Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Class Struggles

When a party wants healing, few look beyond the cleric for their needs. There is, however, a better alternative: the healer. First introduced in the Miniatures Handbook, the healer is a divine spellcaster utterly dedicated to the art of healing, surpassing even the cleric in their ability to nurse the wounded back to a full recovery. This dedication means specialization, leaving the healer without the knowledge of any traditional combat skills or offensive spells.

Healer Strengths

  • High Fortitude and Will saves
  • Access to several healing and restorative spell-like abilities
  • Ability to heal more damage with cure spells than any other class
  • Ability to cast healing spells without provoking attacks of opportunity
  • Access to a powerful celestial unicorn companion
  • Ability to cast more spells per day than a traditional spellcasting class

Healer Weaknesses

  • Low Reflex saves
  • Low Base Attack bonus
  • Inability to wear metallic armor
  • Only has proficiency with simple weapons
  • Spell selection is extremely limited

Playing a Healer
Healers are the ultimate support characters. They possess little in the way of offensive or defensive abilities and instead, focus all of their abilities into healing those around them.

Healers belong to a small group of classes, made up of heavily-specialized spellcasters (other examples include the warmage, who focuses on conjuration and evocation magic, the dread necromancer, who focuses on necromancy and the beguiler, who focuses on illusion and enchantment magic). Like these other classes, healers have the ability to cast more spells per day than traditional spellcasters (such as wizards or clerics), but in exchange, they are limited to an extremely small list of spells.

It should not come as a surprise that most of the healer's spells focus on healing or removing status effects. Most of their other spells focus on providing creature comforts (such as create food and water), communication (such as speak with animals), protection (such as holy aura) and other, similar, non-offensive abilities.

The healer benefits the most when casting a spell that heals damage. They possess abilities that allow them to do so without provoking an attack of opportunity, as well as the ability to add their Charisma modifier to the amount of damage healed by such spells. This combination makes them extremely potent.

In addition to their magic, they also learn a series of nine different supernatural abilities, all but one useable once per day, that allow them to heal various status effects, such as poisoning or disease, or even to bring the dead back to life. This provides the healer with certain 'guaranteed' healing abilities that they can use to help heal several common maladies, even if they haven't prepared the appropriate spell to do so.

For all their support abilities however, healers have little in the way of defense or offense. They can't wear metal armor or carry shields without losing most of their class features, much like a druid. This makes them a very vulnerable target in combat. In addition, they possess little in the way of weapon proficiencies, which is coupled with a low Base Attack bonus, making them about as effective in melee combat as the average wizard.

Fortunately, a moderate-level healer can summon a celestial unicorn companion once a day, much like a paladin can summon a special mount. A clever healer can take advantage of this powerful companion to provide them with a measure of protection. Many healers may find it advantageous to build their feats around mounted combat in order to maximize the potential of their companions.

Race Suggestions
Healers require both a high Wisdom as well as a fairly decent Charisma score in order to make the most from their spellcasting.

Humans make fairly decent healers. The bonus feat and skill points at 1st level can be used to provide the healer with extra abilities that give the class an extra kick early in the game. Feats like Augment Healing or Spontaneous Healer can be invaluable to an early-level character.

Elves benefit from an increased Dexterity score, which in turn improves their Armor Class, something that's extremely important to the fairly fragile healer. In addition, the elf's weapon proficiencies allow a healer extra options for when they need to engage in combat and their bonuses against enchantment spells help them to function in the face of magically-based adversity.

Halfling healers benefit from higher Dexterity scores like their elven counterparts, but also possess a higher armor class by virtue of being small-sized. The halfling's bonus to saving throws keeps the character from succumbing to danger. This race's proficiency with thrown weapons means that a halfling healer will likely be using a sling as their weapon of choice, allowing them to stay out of pitched battle.

Although aasimars (Races of Destiny) have a level adjustment, they also possess higher Wisdom and Charisma scores, both critical to a healer's abilities. In addition, their energy resistances can help the character to survive attacks ranging from simple spells to breath weapons. These benefits can make the pain of having to deal with a level adjustment much more bearable.

