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Pathfinder Postive/Negative Energy Channeling & Domains

 
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Cebrion
Black Hand of Oblivion
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:41 pm    Post subject: Pathfinder Postive/Negative Energy Channeling & Domains Reply with quote

I split this off from my campaign thread as it will potentially derail things (and because I think it is a good topic for discussion). Here we go....

On a side note, the clerical ability of positive/negative energy burst is horrible. Why Paizo went with that as the standard effect and not Turn/Command Undead is beyond me. I may swap them out, or lower the effectiveness of the energy burst, and not because I think the healing aspect is too good, but because the harming aspect is way to good for evil priests. Why? Because the PCs will usually only ever have one cleric among them, and they will usually be assaulting evil cults and stuff, where even multiple lower level evil clerics can gang up and rip PCs up for tons of damage using overlapping negative energy bursts, round after round. The object should be to have formidable opponents for the PCs, not one that can murder them with little effort. Not sure what I am going to do with it at this point.
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few points to consider:
1) The positive energy burst heals all living creatures within 30 feet of the cleric. So, all bullywugs and frogs that weren't damaged all the way down to -10 hp (or thereabouts) would have been healed each time the PC cleric used his ability. Having up to a dozen supposedly slain foes rise up again every time the cleric uses that power could be quite inconvenient for the PCs. Of course, every wounded bullywug still standing would enjoy the healing effects of the positive energy burst as well.

2) The cleric can only exclude a few select individuals from the effects of the channeled energy if he has taken the feat Selective Channeling. Even that feat is of minimal use in a situation such as when the PCs are surrounded by dozens of living opponents, though, since the number of individuals excluded is only equal to the cleric's charisma bonus. Without this feat, the cleric can only choose to exclude himself or not.

3) Positive Energy bursts work similarly, in that they affect all living creatures within 30'. Without Selective Channeling, the evil cleric can only exclude himself from the effects. So, if several evil clerics are all engaged with the PCs in combat and channeling negative energy, they would only be immune to their own negative energy bursts, still taking damage from the bursts of all the other clerics. Without Selective Channeling, the only way the evil clerics could effectively use this tactic would be to surround the PCs with 30' of space between each cleric. That would leave the center 5' square out of range, at least.

4) Additionally, the harmful effects to living creatures (as well as the harmful effects to undead creatures) allow a Will save for half damage, so it isn't as powerful as it may at first seem.

5) It is a Standard Action, so the clerics cannot attack or cast other spells on any round they channel energy, but it does not provoke AoOs, so they could be engaged in melee with the PCs and not give up too much (except for the fact that if they are that close, they are likely to hurt their fellows as much as the PCs).

So, if the evil clerics in this scenario spread themselves out around the group of PCs, they'd need meatshields to engage the PCs in a tighter circle to prevent the PCs from spreading out to engage each of the clerics. Thus, all that channeled negative energy intended to harm the PC would also do as much damage to the evil clerics' meatshield allies.

It's not very likely that a group of evil clerics can manipulate the circumstances of such an encounter to the point that they can use multiple uses of channeled negative energy to harm the PCs without doing as much damage to their allies.

SirXaris
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure they can. It is called the Selective Channeling feat, and a Venn diagram. It is not the healing energy I am concerned about (due to the reasons you state), but the negative energy which often will be excessive, as seen in this diagram:

Seplucher of DOOM!!! diagram

Purple = evil clerics
Green = undead nasties (ghouls let's say)
Blue = PCs

The overlapping areas are as follows:

Yellow = affected once
orange =affected twice
Red = affected three times
Pink = affected four times

PCs 1 and 2 split the difference of the overlapping effects that cover their squares (counting as orange overall), and so get hit twice, as do PCs 3 and 6. PCs 4 and 5 get hit FOUR times each. Funny enough, those two will usually happen to be the PCs' front line fighters who have the worst Will saves, and so will be more likely to take full damage from each negative energy burst.

The evil clerics all have the Selective Channeling Feat, never cover more than two of each other, and have Charisma 14 so they can exclude each other from the negative energy burst effects (and if any of the evil clerics so happen to be undead themselves, they have nothing to worry about anyways). Let's say the front two evil clerics are both 5th level (3d6 negative energy burst each), while the rear two are both 3rd level (2d6 negative energy burst each). If this were meant to be a grand finale type encounter, it would be for PCs of 5th-6th level, and of the six of them only one of which will likely be a cleric- we'll say 6th level in this case (3d6 positive energy burst). Every round, for five rounds, PCs 1, 2, 3, and 6 will be subjected to 6d6 potential negative energy damage (minus 3d6 positive energy healing), while for PCs 4 and 5 it jumps to 10d6 potential negative energy damage (minus 3d6 positive energy healing). For five straight rounds.

I don't think I need to explain how the attrition works, or how this is so utterly messed up this is the the PCs side. Wink

So, staying within the rules, a DM can really only do one of two things:

* The DM purposely doesn't put many evil clerics up against the PCs at one time (so much for ever taking down evil cults/temples), or...

