Available to the Champion, the Cleric, and a handful of other character options via feats such as Domain Initiate and Deity’s Domain, domains represent a specific divine concept, and are often associated with one or more deities.
In practical terms, a Domain is a pair of Focus Spells with a similar theme. You generally need to learn the first spell (the “Domain Spell”) before you can learn the second (the “Advanced Domain Spell”), but you are not forced to learn the Advanced Domain Spell.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks.
- : 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.
My biggest from with the Ambition domain is that I don’t trust the Blind Ambition spell to be useful to the caster. If you talk to your GM and work out an agreement for how Blind Ambition will be handled, it may be very effective. However, I can’t predict that outcome unless I’m your GM so I generally can’t recommend the Ambition domain. If your GM is willing to make Blind Ambition as useful as I think Paizo wanted it to be, then it’s a great spell and the domain is good as a result.
: The two-Action casting time makes this difficult to combine with other spells, so your best bet is likely to cast this then immediately use the Coerce action. Unfortunately, the Critical Failure effect is extremely unpredictable and doesn’t impose a numeric penalty so in what should be the most desirable outcome you have no idea what’s actually going to happen. The effects are entirely up to the DM’s discretion, and based on the text in many cases it will result in the target doing exactly what it was doing before you targeted them.
: In combat, this is rarely good enough to justify Sustaining. An Action to get +1 or +2 to attacks won’t be as effective as using that Action to do something like casting a spell or making a Strike. The best combat use case is in an encounter with numerous enemies because it mathematically increases the odds of an enemy rolling a Critical Success on an attack to trigger the improved bonus.
Outside of combat, it’s comparable to Guidance but doesn’t have the temporary immunity and you can only target yourself. If you’re making a lot of skill checks, that can be very effective.
Two good Focus Spells which you’ll use primarily to counter problems caused by enemies, so you won’t be tempted to burn through your Focus Points in a hurry.
: Situational by design, but grapples are reasonably common and can often be a death sentence for weak allies like wizards who may not have a way to escape a grapple on their own. This is an easy and effective way to break a grapple either on yourself or an ally, and with a generous 500-foot range you can easily use this on almost anything in sight. You may even be able to knock foes off of high points like castle walls or towers. The Critical Failure effect knocks the target prone, which causes flying enemies to fall, but don’t gamble on that unless the target is much lower level than you.
: A great way to avoid being hit with multiple melee attacks from one foe. Your enemies likely spent actions to reach you, then actions to attack you, and spending your Reaction (inexpensive compared to an Action on a creatures’ turn) to move out of reach. If they have Actions remaining they’ll need to spend them to catch up to you or give up on the idea of hurting you further.
Both spells can be handled better and more efficiently using skills that your party needs to have available already if you’re in a campaign where these spells would be useful.
: This is a really cool spell, but it’s very situational. In most campaigns, vanishing into a crowd is uncommon, so unless you’re in a campaign which frequently features important events within the confines of a city you’re not going to have a chance to use this.
: Use the Diplomacy skill’s Gather Information activity instead. “Pulse of the city reveals only publicly available or observable information.” If you can’t learn it from Gather Information, it’s definitely not available with Pulse of the City.
Both spells are bad.
: Too weak, and the fact that it adds a Critical Failure effect to fear effects targeting you makes this a serious gamble with little reward if you succeed. Thematically it’s really interesting, but the benefits are not worth the cost if you fail.
: An interesting debuff, and the duration scales really well based on the target’s saving throw, but the effects are mediocre at best. If the target fails a check on their first Action (where they’re most likely to succeed), the penalty applies for the rest of their turn, and might go up to -2 if they fail again. Most creatures never get more than three Actions, so even if they do hit that -2 penalty it applies for one Action that was likely to fail anyway if a check was involved. So the most likely outcome is that the target takes a -1 penalty to the last Action on their turn, but might take it on two Actions if you’re lucky.
I wouldn’t go this route unless your party is reliant on the Craft skill. If you have people who like Advanced Alchemy or Snares, or who use shields (and therefore need to repair them repeatedly), Artistic Flourish will provide a useful skill bonus that will be constantly beneficial to the party. But if you don’t plan to use Artistic Flourish, Splash of Art isn’t good enough on its own.
: The effects aren’t bad, but the AOE is very small and the effects are unpredictable. If you hit a spellcaster with Enfeebled, they’re probably not going to care. Your best bet is to throw this into a cluster of enemies early in fight, and the effects are more impactful against against martial creatures than they are against spellcasters.
