Clerics are an often overlooked class, possibly because their potential and abilities often seem less exciting than others. Fighters are found rushing into melees, spellcasters are seen firing magical bolts at their enemies, and Rogues have that outsider mystique. But Clerics are anything but the poor relations of the adventuring world; when roleplayed adequately, they are as exciting and dynamic as any other class, perhaps more so.
Clerics derive their power directly from their gods, act as a bridge between mortal and heavenly realms, and act as their deity’s representative in the earthly world. This means that far from being the glorified healer with a neat trick for banishing the undead, they are often not insignificant players in a chess game that plays out as byzantine plots and world-shaking events.
What are Domains?
Clerics organize themselves into Domains based on the general theme that their deity is responsible for. From these specific auras and energies, the Cleric, in turn, derives the magical powers that allow them to cast spells and wield mystical abilities. Which Domain a Cleric chooses to specialize in is an important choice the player will have to make, so here is a quick guide to their various strengths and weaknesses.
Here is a list of Cleric Domains 5e:
- Arcana Domain
- Death Domain
- Forge Domain
- Grave Domain
- Knowledge Domain
- Life Domain
- Light Domain
- Nature Domain
- Order Domain
- Peace Domain
- Tempest Domain
- Trickery Domain
- Twilight Domain
- War Domain
Best Cleric Domains 5e
With so many Domains to choose from, where to begin? Here are our favorites and the best Cleric Domains to choose from for your next campaign.
Gods who specialize in forging their destiny and hold liberty and free will above all things are found in the Forge Domain. As those gods see fit to achieve these ends through aggressive and combative means, their Clerics are imbued with their fighting strength and a series of powerful and offensive spells such as Searing Smite and Heat Metal.
Clerics of the Forge Domain are geared up to offer support and frontline firepower as required. They have plenty of bonuses relating to protection and bonus proficiencies that increase their armor class. Think of these Clerics as the zealous crusader types willing to convert others and protect the vision of the world that they hold dear and do it whilst wielding the sort of weapons that would even impress a Barbarian.
Clerics who follow gods specializing in ancient magic and secret knowledge receive their blessings in the form of arcane power. They often borrow some of the traits and abilities of the spellcasting classes, which turns them into highly effective offensive magic users in their own right. Clerics of the Arcana Domain can be as potent as a Wizard when tested in combat, often more so.
Those Clerics who see their roles as being one of healing, comfort, and support should not take this option, as their strength comes from their more aggressive and magical stance.
Perhaps what most people see as the traditional role of this class is typified by the Clerics of the Life Domain as they focus on preserving life and unmatched healing abilities. Spells such as Bless, Cure Wounds, Revivify, and Mass Cure Wounds offer vital support to any party of adventurers.
Being blessed with Disciple of Life, Blessed Healer, and Supreme Healing means that those healing spells can be elevated into their most potent versions.
Choose this if you want to play the sort of Cleric who avoids combat as much as possible but can offer vital support and has the skills to patch up any injuries and wounds so that their colleagues can return to the fray as quickly as possible.
Clerics of the Death Domain worship gods representing the forces of death, the undead, and the afterlife. Their primary specialty comes from dealing Necrotic damage to their enemies and removing their resistance from such attacks.
Spells such as False Life, Ray of Sickness, Animate Death, Vampiric Touch, and Death Ward offer great offensive powers. Reaper, Touch of Death, and Inescapable Destruction administer unparalleled debilitating Necrotic Damage against most of their enemies.
Despite the attractive area of expertise, these Clerics’ Proficiency Bonus for martial weapons is only slightly improved from the Cleric’s standard weapons. Clerics of the Death Domain are helpful if your party requires a tremendous offensive spellcaster but isn’t so good when it comes to the roles of support and healing.
The gods’ followers grouped into the Domain of Light uphold many virtuous and positive values such as vigilance, truth, renewal, and rebirth. Even their offensive powers take the form of psychological influence rather than anything aggressive and damaging, such as striking fear into their enemies’ minds or bolstering their allies’ morale and courage.
