In this guide, we’ll explore the divine and versatile Cleric class, delving into everything from their divine connection to their deities, to the best spells and abilities to utilize in your campaign. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newcomer to D&D, this guide will help you create and master your Cleric character.
A Cleric is a holy warrior, a spellcaster with divine powers granted by their chosen deity. They serve as a bridge between the mortal world and the divine, bringing their deity’s will to life on the battlefield and in their daily lives. In a D&D party, a Cleric plays a vital role, providing support, healing, and guidance to their fellow adventurers.
Creating Your Cleric: Race and Background
Choosing the Perfect Race for Your Cleric
When creating your Cleric, the first thing you’ll want to consider is your character’s race. While any race can make a compelling Cleric, certain races have abilities and traits that complement the class more than others.
- Human: Humans are a versatile and adaptable race, making them a great choice for any class. Their bonus to all ability scores can give your Cleric a well-rounded set of stats, ensuring they excel in all aspects of their role.
- Dwarf: Dwarves are a hardy race with natural resilience, making them an ideal choice for a Cleric. Their bonus to Constitution and Wisdom can help your Cleric withstand damage while also increasing their spellcasting abilities.
- Aarakocra: As a race of bird-like humanoids, Aarakocra are gifted with flight, making them a unique and interesting choice for a Cleric. Their bonus to Dexterity and Wisdom can help your Cleric stay nimble and accurate with their spells and attacks.
Deciding on Your Character’s Background
Next, you’ll want to choose a background for your character. This is where you’ll define their past experiences and personal history, giving depth to your Cleric’s story. Some common background options for Clerics include:
- Acolyte: As a former servant of a temple, an Acolyte has spent their life dedicated to their deity. This background can provide your Cleric with a deep understanding of religious texts and rituals, making them an invaluable asset to their party.
- Sage: A Sage is a scholar and researcher, often with a focus on religious texts and divine lore. This background can help your Cleric provide insight and knowledge to their party, helping them navigate the mysteries of the world.
- Hermit: Hermits are individuals who have spent years in isolation, often in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. This background can give your Cleric a unique perspective on their faith, as well as a deep connection to the natural world.
Feel free to choose a unique background or create your own to make your Cleric truly one-of-a-kind.
Selecting Your Divine Domain: The Core of a Cleric
One of the most important aspects of your Cleric character is their Divine Domain. This is the area of expertise and focus chosen by your Cleric, representing the aspect of their deity’s portfolio that they embody. Each domain grants your Cleric unique abilities and spells, allowing them to fulfill different roles within their party.
The Life Domain is all about healing and protecting life. Clerics of this domain are the ultimate healers, with abilities that enhance their healing spells and provide additional support to their allies. If you want to be the go-to healer in your party, the Life Domain is an excellent choice.
Clerics of the Light Domain focus on bringing light to the darkness, both literally and metaphorically. They excel at dispelling darkness, dealing radiant damage, and providing vision to their party. With powerful area-of-effect spells and abilities to protect their allies, Light Domain Clerics are great for players who want to vanquish evil and illuminate the path to victory.
Harnessing the power of storms, Tempest Domain Clerics are a force to be reckoned with. They can deal massive amounts of lightning and thunder damage, control the battlefield with wind and weather, and even fly. If you’re looking for a more aggressive, elemental-focused Cleric, the Tempest Domain is an electrifying choice.
Trickery Domain Clerics are masters of deception, mischief, and manipulation. They excel at using illusions, disguises, and charm spells to outwit their enemies and support their allies. If you enjoy playing characters who rely on their cunning and wit rather than brute force, the Trickery Domain is perfect for you.
Battle-hardened and tactical, War Domain Clerics are divine warriors who excel in martial combat. They gain proficiency with heavy armor and martial weapons, allowing them to stand on the front lines alongside fighters and paladins. With powerful spells and abilities to bolster their combat prowess and protect their allies, War Domain Clerics are ideal for players who want to bring the wrath of their deity to the battlefield.
Forge Domain Clerics are masters of metal and fire, forging weapons and armor with divine power. They gain abilities that improve their crafting skills, enhance their equipment, and protect themselves and their allies from fire damage. If you’re looking for a more utility-focused Cleric with a strong connection to crafting and metallurgy, the Forge Domain is an excellent choice.
