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.
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.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we 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 are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.
Table of Contents
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips
- Cleric Subclasses – Divine Domains
- 3rd-Party Publishers
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 determine 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 to unmodified cantrips for clerics expected to use weapons in combat.
However, being roughly comparable to un modified cantrips is hardly an incentive to use weapons. Other clerics get Potent Spellcasting, which puts them 5 damage ahead of unmodified cantrips, and therefore 5 damage head of whatever a cleric with Divine Strike could do with a weapon. There is a brief period from levels 14 through 16 where Divine Strike puts weapons attacks ahead unmodified cantrips, but it’s by 3 or 4 damage with a one-handed weapon which is still a smaller gap than what Potent Spellcasting provides.
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 it here for reference. Note that the numerical bonus assumes that you’re enhancing Strength as quickly as possible (or using Shillelagh or something), which is generally a terrible idea and puts Divine Strike even further behind Potent Spellcasting in terms of effectiveness because you’re now sacrificing your class’s primary function (spellcasting) to prop up what is essentially filler to be used in between leveled spells.
|Mace||Longsword||Greatsword||Sacred Flame||Toll the Dead||Word of Radiance|
|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|
If your group uses Optional Class Features, strongly consider using the Blessed Strikes class feature to replace Divine Strike. Yes, the damage bonus is lower than Divine Strike, but it has several qualities which make it worthwhile:
First and most obvious, the bonus works on cantrips. 1d8 will average to 4.5 which isn’t quite as good as Potent Spellcasting, but it’s close. This allows you to totally abandon the idea of using weapons if you choose to do so while still playing a subclass expected to use weapons. The bonus only applies to a single target, so Potent Spellcasting still wins with multi-target spells like Word of Radiance, but Sacred Flame with an extra d8 damage is still better than you could possibly do with a non-magic weapon. You’re basically giving up on using a weapon and getting 1d8 damage on top of what you were already going to deal to single targets.
Second, Blessed Strikes applies on Opportunity Attacks. That’s a funamental and honestly baffling lack of functionality in Divine Strike. You could choose to wield a weapon in case you want to make opportunity attacks, but if don’t have a weapon in hand, Blessed Strikes still applies if you make an unarmed strike.
Finally, Blessed Strikes deals Radiant Damage. It’s very rarely resisted, and it’s much more reliable than many Divine Strike damage types like fire and poison.
The one case where I might recommend sticking to Divine Strike is if you have easy access to magic weapons. You might find that the damage boost from such weapons is enough to make using a weapon appealing. However, given the choice between a magic spellcasting focus and a magic weapon, you should always go for the spellcasting focus. Remember that the Cleric is a spellcaster first, and weapons are an entirely secondary function.
Cleric Subclasses – Divine Domains
The Arcana Cleric borrows 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. You also add a number of leveled spells which cover a broad variety of options including offensive buffs, utility spells, attack spells, and divinations used for scouting, and at high levels you can permanently pick four wizard spells to add to your spell list.
If you really enjoy spellcasting, the Arcana Domain is a great option, combining the cleric’s durability, healing, and support options with a bit of the Wizard’s utility options. This is a great choice if you’re having trouble deciding between an arcane caster like the Wizard and a divine spellcaster like the Cleric. If you lean more toward an arcane caster, the Divine Soul Sorcerer fills a similar niche.
The Arcana Domain’s access to wizard spells as cleric spells when combined with Divine Strike offers some unique combinations with the Wizard’s melee attack cantrips. You could build for close combat by relying on spells like Booming Blade and Word of Radiance, and with either a level in druid or Magic Initiate, you can get Shillelagh and use Wisdom to cast a wizard cantrip as a cleric spell while attacking with Wisdom in place of Strength. That’s certainly a niche build, and the Arcana Domain is definitely intended to be more of a ranged caster, but it’s exciting to see these possibilities emerge as new options are added to the game.
: Some very good options,
including some great utilities, all of which are borrowed from the Wizard
- : Detect Magic is one of the most useful and important Divinations in the game, and since you always have it prepared, you can always cast it as a ritual. Magic Missile is a fantastic, reliable damage option.
- : Magic Weapon is a good buff if your party needs access to magic weapons to overcome resistances, but you haven’t found any yet. However, it requires Concentration and the Cleric already has a ton of excellent Concentration buffs like Bless which may be more numerically effective.
