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Grave Cleric 5e

Grave Cleric 5e

The blade entered the Fighter’s back. He felt cold. It was the last thing he felt. When his conscious state returned he found himself face to face with his own corpse. The spirit of the warrior looked down at his ruined body. His friends tried to force a healing potion down his throat. Odd, he could still feel the vial at his lips even as a spirit. 

In the dimly lit chamber, the priestess knelt beside the fallen warrior, her hands glowing with a soft, ethereal light. She looked up from his wounds, and her eyes locked onto the spirit’s. 

She whispered incantations as she reached out with her glowing hands. 

The Fighter opened his eyes staring up into the priestess’s eyes. “Not today,” she whispered.

What is the Grave Cleric 5e?

The Grave Domain is one of the Cleric Domain subclasses that was released in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. It’s one of the most popular Cleric Domains and is one of the most versatile. 

The philosophy of the Grave Cleric is that Life and Death are to be respected equally. This can be interpreted to fit your own playing style, but at its core, Grave Clerics believe life and death are equal parts of life and work to preserve that balance. To that end, they heal and deal death in equal measure. 

The subclass itself can be played as a support role, damage role, or a combination of both. 

Grave Domain 5e Spells

Being on the knife edge of life and death, the Grave Cleric has a unique blend of healing, support, and death magic spells. Below is a list of additional spells to be added to the Cleric spell list

1st Level Spells    

  • Bane
  • False Life

3rd Level Spells    

  • Gentle Repose
  • Ray of Enfeeblement

5th Level Spells    

  • Revivify
  • Vampiric Touch

7th Level Spells    

  • Blight
  • Death Ward

9th Level Spells    

  • Antilife Shell
  • Raise Dead

Grave Cleric 5e Abilities

Each Cleric gains access to unique abilities based on their Domain subclass. Unlike a lot of other classes, the Cleric has access to their subclass directly from level one. 

Circle of Mortality

This 1st level ability negates the need to roll dice when healing a target at 0 hit points. Instead of rolling, you can simply take the highest value of the dice. In addition, the Grave Cleric also gains access to the Spare the Dying cantrip for free. It doesn’t count as part of their known cantrips. 

Spare the Dying

Source: Player’s Handbook

Necromancy cantrip

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Touch

Components:Verbal, Somatic

Duration: Instantaneous

You touch a living creature that has 0 hit points. The creature becomes stable. This spell has no effect on undead or constructs.

Eyes of the Grave

The second of the Grave Cleric’s 1st level spells is the Eyes of the Grave. Eyes of the Grave is used as an action and allow the user to magically detect undead up to 60ft for 1 turn. The Cleric knows nothing about the detected undead, only their location. 

Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave

At level two Clerics get their upgraded Channel Divinity ability. Channel Divinity can now be used to curse an opponent. The next time the cursed enemy is hit, it becomes vulnerable to all types of damage it’s hit with. The curse ends after it takes damage or at the end of the Cleric’s next turn. 

This is an easy way to deal a lot of damage to a single target quickly since vulnerability doubles the damage. 

Sentinel at Death’s Door

Sentinal at Death’s Door becomes available at 6th level. 

This is an impressive defensive ability. If an ally the Grave Cleric can see within 30ft gets hit with a critical attack the Cleric can turn the critical hit into a regular attack. This can be done as many times equal to the Cleric’s Wisdom modifier and is reset with a long rest. 

This can absolutely save your party members. A few nasty rolls from the DM can absolutely destroy a player character, and the ability to completely negate a critical and turn it into a regular attack could be the difference between victory and a total party kill. 

Potent Spellcasting

At 8th level, the Grave Cleric can add their Wisdom modifier to Cantrip damage. 

This gives the Cleric a consistent way to cast spells and deal damage so that they’re never caught unaware. 

Keeper of Souls

The Grave Cleric’s final ability kicks in at level 17. Any enemy killed within 30ft has their soul sucked out to heal either the Cleric or an ally within 30ft. Healing is equal to the dead enemy’s hit dice. 

This can be done once per turn making it an easy way to keep your health up while staying in the middle of the fight. 