* ...if the DM does put many evil clerics against the PCs at one time, the DM purposely plays them "stupid" such that they will not do what I have diagrammed (which is just horrible).

In nutshell, it would be way to easy for me have TPKs way to often, as I really like to feature truly evil villains who are champions of dark gods (i.e. usually evil clerics, but the occasional anti-paladin as well). That I really can't do this without making the villains morons (tactically speaking), because things would otherwise so easily end in TPKs, irks me to no end. My growing opinion is that clerics did not need this ability to be written up as it has been, mainly as both good and evil clerics already have spontaneous heal/harm capability. It also greatly annoys me that this is the most cumbersome, convoluted rules bit in the entire game.

What I ended up doing was fudging the encounter by turning the bullywug clerics into shaman-ish equivalents; basically clerics without channeling ability (they are supposed to be primitive anyways). If I hadn't done this, the 6th level, two 3rd level, and three 1st level bullywug clerics would have been channeling healing out their arses, and causing an already large combat to take not 4 hours to resolve as it did, but probably 6+ hours. I am a bit disturbed when I consider how large of a sample group "play-tested" the material, and that few to none ever ran into this problem, or simply figured out that it could even be a problem, and rather easily at that (they'll probably deal with this issue in Pathfinder 2E).

For now, here is what I think my fix might be:

Turn/Destroy Undead (i.e. channeling Positive energy): As a standard action, you can use one of your uses of channel positive energy to cause all undead within the 30 ft. burst to sustain 1d6 damage plus 1d6 additional damage per 2 levels beyond 1st of the cleric, and might also flee, as if panicked. Creatures that take damage from channeled positive energy receive a Will save to halve the damage. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 the cleric’s level + the cleric’s Charisma modifier. Creatures that fail their save flee for 1 minute. Intelligent creatures receive a new saving throw each round to end the effect.

Command Undead (i.e. channeling Negative energy): As a standard action, you can use one of your uses of channel negative energy to enslave undead within 30 feet. Undead receive a Will save to negate the effect. The DC for this Will save is equal to 10 + 1/2 your caster level + your Charisma modifier. Undead that fail their saves fall under your control, obeying your commands to the best of their ability, as if under the effects of control undead. Intelligent undead receive a new saving throw each day to resist your command. You can control any number of undead, so long as their total Hit Dice do not exceed your cleric level multiplied by your Charisma bonus. If an undead creature is under the control of another creature, you must make an opposed Charisma check whenever your orders conflict.


There are few key differences from the Turn Undead and Command Undead Feats in there, and each is improved significantly, so read and compare carefully. As the Feats Command Undead and Turn Undead are incorporated into the above abilities, they would be removed from the game. Either ability could still be further expanded upon to affect Evil/Good Outsiders by taking the Alignment Channel Feat, which would further serve to mirror how things worked in previous game editions.

Thoughts?
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion wrote:
Thoughts?


Yes. Yes, of course. Smile And, good idea making this its own thread.

Frist, your diagram is very nice. In the real world, that may be exactly how channeling would work. However, in the Pathfinder rules system, they have gone the way of D&D 3.5e and used 'squares' instead of rulers to measure distances like "15 foot radius". So, instead of the negative energy burst radiating in a perfect 15' circle from the exact center of the square each evil cleric is standing in, it actually radiates three squares out in each direction (except diagonally - which would be two squares in each direction) from the square that each evil cleric is standing in. Therefore, each evil cleric suffers the effects of all the negative energy bursts from all of his fellows. Selective Channeling, as you mentioned, will reduce the number of such effect by half, but they are still hitting each other. Similarly, their living minions will suffer more of the hits. (Of course, that is why many evil cults use undead guards - so that they don't have to worry about hurting them with negative energy bursts.)

If the evil clerics step back one square, the PCs spread out by five feet and that opens up the battlefield, causing holes in the defenses that must be filled with more minions, which is a problem as stated above, if the minions are living (as were the bullywugs in your original situation).

Second, not all evil cults are so cooperative as those in your example above seem to be. Perhaps a cult of Asmodeus, being extremely lawful in their evil, would have an order in which certain ecclesiastical skills (feats) were to be learned so that all the clerics high enough level would be sure to have the perfect combination of feats (Selective Channeling, Extra Channel, choosing to improve their Charisma scores as they advance in level for more channeling, etc.), but no chaotically evil cult is going to be that organized. (Bullywugs are CE. Razz ) Additionally, only a lawfully aligned cult is going to be trained in the defense of their temple to such a degree that they can pull off such perfect positioning in the midst of a melee. Besides that, I have found that players do an impressive job of destroying any battle plans I, as the DM, have established for my bad guys and their minions. In your diagram, those advanced fighters are likely to cut a few of the minions down quickly and move to flank one of the evil clerics to better take them down one at a time. With six members in the party, it is very likely that two more are capable of blocking (say 3 & 6) for the spellcasters/ranged warriors (1&2). So, even having such a plan isn't going to work beyond one or two rounds.

