The DnD 5e Cleric Guide (2022)

Published on February 2, 2022, Last modified on May 23rd, 2022

In this post, we will be examining the cleric’s class features and how you can optimize your cleric through choosing your race, background, ability scores, subclass, feats, and spells.

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What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e cleric. For a quick overview of other 5e classes, check out our Guide to DnD 5e Classes.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your cleric. This color coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized
So if you’re ready, pray to the deity of your choice, and don’t forget to heal your teammates!

Did you know?

D&D Beyond can help create your characters by making choices using a step-by-step approach. Full customization and control of your character, none of the flipping through hundreds of pages to reference obscure rules.

D&D 5e Cleric Overview

Level Prof. Bonus Features Cantrips Known Spell Slots per Spell Level
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +2 Spellcasting, Divine Domain 3 2
2nd +2 Channel Divinity (1/rest), Divine Domain feature 3 3
3rd +2 3 4 2
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3
5th +3 Destroy Undead (CR 1/2) 4 4 3 2
6th +3 Channel Divinity (2/rest), Divine Domain feature 4 4 3 3
7th +3 4 4 3 3 1
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement, Destroy Undead (CR 1), Divine Domain feature 4 4 3 3 2
9th +4 4 4 3 3 3 1
10th +4 Divine Intervention 5 4 3 3 3 2
11th +4 Destroy Undead (CR 2) 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th +5 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th +5 Destroy Undead (CR 3) 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
15th +5 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th +6 Destroy Undead (CR 4), Divine Domain feature 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th +6 Channel Divinity (3/rest) 5 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th +6 Divine Intervention improvement 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

Playstyle

When most people think about the ceric class, they think of the quiet party member who heals those in need and throws some ranged spells around when no one’s hurt. While 5e’s cleric can be like that, they can also be heavy armor wearing, mace wielding, summoning-lighting-bolts-with-one-hand-while-mass-party-healing-with-the-other…ers. Like druids and bards, clerics are spellcasters that have a ton of versatility and a long list of roles they can fill.

Strengths

The cleric’s spell list has a definitive focus on healing and buffing your party members. Keeping everyone in the fight by healing or making them harder to kill is extremely valuable to any party.

After spellcasting, Domains are the cleric’s biggest class feature. A cleric’s Domain is a defining aspect of your character as they represent what your cleric worships. Each Domain gives you bonus Domain Spells, unique abilities, and a bonus to damage with either spells or weapons. Like warlocks, clerics get their domains at 1st-level which can inject some potent class features in the early game.

Weaknesses

Having a solid healer/buffer in your party is indispensable, although some might call it the “boring” job. While 5e cleric builds can be varied and don’t have to necessarily focus on healing, your party may rely on you for support when situations get rough. Announcing you are playing a cleric is kind of like announcing you will be the designated driver, your friends are likely to get themselves into a bit more trouble knowing they have someone to bail them out.

Apart from that, the biggest issue clerics are likely to run into is that their spell list contains a lot of concentration spells. Concentration forces spellcasters to remain focused on a spell for the duration of its effect and will cause them to drop the spell if they take enough damage or cast another spell that requires concentration. If you’re not careful, you can end up wasting a spell slot or dropping a spell at an inopportune moment because of poor concentration management.

Best Races for Cleric

Standard Races

Dragonborn:
  • Standard: The STR bonus is okay but the lack of WIS and CON makes this a suboptimal choice.
Dwarf: Dwarves are your stereotypical cleric race. They get a CON bonus ensuring you will live long enough to heal your teammates. Their speed isn't reduced by heavy armor which allows you to ignore the STR component when choosing a subclass with heavy armor proficiencies.
  • Hill: Adding an increase to WIS makes the Hill Dwarf the perfect choice when it comes to Clerics.
  • Mountain: You won't need STR if you're going to be using heavy armor because of the caveat under the dwarf's Speed trait. The extra STR can be useful if you're going to be a melee-focused cleric like the Forge Domain.
Elf: DEX is good for initiative and light armor capabilities and Perception pairs well with the Cleric's presumably high WIS score. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to being put to sleep keeps you healing and buffing your party in dangerous situations.
  • Aereni Wood: DEX is good for initiative and light armor capabilities and Perception pairs well with the cleric's presumably high WIS score. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to being put to sleep keeps you healing and buffing your party in dangerous situations. Clerics will more often than not prefer the Aereni's skill expertise over the weapon proficiencies granted by the PHB race.
  • Mark of Shadow: Even though the ASIs don't align with the cleric's priorities, the spells learned are too good to ignore. If you want some stealth options as an cleric, the Mark of the Shadow is one of the best ways to get it. This can even be beneficial to heavy armor builds because it allows for a d4 bonus to your disadvantaged Stealth checks and allows you to cast pass without trace to help offset your negative bonus.
Gnome: Clerics need WIS to be effective.
Half-Elf: The CHA bonus is largely unproductive for Clerics, but increasing two ability scores by 1 allows you to boost WIS and CON/STR/DEX to create a rather well-rounded character. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to being put to sleep keeps you healing and buffing your party in dangerous situations. The +2 WIS bonus offered by the Mark of the Detection subrace is very tempting for Clerics as it is not offered by many other races. The spells and racial traits are an added bonus.
Half-Orc: No WIS for clerics is tough, but some melee clerics will make great use out of the STR and CON bonuses.
Halfling: +2 DEX and +1 WIS is a solid start for light armor Clerics.
Human:
  • Mark of Finding: Provides WIS and some decent spells.
  • Mark of Handling: Provides more flexibility with some nature-based spells and access to extremely powerful spells that aren’t typically on the cleric’s spell list.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Will make an extremely tanky cleric but has a lot of overlapping spells.
  • Standard: A middle of the road pick because they increase all their ability scores by 1.
  • Variant: Variant human clerics will be able to take WIS and either STR, DEX, or CON, while having access to useful feats like War Caster or Healer.
Tiefling: Only one subrace comes with a WIS bonus.
  • Bloodline of Fierna: Fierna tieflings do get WIS, but clerics typically don’t want to waste precious ASI on CHA. It’s passable and will make for an interesting character, but won’t be particularly optimized.

