The Forge Domain Cleric is a sturdy front-line build with a lot to offer, but startlingly little nuance. The features are mostly fire-and-forget with the exception of Artisan’s Blessing, so this is a great option if you don’t feel the need to add complexity to the Cleric. Forge Domain Clerics make good Defenders, and have enough durability damage output to be a threat in combat even without relying on leveled spells.

However, Forge Domain’s reliance on fire damage can be liability, as fire resistance and immunity are common. When the need arises, nothing stops you from getting religious and casting Spirit Guardians.

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.

Forge Domain Cleric Features

  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. 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.
    2. 3rd Level: 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.
    3. 5th Level: 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.
    4. 7th Level: Neither spell is on the Cleric spell list, and both are excellent.
    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 the 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. Blocked tunnel? Make a pickaxe.
  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.
  7. Saint of Forge and Fire: This is arguably too good, even at this level.

Forge Domain Cleric Ability Scores

Nothing different from any other heavily-armor cleric, as addressed in the Cleric Handbook.

Forge Domain Cleric Races

Little different from the standard Cleric Handbook.

  • WarforgedERtlW: Another +1 AC and some condition resistances. Stacking this with full plate, Blessing of the Forge, and a shield gets you to 22 AC with almost no effort. Tank Falacy would normally be a problem, but Spirit Guardians neatly solves that issue.

Forge Domain Cleric Feats

Nothing different from the standard Cleric Handbook.

Forge Domain Cleric Weapons

Nothing different from the standard Cleric Handbook.

Forge Domain Cleric Armor

Nothing different from the standard Cleric Handbook.


  • Artificer: Two levels for Infused Items so that you can get Enhanced Defense and Enhanced Weapon so that you have +1s for each of your armor/shield/weapon.
  • Fighter: One level for Fighting Style to get another +1 AC is tempting.

Example Build – Forged in the Heat of Battle

I love to make things with my hands. I mostly make problems.

Forge Domain is generally very straightforward. Put Blessing of the Forge on a friend’s weapon, grab a shield and heavy armor, and walk into melee casting Word of Radiance or whatever else fits the needs of the moment. But writing that build for the umpteenth time is no more fun for me to write than it is for you to read, so let’s do something else.

Let’s make an actual weapon-using cleric.

I’ll be the first to tell you that clerics are bad at using weapons. Cantrip damage is consistently more effective than Divine Strike. But Forge Domain gives us a guaranteed +1 weapon, and we can also bring in a weapon cantrip (Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade) to further boost our effectiveness with a weapon. Combining this with other staple cleric tactics (Spiritual Weapon, Spirit Guardians, etc.) could work very well, and it makes us a meaningful threat in melee beyond the fact that we’re in melee range. Altogether, this will make us a more effective Defender than we could be otherwise.

This combo alone does not make us a big damage dealer. In fact, we barely remain in Target DPR for most of the level range, and even then only if enemies trigger the bonus damage from Booming Blade. Opportunity Attacks (especially with Warcaster) will improve this greatly, but they’re not a guarantee. If you absolutely need to do damage, it will need to come from your leveled spells. Remember: your job as the Defender is to be durable (hard to kill or incapacitate) and sticky (hard to escape).

Because we’re leaning harder into being a front-line Defender than we are into the typical cleric tactics, our ability scores, feats, and spell choices are going to look different from your typical cleric. We’re emphasizing Defender more at the expense of Blaster/Controller options, but in some cases staple cleric options like Spirit Guardians are still great and arguably even better for us than for a typical cleric.

This build assumes no optional class features except the expanded spell list.

Ability Scores

This build is unusually MAD for a cleric, so we’re using the Custom Origin rules with the Half-Elf to shuffle some points around. We’ll max Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom, and dump everything else.



It would be really fun to do this build with a fire genasi or something, but that’s not where I’m going with this. Instead: Custom Origin High Half-Elf. Clerics aren’t great with skills, and we’re doing something a little MAD and trying to make melee attacks work on a cleric, so we want three Ability Score Increases and we want Booming Blade.

