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I am trying to familiarize myself with Pathfinder 2e, which is also my first role-playing game in which I will be actively participating in live sessions. I am interested in creating a 1st level human Warpriest of Sarenrae, but I am having trouble figuring out the advantages and disadvantages of melee combat, since a cleric can provide assistance either through his weapon or through his divine magic.

Specifically, my deity's favored weapon is the scimitar, which for my character deals a damage of 1d6+2 (my strength's ability modifier). I have a +5 in a d20 roll for that weapon (my strength's ability modifier plus "trained").

On the other hand, I have also chosen Divine Lance as one of my cantrip spells, which is explained on page 331. Also, my Spell (Divine) DC is 17 (Wis +4, Prof +3):

Traditions divine

Cast [two-actions] somatic, verbal

Range 30 feet Targets 1 creature

You unleash a beam of divine energy. Choose an alignment your deity has (chaotic, evil, good, or lawful). You can’t cast this spell if you don’t have a deity or if your deity is true neutral. Make a ranged spell attack roll against the target’s AC. On a hit, the target takes damage of the chosen alignment type equal to 1d4 + your spellcasting ability modifier (double damage on a critical hit). The spell gains the trait of the alignment you chose.

Heightened (+1) The damage increases by 1d4.

My question is, since I can cast that spell as many times as I want during a fight, why bothering using my scimitar? I imagine that being a Warpriest, using melee in combat would provide some advantage at least under certain circumstances, otherwise I see no point in selecting this particlar Doctrine instead of Cloistered. I would love to play a cleric of the kinds of Kyra but I am struggling to find a decent build suited for that role.

Perhaps it's due to my total lack of any experience with RPGs that I am overthinking it too much. However, If someone could point me in the right direction I would highly appreciate it.

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Divine lance deals aligned damage

The spell's damage is effective only against certain enemies, those that have an alignment that conflicts with your deity's (see Core 452 on damage types). For example most beasts (likely foes at low levels) are neutral in terms of alignment and thus will not be hurt by the cantrip at all.

Divine lance is a ranged attack

As a ranged attack, the cantrip will provoke Attacks of Opportunity if cast at melee range.

There are magic weapons

This is mostly about higher levels, but I will include it for the sake of completeness. As the cantrip will gain damage as you level up, you will most likely have access to better and better magical weapons too, so they will not lag behind. Magical weapons might also have other desirable properties that can make them a superior choice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's also worth mentioning that Divine Lance (and most* other spells) takes 2 actions to cast, so they could potentially use their scimitar twice. Or as well as casting. It may also be worth mentioning Chill Touch as a non-alignment specific orison/cantrip for damage \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Mar 15 at 20:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ *I'm assuming here because I haven't read a majority of the spells, but it seems like 2 actions is the most common \$\endgroup\$ – Ifusaso Mar 15 at 20:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Szega thank you for your detailed answer, I have just started to grasp the distinct qualities between melee combat and sorcery, but I'm getting there. \$\endgroup\$ – Courage Mind Mar 15 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso I appreciate your contribution, good catch actually.. it totally slipped my attention. \$\endgroup\$ – Courage Mind Mar 15 at 20:33
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While cantrips where designed to allow spellcasters to reliably contribute every turn, they are not necessarily a complete replacement for a standby weapon.

Divine Lance deals Alignment damage

As presented in this answer, Divine Lance deals

Choose an alignment your deity has (chaotic, evil, good, or lawful). [...] the target takes damage of the chosen alignment type...

Alignment Damage is only applied to its opposing alignment

Weapons and effects keyed to a particular alignment can deal chaotic, evil, good, or lawful damage. These damage types apply only to creatures that have the opposing alignment trait. Chaotic damage harms only lawful creatures, evil damage harms only good creatures, good damage harms only evil creatures, and lawful damage harms only chaotic creatures.

Chill Touch is a cantrip that does not deal alignment damage (although it's probably less appropriate for a Sarenite).

Divine Lance is two actions (as are many spells)

During your typical turn (particularly at level 1) you have 3 actions. Using Divine Lance costs two of them, so you can only do it once per turn. Using the Strike action, by comparison, is only 1 action so you could do it up to 3 times (although you're more likely to do it twice and use your third action for something more productive).

Why not both?

It's worth carrying around a level-appropriate scimitar even if you don't plan on using it all the time.

On a given turn, nothing stops you from using your scimitar with one action and Divine Lance with your other two (other than range and the threat of Attacks of Opportunity from Fighters and similar creatures). This could be fairly effective because you're unlikely to hit with two stacks of Multiple Attack Penalty, but with only one you have a decent chance still.

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