Non-Standard Races

Aarakocra: Good racial bonuses and flight is powerful, especially for DEX-based builds.
Aasimar: Protector aasimar would work fairly well because of the +1 to WIS. Radiant Soul isn't negated by heavy armor like the aarakocra so it could be a great choice if you want to fly and wear heavy armor.
Bugbear: STR and DEX are good, but mostly wasted together. The racial traits don't work well for a class that wants to cast a lot of spells, but can work if you are more focused on weapon damage.
Centaur: Seeing as +2 to WIS is rare, the +1 will do here. A +2 to STR will help if you plan on wading (or galloping) into battle.
Changeling: Depending on your build you can pick up STR, DEX, or WIS with the free ability score increase. The Trickery Domain or even the Knowledge Domain would be good choices if you want to play a character that is the face of the party. You could also use Guidance on yourself to make social interactions even more likely to succeed. Despite this interesting combination, a changeling cleric won't be as effective as a race that gets something more useful than CHA.
Fairy: A solid choice for cleric builds that won't be using heavy armor.
Firbolg: +2 to WIS is quite a rare racial bonus, and the extra spells are great. The STR will help if you are going for a heavy armor cleric build.
Genasi:
  • Water: The water genasi provides the WIS Clerics need, and CON and Acid Resistance help for assuming a tanking role.
Gith: INT is useless for a cleric.
  • Githyanki: Githyanki is great for those that want to swing a lot of weapons due to the STR bonus.
  • Githzerai: WIS and the racial traits here are suited to those that want to hang back, cast spells, and play defensively.
Goblin: While there are Cleric builds centered around DEX, the lack of WIS is a steep price to pay.
Goliath: STR builds are quite good for this class, and the Goliath will make for one tanky cleric. The main issue here is that clerics are a full caster class, so without WIS you are at quite a handicap until you can boost it to a comfortable level with ASIs.
Harengon: The free proficiency in Perception will go well with your WIS modifier and the Rabbit Hop ability will provide a decent evasion opportunity for when you're caught in the thick of it.
Hobgoblin: Clerics need some STR, DEX, or WIS to be effective.
Kalashtar: The huge WIS boost and increased survivability due to the racial traits are ideal for clerics. A kalashtar cleric will have a very easy time with WIS saving throws, ensuring that they can stay in battle to support their teammates with healing and buffs.
Kenku: DEX based clerics can be quite strong, and the WIS bonus here is perfect for spellcasting. To get those most out of a kenku cleric, choose one of the Domains that doesn’t care about heavy armor, such as the Trickery Domain or the Light Domain.
Kobold: Clerics need WIS to be at their best, but a DEX-based Cleric can be viable. Pack Tactics is less enticing without Extra Attacks.
Leonin: Nothing here for a caster cleric. Melee clerics can make use of the Daunting Roar if they get their CON high enough.
Lineage:
  • Hexblood: While the extra spells from Hex Magic and utility offered by Eerie Token are great, clerics can't make great use of the hexblood's biggest asset, hex. Cleric's are typically a lot more concerned with keeping spiritual guardians or a party buff up than the bit of extra damage that hex provides.
Lizardfolk: CON and WIS is a great combination to start off with for a cleric. A DEX-based cleric would pair very nicely with Natural Armor.
Loxodon: Loxodon come with great stat distribution for a cleric. They will likely forgo Natural Armor because most builds come with heavy armor proficiency. Loxodon Serenity makes clerics even tankier and is useful to stay ready when allies need healing.
Minotaur: Clerics aren’t a bad choice for minotaurs because the stat bonuses do line up. However, clerics do best with some kind of WIS boost. Also consider that the minotaur’s traits eat up bonus actions when you would potentially want to use them for spells like healing word, sanctuary, or shield of faith.
Orc: Heavy armor clerics with STR weapons are pretty decent as orcs, but the lack of WIS is not ideal when it comes to spellcasting. Interestingly, Primal Intuition offers mainly WIS skill proficiencies which slots in nicely for a cleric.
Shifter:
  • Beasthide Shifter: No WIS, but DEX and CON can work for a melee-oriented cleric that tanks for the party.
  • Longtooth Shifter: No WIS, but STR and CON are great for clerics that want to do a lot of close-up fighting.
  • Wildhunt Shifter: Clerics focused on casting can choose the wildhunt shifter for the WIS boost and some nice ranger-like abilities.
Simic Hybrid: Clerics are usually pretty MAD (multi-ability dependant). While CON is always worthwhile, many clerics would prefer to +2 WIS.  That said, the simic hybrid’s ability score is still solid and their features are stellar. Keep in mind that Carapace won’t work with heavy armor and, if you’re going for a heavy armor build you will likely be in melee more often, so pick up Grappling Appendages instead.
Tabaxi: Being a full caster class, clerics really need a WIS bonus to be at their best. There are clerics that build around DEX, but the lack of WIS is simply too much of a handicap.
Tortle: This is a class that just feels bad choosing a tortle. The ability score bonuses are perfect for clerics, but most STR clerics want to use heavy armor, completely negating the intended use for Natural Armor. The build will work, it just won’t be using the tortle’s traits to their full potential.
Triton: Clerics would really like to see WIS on their race’s ASI, but STR and CON work well if you plan to use heavy armor.
Vedalken: WIS helps with the cleric’s spellcasting, Vedalken Dispassion helps with avoiding nasty effects, and the rest of the racial features compliment any build nicely.
Warforged: A warforged cleric focused on WIS will have an incredible AC score, and a sizeable chunk of hit points to boot.
Yuan-ti Pureblood: Clerics need some amount of STR, DEX, or WIS to be effective.