: The item bonus to weapons is suprisingly unhelpful. By the time you can get this, you and your allies should be using magic weapons which provide permanent item bonuses to your attacks. But the bonus with tools is really great. Item bonuses from tools are typically very expensive, so providing a scaling numerical bonus at the cost of a Focus Point can save you and your party a great deal of money. If people in your party need to craft alchemical items, repair damaged gear like shields, or any number of other routine tasks, they can all benefit from Artistic Flourish at very little cost beyond the feats to learn the spell.
If your party is sneaky, or if your party all has Darkvision and can function well in complete darkness, the Darkness domain offers some exciting options which your party can benefit from consistently. Darkvision is available from numerous sources, so parties which include someone with the Darkness domain can easily accommodate these tactics even if not everyone has Darkvision from their Ancestry.
: Broadly useful, and since it’s automatically heightened magical darkness it can overcome magical light from other spells in addition to suppressing light from things like torches and sunlight. This isn’t quite the ability to hide in plain sight (the spell very specifically calls out that observant creatures can observe the darkness moving), but it’s close. The ability to remove the cloak and leave the effect in place for the spell’s duration allows for further trickery if you’re clever enough to intentionally draw observers’ attention to it.
: This is only useful if your whole party has Darkvision and you’re fighting in the dark. That’s fairly easy to accomplish since Darkvision is widely available as a racial trait, from a spell, or from items, but if your enemies have a light source (torches, the sun, etc.) you’ll need to extinguish it before this is reliably effective.
Death’s Call is an easy and reliable way to turn your Focus Points into damage mitigation. It’s useful in nearly every encounter across the full level range, so even if you never pick up Eradicate Undeath it’s easy to put Death’s Call on any cleric. Eradicate Undeath is only useful if you expect undead enemies to appear in your campaign, but taking Domain Initiate to get Death’s Call doesn’t obligate you to go any further.
: Consistently useful in combat, the temporary hit points can easily make up the gap in durability between the Cleric and more durable classes like the Fighter. Encounters with multiple enemies are the norm in Pathfinder 2e, so you’ll nearly always have fodder to trigger Death’s Call while still having time for its effects to matter in the same encounter.
: Situational by design, but against undead this is a solid, reliable burst damage option. I wouldn’t want this to be my only Focus Spell, but if you have other ways to spend your Focus Points (like Death’s Call) this can be a great option.
A great option for characters built to be in melee range, Cry of Destruction is a great burst of AOE damage and Destructive Aura will allow your allies to more easily overcome enemy damage resistances, providing a powerful offensive support option. Both spells will be consistently useful across the full level range.
: The AOE is small, but the damage is good, it scales well, and resistance to sonic damage is uncommon. If you manage to deal damage before casting this the damage dice chance from d8’s to d12’s, increasing the damage by nearly 50%, but with a 2-Action casting time that may be hard to do. The most likely cast is hitting with a melee Strike then immediately following it with Cry of Destruction, but if you can find a 1-Action option with a basic save you can nearly guarantee a bit of damage so you can get easy access to the improve damage dice.
: Reducing enemies’ resistances can be immensely helpful and can result in a significant boost in your party’s damage output.
Sweet Dream can provide a nice Status bonus, but I’m not sure if it’s good enough to justify taking Domain Initiate to get it when Guidance is available.
: The duration is long enough that you can get quite a bit of use out of the bonuses even after the target spends a minute napping, so the +1 bonus becomes meaningful when applied repeatedly with no further cost. You may get some weird looks from NPCs when one of your party members falls into the routine of taking a 1-minute power nap before having a conversation, but NPCs hardly need an excuse to consider adventurers strange.
: This is a weaker and less-versatile version of Command. It even adds the Incapacitation trait to make absoutely sure that this is as frustrating and useless as possible.
Good offensive options for characters built for melee.
: This isn’t flashy or impressive, but it’s solid damage at range with a 1-Action casting time. The damage scales with spell level so it will likely deal more damage than attacking with a weapon using the same Action. For characters built to fight in melee, this can be an easy low-cost ranged attack option.
: If you’re in melee (or close to it), the damage is decent and scales very well with level, and knocking creatures Prone often robs them of an Action on their next turn. Walking into a crowd and cast this and it’s easily worth the Focus Point.
