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DnD 5e - Cleric Subclass Breakdown

Last Updated: November 19th, 2020

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Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials or released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

Introduction

Your choice of domain is the single most important decision that you will make when playing a cleric. Your domain determines not only your character's central them as a divine spellcaster, but also your role on the battlefield. Depending on your Divine Domain, you might serve as a front-line martial warrior similar to the Paladin and the Fighter, you might be a durable support caster and healer, or you might largely ignore friendlier spellcasting in favor of incinerating your foes with divine magic.

Divine Strike vs. Cantrips

Weapon attacks and cantrips are both viable options for the clerics offensively. Until level 5 when cantrip damage increases and martial characters typically get Extra Attack, you can be effective with either regarless of your Divine Domain. At 5th level and beyond, your domain will detrmine which options are effective. Levels 5 through 7 are notably painful for clerics that prefer to use weapons, but after that point Divine Strike makes weapon damage roughly comparable for clerics expected to use weapons in combat.

The table below was originally a product of my article on Writing Homebrew Character Options, but the data is very helpful for choosing a cleric subclass so I've included here for reference.

Sample Cleric Damage Options: Weapons and Divine Strike vs. Cleric Cantrips
Mace Longsword Greatsword Sacred Flame Toll the Dead Word of Radiance
Level Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg.
1 1d6+3 6.5 1d8+3 7.5 2d6+3 10 1d8 4.5 1d12 6.5 1d6 each 3.5 each
4 1d6+4 7.5 1d8+4 8.5 2d6+4 11 1d8 4.5 1d12 6.5 1d6 each 3.5 each
5 1d6+4 7.5 1d8+4 8.5 2d6+4 11 2d8 9 2d12 13 2d6 each 7 each
8 1d6+5+1d8 13 1d8+5+1d8 14 2d6+5+1d8 16.5 2d8 9 2d12 13 2d6 each 7 each
11 1d6+5+1d8 13 1d8+5+1d8 14 2d6+5+1d8 16.5 3d8 13.5 3d12 19.5 3d6 each 10.5 each
14 1d6+5+2d8 17.5 1d8+5+2d8 18.5 2d6+5+2d8 21 3d8 13.5 3d12 19.5 3d6 each 10.5 each
17 1d6+5+2d8 17.5 1d8+5+2d8 18.5 2d6+5+2d8 21 4d8 18 4d12 26 4d6 each 14 each

Cleric Subclasses - Divine Domains

Arcana DomainSCAG

The Arcana Cleric steals some options from the Wizard, giving the Cleric a lot of really great utilities and support options, as well as some excellent offensive options. Access to wizard cantrips, even a limited number of them, allows the Arcana Domain easy access to cantrip damage types which go beyond the necrotic and radiant damage which are normally a staple for the cleric.

  1. Domain Spells: Some very good options, including some great utilities, but also a few options which you will almost never need.
    1. 1st Level: Detect Magic is one of the most useful and important Divinations in the game. Magic Missile is a fantastic, reliable damage option.
    2. 3rd Level: Both situationally useful at best.
    3. 5th Level: Dispel Magic is an extremely important tool, but Magic Circle is very situational.
    4. 7th Level: Arcane Eye is a fantastic way to scout areas which may be difficult or dangerous to explore in person. Secret Chest is a weird option that many people don't use a lot, but it's a great way to store sensitive or dangerous items like quest items.
    5. 9th Level: Both are very situational.
  2. Arcane Initiate: A free skill and two cantrips! Wizards have a very diverse set of options with some excellent effects. Don't feel like you need to run straight to the damage options, though those options are certainly tempting. Utility cantrips have a lot to offer, especially options like Prestidigitation and Shape Water. If you do go for offensive options, go for ones that expand your damage type options like Mind Sliver or options which improve your melee weapon attacks like Booming Blade, especially if you plan to fight in melee.
  3. Channel Divinity: Arcane Abjuration: Situational, but outsiders (Celestials, Elementals, Fey, and Fiends) are very common enemies which make up a huge chunk of the monster manual. This only affects one target, so you generally want to use it on the biggest thing in the room, even if you can't banish it. The banishment effect is terrible considering how easy it should be to kill the creatures which it affects.
  4. Spell Breaker: If you have Healing Word prepared (and you should), you can raise its level to whatever you need to remove whatever debuff you like as a Bonus Action. Do you need to remove spells from multiple allies? Try Mass Healing Word.
  5. Potent Spellcasting: This is already great for most Clerics, but it's especially good for the Arcana Domain Cleric because your two Wizard cantrips are treated as Cleric Cantrips, so they get the bonus damage too! If your cantrips affect multiple targets, this bonus damage applies to all of them. Acid Splash gets the bonus against both targets, and if you use Green-Flame Blade, Jeremy Crawford has confirmed on Twitter that the bonus applies to the secondary target initially and to both targets once you hit level 5 and Green-Flame Blade adds fire damage to your weapon attack. I haven't found a specific answer, but I assume that the same applies to Booming Blade.
  6. Arcane Mastery: This is absurdly versatile. The number of potential options is huge.

Death DomainDMG

A highly offensive domain, Death adds martial weapon proficiency and a lot of options for dealing necrotic damage. However, the domain lacks almost any support or utility options, so if your party wants buffs they may need to look elsewhere.

