To avoid DM wrath, I decided to go drop the spiked chain concept and come up with another character. Having toyed with a dwarf character, I found that darkvision had become indispensible to me. So, I set out to make a character with darkvision.
Since I wouldn't be using the spiked chain, my only option to let my cleric fight from a distance was to go with ranged weapons. Most of the deities with ranged weapons as their favored weapon were elf deities, but elves were out because they don't have darkvision (except for drow, and I didn't want to be the guy who plays a drow). I found three non-evil deities who favored a ranged weapon: Ehlonna, goddess of nature from the Player's Handbook; Apollo, Greek god of the moon and hunting; and Uller, Norse god of archery. Any one of them would do.
Next, I had to pick a race. There are two darkvision races in the Player's Handbook: Dwarves and Half-Orcs. I didn't want to do either of these, because Orcs have a net attribute penalty, and Dwarves have a charisma penalty. I decided to do some digging and find a better race, ideally one with no Level Adjustment, and no penalty to Charisma, Wisdom, or Dexterity, since those are the three attributes I wanted to get bonuses in.
On someone's website I found a comprehensive list of D&D 3.5 player races. To my annoyance, I found that just about every race with darkvision has a charisma penalty. I guess it has to do with living underground. Other than races that only appeared in Dragon Magazine, I found only three races with darkvision and no charisma penalty: Underfolk, Dream Dwarves, and Desert Dwarves. Underfolk are semi-feral cave-dwelling humans from the Races of Destiny book, who have the substantial disadvantage of being in Dazzled when they're in bright light. Both Dream Dwarves and Desert Dwarves were out because they had Dex penalties, and I'd rather have a low Charisma than a low Dex. In case you're curious, Desert Dwarves are desert-dwelling dwarves, and Dream Dwarves are shamanistic dwarves from the Races of Stone book.
So, I accepted that a charisma penalty was unavoidable. This opened my options more, to include: All kinds of dwarves, half-orcs, goblins, deep halflings, deep gnomes, and whisper gnomes. Half-orcs and goblins have net attribute penalties. Deep gnomes and deep halflings were supposed to be rare on the surface world, so I'd have to come up with a reason they were out adventuring.
I took a liking to whisper gnomes. They're described in Races of Stone -- basically goth gnomes. Like a normal gnome, but with darkvision, a charisma penalty, a dex bonus, a 30 foot base movement, and different free spells. I could have gone with a dwarf, but I liked the idea of having a small character in order to get the AC and DC bonuses. And since we just evacuated a town full of gnomes, from an attack by an army of undead, I could say he's a refugee from that town.
So, today I put together a whisper gnome character: Wis 16, Dex 14, Cha 12, Con 10, Str 10, Int 9, cleric, worshipper of Ehlonna, specializing in the Longbow, possibly having Weapon Finesse and carrying a sickle and light mace for backup weapons.
Unexpectedly, I found that one of the advantages of small size is that you can carry more. A small character has 75% the carrying capacity of a medium character. But small armor and weapons are only 50% the weight of medium articles.
I'm still weighing other options, though. Maybe I'll go with that Spiked Chain wielder after all, and deal with the possibility of taking more heat from the enemy. Or maybe I'll go with a goblin or half-orc, and lower my Wisdom to 15. On the other hand, I'd like my new character to be Lawful, because we have too many Chaotics on our team already, so that would rule out a Half-Orc.
I'm also thinking quite a bit about doing a Favored Soul. That's a class that is to the cleric what a sorceror is to a wizard. They don't have to prepare their spells ahead of time, they have selection to only a limited subset of the spells from each level, and they get more spells per day than a cleric. The main thing that appeals is the greater number of spells per day, which seems like a fine trade-off with the limited selection because there are many spells I never have an opportunity to use. On the other hand, favored souls can't turn the undead. In our campaign, that would be a major drawback.