- : Dispel Magic is an extremely important tool, but Magic Circle is very situational.
- : 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.
- Practical Guide to Summoning Spells for help with it. Teleportation Circle is a great teleportation option, provided that you know enough destinations, but it will be mostly replaced by Plane Shift once you can cast 7th-level spells. : Planar Binding is very situational. See my
- : 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 if you plan to fight in melee.
The banishment effect is terrible considering how easy it should be to kill the creatures which it affects. It’s intended to mirror the ability to destroy low-level undead, but since Arcane Abjuration is single-target rather than an AOE, it’s barely worth considering.
Situational, but extraplanar creatures (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.
- : 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. Unfortunately, this only applies to spells and enemy spellcasters make up a small portion of the creatures you’ll face in a typical campaign, so this is only situationally useful.
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, so the damage bonus applies both on the initial hit and on the secondary damage if the target moves.
: 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
(already possible for the Cleric thank to Word of Radiance), this bonus
damage applies to all of them.
- Practical Guide to Wish), but for the other spell levels, see my Wizard Spell List Breakdown. You can use Wish for any situational spells or spells with costly components (e.g. clone), so for the 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-level spells you should stick to spells which you’ll be able to use frequently. : This is absurdly versatile. The number of potential options is huge. You’re obviously going to select Wish for the 9th-level spell (see my
Nominally intended for use by evil cleric NPCs, the Death Domain is hidden away in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Playing a death cleric typically means worshipping an evil deity, which in most campaigns can quickly turn into a problem since the player’s are typically intended to be the “heroes” of the story. That said, mechanically there’s no reason to deny access to the Death Domain.
A highly offensive domain, Death adds martial weapon proficiency and several options for dealing necrotic damage. However, the domain lacks almost any support or utility options, so you’ll need to fall back on the Cleric’s normal spells and core features to provide those capabilities.
: 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
- : 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 1st-level spell slot several times a day to reduce your need to heal your allies. Ray of Sickness is mediocre at best.
- : 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.
- : 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.
- : 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.
- : 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.
- : 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, though the Whip may be a worthwhile exception.
- : 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 (Sacred Flame and Toll the Dead have range of just 60 ft.) 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.
- : This really isn’t a lot of damage. It’s a nice damage boost, but you want Channel Divinity to be more impactful than this. If your group uses the Optional Class Features, you’ll almost certain get better results from using Harness Divine Power to get another spell slot.
- : Considering that you probably took Chill Touch and/or Toll the Dead, and that some of the cleric’s go-to single-target damage spells will deal Necrotic damage, resistance to Necrotic damage can be a problem. Immunity is still and issue, but complete immunity to necrotic damage is rare, and generally limited to very high-level creatures (Liches, etc.). Still, the Cleric’s biggest sources of damage typically deal radiant damage, so on the rare occasions that you do encounter resistance or immunity to necrotic damage it’s easy to switch to radiant.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above. : Necrotic damage is among the most reliable damage types, so as far as Divine Strike goes it’s hard to find a better option. See also:
- : 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, though requiring the targets to be adjacent does severely limit how often you can apply this.
A great spell list, a clear role on the front lines in combat, and unique utility and support options. The Forge 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.
: 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.
- : Identify is only occasionally necessary, and can generally wait for you to take a full rest to prepare it. Searing Smite is normally a paladin-exclusive spell, and your spell save DCs will be higher than most paladins’. Even at high levels, it remains a cheap and reliable damage boost for your weapon attacks, though it may not be worth concentrating on it to maintain the 1d6 ongoing damage unless your target is concentration on a spell or they’re a troll. Searing Smite targeting a Con save doesn’t help, either.
- : Heat Metal is only situationally useful since most monsters don’t use armor or weapons, but when it works it works very well. Magic Weapon is a great buff, but you already have Blessing of the Forge, so it feels redundant.
- : Elemental Weapon and Magic Weapon are partially redundant, but it’s nice that you get both options. Elemental Weapon is great for characters who make numerous attacks, like fighters. Protection From Energy is a staple buff that every party needs handy.
- : Neither spell is on the Cleric spell list, and both are excellent.
- : Again, neither spell is on the Cleric spell list. Both spells are fantastic.
- : Heavy armor is always welcome on a cleric, regardless of their role, but it’s especially important on a front-line cleric like the Forge Domain Cleric.
- : 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.
