Channel Divinity 5e
The party fought on for hours. The shambling undead seemed to move faster and strike harder as the night fell. Backed into a corner, it was only a matter of time before they were overwhelmed.
In the darkness, they heard a cry. “By the Light!”
Somewhere in the darkness, a bright light shone. The light pierced the undead and turned them to dust. All that remained was the warm glowing light and from the darkness, the Cleric emerged, bathed in a holy light.
What is Channel Divinity 5e?
Channel Divinity is a special class ability for both Clerics and Paladins. These classes all gain power through their connection to a divine source. For Clerics, it’s their chosen deity, and for Paladins, it’s their Oaths to a particular deity or philosophy.
Channel Divinity is the manifestation of that divine power in the physical realm. It’s a sliver of their deity’s energy and power channeled through the Cleric or Paladin to create a powerful effect.
Clerics and Paladins both have different Channel Divinity abilities depending upon their subclass and there is only a little bit of overlap between the two.
- Paladins are able to use their Channel Divinity abilities once per long or short rest.
- Clerics start the same way. They can only use their Channel Divinity ability once per long or short rest, but it increases as they level up.
|Cleric Level||Channel Divinity Uses|
|1 – 5||1|
|6 – 17||2|
|18 – 20||3|
Common Cleric Channel Divinity Abilities
All Clerics have two common Channel Divinity abilities that they can use regardless of what Domain they end up choosing. These are Turn Undead and Destroy Undead.
Since all Clerics can use this ability, it has become one of the Clerics’ defining abilities. They use their holy symbol to channel the divine power of their chosen deity to force any undead in the area to flee from the light.
Destroy Undead works exactly like Turn Undead, but is the upgraded version all Clerics receive at level 5. Now if the Undead is below a certain Challenge Rating, they are instantly destroyed instead of forced to flee.
Cleric Channel Divinity Abilities by Domain (Subclass)
Each Cleric Domain has its own specific Channel Divinity ability. We’re going to take a quick look at what they do.
The Arcana Domain can be found in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.
Arcane Abjuration works almost exactly like Turn Undead, but instead of working only on Undead, it works on one Celestial, Fey, Elemental, or Fiend. At level 5, it’s upgraded to banish the target for a minute.
The Death Domain can be found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Touch of Death
The Touch of Death Channel Divinity adds extra necrotic damage to your attacks. It makes for a nice little boost and is always useful when looking to get by damage resistances.
It deals 5 + (2x Cleric level) in damage.
The Forge Domain can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to create simple items.
This is a cool unique ability that lets Clerics create items. They can create any non-magical item worth less than 100gp. These could be weapons, tool kits, or even a key if you possess the original or know its shape.
It’s extremely useful to always be able to make something, but it is limited to mundane items and you do have to offer up some metal and materials as part of the ritual.
The Grave Domain can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Path to the Grave
Path to the Grave is a great debuff that helps shuffle your enemies off to the grave. Hence the name.
This Channel Divinity curses a target and grants a debuff that makes them vulnerable to all types of damage until they’re hit or until the end of your next turn.
The Grave Domain can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
Knowledge of the Ages
Knowledge of the Ages grants the user proficiency with a chosen skill or tool for 10 minutes. This is a great all-around buff ability that can fill in any gaps or skill deficiencies whenever they arise.
This Channel Divinity works exactly like it sounds and becomes available at level 6. You can force a creature within 60ft. to make a Wisdom Save and if they fail, you can then read their surface thoughts for the next minute.
In addition, you can end the effect to cast Suggestion without using a spell slot.
This is one of the best utility Channel Divinity abilities and should not be underestimated. If you’re reading their surface thoughts you can basically have them think of anything by suggesting it.
DON’T THINK OF A PINK ELEPHANT.
What are you thinking of?
In addition, if you’re in a fight, you can read the surface thoughts of where they’re going to attack from as well. Not everyone attacks or fights on pure instinct, so you’ll be able to see the attacks coming ahead of time.