  1. Domain Spells: A lot of very good options, some of which aren't on the Cleric spell list. The 3rd-level options are the worst part of the domain, but the rest of the spell list is great.
    1. 1st Level: False Life is a fantastic buff at any level. The hit points aren't big, but with an hour duration you can afford to spend a level 1 spell slot several times a day to reduce your need to heal your allies. Ray of Sickness is nice damage at low levels, but your cantrips will outpace it at by 10.
    2. 3rd Level: Both of the effects last only a minute, and allow repeated saves. Unless you can almost gurantee that the target will fail their save, these arent reliable debuffs.
    3. 5th Level: Animate Dead requires frequent re-casting in 5e, so having it prepared every day for free is nice. Vampiric Touch is a great way to combine healing and damage output, and isn't normally available to Clerics.
    4. 7th Level: Blight deals decent damage, especially against plants, but doesn't scale particularly well and doesn't have a fun secondary effect. Death Ward seems horribly out of place on the Death domain, but it's a great buff.
    5. 9th Level: Antilife Shell is a great way to protect yourself, but Cloudkill is very hard to use since you can't redirect its path, and the damage isn't justifiable if it only hits enemies once.
  2. Bonus Proficiency: Martial weapons are nice, but the difference between a mace and a longsword isn't significant since Clerics never get Extra Attack. You probably don't want to use reach weapons, either, since you don't have heavy armor to keep your AC high when you forgo a shield.
  3. Reaper: There aren't many necromancy cantrips and some of them are already on the Cleric's spell list like Toll the Dead. Chill Touch seems like the obvious choice: it has better range than offensive cleric cantrips and the damage is good. You'll want to use Toll the Dead if you can get within range, but having expanded range makes it more likely that you can reach two enemies within 5 feet of each other.
  4. Channel Divinity: Touch of Death: This really isn't a lot of damage.
  5. Inescapable Destruction: Considering that you probably took Chill Touch and/or Toll the Dead, and many of your spells will deal Necrotic damage, resistance to Necrotic damage is a huge problem which this completely removes. Immunity is still and issue, but complete immunity to necrotic damage is rare, and generally limited to very high-level creatures (Liches, etc.).
  6. Divine Strike: Necrotic damage is already among the most reliable damage types, and you ignore damage resistance to necrotic damage so it's all but guaranteed damage. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  7. Improved Reaper: Many powerful Necromancy spells like Inflict Wounds, Blight, and Finger of Death are single-target. The ability to affect two targets with one casting doubles their effectiveness, even if the targets need to be within 5 feet of each other.

Forge DomainXGtE

A great spell list, a clear role on the front lines in combat, and unique utility and support options. The Force Domain is excellent in every aspect. Forge Domain Clerics make good Defenders, and have enough damage output to be a threat in combat even without relying on spellcasting.

  1. Domain Spells: Absolutely stellar. The Forge Domain's spell list is almost entirely composed of spells not normally available to clerics, including a couple excellent offensive options from the Paladin spell list and some great utility options from the Wizard spell list.
    1. 1st Level: Identify is only occasionally necessary, and can generally wait for you to take a full rest to prepare it. But Searing Smite is good enough to carry both spells. It's normally a paladin-exclusive spell, and your spell save DCs will be higher than most paladin's. Even at high levels, it remains a cheap and reliable damage boost for your weapon attacks.
    2. 3rd Level: Decent ongoing damage, and access to a crucial buff which is normally only available to paladins and wizards.
    3. 5th Level: Another excellent paladin-exclusive spell and a crucial defensive option.
    4. 7th Level: Neither spell is on the Cleric spell list, and both are excellent, though somewhat situational.
    5. 9th Level: Again, neither spell is on the Cleric spell list. Both spells are fantastic.
  2. Bonus Proficiencies: Heavy armor is always welcome on a cleric, regardless of their role, but it's especially important on a front-line cleric like a Forge Domain Cleric.
  3. Blessing of the Forge: Put a free +1 weapon into the party on a functionally permanent basis. Absolutely crucial if your game doesn't use magic items, but even if it does this is a wonderful and flexible buff.
  4. Channel Divinity: Artisan’s Blessing: Possibly situational, but extremely versatile. Trapped in a pit? Make a ladder. Stuck door? Make a portable ram. Block tunnel? Make pick axe.
  5. Soul of the Forge: The damage resistance is welcome, but a fixed bonus to AC like this is extremely rare in 5e.
  6. Divine Strike: The bonus damage is good, but fire is among the most commonly-resisted damage types. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  7. Saint of Forge and Fire: This is arguably too good, even at this level.

Grave DomainXGtE

A spellcasting-focused domain with a little bit of healing and a little bit of damage, the Grave Domain strikes an interesting balance between offensive and healing options. Most of the abilities are good, but there are a handful of very weak abilities thrown into the mix.

  1. Domain Spells: Excellent, with a handful of spells that won't be especially useful on a regular basis.
    1. 1st Level: False Life provides temporary hit points for an hour. As a 1st-level spell it will eventually become a trivial expenditure of your daily spellcasting. When you get to high levels, casting this before and after every fight is a great use of a spell slot. Oh, and you get some other spell that's already on your spell list that I don't care for.
    2. 3rd Level: Both spells are situational, and neither is particularly good.
    3. 5th Level: Revivify is a cleric tax, and every cleric should take it because it's too good to not do so. Vampiric Touch is a great option if you get dragged into melee, but try to avoid needing it.
    4. 7th Level: A decent damage option that's not on the Cleric spell list, and a crucial buff with a nice, long duration.
    5. 9th Level: Antilife Shell is a fantastic defensive option which will keep melee enemies at bay while you kill them with ranged spells. Saddling you with Raise Dead every day is pointless.
  2. Circle of Mortality: This makes Cure Wounds considerably more appealing when an ally hits 0 hit points. The difference in the amount healed between Cure Wounds and Healing Word can be significant, especially if you up-cast the spells. This on its own is great, but it only marginally improves the tactical benefit of in-combat healing. The ability to use Spare the Dying at range a Bonus Action is intended to fill in for Healing Word so that Cure Wounds is more appealing, but personally I still think that Healing Word is a better tactical option in most cases. You can notably choose to cast Spare the Dying as either an Action or a Bonus Action, which is neat if you want to do something like cast Spiritual Weapon (Bonus Action) or Cure Wounds (Action) in the same turn.