Best Backgrounds for Clerics

Acolyte: This background makes sense for most clerics lorewise, and also offers Insight and some bonus languages. Shelter of the Faithful can have valuable contributions to your role-play.

City Watch: Again, Insight is a good pickup, bonus languages, and Athletics is nice if going for a STR build.
Courtier: Insight, languages, and Persuasion can be helpful if you haven’t dumped CHA.
Faction Agent: Languages, Insight, and another skill of your choice means you can get Perception.
Far Traveler: Free language, Insight, and Perception. Instruments can be fun, but not very useful.

Guild Artisan: Insight, Persuasion is good if you haven’t dumped CHA, and a language.

Hermit: Medicine skill and the herbalism kit can be handy to make potions, especially since everyone will probably be expecting you to be the healer anyway.

Ability Scores

Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

Prioritize WIS over everything else. Make sure you have a solid amount of CON, then decide between STR and DEX depending on your armor and weapon choices.

STR: Bad for light armor clerics, good for heavy armor clerics. Heavy armor clerics will need to get this to 15 in order to make use of plate armor unless they are a dwarf.

DEX: Good for light armor clerics, bad for heavy armor clerics. This will be beneficial for AC, DEX saves, and stealth checks which light armor clerics have a better chance of making use of.

CON: You need to be alive to heal your party members, and CON helps you achieve that goal.

INT: Don’t bother with INT.

WIS: Clerics cast spells with their WIS, so pump this as high as you can.

CHA: Clerics shouldn’t try to focus on social skills outside of WIS-based ones. If you must, the overall effectiveness of the character will suffer.


Cleric Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Points: Clerics have a middle-of-the-road d8 hit dice. Better than the Sorcerer and Wizard, but the problem is that clerics tend to be in the middle of the fray instead of in a ranged position. A decent AC paired with their powerful healing spells should mitigate some of this risk.

Saves: WIS and CHA saves tend to be pretty useful, especially at higher levels.

Weapon/Armour Proficiencies: Light armor, medium armor, shields, and simple weapons is enough to survive early on. Specializing in a specific armor and weapon type will be necessary to get the full mileage out of this class.

Skills: Clerics aren’t known for their diverse skillset. They can only choose two of the following five skills.

  • History (INT): Good for learning about your campaign setting, but your INT will be pretty low.
  • Insight (WIS): Insight is the best of the bunch here. It gets used a lot and is WIS-based so you will have a solid bonus.
  • Medicine (WIS): A bit redundant for stabilizing unconscious creatures since you are the best healing class in the game. That being said, it’s a pretty flavorful skill to have on a cleric and can be used for other purposes (identifying poisons, determining cause of death, etc.)
  • Persuasion (CHA): Most clerics won’t have good CHA, but Persuasion is good to have if nobody else does.
  • Religion (INT): Good for flavor, but your INT will be pretty low.

Spellcasting: Clerics cast their spells with WIS. Despite their ability to tank, they are considered a full caster class. 5e clerics know, and can therefore prepare, any cleric spell that they are of a high enough level to cast. If that wasn’t good enough, the spells in their Divine Domain of choice are always prepared for free. On top of their ability to prepare a great list of spells depending on what they are expecting that day, clerics get access to ritual casting which is an awesome way to conserve spell slots. Another awesome aspect of the cleric’s spellcasting is they are able to wear their spellcasting focus on their shield or clothes, allowing them to cast spells with material components without the need of a free hand.

