twice per day for a solid buff to hit and to damage
  • Have great saving throws (11/12/11)

This a relatively healing focused build, with Fey Foundling, Greater Mercy, and Selective Channeling in there. If you wanted, you could go more combat oriented by swapping some feats out for Deadly Aim and Manyshot to improve your combat capabilities. Whichever direction this build goes, it definitely wants to buy Bracers of the Merciful Knight when it can afford it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. While the asker has stated explicitly that he wants to be a Cleric, even though this answer has no actual Cleric levels included, Oradins are a very powerful combination which should definitely be considered from either full-combat or off-combat roles that want a healing/damage mitigation supplement. \$\endgroup\$ – Axoren Sep 11 '17 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Axoren I figured, even if the asker doesn't want to use an Oradin build, this answer may be helpful to other people who find their way to this question. Also, Oracle is almost Cleric. Kinda. Sorta. \$\endgroup\$ – BRW Sep 11 '17 at 15:33

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