- : Possibly situational, but extremely versatile. Trapped in a pit? Make a ladder. Stuck door? Make a portable ram. Blocked tunnel? Make a pickaxe.
- : The damage resistance is welcome, but a fixed bonus to AC like this is extremely rare in 5e.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips. : The bonus damage is good, but fire is among the most commonly-resisted damage types. See also:
- : This is arguably too good, even at this level.
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.
: Excellent, with a
handful of spells that won’t be especially useful on a regular basis.
- : 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 your first 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.
- : Both spells are situational, and neither is particularly good.
- : 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.
- : A decent damage option that’s not on the Cleric spell list, and a crucial buff with a nice, long duration.
- : 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.
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.
: 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 as 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 Cure Wounds
(an Action) in the same turn.
- : 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.
- : Use this with a rogue or with a spellcaster with a high-damage spell that requires an attack like Inflict Wounds.
- : 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.
- : 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 multiclassing.
- : 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 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.
: 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.
- : Command can be very helpful if you use the right command, but Identify is very always an excellent addition if we’re missing a Wizard to ritual cast it out of a spellbook.
- : Suggestion is a great way to handle a lot of problems if you use it well. Augury is easily one 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 can be used to quickly narrow your possibilities by eliminating options which yield “woe” results.
- : Both options are very situational.
- : 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.
- : 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.
- : 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 double your proficiency bonus, easily making up for a potentially poor Intelligence score.
- : This is a fantastic utility ability. Forgot to bring a Rogue? Grab some thieves’ tools, cast Guidance, and you’re ready to go.
- : Reading minds is situationally useful, but Suggestion can be very effective, especially because activating this effect has no outwardly visible effect, and they automatically fail the save against Suggestion, so you don’t have to worry about what someone might do if you cast a spell at them and it doesn’t work.
- : 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 multiclassing.
- : This is very hard to rate. 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.
Magical healing is one of the Cleric’s most important functions, and no character can compete with the Life Cleric’s capacity for healing. The Life Domain took 1st overall in The Healbot Olympics by a large margin, and coupled with the Cleric’s abundant options for resisting and removing status conditions, there really isn’t another character who can match the Life Cleric’s capacity as a healer.
The Life Cleric also doubles as a solid front-line Defender due to their access to heavy armor, allowing them to serve double duty as both a Defender and a Healer. Offensively you’ll need to rely almost entirely on spells or weapons, but with the Cleric’s abundant and powerful spells that’s really not a problem.
: 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.
- : Bless is nearly a win condition at low levels where adding 1d4 to a roll can exceed your proficiency bonus, and it remains a staple buff at basically any level so long as you don’t need your Concentration for something else. Cure Wounds is a fine healing spell, but in combat you want to rely on Healing Word and spend your Action on offense.
- : Lesser Restoration is nice to have handy, but much of the time the effects which it removes can wait until you can rest and prepare spells to fix them. Spiritual Weapon is among the Cleric’s most efficient uses of both spell slots and Bonus Actions.
- : Beacon of Hope is situational, but can be nice to cast before a rest to maximize the effectiveness of your healing spells when Hit Dice are running short. Revivify is the “Cleric Tax”, so getting it for free is really nice.
- : Two interesting options with 8-hour durations, but Death Ward is definitely the better of the two.
- : 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.
- : 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, especially when supplemented by spells like Shield of Faith and Sanctuary.
- : This isn’t a ton of healing all at once, but it will be especially useful with Healing Word, which is a good combination because it uses a Bonus Action, but normally doesn’t heal for a particularly large amount. Over the course of your career, the total amount of additional healing will be significant, so I encourage you to keep a running score if for no other reason than to remind your party members how badly they need you to survive.
- : 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 points 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.
- : 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 not happen frequently during combat, so this may not trigger as frequently as you would like.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips. : Radiant damage is among the most reliable damage types available. See also:
Knowing how best to apply this requires a little bit of math. For single-target healing, anything of 6th level or above should still be Heal or a 9th-level spell like Mass Heal. The Cure Wounds spell cast at 6th level heals just 48+Wis hit points compared to Heal’s 70 (without considering Disciple of Life which applies the same bonus to either). For multi-target healing, Prayer of Healing is your best option, but with a 10-minute casting time you’re more likely to use Mass Healing Word.