I'd also like to point out that most evil clerics (excepting a few of an extremely lawful persuasion) are unlikely to be willing to take a punch to the gut for the 'greater evil'. Evil isn't known to be self-sacrificing, but selfish, so expecting evil clerics to be willing to suffer the effects of negative energy bursts from their peers in the midst of a deadly combat should be something the DM reserves for a truly nasty planned climax to the campaign.

Third, playing the bad guys intelligently is a good thing. The players certainly do their best to play their PCs as intelligently as possible and most of them work within the rules to maximize their PC's effectiveness in combat. Why wouldn't their opponents do the same? As I've mentioned above, playing a CE clerical cult to the hilt means that you won't use most of the tactics we've discussed herein because it is simply not within them to work so cooperatively. But, the players should come to realize that there is a difference in how their opponents can be expected to react based upon their alignments and you can justify maximizing the effectiveness of various rule combinations when DMing LE clerical cults.

To answer your questions about the Turning rewrites:

Basically, I see that you removed the effect of channeling pos/neg energy on living creatures. You changed the pos. energy to both damage and turn undead with each burst but you did not allow neg. energy bursts to heal undead - only to command them (but it lasts for an entire day with a single use of the ability, so that is a good balance, in my opinion).

Honestly, I think that if that works for your campaign, it is a good thing. I have found that having a cleric that can use positive energy bursts to help heal the party is a good thing in the campaign. It means that I don't need to drop healing potions into every treasure pile. It also allows for many fun situations when the cleric has to be very careful about when, and if, he uses that ability because he doesn't know how many of the downed opponents are truly dead, or only at negative hit points and will be healed back up to fighting strength (1 hp or higher) when all he wants to do is bring a couple of his companions up a bit from single digits. The cleric in my campaign has healed everything from kobolds and goblins to evil clerics and a gray ooze by using this power while they were in range. It is always a fun situation for me to DM. Laughing

I also like your rewrite because it is very close to the spirit of the clerical Turning/Commanding power in previous editions of the game. Smile

Finally, I'll offer these suggestions for further breaking a cult of lawful evil clerics. Besides giving them feats like Selective Channeling and Extra Channel, add Profane Lifeleech (it's 3.5e, but can be ported over to Pathfinder simply enough - I used it for the ixitxachitl clerics in Agnosco Adventum) and some potions of Eagle's Splendor to increase the cleric's Charisma scores long enough for them to get more uses out of their channeling ability and Profane Lifeleech. Evil Grin

SirXaris
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Cebrion
Black Hand of Oblivion
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use circles simply because it was easier, but I still screwed it up. I drew the circles with a 30 ft. *diameter* rather than a 30 ft. *radius*. Let's spread out the PCs a bit as you suggest, but not so far that any of them would be out of range of their own cleric's healing bursts, like so:

*REVISED* Sepulcher of DOOOM!!! Diagram

It is still bad.

PC 1 gets 4d6 per round
PC 2 gets 7d6 per round
PC 3 gets 8d6 per round.
PC 4 gets 10d6 per round
PC 5 gets 8d6 per round
PC 6 gets 8d6 per round.

Worse still, now there are more gaps where enemies can get through to the more vulnerable, lower armor class PCs (remember those free 5' steps that do not provoke attacks of opportunity).

As to having to throw healing potions into every treasure pile because the PCs are getting hurt too much, you should recall this wasn't a problem in 3E and 3.5 E, nor even in 1E and 2E, and D&D does not espouse the backpacks full of healing potions one can collect up/make in the usual video game anyways. I am of the opinion that players should instead be encouraged in learning how to not get their PCs hurt so much in the first place, rather than allow them to be stupid/push their luck too far and develop any sort of expectation that their lazy-mindedness/foolishness will be rewarded with healing potions by the DM. Besides, when healing potions are not so prevalent, the importance of a cleric is even more tangible, but the more complex character classes (which the cleric is one of) should be important for much more than just one reason- the wizard is heavy artillery, but not just that; the rogue is a trap negotiator, but not just that; the cleric is a healer, but not just that; etc. Turn Undead was an interesting enough ability that it didn't really need to be fooled with overly much.

As to finding the healing burst useful in games, sure it is, but it ruins things in my opinion. Clerics were already given more of an ability to heal in the form of Spontaneous Casting, which frees them up to pray for all of those non-cure wounds spells that make the cleric more interesting, and which the PCs might very well have need of. Spontaneous Casting alone turns clerics into as much of a healing battery as they need to be. Clerics wear armor, have more hit points, and attack better than wizards do for a reason after all. Cleric are not meant to just be "healing batteries", or even just spell casters, and so they were not built to be just that.