    Circle of Mortality can be abused by taking allies who are at very few hit points and beating them unconscious to get extra free healing, which can be cathartic, but your allies may be nervous about allowing you to do so and your DM might get ideas about imposing a drawback of some kind.

  3. Eyes of the Grave: Detect Evil is on the Cleric spell list, and does the same thing, but detects more creatures. Sure, the area is smaller, but that doesn't seem like enough to make this meaningful.
  4. Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave: Use this with a rogue, or with a spellcaster with a high-damage spell that requires an attack like Harm.
  5. Sentinel at Death's Door: Critical hits on your allies can turn a tough fight into a crushing defeat in a single roll. Abilities which mitigate critical hits are few and far between, making this a rare and potent defensive option.
  6. Potent Spellcasting: By this level you can easily have 20 Wisdom, giving an excellent boost to your damage output. Note that this only applies to Cleric cantrips, so you can't use it in conjunction with Magic Initiate or cantrips gained by mutlcassing.
  7. Keeper of Souls: This probably won't provide a significant amount of healing, but it's a fun passive ability and it might even allow you to rescue an ally at 0 hit points without cutting into your actions on your turn.

Knowledge DomainPHB

Knowledge provides some very good abilities, and a lot of great options for gathering information by mundane, magical, and potentially metagame means. Unfortunately, the spell list is disappointing, and doesn't provide many options which will see frequent use.

  1. Domain Spells: A handful of good divinations, but the majority of the spells are very situational, and can typically wait for a long rest for you to prepare them.
    1. 1st Level: Command can be very helpful if you use the right command, but Identify is very situational, and you can generally wait to identify things until you can take a long rest.
    2. 3rd Level: Suggestion is a great way to handle a lot of problems if you use it well. Augury is easily on of my favorite divinations, though it takes a bit of practice and familiarity with your DM to really make it work. If your group is ever stuck arguing about how to proceed, Augury and be used to quickly narrow your possibilities by eliminating options which yield "woe" results.
    3. 5th Level: Both options are very situational.
    4. 7th Level: Arcane eye is a very effective way to scout nearby areas which might be dangerous or difficult to access normally. Confusion is a difficult spell to use, but if your targets will reliably fail the Wisdom saving throw, they lose 80% of their turns for the duration.
    5. 9th Level: Legend Lore and Scrying are very situational options which see infrequent use, and can nearly always wait for you to take a long rest to prepare them on the rare occasions that you need them.
  2. Blessings of Knowledge: Two languages are nice, but quickly stop mattering when you gain access to Tongues. The two free Knowledge skills are much more important, especially since you get to add twice your proficiency bonus.
  3. Channel Divinity: Knowledge of the Ages: This is a fantastic utility ability. Forgot to bring a Rogue? Grab some thieves tools.
  4. Channel Divinity: Read Thoughts: Reading minds is situationally useful, but Suggestion can be very effective.
  5. Potent Spellcasting: By this level you can easily have 20 Wisdom, giving an excellent boost to your damage output. Note that this only applies to Cleric cantrips, so you can't use it in conjunction with Magic Initiate or cantrips gained by mutlcassing.
  6. Visions of the Past: This is very hard to analyze. If your DM is creative and open-minded, this could grant you profound insight into the plot of the game, and can provide a very potent story-telling tool. If your DM is tight-lipped, and doesn't like giving up secrets, you may find this ability to be difficult to use effectively.

Life DomainPHB

Magical healing is one of the Cleric's most important functions, and no Cleric can compete with the Life Cleric's capacity for healing. The Life Cleric also doubles as a solid melee character due to their access to heavy armor.