: 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. However, since in-combat healing
is generally not a good idea, there are few situations where this will be
significantly impactful. In a fight, if you need healing you should cast
Heal or Mass Heal, neither of which involve dice.
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-equivalent and a Wizard-equivalent, the Light domain is a good choice because you can so easily replace the Wizard’s ability to quickly handle groups of weak enemies.
: A fantastic set of
offensive spells which close the gap between Clerics and Wizards.
- : 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. At high levels, Faerie Fire remains incredibly potent, but Burning Hands will be obsolete after a few levels.
- : Scorching Ray is a great option, especially if you have Bless or Faerie Fire 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.
- : Daylight is situational, but Fireball is the sledgehammer of offensive spells: sometimes you just need to hit your problems until they fall down. In terms of instantaneous area damage, there isn’t another spell that can compete with Fireball until 9th-level spells introduce stuff like Meteor Swarm.
- : Wall of Fire is among the best area control spells in the game.
- : Flame Strike is considerably less important since you get Fireball, and Scrying is only situationally useful so it’s frustrating to have it prepared every day.
- : Not spectacular, but a Light Cleric really should have Light, and someone should be able to cast it in most parties (unless every has Darkvision).
Of course, your DM might read that differently and take my portrayal of that interaction poorly, so check with your DM before you assume how this works. Tragically, Jeremy Crawford’s only response on the subject doesn’t actually clarify the answer.
: 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 (meaning
that they roll a second die and choose the lower of the two results, not
that they need to dump whatever they’ve already rolled).
- : The damage isn’t great beyond low levels. Magical darkness can really cause problems, and a guranteed way to remove it is very convenient, but you can also negate magical darkness with the spell Daylight, which you get prepared for free once you hit level 5. So there’s a small level window where this might be impactful, but once you get through low levels you’ll frequently get better results from the Harness Divine Power Optional Class Feature if your DM allows it.
- : 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.
- : By this level you almost certainly 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 things like Eldritch Blast into a problem, but adding Wisdom to staples like Sacred Flame, Word of Radiance, and Toll the Dead is still great.
- : 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 and with Cleric staples like Spirit Guardians.
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.
: The nature spell list
includes no truly fantastic options, and most of the options are either
situational or outright bad.
- : Both spells are very situational, and will become less important as you gain levels and beasts fall out of the CR scale. But if you do encounter beasts, Animal Friendship doesn’t allow a save for the vast majority of beasts, so those encounters are instantly trivialized.
- : Barkskin isn’t worth your Concentration, but Spike Growth is a good and inexpensive area control option.
- : Plant Growth is an interesting area control spell, and a great way to make hedge mazes or befriend farmers. Wind wall is very situational.
- : Both are very situational. Grasping Vine is just a terrible spell, and if you need to cause trouble for a single target, Spiritual Weapon remains reliable and effective.
- : Insect Plague is a good crowd control option, and Tree Stride is a fun long-range travel option for Clerics, who typically lack options like Teleport and need to rely on Plane Shift instead.
- : Druids have some fantastic cantrips, including some great utility options which are usually exclusive to Druids like Shillelagh, but Sacred Flame and Word of Radiance are still typically better choices. The bonus skill is nice, too.
- : 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.
- : Very situational. Use the Harness Divine Power Optional Class Feature if you can.
- : 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 like a fireball or a breath weapon.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above. : 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:
Even if you somehow manage something ridiculous with Animal Friendship and squish a bunch of animals into the 30-foot radius of Charm Animals and Plants, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to accomplish anything of note before Charm Animals and Plants expires. You could refresh Charm Animals and Plants, but you get just two uses of Channel Divinity per Short or Long Rest, so you’re getting at most 2 minutes at a time to use your subclass’s capstone feature.
: The problem with Masture
of Nature is that it only affects creatures Charmed by your Channel
Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants feature, which only lasts for one
minute. You need to find creatures, charm them, move them where you need
them, and do whatever you were planning to do inside the tiny time window
of one minute.
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. However, for Voice of Authority to be useful, you need a suitable party member with big single attacks, so characters that rely on numerous relatively small attacks are less helpful.
Order Domain falls somewhat flat around mid levels. Order gets one of the better versions of Divine Strike, but it’s still not a great fit for the Cleric because cantrips are so much more effective. Order’s Wrath seeks to improve upon Divine Strike, but by level 17 cantrips are so far ahead of Divine Strike in efficacy that Order’s Wrath becomes difficult to justify using.
