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HomeDungeons & DragonsThe Good God Botherer - D&D 5E Cleric Optimisation Guide

The Good God Botherer – D&D 5E Cleric Optimisation Guide

Updated: 16th May 2019

Don’t take this Cleric guide on faith alone. 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons has different play styles for everybody. Below we’ve put together a guide taking into account the schisms of beliefs.

We also link to a full list of other great character optimisation guides for D&D.


God Bothering: The Core of the Cleric

“The figures looked more or less human. And they were engaged in religion. You could tell by the knives (it’s not murder if you do it for a god).”
― Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

The Cleric has been around since the beginning. Up there with: Fighting-Man, Magic-User and Cleric.

With it’s long history comes many iterations of the class, though the Cleric has most often been a mix of Fighting and Magic.

At first glance you may think this class is just there to heal the party. There’s so much more to the 5E Cleric than that.

When we go into the many Cleric sub-classes below, you’ll get an idea of the variety of god botherers available.

From this point forward, the common colour coding is being used:

Sky Blue = Top choice, Pray a little before dismissing these. Cleric optimisation starts here.

Blue = Very strong choice for Clerics, but not amazing.

Black = Solid choice. There are better options, but this is more than serviceable

= Not top tier. It may have niche use, but better options exist

= Mechanically weak. If you feel it fits your concept, go for it, but you will likely be less effective

Remember that this is an optimisation guide. We’re looking at what is strong or effective for your Cleric devout.

That said, if you have a fun idea for your character that isn’t based around ‘charop’, don’t be afraid to put fun ahead of numbers.

You know your game better than me, after all.


  • Str: You’ll choose between Str and Dex depending if you’re a Heavily-armoured vs Lightly-armoured Cleric. Heavily-armoured Clerics can afford more Strength since they dump Dexterity, and they are better-equipped to survive in melee. Medium-armoured Clerics may want to dump Strength and stick to spell casting unless they also get proficiency with Rapiers.
  • Dex: For the Finesse or Trickster Clerics with light armour need Dexterity for AC and for their weapons. Medium-armoured Clerics should try to have 14 to boost their AC. Heavily-armoured Clerics can dump Dexterity.
  • Con: Hit points are often second or third most important for a Cleric. If you go down who’s going to get you back up?
  • Int: Only really useful if you’re a Knowledge Cleric, everyone else can dump this.
  • Wis: Top priority or second depending on your domain. This is your spell casting attribute. You channel divinity and more keys off your wisdom.
  • Cha: You can probably dump Charisma unless you need to serve as a Face. Ideally someone else should step up here though.

Best Cleric Races:

Wisdom is crucial, but other abilities depend on your build and your choice of Divine Domain.

Not many of the races have more than +1 to Wisdom, so you’ll have to take what you can get. The Stat bonuses will be more useful in the early game and will even out once you get a few levels and Ability Score Improvements.

Player’s Handbook Races

Your main focus should be looking for a race with some + to Wisdom.

  • Dwarf: [+2 Con] For Moradin! Dwarfs are very durable, and have stats that line up well for a Cleric.
    • Mountain Dwarf [+2 Str] As a battle dwarf the Strength bonus could come in handy for swinging big weapons. Could make a good War or Tempest Domain cleric.
    • Hill Dwarf [+1 Wis] That additional wisdom and durability make for an excellent Cleric pairing. Considered a decent Life Cleric.
    • Duergar [+1 Str] Similar to the Mountain Dwarf, Con and some spell resistance helps keep you alive. [SCAG]
  • Dragonborn [+2 Str, +1 Cha] The breath weapon is a good AoE attack, however there’s nothing much here for you.
  • Elf [+2 Dex] If you’re working towards a lightly armoured Cleric a Wood elf is the only thing to consider here. Other Elf sub races leave a lot to be desired.
    • Wood Elf [+1 Wis] The coveted boost to Wisdom helps here plus some weapon proficiency. This lets you use that Dexterity with a Finesse weapon. The Mask of the Wild feature is useful if you spend a lot of time in weird weather conditions, this will depend on your DM and campaign.
    • Drow [+1 Cha] Nothing useful for the Cleric.
    • High Elf [+1 Int]  Like all Elves, High Elves get Trance, proficiency with Perception checks, and a DEX boost. You won’t need the INT or the cantrip, though, and the weapon training is wasted.
    • Eladrin [+1 Int] High Elf with a teleport spell. Nothing useful for the Cleric. [DMG]
  • Gnome [+2 Int]  Nothing useful for the Cleric.
    • Forest Gnome [+1 Dex], Gnome Cunning is awesome, and you get a DEX boost, but INT is your dump stat, and you don’t get much use out of anything else.
    • Rock Gnome [+ 1 Con]. No appropriate stat bonuses, nothing that says cleric at all.
    • Deep Gnome [ +1 Dex] DEX is fine, and you can get advantage on a lot of saves and Stealth. That said, INT does nothing for you. Besides, Deep Gnomes are too dour. [SCAG]
  • Half-Elf: [+2 Cha, and +1 to ???] A good combination of Human and Elf, however the CHA is mostly wasted on you.
  • Half-Orc: [+2 STR] Relentless endurance can help in a pinch to prevent the healer (You) going down. Nothing specifically useful for the Cleric, though STR-based War or Conquest Cleric may look here.
  • Halfling [+2 Dex] Another race option that benefits DEX Clerics, Ghostwise halfling being the main consideration.
    • Stout Halfling [+1 Con] Like Lightfoot, but without a boost to CHA. Still, Con isn’t bad, and neither is resistance to poison.
    • Lightfoot Halflings[+1 Cha] Nothing useful for the Cleric. Luck is awesome. Brave is awesome. Hiding isn’t bad, but you’re likely not great at it.
    • Ghostwise Halflings [+1 Wis] Here’s the Wis you want, so if you’re going light armour this could be the trickery race for you! [SCAG]
  • Human [+1 to All scores],  Plus one to every stat? Some of this is wasted, ask your DM if Variant Human is available.
    • Variant Human [+1 to Wis and a feat] If Human Variant is allowed, You still get crucial bonus to your Wisdom and something else, and you can get an awesome feat at level 1.
  • Tiefling [+1 Int and +2 Cha] Neither of these things are good for you. There are a number of new Tiefling types and none of them offer you much.
    • Tiefling Variant [+1 Int and +2 Dex] An interesting option especially with winged. The Int is still a big waste here. [SCAG]

Volo’s Guide to Monsters Races  

Cleric of Light
  • Aasimar [+1 Wis & +2 Cha] Charisma doesn’t do much for a cleric, but the flavour works very well, and the Aasimar’s other racial traits and their sub-races work for a variety of cleric builds.
  • Firbolg: [+2 WIS +1 STR] Strong, wise, and with a small pile of active abilities and innate spellcasting
  • Goliath:  Nothing specifically useful for the Cleric.
  • Kenku: [+2 DEX and +1 Wis] Potentially a good trickery cleric, but Dexterity can be hard for a cleric to use.
  • Lizardfolk: [+2 CON and +1 WIS] Durable, extra skills, and some other useful traits. Excellent for any kind of cleric.
  • Tabaxi: Nothing useful for the Cleric.
  • Triton: Nothing useful for the Cleric.

Volo’s Monstrous Races 

  • Bugbear: [+2 STR and +1 DEX] You’d want one but not both of these boosts.
  • Goblin: [+2 DEX and +1 CON] Not a great choice at all.
  • Hobgoblin: [+2 CON and +1 INT] Keep looking.
  • Kobold: [+2 DEX and -2 STR] I’d love to see it played, but it will not be optimal in any way.
  • Orc: [+2 STR and +1 CON, -2 INT] The INT penalty doesn’t hurt you, but there are better choices.
  • Yuan-Ti Pureblood: [+2 CHA and +1 INT] Everything you don’t need here.