  1. Domain Spells: The low level options are absolutely fantastic, and many of the Life domain spells are essentially required for a Cleric to take. Unfortunately, the high level options are less useful.
    1. 1st Level: Nearly every Cleric will take these spells. Cure Wounds is basically required to survive any game of DnD, and Bless is nearly a win condition at low levels where adding 1d4 to a roll can exceed your proficiency bonus.
    2. 3rd Level: Lesser Restoration is nice to have handy, but much of the time the effecs which it removes can wait until you can rest and prepare spells to fix them. Spiritual Weapon is a great way to handle things like ghosts, and to use your Bonus Action. Of course, Life Clerics will typically take Word of Healing, so much of the time your Bonus Action will be dedicated to healing.
    3. 5th Level: Beacon of Hope is situational, but can be nice to cast before a rest to maximize the effectiveness of your healing spells. Revivify is the "Cleric Tax", so getting it for free is really nice.
    4. 7th Level: Two interesting options with 8 hour durations.
    5. 9th Level: Mass Cure is redundant with Preserve Life, and if you need Raise Dead prepared every day you are either in a terrible game or in a game with a Zealot Barbarian.
  2. Bonus Proficiency: With heavy armor and a shield, you can work on the front lines as well as any Fighter. The improved AC will also help to reduce the need to heal yourself instead of healing or supporting your allies.
  3. Disciple of Life: This isn't a ton of healing, but it will be especially useful with Word of Healing, which is a good choice because it uses a Bonus Action, but normally doesn't heal for a particularly large amount.
  4. Channel Divinity: Preserve Life: Fantastic when you're looking at a possible TPK. Since you're healing so much, most characters of your level will go from 0 to half hit points, unless you're looking at someone like a Barbarian with d12 hit dice and 20 Constitution or if you're splitting the point between multiple allies. Even so, the scaling is excellent as you gain additional uses of Channel Divinity this will quickly become your go-to option for large amounts of hit point recovery while in combat.
  5. Blessed Healer: Coupled with your excellent AC, there is now almost never a reason to cast a healing spell on yourself instead of helping your allies. However, casting a healing spell to restore hit points should generally be an option of last resort, so this may not trigger as frequently as you would like.
  6. Divine Strike: Radiant damage is among the most reliable damage types available. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  7. Supreme Healing: As you add more and more dice, your rolls will skew toward the statistical average, meaning that each d8 from Cure Wounds is effectively 4.5 points of healing. Maximizing the die improves this to 8 points of healing, almost doubling the effects of your healing spells and thereby making your spell slots spent on healing much more efficient, allowing you to reserve high-level spell slots for more interesting things.

Light DomainPHB

The Light Cleric is a Controller and a Striker, specializing in dealing damage both to single targets and to areas. Clerics already have the best Radiant damage spells in the game, and the Light domain supplements those spells with some of the best Fire damage spells. If your party doesn't have room for both a Cleric and a Wizard, the Light domain is a good choice because you can so easily replace the Wizard's ability to quickly handle groups of weak enemies.

Light Domain Cleric Example Build

  1. Domain Spells: A fantastic set of offensive spells which close the gap between Clerics and Wizards.
    1. 1st-Level: Faerie Fire is a great way to handle invisible creatures, but it's also helpful support option for allies that rely on attacks because it's an easy source of Advantage against multiple targets. Burning Hands is a great low-level AOE damage spell, but resist the urge to burn all of your spell slots casting it or you won't have any slots to heal with.
    2. 3rd-Level: Scorching Ray is a great option, especially if you have Bless running to boost the attack rolls. Flaming Sphere is strictly worse than Spiritual Weapon, but it's good enough that you could consider not preparing spiritual weapon if you're short on space for prepared spells.
    3. 5th-Level: Daylight is situational, but Fireball is the sledgehammer of offensive spells: sometimes you just need to hit your problems until they fall down.
    4. 7th-Level: Excellent area control options.
    5. 9th-Level: Flame Strike is considerably less important since you get Fireball, and Scrying is situational.
  2. Bonus Cantrip: Not spectacular, but a Light Cleric really should have light, and someone in every party should be able to cast it.
  3. Warding Flare: You won't get a ton of uses, so save this for enemies which can do a lot of damage on a single attack. This needs to be activated "before an attack hits or misses", which is frustratingly vague, but I assume it means "before the result of the attack is determined". So your DM could roll, ask "Does a 25 hit?" knowing full well that it does, and you could scream "Warding Flare!" before the DM says "you are hit" and the DM would then roll with Disadvantage. Of course, your DM might read that differently and my take my portrayal of that interaction poorly, so check with your DM before you assume how this works.
  4. Channel Divinity: Radiance of the Dawn: The damage isn't great beyond low levels, but magical darkness can really cause problems, and a guranteed way to remove it is very convenient.
  5. Improved Flare: Fantastic if you have allies who are squishier than you like a Wizard, or if you need to buy time until you can heal someone.
  6. Potent Spellcasting: By this level you can easily have 20 Wisdom, giving an impressive boost to your damage output. Note that this only applies to Cleric cantrips, so you can't use it in conjunction with Magic Initiate to turn .
  7. Corona of Light: If you're anything like me, you want to make a joke about light beer whenever you see this ability. But unlike light beer, this is fun. It's essentially an overdrive button for your fire and radiant damage spells, which is especially nice with the Light domain's Domain Spells.

Nature DomainPHB

Nature provides a lackluster spell list, and a Channel Divinity ability which only functions against a small sliver of the monster manual. The domains other abilities are fantastic, but since spells and Channel Divinity are such major parts of how the Cleric operates, it's hard to recommend this domain.

  1. Domain Spells: The nature spell list includes no truly fantastic options, and most of the options are either situational or outright bad.
    1. 1st Level: Both spells are very situational.
    2. 3rd Level: Barksin isn't worth your Concentration, but dropping Spike Growth on or in front of a troublesome enemy can be an excellent deterrent.
    3. 5th Level: Plant Growth is an interesting area control spell, and a great way to make hedge mazes or befriend farmers. Wind wall is situational.
    4. 7th Level: Both are very situational. Grasping Vine seems like it should be a great single-target crowd control effect, but it doesn't actually prevent the target from moving out of the vine's 30 foot range, so it quickly loses effectiveness.
    5. 9th Level: Insect Plague is a good crowd control option, and Tree Stride is a fun long-range travel option for Clerics, who typically last options like Teleport.
  2. Acolyte of Nature: Druids have some fantastic cantrips, including some great utility options which are usually exlcusive to Druids. The bonus skill is nice, too.
  3. Bonus Proficiency: With heavy armor and a shield, you can work on the front lines as well as any Fighter. The improved AC will also help to reduce the need to heal yourself instead of healing or supporting your allies.
  4. Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants: Very situational.
  5. Dampen Elements: This is insanely useful. It's like Absorb Elements without a spell slot, and you can use it on yourself or any other creature within range. You're still limited to one Reaction per round, unfortunately, so at times you may be forced to choose between two or more allies who are taking damage from the same source.
  6. Divine Strike: Note that you get to choose the damage type every time you hit, so you can easily switch energy types as the need arises, allowing you to avoid resistances and immunities and capitalize on vulnerabilities. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  7. Master of Nature: Very situational. At this level beasts and plant creatures are incredibly rare.

