Creating a Cleric: Channeling for Champions

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Clerics are a powerful class, with spells, domains, and class features that let them adapt, there’s a lot they can do. Take a look.

Clerics are one of the most versatile classes in the game. While they might be a classic battlefield support type of class that’s capable of tossing out healing and buffs to the party, they’re just as easily able to take on more melee-oriented roles, or with the right domains, they can be incredibly powerful spellcasters who can alter the course of a fight with their spells. Every Cleric can heal, some can do it better than others–but whatever they’re doing, either in combat or out, there’s almost always something for the clerics to do.

Unlike classes like the Rogue or the Warlock, most of what you do with this class is determined by your subclass. Your domain determines your weapon and armor proficiency, any extra skills you get, what spells get added to your list (and are always available), what special powers you can do with your Divine Domain. It’s a huge deal–which is why you get it at 1st level. Subclass is basically the determiner for how the Cleric operates. So while there’s always like a baseline “every Cleric can do these things” (heal, turn undead, cast Cleric spells), they can vary wildly depending.

Master of Your Domain

With so many options available to Clerics, it’s hard to narrow down their options to just a few. War Clerics can hold their own in melee, dealing damage and keeping themselves or the party in the fight. Light Clerics throw damage around like nobody’s business. There’s a lot they can do, so let’s just dive right into their domains.

Forge Domain Clerics are capable melee combatants. They excel at Resilience in a fight thanks to their heavy armor and abilities like Blessing and Soul of the Forge in order to add extra armor bonuses and resistance to Fire, which becomes immunity at higher levels. Their additional spells let you make a sizable impact in melee, buffing yourself or enemies, and at higher level they’re able to really control the battlefield with spells like Wall of Fire or Animate Objects.

Pick this class if you want to be a heavily armored brawler who can use spells for that extra boost in between fights.

Grave Domain Clerics are surprisingly good at supporting their friends. If you have ever been leery of paying a healer, or want to try other things while doing so, this class has got you covered. They are all about death, whether preventing, causing, or reversing it. With their Circle of Mortality, your healing spells are maximized when healing a target at 0 hit points, which means you can really get the most out of your heals in dire straits. But they do more than heal, they are superb casters as well. Their Channel Divinity lets them set up a foe to take double damage from a crucial attack, their spells allow them to debuff or outright kill their enemies, and you get a little bit more of the protection from death as you go on.

Pick this subclass if, when the party is half dead, you want to rub your hands together and say, “Not bad… now it’s my turn.” Or if you want to really put the hurt on your DM’s big bads.

The Knowledge Domain is an interesting one. With a name like Knowledge, you might think this one is a powerful casting class, but where it excels is at finding information. Whether through their skills, or through their investigatory spells (which will never be in short supply), or taking them from the minds of their enemies. They can also be good at making friends, at least for a while with copious suggestions at their disposal.

Pick this class if you want to be the party’s information specialist. If you like playing characters who have the answer, this class is for you.

Life Domain Clerics are, as the name suggests, the best at keeping the party alive. The quintessential supporting class, Life Clerics are masters of healing. They are the best at keeping their party at top form, and in later levels can take even the most wounded party member and get them back up to full in no time flat. And with heavy armor and divine strike, as well as spells that lend themselves well to resilience, this subclass makes an excellent addition to any party’s front line.

Play a Life domain Cleric if you want to keep the party going, and want to get in the middle of things.

Light Domain Clerics are casters who have the power of the sun in the palm of their hands. If you envision a Cleric smiting foes with holy fire and light, then you’ve got these Clerics figured out. They have access to some of the best damage dealing spells in the game, though they tend to be better at damaging multiple enemies than a single target. But they are excellent at blasting enemies and keeping themselves (and the party) in it for the long haul.

Pick this class if you want to smite foes, and cast fireball, or some variation, on your foes with aplomb, but still have more hit points and armor options.

Clerics who choose the Nature Domain can turn the environment against their foes. In heavy armor, and with spells that either let them control the battlefield, or add extra difficulty to navigating it, these are surprisingly resilient controlling types. Especially with their defensuve Channel Divinity.  But they can also hit fairly hard against an unprepared enemy, especially if they catch them out in the open.

Pick this class if you want to reshape the battlefield, or if you want to make the most out of your environment.

Tempest Domain  Clerics are probably one of the most powerful subclasses. With one of the best Channel Divinity’s (max damage with thunder bolts and lightning? very very frightening), and some of the most generally useful fight-directing spells–AND good weapons and armor, this subclass has much to offer. Even when you run out of spells you can still hit and rely on most of your abilities working.

Pick this class if you want to do it all. You’ll do a couple of things really well, control and damage, but this subclass is really good at anchoring a party.

Trickery Domain Clerics are stealthy, and masters of illusion. They can misdirect foes, tie up combatants with polymorph and dominate, and in general be where they need to be, in a fight or out of it. With their spell selection you also have a number of answers to enemy shenanigans, especially with dispel magic and dimension door at your disposal.

Pick this subclass if you want to pull off cunning victories. If you enjoy incapacitating foes and using stealth and guile to accomplish your goals, this class is the one to go with.

Finally there are War Domain Clerics who are the most melee-oriented of the Clerics. With abilities that buff their attacks, or help them buff others, they are great at holding the fight down. They can turn the tide of a fight in a couple of crucial turns. And they can reliably do that in every fight.

Pick this class if you want to be at the forefront of every fight. If you want to lead your companions into battle and unflinching, face fearsome foes.

That’s the Cleric. Powerful whatever you pick, they can add a lot to any party.

Happy Adventuring!

  • Xodis

    Human Cleric of Light with the Spell Sniper Feat, grab the Thorn Whip Cantrip from Druids…Instant Simon Belmont.

  • Venthrac

    I’d like the class if the concentration rules were a little less restrictive. At level five I’ve got a whole pile of awesome spells that I can only cast one of at a time,

    • Aurion Shidhe

      I feel your pain. BUT…Coming from a time when the players would literally work out a flow chart of the best spells to pre-cast leading into a combat to maximize the number of rounds of buffs I have enjoyed DMing 4th ed and 5th ed much more.