DnD 5e Arcana Domain Cleric Handbook


The Arcana Domain Cleric borrows some utility spells and skills from the Wizard, giving the Cleric a lot of really great utility and support 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. The subclass features add an extra skill proficiency and additional cantrips, expanding your options in many ways, and allowing you to more easily cover Scholar and Utility roles within your party.

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.

Mechanically, Arcana Domain’s only challenge is picking the right wizard spells to borrow at 1st level and 17th level. All of the spells you pick become Cleric spells for you, so you face none of the challenges imposed by options like Magic Initiate.

Table of Contents


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. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: 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.

Arcana Domain Cleric Features

  1. Domain Spells: Some very good options, including some great utilities, all of which are borrowed from the Wizard spell list.
    1. 1st Level: 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.
    2. 3rd Level: 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.
    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: Planar Binding is very situational. See my 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.
  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 if you plan to fight in melee.
  3. Channel Divinity: Arcane Abjuration: 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.

    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.

  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. 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.
  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 (already possible for the Cleric thank to Word of Radiance), 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, so the damage bonus applies both on the initial hit and on the secondary damage if the target moves.

  6. Arcane Mastery: 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 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.

Arcana Domain Cleric Ability Scores

No different from a standard cleric.

Arcana Domain Cleric Races

No different from a standard cleric. A race which provides innate spellcasting makes sense thematically, but the Arcana Domain doesn’t get anything extra from those races.

Arcana Domain Cleric Feats

No different from a standard cleric.

Arcana Domain Cleric Weapons

No different from a standard cleric. Arcana Domain is a casting-focused domain, so it’s entirely likely that you’ll never use weapons.

Arcana Domain Cleric Armor

No different from a standard cleric. Arcana doesn’t get heavy armor, so grab half plate and a shield.

Arcana Domain Cleric Multiclassing

No different from a standard cleric.

Example Arcana Cleric Build – The Soloist

Clerics are a class that can fill nearly any role in the party, but typically can’t do all of them at the same time. So let’s do all of them at the same time.

To recap our Practical Guide to Party Composition’s explanation of part roles:

  • Blaster: Damage everyone. We’ll get this from Flame Strike, Fire Storm, and Sun Burst. Unfortunately, those don’t come online until level 9 at the earliest.
  • Controller: Control the battlefield and/or creatures. Clerics have crowd control options like Command right from level 1, and eventually add options like Blade Barrier.
  • Defender: Keep enemies from hurting allies. We’ll use shillelagh, Booming Blade, and War Caster to make ourselves “sticky” in melee.
  • Face: Social skills. This is hard for the Cleric, so we’ll need to rely on Borrowed Knowledge and Enhance Ability.
  • Healer: HP and status conditions. We’re building a cleric.
  • Scholar: Intelligence-based skills. This is hard for the Cleric, so we’ll need to rely on Borrowed Knowledge and Enhance Ability.
  • Scout: Stealth, exploration, traps. This is hard for the Cleric, so we’ll need to rely on divination spells wherever possible.
  • Striker: Single-target elimination. Clerics have good single-target damage and save-or-suck spells like Hold Person and Banishment.
  • Support: Buffs. Clerics get great buffs like Guidance and Bless right from level 1.
  • Utility Caster: Magical problem-solving. Clerics get a handful of great utility options like Stone Shape over the course of their careers.

All of this is going to require some creativity, but our spellcasting covers a lot. The biggest challenges are Face, Scholar, and Scout, but with magic and patience (but mostly magic), even those are doable.

And before you ask: Yes, you could build this thing as yet another Spirit Guardians bot, but where’s the fun in that? Let’s push the logical bounds of the game in other ways!

Ability Scores

Custom Origin only gives us a single +2.



Custom Origin. We’ll take +2 Wisdom, Darkvision, and medium size so we don’t get swallowed whole by giant frogs. If you prefer to be small for portability, that’s fine, too. I really want to take a skill instead of Darkvision, but Darkvision isn’t on the Cleric’s spell list, so we need it.

We could go variant human yet again, but where’s the fun in that?