Clerics of the Light Domain wield spells that are attuned to an image of the flames of justice — Burning Hands, Scorching Ray, Fireball, and Wall of Fire — burning love and light into the dark hearts of their foes. Other powers, such as Bonus Cantrip, Warding Flare, and Potent Spellcasting, do wonders to improve their attacks.
If you like the image of the beatific priest casting holy fire to smite their enemies, consider taking this Domain as your specialty.
If you believe there is power in knowledge, then the Clerics of this Domain might appeal to you. Followers of this path gain power from their god, slowly revealing the universe’s secrets to them so they can unlock various skills and develop ways of utilizing such knowledge to their advantage. Information is critical, and only through the study will their deity reveal their plan.
Their Spells, such as Command, Identify, Suggestion, and Speak With Dead, are all based on gathering information ranging from the magical to the mundane, but there is no such thing as useless knowledge.
Clerics of the Knowledge Domain are not well equipped for combat duties, nor are they blessed with extensive mastery of healing. These Clerics come into their own in the more story-focused or puzzle-solving parts of an adventure and thrive in campaigns geared more towards this type of campaign.
Clerics of the Order Domain are concerned with an ordered and regulated society and uphold ideals such as justice, logic, and discipline to be above all things. As a result, the god they follow blesses them with qualities and abilities relating to command, leadership, and respect. Domain Spells of Command, Heroism, Hold Person, Zone of Truth, and Mass Healing Word typify the Cleric’s sense of fair play.
Such Clerics are often found on the front lines, and their penchant for heavy armor and leading by example makes them the tank of the Clerical world. Voice of Authority, Embodiment of Law, and Order’s Wrath enable the Cleric of the Order Domain to hand out massive damage to almost any threat, making them, along with the Forge Domain Cleric, the most useful in combat situations.
Like Druids and Rangers, Clerics of the Nature Domain follow gods who wish to protect the land that they call home and which furnishes mortals with everything that they need, should they only know where to look.
Such an attitude is shown in their preferred Domain Spells, such as Animal Friendship, Barkskin, Spike Growth, and Plant Growth; Dampen Elements and Divine Strike can enhance their damage options. If your campaign favors wilderness and outdoor adventures, this Cleric comes into its own.
Despite their affinity with nature and some practical outdoor skills, Clerics of the Nature Domain seem slightly less potent as adventurers than other Domain choices. Perhaps the DM should use them as colorful NPCs and story arch characters.
As the name suggests, Clerics of the Peace Domain promote kindheartedness and friendship, look for more pacifistic and peaceful solutions, and often preside over disputes and diplomatic disagreements. In return for this, their gods give them spells such as Heroism, Sanctuary, Aid, and Warding Bond to help increase their allies’ morale and thus empower them toward victory.
So, whilst not participating in the fight, a Peace Cleric can often make a real difference to the battle’s outcome. Sort of a religious cheerleader.
Emboldening Bond, Protective Bond, and Expansive Bond are all great. Peace Domain Clerics enable their allies to boost their damage, stay motivated through belief in their eventual success and the justification of their cause, teleport when attacked, or even gain resistance to damage. As non-combatants go, these are valuable people on your side in a fight.
If the world is one big, clever, cosmic balancing act, and the Clerics of the Order Domain sit on one side of it, those of the Trickery Domain sit on the other.
Trickery Domain Clerics believe that chaos is necessary to keep the world going to maintain a universal balance. Their gods love acts of deception, jokes and pranks, and all manner of fraud and arm their Clerics with such skills.
Their Domain Spells, such as Disguise Self, Charm Person, and Mirror Image, are all based on illusion, deception, and wrong-footedness. Also, their abilities, such as Blessing of the Trickster, Invoke Duplicity, and Cloak of Shadows, make them akin to religious Rogues.
As fun as this sounds, the Trickery Domain’s abilities aren’t helpful in many situations, and their lack of access to healing spells further questions their usefulness. If you like the idea of such a Cleric, you might be better off choosing the Bard or Rogue class and just role-playing them with a bit more religious zeal.