Introduction

One of the two Hemocraft subclasses presented in Tal’Dorei: Campaign Setting Reborn, the Blood Domain leans into the spookiness of controlling blood, giving you features which harm and control your enemies. It adds a little bit of Blaster and Controller to the Cleric’s existing roles, but it’s not so different from your standard cleric that it significantly changes your tactics.

Where the Blood Domain falls short is its reliance on damage spells without providing any meaningful damage spells. Bloodletting Focus applies to exactly 5 spells on the Cleric’s spell list, and Blood Domain only adds one more. The capstone feature, Vascular Corruption Aura, is a scary-sounding damage aura, but the damage is so small that there’s basically no reason to use it.

The highest point of the class is Channel Divinity: Blood Puppet, which is like a downgraded version of Dominate Monster. Since it’s Channel Divinity, it works on each short rest, so you can have this available constantly and drop it on the biggest thing in every fight. This is likely the most impactful part of the subclass; while your puppet is running around causing trouble, you’re free to resort to spamming Guiding Bolt.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

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

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. 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 this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Tal’Dorei Blood Domain Cleric Features

  1. Domain Spells: Oscillates between absolutely amazing levels and levels which you might literally never benefit from.
    1. 1st Level: False Life is an excellent way to extend your durability, especially when you have enough spell slots that you can afford to spend low-level slots to cast it after every fight in which you take damage. Sleep is a stunningly powerful way to end an encounter at low levels, but the scaling isn’t great.
    2. 3rd Level: Hold Person is great when it works, but humanoids are a tiny fraction of the enemies you’ll face in a typical game. Of every spell in the game, Ray of Enfeeblement is one of them, and that is the nicest thing I have to say about it.
    3. 5th Level: Haste is a great buff for high-damage martial allies, and Slow is a great debuff for big single enemies.
    4. 7th Level: Blight is bad. Stoneskin is a good defense, but can get expensive quickly and requires Concentration, so you don’t want to use it constantly.
    5. 9th Level: The spells are great, but you already have Blood Puppet, which does largely the same thing and doesn’t eat a high-level spell slot.
  2. Bonus Proficiencies: For the most part, martial weapons aren’t a massive improvement for you. You never get Extra Attack, and Divine Strike is weak in the best of cases, so there’s little reason to use a weapon. Grab a whip so that you can make Opportunity Attacks.
  3. Bloodletting Focus: A good amount of damage. It only affects with instantaneous durations, so no Spiritual Weapon or Spirit Guardians, but Guiding Bolt, Inflict Wounds, Harm, Flame Strike, and Sunburst work. Unfortunately, that’s literally the entire list of cleric spells to which this applies. Blood Domain adds Blight, but it’s barely worth mentioning.

    This also doesn’t specify “cleric spells”, so it’s ripe more multiclass shenanigans. One level of blood cleric tacked onto any blaster is an immediate and massive improvement.

  4. Channel Divinity: Crimson Bond: Extremely cool, but hard to use frequently.
  5. Channel Divinity: Blood Puppet: This is basically a limited version of Dominate Monster. Even with the limitations, it’s stunningly effective.
  6. Sanguine Recall: The daily limitation means that this is effectively one extra spell slot per day of your highest spell level up to 6th level. It’s good, but it’s not going to do anything crazy that you couldn’t already do. You can easily offset the hp cost with a spell or a few hit dice.
  7. Divine Strike: Divine Strike is bad. Take the Optional Class Feature if you can.
  8. Vascular Corruption Aura: Double the radius of Spirit Guardians, no save, no concentration, but at this level 3d6 damage is negligible unless you’re facing a swarm of smaller enemies, and even then it’s still less damage than a 3rd-level Spirit Guardians (3d8). You could run both effects, but they both require an Action to start, and, given the choice, upcasting Spirit Guardians even slightly will deal more damage unless you really need the bigger area. This just isn’t good enough for such a high-level feature that you can only use once per day. I’d be happy with double the damage because then you could reasonably say “yes, this is objectively better than Spirit Guardians in the majority of cases”.

