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August 2

Summons, Psalms, and Spirits: A Guide to the Cleric of 5e

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Clerics in D&D Fifth Edition (5e) are a class based on divine magic and the power of immense faith. If you want to play this class, our guide will help you understand how they work, the best races and feat choices, and what they're all about!


A young dwarf hammers away at a lump of crimson-hot metal, uttering a word of prayer with every slam of his tool. An orc, murmuring growls under her breath, flays her latest kill, before gleaning insight from the beast's entrails. A young girl, exhausted and triumphant, stands atop the world's tallest peak and shouts a word of gratitude to her gods standing above her.

The Cleric is a person of immense faith and strength, able to cast their belief into powerful spells, wield weapons chosen by their gods, and even hold sway over reality itself at higher levels.

The Cleric also comes bundled with a ton of subclasses to sift through, as well as one of the largest spell lists in the game. Combined with varying proficiencies, skill sets, and entire pantheons to choose from, the Cleric is one of the most complex classes to grace the pages of 5e.

With this guide, we'll help you make sense of this class and add the power of Heaven and Hell - and all spots in between - into your arsenal!



Introduction to the Cleric

The Cleric is a class that is often referred to as a "Healer", and is commonly portrayed in pop-culture as a priest, a robe-wearing wielder of THE LIGHT! or something equivalent in happiness, health, and love. The Cleric is one of the few classes that does have access to powerful and reliable healing spells, but it is far more than that. A Cleric, in essence, is a class that can be just as effective on the front line of battle as they are healing and supporting from behind a boulder or a barbarian. Or a barbarian named "The Boulder". How your Cleric will contribute to the party is entirely up to you: it all begins when you choose a Domain.

Healer

Clerics are a class that can perform multiple roles for a party: healing, tanking, damaging: slinging spells, and bashing skulls with aplomb! The key to understanding a cleric is understanding two main points: their Spellcasting and their Domain Features. Like all classes, they also start the game with a set of proficiencies that each Cleric will possess, regardless of their Domain and Race/Lineage. Clerics begin the game with the following proficiencies:

  • Light and Medium Armor, and Shields- Very tanky, especially in 5e with Bounded Accuracy.
  • No Tool Proficiencies- Hope you weren't planning on crafting anything
  • Saving Throws- Wisdom and Charisma- Two powerful saving throws!
  • Two Skills, chosen from- History, Insight, Medicine, Persuasion, or Religion.

Unlike other classes, Clerics also begin the game with access to their Subclass. Each Cleric, at level one, chooses a Domain- in essence, a spiritual concept of "area" that a God(s) preside over and rule over. You could play as a War Domain Cleric and gain access to Heavy Armor, Martial Weapons, Extra Attack, and additional spells based on buffing weapons, flinging flames, and summoning ghosts to fight for you! Subsequently, you could choose a Trickery Domain Cleric and utilize your wits and illusions to bamboozle and astonish friends and foes alike! Clerics have access to more than a dozen Domains at the time of writing, and each one brings a suite of power to an already powerful class.

The Cleric is a Spellcaster Class that utilizes Divine Magic. In 5e, there are two "flavors" of Magic: Divine and Arcane. A Sorcerer or Wizard utilizes Arcane Magic, which is further divided into several "schools.” Arcane Magic is often codified as magic based on the spellcaster's mastery of eldritch texts, their own willpower, or a jumble of strange things that, when put together, spit out an effect. Divine Magic, on the other hand, is magic that is dispensed by a God, or an equivalent being, such as an Archdevil or Archangel. In essence, the Cleric is making a request, such as "Save my Friends!" or "Curse this person with Blindness!" with the spell being a response to that request. While there are minute differences between the two flavors, it is important to understand that a Cleric does not "own" their magic: if their God becomes displeased with their actions, or a Cleric walks away from their faith, they might also lose access to their spells, as it was never really theirs, to begin with.


How to Play a Cleric in 5e

When playing a Cleric, the first thing to do is to choose your Domain. Each Domain grants access to FIVE abilities at the following levels: 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 18th. In addition, you gain access to a bonus spell list: these spells further tie you to the Domain you've chosen and are often pulled from different classes, such as the Druid, the Wizard, or the Warlock.  Bonus Spells are always available to the Cleric and are always treated as Cleric spells. The only requirement to cast a Bonus Spell is an available Spell Slot!

After choosing your Domain, you should assign stats to your character. Now, you might be wondering why you should assign stats second, rather than first. The answer is simple: when choosing a Domain, you might gain access to abilities that key off different stats. For example, a War Cleric would wish to have a decent to good Strength and Constitution, as they gain access to martial weapons and heavy armor, which would incentivize them to become a melee-range character. A Trickery Cleric, on the other hand, would benefit from having a higher Dexterity, due to their Stealth and Sleight of Hand oriented skill-set, and Charisma, so as to better utilize their abilities based on deception and misdirection.  If your DM allows it, I would always assign stats AFTER choosing your Domain! Regardless, a Cleric should always prioritize Wisdom, as that stat grants them their Spells, Spell Attack Bonus, and Spell Save DC (Difficulty Class).

Third, generate your hit points and purchase your gear, or choose your starting gear, or however else your DM has decided to give you items.

After acquiring your starting gear, it is time to choose your spells for the day. Yes. For the day. As a Cleric, you start the game knowing EVERY cantrip and EVERY 1st level spell found on the Cleric list. The key difference between a Wizard and a Cleric: A Wizard LEARNS their spells, while a Cleric PREPARES their spells. Thankfully, most Cleric spells are easy to understand, such as Cure Wounds, which....*drumroll*....heals a person, or Remove Curse, which....removes a Curse. Knowing the Cleric Spell List by heart is EXTREMELY difficult. I would recommend choosing some "favored" spells that you keep prepared on most days, and provide your DM a copy of these spells chosen, and swap out certain ones depending on the adventure you're currently engaging with. If you're entering a place that's always on fire, for example, you might want to swap out a few spells to better prepare for the constant agony of an eternal inferno.

When you've finished preparing your spells, you are ready to begin your adventure! At the 1st level, of course. At the second level, things get a little more complicated...

At 2nd Level, Clerics gain access to two features: their Channel Divinity, and an additional Domain Feature. Channel Divinity is a versatile ability that allows a Cleric to unleash a burst of Divine Magic that can be used in a few different ways. All Clerics have access to Channel Divinity Turn Undead, an ability that allows you to terrify creatures of the Undead subtype. Turn Undead forces a Wisdom Saving Throw from all Undead within a 30-foot radius around the Cleric. Undead must be able to see and hear the Cleric have this effect occur. Any Undead who fails this check becomes Turned, or Terrified, or Scared, etc. Turned Undead spends their entire turn running from the Cleric as fast as they can, and cannot willingly approach the Cleric.

The second way to utilize Channel Divinity is through the Domain Feature. At the 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 17th levels, a Cleric can use their Channel ability to cause another effect to occur. A War Cleric, for example, may Channel Divinity to add a +10 to any attack they make! That's INSANE, essentially guaranteeing a hit on all but the lowest rolls. A Trickery Cleric, when Channeling, instead Invokes Duplicity, which allows them to summon an ethereal doppelganger in a space next to them, and control it with their bonus action each round. As you level up, so does your Channel.

After 2nd Level, a Cleric gains no new features that are not determined by their Domain. Instead, their Features improve. Turn Undead, for instance, becomes Destroy Undead. Their Channel Divinity also unlocks new features, but as these are determined by their Domain, each Cleric will unlock different abilities as they continue to Level Up. Like most spellcaster classes, a Cleric's true power derives from the spells they wield, with their Class Features acting as a way to supplement these spells.