Rare good-aligned spikers (Planar Handbook) may take up the mantle of the healer. These characters are hardier than other healers thanks to their damage reduction and natural armor and energy resistance, and their natural armor spikes can come in very handy as a weapon of last-resort. The spiker's ineptitude with armor might cause some problems, but thankfully the healer's reliance on light, non-metallic armor helps to minimize any issues.

The extremely lawful, martial society of the skarns (Magic of Incarnum) likely sees value in training healers to augment their armies. Skarn healers are much more aggressive than those of other races, and use their arm spines as their primary weapons. These kinds of characters will likely learn to bind soulmelds, either through multiclassing as a soulborn or incarnate or through feats in order to augment their powers, and further improve their arm spines.

Spellscales (Races of the Dragon) make excellent healers. Their higher Charisma scores allow them to better heal their allies and their blood quickening ability allows them to get temporary use of several useful metamagic feats like Empower Spell. In addition, healers who take the Bahamut quickening make excellent combatants against the undead, as they can harm such creatures with a powerful cure spell and deal additional bonus damage thanks to the ability.

Feat Suggestions
Healers can branch off in several directions, focusing on healing, on their unicorn companion or even on their supernatural abilities. With such diverse options available, every healer can become quite unique despite having a somewhat restricted class.

Giddy Up!
Healers may want to begin focusing on mounted combat early in their careers. Those that do can ride mundane horses with ease and be well prepared when they finally receive their unicorn companion. Despite the fact that Ride is not a class skill for the healer, they can easily meet prerequisites for Mounted Combat by first level. This opens the door to a wide range of feats such as Mounted Archery, Mounted Casting (Miniatures Handbook) and Mounted Mobility (Heroes of Battle).

Heelz Pls
Healers focus on healing, so they should consider feats that allow them to expand on their ability to heal. Augment Healing (Complete Divine) allows the healer to cure more damage with each spell, and can easily augment the character's healing hands ability. Characters who want to prepare for any eventuality may want to take the Spontaneous Healer feat (also Complete Divine). This feat allows the character to spontaneously cast cure spells like a cleric for a limited number of times per day.

Mitigate Suffering (Complete Champion) can allow your character to temporarily treat ability point damage, but more likely than not, you'll have the spells required to cure this kind of damage on a permanent basis ready at your disposal. Although this may seem like a good choice at first, it's more likely than not, unnecessary for your character. Similar advice can be given for the Touch of Healing feat from the same book: the healer simply has enough access to healing magic to make this feat less attractive than it would be to other characters.

Be the Arrow
Healers who want to focus on their archery might want to consider the Zen Archery feat (Complete Warrior). This will allow them to use their Wisdom modifiers instead of their Dexterity modifiers when making attack rolls. Since the healer will likely have a higher Wisdom, this will give them a measure of offensive power, allowing them to overcome their low Base Attack bonus somewhat.

Extra Non-Spell Power
The Extra Divine Power feat (Dragon #343) can be applied to most of the healer's supernatural abilities (with the exception of New Life), allowing them to use the ability one more time per day. This can allow the healer to free up their spell preparation in regards to spells like neutralize poison, allowing them to focus on other spells.

In addition, the Domain feats (Complete Champion) can also be extremely useful, providing the healer with any number of interesting new abilities. Protection Devotion is one particularly useful feat, but most of these feats can be used quite effectively.

Multiclass Suggestions
Some of the better choices for multiclassing with healer take advantage of the character's access to a celestial unicorn companion. The paladin is one example of a good option. In addition to the character's higher base attack bonus, the paladin possesses several abilities that are Charisma-based (such as lay on hands and turn undead), which work well with the typical high-Charisma healer. One problem with such a build is that the paladin's special companion levels do not stack with the healer's unicorn companion ability, effectively giving such a character a second, less effective mount. Characters who choose this route, will likely want to take the Knight Training feat (Eberron Campaign Setting) in order to remove the paladin's multiclassing restrictions.