Green-Flame Blade is obviously much more thematic, but this is an optimization guide. If your DM sees what you’re doing and recoils, offer to switch to Green-Flame Blade as a peace offering.

You could also use the High Elf or Variant Human with Magic Initiate, but that would require rearranging some ability scores and feats.


Guild Artisan feels appropriate. Insight is a great skill for the Cleric, and we can trade Persuasion for Perception. The language and artisan’s tool aren’t important.

Skills and Tools

We’ll take History and Religion from our class skills and deal with being bad at them, then Insight and Perception from our background. We’ll get one type of Artisan’s Tools from our background and Smith’s Tools from our subclass at level 1.


At level 4 we take Crusher. Crusher gets us +1 Strength and the ability to move an enemy when we hit them with a weapon attack. Combined with Booming Blade, we can bonk something with our mace, move it out of reach, and punish it for trying to move.

At level 8 we take Warcaster. We want to be able to use our Crusher+Booming Blade combo in place of an Opportunity Attack, solidifying our role as a Defender.

At level 12 we max Strength to 20.

At levels 16 and 19 we increase Wisdom to 18 and then to 20.


Level Feat(s) and Features Notes and Tactics
Cantrips Known
– Guidance
– Toll the Dead
– Word of Radiance
Domain Spells
– Identify
– Searing Smite
Divine Domain: Forge Domain
Bonus Proficiencies
Blessing of the Forge
Throw Blessing of the Forge onto your mace and start swinging Booming Blade around. If someone gives you trouble, hit them with Searing Smite. Sure, it’s on a Con save, but you’re level 1.

Beyond that, you’re a standard front-line cleric. Word of Radiance for crowds. Keep a spell slot around for Healing Word.

DPR with +1 Mace, all Booming Blade damage: 8.58
2Channel Divinity (1/rest)
– Artisan’s Blessing
– Turn Undead
Artisan’s Blessing is a versatile and powerful tool. It won’t solve every problem, but it can solve a lot of them.

You can also use it to melt loot into coins, melt coins into metal bars, turn 1,000 copper pieces into a platinum coin for portability, and all sorts of other things that might upset people like the government, your DM, and the laws of conservation of matter. Maybe turn that pile of discarded armor into a growing collection of adamantine chunks. Tragically, the 100gp cost limit means that you can’t make yourself full plate armor or an adamantine weapon.

Unfortunately, Channel Divinity is borderline useless to us in combat.
3Domain Spells
– Heat Metal
– Magic Weapon
Spiritual Weapon basically doubles your damage output. We weren’t using that Bonus Action consistently anyway. Additionally, consider that the fact that Spiritual Weapon asking the caster for a melee spell attack roll means that any reason you would roll an attack with advantage also means the Spiritual Weapon attacks will be made with advantage. This is mostly important if your table uses the Flanking optional rule, because you having flanking on a target will apply to the spell as well.

Magic Weapon is a great buff, lasting a full hour. But it doesn’t help us compared to Blessing of the Forge, so if you do cast it, share it with an ally. At higher levels it may be tempting to upcast Magic Weapon for the higher bonus, but in most cases Spirit Guardians will be more important and we can’t concentrate on both.
4Feat: Crusher (Str 17 -> 18)
Cantrips Known
– Light
Increasing Strength keeps our Strength in step with the Fundamental Math, but we’re actually a little bit ahead thanks to Gift of the Forge. We can start using our Crusher+Booming Blade combo to reposition enemies and bait them to take the additional damage if they want to continue participating in melee combat.

Our spellcasting starts to lag at this point, so our offensive spells will begin to diminish in effectiveness. Be more selective than a typical cleric about when you use spells offensively. Booming Blade is still our go-to attack option.

DPR with +1 Mace, all Booming Blade damage: 9.28
5Domain Spells
– Elemental Weapon
– Protection from Energy
Destroy Undead (CR 1/2)
Elemental Weapon is very tempting, but it won’t match the damage output from Spirit Guardians unless you share it with an ally.

