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    Ogre in the Playground
    Akal Saris's Avatar

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    Oct 2007

    Default Hangover Cleric Build & Handbook [PF]

    The Hangover Cleric Build/Mini-Guide

    A summary of concepts and tricks used to create the Hangover Cleric. Credit goes to the Shadowcraft Mage handbook for the format.

    9/6/2012: Added Advanced Races Guide.

    Something that has nagged me for a while is that there are quite a lot of feats to improve or change channel energy, yet at its heart the ability simply doesn't do enough past the low levels to justify investing in it past selective channeling. But then Ultimate Magic came along. The Hangover Cleric build uses the Variant Channel ability from that book to create a cleric that is specialized in AOE crowd control and spell-casting from 1st level onwards.

    The heart of the character is the variant channel ability from Ultimate Magic, so if you don’t have access to that book, then this character is not for you, although some of the tricks used may still be of interest. The relevant portfolios are Rulership and Ale/Wine, and from it we will construct a cleric that can daze and hurt all opponents, living or dead, in a 30ft area, as a move action, for 4-12 times a day. And still cast two cleric spells a round with a quickened and standard action. You know, like as a hobby.

    Variant Channeling:
    Ale/Wine: Heal—Creatures ignore the nauseated and sickened conditions, as well as ability damage and drain from poison, until the end of your next turn. This does not bring back to life creatures killed by Constitution damage. Harm—Creatures are nauseated for 1 round.

    Rulership: Heal—Creatures gain a channel bonus on Diplomacy checks and to the DC of their language-dependent and charm effects until the end of your next turn. Harm—Creatures are dazed for 1 round.

    There are some other good variant channel abilities as well. Liberation's slow effect is good and it comes thematically attached to an excellent domain. The Madness channel's confusion effect is also cool and Sivanah would be an interesting goddess to build a character around.
    On the application of nausea and dazing
    It is immediately obvious that nausea and dazing are powerful effects, as they drastically restrict opponents' options.

    Some subtle points to remember about these abilities:
    • This ability deals both half normal channel damage and an effect, and even a successful save still deals the half damage
    • With selective channeling and improved channel, allies are unaffected while opponents with a weak or normal Will save are likely to fail often
    • Quick Channel allows the character to channel energy as a move action at the cost of an extra usage, very valuable at mid-high levels
    • Versatile Channel allows the cleric to target both living and undead creatures with dazing (nauseate wouldn't work), or to switch to Positive Energy channeling when he wants to gain the Heal effects of his ability (bonus to Diplomacy and charm/language spells, or eliminate allies' nausea)
    • Because Channel Energy requires a high charisma, the character will be an excellent party face, but his combat and casting stats will suffer as a result
    • Phylactery of Negative Channeling: This gives a quick and dirty 2d6 damage boost to Channel Energy

    On the selection of portfolios
    Leadership: The Harm effect dazes opponents, which is a much better status effect than the nauseate from Ale/Wine. The Nobility domain is excellent, with good spells, decent buffs, and the Leadership feat for free at 8th level. The Heal effect (used with Versatile Channeler) is good for bard allies and diplomatic parties.

    Some plausible deities (must be neutral for the cleric to qualify Versatile Channeler) are Abadar, Count Ranalc, and Nalinivati. Nalinivati also gains the Charm domain, which works well with Versatile Channeler and the Heal aspect of the channel, while the other two have the excellent Travel domain.

    There's nothing I enjoy more than the mental image of a dozen orcs feeling last week's bender come back with a vengeance in mid-battle. Ale/Wine is also not tied to any specific domain, though Chaos, Liberation, Love, and Lust are all thematic choices. The Heal aspect (also through Versatile Channeler) is excellent for negating ability damage in a pinch or curing allies from a Stinking Cloud. Quick Channel even allows you to un-nauseate yourself as a move action.

    Unfortunately there's only one Pathfinder deity that elevates Ale/Wine and that's the amazing Cayden Cailean, who is good-aligned and therefore his negative channeling only hits undead. Since this build really wants to channel negative energy and hit a wide range of foes, your options are to either:
    A. Worship him and always rely on Versatile Channeler
    B. See if the Separatist variant will allow you to attach Ale/Wine to some other appropriate deity such as Calistria or Besmara
    C. See if you can venerate an ideal and use the variant
    D. Play in a homebrew/different setting or add alcohol to the portfolio for some more deities.

    On the selection of feats and traits:

    There are quite a few feats that deal with Channel Energy, and the important trick is to strike a good balance between what will always prove useful and what hits the point of diminishing returns.

    Either Sacred Conduit (+1 DC to channel energy) or Exalted of the Society (+1 Channel Energy/day).


    Improved Channel: A 2-point bump in DC is critical to ensuring that opponents fail their saves and fall over retching.

    Selective Channeling: Ensures that X=CHA allies aren't targeted by your ability. A must-have.

    Versatile Channeler: Provides the versatility to use the Heal aspect of Channel Energy and for Rulership-types to Daze undead as well.

    Quick Channel: Eventually cleric spells are awesome enough that they are as good or better than an AOE daze+damage effect. This ability allows you to have your cake and eat it too, 3+Cha/2 times per day.

    Command Undead: Leverage your high Charisma to build an unstoppable horde of shadows to crush the world beneath an ephemeral boot.

    Extra Channel: It never hurts to have extra uses of your main gimmick if you find you're consistently running low.

    Bestow Hope Versatile Channeler qualifies you for this feat, which is nice to have I suppose.

