Dwarven Cleric 3.5

By   June 10, 2017

Hey all and welcome to my first blog post here on Roleplay Inn. These posts are to give people characters that are not only solid and powerful builds, but also characters that are fun to role play. In other words they aren’t entirely min-maxed. Just very powerful builds that also fit within solid role play concepts. I welcome you to edit whatever you want to within both the build and suggested role play for these characters to truly make the character your own. So without further ado, lets get straight into the build.

Overview

I call this character a dwarven cleric because the character will be a cleric for every level after first level. However this build actually starts as a fighter in order to make himself a bit more tanky and get a bit more melee damage.

Like any cleric this guy has a lot of good support skills but also should have higher health and more armor than your average cleric making him a solid front liner. He’s very good at delivery touch spells either to assist allies on the front lines or to hinder enemies.

The overall role play of this character would be that you are a very devout soldier who works directly for the church or deity of your choice (The example follows Moradin*, primary deity of the dwarves.) As you level up you would transition from a simple soldier into a full cleric until you are eventually more cleric than fighter. As dwarves have a great love of creation and tinkering this dwarf has some skills and feats that make it an exceptional crafter as well.

I’m going to be doing this build up to 10th level as that’s where most of the more unique parts of the build happen. Past 10th level progression should be very similar to that of a normal cleric.

The Build

This is a first level version of this build. I’m basing it on a 28 point buy and assumption you start with 150 gold as is average for a fighter.

This is a level 10 version of this build. It’s scaled up assuming 49 thousand gold accumulated wealth.

The rest of this post will give details on why things are in the build, how to progress it properly, and possible areas that you could make changes to in order make it more of your own build.

Why a Dwarf?

There are a few reasons this character is built around being a dwarf:

Favored Class Fighter – Usually going one level fighter and the rest of your levels cleric would give you an XP penalty past a certain point. However since dwarves have favored class fighter you can do this without any penalites.

Armored Movement Speed – Dwarves have a base movement speed of 20 but it’s unaffected by armor or medium and heavy loads. This is going to be a full plate wearing character so essentially that means that you won’t take the usual penalty for running in heavy armor (Movement speed times three instead of four), you can carry a lot more without issue, and if your base movement speed is ever increased you get the full benefit.

Constitution Bonus – This is a solid bonus for a front line character like this is designed to be. You’re going to end up with a lot more health, good fortitude saves, and good concentration. Lowering charisma does make your turn and rebuke less effective but nothing is a comfortable dump stat for a cleric, and the low charisma will hurt you a lot less than dumping points in other areas.

Free Exotic Weapon – As a fighter you get martial weapons and as a dwarf the Dwarven Waraxe is considered a martial weapon even though it’s normally an exotic weapon. This gives you a very powerful melee weapon for free. Even if melee damage isn’t the focus of the build it’s still a nice perk.

Metalsmithing Bonus – As a dwarf you get a +2 bonus on crafting checks related to metal and stone. This character will be taking the Craft Armorsmithing (I will go into more details in the skills section) so the bonus will be useful.

Saving Throws – Dwarves receive a +2 bonus on all saves versus spells. This is a great ability to have for a front line character.

Additional dwarf bonuses can be found here and more roleplay details can be found in the Player’s Handbook*.

Attributes

Wisdom as your primary caster stat is your most important attribute for this character as it can give you additional spells, increase the DC of saving throws against your spells, and determines what the highest level of spells you can cast is. You’ll want a 16 in this stat minimum. As a high wisdom character you should be a voice of reason in the party, avoiding brash or foolish actions and instead urging caution and levelheadedness.

Constitution is your next biggest stat as you have a bonus in it and it will increase your frontline survivability. You will want a 14 minimum in this stat.

Strength is something you may or may not want to emphasize. It increases your chance to hit with melee and touch spells as well as increasing your carry capacity and melee damage. I would suggest at least a 12 given how heavy your gear will be but you could get by with a 10 if you really want the points for other things.

Dexterity and Intelligence are things you could or could not put points into. Increasing dexterity will increase your armor class and chance to hit with ranged spells. However as a full plate wearer you will only be capable of a +1 bonus to armor class, or +3 if you choose to wear mithral full plate. As such 12 wouldn’t be a terrible value to start at but you should go with no more than that. You can get to +3 using magic items such a manual or gloves. Intelligence is also something I would consider a 12 in but not go much higher unless your DM is very generous with stats. You only get 2 skill points per level as a cleric but with 12 you would get 3, allowing your character a bit more versatility. It will also give you a slight bonus to Craft Armorsmithing. Consider if you want to play a character of average or slightly higher than average intelligence in choosing this as well.

Charisma is the only stat you can comfortably dump. It’s only real purpose is to help with your turn/rebuke checks and avoid being defeated to easily by charisma draining effects. I would set this to an 8 or 6. With an 8 you are probably a bit of gruff character who’s not very personable or appealing to look at as is fairly normal for dwarves. At 6 you would be a hideous character who may have disgusting hygiene and would be incredibly socially awkward. This could actually be a bit fun if you really got into roleplaying your low charisma well.