Elemental Evil Races

  • Aarakocra: [+2 Dex] Dexterity and a bit of Wisdom are great for a lightly-armoured Cleric, and flight is always fantastic.
  • Genasi: [+2 Con] The Constitution bonus matches that of the Dwarf, but Genasi don’t get any other base racial abilities.
    • Air Genasi: [+1 Dex] The Constitution bonus matches that of the Dwarf, but Genasi don’t get any other base racial abilities.
    • Earth Genasi: [+1 Str] Nothing sspecifically useful for the Cleric.
    • Fire Genasi: [+1 Int] Nothing useful for the Cleric.
    • Water Genasi: [+1 Wis] A bit of Wisdom, and access to Shape Water, which is one of my absolute favorite Cantrips.

Eberron Races

  • Changeling: [+2 CHA +1 DEX/INT] Shape changing gives you amazing potential as a Lore or Whispers Bard.
  • Kalashtar: [+1 WIS and +1 CHA]
  • Shifters: [+1 DEX] These shifters are more rough and ready physical races. The proficiency with perception is a great skill to get up front.
    • Beasthide Shifter: [+2 CON] The bonuses to AC, CON, and DEX make a decent light armoured option.
    • Longtooth Shifter: [+2 STR] If you’re going for STR the DEX is useless. So not ideal.
    • Swiftstride Shifter: [+1 DEX and +1 CHA] Pure DEX with a bonus attack. Not terrible.
    • Wildhunt Shifter: [+2 WIS] The + WIS is pretty huge. The other tracking stuff is situational.
  • Warforged: [+1 CON]
    • Envoy: [+1 two Stats] Get the +WIS and make you integrated tool some kind of doctor’s kit.
    • Juggernaut: [+2 STR]
    • Skirmisher: [+2 DEX]

More to consider on Cleric Races

Now that that’s said and done, here’s the thing about racial abilities: Later in the game, they won’t matter as much. At 15th level, that +1 to your stat has less impact in overall performance.

At lower levels though, the difference is much more noticeable. 5e is flat out a harder game at low level than either 3.x or 4e were. It is less forgiving, and getting dropped is really, really easy.

Keep that in mind when looking at races. Some races might not have the “oomph” when it comes to doing to damage, but a lot of the survivability perks that they do have will come in really handy during those difficult low levels.

Cleric Class Features

  • Hit Dice: d8 hit points is average. It’s not bad if you’re hanging back and casting spells. This is a little low for a front line warrior of the church.
  • Armour Proficiency: Medium armour is decent for most Clerics. Throw in a shield and you’ll have decent AC.
  • Weapon Proficiency: You’re not here to get fancy… you can get Military weapons in other ways. Your spells will out scale your weapons after a while anyway.
  • Saving Throws: Wisdom and Charisma are solid saves to have proficiency in. These saves cover some of the most debilitating effects in the game.
  • Skills: Two skills, the party wont be looking to you for skills.
  • Tools: Clerics don’t get any tools. Though that’s not terrible
  • Spellcasting: The Cleric slings spells based on Wisdom. You don’t need to stick with the same old spells every day, with the waking of the dawn you can choose your spells based on the Cleric’s spell list. This gives you amazing utility especially if you’ve got a day or two to prepare.
  • Depending on your Divine Domain you’ll receive more ‘free’ prepared spells, this opens up the way you can play like nothing else. The Cleric spell list runs the entire spectrum of healing, hurting, control and buffs.
  • Ritual Casting: Allows you to cast many utility spells without actually using slots. Although unlike the Wizard, you need to have the spells prepared.
  • Channel Divinity: In a campaign where Undead are a feature this is the kind of godly power they write scriptures about. You’ll also receive more uses for Channel Divinity from your Divine Domain choice.
  • Destroy Undead: (5th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th Level) As with above, this depends on how much Undead your DM is throwing at you. Undead are pretty common though and when they show up you’ll have the perfect tool.
  • Divine Intervention: (10th, 20th Level) A little dicey in terms of chance, but there’s great storytelling and clutch moments with this ability. Have a chat with your DM and work out what to expect from Divine Intervention, if your DM is happy to play around this can make incredible moments full of flavour AND crunch.
  • Ability Score Improvement (4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, 19th Level): Obviously good for obvious reasons.

Cleric Subclasses – Divine Domains

Arcana Cleric Domain [SCAG]

  • By Mystra! The Arcana Domain has a lot of Wizard flavour thrown in for good measure. Borrowing some spells from the Arcane spellcasters to beef up the utility you’re bringing to the party. A great support spellcaster that
  • Domain Spells: Because you’re borrowing from the Wizard you’re getting some of the best options. Mostly utility stuff but there are also some good damage dealers sprinkled in for flavour.
    1. 1st-Level [detect magic, magic missile]: Detect Magic is useful in almost every campaign. Magic Missile offers reliable damage but it’s never too exciting.
    2. 3rd-Level[magic weapon, Nystul’s magic aura]: Magic Weapon is helpful in that small window where you start needing magical weapons to hurt monsters but before everyone already has one. The magical aura may find use in political intrigue campaigns.
    3. 5th-Level [dispel magic, magic circle]: Dispel Magic will always find a use, especially as you come across deadlier magical dungeons. Magic Circle takes time to cast but can be a great way to hold off certain enemy types.
    4. 7th-Level [arcane eye, Leomund’s secret chest]:  Arcane Eye is amazing at scouting areas and keeping you safe, though this is what you’d normally have a familiar do. Secret chest has more uses in intrigue campaigns, ones where enemies are after your items or the DM keeps trying to disarm you before entering the king’s court.
    5. 9th-Level [planar binding, teleportation circle]: Planar binding is great if you can figure out how to get the creature to stand still for 1 hour. Teleportation circle allows you to bust open a mini-gate to travel to fixed teleport circles you are familiar with. Great if you have a home base or magical allies. Both of these really depend on the campaign you’re in.
  • Arcane Initiate [1st level]: If you’re the ‘Arcane’ one you’re going to need the Arcana skill. Two extra cantrips from the wizard list don’t go astray either, bolstering your lower level utility.
  • Channel Divinity: Arcane Abjuration [2nd, 5th level]: Turning a creature (Celestials, Elementals, Fey, and Fiends) is powerful, and this is a wide range of the monster manual. Use this on the biggest baddest thing in the room and deal with everything else first. At 5th level this banishes a creature back to where they came.
  • Spell Breaker [6th level]: An excellent way of removing debuffs as a Bonus Action if you’re using Healing Word (and you should).
  • Potent Spellcasting [8th level]: Adding bonuses to cantrips is always great. This means you’re adding your Wisdom modifier to Cleric AND Wizard cantrips you have.
  • Arcane Mastery [17th level]: This opens up a huge array of options. Read through a Wizard Guide to see what your options are.