: 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.
- : Both excellent options with a wide variety of uses, and they remain useful well into high levels.
- : 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.
- : A staple cleric spell, and a good crowd control option.
- : Both spells are situational at best.
- : 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 enemy in an encounter it’s hard to think of a better spell to cast.
- : Heavy armor is always a fantastic option for clerics, and an additional skill is always welcome.
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 direct 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.
It can also be used to do neat things if your friends happen to have one of a few feats.
: Despite many valiant
attempts, clerics are nearly never as good at weapon attacks as their 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.
- : Disarm every target within 30 feet on failed Wisdom saves. Excellent against humanoid enemies, but less useful against monsters.
- : 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.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips. : 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:
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 (2d8 from Divine Strike, 2d8 from Order’s Wrath) plus whatever your weapon does plus whatever your ally’s attack does. That’s pretty good, but by this level you’re dealing 4d8 damage with Sacred Flame (more with other options like Word of Radiance or Toll the Dead), and your spellcasting DC will be probably be more reliable than your attack bonus, so casting a cantrip is a much more consistent source of damage output.
: This is very weak for
such a high-level feature, and it simply doesn’t match the capabilities
provided by most other subdomains at this level. Life gets to maximize
healing dice. Nature gets to command an army of beasts. Trickery gets to
pretend to be in five places at once and cast spells from any of them.
Order gets to maybe deal 2d8 damage, provided that you hit with
your one attack per turn and have an ally handy to hit the same creature.
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.
I go into the implications of these problems at greater length in this Patreon post. The issues are extensive and might not be obvious, and it takes me three pages of text to explain them all. People told me I was out of my mind when I first advocated banning peace domain, and now I see my arguments repeated all over the place online.
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.
: 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 Peace Domain’s spell list, you can prevent or
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
- : Excellent defensive options for yourself or an ally.
- : 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.
- : Two situational options that you’re not likely to use every day.
- : A situational defensive buff and a save-or-suck which amounts to a “time out bubble”.
- : 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.
- : 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.
Even better, this whole thing progresses 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 part of the bond. Put it on your front-line allies, and gradually add your back-line allies as your Proficiency Bonus scales.
: 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
a level 1 character’s expected attack bonus, and saving throws are
dramatically less threatening.
However, as you gain levels its usefulness in combat will diminish, and it will become that thing you use before short rests to save on spending hit dice.
much healing, especially compared to something like Channel Divinity:
Preserve Life, but if your party is close 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.
This does consume the Reaction of the creature that teleports, but that’s a price that is absolutely worth paying for many characters. When people have underutilized reactions to spare, this might see lots of use in combat. If the party is heavily invested into their own reactions on the other hand, it might not get used because the guy who wants to take the hit already used his reaction on a Polearm Master attack and the guy getting attacked is going to just cast Shield to have 24 AC prevent the attack doing any damage in the first place.
Outside of combat, it does have teleportation utility. 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. Your Bonds can similarly punch themselves to trigger teleportation. The entire Bond could even teleport off of one punch, simply have each one react to the damage of the previous reaction trigger.
Another example of shenanigans: A Path of the Totem Warrior can have resistance to all damage while raging by this level. Throw Heroism (or better yet, have a second Cleric of the Twilight Domain for Twilight Sanctuary) 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.
: 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 beyond their Reaction, and in a pinch you could make an unarmed strike against
an ally and use Protective Bond to pull another ally adjacent to the
- : 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 multiclassing.
- : 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 is both offensive and durable, falling somewhere between Life’s durability and Light’s damage output. Tempest’s abilities and spells provide several fun crowd control, area control, and area damage options, allowing the Tempest Cleric to serve is an effective threat both at short and long range. Tempest domain provides no utility or support options, so expect to lean on your spell list to solve problems that can’t be solved by hitting them.
: 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 Tempest Domain’s other features.
- : Fog Cloud is a great escape or crowd control mechanism. Thunderwave is tempting for when you get in over your head in melee and need to buy yourself some space or need to break a grapple, but remember that it’s on a Constitution save, and those tend to be high.
- : Gust of Wind is very situational, but Shatter is basically diet fireball, and it works with Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath so you can maximize the damage.
- : Sleet Storm is a mediocre crowd control spell, and Call Lightning is frustrating and can be very difficult to use to great effect. Note that Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath only applies to a single damage roll, not to the whole spell, so using it with Call Lightning is largely pointless.
