The devout one
A scream echoes through the hills, “He is fallen, a hero haves fallen”. With a lightning pace a man in lightly coloured robes runs across the field, falling to his knees just before a bloody dwarf. The man in robes chants as he waves his hands, almost in a trance and within moments the dwarfs eyes open and he smiles.”
The Cleric is such a powerful class some actually believe it is cheating to take the class and use its full potential. The class can use any armour in the game except the tower shield, and gains a respectable d8 hit points. Add to this a few spells to increase ones combat skills the cleric become one of the most powerful non-warrior’s in hand to hand combat. Then the cleric gains bonuses based on their two domains and, of course, the famed healing of the cleric. Both inside and outside of combat the cleric haves spells and domain special abilities that make the cleric, all-around great character to play. Both as a fun character and a very powerful character. There is never a shortage of what a cleric can do, even in groups with multiple clerics.
Even though I do believe the cleric to be the most powerful all-round character out of the core classes I would not go as far as to say it is too powerful. the cleric may be a decent warrior, but is still not as good as any of the warrior classes. They only get middle of the ground base attack and are limited to only simple weapons, the second worse weapon selection in the game. Also, even though they can gain some great bonuses from their domains, the selection of domains are limited by both alignment and deity.
It is out of combat with skills where clerics really see their biggest weakness. They have a limited selection of skills and only gain 2 skills per level. This is worsened by the fact most clerics are not able to take a very high intelligence. This is probably why the cleric seems more powerful than it really is. Most players will determine the power of class solely based on combat and will rarely looks at skills and even more rarely looks at number of skills gained.
The cleric haves always been one of my favorite and most played classes. This is true both within Dungeons & Dragons and in other similar games, both tabletop pencil and paper games and video games. I really enjoy role-playing the image of a cleric, which is very diverse. Unlike the Barbarian, monk, or bard, the cleric is a very loose character image. You could create a cleric to look and act like a fighter in full armour or you could make a scholar who is devoted to the pursuit to knowledge without any trouble. Also, it is really nice tobe able to easily create a cleric that can survive the game well; even within the toughest campaigns.
With the diversity of the class the cleric is one of the easiest classes to play without multi-classing. It takes only a single feat to allow the cleric to wield a bastard sword in one hand or a great sword in two hands giving him/her one of the most powerful melee-weapons in the game. I suggest focusing on improving the clerics weak points when creating a true cleric. Make sure you pick the cleric’s skills wisely and do not shy away from cross-class skills. If you are able to, add a little more to the clerics intelligence so they can gain a few extra skills and choosing human helps gain extra skills as well. Of course, choosing an elf cleric will save on needing a feat to be able to wield a sword or a bow as they get those feats for free.
I am a huge fan of multi-classing and even though I find the cleric one of the easier classes to take alone I still always mix the cleric with another class, but with how diverse the class is I always only add 1 level of another class. I find adding one level of a warrior class in particular adds an amazing amount to the cleric. Far much more than what is lost from a single cleric level. My favourite two to add is fighter or ranger. Both give the full warrior range of weapons and a nice +1 base attack bonus. The fighter also gives a very nice free feat, better access to six additional skills, +2 to fort save, and a little more hit points as well. Even better is the ranger which I like to take at first level then move up the rest in Cleric. This gives considerable more skills as well as access, via wands, to Ranger specific spells, gives a favoured enemy, track, wild empathy, and if you take a 2nd level of ranger a free combat style. the paladin is another great and obvious class to mix with the cleric, but personally I had few chances to take the paladin with the people I played with. As a note, to add only a single level or two of a warrior and add cleric without penalty you need a human or half-elf or a Dwarf with a fighter.
When selecting spells try to select a good balance between spells that help outside of combat (like purify food/water), combat offensive spells (i.e. magic stone), and combat defensive spells (i.e. shield other). There is no need to focus on healing spells as long as you have a good cleric with spontaneous casting.