    Quicken Spell: This feat allows you to cast two spells in a single round, greatly enhancing your effectiveness in combat at higher levels.

    Channel Force This is tied to the aasimar race but gives a no-save 5-ft push or pull effect to channel energy. Kind of nifty! I'd generally pass on the improved and greater versions.

    Shatter Resolve Terrific effect, terrible deity. Nice if you can adapt the feat to a homebrew deity or use Separatist to pick up a domain/portfolio with a permissive DM, I suppose.

    On the Base Class, Prestige classes, and variants

    I assume cleric in this guide. However, oracles with the Life mystery can channel Positive Energy 1+CHA/day, which means you'd need to use Versatile Channel all the time to do the Harm effect at 2 levels lower. Aasimar (which have terrific cleric stats as well) can take the Purifier Oracle archetype, which gives Alignment Channel, Turn Undead, and Command Good Outsiders, all on a separate pool of attempts from Channel Energy. Aasimar can also take the Channel Force line of feats (see above). Useful with a low point buy, I suppose.

    Paladins, Anti-Paladins, and Inquisitors can all do this as well, but without the luxury of doing so from first level or useful standard action spells to combine with quick channel.

    Clerics have quite a few variant options as well:

    Fiendish Vessel (Cleric; Tiefling): Wow! Only evil characters need apply, but this archetype is almost perfect for the hangover cleric. Damage from Channel energy is reduced to d4's, but it sickens good creatures that fail their saves (and nauseates very low-level ones), and at 3rd level the cleric gains a strong familiar (an imp at 3rd level is practically as strong as the cleric...) who can be used as the center for channel energy. Dispater and Shax both grant Nobility as domains.

    Evangelist: Gaining Perform is nice with a Cha focused character, and the Evangelist's spontaneous spells synergize very well with the Rulership alternate channel's Heal ability. But you lose 3 levels of channel energy. Ouch.

    If there is a deity you want to follow and the DM allows this to qualify you to take a variant channel ability, then this is your way in.

    Theologician: The Nobility domain is decent enough that I would even consider this as an option.

    The only real prestige class I would consider is the: Holy Vindicator. You take a worthless feat and lose 2 caster levels for some moderately cool abilities and the chance to do Channel Energy as either a 30-ft cone or a 120 foot line. Going deeper in the PrC loses another CL for some cooler abilities, and your channel sickens and bleeds opponents.

    On the Aggregate of What Has Come Before

    Here's a few sample builds to illustrate the concept.

    Sauerton the Red

    Neutral Human Cleric of Abadar 20

    Stats: Cha > Wis > Con > Others.
    Extreme example (20PB): Str 7, Dex 7, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 16, Cha 20 [Hmn Stat boost to Cha]
    More reasonable example (20 PB): Str 9, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 15, Cha 18

    Channel negative energy, Sacred Conduit trait, Nobility and Travel domains

    1: Improved Channel
    1: Selective Channeling [Human]
    3: Versatile Channeler
    5: Quick Channel
    7: Command Undead
    8: Leadership [Nobility domain]
    9: Extra Channel
    11: Quicken Spell
    13: Improved Initiative
    15: Extend Spell
    17: Craft Wondrous Object
    19: Bestow Hope

    This is just a vanilla example with generic, typically useful feats. Assuming at least 3 stat boosts go into Charisma and a tome +5, the end result is a DC 32
    Will save for Channel energy (7d6 with a phylactery of damage) and 14 uses/day.

    Gorgus the Angry Drunk
    Neutral Human Cleric of Urgathoa 20
    Variant: Separatist (and a house-rule/rules interpretation that gaining the domain also adds the portfolio for that PC)

    Stats: Cha > Wis > Con > Others.
    Extreme example (20PB): Str 7, Dex 7, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 16, Cha 20 [Hmn Stat boost to Cha]
    More reasonable example (20 PB): Str 9, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 7, Wis 15, Cha 18

    Channel negative energy, variant channel (ale/wine), Sacred Conduit trait and a trait to gain Intimidate as a class skill, Lust and War domains (lust through Separatist)

    1: Improved Channel
    1: Selective Channeling [Human]
    1: Weapon Focus (Scythe) [War domain]
    3: Shatter Resolve
    5: Command Undead
    7: Dazzling Display
    9: Quick Channel
    11: Quicken Spell
    13: Spell Focus (Necromancy)
    15: Undead Master
    17: Improved Initiative
    19: Extra Channel

    This is just a nifty example that showcases the effects of fear-stacking. Channel Energy makes opponents within 30 feet shaken, and then Dazzling Display or a Fear-type spell on the following round intimidates them and sends them to frightened.

    Last thoughts
    Even if you've spent 4 feats on a single trick, remember that you're still a cleric. OK, unless you're an oracle of life or inquisitor or whatever. The point is, a cleric can still heal, remove status effects, buff allies, animate undead, summon monsters, take a few hits in melee, and buff yourself to be a melee monster. Don't let one good trick keep you from taking advantage of the incredible range of abilities open to you.

    Thank you for any comments or recommendations and have fun!
    Last edited by Akal Saris; 2012-09-06 at 08:22 PM.
    Handbooks: (Hosted on the new MixMax forums)
    [3.5] The Poison Handbook
    [3.5] (New) Master of Shrouds Handbook
    [3.5 Base Class] Healer's Handbook


    Thanks to Strategos and Jumilk for the awesome Iron Chef trophies!

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