Like all classes, Clerics gain access to an Ability Score Improvement every four levels. You may also use this Ability Score Improvement to gain access to a feat as well.  In addition, there are some optional abilities introduced in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything: Divine Strikes, Harness Divine Power, and Potent Spellcasting. Talk with your DM to see if they're using these features, and if they are, slap them onto your Cleric. No reason not to, as these abilities are all quite powerful.


February 2, 2021


Cleric Spells & Cantrips

While each Domain has access to Bonus Spell, all Clerics have access to a large suite of spells. Starting at level one, a Cleric has the following spells at their disposal:

(Choose 3)

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Cantrips

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Guidance

 Light

Mending

Resistance

Sacred Flame

Thaumaturgy

Toll the Dead

Word of Radiance

Cell
Cell
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1st Level

Header
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Bane

Bless

Ceremony

Command

Cure Wounds

Detect Evil and Good

Detect Magic

Detect Poison and Disease

Guiding Bolt

Healing Word

Inflict Wounds

Protection from Evil and Good

Purify Food and Drink

Sanctuary

Shield of Faith

And that's at LEVEL. ONE. Thankfully, a Cleric can only prepare 2 of those 15 (!) spells per day, so which two to choose? It is a good decision to take one Offensive Spell and One Supportive Spell when starting off as a Cleric. While your Cantrips provide a decent variety of repeatably strong effects, your spells should be chosen with a strategy in place. If you're going to a hostile environment, preparing Guiding Bolt and Cure Wounds wouldn't steer you in the wrong direction. In a fort or cosmopolitan city, however, these spells might feel like wasted choices, and instead, Detect Magic and Bless might serve you better.

Your choices only increase as you gain levels. At 3rd Character Level, you gain access to 2nd Level spells, at Fifth Character Level, you gain access to 3rd Level spells, and so on and so forth. Rather than create a comprehensive guide to every spell on the cleric list (that comes later!), I'll instead give you some guidance (pun intended) on how to choose and prepare spells.

As stated earlier, creating a list of favored spells would serve you best in the long-run. Studying the spell list and choosing which spells speak to you on a character and player level are rarely going to serve you poorly in the context of an adventure.  A Cleric Spell is often a simple effect, and can be grouped into the following categories:

  • Offensive- These spells deal damage to one or more enemies.
  • Defensive- These spells raise AC, provide cover, or negate a certain type of damage done to one or more characters.
  • Supportive- These spells raise a stat, grant advantage or a bonus on attacks, saving throws, or skills checks, and also can grant immunity to certain effects, such as Poisoned or Stunned.
  • Social/Interactive- These spells grant a Cleric access to information, or inform a Player of a metagame status. For instance, the spell Augury allows a Cleric to "glimpse into the future". Glimpsing into the future is impossible, even for the Mighty Dungeon Master, so instead, the spell grants the Cleric information on a course of action they describe, such as "Will we be safe if we sneak into this warehouse?"

With these four categories, choose one or two spells to master. Study them, understand what they do, and learn their mechanics. That way, you have a miniature spell list to consult, and if these spells provide no answers, then you can swap to the ENTIRE cleric spell list. In addition, your Bonus Spells should always be considered, as they are often powerful and allow the Cleric some flexibility in their spellcasting. The same can be said for their Channel Divinity ability, as they often function as "spells" in that they're a limited resource that grants a supernatural effect.


The Difference Between Preparing and Casting Spells: A Guide Within a Guide

When preparing spells, it is important to understand the difference between Prepared Spells and Spell Slots. Like a Wizard, you can Prepare a certain number of spells each day, determined by the following formula:

  • Number of Spells Prepared= Cleric Level+Wisdom Modifier
  • You may only prepare Spells if you have a Spell Slot available.

For example, a Fifth Level Cleric has a Wisdom score of 15, giving them a Modifier of +2. This Cleric is able to PREPARE, not CAST, 7 spells, of any level that they have available Spell Slots. At Fifth Level, the Cleric has access to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level Spell Slots. These Prepared Spells can be ANY spells from the Cleric Spell List. If this Cleric wanted to, they could prepare only a single spell and cast it until they ran out of spell slots. Subsequently, they could prepare seven different spells and cast each one a single time in the spell slot of their choice.

Casting a spell is only possible if you have prepared the spell beforehand OR have it in your list of domain spells. To cast a spell, you use either a bonus action, a standard action, or a length of time described in the spell's text. When you complete this, the effect of the spell takes place. For instance, if you cast Cure Wounds, you roll a d8, add your Wisdom modifier, and the number generated is how many hit points you restore to the target. Casting a spell consumed a spell slot of the proper level. For example, Cure Wounds is a 1st Level Spell, so to cast it, you consume a 1st Level Spell Slot. Like all casters, your Spell Slots refresh after a Long Rest.

Clerics can also cast their spells at higher levels, which leads to heightened effects, as long as the spell has a text box explaining what happens. Generally, casting a spell at a higher level adds additional dice to roll, leading to bigger numbers, or can target additional creatures, leading to a wider effect. For example, if you cast Cure Wounds at 3rd Level, you would roll THREE d8s, rather than one.

READ. YOUR. SPELLS! Domain Spells, especially, as you will always have access to these spells, and thus, can always cast them if you have a spell slot available. There's a saying in one of my favorite card games: Reading the Card explains the Card. Reading the Spell explains the Spell. Do not get into the habit of reading a spell's name and assuming you've mastered it. While the name can inform you of the spell's effects, the actual text box tells you exactly what it does, how many creatures it can target, and what saves are required, if any. Nothing grinds a game to a halt more than having to read and reread spells to ensure the caster is doing what they want to do. Your DM will appreciate you quite a bit if you show up with a firm grasp on your spells and their mechanics!


November 11, 2020


Some Spell Suggestions

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Offensive Spells

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Guiding Bolt

Inflict Wounds

Spiritual Weapon

Spirit Guardians

Guardian of Faith

Banishment

Blade Barrier

Harm

Earthquake

Cell
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Defensive Spells

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Bless

 Shield of Faith

Magic Circle

Protection from Energy

Death Ward

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Supportive Spells

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Bane

  Protection from Evil and Good

Sanctuary

Cure Wounds

Enhance Ability

Hold Person

Lesser Restoration

Protection from Poison

Silence

Beacon of Hope

Dispel Magic

Freedom of Movement

Dispel Evil and Good

True Seeing

Word of Recall

Regenerate

Heal

Cell
Cell
Cell
Header
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Interactive Spells

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Guidance

   Ceremony

Aid

Augury

Calm Emotions

Find Traps

Locate Object

Legend Lore

Zone of Truth

Commune

Locate Creature

Scrying

Heroes' Feast

Forbiddance

Conjure Celestial

This is just a list of some of my preferred spells, so feel free to branch out and explore. Many of these spells lead to interesting role-play scenarios, or provide solid, flexible gameplay bonuses during combats and chase scenes. Your spells also "level up" every so often: 3rd level spells unlock at 5th level, 4th level spells unlock at 7th level, etc. Keep track of your cleric spells, since they're the bread and butter of the class! Moving onto the spice of the class: the Divine Domains!


Cleric Domains

The Divine Domain of the Cleric is a realm of reality, or metaphysics (spiritual), that their God(s) is/are innately tied towards. When choosing a Divine Domain, you are choosing which God(s) you worship, or if playing a polytheistic character, which God functions as the "primary" God. Your character gains immensely varied features and bonuses when choosing your Divine Domain, an example of the powerful boons your God(s) have bestowed upon you for sincere and passionate devotion.

The Divine Domains covered in this article are as follows: Arcana, Death, Forge, Grave, Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Order, Peace, Tempest, Trickery, Twilight, and War. Their bonus spells, features, and any miscellaneous factors will be covered!