The Life Domain can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
Preserve Life is a great supplement to healer Clerics. They can use their Channel Divinity to heal hit points equal to 5x their Cleric level. They can even split the healing as they see fit.
The Life Domain can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
Radiance of the Dawn
Radiance of Dawn is a great multi-purpose Channel Divinity, especially at level 2. Radiance of Dawn banishes any magical darkness and forces ALL hostile creatures within 30ft to make a Constitution Save. On a failed save they take 2d10 + Cleric level of Radiant Damage.
This means that a Level 2 Cleric that’s surrounded by enemies has the potential to deal up to 22 damage to EVERY enemy within a 30ft radius. That’s insane damage at level 2.
The Nature Domain can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
Charm Animals and Plants
This is kind of a cute ability but can be useful in certain situations. Like the Turn effects, each beast or plant creature must make a Wisdom saving throw or it becomes charmed for 1 minute and becomes friendly.
It’s cute, but also has limited use. Chances are, you’re going to be using it to charm animals and beasts more often than plant creatures. It’ll offer enough time to regroup if being attacked by wild animals.
The Order Domain can be found in the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Similar to the Turn effect, Order’s Demand makes every creature of your choice within 30ft make a Wisdom saving throw. If they fail then they are charmed, but more importantly, you can force them to drop anything they are holding if they fail.
This is a cool Utility ability that can turn the tide of a battle or a chase. If someone is stealing a key item and running away, you could potentially make them drop it, or if you’re in the middle of a battlefield you have the potential to have everyone simultaneously drop all their weapons on the ground.
The Peace Domain can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Balm of Peace
Balm of Peace is another great healing buff Chanel Divinity that lets players reposition themselves on the battlefield.
They can move their full movement without provoking opportunity attacks and any ally they walk by (within 5ft) they regain 2d6 + Wisdom Mod worth of hit points.
This literally lets you walk by your enemies unmolested while simultaneously healing your buddies. There’s not much better than that.
The Tempest Domain can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
This is an interesting Channel Divinity ability and can be particularly damaging. Anytime you roll lighting or thunder damage, you can use this Channel Divinity to deal maximum damage instead of rolling dice.
There are a lot of spells out there with high damage volatility, and this ignores all of that and simply deals maximum damage.
The Trickery Domain can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
Invoke Duplicity does several interesting things.
First, it makes an exact duplicate as an illusion that you can control. You must use your own senses, so you can’t make it walk around a blind corner to scout ahead.
Second, you can cast spells as if you were in the illusion’s space. This is really cool and if you’re creative, you’ll be able to come up with all kinds of impressive ambushes and ways to use this Channel Divinity.
Cloak of Shadows
At level 6 you can use your Channel Divinity to become invisible. Invisibility is always a useful ability and always having the option is even better.
The Twilight Domain can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Twilight Sanctuary creates a glowing ball around you for 1 minute and encompasses 30ft. Any ally that ends their turn in the sphere gets 1d6 + Cleric Level in temporary hit points or can end a charmed or frightened effect.
This is a great Channel Divinity to buff your allies at the start of a fight when you’re typically all within 30ft of each other.
The War Domain can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
This Channel Divinity is simple and easy. You gain +10 to your attack roll, making it very likely you’re going to hit.
War God’s Blessing
At level 6 you can grant this +10 bonus to allied creatures within 30ft.
The War Domain’s Channel Divinity is pretty simple, but it’s a great way to (almost) guarantee a hit when you need one.
Paladin Channel Divinity Abilities by Oath (Subclass)
Paladins also have their own Channel Divinity abilities. They work similarly to the Clerics but usually have different effects and abilities. Each Paladin subclass has its own unique Channel Divinity abilities.
The Ancient Oath can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
This Channel Divinity works similarly to the Entangle spell. Vines shoot up from the ground and attempt to entangle your enemies. They must make a Strength or Dexterity save otherwise they become restrained.