    There is some fun optimization to be done around how you can trigger the damage repeatedly. The damage applies whenever a creature “moves within 30 feet of you for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there”. Generally language like this is intended so that the creature takes damage when they approach you so that they’re not motivated to run in and out of the aura, but it also means that we can re-trigger the damage by forcing movement on other turns.

    The trick is that it happens when the creature moves, not when it enters the area (which is how Spirit Guardians works), so we can’t do things like walking the aura onto them or pulling them in with the Telekinetic feat. Spells like Infestation and Dissonant Whispers will do the trick, but remember that all you get is the extra 3d6 damage, which may not be enough to justify the effort.

Tal’Dorei Blood Domain Cleric Ability Scores

No different from other medium armor clerics. See our Cleric Handbook.

Tal’Dorei Blood Domain Cleric Races

See our Cleric Races Breakdown. Blood Domain doesn’t have any specific, unique interactions with published races.

Tal’Dorei Blood Domain Cleric Feats

Blood Domain doesn’t have any unique interactions with published feats, but Tal’Dorei: Campaign Setting Reborn does include some new feat options. Notables are included below, but check our Tal’Dorei Feats Breakdown for the rest.

  • Remarkable RecoveryT:CSR: A tempting way to recover from Sanguine Recall, but you absolutely do not need it.
  • SpelldriverT:CSR: Clerics have a ton of wonderful bonus action spells at low levels including Healing Word, Shield of Faith, and Spiritual Weapon. The ability to cast those spells and still spend your Action to use a bigger spell is amazing. Imagine Spirit Guardians and Spiritual Weapon on turn one of every fight.
  • Vital SacrificeT:CSR: Impose a -1d4 penalty to a save at the cost of 1d6 damage to yourself as many times as you want per day.

Tal’Dorei Blood Domain Cleric Weapons

You do get martial weapons, but there’s little reason to use a weapon. Consider a whip so that you can make opportunity attacks with reach.

Tal’Dorei Blood Domain Cleric Armor

No different from other medium armor clerics. See our Cleric Handbook.

Multiclassing

No different from other medium armor clerics. See our Cleric Handbook.

Example Build – Sunday, Bloody Sunday

“I realize that I’m covered in blood and all of my abilities involve body horror, but I promise you that I’m lawful good and I’m here to help.”

We’re going to lean hard into both the class features and feats here. Spelldriver isn’t super interesting beyond Spiritual Weapon+Anything Else or Healing Word+Anything else, so we’ll skip that in favor of Vital Sacrifice and lean hard into blood magic.

With Bloodletting Focus on the table, we’re an abnormally effective blaster. We don’t need to rely on blast spells exclusively, but it’s a great excuse to not take Spirit Guardians on yet another cleric. Unfortunately, the Cleric has something like 5 total spells which Bloodletting Focus affects, so you’re going to spend a lot of time casting Guiding Bolt. Two of those spells are on Con saves (Blight is, too, but it’s a domain spell), so Vital Sacrifice is going to do a lot of work here.

Ability Scores

Standard for a medium-armored cleric.

BaseIncreased
Str88
Dex1414
Con1416
Int1010
Wis1516
Cha1010

Race

Custom origin hill dwarf. The extra hit points are nice since we plan to eat some of our own hp on a regular basis, and the dwarf’s defensive traits are great on a cleric. Trade the weapon proficiencies for chef’s tools (bonus hp when spending hit dice) and whatever else you might want.

We could also go variant human and take Tough, but how many variant humans have you played already?

Background

Any. It doesn’t affect the build meaningfully.

Skills and Tools

Basically the same as any other cleric.

Feats

We’ll wait for 4th level to take Vital Sacrifice because sacrificing a d6 hit points is dangerous at level 1.

Levels

Level Feat(s) and Features Notes and Tactics
1Spellcasting
Domain Spells
Blood Domain
Bonus Proficiencies
Bloodletting Focus
Cantrips Known:
– Guidance
– Sacred Flame
– Toll the Dead
Spells Prepared
– Bless
– False Life (Domain)
– Guiding Bolt
– Healing Word
– Sanctuary
– Sleep (Domain)
At this level, despite our crimson pact, our tactics are little different from that of other clerics. We’ll grab a whip for opportunity attacks, but most of the time you won’t have it in hand because you need a free hand for somatic components.