Cleric2

Arcana Domain

Arcana, essentially, covers the realms of Arcane Magic: the strange, otherworldly, and most importantly, powerful. Arcane Gods are often portrayed as ineffable and unapproachable beings, swirled in mystery and radiating knowledge for those who can approach them without igniting into flames or transforming into a bucket of water. When choosing the Arcana Domain, you are blending a Cleric with a Wizard, in essence. You gain access to Wizard cantrips, and most of your abilities allow you access to wizard spells and to utilize your spells in a multitude of ways.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Detect Magic

Magic Missile

3rd

Magic Weapon

Nystul's Magic Aura

5th

Dispel Magic

Magic Circle

7th

Arcane Eye

Leomund's Secret Chest

9th

Planar Binding

Teleportation Circle

Features

Arcane Initiate- This Feature gives you 2 Wizard cantrips of your choice, which will count as Cleric cantrips for any reason. In addition, you unlock proficiency in the Arcana skill.

Arcane Abjuration- This Feature modifies an existing Cleric ability: Turn Undead. Adding the creature subtypes of Celestial, Elemental, Fiend, Fey, and Fiend to your Turn Undead transforms the ability from a niche one to a pretty great one! These creature types are common and are varied in power enough that the ability will be used throughout most of the Cleric's character life. In addition, at 5th Level, the ability improves, allowing you to BANISH these creatures from the game! These creatures are negated from combat, ceasing to exist and only being able to return after a minute.

Spell Breaker- When you cast a cleric spell to restore hit points to an ally, you may also choose to end a spell currently affecting the ally. No saving throw re-roll, no checks made: the only requirement is the spell being ended is equal to or lower level than the healing spell's level.

Arcane Mastery- The Keystone of the Arcane Domain, this ability fully blends the Cleric with a Wizard's arcane might. You may choose one spell of the following levels from the wizard spell list: 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th. These spells are always prepared and are considered cleric spells for your character.

Summary

The Arcane Domain might be the first one we're covering here, but it is by no means one to be ignored. The Arcane Cleric is a versatile class that excels in multiple areas of gameplay and role-play: support, defense, offense, and utility. The bonus spells added to provide reliable and useful spells that almost every Wizard tries to acquire during a campaign. The features, while somewhat simple, are also powerful enough that they will be used often by any Cleric worth their salt, especially Spell Breaker. I see this Domain excelling in a high-magic campaign where almost everyone is touched or influenced by the Arcane spheres of existence.

Death Domain

Death, the ultimate end. A Death Cleric serves entities and beings who have thoroughly studied and mastered the afterlife's darker side: vampires, zombies, and ghouls are some of the creatures that stalk these Unhallowed realms. A Death Cleric is going to be edgy, covered in skulls, and probably wielding a scythe twice their size. Death Gods, such as Anubis, are revered by Death Clerics, and some darker entities spread their Dead Domain to include actions related to Death, like murder, or vectors that lead to Death, like torture or disease. Despite their dark trappings, Death Gods are not necessarily Evil and can include Neutral or Good divinities as well.

Death Clerics do not concern themselves with healing or social contexts: their features and spells bring extra damage to the Cleric, and ways to prevent their untimely Death, or stretch whatever shreds of life you can wrap your fingers around. Some Death Clerics even learn to resurrect their own minions, through the Animate Dead spell, usually reserved only for Necromancers.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

False Life

Ray of Sickness

3rd

Blindness/Deafness

Ray of Enfeeblement

5th

Animate Dead

Vampiric Touch

7th

Blight

Death Ward

9th

Anti-life Shell

Cloudkill

Features

Reaper: You gain access to a single Necromancy school cantrip, such as Sapping Sting or Toll the Dead. Whenever you cast a Necromancy cantrip that targets a single creature, you instead may target up to TWO creatures. In addition, you gain proficiency with Martial Weapons, allowing you access to some more effective implements of carnage.

Channel Divinity Touch of Death: When you use your Channel Divinity, you may extract the life from a target within Melee range and deal damage to that target equal to 5 plus your Cleric level times two. You roll a Melee Spell Attack to use this ability.

Inescapable Destruction: This ability grants the Death Cleric a way to ensure their spells are effective and painful. Whenever you deal Necrotic damage to a creature, you ignore any necrotic resistance the creature is currently benefiting from. This becomes stronger as you level up, where hit points are often guarded by resistances and temporary hit points. Even undead aren't safe from your cleric spells and spiritual weapons!

Improved Reaper: The Capstone of the Death Cleric is quite a powerful one. Your connection to Death has become so intimate and overwhelming, that whenever you cast a spell from 1st to 5th level that targets one creature, it instead targets two creatures. Consider comboing this with Blight or Inflict Wounds to spread the pain!

Summary

This Domain specializes in damage, debuffs, and ensuring that healing is next to impossible if the Cleric doesn't wish it. While not as variable or flexible as other Domains, the Death Domain has one thought in mind, and executes on this thought in a multitude of ways: spread Death as much as possible. With a flavorful set of abilities that shore up some weaknesses within the Necromancy spell school, and access to those spells throughout the levels, the Death Cleric is a strong used of crowd control spells and ability denial.

Forge Domain

Forge Clerics represent the march of progress and the iron-will of creators. Wrapped in metal and possessing divine weapons, a Forge Cleric might physically resemble a Paladin, what with shining armor and sparking weapons, but in combat, they function as a bulwark of defensive abilities, and out of it, as a walking town for their allies, able to create sets of ammunition and suits of armor with their divine abilities. Forge Gods are often Neutral or Good, as they are innately tied to the concept of Progress, Innovation, Civilization, and Community, and are linked to the elements of earth and fire. As a result, Forge Clerics are often found in bustling metropolis, or in the wilds, searching for a new mountain to devote to their God.

In-game, a Forge Cleric offers a suite of defensive and offensive abilities, able to raise their Armor Class, gain fire resistance, and boost their allies, or even their own damage by transforming mundane weapons and armor into a magical equivalent. While most of their abilities focus on combat, their 2nd level Channel Divinity allows them to create objects of their designation in an hour long ritual that transforms raw, unshaped metal into a gleaming masterwork of divine magic. The item must not be more than 100 gp in value, but a DM might be willing to twist this limitation if given a good reason. 

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Identify

Searing Smite

3rd

Heat Metal

Magic Weapon

5th

Elemental Weapon

Protection from Energy

7th

Fabricate

Wall of Fire

9th

Animate Objects 

Creation

Features

Blessing of the Forge: Upon completing a long rest, the Forge Cleric may create a powerful source of power within an object they touch. Any suit of armor or weapon they touch becomes magical, and raises the object's AC or damage by 1. This bonus lasts until the Forge Cleric rests again, or they die. This ability is powerful at level one, as it allows a Forge Cleric to ignore common resistances, boost damage or survivability, and even save some money on some common low-level purchases, like a +1 weapon. In addition, the Forge Cleric gains proficiency in Heavy Armor and Martial Weapons.

Channel Divinity Artisan's Blessing: As previously described, this feature modifies your Channel Divinity into a miniature shop. As long as you have access to metal, you may shape that metal into any object you can imagine that is worth 100 gp or less. While not cheap, this ability does allow a Forge Cleric to act as a supplier for materials and objects the Party requires, or even create a repeatable source of income for the Cleric during their travels. In essence, this creates a "skeleton key" for low-level campaign problems, such as locked doors, broken armor, or missing objects. Use this ability wisely, as the object is shaped permanently by this ability.

Soul of the Forge: A simple enough buff, Soul of the Forge grants the Cleric resistance to fire damage, and a +1 AC when they wear armor. Since Forge Clerics are rarely, if ever, caught out of their medium or heavy armor, you can count on this ability being in effect almost all the time.