Death Domain Cleric [DMG]

  • Time to get offensive. Grab a scythe and start wading into enemies. The Death Domain grants you martial weapon proficiency and more options for dealing damage to a single target. Your allies may question why you aren’t healing them, but you can always raise them as an undead thrall if they fall.
  • Domain Spells: Some quality options here, some of these aren’t on the typical Cleric lists. Spells at 3rd-Level are a bit lacklustre but they can’t all be winners.
    • 1st-Level [false life, ray of sickness]: Kind of like healing word put not real healing. You’re a little harder to kill but deadening an enemy or inflicting disadvantage will help the team more. Ray of Sickness pumps out some nice damage but the real winner in inflicting the Poisoned condition on an enemy. Take note of what enemies are resistant or immune to poison though.
    • 3rd-Level [blindness/deafness, ray of enfeeblement] Here’s where the Death Domain is weakest. Blindness/deafness has uses when sneaking around, however both spells are likely to be short lived. Unless you can almost guarantee that the target will fail their save, these aren’t reliable debuffs.
    • 5th-Level [animate dead, vampiric touch]: Animate Dead lets you get an undead buddy, requires re-casting each day but you get to prepare it for free. Vampiric Touch solves two problems at once, the enemy has health and you need it.
    • 7th-Level [blight, death ward]: Blight is an OK source of damage, especially against plants (and possibly water elemental), but doesn’t scale amazingly well. Death Ward lets you give the Half-Orc ability to avoid death once.
    • 9th-Level [antilife shell, cloudkill]: Anti-life Shell is a great form of protection. Cloudkill is an excellent control spell with a massive range and radius.
  • Bonus Proficiency: Martial weapons are a solid boost, though without Heavy Armour you may wish to get reach or keep a shield handy. Consider getting a Halberd and calling it a “Reaper’s Scythe”.
  • Reaper: Currently the only choices are Chill Touch, Spare the Dying and Toll of the Dead. Either Chill Touch or Toll of the Dead are good choices if you’re looking for more damage.
  • Channel Divinity: Touch of Death: This really isn’t a lot of damage but it helps bolster your weapon hits.
  • Inescapable Destruction:  As you’ve got the Necrotic theme going you’ll notice that it’s also a commonly resisted damage type. Many monsters are resistant to Necrotic damage and this overcomes that problem. You’ll still struggle against creatures that are outright Immune to Necrotic damage, but that’s a lot more rare.
  • Divine Strike: More damage on your weapon strikes is always a plus, especially for you. More irresistible Necrotic damage once per turn means your attacks should scale with your cantrips.
  • Improved Reaper: Usually you’d be focused on your single target spells like Blight or possibly even Animate Dead. With Improved Reaper you’ve just doubled their impact in almost any given single target spell cast.

Forge Cleric [XGtE]:

Thematically awesome and a solid spell list.

You’re a tank and a half with the ability to craft and augment gear. The support utility you bring to the table is excellent and you can defend with the best of them.

Your party will love having you around. Forge Domain Clerics make good Defenders, and you don’t skimp on the damage either.

  • Domain Spells: Stoke the coals! There’s a lot of heat coming from the Forge Domain’s spell list. I’m a big fan of how these thematically tie into the Forge. A master crafter and good with heating metal there aren’t many duds in your domain list.
    • 1st-Level [identify, searing smite]: When your DM does put magic items in your path the party is going to ask the Forge Master/Mistress to take a look. Searing Smite adds some much loved fire damage to your hits. No longer is this only for the Paladin. At high levels, it remains a cheap and reliable damage boost for your weapon attacks.
    • 3rd-Level [heat metal, magic weapon]: Heat Metal is great against armoured enemies, Magic Weapon fills a good niche of buffing yourself or an ally though it runs out of steam once everyone has magic items.
    • 5th-Level [elemental weapon, protection from energy]: Elemental weapon is only a minor boost on magic weapon, the extra damage is helpful if your enemy is weak to an element. Protection from energy can save someones Bacon when you’re up against a dragon, solid spell here.
    • 7th-Level [fabricate, wall of fire]: A little situational especially as you have Artisan’s Blessing. With the right imagination this could be better.
      9th-Level [animate objects, creation]: Bring an army of magical statues to life. Win at life-size wizard’s chess. So many options. Both spells are fantastic.
  • Bonus Proficiency: It’s nice to get Heavy Armour, you may even be able to make full Plate a lot cheaper if you ask your DM nicely.
  • Blessing of the Forge [1st level]: This is even stronger in a low magic item game. There are few extra ways to boost AC so the Plate wearing Paladin will be your new best friend for this one. Alternately give it to the member of your party that makes the most attacks each turn.
  • Channel Divinity: Artisan’s Blessing [2nd Level]: You’re only limited by your imagination (and the 100g pricetag) here. Start reading chapter 5 of the Players Handbook for “Equipment”. Make the tool for the situation at hand.
  • Soul of the Forge [6th level]: Fire resistance is nice and all but the main thing we like here is the fixed bonus to AC like this is extremely rare boost in 5e.
  • Divine Strike [8th level]: No action required, free bonus fire damage. You should be sensing the theme by now. Combines very well with Searing Smite.
  • Saint of Forge and Fire [17th level]: Immunity to fire and resistance to non-magical hits when wearing your Heavy Armour. You’ll never take it of again!

Grave Cleric [XGtE]:

  • For the cleric who wants to sling spells as a priority. The Grave domain isn’t all Death or Life, it has one foot on either side. Or one foot in the grave… if you prefer. This means your spell list is a balance between damage and healing.
  • Domain Spells: Here’s where you see the balance of life and death. Each Grave Domain spell will likely see some solid use in any campaign.
    • 1st-Level: Unless you have other sources of temporary hit points, this is a powerful shield against death. False life becomes less useful if someone takes the Inspiring Leader feat. Bane is like an anti-inspiration, you’ll want to target creatures with poor Charisma and a -d4 isn’t amazing but can be a game changer if you’re setting up allies for further spells.
    • 3rd-Level: Gentle Repose is questionable in its utility depending on your campaign. Early levels it might help you get someone to a temple for raising them from the dead. Ray of enfeeblement is very specific against strong creatures that use weapons, very situational.
    • 5th-Level: You were likely going to take Revivify anyway so getting it for free isn’t terrible. This is where Gentle Repose may come in handy if you’re out of level 3 spell slots when an ally goes down. Vampiric Touch is a great combination of healing and damage, the downside being you’re in melee range.
    • 7th-Level: Blight is a fun option that you and Death Clerics can use to cause great damage. Death Ward is a strong buff that helps negate an ally going down in an overwhelming hit. Essentially giving them the Half-Orc feature once.
    • 9th-Level: Antilife Shell is great if you’re up against Undead or Constructs on a regular basis. Anything to keep melee enemies off you while and squishy allies you kill them with ranged attacks. Raise Dead is nice, though you could have taken that at your leisure after a long rest. Especially because of Gentle Repose the 10 day time limit can be much greater reducing the urgency.
  • Circle of Mortality: While other Clerics might look to Healing Word as a cheap way of getting an ally back in the fight, Cure Wounds should be your preference. Allies may start to question why you’re waiting for them to drop before healing them though, but that’s just optimisation for you.
  • Eyes of the Grave: Send out a ping to detect undead like some kind of sonar. Very situational depending on the campaign and layout of where you are.
  • Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave: Your party’s Rogue will love this if you can set up a one-two combo ahead of a sneak attack.
  • Sentinel at Death’s Door: Massive damage prevented is far greater than damage healed. Plus there aren’t many other ways to reduce damage from critical hits, this is a huge ability.
  • Potent Spellcasting: All the cool Clerics get this one. More useful of course if you’ve maxed out Wisdom and use Cantrips often.
  • Keeper of Souls: Acts like a reaction without using up your reaction. So while this isn’t a huge amount of healing it’s a great ‘always on’ feature. This does require any custom enemies your DM is running to have hit dice calculated. Also this is an off-turn heal meaning you might be able to get an ally up after your turn but before theirs, meaning they wont need to make a death save.

