View Full Version : [3.5] Playing a Good Support Character...

2009-11-26, 01:41 PM
From what I hear, playing a healbot isn't very good as a combat role. It makes sense, especially at level 1-2, seeing as the most I can (easily) heal is 1d8+3, which is likely even with what a human is threatening my ally with. So, essentially, neither of us are winning the race, but I'm running out of resources (I guess that would mean that I'm losing the race, but still).

In my last thread I had an idea for a Incarnum support character (with a tribal theme), and I was told that probably wouldn't work, at least, not as a healer.

Before I fell asleep last night, I felt like I was on to something, an Azuran Cleric using the first level racial substitution gives me bonus essentia instead of turning undead (which I don't care to do, and still can be used to power divine feats). I then saw Midnight Metamagic (I think that's its name), and was wondering how my bonus essentia worked, since it explicitly states that it's temporary. Can I use my turn attempts while "preparing" my cleric spells and metamagic them (/will it last)?

If that doesn't work, I just wanted to use incarnum mostly for flavor purposes, even though mechanically it doesn't seem to do a very good job for healing.

What are some "economic" ways for a cleric to heal? What's a good way to give said cleric a tribal theme?

Things I was considering:
I like Bardic Knowledge, I was considering Bard or Savage Bard (Savage Bard would lock me into Chaotic [Good, peferably]).
Swordsage seems like it would help out with my desire to be on the frontlines, Wisdom to AC and maneuvers are good.
Incarnate would require me to be Neutral Good (or Lawful Neutral [eww!] if I want to dual-progress).
I was considering Cloistered Cleric, but that kind of works against the tribal theme, and also makes me a weaker frontliner (although I did only want to wear light armor).

2009-11-26, 01:53 PM
The main challenge of a heal/support type character is that preventing damage (by killing an opponent or rendering them incapable of hurting you significantly, usually through some form of battlefield control) is more efficient than removing it once it's there. Part of this is the D&D mechanic that imposes no penalties for injury.

So, no matter how good you are at healing, it'd have been better, during a crisis situation, to be doing something about the source of the crisis (the rampaging owlbear, the whirling sawblade trap, etc), as opposed to the symptom of it (the loss of hit points).

Bard and cloistered cleric are both solid choices for support characters. Cloistered cleric can be refluffed in any number of ways - an oral tradition of knowledge works just as well as book-learning. Your cleric calls himself a shaman, you've got your support character. Also gets you your bardic knowledge equivalent.

Being ready to boost your allies offensive capabilities - bard songs, buff spells, etc - and do some battlefield control (silence, illusions, haste, bless) will mitigate any frustration from other players if you're not stepping up to the front lines. Healing damage, by and large, will not.

2009-11-26, 02:36 PM
If you go Bard, go Elven. It gives you martial weapon bow, which means you can still contribute a bit of damage as you level, and don't feel like a third wheel.

A good support option is not to simply be a buff-bot, but instead to use those battlefield control spells to control the field. Drop grease to either side of the warriors and force the enemies to go around, or attack through the center and be hammered.

2009-11-26, 02:37 PM
At around level 5ish, if you absolutely focus on healing (Augment healing from the Complete Divine, Imbued Healing from the Complete Champion[Especially with the healing domain], Magic of the Land from the Races of the Wild, and probably some kind of knowledge(nature) boost) you can actually do enough healing to handle a lot of damage you're taking, especially when you factor in unusual spells (For example, healing spirit from the PHB2 as a 4th level spell, Darts of Life from the Complete Champion as a 5th level spell).

But doing so requires two things: Focus, and a lack of general optimization. The more hyper-optimized your group is, the less effective healing becomes and the closer hit points come to being a boolean value. Personally, my group isn't anywhere near rocket tag levels of optimized, thus the above is plenty to make a healbot.

Another, interesting option is to utilize the war weaver prestige class from the Heroes of Battle. It's an arcane buffer-spell class - while healbotting is difficult, being a competent support-buffer is actually really effective if you go arcanist. If you are a bard, you can even heal a bit.

You did mention, however, that cloistered cleric is too squishy for you, thus the d4 war weaver is probably similar.

I then second generally what Toliudar said about Bards and Cloistered Clerics. Normal Clerics also can work - the difference is primarily skills and bardic knowledge(Cloistered) vs better BAB and armour use(Cleric). Bards are better at buffing, though.

I love incarnates, but they're not very skilled at buffing sadly. Can be a solid class, though. ^_^

2009-11-26, 02:41 PM
The only problem I have with Cloistered Cleric is the poor BAB. So, mixing CC with Swordsage puts me at Poor/Medium... is there any way to make my combat capabilities stink less? I mean, sure, I've got cleric spells to boost myself up, but allies might not like the cleric using resources to melee when I could be sitting back and helping them.

2009-11-26, 02:48 PM
The only problem I have with Cloistered Cleric is the poor BAB. So, mixing CC with Swordsage puts me at Poor/Medium... is there any way to make my combat capabilities stink less? I mean, sure, I've got cleric spells to boost myself up, but allies might not like the cleric using resources to melee when I could be sitting back and helping them.

Well, early game is all about Strength anyways; your weapon doesn't really matter as much. If you've got 18 Str, the Fighter next to you with 18 Str is only slightly more efficient until level 3 where he gets the other +1, and even then it's only level 5 where the problem truly rears its head.

At that point, you're already almost at +2/+2 Divine Favor on a level that's otherwise not that good in combat anymore, and on level 7, you'll have access to Divine Power that allows you to, momentarily, make up for the lost BAB. Or if you go DMM: Persist, you can do it all day.

That's obviously the best way to go about a warrior skill monkey team buff Cleric; DMM: Persist enough self-buffs to be a competent warrior, rest as team buffs (Mass Lesser Vigor, Righteous Wrath of the Faithful, Mass Conviction, Recitation and such; team will appreciate) and then profit of your 6+Int skills for skillmonkeying too. If you also pick up Spontaneous Domain Casting: Spell, you're now a one-man party.

2009-11-26, 02:49 PM
but allies might not like the cleric using resources to melee when I could be sitting back and helping them.

If the problem is 'allies might not', then personally, even if you're a support character, ignore them. You are permitted to have fun too, and if you have fun by giving a bit of support to yourself that had better be completely alright. This is especially true if you're a support character - being support does not mean the rest of your team starts to take your actions for you.

If the problem, however, is that you'd rather not spend your clerical resources on melee, that's much more okay then. Personally, I'd see this as the calm, reserved shamanistic character who usually doesn't join the others as they go raid, but is capable of doing so in a pinch.

Alternately, however, note that the cloistered cleric option simply may not be for you - you could just go normal cleric. Insofar as being a support character is concerned, all cloistered cleric gives you (relevantly to most, anyway) is skills/lore - if you'd like to generally be more combat-capable, accept losing the skills and lore and just go cleric. You don't have less spells for doing so.

2009-11-27, 04:26 PM
IMO, the best way to play a support character is via pre-battle buffs. Slapping a mage armor or it's grtr cousin on the monk lets him actually stay alive. The stat boosting buffs are welcome on pretty much any character, and more specific buffs, like Dolorous Blade, are excellent on certain chars.

However, to be really worth casting, these buffs should be cast on or before the first round of combat. Persist is your best friend for this, and hour/level buffs are great too. Once you're actually in combat, focus on contributing, not buffing, unless it's a high powered, short term buff like haste.

IMO, a wizard does a great job as a buffer, and can still hold their own in combat. Probably one of the more practical support chars in 3.5.