Saint of Forge and Fire: A top contender for my "Favorite Name for an Ability in 5e", the Saint of Forge and Fire further boosts the already potent abilities granted by Soul of the Forge: your resistance becomes immunity, and you gain resistance to all slashing, piercing, and bludgeoning damage. The Forge Cleric essentially becomes an Adult Fire Dragon...at least in defensive stats.

Summary

The Forge Cleric is one of my favorite ones: interesting abilities blended with powerful bonus spells, and some quality and useful defense buffs combine into a refreshing blend of steel and flame. I always picture Forge Clerics as being Dwarvish, as their beliefs seem to be tailor made from common portrayals of Dwarf culture. Embrace the burning heart of the mountain, my friends, and find the Forge within your heart!

remorsefulcleric

Grave Domain

I know what you're thinking: aren't Death and the Grave kind of the same thing? The answer, at least in 5e, is no, not at all. While the Death Cleric is based on debuffs and damage, the Grave Cleric occupies a role more focused on balance and manipulation of Life and Death. Thus, their abilities and spells are based on buffing allies, returning the dead to life, and dealing some damage. Grave Clerics bonus spells aren't the most flashy, but their features more than make up for it. Grave Domain Gods are often focused on the mode of transit between Life and Death, and often view the Undead as a violation of this principle. The Raven Queen might be the most popular depiction of a Grave Domain God: more concerned with souls finding their proper place, rather than resurrecting legions of rotten corpses to answer their beck and call.

Grave Clerics are particularly good at deciding who or what dies, and when that death will occur. Their abilities manipulate areas typically reserved for the domains of luck or game mechanics: Vulnerability and Critical Hits. You may also maximize healing to any creature at 0 hit points, and can turn the act of dying into a healing source!

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Bane

 False Life

3rd

Gentle Repose

Ray of Enfeeblement

5th

Revivify

Vampiric Touch

7th

Blight

Death Ward

9th

Anti-life Shell

Raise Dead

Features

Circle of Mortality: The Grave Cleric gains access to the Spare the Dying cantrip, and also, can maximize all recovered hit points when using a healing spell on any creature that's sitting at zero.

Eyes of the Grave: This ability functions similarly to the Detect spells, allowing a Grave Cleric to supernaturally sense the presence of Undead creatures within 60 feet. While it doesn't inform you of details, it does alert you to anything rotten and groaning, as long as it isn't masked with magic or total cover.

Channel Divinity Path to the Grave: As the Grave Cleric strengthens, they can choose to hasten a creature's path to the end. As you Channel Divinity, you curse a creature within 30 feet. The next time the creature is damaged by the Grave Cleric or their allies, the curse is consumed, and the creature gains Vulnerability to whatever damage they just took. Vulnerability doubles any damage received, so this can lead to some unexpected one-hit KOs, especially at early levels!

Sentinel at Death's Door: As the Grave Cleric can hasten a creature's untimely demise, they can also deter that same event. Whenever you witness an ally within 30 feet, or yourself, take a Critical Hit, you may use your reaction to ignore that Critical Hit. The ultimate counter to a DM's smirk and growl of "Natural TWENTY!" during a boss fight is a Grave Cleric smirking and saying "Sentinel at Death's Door, there is no Critical Hit". THIS ABILITY MAY LEAD TO FIST FIGHTS, SO BE CAREFUL!

Keeper of Souls: Once per rest, you may extract life essence from a creature as it is slain. As a creature dies, you may choose any creature within 60 feet of you to recover hit points equal to the HIt Dice of the slain creature. At higher levels, this can lead to a creature gaining double-digit hit points for free, just by killing something!

Summary

The Grave Cleric is an arbiter of balance, and as a result, concerns itself with "fairness". Undead are unfair. Critical hits are unfair. Dying early or late is unfair. When you roll up a Grave Cleric, you're choosing a Domain that often leads to negating big, swingy moments, and ensuring that even the Biggest of BBEGs feel the crippling fear of the Grave.

Knowledge Domain

Knowledge Clerics might as well be called Power Clerics. There, I said it. Silly puns aside, a Knowledge Cleric is tied to the realm of thought, history, and the dispensation or preservation of facts. Knowledge Domain Gods are often concerned with collecting knowledge and archiving it, to ensure it is never lost and never corrupted. A Knowledge Cleric, therefore, is often tasked with acquiring rare tomes, regaining missing scriptures, or delving into dungeons in search of lost lore. With a bonus spell list concerned with gathering information, Knowledge Clerics make for magical libraries and walking archives, able to cast a spell and learn anything about anything. As long as the DM says it's okay.

Knowledge Clerics wield domain spells often linked to the Divination School: spells like Augury, Scrying, Legend Lore, and Arcane Eye all serve the important facet of information control and gathering. In essence, an educated party is a powerful party, and the Knowledge Cleric happily provides that education. Their Features also allow them to read the minds of creatures, command them, and swap their proficiencies around based on the current situation.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Command

 Identify

3rd

Augury

 Suggestion

5th

Nondetection

Speak with Dead

7th

Arcane Eye

Confusion

9th

Legend Lore

Scrying

Features

Blessing of Knowledge: Knowledge Clerics are not only smarties, they're also polyglots: a fancy word meaning "they speak many languages". Knowledge Clerics begin the gain with access to TWO additional languages, and a pair of bonus proficiency benefits chosen from: Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion. These skills are "information gathering" skills, so it's highly on point for a Knowledge Cleric to have proficiency in all four, if possible.

Knowledge of the Ages: It cannot be stated enough: skill proficiencies are the closest thing to power spikes in 5e. Adding a +2, at minimum, to any and all dice rolls in a certain field is powerful. Thus, it can be inferred that Knowledge of the Ages is a powerful ability: anytime the Cleric has an action, you can gain proficiency with one tool set or one skill for 10 minutes. That's it. No limits, no rest recharges, no curated list to select from. If it's a skill or a tool, the Cleric can be proficient with it in 6 seconds.

Channel Divinity Read Thoughts: I often lay awake at night, wondering if this Feature is named as a pun, or simply because it accurately describes what the ability does. It's probably both. As the name implies, the Knowledge Cleric can, as an action, read a creature's thoughts. Forcing a Wisdom Saving Throw, the ability allows a Cleric to read a creature's surface thoughts whether the creature saves or fails. If the creature fails, however, you may read that creature's thoughts, and cast the Suggestion spell on it for free. After casting the Suggestion spell, however, it ends Read Thoughts.

Visions of the Past: The Capstone ability of the Knowledge Cleric, Visions of the Past is a powerful ability for information gathering. It allows the Cleric access to two distinct abilities: Object Reading and Area Reading. A fancy word for this effect is Psychometry! The more you know! While using these abilities, the Cleric meditates a number of minutes equal to their Wisdom modifier, and can only use this one per long rest. While meditating, the Cleric focuses on an Object or Area, and witnesses shadowy visions and experiences illusory sensory effects, allowing the Cleric to see significant effects, experience emotionally powerful moments, and discover hidden facts about the Object or Area.

Summary

Somewhat between a Rogue and a Bard, the Knowledge Cleric thrives in any campaign based on intrigue, discovery, and puzzle solving. While their abilities don't contribute anything to combat, aside from some of their domain spells and Read Thoughts, they are a tour-de-force in sheer information gathering power. A Knowledge Cleric thrives in social exploration campaigns where the most dangerous object in a room is a secret, rather than a rampaging construct or a starving dire wolf. Knowledge Clerics can still be adventurers, mind you: I would simply question why you're sending a college professor to do a warrior-priest's job.