We’re not super durable, so try to stay at range. If things get bad, use Sanctuary. We only get two spell slots, so be cautious about using them.

Guiding Bolt will deal an impressive 4d6+3 damage, but at this level it’s usually still a better idea to spend that slot on something with a longer impact like Bless or which will outright end a fight like Sleep.
2Channel Divinity (1/rest)
Channel Divinity: Crimson Bond
New Spells Prepared
– Inflict Wounds
Crimson Bond is too costly to use for seeing through other creature’s sense at this level, so it’s basically only good for keeping an eye on your party member’s current hp.

Inflict Wounds, much like Guiding Bolt, gets the damage boost from Bloodletting Focus.
3New Spells Prepared
– Aid
– Hold Person (domain)
– Ray of Enfeeblement (domain)
Aid is going to further pad our hit point maximum, making it easier to pay the cost of Vital Sacrifice. Aid targets three creatures, so be sure to share with your friends.
4Feat: Vital Sacrifice
New Cantrip Known:
– Mending
New Spells Prepared
– Prayer of Healing
We want some blood magic in our blood magic. At this point, we’re durable enough that Vital Sacrifice’s hp cost is manageable, and it provides an incredible transfusion of new options for us. We can use False Life to give ourselves a pad of temporary hp to feed into Vital Sacrifice, but if we have injured allies we can spend some time between fights to cast Prayer of Healing.

Three boons worth of damage will be consistently healed by Prayer of Healing, and that math holds true for your whole career, which is a good indication that you could start most fights with three boons.

With the ability to boost our attack rolls with a d6 (plus potentially a d4 from Bless) or our spell attack damage by 2d6, let’s look at what those options do to DPR for Inflict Wounds and Guiding Bolt. We could certainly use two boons on the same spell, but let’s compare using only one for the sake of argument. We’ll assume that our 1d6 rolls a 3 and our 2d6 rolls a 7 so that we don’t need to worry about rounding or anything.

GB base: 10.9
GB w/attack boon: 13.45
GB w/damage boon: 15.45
GB w/both: 19.05
IW base: 12.53
IW w/attack boon: 15.45
IW w/damage boon: 17.08
IW w/both: 21.05

As we can see, the damage bonus yields higher DPR. Of course, that math changes if we upcast, and there are other considerations like Guiding Bolt’s secondary effect, but it’s still helpful to see math to make informed choices.

We can also consider physical save-or-suck spells, but clerics have few at this level. It’s basically just Blindness/Deafness.
5Destroy Undead (CR 1/2)
New Spells Prepared
– Aura of Vitality (Optional)
– Haste (Domain)
– Slow (Domain)
Aura of Vitality is an optional spell, which means that it’s only on the Cleric’s spell list if your DM allows it. If they do, Vital Sacrifice is suddenly a near-bottomless pool of boons. Use Vital Sacrifice to grind your hp down to single digits and get as many boons as you can, then cast Aura of Vitality to run your hp right back up to maximum.

Vital Sacrifice really does need a limit on how many boons you can have, but that’s not what’s in the book, so here we go. If your DM sees this and says “you don’t get Aura of Vitality”, Prayer of Healing will suffice.

From here on out, I’m going to blindly assume that you have more boons than you can use in a single fight, but also you’ll have no 3rd-level spell slots because they’ve been spent on Aura of Vitality. Instead, spend boons to boost both your attack and damage with Guiding Bolt and you’re doing plenty of damage without considering that you’re probably giving an ally Advantage on their next attack roll.

If you’re ready to use save-or-suck spells, use Blindness/Deafness. You can spend a boon every time your target(s) save.
6Channel Divinity (2/rest)
Channel Divinity: Blood Puppet
Sanguine Recall
Time to commit body horror!

We add a second Channel Divinity charge to our sanguine pool and Blood Puppet at the same time. It’s pretty common to have only two fights between rests, so Blood Puppet is almost always ready to go.

Against enemies with poor mental stats, use Blood Puppet and they’re no longer a problem. If there are no other enemies in the encounter, have them attack themselves and walk into something dangerous. Against enemies with high mental stats, use Blindness/Deafness and debuff their save with Vital Sacrifice’s boons.