Knowledge Cleric:

  • For the know-it-all Cleric. Knowledge is the domain of secrets and the multiverse. You bring incredible utility in terms of information gathering and setting up your team. Depending on your campaign this can make life much easier for you and the party.
  • In more intrigue and puzzle settings the Knowledge Cleric shines, in a purely combat scenario you may find the spell list lacking.
  • Domain Spells: Divination spells to help you see in the physical and arcane.
    • 1st-Level: While Command comes in handy if you’re clever with your words, Identify is only useful when the DM throws magic items at you.
    • 3rd-Level: I’ve seen Suggestion absolutely break open a challenge and subvert it to the party’s whims. There are some specific restrictions, so you’ll need to discuss with your DM what they consider ‘Reasonable’. Augury is another DM dependant spell that can lead to a lot of fun at the table. It’s vague in the information it grants you, however it can be a great way to stop a group from arguing over the next course of action. A little meta, but saving time is the real optimisation right?
    • 5th-Level: Speak with Dead is a little bonkers if you’re in an intrigue campaign or murder mystery. Though your DM can be brief and cryptic so try and plan out your questions beforehand. Nondetection is only helpful if you know that there is an NPC trying to scry you or a item. Doesn’t come up in most campaigns.
    • 7th-Level: Confusion is a little too random for my tastes. If you’re sure they will fail a Wisdom save at the end of each turn, then this can cripple an enemy. Arcane eye is a great tool to scout areas if no one has an invisible familiar.
    • 9th-Level: For 5th level spells you’re getting some situational usage. Most of the time you’ll get by with a History check depending on your DM. If something is a little more elusive Legend Lore will cover, you. Scrying works great in a social/intrigue campaign, it may also be useful in tracking down the Big Bad.
  • Blessings of Knowledge: Languages are fun but are dependant on your campaign. Getting to add double proficiency to any check with two of the Knowledge skills is rather nice.
  • Channel Divinity: Knowledge of the Ages: For when you need to pick a lock or forge something and can’t wait around for a Rogue or Blacksmith. Gain proficiency in a skill or tool for 10 minutes.
  • Channel Divinity: Read Thoughts: Good for when you don’t like torture (is mind reading still a huge violation though?). Another Knowledge Domain feature that lends itself to an intrigue campaign, the free suggestion can be a game changer.
  • Potent Spellcasting: Hopefully you’ve been pumping up that Wisdom modifier. Now your Cleric Cantrips should be out scaling your weapon attacks easily.
  • Visions of the Past: At this stage of the game your DM has likely fleshed out the Lore of your world enough that knowing the past is helpful. With Object Reading and Area Reading you can almost become Sherlock Holmes at a crime scene.

Life Cleric:

  • If your party asked you to heal, you will be the best at it with the Life Domain. Your healing potential is second to none and will make it hard for enemies to strike down your party. With the addition of heavy armour that means you’ll be hardy and tough to kill when smarter creatures try to take out the heal bot.
  • Domain Spells: The lower level spells are amazing, and your party may effectively be invincible compared to other groups. As you go up in levels the spells become less immediately useful.
    • 1st-Level: Bless is a nice little boost to all attacks and saving throws for up to three creatures. Early on with bounded accuracy you’re making your party incredibly powerful with the extra 1d4. You were going to take Cure Wounds anyway and now you have it every day.
    • 3rd-Level: Long lasting conditions don’t come up often but when they do you’ll be glad you have Lesser Restoration already loaded up. Plus your allies will love it when you stop their turn from being wasted due to paralysed. Spiritual Weapon let’s you get around ignoring Strength. Plus it’s great against creatures that have resistances because Force is rarely resisted.
    • 5th-Level: When you need to max out ALL healing Beacon of Hope is the Raid Buff you need. Great for when everyone wants to pop healing potions, second wind or other healing spells. It only lasts a minute so discuss with your DM if you can use this during a short rest to maximise those hit dice You were likely going to take Revivify anyway so getting it for free isn’t terrible.
    • 7th-Level: Death Ward is another spell to prevent allies from going down. Remember they’re just as effective at 1 hit point as they are at full (usually). Guardian of Faith lasts 8 hours but caps out at 60 damage. Would be nice to clarify if that’s only 60 base damage so 120 effective vs undead.
    • 9th-Level: Mass Cure Wounds is were you can heal up to six people for great amounts of healing. It’s not often everyone took a lot of heat, but when they do this is fabulous. Raise Dead is useful but not every day. So like the Grave Cleric section this isn’t as effective as you might think.
  • Bonus Proficiency: There’s no cloth wearing priest here. Heavy armour and shield means you’re hard to hit with physical attacks. This means you’ll be at home on the front line with the Fighter, Barbarian and Paladin. The extra AC means you’ll need to heal yourself less (hopefully) especially with Blessed Healer kicking in.
  • Disciple of Life: While this isn’t a huge amount of healing it does help smaller heals scale like Word of Healing. This also pairs well with Goodberry if you multiclass Druid because each goodberry eaten counts as an individual restoration of hit points.
  • Channel Divinity: Preserve Life: When the Paladin Lay On Hands looked good and you decided to do one better. A great AoE heal to your entire party, bringing them from 0 to up to half hit points.
  • Blessed Healer: Here’s where you hopefully stop healing yourself and focus on allies. You’ll keep getting drops of healing keeping you topped up throughout the fight.
  • Divine Strike: Seeing as you’ll only be attacking once per turn (If at all) you can now dish out some radiant damage on hit. Unfortunately the way this is worded it won’t work on opportunity attacks and it may not scale quite as well as your divine cantrips.
  • Supreme Healing: Who needs dice? As you scale up spells and add more dice normally, you’d just be increasing the average. Now you’re aiming for the ceiling.

Light Cleric:

  • The Light Cleric Domain brings heat in the form of battlefield control and damage. Keeping with the theme of light and heat, the Light Cleric specialises in Fire damage spells to complement their Divine arsenal. What you lack in single target damage you make up for in crowd control and the ability to handle waves of minion. If your party expects to be going up against Vampires, Trolls, or other things weak to Light and Fire, the Light Cleric is a solid choice.
  • Domain Spells: Anything with a light theme is included here. Some excellent illumination and utility mixed with AoE damage spells.
    • 1st-Level: The first time you see an enemy cast invisibility you’ll be glad you always have Faerie Fire ready. Your party rogue will also love you for this too. Burning Hands slots in as a solid early game AoE striker spell. Its real power is on crowds so don’t waste it on fewer than 3 enemies.
    • 3rd-Level: Flaming Sphere is more a battlefield control spell than pure damage. Use it to constrict corridors and force enemies to funnel past it. Scorching Ray offers decent damage against individual targets at a massive range.
    • 5th-Level:
      • Daylight spell comes in handy when you’re fighting Drow, or Vampires. Anything with Daylight sensitivity or relies on Darkness is crippled. Daylight is not the same as Sunlight (See Argo’s post in the comment section). For more context

In each spells description, it will actually mention if the spell counts as Sunlight or not, for the effects of creatures weak against it.

Here are two examples of a few spells that ARE Sunlight from page 279 of the Players Handbook (PHB).

Sunbeam: A brilliant beam of light flashes out from your hand….. Undead and Oozes have disadvantage……For the duration, a mote of brilliant light shines in your hand. It sheds Bright Light in a 30ft radius and Dim Light for an additional 30ft. The light is sunlight

Sunburst: Brilliant Sunlight flashes in a 60ft radius centered on a point you choose…..Undead and Oozes have disadvantage…..