- : Ice Storm is a bad spell, and Control Water is only useful when you have a large body of water handy, which isn’t often in most campaigns.
Insect Plague is a fantastic area control option, but has some overlap with Spirit Guardians. Insect Plague uses larger damage dice, but due to spell slot scaling deals roughly the same damage as Spirit Guardians. Both spells have 10-minute durations and require Concentration. Insect Plague is cast at range and has a larger AOE, so you don’t need to stand in the middle of the AOE, but you also can’t move it. The two spells are roughly equivalent, but excel in different situations.
: Destructive Wave does
excellent damage of types which are very rarely resisted, but since the
damage type is split, Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath only maximizes
half of the damage dice. For the same 5th-level spell slot, Shatter does
6d8 damage (maximizes to 48), while Destructive Wave will deal 47.5 on
average (30 maximized, plus 17.5 average) in a much larger AOE while
also excluding your allies, so Destructive Wave does still win over
Shatter in the vast majority of situations. Unfortunately, Destructive
Wave doesn’t benefit from upcasting because it’s intended to be a
- : Heavy armor is great on a Cleric. Martial Weapons add a few more combat options, but clerics are bad at using weapons and martial weapons don’t change that. With heavy armor and Wrath of the Storm, you might pick up a 2-handed weapon, though cantrips will still be more effective as you gain levels and add extra damage dice.
- : At low level, this will outright kill enemies. At high levels it’s a mild deterrent.
- : Great for when you absolutely, positively need to Shatter 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. Unfortunately, the Cleric’s spell list includes very few spells which qualify for this, so your best options are from your domain spell list unless you multiclass.
Like many similar effects, this only specifies that you push the target “away”, rather than “directly away”. This means that you’re free to push them upward and away, potentially launching enemies 10 feet into the air and forcing them to fall 10 feet from where they were previously.
: This combines well
with Wrath of the Storm when you need to get out of melee for whatever
reason, and since Wrath of the Storm still deals half damage on a successful
save you’re guaranteed to get the push effect. Unfortunately, clerics don’t
have access to any cantrips which deal Lightning damage. This would be great
if it worked with Lightning or Thunder damage, but it doesn’t.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above. : Thunder is among the best damage types in the game, but clerics are still bad at using weapons. See also:
- : Near-permanent flight! Flight is absolutely crucial at high levels, and getting it this easily can free up resources for more exciting things. You won’t be able to use this inside dungeons and other common adventuring locales, but this is still very helpful.
Trickery offers a great spell list, but the class abilities are challenging to use to good effect. This isn’t an easy subclass to play, but an experienced player can turn the Trickery Domain into a powerful support and utility caster. With a little bit of work you can also jump into melee combat with some success, but that’s typically not the go-to option for Trickery Domain.
Multiclassing into rogue is an interesting option for the Trickery Domain. Trickery Domain’s spellcasting feels very similar to the Arcane Trickster, and many of the Trickery Domain’s features synergize very well with the Rogue’s class features. If you go this route, I recommend starting with a single level in rogue so that you get more skill proficiencies, and build around Dexterity and Wisdom. Two more levels to get a subclass can help if you want something like Booming Blade, but that’s not strictly necessary unless you definitely want jump into melee.
However, this class dip isn’t necessary by any means. Many problems that the Rogue solves by mundane means can be solved using spells on the Trickery Domain’s spell list, such as Disguise Self (replacing disguise kits), Charm Person (replacing Face Skills), and Pass Without Trace (replacing or at least augmenting Stealth).
: Lots of really fun
options, many of which aren’t normally available to Clerics.
- : Disguise Self and Charm Person can diffuse quite a few social situations. Charm Person can’t completely replace a real Face, but it gets pretty close.
- : 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.
- : Blink gives you a 50% chance to be untargetable between turns, which is great since you’re probably your party’s healer, so it costs you very little to be untargetable by allies and prevents you from drawing unwanted attention. Dispel Magic is technically situational, but it’s so useful and important that not preparing it can often be a lethal mistake.
- : Dimension Door is good short-distance teleportation that the vast majority of clerics simply can’t replicate. Polymorph is one of the most versatile effects in the game, and can allow you to solve a wide variety of problems with the right beast form. Remember that you don’t need to cast it on yourself, so turning an ally into a dinosaur and riding them around is absolutely an option,
- : Modify Memory is very situational, but Dominate Person is a great way to turn a powerful humanoid enemy into a fun pet for up to a minute.