Turn the Faithless
Turn the Faithless works exactly like Turn the Undead, but works against Fey and Fiends instead of Undead.
The Ancient’s Channel Divinity’ is ok. The Turn the Faithless does the exact same thing as Turn Undead, but targets two different enemy types instead of one. Nature’s Wrath is easily the more useful of the two as a crowd control attack ability.
The Conquest Oath can be found in the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
This Channel Divinity forces enemies to make a Wisdom saving throw, otherwise, they become frightened for 1 minute (10 rounds).
Guided Strike works the same way as the Cleric Channel Divinity of the same name. You get +10 to your accuracy when making an attack roll.
The Conquest Paladin’s Chanel Divinity abilities aren’t bad. The Guided Strike is always good in a luck-based game to change the odds in your favor, and frightening enemies are a great way to regroup and pick off the weaker ones.
The Crown Oath can be found in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.
Champion Challenge is an excellent Channel Divinity. It grants a taunt effect that forces a particular enemy to target the Paladin. This makes it an excellent tank ability.
Turn the Tide
Turn the Tide is a simple healing Channel Divinity, but it can target a lot of allies at once. As the rules are written, anyone within 30ft can regain 1d6 + Charisma Modifier worth of hit points if they are at half their maximum health points. This does nothing for allies that have over half their health.
The fact that this can target everyone for a quick healing boost makes it one of the better healing abilities, especially if you have a lot of team members or NPCs in the fight as well.
The Devotion Oath can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
I really like weapon buffs, and Sacred Weapon is great, especially at low levels. You can magically imbue a weapon and add your charisma modifier to attack rolls, the weapon grants light in a 20ft radius, and counts as magical for resistance purposes.
This is a great ability to get an early magical weapon and is perfect for traveling in dark places like in a cave or the Underdark.
Turn the Unholy
As an action, you present your holy symbol and speak a prayer censuring Fiends and Undead, using your Channel Divinity. Each fiend or undead that can see or hear you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes damage.
A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of you. It also can’t take reactions.
For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.
The Glory Oath can be found in the Mythic Odysseys of Theros and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
This Channel Divinity grants Advantage to Strength (Athletics) and Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks. In addition, your carry, push, drag, and lift limits are increased by twice the normal rate. It’s like the physical version of Watcher’s Will.
After you damage a creature this Channel Divinity can be activated to grant 2d8 + Paladin level worth of temporary hit points to anyone within 30ft (including the Paladin).
I really like the thematic aspect of this ability. You basically hit the enemy so hard or in such a cool way that everyone around you feels better.
The Redemption Oath can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Emissary of Peace
This is one of the few out-of-combat Channel Divinity abilities. Emissary of Peace grants a +5 Charisma bonus to your persuasion checks for 10 minutes.
Rebuke the Violent
Rebuke the Violent works like a mirror or reflect attack. When an enemy within 30ft lands an attack, you can use this Channel Divinity to also force the attacker to take equal damage.
This is one of those game-changing abilities. If you are against a legendary monster or enemy and they manage to land a world-shattering attack you can flip it right back and force them to take the same damage.
The Redemption Oath Paladin abilities are really good. Especially Rebuke the Violent. There are very few spells or abilities that immediately scale along with the damage of your enemies.
The Vengeance Oath can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
This is an interesting take on the “Turn” abilities. Instead of targeting a specific enemy type to “Turn”, Abjure Enemy only targets a single enemy.
This has some give and take when it comes to usefulness. You won’t be able to target a room full of enemies like Turn Undead, but you can use it against any enemy type. I honestly think this version is more useful.
In Addition, Fiends and Undead must make their Wisdom saves with Disadvantage. Otherwise, the rules work almost the same as Turn Undead.