      • Fireball is famous for a reason and that reason is the ability to clear a room of any biomass.
    • 7th-Level: Guardian of Faith offers some control in the form of punishing enemies who get too close to the guardian. Wall of Fire claims a similar role that can be shaped in different ways.
    • 9th-Level: Flame Strike does mix Radiant AND Fire damage as an orbital style laser from the heavens. It’s less impressive because you do already have Fireball. As discussed in the Knowledge Domain, Scrying being useful depends on the kind of campaign you’re in.
  • Bonus Cantrip: With the number of Races that have Darkvision light isn’t often necessary. But what kind of Light Cleric would you be if you couldn’t cast light.
  • Warding Flare: [1st Level]: A nice feature to spend your reaction on. A number of uses equal to your Wisdom modifier each long rest means you’ll get a few. Try and use this against enemies who hit hard.
  • Channel Divinity: Radiance of the Dawn:[2nd Level]: Sometimes you need some guaranteed radiant damage without spending a spell slot and Radiance of the Dawn delivers. Don’t expect a ton of damage as you attack the darkness (and every hostile creature within 30ft), but it will scale with your Cleric level to a degree.
  • Improved Flare: [6th level]: Here’s where Warding flare gets a boost. Great for protecting soft allies because damage prevented is better than damage healed.
  • Potent Spellcasting: [8th level]: Many Cleric domains get this, it helps lower the floor of the Cantrip damage you’re doing because your Wisdom should be 20 (or close) by now.
  • Corona of Light: [17th level]: Disadvantage to enemies is great but it’s only against spells that deal fire or radiant damage. Has more appeal if there’s a wizard in the party who also likes fire spells.

Nature Cleric:

  • Nature is for the Cleric who didn’t quite want to drop armour and wear animal skins. This Domain gives you a very thematic but lacklustre spell list. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be heading into the Faewild and other nature heavy areas this could be a fun Cleric Domain. Unfortunately most of the features gifted by nature are very specific in their scope.
  • Domain Spells: TThere isn’t a lot that stands out here. Many of the spells seem chosen for thematic and not mechanical reasons.
    • 1st-Level: Animal friendship and speak with animals are campaign dependant, especially when you can charm animals at level 2 with Channel Divinity.
    • 3rd-Level: Barkskin isn’t worth casting on yourself because you have Heavy Armour proficiency. It’s unlikely you’ll want to waste the concentration casting it on an ally either. Spike Growth can cut off an enemy from getting to you or your allies and is much more versatile.
    • 5th-Level: Plant Growth is a deceptively huge area of control spell. Plus if you’ve got a vineyard as part of a stronghold this comes in handy. Wind wall less immediately impressive and will require some clever thinking and the right circumstances to be useful.
    • 7th-Level: BDominate Beast lets you control an animal buddy, in case you couldn’t make it your friend you can now force it to do your bidding. Grasping Vine is a good forced movement spell against enemies with low Dexterity. However it doesn’t restrain them so they’ll probably just move 30ft away next turn and be out of its range.
    • 9th-Level: Insect Plague conjures bugs and locusts to aid in controlling a group of enemies. Tree Stride lets you use trees as a portal system. The 500ft range is bigger than most combats so I’m not sure when you’ll need its full potential.
  • Acolyte of Nature: [1st Level] Dipping into the Druid cantrip list is excellent, though you only get one. The extra skill is nice enough especially if you expect to charm some animals.
  • Bonus Proficiency: [2nd Level] With heavy armour and a shield, you can work on the front lines as well as any Fighter. The improved AC will also help to reduce the need to heal yourself instead of healing or supporting your allies.
  • Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants: [2nd Level] If you’re dealing with Plants and Animals often (especially in big groups) this is great. Beyond those specific circumstances it’s not very exciting.
  • Dampen Elements: [6th Level] A great way to mitigate damage. It works similar to the Paladin of Ancients Aura but at range to one target.
  • Divine Strike: [8th Level] You get to buff the damage on your weapon attack with a choice of energy types. This adds some much needed versatility to the Nature Cleric.
  • Master of Nature: [17th Level] Pairs well with your Channel Divinity and scales based on how many creatures you are able to charm. Command an army of furry creatures… until they take damage and the charm breaks.

Tempest Cleric:

  • When you told the party you were playing a Cleric they may not initially suspect how much offensive power the Tempest Domain is packing. You’ll be wading into the storm of battle and controlling the battlefield like the eye of a hurricane. Tempest gives you the armour bonuses and utility to stay alive while still dishing out decent damage. You perform best in sea based campaigns with access to open air and large bodies of water.
  • Domain Spells:
    • 1st-Level: The humble Fog cloud seems lame, but it’s an incredible smoke bomb style tool that can help with escapes or preventing ranged attackers getting shots in. Thunder-wave is for when you need some breathing room because you’ve walked thigh deep into enemies.
    • 3rd-Level: Gust of Wind is situational though once you have it you’ll be looking to push enemies off ledges and blow away those thick vape clouds the Rogue is always making. Shatter is a great spell in the right circumstance. When you’re fighting Golems or need to break glass it’s amazing, other times it’ll go unused.
    • 5th-Level: Call lightning is a great thematic spell you can open up a fight with. Then spend the next 10 minutes frying anything with low Dexterity saves. All from the comfort of one spell slot. Bonus points (and damage) if you can call on the storm gods to give you stormy conditions to cast this in. Sleet storm is a fun control spell but it isn’t quite as exciting as Call lightning.
    • 7th-Level: Control Water has a lot of interesting applications that are handy if there’s lots of water nearby. I can see you doing stunning things in a Waterborne/Pirate campaign. Ice Storm lets you bludgeon and chill enemies with a low Dex score. It seems that’s a common target for Tempest Cleric.
    • 9th-Level: On top of the pile is Destructive Wave which combines Thunder with Radiant/Necrotic (Your choice). Knocking them prone is a bonus if you time it right in the initiative to give allies advantage. Insect Plague is an OK level of damage with some light obscured and area control.
  • Bonus Proficiency: [1st Level] You’re the kind of Cleric who wears Heavy armour now. You’re almost leaning towards the Paladin end of the scale with Martial weapons and the ability to punish those who hit you.
  • Wrath of the Storm: [1st Level] A nice way to deter enemies from hitting you. Early on it may even kill your attacker, it does compete for your reaction though.
  • Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath: [2nd Level] Cashing in Channel Divinity to boost damage to maximum on lightning or thunder damage. Now that Thunder Wave or Shatter is looking great.
  • Thunderbolt Strike: [6th Level] When someone touches you and gets zapped from Wrath of the Storm you can also launch them up to 10ft away. A great way to repel boarders from your ship. As written, it appears to stack with other push effects like Thunder Wave.
  • Divine Strike: [8th Level] A decent damage boost in line with other Cleric Domains that focus on Melee attacks. This extra Thunder damage is nice because it’s rare that Thunder is resisted. It’d be nice if this was lightning for more knockbacks though.
  • Stormborn: [17th Level] Fly above the decks and call down lightning bolts on the Kraken. Permanent flight while outdoors is amazing, and highlights my earlier point about the strength of this character being on the open sea.