With access to so many spells, and powerful ones at that, clerics can give the Wizard’s diverse spell list a run for their money.

Divine Domain: At 1st level, clerics get to choose their Divine Domain. A cleric’s Divine Domain completely defines how the build plays, so choose your favorite and don’t look back!

Arcana Domain

Arcana Domain Clerics get access to useful spells as well as cantrips from the Wizard spell list, granting new options to support the party. This subclass fares best against celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead.

  • 1st level
    • Arcana Domain spells: There are some strong spells here, though several are situational.
      • 1st level
        • Detect Magic: Every party should roll with at least one character who has access to detect magic.
        • Magic Missile: Your standard first-level damage dealer. This spell always hits which is nice. This spell is great if your targeting a spellcaster with the intention of making them drop concentration because they’ll need to make a DC 10 CON check for each dart you send at them.
      • 3rd level
        • Magic Weapon: Making your weapon magical is necessary against some enemy types and the +1 to attack and damage rolls is nice. Concentration hurts if you’re going to be using this then charging into the fray. Good option when you party is lacking magic weapons, but can be dropped once you get into higher levels.
        • Nystul’s Magic Aura: This spell is situational and definitely more of a DM-focused spell. But ,with some creativity and a DM who plays into your shenanigans it could be useful in some circumstances.
      • 5th level
        • Dispel Magic: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this.
        • Magic Circle: While celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead are quite common, this spell provides a very lackluster effect against them. As the creatures can still attack inside the cylinder and can still teleport out using a CHA save, it’s not very effective at containing, nor protecting from, these creatures.
      • 7th level
        • Arcane Eye: A great scouting tool and can be moved as an action, making it a worthy spell to pickup.
        • Leomund’s Secret Chest: Hide stuff in the ethereal plane. Very, VERY situational.
      • 9th level
        • Planar Binding: The 1 hour casting time makes this a fairly hard spell to pull off. If you manage to pull it off, this can be an extremely powerful spell when combined with summon greater demon or something of the like.
        • Teleportation Circle: Great teleport spell that requires some prep before it can become really effective. That said, it’s nice to not have the ability to fail during your teleport like is possible with teleport. Awesome utility spell to have in your back pocket.
    • Arcane Initiate: Arcana proficiency and two Wizard cantrips is fantastic. There are several staple Wizard cantrips that are very useful.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Arcane Abjuration: More hate against celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead.
  • 6th level
    • Spell Breaker: This is perfect for removing debuffs cast by enemy spellcasters on your allies, given that you can cast a high enough level healing spell.
  • 8th level
    • Potent Spellcasting: Makes the damage output of your damaging Cleric cantrips much more reliable. Remember that the cantrips gained from the Arcane Initiate feature count as Cleric cantrips.
  • 17th level
    • Arcane Mastery: There are so many incredible Wizard spells to choose from to round out your character and party. Whether you need damage, utility, or just want to cast Wish as a Cleric, this has you covered.

Death Domain

The Death Domain focuses on dealing damage to your enemies with necrotic damage instead of buffing and healing allies. There are interesting role-play opportunities here, because unlike most clerics, this subclass is intended to worship evil gods or deities.

  • 1st level
    • Death Domain spells: Great list of spells that are interesting for cleric, with some duds
      • 1st level
        • False Life: Temporary hit points are always useful, especially at very low levels where characters can be taken out in a single hit.
        • Ray of Sickness: Damage isn’t great but Poisoned is a nasty condition. Unfortunately, the save targets CON, a common proficient saving throw, and immunity to the Poisoned condition is also fairly common. Don’t try to cast this at Constructs, Fiends, or Undead at the very least.
      • 3rd level
        • Blindness/Deafness: Very effective debuff that doesn’t require concentration. The only downside is that it targets CON.
        • Ray of Enfeeblement: Concentration, 1 minute duration, only affects STR weapon attacks, and CON saves for the enemy to escape. Most STR-based enemies you target with this spell will have great CON saves, which makes this a very clunky spell.
      • 5th level
        • Animate Dead: More options for your bonus action and another body between you and the baddies. For necromancers that are looking to guide a horde of undead, this is the best option you’re provided. Essentially, you can use a 3rd-level spell slot to animate one undead, or reassert your control over four undead. Depending on how many spell slots you have to work with, you can steadily grow your undead army. Just make sure you have the spell slots to reassert your control or your undead horde will revolt.
        • Vampiric Touch: Gives you a 3d6 melee weapon with life drain as long as you can concentrate but those concentration checks are going to kill you. You essentially need War Caster to make this worth it.
      • 7th level
        • Blight: 4th-level single-target spell that targets a common save. It barely out damages 4th-level fireball and flat-out doesn’t work on some common creature types. SKIP.
        • Death Ward: Has an 8-hour duration and doesn’t require concentration so it could be a good spell to cast pre-emptively if you have the ability to regain spell slots during a short rest.
      • 9th level
        • Antilife Shell: Great option if you find yourself in trouble in melee combat. It will also hedge out your allies so keep that in mind.
        • Cloudkill: Not great in an open field but if you can get the drop on an enemy or contain a group of enemies within the spell it can be very effective because it deals damage turn after turn, as long as the caster keeps concentration. It can also be effective to block off a vantage point used by ranged enemies.
    • Bonus Proficiency: Martial weapons can be slightly better than simple weapons damage-wise, though with a single attack you won’t notice much of a difference. This exists mostly for role-playing purposes.
    • Reaper: There are some decent damage dealing cantrips like Chill Touch and you’ll get a lot more mileage out of them by being able to hit two targets.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Touch of Death: Extra damage is nice, but with a single attack per turn this won’t be that much of a game changer.
  • 6th level
    • Inescapable Destruction: This subclass has lots of ways to do necrotic damage, so ignoring resistance to it is very helpful as you might not have many other damage type options.
  • 8th level
    • Divine Strike: Combined with Touch of Death you are now dealing a significant amount of extra necrotic damage on each hit.
  • 17th level
    • Improved Reaper: Now that you can hit multiple targets with necromancy spells as well you can wreak havoc every time you cast a spell. The only downside is that the targets have to be very close together for this to work.

