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J.C. Smith's Cleric Guide
Clerics are the most powerful healers in all of Norrath. Clerics are the best class in the game at healing and buffing other players. The ability to cure diseases and protect players from other dangers is their prime domain. Clerics are the only class in the game who can ressurect the dead to 96% of experience lost ( Paladins get a 90% res, necromancers a 93% res with an expensive regent ). They can banish undead with their mighty spells that can rival those of a wizard. When it is all said and done every party is always in need of a cleric.
Starting a Cleric
That having been said if you are considering a cleric you will need to know a few things up front. Do not be caught up by the fact that clerics can wear platemail and wield ogre war mauls. If your primary reason for considering a cleric is because you believe they can fight well and also cast spells then get that idea out of your mind right away. In Everquest clerics are not very strong on the melee side of things. At lower levels(1-12) you may be able to stand toe to toe with your enemies healing yourself and getting away with it. However at higher levels the life of a cleric is one of a healer. Your duty in a group will be to heal, buff, and god forbid ressurect your team members. If this sounds like your kind of fun then a cleric is definately for you. If it does not excite you then you will probably be better off with another class.
Clerics can don most armor up to and including platemail and they can use most blunt weapons. This makes them the best suited of the pure casters and priest classes when it comes to meelee. However cleric weapon skills only go up at a rate of 4 points per level in comparison to 5 points per level for a true meelee class. In addition to this clerics only gain one defensive skill that being dodge(at level 15). Clerics dodging skill maxes out at Very Good where a meelee classes dodging skill can raise much higher. In addition meelee classes gain parry, riposte and disarm. Meelee classes also receive double attack and in some cases dual wield, bash, slam and kick. This means that while clerics can fill in as a tank at higher levels they will not be able to actually meelee anything blue to death(unless they have a couple people healing and rooting for them and a lot of time to spare). This is not only a problem with clerics and combat but with all other casters other than hybrids.
The ability to don powerful armor such as platemail is definately a plus but it also makes decisions tough on a cleric. Plate armor is extremely expensive. Clerics are the only non-hybrid casting class which has to not only buy spells but also has to save money up for plate mail at the higher levels. This can make a clerics life one of poverty.
As with all other priest classes clerics gain the channeling skill at level 4. Channeling allows you to regain your concentration and continue casting a spell if you have been hit in the middle of casting your spell. This does not always work and will work very seldomly at first. However it is a great skill and will save your life more than once at higher levels. It is important to remember to train at least one point in this skill after you reach level 4.
Clerics also gain meditate at level 8. Once you get meditate your life will be much easier as you will have less downtime waiting to regain your mana. It is important to remember to train at least 1 point into meditation once you hit level 8 so you can begin practicing this great skill.
The last skill which clerics attain is specialization at level 30. Specialization allows you to specialize in a particular school of magic. For example you can specialize in Evocation and be more powerful using your offensive spells. Most clerics will choose to specialize in Alteration or Abjuration which will allow them to be more efficient with their healing and buffing spells.
Enough of this boring stuff let's get to the spell breakdown:
Clerics are the most powerful healers in the game. They generally get their healing spells one circle before other priest classes. Meaning that while druids and shamans must wait until level 19 to get the heal spell clerics will gain that spell at level 14. Clerics are also the only class in the game that gets the complete heal spell at level 34. This spell will be very important for fighting the highest level(45+) mobs in the game as it is the only spell or ability in the game that can heal a warrior completely at those levels.
Clerics buffing spells are also very powerful. The main strength of a clerics buffing spells is the fact that there are three different lines that can be stacked. The courage->center->daring->etc line of spells adds both armor class and hit points. The holy armor->spirit armor->etc line of spells adds armor class. There is also a third line of spells the symbol of transal line of spells which grants additional hit points though this line requires a spell component. With the combination of these three buffs a cleric can buff a player to extremely high statistics that are unattainable with the buffs of any other class.
Clerics have a very useful line of spells that begins with divine aura(at level 1). These spells grant the cleric total invulnerability for a brief period of time. I cannot tell you how many times these spells have saved my tail. This spell not only can be used for self evasion but also will allow you to remain confident in your ability to stay behind and heal your party members making sure that they all get out because you know that you can divine if things get bad. The higher level versions of this spell(including the level 29 divine barrier) not only render you invulnerable but also regenerate your hit points and stamina.