Trickery Cleric:

  • I’m a big fan of Charm and Illusory magic which the Trickery Cleric gets in spades. A lot of what makes this Domain versatile relies on your creativity. You may be called upon to be the party ‘Face’ who does the talking and deception outside of combat. Thematically a lot of fun, but you’re more built around confusing enemies than actually befriending them.
  • Domain Spells: You could very easily get a Vegas show with all the disappearing acts you’ll be able to do.
    • 1st-Level: Charm Person can turn around a sticky situation, just remember it has an hour long duration and Charm isn’t the same as control. Disguise Self is a magical way of changing your appearance, coupled with your Invoke Duplicity you can cause some real mayhem.
    • 3rd-Level: Mirror Image works as a great defensive tool because you’ll likely have a low AC. Pass Without Trace isn’t quite group invisibility but the +10 bonus to Stealth checks means you’ll be very close to it.
    • 5th-Level: Blink is a frustrating spell to be on the other end of. You’re out of danger roughly 50% of the time which gives you great breathing room if you’re being focused. Dispel Magic’s useful depends on how often the DM is throwing magical effects in front of you.
    • 7th-Level: Dimension Door is situational, but very effective. Polymorph is one of the most versatile effects in the game, and call allow you to solve a wide variety of problems with the right beast form.
    • 9th-Level: Modify Memory is situational, but Dominate Person is a great way to turn a powerful enemy into a fun pet for up to a minute.
  • Blessing of the Trickster: [1st Level] The drawback here is you can’t use this on yourself. It can make your Rogue a Super Stealthy boi, or stop the Paladin Girl clanking around in her Heavy Armour.
  • Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity: There are more ways to use this ability than I can give space to. Bend your mind in the ways of the Trickster, wear disguises, hide in the shadows as your Illusion gets close, or even run in opposite directions to throw off pursuers. Run it past enemies potentially provoking attacks of opportunity and wasting their reactions.
  • Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows: If you’re invisible then does your duplicate also become invisible? It is a perfect copy after all… something to discuss with your DM
  • Divine Strike: Poison isn’t the greatest damage type, but a bit of extra damage is always nice.
  • Improved Duplicity: Now it’s a Madhouse of clones. Combine this with Mirror Image and you could just about field your own Basketball team. The added bonus is you can have clones near your allies so you can administer touch spells.

War Cleric:

  • War Clerics have taken some pages out of the Paladin book in their devotion to battle. Clerics who take up the War Domain will be looking to cast a spell and keep concentration while using their subsequent turns to attack. This means you’ll have a lot of options but can’t combo many of them together as you can only concentrate on one spell at a time.
  • Domain Spells: Almost all these spells are great and should see use in any adventuring day. While it’s great to have them all permanently known, you’ll find that many of these require concentration, War Caster is going to be your friend here.
    • 1st-Level: [divine favor, shield of faith] Divine Favor starts alright, especially against undead and fiends, but won’t stack up beyond the early levels. Shield of Faith is a huge buff for yourself or an ally that will be a game changer. Thanks to 5e’s ‘bounded accuracy’ and how difficult it is to get a stacking AC bonus; you’ll have great use for this spell. Just remember it does require Concentration too, so it does limit when you can break it out.
    • 3rd-Level: [magic weapon, spiritual weapon] In a low magic campaign Magic Weapon is even better, because you’ll start to run into beasties with resistance to non-magical weapons. Does require Concentration, so you’ll likely use it early and forget it once you have ‘real’ magic weapons. Spiritual Weapon isn’t a concentration spell that lets you dish out force damage as a bonus action each turn. Brilliant!
    • 5th-Level: Crusader’s Mantle is the group version of Divine Favor, a spell the whole party can enjoy. Helps more with allies who get multiple weapon attacks each round, the damage is tiny however. Spirit Guardians or Spirit Blender as we’ve dubbed it at my table can decimate a battlefield when used correctly. Guaranteed damage (radiant or necrotic) even if they make their wisdom save and everything within 15ft is getting shredded. Bonus points if you have a controller who can keep enemies stuck inside this holy woodchipper.
    • 7th-Level: [freedom of movement, stoneskin] Freedom of Movement is great when you need it and you’re unlikely to know ahead of time when you’ll need it, that said, it’s situational. Stoneskin costs 100g per spell cast and gives a great buff. Gives you or an ally similar resistance to the Barbarian Rage. This is another spell that competes for your concentration.
    • 9th-Level: [flame strike, hold monster] Flame Strike deals a mixture of Radiant and Fire damage which is excellent. Hold Monster isolates an enemy out of the fight so you can focus on bringing down their friends. With the way the action economy balances a fight, removing an enemy has a huge impact on the battle.
  • Bonus Proficiency: [1st Level] Standard combat Cleric with Heavy armour and Martial Weapons means you get the strong stuff.
  • War Priest: [1st Level] There are too many spells that compete for your Bonus Action to make this good. Up to five extra attacks per day isn’t very exciting either.
  • Channel Divinity: Guided Strike: [2nd Level] If you’re using Great Weapon Master this offsets the -5 penalty giving you a better chance to get the +10 damage. Otherwise it’s questionable whether you need to burn a Channel Divinity to land a single hit.
  • Channel Divinity: War God’s Blessing: [6th Level] Here’s where you buff some allies with Channel Divinity. You could buff yourself, but you’d be better off granting this to a Rogue, Fighter or Ranger who really relies on making that hit. Even more so if they’re using Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master and taking the -hit penalty for more damage.
  • Divine Strike: [8th, 14th Level] In line with the other Cleric Domains who focus on weapons. Divine Strike for the War Cleric matches the type your current weapon damage. So if you change weapons you’ve changed damage type, could leave you stuck if monsters are resistant to whatever you’re currently packing.
  • Avatar of Battle: [17th Level] Now you don’t need Stoneskin on yourself. These are the most common damage types of non-magical weapons or creatures.

Final Thoughts: The Cleric Domain you’ll choose really comes down to the role you wish to play. If you want to buff up and keep the party alive you can’t go past the Life Domain. The Forge Domain also has incredible utility and buffing capability.

Best Cleric Spells (In Progress)


  • Guidance
  • Light
  • Mending
  • Resistance
  • Sacred Flame
  • Spare the Dying
  • Thaumaturgy
  • Toll of the Dead [XGE]
  • Word of Radiance [XGE]

1st Level Spells

  • Bane
  • Bless
  • Ceremony [XGE]
  • Command
  • 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
  • Sanctuary
  • Shield of Faith

 2nd Level Spells

  • Aid
  • Augury
  • Blindness/Deafness
  • Calm Emotions
  • Continual Flame
  • Enhance Ability
  • Find Traps
  • Gentle Repose
  • Hold Person
  • Lesser Restoration
  • Locate Object
  • Prayer of Healing
  • Protection from Poison
  • Silence
  • Spiritual Weapon
  • Warding Bond
  • Zone of Truth

 3rd Level Spells

  • Animate Dead
  • Beacon of Hope
  • Bestow Curse
  • Clairvoyance
  • Create Food and Water
  • Daylight
  • Dispel Magic
  • Feign Death
  • Glyph of Warding
  • Life Transference [XGE]
  • Magic Circle
  • Mass Healing Word
  • Meld into Stone
  • Protection from Energy
  • Remove Curse
  • Revivify
  • Sending
  • Speak with Dead
  • Spirit Guardians
  • Tongues
  • Water Walk

 4th Level Spells

  • Banishment
  • Control Water
  • Death Ward
  • Divination
  • Freedom of Movement
  • Guardian of Faith
  • Locate Creature
  • Stone Shape

 5th Level Spells

  • Commune
  • Contagion
  • Dawn [XGE]
  • Dispel Evil and Good
  • Flame Strike
  • Geas
  • Greater Restoration
  • Hallow
  • Holy Weapon [XGE]
  • Insect Plague
  • Legend Lore
  • Mass Cure Wounds
  • Planar Binding
  • Raise Dead
  • Scrying

 6th Level Spells

  • Blade Barrier
  • Create Undead
  • Find the Path
  • Forbiddance
  • Harm
  • Heal
  • Heroes’ Feast
  • Planar Ally
  • True Seeing
  • Word of Recall

 7th Level Spells

  • Conjure Celestial
  • Divine Word
  • Etherealness
  • Fire Storm
  • Plane Shift
  • Regenerate
  • Resurrection
  • Symbol

 8th Level Spells

  • Antimagic Field
  • Control Weather
  • Earthquake
  • Holy Aura

9th Level Spells

  • Astral Projection
  • Gate
  • Mass Heal
  • True Resurrection

Skills & Backgrounds:


Clerics are looking for a skills to go with their high Wisdom, so skills like Insight and Perception are your bread and butter.

