A basic build choice for any character is the character type and number of each multiclass. Fortunately, for a caster cleric this choice is governed by a very simple rule: needs more cleric.
A caster cleric needs at least 35 cleric levels before level 40, and the main choices are 35, 36, 37, 38 or 40 cleric levels. You then use the remaining levels after all cleric levels are taken on one or more minor multiclasses. After level 40, you need to take either 9 or 10 mythic cleric levels. This will be covered in more detail in the mythic feats section.
- 1 Why you need at least 35 cleric levels
- 2 Multi classing options
- 2.1 More Cleric
- 2.2 Minor Multiclasses
- 3 When to multiclass
- 4 Example class allocations
Why you need at least 35 cleric levels
There are two main reasons why you need at least 35 cleric levels:
- Spell penetration
- Number of bonus feats
As a caster, you will be relying on spells to do the majority of your damage. Therefore, it is critical to ensure your spells will not bounce off enemy spell resistance. Spell penetration is based on how many base caster levels you have, which in this case is cleric. Having at least 35 cleric levels will give you the level of spell penetration you need without needing to resort to feats.
Number of bonus feats
Clerics get a bonus feat for every three cleric levels above level 20. These bonus feats are in addition to ordinary feats, and will give you access to most caster feats you could want. Therefore, clerics get a bonus feat for cleric levels 23, 26, 29, 32, 35, 38, 41, 44, 47 and 50. As we will cover in the feats section, caster clerics need a lot of bonus feats to work properly. The only way you will get these feats is by taking at least 35 cleric levels before level 40.
Multi classing options
Once you have taken 35 cleric levels, you then have several multi-classing options. These are, generally:
- More cleric
- Minor multiclasses
Understanding the multiclassing options is quite important to getting the most out of your caster cleric, so it pays to make sure you understand this section before designing the character. Multiclassing is also one of the main areas where caster clerics get some individuality, as their hefty feat requirements means most of their feat choices are set in stone.
The first multiclassing choice you have is whether you want to take more than the minimum 35 cleric levels. In general, the main thing going for only 35 cleric levels is enhanced melee abilities.
If you take four fighter-type class levels (Paladin or Warpriest) before level 20, you will get a higher base attack bonus and extra attack without needing to rely on the Divine Power spell. Since this build will be going for enhanced melee abilities, generally they will want to go for four Paladin or Warpriest levels before 20 and 1 monk at level 37 to maximise tumble skill and gain access to kama attacks. They will also want to start with 14 strength.
This can be a good option as caster clerics will use their melee attacks quite a lot to supplement their spells. However, in doing so you will also lose out on some of the benefits to be had by other options.
It is also unclear as to whether such a focus on melee is really necessary. Caster clerics are a crowd control based caster and so most of the time you will be attacking opponents that are either blinded or stunned. By stunning the enemy first you get a large bonus to melee attacks, so most caster clerics won’t need a naturally high attack bonus (my caster cleric with only 8 strength and no extra melee feats apart from monk can hit mythic melee opponents after she has stunned them). Because of this consideration, I generally don’t recommend taking only 35 cleric levels, and see the more cleric options as better.
Another drawback is if you get to level 40 with only 35 cleric levels, your bonus mythic feats will come late at 43, 46 and 49, which will be harder to get.
36 Cleric Before Level 40
The 36 cleric option is a good choice for those who want the Monk Speed feat from multiclassing into 3 monk. 36 cleric levels allows you to take 3 monk for the speed boost, then take one other class for other bonuses such as rogue or warpriest. Monk Speed is a highly useful feat for two reasons:
- Less travel downtime
Kiting is the act of getting enemies to chase you without being able to hit you. Caster clerics usually kite if they want to round enemies up into area of effect spells, such as Blade Barrier or Creeping Doom.
Less travel downtime refers to the time you spend between fights running to the next fight. Reducing this time is important for caster clerics because at high levels you will be relying on several short duration buffs, such as Aura Against Alignment, Immortality, and maybe Undeath’s Eternal Foe. You want to ensure these buffs are active for fights, and not wasted away travelling.
Monk Speed also helps marginally for getting into healing range in a party, however this is fairly negligible.
Of course, you can take 35 cleric levels and still take 3 monk. However, the reason this is not really done is that there is really no multiclass that provides good benefits at level 2. Both rogue and warpriest provide their biggest benefits at first level. In this case, the extra spell duration and spell penetration of the 36th cleric level is better.
Taking 36 cleric levels also means that you will get bonus cleric mythic feats at levels 42, 45 and 48. Taking only 35 cleric levels means these bonus feats come at 43, 46 and 49. Obviously the requirements for level 45 are easier than 46, so this can help your character get the most mythic feats more quickly.
37 Cleric Before Level 40
Like 36 cleric, but swapping extra multiclassing for an extra mythic feat. By stopping at 37 cleric levels before level 40, you ensure that your bonus mythic feats fall on 41, 44, 47 and 50. However, in doing so you do give up multiclassing options. If you want monk speed, you are then limited to just being a cleric/monk, since you cannot take an extra class in mythic levels. If you want two multiclasses, you cannot take monk speed, since monk speed cannot be taken in mythic levels.
38 Cleric before level 40
Taking 38 cleric will give up multiclassing options for an extra epic feat. Unlike the level 37 cleric, the level 38 cleric will only get three bonus mythic feats. However, they will get an extra epic feat before 40, so will for example be able to take epic heal.