LifeCleric

Life Domain

Exactly as it says on the tin, er, Domain, the Life Cleric is all about LIVING AND HEALING. Life Gods are those who help women in childbirth, grant long life to the worthy, create rejuvenating springs, and combat the entropic forces of Death and Decay. A Life Cleric is entirely based on keeping Life in full sway: their domain spells are all healing spells. Their Features boost and modify healing, spreading it to other party members, or boosting the total amount healed. A bit of a one-trick pony, the Life Cleric trades versatility for power, and can keep an entire Party functioning and breathing long beyond a point where Death would've claimed them.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Bless

Cure Wounds

3rd

Lesser Restoration

 Spiritual Weapon

5th

Beacon of Hope

Revivify

7th

Death Ward

Guardian of Faith

9th

Mass Cure Wounds

 Raise Dead

Features

Disciple of Life: At level one, a Life Cleric modifies all healing spells they'll cast throughout their career. Whenever they cast a spell that restores hit points, it restores an additional number equal to 2 plus the spell's level. In addition, a Life Cleric gains access to Heavy Armor, granting them additional survivability while they use their domain spell list.

Channel Divinity Preserve Life: This ability modifies your Channel Divinity, allowing you to heal any number of creatures within 30 feet an amount of hit points equal to FIVE TIMES your Cleric Level. The only catch is the creatures cannot be healed more than half their total hit points, which means this ability is often going to be used as a last resort to shore up a few extra rounds. Channel Divinity Preserve Life is often misinterpreted, so make sure you read this one thoroughly!

Blessed Healer: This ability modifies your healing further, essentially allowing the Life Cleric to gain hit points equal to 2 plus the spell's level whenever you cast a healing spell on another creature.

Supreme Healing: A bit of a let down, actually, for Clerics who love rolling dice. This ability essentially removes randomness from your healing: whenever you heal, you heal for the Maximum Amount. A d6 is 6, a d10 is 10, 5d10 is 50, etc. Time to retire those math rocks, friends, because Supreme Healing makes them obsolete.

Summary

A powerful Domain, certainly, but also the one with the least variety and the most predictability. I feel that, unlike the earlier Domains, the Life Cleric is exactly what you get on the tin: you will be healing. All. The. Time. If you're looking for a simple and effective class, the Life Cleric leans heavily into the concept of a Healer and plays it to the nines. Not my favorite Cleric from 5e, but one that gets the job done. A fun note: in the hands of a Life Cleric, Healing Word is often going to be just as effective as a Cure Wounds, so you can perform most of your healing on a bonus action, allowing you to diversify your spell list a bit. Unfortunately, the Domain is composed of abilities and spells that are only situationally useful, so it does drag my opinion down slightly.

Light Domain

Unlike Life Clerics, Light Domain Clerics are of a certain effervescent and luminous quality! They worship the SUN! And LIGHT! And PHOTONS! Well, also, truth, justice, reverence, and the American Way. Or the Faerunian Way. Jokes aside, the Light Domain Cleric is a damage and support Domain, wielding radiant damage and fire damage in one hand, and restorative spells in the other. Often depicted in service of a Sun God, the Light Cleric is a walking beacon of power, able to send swaths of flame and blinding light into the monsters they do battle with. Using an array of area denial and area of effect spells, Light Clerics are able to influence the tide of battles with surges of magic and frighteningly powerful explosions.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Burning Hands

Faerie Fire

3rd

Flaming Sphere

Scorching Ray

5th

Daylight

Fireball

7th

Guardian of Faith

Wall of Fire

9th

Flame Strike

Scrying

Features

Light: You gain the Light cantrip, if you didn't already have it.

Warding Flare: A Light Cleric begins play with a flashbang grenade, as this is the closest equivalent I can think of for this ability. As a reaction, you can impose disadvantage on attack rolls sent to you, as long as the attack is visible and within 30 feet. You may use this a number of times equal to your Wisdom Modifier. Note: A creature that can't be blinded is IMMUNE to this ability.

Channel Divinity Radiance of the Dawn: Your Channel Divinity has become a fireball. Congratulations! When you use your Channel Divinity, any magical darkness surrounding you is banished within 30 feet. Any hostile creature must make a Constitution Saving Throw equal to your Spell Save DC. On a fail, they take 2d10 plus your Cleric Level in radiant damage, and half as much on a success.

Improve Flare: Your Warding Flare becomes communal: whenever a creature within 30 feet is attacked by another creature, you may use Warding Flare on the attack.

Corona of Light: Note: a Corona is a ring of light, often seen around intense sources of light. Just a happy FYI. Anyway, when you use this ability, you emit a burst of light in a 60 foot radius, creating an area of effect that imposes disadvantage on any saving throws creatures hostile to you imposed by spells that inflict radiant or fire damage. This is every spell from your domain spells that inflict damage, and a considerable amount of offensive cleric spells.

Summary

If the Life Cleric was a one-note healer, the Light Cleric is a one-note battle mage. Wielding powerful spells that affect the entire battlefield, and some strong denial features, the Light Cleric is able to deny enemies territory and life, while fostering strength in their allies by providing them defensive bonuses. Light Clerics can focus their cleric spell choices on more supportive or defensive spells, as their domain spells provide enough damage to make even an Evocation Wizard or Pyromaniac Sorcerer blush. The only thing this Domain is missing is heavy armor proficiency to complete the Destiny Warlock cosplay.


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Nature Domain

The Nature Cleric occupies a similar role as the Druid: a steward of Nature that exists to defend, discover, and preserve natural lands and special places within the wilds. While Druids are in touch with their bestial side and are often antagonistic, or at least disapproving of, civilization, a Nature Cleric is beholden to their Gods tenets and philosophy. While they may prefer Nature over Civilization in the dichotomy, they are not necessarily antagonistic towards it.  The Nature Domain is also close to Fey oriented spells, with its domain spells being keyed to manipulating the body and environment, as well as charming and befriending beasts and animals.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Animal Friendship

Speak with Animals

3rd

Barkskin

Spike Growth

5th

Plant Growth

Wind Wall

7th

Dominate Beast

Grasping Vine

9th

Insect Plague

Tree Stride

Features

Acolyte of Nature: Each Nature Domain cleric gains access to a Druid Cantrip of their choice. Druids have access to a suite of cantrips, themed around manipulating elements of the wilds. In addition, you gain bonus proficiencies: in Heavy Armor, and in the Nature, Survival, or Animal Handling skill. 1st level Nature Clerics do have a suite of proficiencies that create a very powerful character at lower levels.

Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants- This ability modifies your Channel Divinity into a Charm Person/Animal spell, forcing each creature of the chosen type to roll a Wisdom saving throw against your Spell Save DC. On a failure, they become charmed for one minute. Not the most powerful Channel Divinity, since the applications are inherently narrow, but it can turn some encounters at lower levels. Situationally useful, but not horrible.

Dampen Elements: This is a feature that helps make a class choice all the easier. As a Reaction, you can grant yourself or an ally within 30 feet resistance to Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, or Thunder damage. This ability does not expend itself after one use, and while your Reaction can be valuable, this allows you to stay active on other player's turns! A very powerful ability, as the damage types are very common, and should get a healthy amount of use.

Master of Nature: When you use Charm Animals and Plants, you may choose what the charmed creatures do on each of their turns. A very powerful form of crowd control, this ability's only drawback is that, at Seventeenth Level, you are wielding 9th Level spells. Still, this could be a game-breaker in the proper campaign. Keep an eye on this one.

Summary

The Nature Cleric's main strengths are found in its access to Heavy Armor while also wielding charm effects and druidic spells. Druid spells are versatile and have some of the longest lasting effects in the game: Insect Plague, for example, lasts 10 minutes, creating a massive area of hostile territory that spits out damage! Tree Stride and Dominate Beast are also very powerful spells, granting vast resources through movement and additional "characters" through the beasts you've charmed. A tanky, crowd control-aligned Cleric is nothing to snuff at, even if the crowd control is limited to only a few creature subtypes.