Other skills and benefits may work as part of your character concept though. Don’t stress too much about optimisation for Backgrounds.

Your background generally gives you 2 skills, maybe a language or two, maybe a tool or two, a special perk, and a small amount of goods/gold.

Keep in mind that if a background gives you a skill you already had from your class or race, you get to pick any other skill to replace it (including a non-class skill).

  • Acolyte: [insight/religion]  Seen as the default Cleric background. Insight is great for the Cleric and Religion seems obvious though it’s based on Intelligence (likely your dump stat). Bonus languages are nice at low levels if you’ve got lots of infidels to convert.
  • Charlatan: [deception/sleight of hand] This is for the clerics who are using their dexterity. If you also put some points into Charisma you have some nice skill options that are not on the main list. Plus you get proficiency in a couple of tools that depending on the campaign can be cool or useless.
  • City Watch/Criminal: [deception/stealth] Insight is great, but Athletics is hard for Clerics don’t have a great Strength score.
  • Cloistered Scholar: Could be good for a Knowledge domain, others may struggle to make this worth while.
  • Courtier: Insight and Persuasion are great if you get stuck playing the Face, and the bonus languages will be great until you can use Tongues.
  • Criminal: A Trickery Cleric with decent Dexterity could use this to partially replace a Rogue in the party.
  • Entertainer: [acrobatics/performance] If you want to have agility and fight with dexterity this could work.
  • Faction Agent: Insight is great, and the free mental skill will let you pick up Perception or whatever other skill you decide you need. The bonus languages will be great until you can use Tongues.
  • Far Traveller: Perfect skills and a free language, but gaming sets and instruments aren’t terribly useful.
  • Folk Hero: [animal handling/survival] Two skills that are not on your list, and that you should be good with. A set of Artisan’s tools and land vehicles. Not too shabby.
  • Guild Artisan: [insight/persuasion] Not a bad choice, but Artisan’s tools aren’t particularly useful so Acolyte is better.
  • Hermit: [medicine/religion] Medicine isn’t amazing but it can come in handy. Medicine and Insight both capitalise on your Wisdom and the Herbalism Kit allows you to make healing potions.
  • Noble: [history/persuasion] Persuasion and a Language are fine, but half of the background is wasted.
  • Outlander: [athletics/survival] Here is the first not too bad background for clerics who want to beat things with a big weapon. Since you are going strength Athletics and Survival will both be good skills for you.
  • Sage: [arcana/history] Knowledge skills are hard for most Clerics, but if you put some resources into Intelligence you have the ability to get 4 knowledge skills.
  • Sailor: [athletics/perception] If you are a strength cleric this is a very good background, especially a Tempest Cleric. Athletics and Perception both will be good skills for you.
  • Urban Bounty Hunter: A Trickery Cleric with decent Dexterity could use this to partially replace a Rogue in the party. Criminal and Urchin are probably better.
  • Urchin: [stealth/sleight of hand] A Trickery Cleric with decent Dexterity could use this to partially replace a Rogue in the party.

Cleric Feats:

Having two stats that you want top notch is not going to leave a lot of room for feats.

The Nature cleric, who can become single stat dependent can have more feats. Assuming that you are using a point buy, most clerics will not get more than 2 feat if that.

  • Alert : +5 to initiative and you can’t be surprised. Going first isn’t always important but it helps.
  • Athlete : You get some nice movement abilities and it still bumps your attack stat, no matter which one you choose.
  • Actor : Usually reserved for the party face, Trickery Clerics could get some mileage.
  • Charger : You have spells to sling if you’re not in range yet.
  • Crossbow Expert : Maybe a Dexterity fighting cleric who wants to fight with two hand crossbows might put this to use. Since most of the attack spells on the Cleric list are saves, nothing else should pique your interest.
  • Defensive Duelist : Most Clerics avoid the Finesse keyword on their weapons. Using a reaction to improve your AC only works once per round too.
  • Dual Wielder: Permanent bonus to AC when dual wielding, but you aren’t going to be using your action to attack too often.
  • Dungeon Delver: Combined with your hopefully good Perception skill this is interesting, usually a Rogue or Ranger should be keeping an eye out for this though.
  • Durable: You have a lot of ways to heal yourself usually. This does make you healthier if you’re struggling with spell slots.
  • Elemental Adept: Unfortunately this doesn’t cover the Cleric damage types of Radiant or Necrotic Damage. However, if you’re a domain that gets interesting flavour of spells like the Storm domain, you may want to consider this.
  • Grappler: Grappler is a very specific kind of build and not one that Clerics are great at.
  • Great Weapon Master: If you have a two-handed maul and want to cave in some skulls this could look juicy. You need to consider if you’re going to be attacking with melee attacks often enough to make this useful.
  • Healer: If your DM gives you frequent access to Healer’s Kits this is basically like paying money for a few extra first level spells per day. Usually not necessary, but worth considering for some.
  • Heavily Armoured: There’s a domain for this instead if you’re after Heavy armour.
  • Heavy Armour Master: For those of you who have heavy armour proficiency this isn’t a bad one to pick up. One exception would be the War domain folks. You 17th level feature actually makes this worse as you apply modifiers to damage before you half the damage.
  • Inspiring Leader: It’s unlikely you’ll have the Charisma to make this worthwhile, maybe a Bard or Paladin can chip in here. A great cushion to your party’s survivability.
  • Keen Mind: Leave this to the Wizards… and maybe not even then.
  • Lightly armoured: You have this already.
  • Linguist: Again intelligence bump. Also you have Comprehend Languages and Tongues.
  • Lucky:  Basically getting advantage three time per day (or giving an enemy disadvantage) can be bad.
  • Mage Slayer: If you’re fighting a lot of spellcasters this has appeal, but it’s too situational.
  • Magic Initiate: You already have spells and cantrips galore. If you’re really looking to pinch from another spell list, consider a domain that will let you.
  • Martial Adept: Unless you somehow already have or plan to get more superiority dice, this isn’t worthwhile.
  • Medium Armour Master: For high dexterity Clerics who want to stick with Medium Armour without the disadvantage on Stealth checks. A very niche scenario.
  • Mobile: You don’t usually need to be mobile. If not in range, you have other options.
  • Moderately armoured: This is already in your kit.
  • Mounted Combat: It’s hard to play a mounted character without a special mount ability of some kind.
  • Observant: The usefulness of Passive perception is based on your DM. As a Cleric you’ll already have high Wisdom and may want a +1 to even out a score, so more Perception is a great option.
  • Polearm Master: Those who use martial weapons or Nature druids will really love this. Others can pass.
  • Resilient: This is to become proficient in con saves. If you have a lot of concentration spells that you like to cast you may really want this.
  • Ritual Caster: The only benefit for you is that you can cast rituals of spells that are not on your spell list. (you can choose another class.) There are much better options.
  • Savage Attacker: This works better the bigger your damage dice is. Even then, the upper limit is rerolling a d12 or 2d6 once per turn.
  • Sentinel: If you’re expecting to be a front line, especially one keeping enemies off the squishy allies this could do some work. As you get more abilities like Divine Strike your opportunity attacks can start hurting. However, there are better choices from the limited feats you can take.
  • Sharpshooter: Clerics generally don’t roll around with Bows.
  • Shield Master: While you might have a shield, you’ll likely be saving your Bonus Actions to cast spells. As you unlock more spell slots you’ll also see diminishing returns on regular melee attacks.
  • Skilled: There are other classes who look for skills. You have spells to overcome the need for skills.
  • Skulker: Attacking from the shadows with ranged weapons doesn’t sound like any Cleric I know.
  • Spell Sniper: Most of the spells you’ll be using ignore attack rolls in favour of saving throws..
  • Tavern Brawler: Why would you go for an improvised weapon when you can usually summon a divine one.
  • Tough: Unless you’re concerned the DM likes to target the healer, this shouldn’t be a problem. You have ways to get health back, the bigger pool isn’t necessary.
  • War Caster: Most Clerics will want to take the time to consider War Caster. Especially if you’re in the thick of battle and expect to take a few hits. Constitution saves will be your nemesis as you try to maintain concentration, having advantage lowers the chances you’ll lose whatever tide-turning effect you started.
  • Weapon Master: This is mostly baked in to the Cleric.