Order DomainGGtR / TCoE

Easily one of the most powerful options, the Order Domain is an excellent option for a cleric looking to lead or support their party. In heavy armor you're fine on the front lines, and Voice of Authority provides a significant force multiplier for anyone in your party who deals big piles of damage on a single attack. At mid and high levels Divine Strike and Order's Wrath provides ways to deal more damage with a weapon, but they're not so central to the domain that you should feel bad ignoring them in favor of spellcasting.

  1. Domain Spells: The spell list oscilates between pairs of fantastic options and pairs of situational options. Overally it's fairly good, and you'll get a lot of use out of many of the spells, especially the enchantments.
    1. 1st Level: Both excellent options with a wide variety of uses, and they remain useful well into high levels.
    2. 3rd Level: Hold Person is situational, but can be very handy in a campaign with a lot of humanoid enemies. Zone of Truth is rarely important in any campaign.
    3. 5th Level: A staple cleric spell, and a good crowd control option.
    4. 7th Level: Both spells are situational at best.
    5. 9th Level: Commune is one of my absolute favorite divinations because it's so versatile and reliable. Dominate Person is technically situational, but if there's a humanoid in an encounter it's hard to think of a better spell to cast.
  2. Bonus Proficiencies: Heavy armor is always a fantastic option for clerics, and an additional skill is always welcome.
  3. Voice of Authority: Despite many valiant attempts, clerics are nearly never as good at weapon attacks as thier more martially-minded allies. Use this to give your rogue a chance to deliver a Sneak Attack during your turn (Sneak Attack is once per turn, not once per round), or if there isn't a rogue in the party give it to whoever will deal the most damage. The spell you cast only needs to be a leveled spell, so when you're high enough level that your low-level spells won't make a big impact in combat, you can use bonus action spells like Healing word to trigger this effect and spend your action casting a cantrip. Once you get Embodiment of Law you can cast enchantment spells as bonus actions a few times per day, which gives you even more ways to do this.
  4. Channel Divinity: Order's Demand: Disarm every target within 30 feet on failed will saves. Excellent against humanoid enemies, but less useful against monsters.
  5. Embodiment of Law: 3-5 times per day doesn't seem like a lot, but with the Order domain's emphasis on enchantment spells that's probably enough to cover most situations where you want to cast an enchantment and do some other action on the same turn.
  6. Divine Strike: Psychic damage is among the most reliable damage types in the game, but unintelligent creatures like zombies and constructs are frequently immune so you'll want to bring other offensive options to handle those enemies. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  7. Order's Wrath: Your ideal use case for this is to hit an enemy with your weapon and deal Divine Strike damage, then cast a leveled spell as a bonus action to trigger Voice of Authority and have your ally hit the same target to trigger the bonus damage. That means you're dealing 4d8 psychic damage plus whatever your weapon does plus whatever your ally's weapon does. That's pretty good, but by this level you're also dealing 4d8 damage with Sacred Flame, and your spellcasting DC will be probably be more reliable than your attack bonus.

Peace DomainTCoE

Ban this domain. I do not say that lightly. Ban this domain.

The Peace Domain domain is full of extremely obvious abuse cases and problems which break the math of the game and can turn an otherwise totally normal party into an unstoppable force of both incredible tactical efficiency and absolutely ridiculous shenanigans. Right from first level, Peace Domain can provide +2d4 on attack rolls and saving throws to two members of the party, mathematically trivializing combat.

As the cleric gains levels, that two-person limit scales to gradually include the whole party, and they gain the ability to teleport and redirect damage from any source, eventually adding resistance to that damage, thereby effectively giving the whole party perpetual resistance to damage (so long as their Reaction has not been used), and making them immune to grapples and many other crowd control effects by allowing them to teleport to each other.

If you want to allow this domain in your game, I recommend these changes:

  • Rule Change: Only one die can be added to any given d20 roll. No more stacking Bless, Guidance, Bardic Inspiration, and whatever else. (I recommend this as a house rule anyway; this issue long predates Peace Domain.)
  • Emboldening Bond:
    • If a creature willingly attacks another creature in the bond, the bond is immediately broken for all creatures. That creature cannot be part of another Emboldening Bond until the cleric completes a long rest. This prevents the abuse cases I describe below where the party can teleport for free by punching each other or throwing rocks.
    • The number of uses and targets increases by the same amount and at the same levels as your Proficiency Bonus increases (5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th level), but is not actually tied to your Proficiency Bonus. This is solely to prevent multiclass abuse.
  • Protective Bond: Consider one of these options:
    • The user immediately loses the benefits of the Emboldening Bond for the remainder of the effect, allowing them to sacrifice thier own benefits in order to save an ally from a potentially lethal source of damage.
    • Split the damage between the original recipient and whoever spends their Reaction to activate Protective Bond using the same rules as the Warding Bond spell.
  • Potent Spellcasting: Considering the theme, I honestly don't know why this is here. Leave it here as a peculiarity, or replace it with something novel like allowing Guidance to be cast at 30-foot range.
  • Expansive Bond: Remove the resistance mechanic. Doubling the range is plenty considering how good Emboldening Bond is already.