Forge Domain

The Forge Domain has one of the most well-rounded spell lists of the Cleric subclasses, along with some pretty stellar subclass features.

Check out our Forge Domain 5e Guide for build optimization tips.

Grave Domain

The Grave Domain commits to a balance between life and death, offering a mixture of damage and healing abilities.

  • 1st level
    • Grave Domain spells: The Grave Domain's spell list focuses on channeling negative energy and reviving allies.
      • 1st level
        • Bane: A simple and effective low-level debuff. If you have access to it, bless is strictly better because it doesn’t require a CHA saving throw.
        • False Life: Temporary hit points are always useful, especially at very low levels where characters can be taken out in a single hit.
      • 3rd level
        • Gentle Repose: Extremely situational spell.
        • Ray of Enfeeblement: Concentration, 1 minute duration, only affects STR weapon attacks, and CON saves for the enemy to escape. Most STR-based enemies you target with this spell will have great CON saves, which makes this a very clunky spell.
      • 5th level
        • Revivify: Every party needs a party member with revivify. The nature of D&D is such that PC deaths happen fairly easily, so your friends will be looking to you to save them from that fate. Because each round of combat is 6 seconds, a party member that dies during combat can typically be revived within 1 minute. Make sure you’ve got diamonds worth 300 gp on you if you’re planning on stocking this spell.
        • Vampiric Touch: Gives you a 3d6 melee weapon with life drain as long as you can concentrate but those concentration checks are going to kill you. You essentially need War Caster to make this worth it.
      • 7th level
        • Blight: 4th-level single-target spell that targets a common save. It barely out damages 4th-level fireball and flat-out doesn’t work on some common creature types. SKIP.
        • Death Ward: Has an 8-hour duration and doesn’t require concentration so it could be a good spell to cast pre-emptively if you have the ability to regain spell slots during a short rest.
      • 9th level
        • Antilife Shell: Great option if you find yourself in trouble in melee combat. It will also hedge out your allies so keep that in mind.
        • Raise Dead: A more powerful resurrection spell than revivify because it has a 10 day time span and can cure Poisons and Diseases. Unfortunately, if you resurrectee is missing their head or other body parts, you’ll have to wait until you get resurrection.
    • Circle of Mortality: Max the health you restore when healing downed allies. This is somewhat situational because it only applies to allies with 0 HP. When it works, you’ll love this feature.
    • Eyes of the Grave: Magically detect any undead within 60 feet of you that isn’t behind full cover. Only really helpful against invisible spirit-type undead.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave: Double the damage dealt by the next attack dealt to a creature. This can be insanely potent when combined with high-damage options like the Paladin’s Divine Smite or Rogue’s Sneak Attack.
  • 6th level
    • Sentinel at Death’s Door: Cancel crits against your allies within 30 feet a number of times equal to your WIS modifier each long rest. This is a great passive feature to always have active.
  • 8th level
    • Potent Spellcasting: If you’ve been increasing WIS with your ASI, Potent Spellcasting gives you a significant damage increase with your cantrips.
  • 17th level
    • Keeper of Souls: Heal yourself or allies each time a creature dies within 60 feet. This will have a slight, but noticeable benefit over the course of encounters.

Knowledge Domain

Knowledge Domain Clerics excel in campaigns where information is king. If you won’t be doing a lot of investigating, many of the spells and abilities may feel wasted.

