A small gnome with a scar down her eye grasps her symbol of Sarenrae as she lays her hands on her wounded friends.  A half-elf boy with sleek white hair falls to his knees to speak with his long silent god.  As he prays a the shining light of Pelor fills his eyes as the deity speaks through him.  A firbolg (cow person) worships his goddess, the Wild Mother, by continuing the circle of life by decomposing the dead his party slays with different fungi (he also makes different flavor teas out of the fungi too!)

Clerics are priests who are deeply connected to their god or goddess, so close that their deity is the source of their powers.  In this introduction guide to the cleric class, we will go over the different Divine Domains of the Dungeons and Dragons multiverse, some of the cleric’s features, and which basic races make great clerics!

Divine Domains

Each domain has different abilities and spells offered to those that follow that path.  This this section I will go over each domain briefly as well as some of the first level spells and first level abilities granted in their respected domain.

Knowledge Domain

Knowledge is power, or at least the clerics that follow this domain believe.  When a cleric chooses this domain, they have access to the spells command and identify at first level.

They also gain the divine knowledge of learning two additional languages, become proficient in two of the following skills: arcana, history, nature, or religion and whenever your crusader of righteousness uses one of those chosen skills, they can double their proficiency bonus.

Life Domain

The clerics of the life domain really push the “positive vibes” lifestyle.  They are all about keeping peace in life and many non-evil gods could fall into this domain.

The first level spells these clerics have are bless (a baller spell by the way) and cure wounds.  Clerics in the life domain are so intoned with healing, that their healing spells give more health to it’s targets.

Light Domain

The gods who are in the light domain are those who promote virtues such as freedom, or justice, you know generally accepted as good things.

First level clerics of the light domain gain the spells, burning hands and faerie fire as well as the light catnip if they didn’t already have it.  These clerics can also produce a massive light that imposes disadvantage for their enemies attack rolls due to the bright holy light.

Nature Domain

The nature domain is one that is pretty self-explanatory.  The clerics who fall into this domain protect the nature of the world and do whatever they can to destroy any abominations that threaten the natural world.   

Animal friendship and speak with animals are first level spells that these clerics gain due to their choice to protect the trees and fuzzy creatures.  They may also choose any druid cantrip as well.

Tempest Domain

The winds and waves of the ocean have many worshippers which is what the tempest domain is formed from.  The gods of the sea, winds, thunder, lightning are apart of this domain.  So you know, Thor Odinson.

Clerics who follow these deities, can cast fog cloud and thunder wave at first level.  Whenever one of these clerics get hit by an attack by an opponent that they can see, the cleric can literally call down lighting on that enemy!

Trickery Domain

Love to cause mischief?  Love to draw men’s genitals on random objects whenever you can?  Then you may be a worshipper of a deity of the trickery domain.

These Jesters (wink, wink, critters) have access to the spells, charm person and disguise self at first level.  The trickery clerics may also give anyone they touch a blessing that give them advantage on their stealth checks for an hour.

War Domain

GODS OF WAR, MAY YOUR HAMMER BE MIGHTY!

If you haven’t seen Hot Rod, stop reading go watch that magical film.  You’ll thank me.

The war domain is one that worships battle and combat.  These buff clerics gain the spells, divine favor and shield of faith at first level.  While in combat, if a cleric of the war domain uses an attack for they action, they may also use a bonus action to attack again.

Cleric Features

Channel Divinity: Turn Undead – Metal!

At second level, clerics gain access to the channel divinity feature.  The prayer warriors start off with two different effects with channel divinity.

The first is one that all clerics gain, Turn Undead.  With this feature, the cleric reveal their holy symbol, pray to their god, which shakes the undead to their very core!

The zombies, skeletons, or whatever crazy undead creatures your dungeon master cook up, must make a wisdom saving throw (FYI zombies probably aren’t very wise).  If they failed, the undead essentially have the frightened status towards the cleric.   

The undead cannot move towards the cleric, any actions they take MUST be to dash away, and they lose their reactions.  Imagine your party’s cleric pulling out their symbol and the hoard of zombies just Scooby-Doo run away!

The second ability that clerics gain from channel divinity is based off of their divine domain.  The following list is of each domain’s ability for the channel divinity feature.

  • Knowledge Domain- Become proficient with ANY tool or skill for a short amount of time
  • Life Domain- Heal someone nearby without casting a spell
  • Light Domain- A blast of radiant damage spews from you for massive damage
  • Nature Domain- Charm plants or animals
  • Tempest Domain- Deal maximum damage instead of rolling damage
  • Trickery Domain- Create a duplicate of yourself
  • War Domain- Add 10 to an attack roll

Destroy Undead – HEAVY METAL!!

YOu think that scaring the dead was awesome?  How about flat out destroying them?  Depending on your cleric’s level and the challenge rating of the undead, the cleric can destroy as many undead creatures they can fit in a 30 foot radius.  Your party is surrounded by dozens of skeletons and are facing a TPK (total party kill)?  Your cleric could possibly just snap their fingers and poof!  Bone dust fills the air and now everyone is a little bit more scared of the three foot high gnome cleric.

Divine Intervention – Hello, God?

One of the cooler features of the cleric class is divine intervention.  A cleric has a small chance to actually communicate with their deity and have their deity assist them in any problems.  This is something that is wonderfully done in the hyper popular D&D live-play game Critical Role where Caduceus Clay asks his goddess, the Wild Mother, questions to help the group decide what to do or where they should go next.

The Divine Intervention feature is a great opportunity to role-play how the gods speak to the players as well as what they say.

Race Choices

When creating a cleric the more important skills are wisdom, strength, and constitution.  Wisdom is the main star since it is the spell casting ability for a cleric.

Hill Dwarf

Gaining a +2 to constitution and a +1 to wisdom, hill dwarves are the most optimal racial choice from the Player’s Handbook.  A stout and deep in their faith dwarf could be one that is a fun choice.

Human

Humans are a more bland choice for D&D characters.  I always felt that when playing a game based in imagination, we should play a more make believe race.  Humans do gain a +1 to all ability scores so they are very flexible into being whatever type of class you choose.

Role-Playing

Here are some short ideas for role-playing a cleric in Dungeons & Dragons.

  • A trickster domain cleric who always slightly moves items in shops to mess with the store owners
  • A tempest domain cleric when they attack lighting cracks the sky and their eyes turn electric blue
  • A gnome cleric who is always soft spoken until one of their party members does something illegal and suddenly the cleric is scolding their party members for breaking the law