Here, I want to make just a quick look at some options, along with the concept of a “dip” to grab some goodies from another class.

I’m going to leave some of the finer points of multi-classing up to the individual though, especially anything that takes away from the character being majority Cleric.

While there is a colour grade in this section remember that other options may fall into your character concept side of things than true optimisation.

  • Barbarian : Being unable to cast makes this a bit poor for a caster. Though we discovered you can use finesse weapons while raging when we wrote our Barbarian Guide.
  • Bard: Charisma is your dump stat and you don’t need the Bard spells. Stick to talking with Gods and not men.
  • Druid: Shares WIS as a spellcasting ability. Dipping in for Goodberry as a Life Cleric can be somewhat broken depending on your DM.
  • Fighter: A level or two of fighter might be a good choice, depending on your build. Fighting Style is always great, and Second Wind allows you to heal yourself a bit without cutting into your spell slots. Action Surge is especially tempting, as it opens up the possibility of casting two spells in the same turn. Remember that if you cast a bonus action spell you can only cast cantrips with your remaining actions, so in a turn when you plan to use Action Surge be sure to cast two spells with a 1 action casting time.
  • Monk: An excellent choice for a Dex build, it allows you to use Dex for Domains like Life or Nature that would normally go Str.
  • Paladin: CHA being the spellcasting ability makes this a poor match. This is a decent way to pick up martial weapons and a fighting style, but perhaps not as good of a dip as Fighter.
  • Ranger: Maybe… but I think you’d be better off taking a level in Fighter and thematically calling it a Ranger.
  • Rogue: One of the handful of ways to make Trickery Domain useful would be to start with a couple Rogue levels. There’s not much else on offer though. Read our 5E Rogue guide if you want to learn more.
  • Sorcerer: One level for Draconic Resilience might be okay for a Dex build, if you’ve got nothing better to do, but you’re probably better off with Monk for that.
  • Warlock: Unless you’re going after something specific, it’s probably best to avoid this one.
  • Wizard: INT isn’t your strong suit. You can get some Wizard spells other ways.


Daniel Ryan
Daniel Ryan
Daniel 'Sheriff Dan' Ryan is a long time Dungeon Master who has worked in Esports, Marketing, and writes about Gaming when the sun goes down.


  1. You overlook the main benefit for Magic Initiate or Ritual Caster feats. The ability to pick up Find Familiar (owl), and fly by attack your allies to Cure Wounds at range. Add in the darkvision the owl has and it can really help out a human.

    Ritual Caster also gives access to Identify, Alarm, Comprehend Language, Detect Magic (without having to prepare it), Gentle Repose (without having to prepare it), Phantom Steed, Water Breathing, Contact Other Plane, and Rary’s Telepathic Bond.

    Magic Initiate gives you access to Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade. Both of which can really bump the cleric’s melee damage. Plus Minor Illusion and Mage Hand both of which uses can be found for fairly often, or Prestidigitation which is usually fun.

  2. In your multiclassing section you have a picture…would you consider that weapon to be a quarterstaff? Odd question i know but it appeals to me. I want a long weapon that also acts like a lightning rod and does bludgeoning damage for my Firbolg Tempest Cleric, who is going to be one part former farmer, one part patient and physically imposing (almost Thanos like). The picture is starting to form in my head but the weapon and background seem just out of reach currently.

    • Not my picture or page, I was just here looking for some guidance. Assuming that’s a weapon (rather than some sort of magical staff), I’d class it as a great club (specifically Tetsubo or Kanabo style club).

      • A great club is a great start. But if you have a cool idea, work with your DM to make it fit with your proficiency.

        For example: A Paladin in my game wanted to use a beer tankard as his main hand weapon. We ruled it acts like a Warhammer in terms of damage.

  3. Super late to the party, but daylight does not create sunlight. Its only use is against magical darkness and to help with illumination.
    No effect on creatures weak to sunlight or those with sunlight sensitivity. It is not sunlight, unlike the Sunbeam spell that specifically mentions the light is sunlight.

    • Good point! I’ll make some updates to the rating.

      To add more context on what Argo is saying, I’ve come across this.

      “The Daylight spell, unfortunately, does not count as Sunlight. In each spells description, it will actually mention if the spell counts as Sunlight or not, for the effects of creatures weak against it.

      Here are two examples of a few spells that ARE Sunlight from page 279 of the Players Handbook (PHB).

      Sunbeam: A brilliant beam of light flashes out from your hand….. Undead and Oozes have disadvantage……For the duration, a mote of brilliant light shines in your hand. It sheds Bright Light in a 30ft radius and Dim Light for an additional 30ft. The light is sunlight

      Sunburst: Brilliant Sunlight flashes in a 60ft radius centered on a point you choose…..Undead and Oozes have disadvantage…..”

  4. In the case of Magic Initiate feat. If the cleric is a life domain cleric and is taking Magic Initiate Druid he could get Shillelagh (and have then not to rely on other melee weapons) as one of the cantrips and Goodberries for the level 1 spell. Each Goodberry will heal 4 HP instead of 1 HP (1 HP spell + 2 domain ability cleric +1 spell level) making Goodberry a very strong healing spell.

  5. A good guide for the class itself, but your race section is little more than a guide to stats, with racial abilities completely discounted. For instance, a gnome’s ability to gain advantage on IN, WIS, and CH saves = “Nothing good for clerics”. Unfortunately, this is the standard for class guides in 5e. Many of the racial abilities supercede the utility of a simple +1 wisdom, but without any discussion, newer players may not know.

  6. There is a special case for a high elf picking nature domain to become a badass fighting machine. As you pick the high elf you get one wizard cantrip free. With this pick Booming Blade. With the druid cantrip pick Shillelagh. Now you can attack with your WIS and cast Booming Blade on yourself and then attack the target. Due to the fact that you can wear heavy armor too, you can completely rely on your WIS only. And need only to raise Con as a secondary attribute. Dex 14 is only needed if you go medium armor. The great thing about this build is that you do not have to waste any ASI on Magic Initiate because both necessary cantrips are provided by domain and race.


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