  • 1st level
    • Knowledge Domain spells: The effectiveness of the spells depends on your campaign. If you run exclusively combat scenarios, the spell list is mediocre at best. If you're doing detective work, it's awesome.
      • 1st level
        • Command: Very effective charm spell that can be very versatile in combat, you can lock down opponents, cause them to drop important items, and so on. Make sure the target can understand your language before casting. Unfortunately, it only lasts one round so using it out of combat is pretty tricky.
        • Identify: You can spend a short rest in physical contact with a magical item to identify it. In addition, most cursed items are not revealed to be cursed when this spell is cast. The main purpose this spell serves is to identify something quickly, which is rather situational.
      • 3rd level
        • Augury: This is a fun spell but, unfortunately, D&D is a game of chance and the results of your next 30 minutes will likely be left to chance. This means you’ll be getting weal and woe most of the time.
        • Suggestion: Never underestimate the power of suggesting a course of action to an NPC. Yes, Mr. Scary Guard, why don’t you give us the keys to your king’s treasure vault?
      • 5th level
        • Nondetection: Your campaign will really cater to this spell for it to have any kind of application. This is much more of a DM-focused spell, players often won’t find a use for this once in an entire campaign.
        • Speak with Dead: Get some interesting lore, help solve a mystery, or get advice on how to proceed through a dungeon.
      • 7th level
        • Arcane Eye: A great scouting tool and can be moved as an action, making it a worthy spell to pickup.
        • Confusion: Bestow curse is a better targeted debuff and is a full spell slot lower.
      • 9th level
        • Legend Lore: Gain some knowledge on things of legendary importance. While cool, it doesn’t do much most of the time.
        • Scrying: Useful but niche.
    • Blessings of Knowledge: It’s always helpful to know more languages. Plus, expertise in two INT skills makes you more useful to the party
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Knowledge of the Ages: More ways to be useful to your party.
  • 6th level
    • Channel Divinity: Read Thoughts: Having more information about a given NPC can help you approach it in the best way possible. It also synergizes well with Suggestion, since you can then cast it on the affected creature without expending a spell slot.
  • 8th level
    • Potent Spellcasting: If you’ve been increasing WIS with your ASI, Potent Spellcasting gives you a significant damage increase with your cantrips.
  • 17th level
    • Visions of the Past: Probably the best way to solve mysteries or to prepare for traps in a dungeon. All you need now is the Mystery Machine!

Life Domain

Life Domain Clerics are perfect for players who need a healer in the party. This subclass is considered the best healer character in the game.

  • Cantrip
    • Life Domain spells: The Life Domain spell list starts off great, but peters out at the higher levels. Even still, the Life Domain is the epitome of healing in D&D 5e.
      • 1st level
        • Bless: Bless is simply an amazing 1st-level buff. Adding 1d4 to all attacks and saving throws can really add up over a combat encounter. When given the choice, it’s almost always worth it to cast bless on your party than bane on your opposition.
        • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it.
      • 3rd level
        • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do.
        • Spiritual Weapon: Spiritual Weapon is an amazing spell that can provide tons of damage and action economy over an encounter. The fact that the weapon sticks around without needing concentration, is a bonus action to summon, has an effective damage type, and scales with your spellcasting modifier make this an absolutely stellar spell.
      • 5th level
        • Beacon of Hope: Beacon of hope seems to be best used in a moment of desperation when many of your party members are severely hurt. Unfortunately, this spell uses up your action so you can’t get to healing until the next round.
        • Revivify: Every party needs a party member with revivify. The nature of D&D is such that PC deaths happen fairly easily, so your friends will be looking to you to save them from that fate. Because each round of combat is 6 seconds, a party member that dies during combat can typically be revived within 1 minute. Make sure you’ve got diamonds worth 300 gp on you if you’re planning on stocking this spell.
      • 7th level
        • Death Ward: Has an 8-hour duration and doesn’t require concentration so it could be a good spell to cast pre-emptively if you have the ability to regain spell slots during a short rest.
        • Guardian of Faith: A decent way to get some extra damage in if you know that a fight will take place in a specific location. Guardian of faith can also be used as a sort of alarm when taking a long rest in a dangerous place.
      • 9th level
        • Mass Cure Wounds: Range, multiple targets, and decent healing power. One of the best bang-for-your-buck spells if you have multiple party members down.
        • Raise Dead: A more powerful resurrection spell than revivify because it has a 10 day time span and can cure Poisons and Diseases. Unfortunately, if you resurrectee is missing their head or other body parts, you’ll have to wait until you get resurrection.
    • Bonus Proficiency: Heavy armor is great when you’re tanking as well as being relied on to heal and buff the party.
    • Disciple of Life: More healing is always better of course, but the amount of additional healing isn’t that significant at higher levels.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Preserve Life: Scales well, doesn’t use a spell slot, and can be used on multiple targets at once. An effective feature regardless of your level.
  • 6th level
    • Blessed Healer: Not worrying about having to heal yourself is a nice feeling, and also frees you up to do other things on your turn instead of healing yourself.
  • 8th level
    • Divine Strike: Divine Strike helps your melee damage output not fall too far behind the other classes.
  • 17th level
    • Supreme Healing: Reliable healing in those critical moments is everything. Supreme Healing does away with many of the “feel bad” moments where you heal a party member for a measly amount only for them to immediately get knocked out again.

Light Domain

Light Domain Clerics play more of a damage dealing role than a support one. This subclass has excellent spells and powerful higher level subclass features.