A better option is the knight (Player's Handbook II). Since the healer cannot use shields without jeopardizing their spellcasting, the knight's shield block ability is incompatible. The ability to issue challenges, and the knight's focus on mounted combat is enough to make up for that loss.

Healers who want to get an extra measure of defense should consider multiclassing as a monk. Although this choice will probably require taking the Monastic Training feat (Eberron Campaign Setting) in order to freely level as both classes, the benefits are great. The monk's unarmored armor class bonus greatly benefits the normally vulnerable healer. In addition, the monk's speed bonus allows the character to move quickly across the battlefield to dispense aid. Enemies can be dispatched with unarmed strikes and very effective stunning attacks, but this combination has a very low base attack bonus, and likely will not be a powerhouse in combat.

Psionic classes tend to mesh fairly well with the healer. Characters who take levels in psychic warrior (Expanded Psionics Handbook) benefit from a small number of combat-oriented psionic powers augmented by a number of bonus feats. More support-oriented characters will find value in the divine mind class (Complete Psionic). These characters benefit not only themselves, but their allies by gaining access to a number of psychic mantles and accompanying auras. While this combination will rarely provide anything approaching strong psionic powers, the number of mantles and auras they possess can be increased easily through feat selection.

The dragon shaman (Player's Handbook II) provides healer characters with breath weapons, auras and a number of powerful abilities. Healers will be particular interested in the vigor aura that provides characters with a measure of fast healing and the touch of vitality ability that acts as a more versatile version of the paladin's lay on hands. Healers who take levels as dragon shamans often revere gold dragons.

Healers who wish to become the party leader may want to consider multiclassing as marshals (Miniatures Handbook). In addition to two kinds of beneficial auras, much like the ones granted by the dragon shaman and divine mind (see above), this class also provides the power to bestow extra move actions to allies, allowing characters in need to come to you for healing instead of waiting for you to get to them.

Prestige Class Suggestions
Healers occupy a bit of a strange position when it comes to prestige classes. They are divine spellcasters, but lack either the ability to turn or rebuke undead or wild shape, which are required by many prestige classes that would otherwise benefit this class. Other classes like favored soul and archivist also possess this problem. Luckily, there are still some excellent options available for your next healer character.

Combat Medic (Heroes of Battle) - The combat medic is probably the only prestige class custom-tailored for the healer. The class provides protection in the form of increased Reflex saving throws, in improved ability to cast defensively and the evasion ability. Their healing arts become improved with a series of 'kickers': special bonuses that can be applied automatically to the beneficiaries of a cure spell such as a sanctuary effect. They also learn the ability to spontaneously cast heal, allowing the healer to memorize other higher-level spells without fear of being caught unprepared.

Contemplative (Complete Divine) - Healers can meet most of the mechanical prerequisites for the contemplative fairly easily. What they receive in return is access to several abilities that make the character much hardier, including spell resistance and immunity to poison and disease. The most important aspect of this class is access to cleric domains. With good selection, this will allow the healer to access up to 18 spells not normally on their limited spell list. This can include offensive magic, such as many of the spells in the Cold, Fire, Sun or War domains, providing the character with a much larger degree of versatility.

Divine Disciple (Player's Guide to Faerûn) - The rather generic divine disciple class can be very useful to a healer. Some of the features the class provides, such as the ability to communicate telepathically with outsiders is of little practical value in most situations. The ability to use imbue with spell ability as a spell-like ability as well as the bonus cleric domain the class provides may make this worth a second look.

Hospitaler (Complete Divine) - More martial-minded healers will want to consider the hospitaler. The class provides many of the more useful paladin abilities, such as a high Base Attack bonus and lay on hands. For healers who are looking to specialize in mounted combat, this class will probably be one of the more attractive options, but it possesses some multiclassing restrictions that may provide complications.