Guardians of life and death, Grave Domain Clerics maintain the delicate balance between these two forces. They have abilities that protect their allies from death’s door, as well as spells that can manipulate the line between life and death. If you’re interested in playing a somber, introspective Cleric who delves into the mysteries of mortality, the Grave Domain is a great option.
Nature Domain Clerics are protectors of the natural world, harnessing the power of plants, animals, and the elements. They gain spells and abilities that allow them to communicate with and control nature, as well as protect their allies from environmental dangers. If you want to play a Cleric with a strong connection to the earth and its creatures, the Nature Domain is a perfect choice.
Delving into the secrets of magic and mysticism, Arcana Domain Clerics bridge the gap between divine and arcane spellcasting. They gain access to powerful wizard spells and abilities that enhance their own magical prowess, making them versatile and potent spellcasters. If you’re looking for a Cleric with a deeper connection to the arcane, the Arcana Domain is an excellent choice.
Mastering Cleric Abilities and Spellcasting
As a Cleric, your character will have a number of abilities and traits that define their role in the party. Understanding these abilities and how they work together is essential to playing an effective and engaging Cleric.
Understanding Cleric Abilities
- Wisdom: As a primary attribute for Clerics, Wisdom determines your spellcasting ability, the number of spells you can prepare, and the saving throw DCs for your spells. A high Wisdom score is crucial for a successful Cleric.
- Hit Points: Clerics have a decent hit die (1d8 per level), allowing them to withstand a fair amount of damage in combat. Coupled with their healing abilities, Clerics can be quite resilient.
- Armor Class: Depending on your domain, you may have access to different types of armor, such as medium or heavy armor. This will directly impact your Armor Class, which determines how difficult it is for enemies to hit you in combat.
- Saving Throws: As a Cleric, you have proficiency in Wisdom and Charisma saving throws. This means you’ll have an easier time resisting effects that target your mental resilience and force of personality.
Diving into the Divine: Cleric Spellcasting
As a divine spellcaster, a Cleric has access to a wide range of spells granted by their deity. Here’s what you need to know about preparing and casting spells as a Cleric:
- Spell Preparation: Each day, you can prepare a number of Cleric spells equal to your Wisdom modifier + your Cleric level. You can change your prepared spells after a long rest, allowing you to adapt your spell list to your party’s needs.
- Cantrips: Cantrips are simple spells that you can cast at will, without using a spell slot. You’ll start with a few cantrips known and gain more as you level up. These spells can be invaluable for utility and damage, both in and out of combat.
- Orisons: Orisons are unique Cleric spells that don’t count against your number of prepared spells. They are typically domain-specific spells that you always have access to, regardless of your prepared spell list.
- Rituals: Some Cleric spells have the “ritual” tag, allowing you to cast them without using a spell slot if you take an additional 10 minutes to cast the spell. This can be incredibly useful for spells like Detect Magic or Identify, which you may need to use frequently.
- Spell Slots: As you level up, you’ll gain access to a greater number of spell slots, which represent the number of spells you can cast per day. Higher-level spells require higher-level spell slots, so be sure to manage your resources wisely.
- Spellcasting Focus: Clerics can use a holy symbol as their spellcasting focus, which allows them to cast spells without needing to use material components (unless they have a specific cost). This can be a great convenience, as it frees up your hands and simplifies the casting process.
Comprehensive List of all Cleric Spells, Abilities, and Traits
Below is a comprehensive list of all spells available to Clerics by level, along with domain-specific spells and abilities. Please note that the descriptions of these spells can be found in the Player’s Handbook or on an online resource like D&D Beyond.