Vow of Enmity
Vow of Enmity is perfect for boss fights. You use your Channel Divinity to gain advantage on all attack rolls against a particular target for 1 minute (10 rounds)
That’s incredibly useful for big boss fights or when there’s only a single strong enemy.
The Watcher Oath can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Watcher’s Will is a great buff Channel Divinity. It lets you target multiple creatures (depending on Charisma Modifier) and give them Advantage on any intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws for the next minute.
Abjure the Extraplanar
Abjure the Extraplanar works just like Turn Undead, but targets aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, or fiends.
The Oathbreaker can be found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Control Undead mechanically works the same as Turn Undead, but instead of making them flee, the Paladin is able to control the Undead creature for the next 24 hours.
Dreadful Aspect is very similar to the Conquest Paladin’s Conquering Presence ability. It forces a Wisdom saving throw and if they fail the target becomes Frightened.
Channel Divinity Attack Abilities
- Touch of Death
- Radiance of the Dawn
- Guided Strike
- War God’s Blessing
- Nature’s Wrath
- Rebuke the Violent
Channel Divinity Buff Abilities
- Knowledge of the Ages
- Preserve Life
- Balm of Peace
- Destructive Wrath
- Turn the Tide
- Sacred Weapon
- Peerless Athlete
- Inspiring Smite
- Emissary of Peace
- Vow of Enmity
- Watcher’s Will
Channel Divinity Debuff Abilities
- Path to the Grave
- Conquering Presence
- Champion Challenge
- Dreadful Aspect
Channel Divinity Utility Abilities
- Arcane Abjuration
- Artisan’s Blessing
- Read Thoughts
- Charm Animals and Plants
- Order’s Demand
- Invoke Duplicity
- Cloak of Shadows
- Twilight Sanctuary
- Turn the Faithless
- Turn the Unholy
- Abjure Enemy
- Abjure the Extraplanar
- Control Undead
DMs and Channel Divinity
As a Dungeon Masters, it’s always important to know what your player’s abilities actually do. You don’t need to know the entirety of the lists above, but you should know what Channel Divinity abilities your Cleric/Paladin characters have and what their upgrades versions are as they level up.
I’ve heard so many stories about players coming to the table and seeing the “Turn Undead” Channel Divinity and having the player think that they can turn into a zombie. It’s silly, but if you know nothing about the rules that’s where most people will naturally gravitate towards, which is why it’s important everyone knows exactly what their abilities do on their character sheet.
It’s also not all about the rules. Consider the story of your Channel Divinity abilities.
- What deity or divine creature is granting you these powers?
- How does it manifest?
- What color is the bright light?
Thinking about these questions and building up how these abilities actually look and feel can help add thematic flair to your players.
Finally, as always when creating campaigns and encounters, give your players the opportunity to shine. Many of the Channel Divinity abilities are very specific in use. If you never give them the opportunity to use it, you’re basically cutting out a major facet of their character class.
Channel Divinity FAQs
What does channel divinity do 5e?
Channel Divinity is one of the Class features of the Cleric & Paladin. It allows players to channel divine energy to perform abilities. Each Channel Divinity ability is different and each subclass will have access to different abilities.
How does channel divinity work?
Channel Divinity typically is an action similar to making a melee attack or casting a spell. After the player declares they’re using a Channel Divinity ability they then decide which of their Channel Divinity ability they are using and follow the rules according to the ability.
Many Channel Divinity abilities require targets to make some form of save in order for the target to be affected.
Is Channel divinity an action or bonus action?
Channel Divinity is typically an action. Some Channel Divinity abilities like Emissary of the Peace or Rebuke the Violent can also use your bonus action or require no action to activate.
Does Channel divinity have a limit?
Yes, Channel Divinity has a limited number of uses between rest periods depending on class and level.
Paladins get 1 Channel Divinity use per rest period.
Clerics get 1 use per rest period from levels 1-5, 2 uses per rest from levels 6-17, and 3 uses per rest from levels 18-20.