Order Domain

Order Clerics are The Man. They exist to uphold, maintain, and endorse a society-engrossing system of hierarchies, law, control, and obligations. In the dichotomy of Law and Chaos, Order Clerics are so along the Law side that they're hovering right between the letters "L" and "A" in "Law". When playing an Order Cleric, you will often be at odds with Chaotic party members, as your character derives their powers FROM upholding and respecting the Law. These Clerics might make for excellent antagonists in a campaign without ever crossing into Evil territory: remember, an antagonist is a person or group in opposition to the Party, and are not necessarily Evil. Order Clerics are focused entirely on control, in both personality and ability.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Command

Heroism

3rd

Hold Person

Zone of Truth

5th

Mass Healing Word

Slow

7th

Compulsion

Locate Creature

9th

Commune

Dominate Person

Features

Voice of Authority: You gain a pair of bonus proficiencies in Heavy Armor and a skill of your choice between Persuasion and Intimidation. In addition, whenever you cast a 1st Level spell, or higher, on an ally, that ally may use their reaction to make a free Melee Weapon Attack against a creature within range. An excellent ability, as it can focus extra damage on weakened enemies, and as levels creep higher, damage and additional effects become increasingly common on weapon attacks. Do not sleep on this ability!

Channel Divinity: Order's Demand- This Feature modifies your Channel Divinity into a Mass Charm Person spell, essentially. Any creature within 30 feet must make a Wisdom Saving Throw or become Charmed by the Order Cleric. In addition, if any creature fails the saving throw, the Order Cleric may force that creature to drop anything it is holding. This is a very powerful ability: compare it to the Nature Cleric's Channel Divinity for a reference point. Instead of targeting only a subgroup, this ability merely requires the creatures to be able to see and hear the Cleric, and be within the effective range. While a Party could put this to amazing use, I could also see a DM using this as a way to effectively arrest the Party with a few words.

Embodiment of the Law: This ability is also very powerful! Whenever you cast a 1st Level Spell or higher of the Enchantment school, you may lower its Casting Time from an action to a bonus action. This ability functions similarly to the Quicken Metamagic Feature found in the Sorcerer class. You may use this ability a number of times equal to your Wisdom Modifier. This feature allows an immense increase in the Cleric's tactical capability, creating more varied turns and really upping the strength of your domain spells (hint: Most of them are Enchantment school!)

Order's Wrath: This Feature modifies your Divine Strikes Cleric Feature. Once per turn, when using your Divine Strike, you may curse your target with the unfettered fury of the Law. Whenever an ally strikes the cursed target, they take an additional 2d8 Psychic Damage. This ability can be used as many times as the Cleric wishes, as long as it is only once per day. A very powerful ability, allowing the Cleric to add damage to allies whenever they successfully hit. Rarely will you find a "burst damage" ability in the Cleric class, and this is really only limited by the caveat of reaching 17th level.

Summary

A very powerful Domain, Order seems to be a little overpowered in comparison to some of the other Domains. I suppose this is the reward for losing all desire for freedom and self-expression, though. With access to a domain spell suite based on restriction and information gathering, and Features that seem downright better than other Features from other Domains, the Order Cleric is a strong choice amongst the Domains. The trap, if there even is one, is that it seems to inherently limit the Player's ability to develop and react to situations through role-play, as a complete devotion to the Law heavily guides what choices are available to you. Anybody who's played a Paragon Route Shephard in Mass Effect knows this type of pain.

Peace Domain

Peace Clerics are a motley group, filled with a slow-simmered rage and a chip eternally perched on their shoulders!....no, they're actually Clerics devoted to the maintenance and preservation of the rare state known as Peace. Empathetic wanderers, Peace Clerics strive eternally to guide the world and its inhabitants to a better place. Expert diplomats, master negotiators, and inspiring leaders, a Peace Cleric serves deities that abhor evil, destruction, and rampant corruption. When playing a Peace Cleric, you will always be the first to offer another way, and the last to pick up a weapon, and even then, only in defense of those who deserve to remain innocent. An interesting Domain, the Peace Cleric has access to a large repertoire of preventative and protective spells, as well as spells that foster and allow communication between creatures. It also gains access to Otiluke's Resilient Sphere at 7th Level, which is basically a Time-Out Ball. It's great.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Heroism

Sanctuary

3rd

Aid

Warding Bond

5th

Beacon of Hope

Sending

7th

Aura of Purity

Otiluke's Resilient Sphere

9th

Greater Restoration

Rary's Telepathic Bond

Features

Implement of Peace: This feature grants a bonus proficiency in one of the following skills: Insight, Performance, or Persuasion. Never will I ever claim that a bonus proficiency is a poor Class Feature. It's free real estate.

Emboldening Bond: A powerful ability, this one allows you to forge a link between willing creatures, including yourself. The number of creatures is equal to your proficiency bonus, so as you level up, so will this ability. While Bonded, each creature may add a bonus d4 to any Attack Roll, Saving Throw, or Ability Check, once per turn. This ability lasts 10 minutes. While requiring an action, this ability essentially functions as a stronger, more versatile Bless, and can make a considerable difference over the course of any combat or scene!

Channel Divinity Balm of Peace: This feature modifies your Channel Divinity into a walking healing path. When you use this ability, you move up to 30 feet, and any creature you pass by can regain 2d8+Wisdom modifier in hit points. In addition, you cannot be attacked while moving, creating a level of safety rarely found in combat. This ability is powerful, allowing a Cleric to not only reposition with a Bonus Action, but to heal any allies who happen to be nearby. This is on the upper-end of Channel Divinity powers.

Protective Bond: This ability upgrades your Emboldening Bond feature. Whenever a creature under the effect of Emboldening Bond is about to take damage, any other creature that is also under the effect may teleport next to the targeted creature and take all the damage instead. This is a powerful ability, once again allowing for instant movement, but also keeping squishier targets from getting splattered by a rampaging beast, or spare a creature close to unconsciousness from being put to zero hit points. 

Expansive Bond: The final upgrade to Emboldening Bond. A simple ability, it allows you to Bond with creatures up to 60 feet, instead of 30 feet, and whenever a creature uses Protective Bond, the damage they receive is halved.

Summary

The Peace Cleric, despite its role-play intent, might be the most tactics-focused Domain amidst the roster. With powerful preventative spells, the Peace Cleric can protect its allies with efficiency, as well as buffing almost every action a Player could perform in combat. In addition, Balm of Peace and Protective Bond not only shore up defenses and provide much-needed healing, but also provide movements to yourself and your allies that do not provoke attacks of opportunity.  This level of mobility can create a rapidly changing battlefield, making it difficult for the DM to counter or plan more than a few actions in advance. Combined with a keen mind, the Peace Cleric is a subtle and powerful weapon.

Tempest Domain

The Tempest Cleric is a maelstrom's acolyte, bathed in the spray of the sea and crackling with thunderous force. Tempest Clerics worship the chaos and raw, overwhelming power of the Storm: the elemental forces of Sound, Water, and Lightning. Tempest Clerics believe in the power of Awe: fear or admiration caused by a splendid display of supreme force. Whether a Tempest Cleric uses this power to foster strength and devotion, or to unleash chaos on an unsuspecting populace, is entirely up to the God they worship. The Tempest Cleric has access to powerful damage dealing domain spells and features focused on supplementing movement and maximizing certain types of damage. Tempest Clerics really pop off at 9th level, where they gain access to Destructive Wave, one of the strongest spells for damage and movement denial in the game!