The alteration to the turn undead ability in Pathfinder is a very noticeable one. I had my reservations about it, but I decided I would give it a chance and render judgement after seeing it in action for a while. What I have seen over and over again is that the cleric has now, quite literally, been reduced to a healing battery. For the first few rounds of any notable combat, the cleric might actually cast a spell, or even swing that weapon they don't completely suck at swinging, but once the PCs start to take damage, the cleric inevitably goes into "healing battery" mode, and proceeds to channel positive energy non-stop, round after round after round after round after boring round.

Worse still, as the players know this is going to happen, they do not really worry so much about being intelligent at all- they have the healing battery easy button to help them. The only thing they have to worry about is remaining within 30 ft. of the cleric. And so their characters do some rather stupid things (tactically speaking) simply because they can now get away with it, and the game supports such stupidity by offering little downside to such action. Such allowances for stupidity, to me, equates to a stupid game, where once it wasn't the case. Now, I do not mean to say that the healing burst was written intentionally to do this, but I find that this is what the net effect on the game is. The healing burst thing has reduced our combats to something like this:

Round 1: cleric casts a spell
Round 2: cleric casts a spell
Round 3: cleric moves and attacks
Round 4: healing burst w/Selective Channeling
Round 5: healing burst w/Selective Channeling
Round 6: healing burst w/Selective Channeling
Round 7: healing burst w/Selective Channeling
Round 8: healing burst w/Selective Channeling

Combat over.

Not only is it the practically the most boring thing to see over and over and over and over, but in large combats the counting out of squares to see what is in range of the effect, and also the bookkeeping involved, utterly castrates the pace of the game. It is, quite simply, one of the worst things I have had to implement in a game in a long time. The only thing I can really compare it to was back in Warhammer 40,000 2e, where a squad could throw frag grenades: first you rolled to hit for every model, then you rolled scatter for every miss to see where a 3" diameter grenade blast template landed, then you rolled to see what models not completely covered by the blast marker might have been hit, then you totaled the actual hits and rolled to see how many models were wounded, and then you finally rolled armor saves. While throwing grenades was effective, it took forever to resolve, and was later removed from the game precisely because it murdered the pace of the game. The healing burst thing is a similarly pace murdering rabid animal that I mean to euthanize. Laughing

And so the healing burst bit is unnecessary, boring, and just plain cumbersome. Not having the healing burst bit also serves to keep the adventure tension suitably ratcheted up, which I find imminently desirable. Players should be worried about their characters getting hurt. When they are, they begin to do all sorts of crazy things, like figure out that there are both wizard and cleric spells in the game other than those that protect, do damage, or heal that can prevent damage indirectly. They also learn to be more clever in how they do almost everything combat-related. That is the type of game that I prefer to run/play in. I think that the healing burst bit not only drags things a bit too far from that, but also adversely affects the cleric class with regards to them being more interesting and fun to play during games.
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Uptognomegood
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Um gotta be honest folks, I can't say things are that bad. In pure theory yes they are, but from a role playing perspective, I've never seen it as a big deal. I've had two groups face an evil cleric and suffer his channel energy. The first guy was like a hammer of Hell, but we prevailed...well, some of the PC's did Wink The second cleric we faced that did this, nuked his own evil minions and they were having none of that CENSORED, so they turned on him lickety split! Shocked Smile So all in all, is it really that bad in actual play?[/b]
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion wrote:
... Not having the healing burst bit also serves to keep the adventure tension suitably ratcheted up, which I find imminently desirable. Players should be worried about their characters getting hurt. When they are, they begin to do all sorts of crazy things, like figure out that there are both wizard and cleric spells in the game other than those that protect, do damage, or heal that can prevent damage indirectly. They also learn to be more clever in how they do almost everything combat-related. That is the type of game that I prefer to run/play in...


This much of your opinion, I agree with. Wink

I do understand your frustration. However, I think that, perhaps, you are failing to have your PC's healing bursts heal their opponents - this would make use of the ability much more problematic and would (does, in my campaign) mitigate much of the issues that are causing your frustration with healing bursts of positive energy.

Also, though the PCs are suffering lots of damage from all those negative energy bursts from the evil clerics in your second diagram, you failed to note three things:
1) If the evil clerics' minions are living creatures (not all evil clerics have solely undead minions), they are also suffering that much damage.
2) The PC cleric is able to counter most of this damage every round, assuming he's also of about 5th level.
3) Every one of those four evil clerics is within 30' of all of the other three, excepting the 5th level in the lower left and the 3rd level in the upper right. So, they will be causing nearly as much damage to each other as they cause to the PCs.

So, I think the tactical situation is much less dire for the PCs than you seem to think.