Sample Build with a 28 Point Buy:

  • 14 Strength
  • 10 Dexterity
  • 16 Constitution
  • 10 Intelligence
  • 16 Wisdom
  • 8 Charisma

There is a point buy calculator here if you want to play around with it yourself or try it at different point buy levels.

Feats

Starting as a first level fighter you get an additional fighter feat at first level in addition to your regular first level feat and the fact that being a dwarven fighter gives you things you would usually need feats for as a cleric like your dwarven waraxe and tower shield.

Fighter Feat – Given you won’t be going down the fighter line very far and you can’t bash with tower shields there are three potential feats I can see being good.

Weapon Focus Dwarven Waraxe – This give a slight bonus to your hit chance with your axe.

Quick Draw – This could allow you to draw weapons such as javelins or light hammers as a free action for easy throwing in combat.

Improved Initiative – This will give you a +4 to initiative rolls in combat, increasing your chances of going first, an opportunity you could use to cast a critical buff on an ally.

First Level Feat

Combat Casting – This gives you +4 concentration bonus to casting spells in situations where you could be interrupted. As a front line caster this is good.

Third Level Feat

Metamagic Feat – Since you’ll be taking crafting feats at 6th and 9th level it might be wise to get a metamagic at three even if it’s use will be limited. Maximize spell will be great for early level heals (Though is decidedly less useful once you have the heal spell) quicken spell could allow you to get off quick buffs or heals as free actions. My personal recommendation is quicken but go over the metamagics and consider them carefully before you make a decision.

Sixth Level Feat

Brew Potion – This is a great 6th level feat for your cleric as clerics have so many healing spells and buffs. You could use this to create cure serious wounds potions, bull’s strength potions, and potions of lesser restoration fairly easily as well as more powerful potions as your character advances. This allows you to focus the spells you prepare each day a bit more

Ninth Level Feat

Craft Magic Arms and Armor – This will allow you to enchant weapons and armor for both yourself and your party. Pretty good since you can already create shields and armor yourself.

Skills

Craft Amorsmithing – This allows you to create armor and shields for a third of their regular price plus time investment. As a dwarf you get a +2 to all metal based items which thankfully is everything that would usually be more difficult to craft as an armorsmith. I would put max ranks into this skill as even if your party has all the armor they need you can still create items for sale with this to make a bit of extra gold whenever your characters have downtime. This is also one of the only skills that will not be cross-class to you as either a fighter or a cleric.

Concentration – This is your ability to continue to cast a spell after something that would usually interrupt it like taking damage, being grappled, or being under the effects of a continuous damage effect. Your combat casting feat and high constitution make it a very solid skill but it’s a cross-class during your first level meaning you are going to be a bit behind. Especially if you don’t put cross class ranks into it, which you probably shouldn’t.

Craft ? – At first level fighter most skills you can take are penalized by armor (Anything that is penalized by armor will never be good for this character) and ride (Ride is generally not good for dwarves who’s movement is not penalized by armor.) The only exceptions to this are Handle Animal, Intimidate (Neither of these are very good for a low charisma character) and craft. Fortunately you can take as many crafting skills as you have points for. Putting four points into a new crafting ability isn’t a bad idea. Especially if it’s something like weaponsmithing where you can work with metal. Craft blacksmithing is a very solid one, and while the exact uses available to it are up to your DM, it does make a lot of roleplay sense that a character capable of making suits of armor can also make more mundane metal items.

Knowledge Religion – I’m adding this to the list for the primary reason that while it isn’t a super optimal skill to take it is a very logical one for any cleric. You may ask your DM how he will treat the subject of knowledge checks related to your chosen deity. If they won’t give you any kind of bonus for being a cleric/your backstory it may be a very good idea to invest at least one point into this so your character isn’t an idiot as far as their own religion is concerned. If your DM is willing to cut you a bit of slack and say you are knowledgable about your own religion then you can invest this point elsewhere.

Domains

I’m writing this assuming you chose Moradin* as your deity. If you did not then you’ll need to look up the domains of your god. As a cleric of Moradin you are allowed to pick any two of his domains.

Earth – This is a must have in my opinion. Since Moradin is a lawful-good god a cleric of Moradin is not going to be rebuking any undead. But this domain gives you the ability to rebuke earth subtype creatures. That means you can actually get minions that are under your control in the same way an evil cleric controls undead but they can be any alignment and you can heal them with positive energy. It also greats some really good spells at higher level that aren’t usually available to a cleric such stoneskin and iron body and the ability to turn water based creatures.

Protection – This is a very fitting domain for the theme of this character that grants an ability and spells that help protect yourself and allies.