With those changes in place, this is an excellent support subclass. Warding Bond really emphasizes teamwork and sticking together, and provides fantastic benefits for doing so. Emboldening Bold is useful throughout your career, and your ability to use it on more targets as you gain levels is incredibly useful on top of the growing benefits. If you want to play a back-line support caster, it's hard to go wrong here.

Despite the name of the domain, there's not much to do with "peace" here. Sure, none of the class options are offensive (except Potent Spellcasting, which is inexplicably present here), but the Peace Domain's primary function is making your party of violent murderers more effective at performing violence. Sure, you don't need to get your hands dirty, but that doesn't absolve you.

  1. Domain Spells: Mostly healing and defensive options, but taken as a whole the spells address a variety of problems that an adventuring party will face in typical adventures. With the right spell from the Order Domain's spell list, you can prevent are repair most problems which might afflict your party with the exception of actual hit point damage since none of the Peace Domain's spells restore hit points. Fortunately, you can still depend on your regular allotment of spells, and Channel Divinity: Balm of Peace provides some additional healing.
    1. 1st Level: Excellent defensive options for yourself or an ally.
    2. 3rd Level: Aid is good enough that many people prepare it every day, so getting that for free is fantastic. Warding Bond is more situational, but since Peace Domain is a back-line cleric subclass you've got a big pool of hit points which you're not doing much with so you may as well share it with whoever is serving as your party's Defender.
    3. 5th Level: Two situational options that you're not likely to use every day.
    4. 7th Level: A situational defensive buff and a save-or-suck which amounts to a "time out bubble".
    5. 9th Level: Greater Restoration is only situationally useful, but it's an essential healing option so having it handy is nice. Telepathic Bond is a huge advantage for adventurers and you should use it frequently.
  2. Implement of Peace: A free skill is always welcome. Insight is typically a great choice for the Cleric since it's Wisdom-based, but Persuasion is also very helpful.
  3. Emboldening Bond: This is spectacular. This is basically Bless but with a 10-minute duration and it also applies to Ability Checks. Bless will admittedly be more useful for creatures making more than one attack per turn, but that's fine. They stack. Let me say that again: Emboldening Bond and Bless stack. Level 1, pick two people and they get +2d4 to attacks and saving throws. On average, that doubles a level 1 character's expected attack bonus, and saving throws are dramatically less threatening.

    Even better, this whole thing progress based on your Proficiency Bonus. If you took one level of cleric and never came back, you're just as good with this feature as a cleric of the same level.

    Emboldening Bond is the Peace Domain's central feature, and who gets to be part of the bond is an extremely important tactical decision for the Peace Domain Cleric. Since Proficiency Bonus advances so slowly, you can't cover a full party of 4 until level 9. That somewhat limits the benefits, but if you stay out of trouble and rely on saving throw cantrips like Sacred Flame there's little reason why you need to be party of the bond. Put it on your front-line allies, and gradually add your back-line allies as your Proficiency Bonus scales.

    Honestly, this should not be this good. Stacking d4's from various sources is already an abuse case, and this just makes that way too easy. Throw in Guidance and Bardic Inspiration and your party is basically incapable of failure. As a DM, I recommend disallowing the stacking of anything that adds a die to rolls. So players get one of Guidance, Bless, Emboldening Bond, Bardic Inspiration, or whatever else.

  4. Channel Divinity: Balm of Peace: Not much healing, especially compared to something like Channel Divinity: Preserve Life, but if your party is clone enough together you can hit all of them and any pets or summons in the same action, especially if you have a lot of speed and are flying (centaurs and aarakocra are great for this). At low levels, this can prevent a TPK. It's also a great way to expend remaining uses of Channel Divinity before you take a rest.

    However, as you gain levels its usefulness in combat will diminish, and it will become mostly obsolete once Mass Cure Wounds becomes available.

  5. Protective Bond: Fantastic both for protecting frail allies like spellcasters (including you, potentially) and for repositioning allies in a hurry. There's no limitation on how often you can use this, and in a pinch you could make an unarmed strike against an ally and use Protective Bond to pull another ally adjacent to the target. This does consume the Reaction of the creature that teleports, but that's a price that is absolutely worth paying.

    Example of shenanigans: If your party includes a familiar, you can put the familiar into your Emboldening Bond (provided that you have space to justify doing so). Familiars get just one hit point, so even the smallest amount of damage kills them and the owner of the familiar needs to invest the time and gold to bring them back. Protective Bond allows you to both keep the familiar alive and use the familiar as a potentially flying teleportation beacon. Send the familiar where you need to be, throw a rock at them, then teleport to them and absorb the damage.

    Another example of shenanigans: A Path of the Totem Warrior can have resistance to all damage while raging by this level. Throw Heroism on top of that, and they're a nearly-bottomless mountain of hit points and can use their Reaction every turn to happily take damage for the rest of the party, conveniently halving all damage that they take all while enjoying Heroism's perpetually-replenishing pool of temporary hit points.

  6. Potent Spellcasting: By this level you can easily have 20 Wisdom, giving an excellent boost to your damage output. Note that this only applies to Cleric cantrips, so you can't use it in conjunction with Magic Initiate or cantrips gained by mutlcassing.
  7. Expansive Bond: Considering that Protective Bond has no usage limitaiton beyond taking a Reaction, this is an easy way to effectively give your whole party resistance to all damage by shuffling the damage between members of your party. So long as everyone has a decently pool of hit points (wizards may need be selfish here), everyone can sacrifice a little bit for the whole party to benefit considerably.