Cantrips (0 Level)
- Sacred Flame
- Spare the Dying
- Toll the Dead (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
- Word of Radiance (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
- Create or Destroy Water
- Cure Wounds
- Detect Evil and Good
- Detect Magic
- Detect Poison and Disease
- Guiding Bolt
- Healing Word
- Inflict Wounds
- Protection from Evil and Good
- Purify Food and Drink
- Shield of Faith
- Calm Emotions
- Continual Flame
- Enhance Ability
- Find Traps
- Gentle Repose
- Hold Person
- Lesser Restoration
- Locate Object
- Prayer of Healing
- Protection from Poison
- Spiritual Weapon
- Warding Bond
- Zone of Truth
- Animate Dead
- Beacon of Hope
- Bestow Curse
- Create Food and Water
- Dispel Magic
- Feign Death
- Glyph of Warding
- Magic Circle
- Mass Healing Word
- Meld into Stone
- Protection from Energy
- Remove Curse
- Speak with Dead
- Spirit Guardians
- Water Walk
- Control Water
- Death Ward
- Freedom of Movement
- Guardian of Faith
- Locate Creature
- Stone Shape
- Dispel Evil and Good
- Flame Strike
- Greater Restoration
- Insect Plague
- Legend Lore
- Mass Cure Wounds
- Planar Binding
- Raise Dead
- Wall of Stone
- Blade Barrier
- Create Undead
- Find the Path
- Heroes’ Feast
- Planar Ally
- True Seeing
- Word of Recall
- Conjure Celestial
- Divine Word
- Fire Storm
- Plane Shift
- Antimagic Field
- Control Weather
- Holy Aura
- Astral Projection
- Mass Heal
- True Resurrection
Customizing Your Cleric: Feats to Consider
Feats are optional abilities that can further customize and enhance your Cleric character. While ability score improvements are often the default choice, certain feats may provide invaluable benefits that align with your character’s role and playstyle. Some recommended feats for Clerics include:
- War Caster: This feat grants advantage on concentration checks, allowing you to maintain concentration on spells more easily while taking damage. It also enables you to perform somatic components even when your hands are occupied, which can be useful for Clerics wielding a weapon and shield.
- Resilient: If you find your Cleric struggling with certain saving throws, consider taking the Resilient feat to gain proficiency in the corresponding saving throw. This can help shore up a weakness and improve your overall survivability.
- Healer: If your Cleric’s primary role is to keep the party healed, the Healer feat can be a great addition. It allows you to use a healer’s kit more effectively, providing additional healing for your allies and stabilizing them more reliably.
- Inspiring Leader: For Clerics with a high Charisma score, Inspiring Leader can be an excellent support option. It allows you to give temporary hit points to your allies after a short rest, providing a buffer of health that can help your party survive longer in combat.
- Elemental Adept: If you find your Cleric frequently using spells of a particular damage type (such as fire or radiant damage), Elemental Adept can help you overcome resistances and deal more consistent damage with those spells.
- Tough: If you want to increase your Cleric’s durability, the Tough feat grants you additional hit points, making you more resilient in combat.
Remember that feats are an optional rule, so be sure to consult with your Dungeon Master before selecting a feat for your Cleric.
Dealing with Common Cleric Challenges
While playing a Cleric can be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable, there are a few challenges that you may face as you delve into the world of divine spellcasting and support.
- Spell Slot Management: As a spellcaster, managing your spell slots effectively is crucial to your success. Make sure to balance your use of powerful spells with more conservative options, like cantrips, to ensure you have the resources you need when it counts.
- Concentration: Many of the most potent Cleric spells require concentration, meaning you can only maintain one such spell at a time. Be mindful of your concentration spells and try to choose the best option for the situation.
- Positioning: As a support class, your Cleric will often need to be within range of their allies to provide healing and buffs. Be aware of your positioning in combat and try to avoid getting caught in dangerous situations or enemy attacks.
- Balancing Offense and Support: Clerics have a unique blend of offensive and support capabilities, and finding the right balance can be tricky. Experiment with different spells and tactics to determine the best way to contribute to your party’s success, whether that’s through healing, buffs, or direct damage.
By keeping these challenges in mind and applying the tips and strategies provided in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert Cleric and an invaluable member of your adventuring party.
Channel Divinity: The Ultimate Cleric Ability
One of the most powerful and versatile abilities a Cleric has is Channel Divinity. This ability allows you to channel the divine power of your deity to create a variety of powerful effects. Each domain grants its own unique Channel Divinity options, allowing you to customize your character’s abilities to fit your chosen domain’s theme.
In addition to domain-specific options, all Clerics have access to the Turn Undead Channel Divinity option, which allows you to force undead creatures to flee from your divine presence. As you level up, you’ll gain additional uses of Channel Divinity, and your Turn Undead ability will become more potent, eventually allowing you to destroy undead outright.
Multiclassing: Combining Cleric with Other Classes
Multiclassing allows you to combine the abilities of the Cleric class with those of another class, creating a unique and powerful character. While multiclassing can offer some interesting benefits, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks and challenges.