Best Races for Grave Clerics

With the new rules included in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, a race’s ability modifiers can be completely modified to fit any class so in reality any race can be used effectively for any class. 

Aasimar: Aasimar are celestial creatures. This makes for an interesting Domain for them to choose. As celestial creatures, they could be dedicated to the balance of life and death dedicating themselves to it. It’s a cool choice for Clerics. 

Firbolg: Firbolgs from Volo’s Guide to Monsters is another good choice for a Grave Cleric. Firbolgs are nature-centric creatures that fit well with the Grace Clerics philosophy on death. In addition, their Hidden Step ability can help their longevity on the battlefield by turning invisible momentarily. 

Half-Orc: Because Grave Clerics worship the nature of death and understand its part as the natural process of life, it makes sense that an Orc would worship the gods of the Grave. In addition to a cool backstory, the half-orc’s relentless endurance can help keep a frontline Cleric alive longer. 

Grave Domain Gods

When choosing a divinity to worship players have a wide variety of gods to choose from. Here are a few examples to help inspire you or simply choose one from the list. 


Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, is an easy choice for Grave Clerics in DnD. Anubis is often depicted with the head of a jackal and is the protector of graves and the guide for souls transitioning from life to the afterlife. 

His primary role in Egyptian mythology is to oversee the weighing of the heart, determining the worthiness of souls to enter the realm of the dead. A Grave Cleric, worshiping Anubis emphasizes the importance of ensuring a proper and respectful passage from life to death, opposing the desecration of tombs or the creation of undead. 

Anubis’ focus on judgment and balance defines the same qualities and goals of the Grave Domain’s themes.

Kelemvor (Forgotten Realms)

Kelemvor is the god of the dead in the Forgotten Realms setting. He is often described as cold and detached but fair. He’s the perfect deity of worship for a Grave Cleric since Kelmvor also believes that death is a natural part of the circle of life. He would judge those that died fairly at death and his symbol is that of scales held by a skeletal hand. 

Followers of Kelemvor spread the belief that death and dying is to be respected and not feared since at the end of life Kelemvor will judge you fairly. 

The Undying Court (Eberron)

The Eberron setting has a wide variety of gods and deities. The Undying Court makes for an excellent choice among Grave Clerics. The Undying Court are undead, but they’re not your typical undead. Instead of being kept alive by dark necromancy, they’re sustained beyond death through positive energy and magics. 

These Undying Court provide guidance, wisdom, and power to their descendants. For a Grave Cleric devoted to The Undying Court, the line between life and death is a fluid one, where ancestors continue to play an active role in the lives of the living. 

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The Raven Queen (Shadowfell)

Shadowfell is a plane of existence where every dark creature imaginable not only lives but thrives. Many of the darkest creatures have origins in the Shadowfell realm. 

The ruler of Shadowfell is the Raven Queen. Despite Shadowfell’s reputation, the Raven Queen is neither malevolent nor benevolent. Instead, she spends most of her time sifting through memories of mortals and hoarding them. As humans died their souls had to pass through her realm and she would sift through the memories of the dead forcing the souls to relive their own lives as the Raven Queen collecting whatever memories she wished. 

Example Feats for Grave Domain Clerics

Fey Touched

Fey Touched feat can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

As the name suggests, due to exposure of fey magics or the Feywild the character’s body has been infused with magical powers. This gives some ability score improvements. Grave Clerics will probably want to choose Wisdom, though. 

This also gives the Cleric the Misty Step spell and a free 1st-level Divination or Enchantment spell. It’s a great boost providing both ability score boosts and utility spells. 

Heavily Armored

Heavily Armored

Source: Player’s Handbook

Prerequisite: Proficiency with medium armor

You have trained to master the use of heavy armor, gaining the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with heavy armor.

The Heavily Armored feat is great for Clerics wanting to stay in the front line. This is especially brutal with the Keeper of Souls ability. They’ll be unstoppable on the front line. 