However, as I agree with your premise at the top of my post here, I think that you have to go with what works for your campaign. I've tried to offer some ways to mitigate possible abuses of the healing burst by your players, but they may be even more resourceful than I can imagine in that regard. Razz

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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The evil cleric nukes his own minions, what, just to do it? And so they turn on him, as if the evil cleric would for some reason think that they would not? Sounds like unintelligent DMing to me. That type of stuff shouldn't be happening unless the evil cleric's minions have already mostly been put down, and the evil cleric is going to be cut down himself soon enough. At that point, being the vindictive sort that he is, the evil cleric lets loose a negative energy burst because it really doesn't matter at that point if he finishes off his few remaining (and nearly dead) minions, just so long as he is killing some enemies too. If anything, what I just described is what should be happening, because at least there is a decent reason for it. You wouldn't see an evil cleric saying "Hey guys! Look what I can do!", and then proceed to rip into them with a negative energy burst and not expect them to be happy about it. Did this villain attend The Remedial School of Villainy, where they majored in "Self-Destruction" (as well as the obligatory "Villainous Monologue" Laughing)...

...LIKE THIS ONE?

I guess my villains went to better schools than that. Laughing Wink

Your first example is actually more the norm, and as you note it resulted in PC deaths. It is pretty easy to achieve PC deaths with just one evil cleric backed up by minions, let alone there being a group of evil cleric backed up by minions. My point has to do with multiple evil clerics, which is not all that rare. I could go for for some time naming all of the adventures where there are multiple evil clerics that must be faced at the same time, whether the adventure was written such that the evil clerics are intended to be encountered all at once, or that the PCs probably will have alerted some evil base and so they have all then gathered together. I would hope that not too many DMs always have the villains each stay in their own rooms, even when they can hear their compatriots being killed in the next room, so that the PCs then take on encounter piecemeal, one after the next, in compartmentalized fashion.

The channel ability is just a poor game mechanism. I would like to bring up something else though, that being cleric advancement and Domains. Compared to any other class, leveling as a cleric doesn't offer much in the way of new and exciting things- it is only +1d6 channel energy every other level. As I am lessening what the channel energy feature can be applied to, I think it is a good reason to also introduce something that I think should have been built into the cleric class to begin with, that being access to further domains, and their powers, as clerics rise in level. Here is the plan:

"At 1st level, a cleric chooses two domains from among those belonging to her deity. At 6th level, and every five levels thereafter, the cleric gains an additional domain from among those belonging to their deity, until they have acquired all of them upon reaching 16th level."

Domain powers and added spells as handled as normal. What this means is that, eventually, a cleric will embody all aspects of what their deity represents. Imagine that. A cleric being full representative of their deity. Cool

If anyone has different ideas on the topics, please share them.
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Uptognomegood
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion wrote:
The evil cleric nukes his own minions, what, just to do it? And so they turn on him, as if the evil cleric would for some reason think that they would not? Sounds like unintelligent DMing to me. That type of stuff shouldn't be happening unless the evil cleric's minions have already mostly been put down, and the evil cleric is going to be cut down himself soon enough. At that point, being the vindictive sort that he is, the evil cleric lets loose a negative energy burst because it really doesn't matter at that point if he finishes off his few remaining (and nearly dead) minions, just so long as he is killing some enemies too. If anything, what I just described is what should be happening, because at least there is a decent reason for it. You wouldn't see an evil cleric saying "Hey guys! Look what I can do!", and then proceed to rip into them with a negative energy burst and not expect them to be happy about it. Did this villain attend The Remedial School of Villainy, where they majored in "Self-Destruction" (as well as the obligatory "Villainous Monologue" Laughing)...

...LIKE THIS ONE?

I guess my villains went to better schools than that. Laughing Wink



Cebrion, do not question me! For I am a gamer and have low self esteem and my feelings are delicate and fragile! Wink

I totally understand what you're saying. In my second example, when Mr. Evil cleric nuked his minions while nuking the party, in classic evil stereotype, his minions felt betrayed and attacked him. he didn't do it just to say look what I can do (but he might have, who knows the dark thoughts of an evil mind). I didn't clarify that, which is my fault. Smile
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion wrote:
"At 1st level, a cleric chooses two domains from among those belonging to her deity. At 6th level, and every five levels thereafter, the cleric gains an additional domain from among those belonging to their deity, until they have acquired all of them upon reaching 16th level."


I like your plan for the domains, but I think you meant 20th level, not 16th.

SirXaris
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I put in one wrong number, which I have corrected, and here is an example of what I mean:

In Pathfinder, each deity has five Domains. A Cleric starts with two Domains of their choice at 1st level. Upon reaching 6th level, the Cleric chooses another Domain from among the three remaining Domains. Upon reaching 11th level, the Cleric chooses another Domain from among the two remaining Domains. Upon reaching 16th level, the Cleric gains the remaining Domain.
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jtylerk
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My .02: I agree the channel power seems unbalancing.
(I have the rules but have never played this version, so I'll use "seems")
I see a number of approaches, some already hit upon.
1. Remove it. Maybe balance with something else.
2. Severely limit how often (like 1/day).
3. Damage/healing is a pool to distribute over the area (for example 2d6 would produce 2-12 points to spread evenly in the AoE, evil guy rolls 10 and each of his 5 foes takes 2 pts)
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jtylerk wrote:
2. Severely limit how often (like 1/day).