Lord of Tides (Sandstorm) - The desert-focused lord of tides prestige class is by no means something that should be restricted to the wastes. Healers from all over the world can benefit from the ability to burrow, summon elementals or travel to the inner planes. The ability to deal desiccation damage to enemies in order to create temporary mephit allies makes this a very potent class for any healer who wants to be able to punish any enemy who dares to threaten their allies.

Mystic Wanderer (Magic of Faerûn) - Although healers will need to take a few ranks in Perform (a cross-class skill for them), this class is remarkably easy for them to meet the prerequisites for. In addition to an unarmored armor class bonus, mystic wanderers possess several spell-like abilities to help them to manipulate enemies, bonus item creation feats, a familiar and the ability to create arcane spell-based potions. In addition, they will receive increased Reflex saving throw bonuses and full spellcasting increases at each level.

New Material
Below are presented three new feats and an alternative class feature for the healer class. Each open up new avenues and new options for healer characters and allow them to branch out into new directions.

New Feats

Anathema to Undeath [General]
Your skills with positive energy have increased to the point where you can channel it in ways that disrupt or confuse undead creatures.
    Prerequisites: Healing hands, knowledge (religion) 4 ranks.
    Benefit: You can channel stored spell energy into spells that disrupt the negative energy that empowers undead creatures, even if you did not prepare these spells ahead of time. You can "lose" any prepared spell in order to cast any of the spells that appear on the list below, as long as the spell to be cast is an equal or lower level spell to the one you lose. You may only lose spells that you prepared as a healer, not those that you may have by virtue of levels in another class.
    Spells you can spontaneous cast when using this feat include: 1st - hide from undead; 2nd - consecrate; 3rd - daylight; 4th - death ward; 5th - hallow; and 6th - undeath to death.

Devoted Medic [General]
Your pursuit of justice has become tempered by your devotion towards life, allowing you to better heal others and providing you with a more powerful companion.
    Prerequisites: Healing hands, smite evil.
    Benefit: Your healer and paladin levels stack for the purpose of determining how much damage you can heal each day with your lay on hands class ability. For example, a 4th-level healer / 4th-level paladin can use lay on hands as if they were an 8th-level paladin.
    You no longer gain the ability to summon a special companion as a paladin, but your levels of paladin and healer stack for determining when you receive the ability to summon a unicorn companion and for determining your unicorn companion's special abilities. For example, a 4th-level healer / 4th-level paladin can summon a unicorn companion as if they were an 8th-level healer and it possesses all the bonus hit dice, natural armor bonuses, ability score adjustments and special abilities that a unicorn companion possessed by an 8th-level healer would benefit from.
    In addition, you can multiclass freely between the healer and paladin classes. You must still retain a lawful good alignment to utilize your paladin abilities and to take paladin levels. You still face the normal experience penalties for having multiple classes more than one level apart.

Extra Healing Hands [General]
Your knack with healing wounds allows you to more effectively tend to the injured and dying.
    Prerequisites: Healer level 4th.
    Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus on your healing hands ability, plus an additional +1 bonus per four healer levels. For instance, an 8th level healer with an 18 Charisma gets a +7 bonus on the damage healed by any spell that heals hit point damage.

New Alternate Class Feature

Battle-Ready Healer
Most healers are bound by oaths. In exchange for making themselves vulnerable to attack, they gain unparalleled healing abilities. You however, have a need to push yourself into the thick of combat and have found that a little extra protection more than makes up for the loss of some of your powers. Other healers might think of you as uncouth, maybe even barbaric, but you prefer to think of yourself as prepared.
    Class: Healer.
    Level: 1st.
    Replaces: You do not gain the healing hands class feature normally acquired at 1st level.
    Benefit: Your oaths restricting what armor you can wear are relaxed somewhat, and you can now bare a shield without losing access to any of your healer class abilities. In order to take advantage of this ability, you gain proficiency with all shields (except tower shields).
    You also gain the Martial Weapon Proficiency feat for a melee weapon of your choice, as well as the Weapon Focus feat for that same weapon.

Did you like this article? Then try:

Bookmark and Share