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I'm going to be joining a Wrath of the Righteous game that's currently @ level 3- I expect it to go to the end of the AP- 20 with mythic. The group currently lacks anyone in heavy armor and the only heals come from a MC'd inquisitor.

So I want to create a melee-centric battle-priest, using either a greatsword(preferred) or sword/axe/etc. and board if the survivability hit outweighs the extra damage. 25 point-buy, and I've narrowed my choices to:

Both are Human or Half-orc

Cleric of Gorum Uses a Greatsword, has to take heavy armor prof. Plan to take Ironbound Master, power attack. Domains would be Glory for the spell list and Destruction:Rage for the Raging ability. Will be pretty feat-starved, but seems to have a lot of potential and full caster progression. Crusader helps with feats, but the loss of spells/domain hurts

Warpriest of [Milani?] I wanted this to be a Warpriest of Gorum, but from what I've read Warpriest leans reeeeally heavily on the summons from the alignment blessings 10+, and I'm worried the Chaos summon monsters won't hold me in good stead in WotR. Milani seems ok, probably taking Good and Liberation. Iomedae or Torag would also work, though I'd rather avoid Iomedae if I can.

I haven't played PF in a while, so not sure what if anything I'm missing. I love all the cool stuff the cleric gets, but I'm worried the lack of feats. Warpriest has the feats and the amazing Fervor to get spells out fast, but they seem to lose a lot of spellpower and lack access to the raging/glory spells/Ironbound Master Feat. Champion of the Faith would help potent this up some.

Which would be the most effective?

A secondary question is- would 1 hander + shield be much better for the melee cleric? I'm not interested in a lancer/archer/reach build.

Thanks!

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Advantages of a Cleric

If you're doing Wrath of the Righteous, then eventually your character will be Mythic. A huge number of Mythic abilities consume your swift action to use. Warpriests need swift actions to activate fervor, sacred armor, and a large number of blessings, where Clerics usually only have a swift action when using a spell. Being a Cleric would let you keep your swift actions for your Mythic abilities.

If you're going to 20, the Cleric will give you the super fun high-end spells. Miracle (the safe cousin of "Wish".) True Resurrection. Implosion. Mass Heal. Any of these (or other 7th and 8th level spells) could make or break your party.

If feats are what you're after, there's the Crusader Archetype that grants a bonus feat at level 1, 5, and every 5 thereafter (including some fighter only feats like weapon specialization.) The legion's blessing ability of this archetype is a really powerful way of conserving buffing spells (since you want to be hitting in combat, anyway.)

Alternatively, jumping into a prestige class like Holy Vindicator gives more BAB, martial weapon proficiency, heavy armor proficiency, divine spell progression, channel progression, and some extra neat tricks for bumping to hit, saves, or AC as needed.

...Plan to take Ironbound Master...

Remember that Ironbound Master requires Cleric 7 before it can be taken.

A secondary question is- would 1 hander + shield be much better for the melee cleric? I'm not interested in a lancer/archer/reach build.

To channel (as a Cleric or a Warpriest) characters need to present their holy symbol. "Presenting" is up to the discretion of a GM, but typically this means held aloft, displayed on a banner, etc. Being able to have a hand free is pretty convenient. For example, Kyra, the iconic cleric, is usually depicted as holding a scimitar in one hand and holy symbol in the other. Make sure you have some way of presenting that holy symbol that takes less than a move action. For example, one character of mine took an oversized specially crafted holy symbol and an application of sovereign glue to a consecrated shield. Or, cheaper, hire someone with the Create Reliquary Arms and Armor to make you a weapon or shield that is a holy symbol. I have no dobut there are priests of Gorum making holy (or unholy) greatswords.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the info! I have 2 concerns with Crusader: 1) while some of the feats are quite useful a lot are for shield users, and the loss of a domain and the spell slots is pretty staggering. I was thinking after reading your reply that dipping a level into fighter might give me a lower power loss than Crusader does, ironically. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon1one Oct 28 '14 at 19:45
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Melee-centric battle priest? I think they're called "paladins..."

If you don't have a paladin in the party (which I suspect when you say no one is in heavy armor), then you're going to miss out on a lot of goodies. We have 3 paladins, an oracle, a priest, and a sorcerer in our WotR party and the treasure, benefits, etc. for paladin types more than make up for whatever build steps you're considering. Go paladin of Iomedae and you'll be geared with legendary items beyond your wildest dreams. Torag is a good second choice as there's a fair number of Torag shrines and stuff in chapters 1 and 2 at least (which is where we are). The GM is keeping us one character level behind where they say you're supposed to be and it's still been mostly on easy mode with that class mix.

Two-hander is always strictly better than one-hander and shield unless you've cobbled together just the right set of feats and stuff from fringe splatbooks to set something particular up (two-handed fighting with bull rushes from the shield slams) but if you want to bring the damage you should stay two-hander.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I've heard WotR is great for Paladins, I'm just not looking to play a charismatic character right now. In addition, the party doesn't have any healing to speak of, so I was looking to be able to provide some after-battle heals as needed. I'll look over the archetypes again, but my heart really isn't in one. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon1one Oct 28 '14 at 4:13
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One secret ingredient to making a highly effective Battle-Priest in Wrath of the Righteous is to play a Cleric with the feat Alignment Channel. There will be demons. While the actual damage from channel is poor, it's still incredibly useful. Here are some reasons:

  • Is there a hidden or shape-shifting demon nearby? Channel Positive Energy to harm Evil Outsiders. A disguised or hidden demon might grit its fangs and try to hide it's "Hey, that hurt!" reaction but rarely with success. If there are no demons present then you learn something and no harm done.

  • While the Greater demon will shrug off your channel damage, it's horde of minions will not. Channeling is great when facing many foes.

  • If you can channel a lot of times, and also have the Quick Channel feat, you can inflict a lot of anti-demon AoE damage.

Note that this requires very few resources: just a single feat. The rest of the build can be whatever strikes your fancy. Clerics make extremely effective melee combatants. E.g. Use a reach weapon with Power Attack and dish out the hurt with Attacks of Opportunity [reach cleric guide]. Bonus points for those occasions when you both Channel to Harm Demons and inflict big damage with AoOs in the same combat round.

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