Those are some good ideas, jtylerk.

In case you aren't aware, a cleric is able to use the healing burst a maximum of 3 times per day plus his Charisma bonus. There is also a feat that adds 2 uses of the power per day. So, a cleric with an 14-15 Charisma and the Extra Channeling feat can channel energy a maximum of 7 times per day.

Mitigating factors are:
1) Clerical PCs desire high scores in all their physical stats (Str, Con, & Dex) so that they can stand in battle effectively. They also desire a high Wis, obviously, but they prefer a high Int as well, so that they can have decent scores in their Knowledge skills. Now, they also need to have a decent Cha score in order to be able to make use of this energy channeling ability. Clerics don't have a dump score (Int is the most likely).
2) There are many other feats that a cleric can take that are better in various circumstances for that PC than Extra Channeling.
3) When channeling positive energy, the cleric must choose to use it to either heal living creatures or harm undead creatures. It can't do both at the same time. Any use (for either purpose) counts as one of the cleric's uses for the day. So when a party is being attacked by some undead creatures, the PC cleric can't harm the undead and heal his friends at the same time.

Basically, if a cleric maximizes his channeling ability, he must sacrifice power in other areas he might otherwise be skilled in.

SirXaris
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirXaris wrote:
Mitigating factors are:
1) Clerical PCs desire high scores in all their physical stats (Str, Con, & Dex) so that they can stand in battle effectively. They also desire a high Wis, obviously, but they prefer a high Int as well, so that they can have decent scores in their Knowledge skills. Now, they also need to have a decent Cha score in order to be able to make use of this energy channeling ability. Clerics don't have a dump score (Int is the most likely).

Desire does not equal need though. The order of precedence of cleric stats are Wis, Cha, Con, Str, Int, Dex. The cleric is not a super knowledgeable person (which is why they get the same amount of skill points as fighters), but being knowledgeable isn't their job anyways.

Wisdom is obviously of paramount importance, it being the key stat for the most important things that the cleric does (spell DCs, bonus spells, etc.)

Despite what the Pathfinder NPC stat organization states, Charisma is next up, as it determines the number of times a cleric can channel energy, the DC of the channel effect, and is the key stat for most of the non-Wisdom based Skills that a cleric will find useful.

Constitution comes next because a few extra hit points can be useful to add hit points to their median hit die type, and they are a combat medic and so will be in the midst of the action and exposed to damage.

Strength comes next, as a cleric does wear armor, will usually be carrying some of the heavier types of weapons, and as they will often be in the midst of the action they might need to be swinging such weapons a bit more effectively.

Intelligence comes next. A cleric has one main skill- Spellcraft. Knowlege (religion) is of lesser importance, as it is less used. Heal is also of lesser use considering what else the cleric can do healing-wise, but it can prove useful when dealing with poisons in particular. A few ranks in Heal, plus the usual high wisdom bonus and class skill bonus, see this skill quickly rise to a high enough bonus to deal with anything mundane (and most poisons too), leaving spells free to deal with more serious things. Due to this, many players take only a few ranks in knowledge (religion) and Heal, and instead take ranks in Perception (which is very useful), Diplomacy, or Sense motive (the latter two being very useful for those times not requiring swinging a mace into something's head Happy). Intelligence is therefore way down on the totem pole.

Dexterity is in last place, since the cleric can wear armor/carry a shield, and because clerics do not favor missile weapons. Favoring Constitution provides some extra hit points to counter this as well, and the various cleric spells that protect from fire/lightning/cold/acid damage usually take care of most spell effects where a better Reflex save or Touch AC would be desired.

Quote:
2) There are many other feats that a cleric can take that are better in various circumstances for that PC than Extra Channeling.

Selective Channeling is really the only better feat. The only other particularly useful Feats are Item Creation Feats, and they have an associated cost. They will end up being more useful to everyone around the cleric than to the cleric themselves usually, with such items taking the form of potions, scrolls, and other items that many others can use (and that they might pay the cleric to make for them).

Quote:
3) When channeling positive energy, the cleric must choose to use it to either heal living creatures or[i] harm undead creatures. It can't do both at the same time. Any use (for either purpose) counts as one of the cleric's uses for the day. So when a party is being attacked by some undead creatures, the PC cleric can't harm the undead and heal his friends at the same time.

Exactly how is getting a whole new application added on to a previous power limiting in any way? It isn't.

Quote:
Basically, if a cleric maximizes his channeling ability, he must sacrifice power in other areas he might otherwise be skilled in.

As already stated, the cleric sacrifices much of nothing in maximizing their channeling ability and/or its usefulness. It doesn't hurt that doing so far outweighs anything that might be given up. The one saving grace (how appropriate Happy) is that clerics do not gain any Feats from advancing in their class, only through base advancement. Still, a 1st level human cleric with average starting wealth and a 20 point stat buy can be rather impressive. Let's go with a cleric of Joramy (just because she has Fire and Earth domains, which will make things rather nasty! Happy).