Two excellent defensive options. Great in any party.
: Not super fancy, but reliable and low-maintenance. Emotion effects include fear effects, which are very common.
: Excellent at any level. Characters within a party will nearly always have different saves which they are good or bad at, and allowing an ally who is bad at a given save to use your saving throw modifier in place of their own will often raise their chances of success considerably. If you take this, I recommend looking for other items and feats to improve your saving throw modifiers to further improve the effectiveness of Unity.
If you and your GM are on board for the GM to predict the future and give you vague premonitions as a result, this domain can be a lot of fun. But that requires a degree of trust between you (the player) and the GM, and it requires that the GM have enough mastery of running tabletop RPGs for that arrangement to work in a way that’s both interesting and rewarding enough to justify taking Domain Initiate in order to get Read Fate. If you and your GM are prepared for that, there’s a lot of fun to be had here. But if your GM is new, adversarial, unconfident, or otherwise not in a good place to handle Read Fate, skip the Fate Domain.
: I am intentionally not rating this spell. While I absolutely love stuff like this, the effects are simply too subjective for me to provide any actionable advice which applies universally.
If you and your GM enjoy stuff like this, it can be a really fun addition to your game. Your GM could give you a word like “death” and you could spend the next hour trying to determine if the DM meant your death or someone elses (adventurers tend to do a lot of killing).
Conversely, if your GM isn’t on board for stuff like this you might get a lot of “inconclusive” responses, or the GM might give you a word that makes sense at the time but which they immediately forget about so the word may have no bearing on what is actually going to happen within the spell’s duration.
: This is intentionally a gamble. A Reaction to provide a +1 or +2 bonus on a saving throw is great, but I’m hesitant to recommend this because you’ll usually make this gamble without an accurate idea of the probabilities and often you won’t know the results of a Critical Success or a Critical Failure. On some effects, a Critical Success is no better than a Success. On some effects, a Critical Failure means you die (or something similarly unpleasant happens). Mathematically this is good, but I’m still nervous about it.
This is fine, but not amazing, impressive, or exciting. Fire Ray is solid but uninteresting single-target damage. Flame Barrier is reliable but unexciting protection against one of the most common non-weapon damage types in the game.
: This is Produce Flame with double the damage dice. That’s fine, but it’s not especially impactful. It will save you a spell slot if all you need is single-target damage and cantrips somehow aren’t good enough, which might be enough to justify this at low levels.
: While this is technically situational, fire damage is extremely common, and the amount of resistance will frequently be enough to negate a single large source of fire damage like a spell or a breath weapon.
Two good options to handle a variety of things which could prevent you and your allies from moving under your own power. Both options can get you out of grapples, but you can also handle more severe conditions like paralysis.
: “Nothing can hold you in place”… except the inability to perform Somatic components to cast this. If your hands are tied, Unimpeded Stride is useless, which honestly seems like a design oversight. Even so, this gets you out of grapples and many other things which might restrain you temporarily like spells and creatures’ special abilities. Conveniently this also lets you Stride so you don’t give up any action economy for it.
: Situational by design, but between all of the listed effects this will come up often enough to be useful. The 1-Action casting time is especially helpful because you still get two Actions on your turn to Step away from a grapple or cast another spell. Keep in mind that the effect is only suppressed for one round (though any Grab is broken and doesn’t automatically reapply) so the target needs to act quickly once you cast this.
Don’t both unless you plan to pick up Rebuke Death. Healer’s Blessing is unimpressive and encourages you to spend spell slots in foolish ways, but Rebuke Death completely changes the tactics around dying allies.
: This is frustratingly the weak. This doesn’t synergize well with spells which provide healing over time, so the expectation is that you’ll cast this then repeatedly hit the target with Heal or something similar. But doing so is typically a grotesque misuse of resources.
In-combat healing should typically only be done in an emergency, and outside of combat you need to use options like Medicine or Rebuke Death to preserve limited resources like spell slots. If you have time to make Healer’s Blessing work, you probably have time to use the Medicine skill’s Treat Wounds activity, and outside of combat that’s a much less expensive way to handle hit point restoration.
Perhaps the best use case for Healer’s Blessing is as a stepping stone until you can get Rebuke Death. At low levels, the additional healing from Healer’s Blessing can stretch your spell slots spent on healing magic enough to get you by without needing to heavily invest in Medicine or other hit point restoration. At high levels when the bonus has scaled considerably, spending a 1st-level spell slot to cast Heal can provide an impressive large amount of healing at low cost, though the AOE heal option can also trigger Healer’s Blessing and will restore considerably more hp for the same spell slot, so that’s still the preferred way to use Heal.