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Fog Cloud

Thunderwave

3rd

Gust of Wind

Shatter

5th

Call Lightning

Sleet Storm

7th

Control Water

Ice Storm

9th

Destructive Wave

Insect Plague

Features

Wrath of the Storm: At 1st level, the Tempest Cleric has access to Heavy Armor and Martial Weapons. In addition, they gain the ability to add more force to an ally's attacks. Whenever an ally successfully strikes a creature, the Tempest Cleric may use their reaction to force the creature to roll a Dexterity Saving Throw. On a fail, the creature takes an additional 2d8 lightning OR thunder damage. On a success, the creature still takes half damage.

Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath- Whenever you deal lightning or thunder damage, you may use your Channel Divinity to Maximize the damage. Instead of rolling, you simply take the highest amount of damage. 2d8 becomes 16, 10d6 becomes 60, etc. This ability always gains strength, and becomes absolutely brutal if an enemy is Vulnerable to the damage type.

Thunderbolt Strike: At 6th level, with your lightning damage, whenever you hit a Large or smaller creature with lightning damage, you shove them 10 feet away from you. This ability is powerful, especially if you gain access to a weapon or cantrip that deals Lightning damage.

Stormborn:  This ability grants a free Flying speed to the Tempest Cleric, as their body becomes surrounded by whipping winds and rolling thunder clouds. Your Flying speed is equal to your movement speed, and can be used only when the Tempest Cleric is outside.

Summary

The Tempest Cleric's features are all simple to understand: extra damage here, shoves and pushes there. The true strength of the Tempest Cleric lies in its combo potential: like most Clerics, the Tempest plays best with a group of friends. Wrath of the Storm really adds up damage over time, and as for domain spells, you have a lot of options to partner with Destructive Wrath. A particularly strong class to partner with the Tempest Cleric would, oddly enough, be a Grave Cleric. Their Channel Divinities play exceedingly well together, allowing you to nuke a single target with only a few actions.

Trickery Domain

Who said Rogues are the only class to deceive folks? Trickery Clerics are servants and acolytes of the Tricksters: Gods devoted to upsetting the established order and injecting chaos into stagnancy. They exist to mock rules, scatter the cards, and swindle folks out of their house and home. A Trickery Cleric will shake your hand while using a clone to steal your wallet, clothes, and favorite wand, all while convincing you that it was all for the best. Guile and a silver tongue are a Trickery Cleric's best friend, and while their abilities aren't as overtly powerful as the other domains, they are quite clever and subtle, creating opportunities for some amazing stories! They also might have a fascination with male genitalia, if Critical Role is to be believed.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Charm Person

Disguise Self

3rd

Mirror Image

Pass Without Trace

5th

Blink

Dispel Magic

7th

Dimension Door

Polymorph

9th

Dominate Person

Modify Memory

Features

Blessing of the Trickster: At 1st level, you may touch a creature and grant it the Blessing of the Trickster. For the next hour, the creature has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks. While you can't bless yourself, this could be used to sew chaos, especially if the willing creature is an ally, or perhaps, somebody in debt to the Cleric.

Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity- The signature move of the Trickery Domain, this allows you to summon an illusory duplicate as an action. This duplicate acts as a limited familiar: you may move it as a bonus action, cast spells from its location, and if both you and your duplicate are near a creature, any attacks you make are made with advantage. This ability is a bit different than other examples of the Channel Divinity feature, but it does open up some interesting buffs and venues of attack in low-level combat. Unfortunately, as you leave lower levels, this ability becomes increasingly niche and less effective, due to things like True Sight, or disruptive effects that end concentration.

Cloak of Shadows: A Divinity so nice, we Channeled it twice! You can, instead of Invoking Duplicity, turn invisible whenever you use your Channel Divinity feature. This lasts until the end of your next turn.

Improved Duplicity: Whenever you Invoke Duplicity, you may create four copies, instead of one. This is the ultimate ability of the Trickery Domain, and I feel it is quite weak, especially at 17th level.

Summary

A domain focused less on healing spells, radiant damage, and monitoring your proficiency bonus, the Trickery Domain relies on the Player's ingenuity and the permissiveness of the DM. Most of the power is found in the Domain Spell list, containing strong spells like Polymorph, Modify Memory, Dispel Magic, and Dimension Door. These spells are versatile, always useful, and can lead to some amazing conclusions to difficult situations. What's better than modifying a king's memory that his treasure holds were always empty, after all?

DeathPactClericToken

Twilight Domain

The Twilight Domain represents the boundary between Light and Dark. The Gods they serve are enigmatic, mysterious, and ephemeral: rarely worshiped in established temples or opulent shrines, these Gods guide boundaries and ensure balance. A Twilight Cleric is based around creating safety in danger, and to ensure that those who must venture into danger, are protected during their dangerous ventures. To realize this, Twilight Clerics offer unique boons and protective shelters to their allies, as well as a steady guide into even the most mysterious lands. Gameplay wise, the Twilight Shepherd is a class that enables stealth and passive advantages to your group, while also befuddling and misleading any enemies you encounter.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Faerie Fire

Sleep

3rd

Moonbeam

See Invisibility

5th

Aura of Vitality

Leomund's Tiny Hut

7th

Aura of Life

Greater Invisibility

9th

Circle of Power

Mislead

Features

Eyes of Night:  At 1st level, the Twilight Cleric gains access to heavy armor and martial weapons. In addition, a Twilight Cleric has access to darkvision, up to 300 feet. As an action, you may share this darkvision with your allies. Darkvision has become somewhat of a meme in the 5e community, as most races or classes offer darkvision for free. Thus, the Twilight Cleric is also given another 1st level feature.

Vigilant Blessing: As an action, you give yourself or another ally advantage on their next Initiative check. Now this is a 1st level feature! The fact that you can give it to a spellcaster ally to help them cast faster, or a paladin to get them into the fight quicker, is just another example that power is found in versatility.

Twilight Sanctuary: This ability reminds me of some raids in Destiny- you create a protective bubble of misty light that enshrouds you in a 30 foot radius. The Sanctuary moves with the Cleric, and any creature ending their turn inside of the Sanctuary may recover 1d6+ Cleric level in hit points, or end any charm or fear effect currently in effect.

Steps of Night: A situationally useful ability, this allows you to gain a flying speed equal to your movement speed for 1 minute whenever you're in dim light or darkness. You may use this ability a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. Flying should never be underestimated, and while the necessity of darkness might be a drawback, it is far from invalidating the strength of this feature.

Twilight Shroud: A simple capstone that is nonetheless very effective at protecting your allies. Any creature benefiting from your Twilight Sanctuary gains Half-Cover. Half-Cover is a static bonus that adds a +2 bonus to your AC and Dexterity Saving Throws. Free stats are never bad.

Summary

Twilight Clerics are a recent addition, and as of writing, are a bit light on lore. Their spells are powerful, though: Circle of Power, Greater Invisibility, and the might of LEOMUND'S TINY HUT! Their features are also interesting, creating a game of auras that, when combined with a virtual tabletop and a paladin, can create beautiful venn diagrams on your computer screen. That being said, this Domain seems a bit under-developed, and might be a difficult one to create characters for, unless the DM has put some thought into this domain. Tread wisely.

War Domain

Last, but certainly not least, is the War Cleric. These Clerics believe that War is the ultimate state of existence: the strong thrive, the weak are trampled, and the clanging of steel is the most beautiful orchestra ever heard. War Gods are as varied as they come: some seek battle for the sheer thrill of combat and bloodsport, destroying peace and ushering in desperation and strife. Others see War as a grim necessity, and use their Clerics to protect those who find themselves embroiled in conflict. While other War Gods simply observe and draw power from combat, and bolster both sides based on more unknowable facets, such as tactical acumen, or mastery of fighting style. When playing a War Cleric, you can be certain of one thing: Blood and steel will be your most stalwart and steadfast companions.