Tempest DomainPHB

Tempest is very offensive, falling somewhere between Life's durability and Light's damage output. Tempest's abilities and spells provide several fun crowd control and area control options.

  1. Domain Spells: A handful of utility options, but mostly blasting. Clerics don't have many built-in options for lightning or thunder damage, so these are great additions in conjunction with the domain features.
    1. 1st Level: Fog cloud is a great escape or crowd control mechanism, and Thunderwave is great for when you get in over your head in melee and need to buy yourself some space.
    2. 3rd Level: Gust of Wind is very situational, but Shatter is basicaly diet fireball.
    3. 5th Level: Sleet storm is a mediocre crowd control spell, but Call Lightning is really great. You can start your cloud at the beginning of a fight, and spend the next 10 minutes killing things with a single spell slot. Since the damage scales at 1d10 per spell level, it remains viable into high levels.
    4. 7th Level: Ice storm combines decent damage with a small crowd-control effect, but Control Water is only useful on those rare days when you have a large body of water handy.
    5. 9th Level: Destructive Wave does excellent damage of types which are very rarely resisted, and Insect Plague is a fantastic area control option.
  2. Bonus Proficiencies: Heavy armor is great on a Cleric, and Martial Weapons add a few more combat options. With heavy armor and coupled with Wrath of the Storm, you might even consider pickup up a 2-handed weapon.
  3. Wrath of the Storm: At low level this will outright kill enemies. At high levels it's a mild deterrent, but hopefully won't get used much because you should have excellent AC.
  4. Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath: Great for when you absolutely, positively need to Thunderwave every enemy in the room. Don't be tempted to use this with Wrath of the Storm; that's a tragic waste of a great ability.
  5. Thunderbolt Strike: This combines well with Wrath of the Storm when you need to get out of melee for whatever reason.
  6. Divine Strike: Thunder is among the best damage types in the game. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  7. Stormborn: Near-permanent flight! Flight is absolutely crucial at high levels, and getting it this easily can free up resources for more exciting things.

Trickery DomainPHB

Trickery offers a great spell list, but the class abilities aren't very good.

  1. Domain Spells: Lots of really fun options, many of which aren't normally available to Clerics.
    1. 1st Level: Disguise Self and Charm Person can diffuse quite a few social situations, but Charm Person can't completely replace a real Face.
    2. 3rd Level: Mirror Image is arguably better than having a decent AC, and Pass Without a Trace turns a party of stompy Fighters into a roaming ball of quiet murder.
    3. 5th Level: Blink gives you a 50% chance to be untargetable between turns, which is great since you're probably your parties healer, so it costs you very little be untargetable by allies. Dispel Magic is situational, but its so useful that not preparing it can often be a lethal mistake.
    4. 7th Level: Dimension Door is situational, but very effective. Polymorph is one of the most versatile effects in the game, and call allow you to solve a wide variety of problems with the right beast form.
    5. 9th Level: Modify Memory is situational, but Dominate Person is a great way to turn a powerful enemy into a fun pet for up to a minute.
  2. Blessing of the Trickster: You can't use this on yourself, so use it on whoever in your party is making a ton of noise stomping around in heavy armor.
  3. Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity: This can be difficult to use effectively, but once you get your head around it, it's very potent.
  4. Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows: Invisibility is great, but one round just isn't enough.
  5. Divine Strike: Poison is among the most commonly-resisted damage types in the game, and immunity is common too. Bring damage cantrips for foes like undead and constructs. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  6. Improved Duplicity: This allows you to keep duplicates near all of your allies to buff or heal them with touch range spells, or to keep your enemies very confused.

Twilight DomainTCoE

A very well-rounded subclass, the Twilight Domain thrives on the front lines where they can both protect their allies effectively and make themselves a decent threat. Their abilities are primary buffs, utilities, and defensive options, and offense is mostly an afterthought, but Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuarty makes the Twilight Domain cleric a perfect option for a party full of "glass canons".

Twilight domain's tactics are extremely simple. Keep Vigilant Blessing running in case combat breaks out. When combat starts, start with Twilight Sanctuary and keep your allies in the radius to protect them with the temporary hit points. After that, default to normal cleric things: swing weapons or cast spells.