N00b the Acolyte- NG Cleric 1 of Joramy

Str: 12/+1, Dex: 10/+0, Con: 12/+1 Int: 12/+1, Wis: 17/+3, Cha: 15/+2
Att: +1 (1d8+1), BAB: +0, CMB: +1, CMD: +11, AC: 17 (T: 10, FF: 17), HP: 10
Feats: Selective Channeling, Extra Channel
Skills: Heal +7, Knowledge (religion) +5, Perception +4, Spellcraft +5.
Spells (DC = 13 + spell level)
0:[i] detect magic, guidance, stabilize

1st: bless, burning hands*, protection from evil
Domains: Earth, Fire
Domain Powers: acid dart (1d6 +1/two levels acid damage; 6/day), fire bolt (1d6 +1/two levels fire damage; 6/day)
Domain Spells*: magic stone (boo!), burning hands (heck yeah!)
Channel Energy: 30' burst heal living for 1d6, or 30' burst harm undead for 1d6 (DC 12 Will save for 1/2 damage); 7/day.
Gear: scale mail (scales are in the shape of licks of flame), heavy steel shield (because wood burns Razz), morning star (crafted in the shape of a spiked torch), brass holy symbol (5 gp cost), healers kit, 7 gp.

Note that those domain powers are ranged touch attacks, so lacking dexterity will not be that big of a deal in most cases. Happy

Yep, all of those players of 1st level Sorcerers and Wizards are looking at that and saying, "He can do what?!", shortly followed by:

DM: "The door is smashed off its hinges! An ogre stoops under the door frame and into the room, bellowing a challenge!"

Wizard player: "Gandalfin charges it with his dagger!"

Sorcerer player: "Grimdark also charges it with his dagger!"

DM: "Whuu?"

Wizard & Sorcerer players (together): "Tell us when our guys are dead so we can begin making clerics."

Laughing
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 8:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion: I understand your points. However...

First, I think that arcane spellcasters have always (throughout the various editions of the game) begun weaker than the other classes, but ended up the most powerful. So, saying that the first level cleric is more powerful than the wizard or sorcerer, is not a valid point for arguing that the cleric is too powerful.

Second, I have played several clerics and I have DMed for many clerical PCs. Only rarely have any of those PCs been solely of the cleric class. Almost always, the player (myself included) has multi-classed the cleric with another class to give it a special focus. Doing so causes the player to desire many different feats and skills than he would for a single-classed cleric. Thus, I agree that your opinion is valid, but mine is also. Smile

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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was just an example of how nasty a 1st level cleric can be, and that they can still be that with a more traditional turn undead ability rather than have the energy burst effect. My actual argument is that PCs are at a HUGE disadvantage when fighting against evil clerics which will invariably show up in groups, and simply dismantle PCs with little effort using negative energy bursts (anything that makes it entirely too easy to wipe out the PCs is something that has simply not been thought through very well.), and that healing bursts in particular are the WORST mechanic in the game so far as tracking who is where/what is affected, etc. Also, I would say that it was a horrible idea to remove Turn/Command Undead as a class feature, which it always has been, and turn it into a Feat. To me that is akin to removing the Bardic Performance feature from the Bard or the Lay on Hands feature from the Paladin, and making them Feats. The energy burst thing is an interesting experiment by the Paizo team, but it is overly flawed and cumbersome.

As to multi-classing, if one is playing a spellcaster, you want to get access to the better spells ASAP, and clerics in Pathfinder have access to a whole slew of very good higher level spells. Multi-classing delays getting them, unless one is multi-classing with some sort of prestige class that gives + 1 to spell caster level as well. If one is mutli-classing too much with non-cleric levels, that character is not much of a cleric anyways.

Speaking of multi-classing, I wouldn't mind seeing some Greyhawk cleric prestige classes for pathfinder geared toward representing higher echelons of the various faiths- sort of like Specialty Priests, but more having to do with special divisions in church hierarchy. I might have to write up one of those. Cool
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aurdraco
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cebrion wrote:
Note that those domain powers are ranged touch attacks, so lacking dexterity will not be that big of a deal in most cases. Happy


I run my home campaign in PF and I've played a cleric with the earth domain in PFS; clerics with these ranged touch attacks turn out to be pretty ineffective in combat. While they only need to make a ranged touch attack, a) the 30' range isn't that great, b) the opponent is often in melee (-4 penalty to hit), c) the opponent often has cover (-4 penalty to hit).

Your points about negative channeling are interesting. I've seen an evil cleric in a PFS scenario, surrounded by low-level undead minions, use a ton of channels to almost kill the PCs. It can get worse with Quick Channel.