: The ability to bring a dying ally back to consciousness without applying the Wounded condition is huge. Wounded is what makes falling to 0 hit points scary in Pathfinder 2e, so the ability to remove that “death spiral” mechanic means that falling to 0 hit points is considerably less of a problem. Bringing allies back up from 0 hit points gets them back into the fight (at least temporarily), easily replacing the Actions which you spent to heal them.
The amount of healing is similar to the single-target and AOE versions of the Heal spell (though Rebuke Death uses a smaller die), but unlike Heal you can target up to three allies with no risk of healing your enemies. This allows you to heal multiple allies in the middle of combat much more easily than you could with Heal.
Outside of combat, this is a great way to heal your party members at no cost. Refocus takes 10 minutes compared to the 10-minute (or 1-hour) Activity for Treat Wounds, and with Rebuke Death you don’t need to invest skill increases and potentially feats to make Medicine into a renewable source of hit point restoration. Even better, Rebuke Death will restore more hit points than Treat Wounds, and will scale automatically as you gain levels, remaining consistently ahead of Treat Wounds even as you add more Skill Increases and potentially feats. Medicine may still be useful for treating poison and diseases, but Rebuke Death neatly solves the issue of hit point restoration outside of combat.
Two excellent options that have a variety of interesting of uses.
: Sickened is an excellent debuff which doesn’t go away on its own, and which the target may struggle to remove even after spending multiple Actions to do so. The target also gets nourishment as though had eaten a full meal, entirely removing your party’s need to worry about food. Admittedly this sounds like an uncomfortable and unpleasant replacement for eating, but it’s certainly efficient.
: Situational by design, but it covers conditions which are common enough that you and your party will definitely benefit from this even if you only use it defensively. Poison and disease afflictions can cause serious problems for your allies (though disease afflicitions typically have a generous delay before they become a problem) and granting an additional save to try to end them early can save you a lot of trouble. Similarly, for persistent poison damage you can allow an ally to make an additional save to end the effect and set the flat check DC to 5, giving them a 80% chance to end the effect and thereby prevent a huge amount of additional damage.
If you have someone in the party who likes to use poisons (alchemists are a great example), forcing enemies to make another save against the poison with a -2 penalty can increase the severity of the affliction and cause all manner of problems for them. Re-triggering persistent poison damage sounds tempting, but the damage will at best match the damage from hitting the target with an attack cantrip, so re-triggering the persistent damage is generally a poor use of a Focus Point unless you’re desperate and struggling to harm the target by other means.
Excellent if you’re already reliant on Recall Knowledge, but without a mechanic like the Ranger’s Monster Hunter feat tree it may be difficult to turn the Knowledge Domain into clear benefits.
: Recall Knowledge can be an effective way to gain insights into your enemies, and numerous character options offer specific numeric benefits when using Recall Knowledge, such as the Ranger’s Monster Hunter feat chain.
: A massive upgrade from Scholarly Recollection, this allows you to easily make Recall Knowledge checks without cutting into your Actions on your turn. If Scholarly Recollection is appealing for you, Know the Enemy is definitely worth the upgrade.
Both spells are universally useful.
: The 1-minute duration can be difficult to time, but if you can get this running just before combat breaks out it can be extremely useful. The benefits remain relevant across the full level range. Unfortunately the 24-hour temporary immunity means that you’ll need to rotate recipients, and on back-to-back adventuring days you may have some difficulties timing when you cast this.
: Simple, helpful, and always useful. It only targets you so it’s somewhat selfish, but no one should fault you for giving yourself a way to possibly save your own life.
Avoid this unless you’re a full caster (Warpriest Clerics don’t count). Magic’s Vessel is good but encourages you to feed it spell slots. Mystic Beacon is also good, but either you need to apply it to an ally who can caster spells better than you or you need to have enough high-level spell slots to make it worthwhile.
: The status bonus to saving throws is nice, and I like that there’s a built-in way to Sustain the spell which doesn’t just eat an Action with no further effect. However, you need to cast a spell using spell slots, so Innate Spells and Focus Spells don’t qualify, so it’s expensive to do repeatedly unless you were already going to cast those spells. In important fights against major threats which often justify casting leveled spells every turn, this can be an easy low-cost defensive buff, but it may not be worth the cost and effort in many encounters.