  1. Domain Spells: Almost all good options, but a handful of situational options which you may have trouble using.
    1. 1st Level: The lowest-level counter to invisibility, and a staple low-level save-or-suck. Sleep will stop being reliably useful after low levels, but Faerie Fire never stops working.
    2. 3rd Level: See Invisibility is another excellent counter to invisibility, and having Faerie Fire handy allows you to easily spot invisible foes then reveal them to you party without needing to have See Invisibility running on everyone. Moonbeam is a great combat option for the narrow window of levels 3 and 4 before your cantrip damage increases and Sacred Flame will be almost as effective as a 2nd-level spell which requires Concentration. After that, you'll never use it unless you meet a shapeshifter.
    3. 5th Level: Slow, mediocre healing, and a magical place to rest which doubles as a go-to option when you're out in the open and need cover.
    4. 7th Level: Aura of Life is generally only useful against certain types of undead like shadows, but Greater Invisibility is one of the best buffs in the game.
    5. 9th Level: Circle of Power is normally a Paladin exclusive, and you get it long before the Paladin does. Mislead is neat, but very situational.
  2. Bonus Proficiencies: Perfect for a front-line cleric.
  3. Eyes of Night: Darkvision is great if you don't already have it, and the absolutely absurd 300 ft. range is unprecedented. 120 ft. would be blue. On top of that, you can share it with your allies for an hour at a time and you can refresh thre ability by spending a spell slot of any level. Consider that the Darkvision spell is 2nd-level, that's phenomenal.
  4. Vigilant Blessing: But wait, there's more! On top of the other amazing stuff that Twilight Domain gets at first level, you can give someone Advantage on their next Initiative roll. I recommend an Assassin Rogue if one is in your party, otherwise, go for one of your party's spellcasters even if that means you. The effect lasts until it expires, so you want to get this set up again the moment that combat ends so that you're never not benefiting from this.
  5. Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary: If this was a fire-and-forget effect that granted temporary hit points or removed charm/fear once, I would rate it blue because the pool of temporary hit points is enormous. Instead, it refreshes every round for a minute. Remember that clerics can use Channel Divinity once per short rest at this level, going up to 3 times per short rest. This makes your whole party incredibly difficult to kill, and makes them all but immune to both charm and fear effects.

    The light effect here is a bit unclear, as it doesn't explain how it interacts with other light sources. Does it reduce existing light levels? How does it interact with magical light? What about spells like Daylight or Darkness? I'm honestly not sure and I'm hesitant to offer suggestions. It's possible that brighter light simply overrides the light from Twilight Sanctuary, and if that's the case I'm fairly confident that that doesn't cause you any problems.

    This ability is exceptionally powerful. If it's a problem in your game, I recommend a fix: The temporary hit point option applies once, and ends if the creature exits the area of effect. Allies within the area gain Advantage on saves against charm/fear and can re-attempt their save on any ongoing charm/fear effects currently affecting them. The cleric must maintain Concentration as though Concentrating on a spell.

  6. Steps of Night: Magical flight is a crucial tactical option, and activating it as a Bonus Action without spending spell slot is phenomenal. Granted, this only works in Dim Light, but you can produce Dim Light with Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary, or in a dark place you can hold a candle. You can use this a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus every day, which is frequently enough to get you through every fight where you'll absolutely need to be flying.
  7. Divine Strike: Radiant damage is among the most reliable damage types available. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  8. Twilight Shroud: Effectively +2 AC for your whole party. Mathematically impactful at any level, and it still stacks with the vast majority of other AC buffs. Your allies may also be able to use this cover to hide, but check with your DM.

War DomainPHB

The War Cleric reduces the gap between the Cleric and the Paladin, emphasizing front-line martial prowess a bit more than spellcasting. While this is a fun concept with several great options, it's often difficult to use the War domains options in conjunction because so many of them depend on Concentration and/or Bonus Actions.

  1. Domain Spells: Many really fantastic options, but more than half of the domain spells require Concentration, which makes it hard to use more then one or two in a fight.
    1. 1st Level: Divine Favor won't remain useful beyond low levels, but at low level it's a nice bit of extra damage with a decent duration that costs a bonus action to cast. Shield of Faith will remain useful at every level. +2 AC is big in 5e, and 10 minutes is a fantastic duration for a spell slot. However, it requires Concentration, which means that you can't combine it with other great low-level buffs like Bless.
    2. 3rd Level: Since Magic Weapon requires Concentration, you generally only want to use it if you lack permanent magical weapons, and only against enemies that resist non-magical weapons. Spiritual Weapon is a great way to convert your Bonus Action into damage output.
    3. 5th Level: Crusader's Mantle is Divine Favor for the whole party. The damage is still small, but if you have someone using Two-Weapon Fighting, or someone with Extra Attacks, it gets a bit better. Spirit Guardians is a great way to either keep enemies away from you, or to wear down enemies who aren't able to move away from you fast enough to stay out of the aura. If you're facing something that likes to grapple, turn this on and go get friendly.
    4. 7th Level: Stoneskin is a fantastic buff, especially since gold isn't particularly useful in 5e, but won't help you once you get Avatar of Battle. Freedom of movement is very situationally useful.
    5. 9th Level: Flame Strike is a fantastic damage spell, and Hold Monster is a great way to remove an enemy from a fight.
  2. Bonus Proficiencies: Heavy armor is great on a Cleric, and Martial Weapons add a few more combat options.
  3. War Priest: As many as five extra attacks per day! This is terribly disappointing. The fact that it takes your bonus action is absurd on top of the tragically low number of times you get to use it. Fortunately, Divine Strike adds to the damage so your attacks will at least feel impactful.
  4. Channel Divinity: Guided Strike: It's pretty rare that your attacks are crucial enough to justify using this, but sometimes you just really need to hit something once.
  5. Channel Divinity: War God's Blessing: While Clerics don't typically deal a huge amount of damage on their attacks, allies like Rogues certainly do, and when they miss their one attack for the round a +10 can really change the outcome of a fight.
  6. Divine Strike: While not as flashy as the Nature Cleric's version of Divine Strike, the ability to deal the same damage type as your weapon allows you to change damage types with relative ease by changing weapons. However, against enemies with resistance to non-magic weapon damage, this will be very frustrating. If your game doesn't use magic items, be sure to prepare Magic Weapon or similar buffs which cause your weapon to deal damage as a magic weapon. See also: Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above.
  7. Avatar of Battle: Most damage of those types comes from non-magical weapons or from monsters with non-magical bodyparts.