Good – This is a good domain to pick if your character is particularly good / concerned with doing good. It makes good aligned spells you cast more powerful and gives you access to domain spells concerned with protection from and destruction of evil

Law – This is a good domain to pick if you character is particularly lawful / concerned with upholding the law. It makes law aligned spells you cast more powerful and gives you access to domain spells concerned with protection from and chaos of chaotic beings.

I personally recommend earth and protection for their value to your character but this is an area you should really consider what fits your character best.

Spells

One of or perhaps thee greatest strength of a cleric is that you can prepare whatever spells you want from the cleric spell list each day (provided you aren’t prohibited by things such as alignment) so if you have some kind of foreknowledge of the challenges your party is likely to face then you can prepare your spells specifically for those challenges.

Knowing that should impress two major facts upon you:

  1. There are no bad cleric spells. Just bad spells for the situation at hand.
  2. Your spell list may change a lot from day to day.

That being said I won’t list the specific spells you should and shouldn’t take. Learn what spells work well with the rest of your party and the kinds of challenges you are expecting to face. Prepare those spells. That being said here are some very generic spells that could be could to prepare.

Any cure wounds spell / heal – As a cleric your party may rely on you a lot for healing. At minimum have enough to stabilize their wounds or powerful heals to give a huge heart infusion to a struggling party member during combat. At maximum have that and enough healing spells prepared to top off health after every encounter.

Lesser restoration – This will cure your party of ability drain which can really harm the ability of certain party members to fight. However once you have brew potion it might be better to prepare some potions of this and keep them on hand. And once you have heal you don’t really need this anymore.

Remove CurseRemove DiseaseRemove Blindness/Deafness and Neutralize Poison – All of these spells can deal with powerful afflictions that will really hurt the viability of one of your party members. Sometimes these spells can be the difference between watching an ally die and being able to save them. If you do not have remove curse, remove disease, and neutralize poison prepared you need to have brewed up potions for them. Remove blindness/deafness you can probably get away with preparing the next day if a party member is stricken deaf or blind but having a potion on hand is still smart.

Melee Buffs – As you are a frontline combatant with lower strength it helps to have buffs that can make up part of the difference, and buffs that also help allies out too. Bull’s strength, prayer, spiritual weapon, and righteous might are all great spells for this.

Shield Other – Given your character has so much health, armor, and the ability to heal himself this is a great spell to share some of your ability to survive with a member of the party who may not have as much health and/or armor.

Gear and Equipment

As a first level fighter you should start the game with 150g.

Your dwarven waraxe is going to take 30g, and your tower shield will take an additional 30g leaving you with 90g leftover. scale male becomes a great option for your first set of armor as a low dexterity character. It costs 50g bringing you down to 40g. I would spend at least 5g of that on artisans tools for armorsmithing and the rest on your basics such as backpack, some rations, maybe even some pocket change to account for the unexpected or help you in saving up towards your next set of armor.

Alternatively, ask your DM if he will allow you to craft your own set of starter armor with your starter gold before the game starts. If he says yes get 55g masterwork artisan’s tools. With 4 ranks, +2 racial bonus, and +2 masterwork tool bonus you will start with a +8 to armorcrafting. This will easily allow you to craft your tower shield and cale mail for 26g and 6s and 67c. That leaves you with 82 gold and change unless you roll seriously bad on your crafting checks. The potential to roll bad is the only reason I don’t tell you to go straight for a better armor type such as splint mail or banded mail which you would actually be able to afford.

Once you have your start gear you will want to put the majority of your gear toward upgrading armor. If you have 10 dexterity upgrade from scale, to splint mail, to half plate and finally full plate. If you have 12 dexterity just go from scale to banded mail and then straight to full plate from there. This is because banded mail is on 50 gold (Or 17 gold with change back if you craft it) more than splint mail and has the same total armor bonus as half plate if you have a +1 to dexterity. The great part is that if you are making your armor you can actually sell your old armor off for a profit after each upgrade.

Once you are regular full plate  is when you want to start looking into magic items. You’ll eventually want dexterity enhancements and mithral armor to maximize your armor class. That’s the armor you’ll eventually want to fully enchant. You will also want items to enhance wisdom, constitution, and strength.

As a caster it is also very important to get many pearls of power. There is no limit to how many you can have beyond the gold you can spend on them so they are essential for any spell based character. Consider a lot of first level ones when you are well off so you can cast cure light wounds many times per day. It’s a great way to ensure your party never goes into encounters missing health.

Beyond that just go through the list of wondrous items and see what appeals to you. There are a lot of items in there like cloak of resistance that are good for almost everyone.

Conclusion

I hope you have found this guide helpful. As I said earlier, this guide isn’t necessarily for you to copy the build but more to show you a good build that with some slight tweaks based of your roleplay, you can really make your own. Please feel free to ask questions of make suggestions in the comments section. Let me know if there are any specific classes or races you’d like to see a build for next.

References

All information for this guide can be found at:

  1. *Player’s Handbook 3.5
  2. www.d20srd.org

Character sheet formula and point-buy calculator can be found at:

www.myth-weavers.com