Like the 35 cleric option, a major drawback to this choice is that your bonus mythic feats will fall on 43, 46 and 49, all harder to get than the other more cleric options which have bonus feats falling on far more sensible mythic levels.
Therefore, only take 38 cleric levels before 40 if you really want that extra epic feat before 40.
Taking 40 cleric levels form 1 to 40 takes the caster cleric idea to its ultimate conclusion. A major drawback to this choice is you get no multiclassing. However, an advantage is you get both a bonus epic feat for hitting 38 before 40, and just like 37 cleric, you get a bonus mythic feat for having your bonus cleric feats falling on 41, 44, 47 and 50.
The 40 cleric will also have one higher DC than all other clerics, as DC increases one point for every five levels.
The no multiclassing is a big drawback, however, and you are giving up free multiclass feats for an extra epic and mythic feat. You also lose substantial melee abilities because of this. It all comes down to whether you have a good plan for those two feats, as you are sacrificing a lot for them.
There are several classes that can provide substantial benefits from only one, two or three levels. These can be taken in the build to provide additional capabilities, like extra melee abilities, extra skills, extra speed or extra buffs.
Monk - melee and speed multiclass
A monk multiclass is highly useful. The two main benefits of monk are the use of kamas for melee attacks, and monk speed.
With a kama, your caster cleric will get many attacks per round, and will get access to the Flurry of Blows feat for one more. This high number of attacks helps greatly with making your melee attacks a viable source of damage. The usual melee tactic for a caster cleric is to use a crowd control spell like Darkness, Word of Faith or Storm of Vengeance, then just swing wildly at the stunned enemy. The crowd control effect will ensure that most of the many attacks hit, resulting in a lot of melee damage for a caster.
Monk is also very useful for the evasion feat, for dodging your own blade barriers. The benefits of monk speed were also discussed in the More Cleric section. All in all, monk is a great multiclass option, although it limits your alignment to lawful.
You should take either one monk level for the melee and evasion bounses, or three monk levels for these plus monk speed.
Rogue - skill multiclass
Rogue is good for a skillful cleric, and those who want to use a Thieves Hood for knockdown immunity. If you take rogue at level 39 you can do a massive 100 point skill dump into rogue skills. This lets you do all sorts of things; like open locks, disarm traps and haggle with merchants. The thieves hood, if you have it, is also a very good option as it frees up your boots slot for Superlative Insight Boots. Rogues also get rogue weapon proficiency, which lets you use shortswords and shortbows.
A rogue can also take use magic device, but this is not really necessary unless you have an urge to use a sorcerer or druid staff, or arcane archer arrows. You will need to take 12 or 14 starting intelligence and have a Thieves Hood to get the most benefit out of Rogue.
Most benefits of rogue can be had for only one level at character level 39. If your character build gets the maximum number of mythic feats from 9 cleric levels and not 10, you can also consider a further rogue level at level 49 or 50 to maximise skills.
Paladin - saving throw multiclass
The main reason for taking Paladin is the Divine Grace feat at level 1 that adds your charisma modifier to your saving throws. With two Paladin levels, you also become immune to fear. The class doesn’t really do much else, though does give a free martial weapon proficiency, which can be good for using a longbow. Paladins also get taunt, which can be a nice melee boost.
Paladin either works best as a single level late in the build to maximise taunt, or by taking four paladin before 20 to get better melee attacks. Paladin is not really quite as good as Warpriest for a caster cleric if you are looking for a fighter class option, though.
Warpriest - buff multiclass
Warpriest is a fine option for a caster cleric if you want a multiclass that just takes one level. The main feat is War Glory at level 1, which adds +1 to attack bonus of all allies, and -1 to enemy saving throws around the War Priest. This is basically a free +1 to your spell DC, and a small party buff.
Like paladin, warpriests also get taunt for extra melee ability, and this can be a decent combat skill to have lying around.
Taking 2 levels of Warpriest will also give you an extra caster level. So 35 cleric, 3 monk and 2 Warpriest is the same as 36 cleric, 3 monk and 1 Warpriest, but with 2 more hitpoints and the ability to take taunt as a class skill. However, be aware that the restrictions on bonus cleric feats will still apply if you do this, so you will get bonus mythic feats at 43, 46 and 49 rather than 42, 45 and 48.
Like paladin, warpriest works best as a single level just before 40, or four levels before 20 to maximise melee.
Shadowdancer - Hide multiclass
Taking a level of Shadowdancer gives access to the Hide in Plain Sight feat. This can be useful, though the character needs some prerequisites not often taken on a caster cleric. They need dexterity 13 and the feats Dodge and Mobility. Getting these feats will take up the two spare feats you have before level 20, and the high starting dexterity will take away from other attributes such as strength or intelligence. However, if you really want hide in plain sight, a 38 cleric/1 monk/1 shadowdancer build isn't too bad.
When to multiclass
You should only multiclass late in the build, unless you are taking 4 paladin or warpriest before level 20 to get better melee attacks. Otherwise, most multiclasses should be taken at level 37 at the earliest. The only exception is you can take a monk level in the 20's if you want to for a mid-level armour boost, but only if you are going to also take a class that has tumble as a class skill at 37 (monk or rogue).
Example class allocations
Some example caster cleric builds up to level 40 are:
- 36 cleric, 3 monk, 1 rogue or warpriest
- 35 cleric, 4 warpriest (taken before level 20), 1 monk
- 37 cleric, 3 monk
- 38 cleric, 1 monk, 1 rogue or warpriest
- 38 cleric, 1 monk, 1 shadowdancer
- 40 cleric
Back to Caster Clerics.