We’re going to customize a background. Sage feels thematically appropriate, but we really want proficiency in Perception and Stealth, and there isn’t a single published background that provides that, so we’ll cobble one together on our own. For the language/tool proficiencies, we’ll take Thieves’ Tools and one language.

Skills and Tools

We get Arcana for free at level 1, Perception and Stealth from our background, and we’ll take History and Persuasion from our two class skills. This gives us decent skill coverage, and we can use Borrowed Knowledge to fill in gaps as needed.

Pay special attention to Arcana, because it probably does more than you might expect. You can use it both to identify spells and to scribe spell scrolls. If you have enough downtime, you


At level 1 we’ll take Magic Initiate (Druid) almost exclusively for Shillelagh. We want to be good with weapons somehow, and this is the only way that isn’t awful. We’ll also grab Guidance to save ourselves a Cleric cantrip slot and Absorb Elements because it’s not on the Cleric’s spell list.

At level 4 we’ll take Telekinetic. We want both the +1 ability score increase and the ability to move enemies around as a Bonus Action.

At level 8 we’ll take War Caster. Advantage on Concentration saves is great, and the ability to hit enemies with a spell as an Opportunity Attack makes it difficult for enemies to get out of melee with us on their own.

At level 12 we’ll take an Ability Score Increase to get our Wisdom to 20.

At level 16 we’ll take Resilient (Constitution). Between that and War Caster our Concentration saves will be extremely reliable. This also raises our Constitution to 15.

At level 19 we’ll take Skill Expert to get +1 Constitution, Expertise in Persuasion, and another skill of our choice.


LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Feat: Magic Initiatie (Druid)
– Guidance
– Shillelagh
– Absorb Elements
Divine Domain: Arcana
Domain Spells:
– Detect Magic
Magic Missile
Cantrips Known:
– Light
– Toll the Dead
– Word of Radiance
Arcane Initiate
– Booming Blade
– Mage Hand
Level 1 and we’re immediately up to some mischief. Shenanigans, even!

For starting equipment, we’ll take a mace, scale mail, a light crossbow and bolts, a priest’s pack, and a shield and holy symbol. Sell the mace and the light crossbow. You’ll never need them. Buy a quarterstaff to use with Shillelagh.

Guidance allows us to buff ourselves for ability checks, making us much more effective with skills than our ability scores would make us on their own.

In combat we have a ton of options already. Shillelagh+Booming Blade is our go-to for single enemies. Word of Radiance make us a threat in crowds. Toll the Dead works at range.

With leveled spells, take cleric staples like Bless and Healing Word. If you’re serving as your party’s sole Defender, consider Heroism or Shield of Faith to boost your durability. If you want big ranged damage, use Magic Missile. For some crowd control, use Command.

Remember that clerics can cast any ritual that they have prepared, and since you always have Detect Magic prepared, you can always cast it as a ritual.
2Channel Divinity (1/rest)
Arcane Abjuration
Turn Undead
Not much excitement at this level, unfortunately.
3Domain Spells:
– Magic Weapon
– Nystul’s Magic Aura
Magic Weapon presents an interesting choice. It’s a great weapon buff thanks to 5e’s bounded math, and it lasts an hour. Combined with Shillelagh and Booming Blade, you’re swinging a bigger stick than almost anyone.

But is it worth the spell slot over Spiritual Weapon? If you expect the fight to be short, yes, especially when you only have one or two 2nd-level spell slots to throw around. Otherwise, maybe not.

This level also brings access to Borrowed Knowledge, letting us learn a skill for an hour, as well as Enhance Ability. Between the two, we can get proficiency and Advantage, allowing us to easily cover any skill-based role for an hour at a time. This covers our roles as Face, Scholar, and Scout, which were the three that we’re most worried about.

It’s not worth the spell slots at this level, but as you gain levels it will become easier to justify.
4Feat: Telekinetic (Wis 17 -> 18)
New Cantrip Known:
– Sacred Flame
Telekinetic adds even more shenanigans. Combining it with our superpowered Shillelagh+Booming Blade lets us hit enemies, then Telekinetic Shove them away out of reach. Low-cost single-target control.