- : You can’t use this on yourself, so either use it on whoever in your party is making a ton of noise stomping around in heavy armor or put it on your party’s Scout and send them off on their own. Between this and Pass Without Trace, stealth checks are nearly guaranteed to be successful for your party.
The best use case is to put the illusion somewhere visible while you’re hidden nearby and use the illusion as the origin point of your short-range spells. Options like Word of Radiance are much safer when you can walk your illusion into a crowd of enemies to cast it, and since the illusion isn’t a creature it’s not worried about things like Opportunity Attacks, area control effects, or even enemy creatures blocking spaces.
You can use the illusion to get yourself Advantage in melee, but I’m nervous to recommend capitalizing on that as a go-to tactic. In only medium armor you’re not as durable as other front-line clerics, and weapon attacks aren’t a great option for clerics most of the time. Easy access to Advantage may make weapons viable compared to cantrips (which is very hard for most clerics to do), especially once you get Divine Strike, but don’t let that compel you to build around melee. This notably applies to all attacks, so the Advantage offsets disadvantage for making ranged attacks, and it also applies to spell attacks so you can deliver spells like Inflict Wounds and Spiritual Weapon with Advantage.
If you’re happy using your illusory double as a distraction and as a courier for your spells, you can totally ignore the Advantage part of Invoke Duplicity and you’ll still do just fine.
Strangely, Invoke Duplicity doesn’t offer details on how to handle interaction with the illusory double. What happens if the illusion is attacked? Can creatures disbelieve it, and if they do so, how do they then perceive the illusion? If creatures are aware that the double is an illusion, do you still get Advantage on attacks when you and your double are adjacent to a creature? Jeremy Crawford has confirmed that the duplicate is immune to damage and that weapons pass right through it, but that’s the only useful rules answer that I’ve found on the subject.
This can be difficult to use effectively, but once you get your head
around it, it’s very potent. Keep in mind that it requires Concentration,
so you can’t combine it with staple cleric options like Spirit Guardians,
and since it uses your Bonus Action to move it, you may struggle to use this at
the same time as Spiritual Weapon.
- : Invisibility is great, but one round just isn’t enough. It’s immensely frustrating that this is the Trickey Domain’s only option for invisibility.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above. : 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:
- : This allows you to keep duplicates near all of your allies to buff or heal them with touch range spells, to keep your enemies confused about your position and ideally to trick them into wasting attacks/spells on your duplicates, to deliver short-range spells like Harm from a safe distance, and to move between targets and get Advantage on melee attacks against them.
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 primarily buffs, utilities, and defensive options, and offense is mostly an afterthought, but Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary makes the Twilight Domain cleric a perfect option for a party full of “glass cannons”.
The 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. In open areas that will mean moving with your party to get into melee or fighting at range, so be prepared to handle those situations. After that, default to normal cleric things: swing weapons or cast spells.
: Almost all good options,
but a handful of situational options which you may have trouble using.
- : 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.
- : See Invisibility is another excellent counter to invisibility, and having Faerie Fire handy allows you to easily spot invisible foes then reveal them to your 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.
- expected pacing and become epic all the quicker. : Enormous quantities of slow healing balanced around being cast by a high-level Paladin, and a magical place to rest which doubles as a go-to option when you’re out in the open and need cover. At medium levels, a single Aura of Vitality can effectively replace all the healing a party would get out of a short rest without feeling like a huge resource cost. If you’re a group that doesn’t have any other short rest-recharge resources, spending a minute walking and getting back up to full HP lets you easily roll over the
- : 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.
- : Circle of Power is normally a Paladin exclusive, and you get it long before the Paladin does. Mislead is neat, but very situational.
- : Perfect for a front-line cleric.
- : Darkvision is great if you don’t already have it, and the absolutely absurd 300 ft. range is unprecedented. 120 ft. would be . On top of that, you can share it with your allies for an hour at a time and you can refresh the ability by spending a spell slot of any level. Considering that the Darkvision spell is 2nd-level, that’s phenomenal.
- : 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 the primary battlefield controller in your party 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.
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 except trying to activate your Steps of Night.