Metamagic Adept

Metamagic Adept

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Prerequisite: Spellcasting or Pact Magic feature

You’ve learned how to exert your will on your spells to alter how they function:

  • You learn two Metamagic options of your choice from the sorcerer class. You can use only one Metamagic option on a spell when you cast it, unless the option says otherwise. Whenever you reach a level that grants the Ability Score Improvement feature, you can replace one of these Metamagic options with another one from the sorcerer class.
  • You gain 2 sorcery points to spend on Metamagic (these points are added to any sorcery points you have from another source but can be used only on Metamagic). You regain all spent sorcery points when you finish a long rest.

Metamagic Adept feat can empower all of your Grave Cleric’s spells with the Sorcerer’s Metamagic features. This includes twin spells and empowered spells which can seriously extend your ability to cast spells. 



Source: Player’s Handbook

Choose one ability score. You gain the following benefits:

  • Increase the chosen ability score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency in saving throws using the chosen ability.

Resilient is a great feat for its simple ability score improvements and for extra saving throw proficiency. 

Shadow Touched

Shadow Touched feat can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

Similar to Fey Touched, but instead of exposure to the Feywilds the character has been exposed to the Shadowfell realm and it’s magic. 

It grants a bonus to several ability scores of the user’s choice, but again Wisdom is probably the most important. In addition, the Grave Cleric also learns Invisibility and another 1st-level spell of either Illusion or Necromancy and a free cast per long rest. 

Ability Score improvements are always useful, and a Shadow Touched also offers a lot of useful spells that work well with the mechanics of the Grave Cleric. 



Source: Player’s Handbook

Your hit point maximum increases by an amount equal to twice your level when you gain this feat. Whenever you gain a level thereafter, your hit point maximum increases by an additional 2 hit points.

Tough is always a useful feat, especially if you plan on playing as a frontline character. If your play style is more support and backline, you can ignore this feat. 

War Caster

War Caster

Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell

You have practiced casting spells in the midst of combat, learning techniques that grant you the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on Constitution saving throws that you make to maintain your concentration on a spell when you take damage.
  • You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.
  • When a hostile creature’s movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.

The War Caster feat gives you the ability to use your reaction to cast spells as opportunity attacks, which are crucial for frontline spell casters. 

Multiclassing for Grave Clerics

Multiclassing can give your character some unique abilities and combinations. It allows a character to deal with a wider variety of situations but at the cost of specializations. If you do decide to multiclass here are a few options. 


The Druid is an easy choice for multiclassing with a Grave Cleric. Druids and Clerics both rely on Wisdom as their main ability score. This grants the player access to a host of new abilities without relying on too many different ability scores for bonuses. 


Fighter is a great choice for multiclassing a front-line Cleric. This gives them access to fighting styles, Action Surges, and Second Wind. 


Multiclassing as a Sorcerer gives the Cleric access to more spells and Metamagic to enhance spellcasting versatility. If you’re using the optional feat rules it also might be better to simply pick up the Metamagic Adept Feat. 

Best Grave Cleric Backgrounds

As long as you are creative, you can really pick any background to play your character in. Here are some ideas for inspiration. 

Acolyte: The acolyte background makes the most sense when choosing a background. Having your character raised and brought up in a faith that specifically teaches the philosophy of light and death. 

Urchin: Growing up on the streets is a hard way to grow up. During that time a character will have faced death and danger numerous times. An Urchin growing up in this environment would have a healthy respect for death which could lead them to the path of the Grave Cleric. 

Hermit: A hermit living alone in the wilderness and living a life of meditation and humbleness. While observing the natural world they may naturally come to the conclusion that death is part of the natural order of life learning that you can’t have life without death. 

How to Play Grave Clerics

Grave Clerics are unique in their balance between life and death, often serving as intermediaries that respect the natural progression of life. Their abilities make them versatile characters both in and out of combat.

As Grave Clerics are the bridge between life and death, they’re also the bridge between damage and support. They have a wide variety of damage spells available to them. The Keeper of Souls and Circle of Mortality abilities are fantastic for keeping your party alive. Finally, their Channel Divinity buff has the potential to double a source of damage every single turn. 

Clerics in previous editions were fairly weak and had to hide in the back lines to survive. It’s still a viable strategy, but the Grave Cleric doesn’t have to be played that way. They function great on the front line, purely support, or a combination of both. That’s what makes them so popular. 