Some popular multiclass options for Clerics include:
- Paladin: The holy warrior class, Paladins share a divine connection with Clerics, making them a natural choice for multiclassing. By combining these two classes, you can create a character that excels in both martial combat and divine spellcasting. Just be aware that this combination may require a higher investment in multiple ability scores, such as Strength, Wisdom, and Charisma.
- Druid: As nature-loving spellcasters, Druids can complement the Cleric class in interesting ways. Multiclassing as a Druid can grant your Cleric access to additional spells, as well as unique abilities like Wild Shape. This combination works particularly well for Nature Domain Clerics, as it enhances their connection to the natural world.
- Wizard: If you’re interested in adding a more arcane flavor to your Cleric, consider multiclassing as a Wizard. This will grant your character access to a wider range of spells, as well as powerful abilities like Arcane Recovery. However, this combination may be more challenging to play effectively, as it requires a high Intelligence score and a solid understanding of both divine and arcane spellcasting.
When multiclassing, it’s essential to carefully consider the impact it will have on your character’s abilities, progression, and overall effectiveness. Always consult with your Dungeon Master and fellow players to ensure that your multiclass character will be a fun and viable addition to the party.
Roleplaying a Cleric: Tips and Tricks for a Memorable Character
To create a truly memorable and engaging Cleric character, it’s important to consider not just their abilities and spells, but also their personality, backstory, and relationships with their fellow adventurers.
- Developing Your Cleric’s Personality and Backstory: Consider what drives your Cleric in their service to their deity. What events in their past have shaped their faith and their understanding of the world? How does their chosen domain reflect their values and priorities? Fleshing out these details can help you create a rich and believable character.
- Alignments and How They Relate to Your Deity: Your Cleric’s alignment should generally align with that of their deity, although exceptions can exist. Consider how your character’s alignment shapes their worldview, and how they reconcile any differences or conflicts with their deity’s teachings.
- Building Relationships with Party Members: As a Cleric, you’ll likely serve as a spiritual guide and support for your party. Think about how your character interacts with their fellow adventurers, and how their faith might influence those relationships. Do they seek to convert others to their beliefs, or do they prefer to lead by example?
- Balancing Faith and Adventure: A key challenge for any Cleric character is finding the balance between their devotion to their deity and their commitment to their adventuring party. Consider how your character navigates this balance, and how their faith shapes their approach to the challenges and decisions they face in the game.
Top Magic Items and Equipment for Your Cleric
As you progress in your adventures, you’ll likely come across powerful magic items and equipment that can enhance your Cleric’s abilities. Some essential items for a Cleric include:
- Weapons: Depending on your domain and preferred fighting style, you may want to seek out magical weapons that complement your abilities. For example, a Mace of Disruption can be especially potent for a Cleric focused on combating undead creatures.
- Armor: Magical armor, such as Plate Armor of Etherealness or Adamantine Armor, can greatly improve your Cleric’s survivability in combat. Look for armor that offers additional benefits or resistances, such as resistance to fire damage or the ability to move through solid objects.
- Wondrous Items: Items like the Periapt of Wound Closure or the Amulet of Health can provide invaluable benefits to your Cleric, such as stabilizing at 0 hit points or increasing your Constitution score. Look for wondrous items that complement your Cleric’s abilities and role in the party.
- Rings: Rings of Protection and Rings of Spell Storing are excellent choices for any spellcaster, including Clerics. These items can help improve your Armor Class, saving throws, or even store extra spells for when you need them most.
- Scrolls and Spellbooks: Scrolls containing Cleric spells can be a valuable resource for your character, allowing you to cast spells that you might not have prepared. Additionally, if you’re multiclassing with an arcane spellcaster class like Wizard, you may want to seek out spellbooks containing new spells for you to learn.
- Holy Symbols: As a Cleric, your holy symbol is both a focus for your spellcasting and a symbol of your faith. Finding a magical holy symbol, such as a Holy Symbol of Ravenkind or a Holy Avenger, can provide significant benefits to your character and make them an even more formidable force on the battlefield.
The Cleric class is an incredibly versatile and powerful option for any D&D party, offering a wide range of abilities, spells, and domains to choose from. By carefully considering your character’s race, background, and divine domain, and by understanding the mechanics of Cleric abilities and spellcasting, you can create a unique and engaging character that brings your deity’s will to life in the game.
Whether you’re a seasoned D&D player or a newcomer to the game, we hope this guide has provided you with valuable insight and inspiration for creating and playing your Cleric character. May the blessings of your deity guide you on your adventures!