This ability is exceptionally powerful. The amount of temporary hp is huge and the fact that it refreshes is terrifying. If it’s a problem in your game (and it might be starting in midgame when two per short rest doesn’t feel like it’s too precious to use often), there are several variations that you could try to address it with. If you try any of these or if you have your own fixes, email me and let me know what you tried and how it went.
this were a fire-and-forget effect that granted temporary hit points or
removed charm/fear once, I would rate it
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.
- Fix A: The cleric must maintain Concentration as though Concentrating on a spell. This prevents them from combining Twilight Sanctuary with the Cleric’s best spells, including things like Bless and Spirit Guardians.
- Fix B: Applying either of the two effects takes the cleric’s Reaction, so they’re only able to affect one creature per round.
- Fix C: The temporary hit point option applies once per creature, and the temporary hit points disappear if the creature exits the area of effect.
- Fix D: Adjust the number of temporary hit points granted. 1d6+level is a lot. Try 1d6+Wisdom (may be slightly higher than intended at low levels, but will max out at 1d6+5 by level 8). You might also try just a flat 1d6 or just the cleric’s Wisdom modifier.
- Fix E: Instead of automatically removing a Charm/Fear effect, creatures can re-attempt their save against one Charm/Fear effect currently affecting them at the original save DC. If this feels like too much of a “nerf”, you might grant Advantage on the save.
- Fix F: The temporary hit points granted by Twilight Sanctuary end when the effect ends or if the creature leaves the area of effect.
- : Magical flight is a crucial tactical option, and activating it as a Bonus Action without spending spell slots is phenomenal. Granted, you can only trigger this in Dim Light and Darkness, but you can produce Dim Light with Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary, or in a dark place you can hold a candle. The ability also doesn’t require you to stay in those lighting conditions to keep using it. You can use this a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus every day, which is frequently enough to get you through every occurrence where you’ll absolutely need to be flying.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips. : Radiant damage is among the most reliable damage types available. See also:
- : 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.
The War Cleric slightly reduces the martial capability 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 Domain’s options in conjunction because so many of them depend on Concentration and/or Bonus Actions.
Where the War Domain struggles is its attempt to lean into using weapons. Weapons are mathematically worse than using cantrips, and spending spells and Channel Divinity to make them work does little to help. War Priest allows you to attack as a Bonus Action a few times per day, which is tempting enough to make the War Domain look appealing, but beyond low levels you’ll find that most of the subclass features aren’t helping you very much. The Spell list is fine, but the best options on the list are all cleric spells already, so all it does is save you the trouble of preparing those spells.
Fixing war domain requires fixing weapons for clerics, which requires fixing Divine Strike. Simply changing the damage progression on Divine Strike might be enough. Try +1d6 at level 5, then add a d6 at levels 11 and 17.
: 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.
- : 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.
- : 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 staple cleric option, and great way to convert your Bonus Action into damage output without requiring Concentration.
- : Crusader’s Mantle is Divine Favor for the whole party. The damage per attack is still small, but if you have someone using Two-Weapon Fighting, allies with Extra Attack, or just a large party, the value adds up quickly. But it generally can’t compete with Spirit Guardians, which you also get. Spirit Guardians id among the most efficient damage options in the game, and many clerics prepare it every day.
- : Stoneskin is a fantastic buff, but it’s very expensive and it won’t help you once you get Avatar of Battle. Freedom of movement is situationally useful.
- : Flame Strike is a decent AOE damage spell, but for the same spell slot I would much rather cast Spirit Guardians and walk into a fight. Hold Monster is a simple save-or-suck spell, and it scales well with spell level so it remains effective for a long time.
- : Heavy armor is great on a Cleric, and Martial Weapons add a few more combat options, including better two-handed options if you want to go that route.
- : 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. Divine Strike adds to the damage so your attacks will at least feel impactful, but Divine Strike only applies once on each of your turns, so generally activating War Priest is only useful at low levels or if you’re high level and missed with your attack.
- : This isn’t limited to weapon attacks, and clerics have a few powerful spell attacks like Inflict Wounds which will benefit. However, spell attacks become uncommon beyond low levels, so the value of Channel Divinity: Guided Strike diminishes over time. At high levels it’s likely better to use the Harness Divine Power Optional Class Feature.
- : 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.
- Divine Strike vs. Cantrips, above. : 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:
- : Most damage of those types comes from non-magical weapons or from monsters with non-magical bodyparts, so this resistance is consistently useful even at high levels.
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