Grave Clerics Out of Combat

Clerics are always good to have in the party. Undead creatures are some of the most common you’ll face in most DnD campaigns since it’s an easy way to for new DMs to start a campaign. The walking dead or skeleton archers are common tropes for a reason. 

The Grave Cleric’s ability to detect undead will eventually come in handy, and their plethora of healing abilities will be needed between long combats. 

For role-playing purposes, the Cleric can also act as the party’s face or information gatherer. Grave Clerics can wander the countryside giving burial rights and prayers to send off loved ones’ souls to the afterlife. Depending upon the disposition of the Cleric they can be well-regarded members of society. 

Grave Clerics In Combat

Grave Clerics have a lot of support and healing abilities which is fairly standard as a Cleric. However, unlike other Clerics, the Grave Clerics can force a target to be vulnerable to the next damage type it’s hit with. This is absolutely one of the best abilities of the Grave Cleric. It can in essence double the damage from a source and if you team up with a Rogue dealing Sneak Attack damage or Critical Sneak Attack damage chances are you can 1-hit-KO most creatures. 

If fighting solo, you can also combine the Channel Divinity ability with the Cleric’s Inflict Wounds spell to deal a ton of damage. 

Example Grave Cleric Build

Below is our version of a unique Grave Cleric. We used the point buy system to generate ability scores and chose to use the alternate racial ability score modifier rules in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

This character is based on a Half-Orc Grave Cleric. I chose the Half-Orc because I thought it would be an interesting dynamic since most players don’t think Half-Orc when creating a spellcaster character.

For a Background, I considered having the Half-Orc as an Urchin. Since they have low strength they may have been cast out from a typical strength dominant Orc tribe and forced to live on the streets. It’s here while almost starving that they’ve learned hardships and the thin line between life and death. 

Another thought was to come up with a homebrew-style background. I thought an interesting origin would be as a tribal executioner. They are called upon to deliver justice and have a healthy respect for life and death as well as having a strong moral code. 

This character is ready to use and completely legal within the rules. You’ll just need to sort out your equipment, starting gold, and HP with your DM. If you do decide to use it, please leave a comment below and let me know how it goes.  

Half-Orc Grave Cleric Ability Scores:

  • Strength: 10
  • Dexterity: 14
  • Constitution: 15
  • Intelligence: 8
  • Wisdom: 17
  • Charisma: 10


  • Melee: Rapier or shortsword
  • Ranged: Shortbow or light crossbow

Grave Domain Features:

  • Circle of Mortality: Maximize healing on creatures at 0 HP and cast spare the dying as a bonus action.
  • Eyes of the Grave: Detect undead within 60 feet.
  • Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave: Curse a creature to make it vulnerable to the next attack.
  • Sentinel at Death’s Door: Turn a critical hit into a normal hit.
  • Potent Spellcasting: Add Wisdom modifier to cleric cantrip damage.
  • Keeper of Souls: Regain hit points when an enemy dies nearby.

Grave Cleric Spells Level 1

  • Bane
  • False Life

Grave Cleric Spells Level 2

  • Gentle Repose
  • Ray of Enfeeblement

Grave Cleric Spells Level 3

  • Revivify
  • Vampiric Touch

Grave Cleric Spells Level 4

  • Blight
  • Death Ward

Grave Cleric Spells Level 5

  • Antilife Shell
  • Raise Dead

Grave Cleric 5e FAQs

What Book Has the Grave Domain?

The Grave Domain for clerics can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, starting on Page 19.

Should a Grave Domain Cleric Deal Damage or Support?

Grave Clerics can do both effectively. Many of their abilities lend themselves to front-line support, but they still are Clerics and have lower hit dice than other front-line fighters. They also have some powerful spells and abilities that can allow them to deal serious damage, especially to the undead. They function equally as well in support and damage-dealing roles. 

Do Grave Clerics Have To Hate Undead?

No. The main philosophy of the Grave Cleric is that Death is a natural part of life. Some Grave Clerics can oppose the undead seeing them as unclean, but if done with rituals and respect they can also see them as necessary tools for that balance. It’s entirely up to you and your DM, but they don’t have to universally hate the undead. 

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