Keep in mind that Telekinetic monopolizing your Bonus Action also means that Spiritual Weapon becomes hard to use.
5Destroy Undead (CR 1/2)
Domain Spells:
– Dispel Magic
– Magic Circle
3rd level brings Spirit Guardians. I know, ugh, not again. But hey, you really can’t beat Spirit Guardians. Turn it on, dive into melee, smack enemies with Booming Blade, and use Telekinetic to move them out of reach while keeping them within the AOE.
6Channel Divinity (2/rest)
Spell Breaker
Spell Breaker lets us remove problematic spells from our allies. If they get hit with something unpleasant, hit them with Healing Word at whatever level you need. Hold Person? 2nd-level Healing Word. Done.
7Domain Spells:
– Arcane Eye
– Leomund’s Secret Chest
Arcane Eye instantly lets us take on the Scout role in a less self-endangering manner. Easily my favorite divination, Arcane Eye lets you pilot your little invisible eyeball over great distances, peaking at whatever you like and slipping through small spaces with ease.

4th-level spells also include Banishment as a save-or-suck and Stone Shape for utility.
8War Caster
Destroy Undead (CR 1)
Potent Spellcasting
War Caster and Potent Spellcasting both make our front-line tactics much more effective. If enemies try to move out of our reach, we can hit them with our Booming Blade Shillelagh, or we can hit them with something bigger like Hold Person or Inflict Wounds.

Potent Spellcasting was written when cantrips only did damage once, and I believe that’s still the intent. As a DM, I would apply the bonus damage when Booming Blade first hits, rather than applying it to both the primary and secondary damage, or allowing the player to choose. Regardless, your Booming Blade does a big pile of damage now since we’re double-dipping on Wisdom.

Note that Shillelagh does not benefit from Potent Spellcasting. The spell’s effect is to modify an item; the cantrip does not do damage on its own.
9Domain Spells:
– Planar Binding
– Teleportation Circle
5th-level spells bring options like Flame Strike, which lets us fill our party’s Blaster role. It’s not a fantastic spell, but it works, and it doesn’t eat Concentration.

We also get access to Summon Celestial, the Cleric’s first combat summon. Summon a friend to fight in melee, and you’re no longer stuck being your party’s Defender if you don’t want to be.

The domain spells don’t do much to help us in most situations, but Teleportation Circle is a helpful utility if you need to travel long distances.
10Divine Intervention
New Cantrip Known:
– Any
11Destroy Undead (CR 2)6th-level spells include Blade Barrier, which is a combination area damage and area control spell, giving us more Blaster/Controller options.
12ASI: Wisdom 18 -> 20Back on the Fundamental math!
137th-level spells include Fire Storm, which for us is an upgrade from Flame Strike. The damage isn’t amazing, but the shape of the AOE is much better than a column due to 5e’s bizarre column rules. Regardless: more Blaster!
14Destroy Undead (CR 3)
158th-level spells are very slim for the Cleric, but we do get both Holy Aura and Sunburst. Holy Aura is a great defense, while Sunburst is a decent AOE damage option.
16Resilient (Con 14 -> 15)Adding proficiency in Constitution saves makes our Concentration extremely reliable, which is great when we’re stomping around in melee.
17Arcane Mastery
– 6th: Contingency
– 7th: Forcecage
– 8th: Maze
– 9th: Wish
This level is crazy. We get both 9th-level spells and we get to pick some high-level spells from the Wizard list. We’re going to take Wish with that 9th-level slot because of course we are. With Wish in hand, we can replicate any spell of 8th level or lower once per day, so we need our 6th, 7th, and 8th-level spells to be stuff that we actually want to cast on a daily basis.

We’ll stick to staple wizard options. They’re staples because they’re great.

At this point the build is functionally complete. If you plan to multiclass, you give up very little except the guaranteed success of Divine Intervention at level 12.
18Channel Divinity (3/rest)
19Skill Expert
– Con 15 ->16
– Skill: Any
– Expertise: Any
If Borrowed Knowledge and Guidance aren’t doing the trick, Expertise will help. We also get a bunch of additional hit points.
20Divine Intervention Improvement