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I'm looking for feedback on the direction of a Pathfinder Cleric that I am building. Some context:

I tend to have prolonged breaks between RPGs. I last played a tabletop RPG (D&D 4E) a good 4-5 years ago. Prior to that was a D&D 3.X campaign... a solid 12 years ago. So, my knowledge pertaining to Pathfinder (via 3.X) is rusty and I'm reading everything I can. I found an interesting build guide which I liked enough to put a character together, but I'm not knowledgeable/experienced enough to determine if this is a really solid build or if there's a lot of room for improvement.

I've been invited into a new Pathfinder group who have just hit level 2. From what I can tell, no one is too concerned about character optimization. The current party make up is:

  • Elf Wizard
  • Gnome Druid
  • Dwarf Fighter
  • Dwarf Barbarian
  • Human Rogue

It was suggested that I make a Cleric. I suspect the suggestion was so that the druid didn't have to prepare a bunch of cure spells every day and that a more reliable source of healing could be available. I don't mind, although I'm hoping to do more buffing than healbotting. The current party make-up seems to include a lot of melee-focused classes, although I don't know if everyone is building their characters towards melee or not (just about all of the martial players have bows in addition to melee weapons). With that in mind and after some research, I had settled on a character that focuses on the longbow and supporting spells in combat.

I was given a few stipulations:

  • To generate stats, roll 4d6 drop 1d6 x6 or use a 20 point buy
  • Create the character at level 1
  • Starting gold (4d6 x 10) is maxed out
  • It appears that the allowed source materials are official Paizo materials

As noted above, no one seems to be optimizing their characters, but I enjoy character optimization and I'm looking to take that approach from the beginning. Here's what I have initially built:

Level 1 Elf Cleric - Lawful Good - Erastil
14, 14, 14, 10, 16, 10 stat buy which results in:
Str: 14
Dex: 16
Con: 12
Int: 12
Wis: 16
Cha: 10
Domains: Law, Feathered Subdomain (Animal)
Favored class bonus: Bonus Skill Rank (Fly)
Traits: Warrior of Old (+2 initiative), Eyes and Ears of the City (+1 Perception, Perception is a class skill)
Trained Skills: Fly, Heal, Knowledge (Religion), Sense Motive
Feat: Point-Blank Shot
Gear: Composite Longbow (+0), Chain Shirt, Arrows (Flight), Arrows, Spell Component Pouch, Misc other stuff

A few questions concerning this character. I want an optimized character without outshining the entire party and am willing to change just about anything to improve this build:

  1. Does this seem to be the right direction to go considering the class makeup of the party?
  2. What options do I need to choose from to optimize this at level 1 and as the character levels up?

  3. The only hard requirement is healing/supporting and an effective ranged damage.

  4. I don't mind sacrificing a small amount of optimization space for something that is just cool.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Partial answers in comments are still answers in comments, please don't do it. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Dec 13 '15 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk: Sigh. There was information in those comments that I was hoping to research when I had the time to do so. I no longer recall the prestige class that was mentioned in that thread, nor am I able to edit that information into my question to make it a bit more specific. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Dec 14 '15 at 3:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand, but such info in comments rather than answers subverts the site, ask in meta if you need more info. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Dec 14 '15 at 6:39
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As an archer, you need to get your bow feats as quickly as possible. Consider being human for the extra feat. You might have chosen to be elven to get weapon proficiency (longbow), but I think you're also getting that from your worship of Erastil. (And, as far as I can tell, Erastil is not a specifically elven deity?)

You might consider swapping your Strength to 16 and your Wisdom to 14. You won't need that bonus third-level spell for a long time, and it's better to start with high strength than to try to increase it later. (If you get a belt of strength +2 later, you'll have to upgrade your bow to make use of the new strength score.) Having a higher strength also means you can carry a melee weapon, just in case.

You might consider swapping your Law domain for Plant domain. Plant domain gives you entangle at first level, which is really nice for an archer. (Your druid can also cast entangle, but your druid has a lot of choices and very few spell slots.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Feather domain gives access to fly and mass fly as domain spells. Just need to wait until being able to cast 3rd level spells and then the character can shoot while hovering. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Dec 13 '15 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough -- I've removed those paragraphs. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Dec 13 '15 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ You made a good point, though. What the domains provide are pretty meh. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Dec 13 '15 at 19:09

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