I think I like the idea of channeling energy, out of combat, but in combat it's a pain in the ****. Positive channeling requires keeping unconscious badguys on the battlemap in case they get healed by the good guys accidentally. Selective Channel is too weak; the ability should probably just let you heal allies. Also, if you compare the ability to the mass cure spells, it's way overpowered. Mass Cure Light Wounds is a 5th level spell!
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The point about comparing channel positive energy to mass healing spells is a very, very good one. Nobody has leveled up enough yet for me to have even considered that, and Quick Channel, well, that just makes things plain sick. That would turn my previous diagram results into this:

PC 1 gets 2d6 + 2d6 + 2d6 + 2d6 for at least two rounds straight
PC 2 gets 2d6 + 2d6 + 3d6 + 2d6 + 2d6 + 3d6 for at least two rounds straight
PC 3 gets 2d6 + 3d6 + 3d6 + 2d6 + 3d6 + 3d6 for at least two rounds straight
PC 4 gets 2d6 + 2d6 + 3d6 + 3d6 + 2d6 + 2d6 + 3d6 + 3d6 for at least two rounds straight
PC 5 gets 2d6 + 3d6 + 3d6 + 2d6 + 3d6 + 3d6 for at least two rounds straight
PC 6 gets 2d6 + 3d6 + 3d6 + 2d6 + 3d6 + 3d6 for at least two rounds straight

Each set of damage allows a save for half damage of course, but who would want to be on the receiving end of that? I am guessing nobody. And remember, that is only two 5th level and two 3rd level evil clerics who are capable of doing that. As if it needed to be even easier to kill PCs, or that I needed to be further soured on the channel energy feature any more than I already am. Laughing

And so I made if "official" and instituted "the change" as of last night. The Selective Channeling Feat is now of much more limited use (but does still have its uses), and the Versatile Channeler Feat need only be tweaked to remove "(for example, you qualify for the Command Undead feat and the Turn Undead feat)" from its text. Most other Feats only need any mentioning of "heal" and "harm" changed to "turn/destroy" and "command". Channel Smite will have a targeted damage /fear effect (as per turn/destroy text), either on undead or on the living depending on the energy type (either target will potentially fear being zapped by such energies). Channeled Shield Wall is removed (it is a lame idea anyways Laughing). Alignment Channel will either get the ax, or get heavily reworked. Phylactery of Positive Channeling remains the same, while the Phylactery of Negative Channeling works the same in conjunction with Channeled Smite, but otherwise adds +2 to the DC of Command Undead Will saves. Some other Feats/items need tweaks, but not many.
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Uptognomegood
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So all the evil clerics in your WoG (Pathfinder version) have selective channeling? Seems like the mundane mortal powers would do everything they could to wipe out evil cults, shrines, temples and there would be a high price on any and each head of the evil clerics. Wink
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Usually, because "evil" doesn't mean "stupid". And yes, evil cults are outlawed in most lands for a variety of reasons. Wink
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Fran_Horace
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Currently playing in PF game and being the "healing battery" I can tell that the channeling energy can be very useful, but also very hard to play, especially depending on the type of games. Our DM is used to have 2 to 3 encounter in the same game that usually is the "adventuring day". This translate into deciding the best moment to use the power to heal the other members of the party - and not the bad guys. That being said, it is very hard to get all the PC in the are of effect as the combat dynamics makes it that so and usually only 2 or 3 other member will benefit from it. From that perspective the power is relatively ok.

Preparing myself a PF game, I read the thread with interest and can understand Cebrion concern as DM to the easiness of TPK with such a power. I also agree with him that the turn undead ability is somewhat wrong in PF where you have to take a feat to be able to do that.

I propose a very simple solution - although a little late that I will definitely think on for my game:
- Make the Channel Energy 5ft per D6, so a 3rd level cleric would channel 2D6 on 10ft instead of 30ft.
- Add the turn undead feat as free let's say on 3rd level or sooner.

Having the channel energy shorter reduce the possible mass damage to everyone and get the clerics way closer to those they want to heal/dmg and exposing themselves more to retaliation by the fighters type... So the 5th level cleric in the example would have to be a maximum of 15ft away, which I think is tactically more dangerous and will think twice of going for the round after round of channel energy.

I really like Cebrion's proposed change to Clerics domain acquisition, this is something that bothered me for a long time and I think it is a nice evolution of the class. One question: Would cleric of 11th level gain both the first and second domain power immediately for his 3rd domain or just the 1st lvl and then +X lvl later the second power?
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Cebrion
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is my change for Domains:

Quote:
In Pathfinder, each deity has five Domains. At 1st level, a Cleric begins play with their choice of two of these five Domains. Upon reaching 6th level, the Cleric gains another Domain of their choice from among the three remaining Domains. Upon reaching 11th level, the Cleric gains another Domain of their choice from among the two remaining Domains. Upon reaching 16th level, the Cleric gains the remaining Domain.


And so a 16th level cleric will have five Domain powers, and access to the spells of all five Domains.
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