Blood Puppet notably allows you to target a corpse, and it doesn’t seem to care how that corpse got there. Find the biggest meatbag enemy you can find, haul its body around in a wagon, and turn it into a roving combat pet. You’ll need to repair the body, which is conveniently an object rather than a creature, which is why we took Mending at level 4. You may also want to cast Gentle Repose to keep it from taking on an unpleasant smell.
7New Spells Prepared
– Blight (Domain)
– Any
– Stoneskin (Domain)
No damage spells or physical save spells on the cleric list at this level, but we do get Blight, so let’s look at Blight compared to our other spell options.

Blight is a Con save, so we can use Vital Sacrifice’s boons to penalize our target’s saves and turn this into a true hemoplague. That’s likely enough of a penalty that we can consider a Constitution save as safe as other saves. Thanks to Bloodletting Focus, we get 8d8+6 damage (avg. 42). I don’t think we’re intended to use Vital Sacrifice’s boons to boost the damage of non-attack spells, but it’s not perfectly clear

If we instead upcast Guiding Bolt (which is a good comparison because it works at range, while Inflict Wounds does not) with a boon on the attack and damage, we’ll deal 7d6+2d6+6 damage for an average of 37.5. That’s nearly as much damage as Blight, it’s more likely to succeed (though admittedly doesn’t deal half on a miss), and also grants someone Advantage.

Stick to Guiding Bolt. Blight’s damage will scale a tiny bit better with upcasting, but not enough to really make it matter.
8ASI: Wis (16 -> 18)
Divine Strike
If optional class features are an option, take Blessed Strikes.

We’re still a little bit behind the Fundamental Math, but the boons from Vital Sacrifice easily make up the difference.
9New Spells Prepared
– Dominate Person (Stoneskin)
– Flame Strike
– Hold Monster (Stoneskin)
Dominate Person and Hold Monster feel pretty silly alongside Blood Puppet.

Somehow, Flame Strike is our first AOE spell which can apply Bloodletting Focus. At 8d6 damage, it’s no better than a 3rd-level Fireball unless damage types matter. Adding +6 damage helps a lot, bringing our average damage to just 1 behind a 5th-level Fireball, which is a negligible difference.

Expect Flame Strike to be a staple option from here onward. Even against single targets, it’s only slightly behind Guiding Bolt when boosts with a Vital Sacrifice boon, so against multiple targets it’s great damage.
10Divine Intervention
New Cantrips Known:
– Any
Nothing exciting here.
11Destroy Undead (CR 2)
New Spells Prepared
– Harm
Harm is a lot like Blight: a big pile of necrotic damage on a Con save. Like Blight, we can use Vital Sacrifice’s boon to penalize our target’s save. But since they’re both just a single-target damage on a Con save, they fill the same niche.

So which is better?

Blight upcast to 6th level with Bloodletting Focus will deal an average of 53 damage. Harm will deal an average of 57. So the gap is pretty minor. Harm has double the range, which might be enough to justify preparing it.
12ASI: Wis (18 -> 20)Finally back on the Fundamental Math.
13

Nothing at this level except 7th-level spells.

14Destroy Undead (CR 3)
15New Spells Prepared
– Sunburst
The power of the sun… in the palm of my hand. Oh no, I dropped it!

Sunburst will only very exceed the damage of upcast Flame Strike by 1d6, but the AOE is fully 6 times as wide and it also blinds things. Normally the Constitution save is a problem, but thanks to Vital Sacrifice, it’s much less of an issue. Drop 12d6+10 damage and blind everything in the building with pulsing tides of blood sunlight..
16Feat: Any
New Spells Prepared
– Any
This would be a good level to pick up Spelldriver if you want it.
17Destroy Undead (CR 4)
Vascular Corruption Aura
The aura is a neat little novelty, but when you’re dropping 12d6+10 damage from Sunburst, 3d6 damage feels pretty silly.

9th level spells are pretty great, though.
18Channel Divinity (3/rest)More Blood Puppets!
19ASI/Feat: AnyMaybe Tough? Maybe Resilient? Whatever you like.
20Improved Divine InterventionAsk your god to make Vascular Corruption aura better.