Bonus Spells

Class Level

Spells


1st

Divine Favor

Shield of Faith

3rd

Magic Weapon

Spiritual Weapon

5th

Crusader's Mantle

Spirit Guardians

7th

Freedom of Movement

Stoneskin

9th

Flame Strike

Hold Monster

Features

War Priest: At 1st level, you gain access to heavy armor and martial weapons proficiencies. In addition, you gain a limited Extra Attack. Whenever you attack, as a bonus action, you may make an additional melee weapon attack. This ability can be used a number of times equal to your Wisdom ability modifier. A strong ability that loses power as you gain access to higher levels, where bonus actions become tied to increasingly powerful items and spells. Nevertheless, Extra Attack is all upside, even in a limited capacity.

Channel Divinity Guided Strike:  This ability allows you to add a +10 to any attack roll the War Cleric makes. You make this decision after you see the attack roll, but before the DM states the attack hits or misses. This ability is a good safety net, ensuring that only a critical failure can guarantee a miss in combat.

Channel Divinity War God's Blessing: This ability mimics Guided Strike, but instead, costs a reaction and is used when an Ally attacks.

Avatar of Battle: The War Cleric becomes a walking bulwark of armor. Whenever you take bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, the total amount of damage is halved. Unfortunately, this only applies to non-magical weapons, which means that at high level, you can often ignore this ability, as almost every creature has access to magical sources of damage.

Summary

ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK! A War Cleric is, unfortunately, a bit of a one-trick pony. Their spells are designed to buff attack rolls and damage output, with some strong spells gained at 7th and 9th level. Unfortunately, their features lack a "Wow!" factor to me. The most exciting thing a War Cleric will do by using their features is adding a +10 bonus a few times per day. While nothing to snuff at, the War Cleric seems to be a class focused more on creating NPCs for the DM, rather than something a Player would choose over other options available. The fact that Avatar of Battle is the final feature really makes this domain hard to recommend, especially when compared to a Forge or Peace Cleric.


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Role-playing as a Cleric

When role-playing a Cleric, the biggest questions to ask yourself are going to be related to the divine elephant in the room: your God. Like a Warlock, a Cleric's God is a supernatural NPC, or even just a force in the world, that the DM controls. It is an esoteric being, tied to its domain innately and intricately: convincing a War God to not BE a War God is impossible, as the entity would simply cease to exist if it was divorced from its divine spheres of influence. A Cleric is also subservient to their God: their spells are flavored as prayers for assistance, their actions are often predetermined or strongly recommended to align with their God's tenets and will. I believe the absolute glut of Domains is an effort to provide variety to a Class that is mostly pre-determined in choices being made.

That is not to say this is all medium armor, holy symbol, and radiant damage- far from it! A Cleric is more than their abilities and their God. When creating your Cleric, it is important to see the character for what they are: a person trying to follow a path that is demanding and resolute. Do they stutter and murmur their prayers, half-expecting them to go unanswered, like so many others? Or do they channel their God in every action, becoming a bastion of wisdom and strength in even the darkest of dungeons? What caused them to worship their God(s) in the first place? Were they born into an enclave of monks, and thus, never properly given a choice? Did they find their way to a temple, which healed them and introduced them to philosophy, after a life of violence and desperation? Or are they trying to foster a religion, and in doing so, face opposition and ridicule from other Clerics and organized religions? By thinking about your character's origin, consider the following:

  • How long have I been an adherent to this faith? Is it stable? Waning?

  • Do I view my spells and features as something my God has given me, or something that their philosophy and commandments have unlocked within me?

  • Am I trying to change the world? The city? The town? Myself?

  • What is something I struggle with, and how does my faith guide me in these struggles?

  • Is my religious order corrupt? Am I the answer to this?

As always, talk with your DM and ask them questions about the campaign, whether it be an adventure path or a homebrew. Clerics, and other classes belonging to organizations, like Paladins or Wizards, are often best realized in conjunction with discovering the world and the lore behind their origins.


Conclusion

The Cleric is a difficult class to master: even at low levels, the class requires an understanding of multiple gameplay elements and complex interactions of abilities. Your Divine Domain helps focus your decisions, however, allowing an ease of access to the "flavor" of Cleric you're approaching. It is my opinion that a Cleric will never drag a party's efficacy lower, simply because of the massive amount of tools included in the class's varied kits. Role-playing a Cleric is also very complex, as it requires quite a bit of understanding of mythology, lore, and your character's beliefs and how they'd interact with people who challenge or undermine their beliefs. While some players may prefer a simpler approach offered by the Life or Light Cleric, the philosophical contributions of each Domain can help a player find their voice through the various beliefs of the worlds you'll explore.

For Dungeon Masters, a Cleric can also be a consistent thorn in the side, simply by virtue of their classes' wide range of abilities and possible avenues of world-building. If you are homebrewing, a Cleric class will often act as a guide and an introduction to your world's cosmology, religions, and cultures. Consider using the class as a way to discover your particular brand of divinity, and how and when the Gods interact with your world(s).

Grip your holy symbol and embrace radiant damage when you choose to play as this class! Take a look at our Class Quiz as well to see if the Gods have smiled on you!


Tips

  • Introduced in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything are these optional Features: Potent Spellcasting, which allows a Cleric Class to add their Wisdom modifier to any cantrip damage rolls, or Blessed Strikes, which allow a Cleric to copy the Paladin's smite ability, only maxed out at 1d8, and only once per day. Some Cleric Classes also have an ability called Divine Strike, which allows them to add 1 or 2d8s worth of bonus damage on melee attacks. Each Domain has access to these abilities, and if your DM approves, add them to your character sheet. NO reason to turn down free bonuses!

  • There will rarely be an opportunity to not use the highest armor class you can acquire: while most Clerics gain medium armor proficiency, some gain heavy armor as well as a bonus proficiency. The higher your AC, the longer your Cleric will survive on the front line of battle, allowing you to cast more spells, deal more damage, and provide more support.

  • A Domain Spell can always be cast, as long as you have access to your spell slots. Many are also drawn from other spell lists, but are treated as a cleric spell for your benefit. This allows you to use some situationally useful magic items to buff spells from other classes, so keep that in mind!

  • A Cleric's holy symbol is often needed to cast their spell: luckily, holy symbols can be embossed on a shield, allowing you to cast spells with a free hand while maintaining a higher Armor Class due to a shield bonus. The only problem is you can't be wielding a weapon or shield at the same time while still being able to cast spells, unless that spell does not require Somatic Components.

  • If using the Lineage optional rules, try to ensure that your racial bonuses do not overlap with bonus proficiency granted by the domain cleric and its abilities. This can create a more versatile and effective character, without sacrificing options!

  • Clerics are considerably more tanky than other spellcasting classes, so do not be afraid to wade into battle, even at low levels. You might be able to keep the weaker classes alive, even if the Cleric Class isn't designed to be a tank.

  • You gain access to higher level spells every odd level. 7th level and 9th level in particular are power spikes for the 5e cleric!

  • Never forget: even if you cast using a bonus action, you can never cast two spells per round, unless one of those spells is a cantrip. Healing Word is a powerful spell, and with Potent Spellcasting, cantrips are no slouch either!

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Brendan "Amigo"

About the author

Brendan has been an avid fan of games, stories, and the human experience for a good part of his lifetime. Laughter, friendship, and advice are all things he lives for. As a Dungeon Master, he’s seen his fair share of campaigns, and is always looking to craft some cool experiences for his friends. He will talk for days, if you let him, about his homebrew content, as well as whatever new story or phenomenon has caught his attention this week. Favorite systems are Dungeons and Dragons, Monster Hearts, and the newly released LANCER. He prefers long walks on the moon, dancing like everyone can see him, and a nice chianti with fava beans, but no liver. He’s on a diet, and  liver meat is awfully fatty.

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