Clerics also feature a calming line of spells. These spells can be very useful inside of dungeons. Clerics never receive invisibility versus normal monsters(though at level 14 they do get invisibility to undead) but calm spells can be used as a substitute to invisibility if used carefully. Calm can also be used to limit the number of monsters that your group will have to face. Say for example you come up against 3 different monsters and your group has no chance of defeating all three. You could calm two of them and then pull the third out with a spell. Your group will now only have to fight one monster at a time. Be careful with these spells however becauase if the monster resists he will be very angry and will charge straight for you.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide clerics are the only class in the game which can raise the dead. At level 29 clerics gain revive which basically teleports a player back to his corpse saving him a lot of travel time and potential danger. The level 39 and level 49 variants of the spell not only teleport the player to his corpse but also restore a portion of the experience that the player lost upon death. This is the one line of spells that truly gives clerics their own identity.
Clerics are also mighty warriors against undead foes. Clerics offensive spells versus undead are by far the most powerful versus these beasts at the early levels. Necromancers also get these same spells but not until a circle after the clerics. Undead are plentiful in the game and frequent many dungeons including Befallen, Najena, Unrest, and The Ruins Of Old Guk. If powerleveling is your game then you will be happy with a cleric if you stick to undead dungeons. At higher levels(24+) wizard spells begin to become just as efficient versus everything as clerics are versus undead. They never become more efficient than cleric spells they do however has a faster recast time. This means that clerics at higher levels will still be better than every other casters versus undead other than wizards and they will be close to them.
Verus non-undead monsters cleric offensive spells could use a lot of help. There are three different lines of spells that work on all monsters.
First there is the stun->holy might line of spells which stun your opponent for a brief period of time and do a small amount of damage. These spells are only really useful versus casters or runners and then they are only useful in a group. They have a long recast delay which limits their usefulness.
The second line of offensive spells is the word of pain->shadow line of spells. These are person based area effect spells. Word of pain may allow you to take out low blues when you first receive it at level 9 however after that these spells are only really good for clearing hall trash. Only time you can actually use these spells to kill blue monsters is if you have several clerics all casting the same spells.
The third line of offensive spells are the only ones that are really useful. This is the strike->smite->wrath->etc line of spells. These spells are the only thing that allows a cleric to be able to solo anything blue(non undead) post level 20. These spells have a pretty bad damage:mana ratio in comparison to the spells that other classes receive. They also briefly stun your opponent. One problem is not only the bad damage ratio but also the fact that they have a long recast delay. But by far the biggest problem with this line of spells is that they are few and far between. For example strike is totally useless around level 6 or so, smite becomes useless in the low 20s, and wrath is totally useless by around level 40. That having been said you will still be glad to have these spells as they do allow you to stand some kind of a chance against your foes and also are great for cleaning up running prey.
One other glaring weakness in the cleric line of spells is the lack of utility spells. Clerics basically have two utility spells at their disposal. The first is the reckless strength line of spells. These spells are somewhat useful but they pale in comparison the a shamans spells. The second is the invigore line of spells which restore a players stamina. While this is useful you rarely have the extra mana to spend in a battle on restoring ones stamina.
Now let's assume your convinced that you want to be a cleric. What race should you choose? As always I feel that race is purely a matter of personal playing style but some races are more suited for the task than others. My personal favorite pick would be a Dwarf. Dwarven clerics are good for several reasons. They have naturally high strength, stamina, and wisdom which are very important statistics for a cleric. The glaring weakness of a dwarven cleric lies in his agility. I would recommend you pour most of your training points into agility and give it at least a score of 80. Spread the rest between strength or wisdom.
All in all I feel that clerics are a very good class and one that is necessary in this game. There will always be a place for you in any group. However don't be surprised if at higher levels you become nothing more than a band aid. You will spend the majority of your time with your nose in the spellbook trying to meditate for mana. This is a challenge in itself as you try to balance the amount of mana at your disposal with a players need to get healed. It will take careful timing to get the most out of your mana and not waste any, all the while you may have some panicked tanks. If this is your idea of fun and challenge then a cleric is the class for you. If you would rathe be the disher of punishment then perhaps you should choose another class.