  • 1st level
    • Light Domain spells: The Light Domain spell list turns the cleric into a spellslingin', damage dealin' powerhouse
      • 1st level
        • Burning Hands: One of the better AoE damage spells you can get at 1st-level but there are better direct damage spells and better mass effect spells. This filler spell can be great if you catch a group of enemies close together.
        • Faerie Fire: Giving your allies advantage is really good, especially if you have a rogue or paladin in the party. Invisible creatures can also be a nuisance, so having a way to deal with them as extra value is sweet.
      • 3rd level
        • Flaming Sphere: Not the best damage, but AoE and the ability to move the sphere as a bonus action are useful if up against a horde of weak enemies.
        • Scorching Ray: A potential 6d6 focused damage at a 2nd-level spell slot, can target multiple opponents, and has crit potential.
      • 5th level
        • Daylight: The light cantrip on steroids. The biggest downside of this spell is the misleading name which causes people to think that this spell actually produces daylight, which can be helpful when fighting creatures with Sunlight Sensitivity. Dispelling darkness could be situationally useful.
        • Fireball: The gold standard for damage spells in 5e. This spell was intentionally designed to be overpowered for a 3rd-level slot, making it the most optimal choice when looking to lay the hurt down.
      • 7th level
        • Guardian of Faith: A decent way to get some extra damage in if you know that a fight will take place in a specific location. Guardian of faith can also be used as a sort of alarm when taking a long rest in a dangerous place.
        • Wall of Fire: Amazing battlefield control option to divide enemies and deal massive damage.
      • 9th level
        • Flame Strike: Not particularly exciting when compared to fireball. It does the same amount of damage but has a better damage type (half radiant/half fire) and has a slightly larger radius. The “improved” damage type doesn’t mean much because it still does half of it’s damage as fire damage. So, if you’re looking to work around fire resistance, this won’t be a worthwhile choice.
        • Scrying: Useful but niche.
    • Bonus Cantrip: Light is a decent cantrip, but not exciting in the least.
    • Warding Flare: Imposing disadvantage on enemy attacks against you keeps you in the fight.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Radiance of the Dawn: Underwhelming damage as you start to take on more deadly foes. However, it can do what Daylight does without expending a spell slot.
  • 6th level
    • Improved Flare: Protecting your most fragile allies is what makes Warding Flare really shine (had to get at least one light-related pun in there).
  • 8th level
    • Potent Spellcasting: If you’ve been increasing WIS with your ASI, Potent Spellcasting gives you a significant damage increase with your cantrips.
  • 17th level
    • Corona of Light: Combos very well with whatever fire and radiant damage you can throw at your enemies. Nobody can deny that you’re a Light Domain Cleric when you pop this one off.

Nature Domain

The Nature Domain spells are pretty weak and uninteresting, though several of the subclass features are very powerful. This is the pick if you want to be closer to a Druid in playstyle.

  • 1st level
    • Nature Domain spells: A lot of what happens in the Nature Domain spell list overlaps with the Druid. Most of the time the Druid class can just do these things better.
      • 1st level
        • Animal Friendship: This will likely get you out of at least one low-level beast encounter.
        • Speak with Animals: Situationally useful to learn more about a place or to get something done.
      • 3rd level
        • Barkskin: Not worth a ranger’s spell slot because they have medium armor proficiencies and are usually stacked into DEX.
        • Spike Growth: Moderately good crowd control or can be used to stage an ambush because it is camouflaged.
      • 5th level
        • Plant Growth: Slows down pesky enemies moving around a lot or trying to escape, but not particularly good at either. Also cool for story beats to restore nature that has been devastated by war.
        • Wind Wall: Useful against lots of archers, swarms of flying enemies, or against deadly fog. Other than that the damage is pretty bad.
      • 7th level
        • Dominate Beast: Not many Beasts are going to be worth your 4th level spell to dominate. If you’re fighting a CR8 T-Rex you’ll wish you had this spell.
        • Grasping Vine: Only really works if you can pull the creature into something that is actually going to hurt it.
      • 9th level
        • Insect Plague: A decent AoE damage and crowd control option.
        • Tree Stride: A fun spell with a multitude of uses if you can get a bit creative. Without trees nearby you won’t be striding anywhere though.
    • Acolyte of Nature: A free skill and a druid cantrip, some of which are really good.
    • Bonus Proficiency: Heavy armor is great when you’re tanking as well as being relied on to heal and buff the party.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants: Yes, it’s the Nature Domain Cleric… but all these spells and features that only affect beasts and plants make the character build very one dimensional.
  • 6th level
    • Dampen Elements: Resistance to elemental damage as a reaction is amazing. Being able to use it on an ally makes Dampen Elements that much more useful.
  • 8th level
    • Divine Strike: The better version of Divine Strike. Being able to choose the damage type is fantastic once you figure out an enemy’s weaknesses.
  • 17th level
    • Master of Nature: That’s enough with the plants and animals, thank you very much. At 17th level you’re much more likely to be fighting some kind of gargantuan monstrosity than a plant.

Order Domain

Order Domain Clerics don’t excel at dealing damage, but offer fantastic ways to buff allies, control crowds, and deal with situations outside of combat.