: Broadly useful, and it’s great that you can use this on an ally who might be better-suited to cast the spell which recieves Mystic Beacon’s benefit. If you cast this on yourself or an allied spellcaster before a big AOE damage spell is cast, you can boost the damage and get a lot of additional power out of that spell slot. Keep in mind that only the damage is boosted, so you’ll get the most benefit when using this on simple spells like Fireball rather than spells that improve other effects based on the level of the spell. The effect also ends at the start of your next turn, so you won’t be able to combine this with your own 3-Action spells, such as the 3-Action version of Heal.
A great choice for martial builds, Champions and Warpriest Clerics with enough Strength to make Athletics useful in combat will find Athletic Rush to be a helpful buff. Enduring Might provides some damage mitigation which may be enough to give up using a shield.
: Your best use case for this is to start your turn with Athletic Rush, Stride into melee range (which you can do with the same Action), then use Athletics-based attacks like Grapple to capitalize on the Status bonus. This will remain consistently useful across the full level range, but the short duration won’t help you keep enemies grappled so you need to actually be good at Athletics to make this worthwhile.
: Not a huge tactical advantage, but it’s solid, reliable damage mitigation with very little effort and it works against anything.
Moonbeam is garbage, and Touch of the Moon isn’t goo enough to justify suffering Moonbeam.
: Too situational and too little damage. Cantrips deal just as much damage, so unless the target is significantly weak to Silver damage there’s basically no reason to spend the Focus Point. Hitting the target will Dazzle them for either a round or a minute, but unless you can guarantee a Critical Success I would just stick to cantrips.
: 1-Action casting time with Touch range, so you can use this and cast a spell in the same turn. Thematically this is really fun and the waxing/waning stat buffs are a really novel mechanic. The numeric bonuses are good and broadly useful, so this is effective when applied to almost any character. The recipient will likely want to plan their turns to capitalize on the Waxing and Full phases to maximize the benefits of the damage bonus, then during other phases potentially do things like reposition themselves.
Potentially useful for front-line builds, but it can be hard to keep Vibrant Thorns at its boosted damage, and Nature’s Bounty isn’t good enough on its own to justify this unless you can make Vibrant Thorns useful.
: The best use case for this is when you’re being swarmed by enemies who can reliably get through your AC. Vibrant Thorns punishes foes for hitting you, so either you get free damage as they do their normal things or they’ll go look for other targets. If you’re going to use this, you almost certainly want to cast a Positive spell to raise the damage in order to get as much out of the spell as possible. Nearly every Positive spell is a healing spell (Heal, Breath of Life, etc.), but the Disrupt Undead cantrip is a Positive spell so it qualifies. even if you don’t have a handy undead creature to smack around you can still cast Disrupt Undead to trigger the improved thorn damage.
: In combat, this provides decent, reliable healing for 1 Action, but remember that the user will likely need to Interact to pull the fruit out of their bag or whatever, so it’s little better than other in-combat healing options. The 1-minute expiration on the fruit also means that it’s hard to prepare these before combat, and it’s rarely a good use of a Focus Point to do so.
Instead, use Nature’s Bounty outside of combat. It solves the issue of feeding the party, so you don’t need to carry rations, and with the magical healing you don’t need to invest in Medicine to provide inexpensive healing outside of combat. This won’t be as impactful as Rebuke Death, but it’s still a bottomless supply of healing provided that you have time to Refocus repeatedly.
Waking Nightmare is bad, and Shared Nightmare is unreliable and not effective enough to make up for Waking Nightmare.
: This is just a worse version of the Fear spell, which is 1st-level. Fear can cause creatures to flee on a Critical Success, but Waking Nightmare can only cause one target to flee if you somehow target them with this while they’re asleep. The best use case I can think of for this is to wake up your allies in combat, but generally if allies are put to sleep in combat you can wake them by hitting them.
: If you fail the save, you’re going to be Confused for at most one round. If the target fails, they’re Confused wholly or partially for a full minute. Being Confused for your first Action doesn’t sound like much, but if the target is forced to spend that Action attacking a random target (potentially including themself) they’re either going to Strike and rack up a Multiple Attack Penalty or they’re going to cast a spell which will probably severely limit their Actions for the turn since 2-Action spells are the norm.