Speaking of Spirit Guardians, you should cast Spirit Guardians. Enemies in the area have their speed halved, and combining that with our Crusher+Booming Blade combo makes it very difficult for enemies to get away from us. Sure, our save DC is a little low for our level, but enemies still take half damage.

Cantrip damage increases at this level, making Booming Blade even more impactful.

DPR with +1 Mace, all Booming Blade damage: 15.80
6Channel Divinity (2/rest)
Soul of the Forge
Resistance to a common damage type and +1 AC. With a shield and full plate, that puts us at 21, which is nice and durable.
7Domain Spells
– Fabricate
– Wall of Fire
4th-level spells bring access to Death Ward. Cast it on yourself. Consider sharing, but probably don’t. You’re the Defender here.

Fabricate has some overlap with Artisan’s Blessing, but doesn’t take as long and doesn’t have a restriction on the value of what you create, so you can use it to solve different problems and to create more expensive items. You can’t create magic items, but despite adamantine armor being a magic item, adamantine weapons are not! So grab that pile of adamantine that you’ve been making from every bit of scrap metal you could find since level 2 and turn 505gp worth of garbage into a shiny new adamantine mace, which you can then apply Blessing of the Forge to because, again, adamantine weapons are not a magic item for some reason.

You also get stone Shape at this level for even more crafty goodness.

If Spirit Guardians isn’t proving effective enough at keeping enemies where you want them, consider Wall of Fire as an alternative. If enemies escape, you can use Crusher to bat them back through the wall for additional damage!
8Feat: War Caster
Destroy Undead (CR 1)
Divine Strike +1d8
War Caster lets us use Crusher+Booming Blade in place for Opportunity Attacks, which is just amazing. Our Strength is a little bit behind, but Blessing of the Forge’s +1 keeps us right on the math.

I badly want Divine Strike to not be bad. In our case it’s fine because it’s a damage boost on an attack (on our turn, at least) that we’re already going to make frequently. It’s still poor on other clerics. You might ask your DM to take the Blessed Strikes Optional Class Feature because it also works on Opportunity Attacks, but it’s still only once per round so it’s only better if you don’t attack with your Action or if you miss.

DPR with +1 Mace, all Booming Blade damage, 1d8 Divine Strike: 19.18
9Domain Spells
– Animate Objects
– Creation
5th-level spells brings us access to Holy Weapon, which is still a bad idea for us despite relying more on weapons than a typical cleric. If you want to concentrate on something, it should be Spirit Guardians, Summon Celestial, or a situationally-appropriate defense like Protection from Energy.

Outnumbered? Animate your smithing tools and have your hammer and tongs fight alongside you.

Creation is similar to Artisan’s Blessing and to Fabricate, but doesn’t require raw materials in exchange for the item being temporary.
10Cantrips Known
– Any
Divine Intervention
11Destroy Undead (CR 2)Start preparing Heal. Cantrip damage increases.

DPR with +1 Mace, all Booming Blade damage, 1d8 Divine Strike: 25.70
12ASI: Strength 18 -> 20
13Nothing uniquely exciting for us at 7th-level spells.
14Destroy Undead (CR 3)
Divine Strike +2d8
DPR with +1 Mace, all Booming Blade damage, 2d8 Divine Strike: 29.07
15Throw down Holy Aura and stand around flexing while your enemies struggle to hurt you and your friends.
16ASI: Wisdom 16 -> 18We’re finally back to caring about Wisdom!
17Destroy Undead (CR 4)
Saint of Forge and Fire
Saint of Forge and Fire should not be persistent. It’s too good. Resistance to non-magical B/P/S is a legendary magic item or an epic boon. But here we area, so throw yourself into an upcast, circular Wall of Fire and remind your enemies that you’re not trapped in here with them.

Cantrip damage increases.

DPR with +1 Mace, all Booming Blade damage, 2d8 Divine Strike: 35.60
18Channel Divinity (3/rest)I really want to have something fun to say here, but your tactics literally don’t change after level 17.
19ASI: Wisdom 18 -> 20
20Divine Intervention ImprovementHigh-five your deity. Ask them what they think of your cool adamantine mace that you made.