Fantastic damage outcome across the level spectrum.
: 1-Action casting time, persistent damage which scales with the spell’s level, and no duration cap so until the target shakes of the persistent damage you continue to enjoy the bonus to attack them and use skills against them. Mental damage is rarely resisted (but obviously doesn’t work against mindless creatures), so this is a go-to tactical option which you should use early and often to get the most out of the spell. The spell’s only challenge is the Touch range, but even that is easily handled with things like Reach Spell or by using a familiar if you’re not built for melee combat.
: Not a lot of tactical impact, but it’s guaranteed damage (provided that there are no resistances or immunities involved) with minimal action cost. Try to save this for when you critically fail a saving throw or suffer a critical hit in order to maximize its effects. If you rush to use this at every opportunity you’ll burn through your Focus Points too quickly.
Excellent in social situations, especially if you’re your party’s Face.
: Broadly useful in social situations, and potentially useful in combat if you can get to the target before anyone takes hostile actions against it to avoid the +4 bonus on the target’s saving throw. Changing a target’s disposition to a minimum of friendly means that you can at least talk to them politely for a few minutes before they go back to however they felt about you before Charming Touch.
There is some additional nuance to the spell which you need to watch out for. The target needs to be a creature that “could be attracted to you”, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation from the GM. Humanoids are fairly easy, provided that you’re a humanoid or near-humanoid, but I’ve been on the internet long enough to know that the phrase “could be attracted to” is startlingly broad. This also means that being aromantic or asexual may make the target immune to the spell’s effects.
: An interesting way to draw the attention of a group of creatures, especially since the AOE scales rapidly with spell level. I wouldn’t use this in combat since the Fascinated condition doesn’t prevent hostile creatures from attacking you, but in social situations it could be very effective.
Very little here that’s worth having.
: Situational by design, but effects which target your Will saves will frequently carry nasty status effects so reattempting the save can get you out of a really bad spot. While this is a 1st-level spell, this may actually be more useful at high levels when spells and special abilities become more common.
: Good, but very situational. The effects which Perfected Form covers are rare.
Spectacular defensive options that work in any party at any level.
: Redirecting damage, especially if it prevents the target from falling unconscious, is extremely useful. Distributing damage throughout the party makes multi-target healing more efficient, and it improves the durability of the party as a whole.
: Fantastic, constantly useful, and easily for the Action to Sustain the spell. The resistance is small, but scales with level, and will easy mitigate much more damage than you could with Shield Block or similar options, especially since it also applies to nearby allies. This is useful enough that you should expect to use this in the majority of combats.
Forced Quiet is nice for helping allied spellcasters perform Verbal components while being sneaky, but beyond that the benefits of Forced Quiet and Safeguard Secret are so minor and situational that you should never expect them to be useful.
: This is a weird spell. The obvious use is to prevent the target from shouting things that you don’t want other creatures to hear, thereby allowing you to move captive creatures while drawing less attention. But the effect notably doesn’t prevent the target from providing Verbal spell components, so the target can safely cast Verbal spells without giving away their position. That’s a huge asset when you need to act without drawing notice, so in many cases the best use of this spell is to cast it on yourself or another allied spellcaster and have them willingly fail the saving throw (assuming that your GM allows them to do so).
: Very situational, and the fact that you need to spend a minute to cast it means that you need to somehow predict when you’re going to need this. With a 1-hour duration you’ll likely need to repeatedly re-cast this throughout the day, Refocusing after each casting, and when you need to sleep you’re suddenly defenseless.
As a quick fix: change Safeguard Secret’s duration to 24 hours. It’s still very situational, but at least then it’s decently effective when you do need it and you don’t need to spend one 11 minutes of every hour casting Safeguard Secret and Refocusing.
Between Dazzling Flash and Positive Luminance, you have crowd control, guaranteed damage to undead, and a refreshable source of hit points restoration. There are few domains which so nicely sum the range of capabilities expected from a classic good-aligned cleric.
: Excellent crowd control, and the fact that this scales to a 30-foot cone makes it even better. The Dazzled condition is effectively a 20% miss chance on attacks, and imposing it for a minute on a Failure means that enemies will be severely hindered for the duration of most fights.
: This spell is weird and requires a bit of additional tracking, but it’s a good spell with very minor Action costs and surprisingly good effects.
Used combatively (I won’t say “offensively” or “defensively”, because it’s both) against undead enemies it’s a sort of “thorns” effect which harms undead enemies for attacking you. However, they need to be within the area of light so you need to ramp up your Luminance Reservoir as fast as possible. If possible, cast Positive Luminance before combat starts and wait a few turns to get it partially charged before you jump into combat. Try to draw as many attacks as possible to get the most retaliatory damage possible, then as combat draws to a close (or when Positive Luminance’s duration expires) spend an Action to Dismiss the spell and either drop a pile of damage on an enemy or heal an ally with it. There’s no save against the damage from Positive Luminance, so it’s a great way to reliably harm undead foes.
Outside of combat, Positive Luminance provides consistent, reliably healing that removes the need to rely on Medicine as a source of inexpensive hit point restoration. Positive Luminance doesn’t heal as much or as quickly as Rebuke Death, and spending a full minute to charge up the healing isn’t as fast as Nature’s Bounty, but if you have time to use Treat Wounds you also have time to repeatedly Refocus and use Positive Luminance to heal your party one at a time.
The most frustrating part of Positive Luminance is tracking the effect as you gradually increase it every round. At the beginning of your turn you can (you’re not forced to do so) spend a Free Action to increase the Luminance Reservoir. If you do so, the area of light also increases. There is no mathematical relationship between the size of the light and number of points in the Luminance Reservoir, so you effectively need to track them as separate resources unless you want to do division on the fly. You also need to be very diligent to remember to take that Free Action every turn or you’re losing some of the spell’s effect.
Agile Feet is only situationally useful and immediately becomes less useful when you get Traveler’s Transit and can give yourself a fly speed, but Traveler’s Transit is easy access to short-duration flight, providing a massive tactical advantage with an easily renewable cost. Taken as a pair, both spells solve the issue of movement for melee builds who are most frequently inhibited by things like difficult terrain and enemies being out of reach.
: Situational by design, this allows you to move through difficult terrain unimpeded and since you can Stride or Step using the same Action which you spend to cast the spell, it’s a great way to quickly navigate difficult terrain without cutting into your action economy. But at the same time, difficult terrain doesn’t appear in every encounter, so you can’t guarantee that this will be consistently useful.
: Move speeds that last long enough to get past an obstacle or get through combat. You get flight pretty quickly after getting access to this, and unlike many spells which provide flight (like the Fly spell) you don’t need to Sustain the spell, leaving your Actions free to focus on something more fun.
Sudden Shift is amazing. If you stopped there, you’ll be very happy with the results. But Trickster’s Twin is good, too, if you’re clever enough to put it to good use.
: The Step alone is good, but making yourself Concealed until the end of your next turn allows you to hide and either escape or counterattack.
: This is great as a distraction, to safely communicate with a hostile creature, etc. but it’s single-target which can be challenging. There’s a lot of nuance here that you’ll likely need to experiment with to really master. For example: you place the illusion within 100 ft. of the target in a place that the target can see, but you’re not required to be able to see that space. That allows you to place the illusion around corners, but you need to be careful not to accidently place it inside a wall or something
In combat, you can use this to try to draw the target’s attacks toward the illusion. If they roll poorly on the initial save they may be totally convinced that they’re attacking the real version of you, and might spend quite a few Actions (and possibly spells or other limited resources) uselessly attacking the illusion. But the target gets an additional save every time they interact with the illusion, so if they’re making multiple Strikes they’ll eventually pass the save and disbelieve the illusion. You also need to be cautious not to take any action which “doesn’t make sense”, which is vague enough that it may cause trouble. Try to stick to actions which don’t have effects that directly emanate from your space, and avoid touching or striking other creatures. That means no rays or projectiles, no attacking adjacent creatures, no touch-range spells, etc. You may need to stick to things like dodging or using spells and special abilities which don’t have an obvious visible seffect.
Outside of combat, this is a great way to have a conversation with a creature who might respond with hostility. Even if they roll a Critical Success on the initial save, they still see and hear the illusion until they interact with it. That will at least buy you some time to say hello. The illusion mimics your actions, which conveniently includes speech, so you get a full minute to converse with the target and if they try to stab you or fireball you or something you’re safe since they’re attacking an illusion.
Too situational and too ineffective.
: Incredibly situational. I’m also curious how you can speak 25 words in the space of a 6-second round, especially with two other Actions that you can spend doing things like casting spells with Verbal components.
: Incredibly situational, and with a 1-round duration it’s barely useful even when it does apply.
Touch of Obedience could be interesting in a party that likes to stack debuffs, but otherwise the Tyranny domain is frustratingly weak.
: Very weak on its own. I would only consider this if you’re going to stack it with other debuffs like Frightened to weaken the target’s savings throws enough to quickly bring them down with a save-or-suck spell. But that’s a hard combo which often requires that the target fail several saves, so at that point it may be easier to go straight to the save-or-suck spell.
: Command is a 1st-level spell. The only benefit of this over Command is that it’s a Focus Spell so you’re not spending precious spell slots, and Commanding Lash has a 1-Action casting time. It wouldn’t be so bad if this scaled in some way, but it’s literally just the equivalent of 1st-level Command.
In a party that likes undead pets or features characters with the Negative Healing trait, this can be very useful. Otherwise Touch of Undeath is just a damage spike with nothing fancy.
: Decent single-target damage with a 1-Action casting time.
: This is a lot of healing, but it only works on willing undead creatures. Most parties don’t include undead allies, but if you’re using the Undeath domain your party is likely an exception. Dhampirs and other ancestry/heritage options allow players to be healed by negative energy, so it’s absolutely possible that you can use this to great effect.
Using this early in combat (or immediately before combat starts) when allies start taking damage can mitigate damage throughout an encounter, dramatically reducing the likelihood that they fall unconscious. Outside of combat, this removes the need for Medicine’s Treat Wounds Activity as an inexpensive source of hit point restoration.
Two situational options.
: Situational by design, but grapples are reasonably common and can often be a death sentence for weak allies like wizards who may not have a way to escape a grapple on their own. This is an easy and effective way to break a grapple either on yourself or an ally. This has similar effects to Pushing Gust, but doesn’t move targets as much (unless they’re in water) and can’t knock them prone.
: Situational. If you’re facing enemies reliant on fire damage it’s a great way to put your party at an advantage, provided that you’re not also reliant on fire damage. Keep in mind that the Concealment also affects you and your allies, so be prepared for everyone to struggle to hit each other with anything except AOEs unless you have a way to see through the effect.
Strangely, this can harm creatures weak to water, but RAW it can’t put out nonmagical fire.
Interesting abilities and thematically really neat.
: A decent low-level crowd control effect, but the AOE is tiny and doesn’t scale so as you gain levels and get access to other options this may fall out of favor.
: Versatile and effective, and useful across the full level range. Items made of special materials are expensive, and you’re comitting to one material which you can’t guarantee will be the right answer. This allows you to easily provide those special weapon materials in situations where you need them without the up-front cost and the guess-work of purchasing or crafting such a weapon. The 1-minute duration is usually enough to get through a fight, and the 1-Action casting time is a low cost, so as long as the Touch range isn’t a problem this is a great way to get an advantage against foes weak to specific metals
Precious Metal specifies that it can target weapons, armor, or up to 1 Bulk of metal material (which is enough to affect a shield). However, while the spell’s description explains how this affects weapons (“An item transmuted in this way deals damage according to its new material.”), it doesn’t specify how it affects armor or shields affected by Precious Metal. It also makes no mention of “grade”, so it’s unclear how armor and shields affected by Precious Metal work. As a GM, I would rule that it changes the item to standard grade of the chosen type of metal, and then maintains the same proportion of its current hit points when changes material. This requires a little bit of math when you transform the item and when it transforms back, but it feels like a fair way to handle the subject.
Weapon Surge is really disappointing and becomes gradually less effective as you gain levels because it doesn’t scale in any way. Zeal for Battle is excellent, but unless your party is heavily dependent on going early in the initiative order it’s unlikely that it’s worth the two feats to get it.
: The benefits of this spell are small. Best-case scenario you add 12 damage if you’re using a weapon with a d12 damage die and manage to hit with your next Strike. You could combine this with something like the Fighter’s Power Attack to get a single attack at extremely high damage, but that’s a lot of resources invested into an all-or-nothing gamble. In most cases, you’ll do better to make two Strikes instead, especially once you have a Rune of Striking.
: Going first in combat can be massively impactful. If you can get an area control effect or a powerful buff going in the first turn of combat, it can set the stage for the remainder of the encounter, placing you and your allies at a massive advantage. Better still, you also get to target an ally who could also provide an area control effect or a buff. Generally going first in combat is most impactful for spellcasters, but rogues may also enjoy the easy Sneak Attack.