  • 1st level
    • Order Domain spells: This is a good spell list with useful spells and in and out of combat.
      • 1st level
        • Command: Very effective charm spell that can be very versatile in combat, you can lock down opponents, cause them to drop important items, and so on. Make sure the target can understand your language before casting. Unfortunately, it only lasts one round so using it out of combat is pretty tricky.
        • Heroism: Great buff effect, scales nicely as well.
      • 3rd level
        • Hold Person: This can be encounter-breaking against humanoids. Scales well with levels.
        • Zone of Truth: Great for when you need to gain the trust of some NPCs, or when you don’t quite trust them yourself.
      • 5th level
        • Mass Healing Word: Like regular healing word this is used as a bonus action. This, combined with its low healing potential, means its primary use is also to revive downed teammates, but having multiple downed allies at once is quite rare.
        • Slow: This spell has a great range, good AoE, and imposes and handful of potent debuffs. While it may not be as straightforward and effective, it certainly has its place in combat. This is usually a more effective option that hypnotic pattern when you can’t get all of the enemies in the AoE. That way, you can gain the advantage of the debuff and not have to worry about an enemy shaking his companions out of the stupor before you can react.
      • 7th level
        • Compulsion: On a failed save you can move a creature slightly, but they can still take an action. Not great.
        • Locate Creature: More thorough than locate animals or plants, and can be used to find people. It’s still pretty situational.
      • 9th level
        • Commune: Better than augury and divination to get the answers you need, since it’s a simple “yes or no” and you have to be given a correct answer.
        • Dominate Person: Amazing spell when fighting humanoids. Taking over the mind of an enemy can completely swing the direction of the encounter. While spells like hold person can take an enemy of the fight, dominate person can make that enemy into an ally essentially creating a two for one. If you are fighting against humanoids a lot in the late game, this is a simply outstanding spell.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: Heavy armor is great for many Cleric builds. Intimidation or Persuasion are both useful, especially if you don’t ignore CHA in your build.
    • Voice of Authority: The ultimate alley-oop, this feature allows your main damage dealing ally to do even more. This is especially good to give the Rogue another chance to hit for their Sneak Attack.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Order’s Demand: This is basically a spell without costing a spell slot. Charming humanoids can lead to a a very easy win in a fight.
  • 6th level
    • Embodiment of the Law: This is a great way to deal loads of damage in a single turn, or to deal damage while also casting some crowd control.
  • 8th level
    • Divine Strike: Psychic damage is one of the least resisted damage types, making this a solid way to improve your damage output.
  • 17th level
    • Order’s Wrath: The damage here is quite poor, and it takes someone else hitting the same creature for it to take effect.

Peace Domain

Peace Domain Clerics have good protective spells, but their features are where they really shine, edging this subclass into the near-broken territory.

  • 1st level
    • Peace Domain spells: Excellent utility and party supporting spells.
      • 1st level
        • Sanctuary: A good spell to have in your pocket if a team member is in dire straits or you need to protect an NPC.
        • Heroism: Great buff effect, scales nicely as well.
      • 3rd level
        • Aid: Proactive healing rather than reactive healing and at a higher, guaranteed rate than Cure Wounds. 5 hit points can make a huge difference in keeping the party alive, and the spell doesn’t require concentration. Can be cast at higher levels.
        • Warding Bond: This buff is really good, but can be quite risky for yourself if used at the wrong time. Make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by enemies and have a sizeable amount of hit points and AC.
      • 5th level
        • Beacon of Hope: Beacon of hope seems to be best used in a moment of desperation when many of your party members are severely hurt. Unfortunately, this spell uses up your action so you can’t get to healing until the next round.
        • Sending: Solid communication spell for at least one party member to have.
      • 7th level
        • Aura of Purity: You won’t use this all the time, but if you face a lot of enemies that can inflict negative status conditions this is great.
        • Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere: DEX-based save or suck. Great way to take a baddy out of the fight while you finish off its friends.
      • 9th level
        • Greater Restoration: Great spell to have that can get you or party members out of very tricky situations.
        • Telepathic Bond: Allows your party to communicate when they normally wouldn’t be able to.
    • Implement of Peace: Free skill proficiency is nice, especially since one of the options is Insight, a WIS skill.
    • Emboldening Bond: Giving your allies an extra d4 for every roll is already good, but combined with Bless or Guidance this is just crazy. It also gets better as you level up as the number of creatures you can use it on depends on your proficiency bonus.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Balm of Peace: A strong emergency option since you can move to an ally and heal them without taking an opportunity attack.
  • 6th level
    • Protective Bond: Useful to protect weaker allies and to move melee allies around the battlefield.
  • 8th level
    • Potent Spellcasting: If you’ve been increasing WIS with your ASI, Potent Spellcasting gives you a significant damage increase with your cantrips.
  • 17th level
    • Expansive Bond: Significantly improves the incredible class features by extending their range, allowing you to protect and buff the whole party on the battlefield.

Tempest Domain

The Tempest Domain Cleric has a nice theme to it while offering some good Area of Effect damage and control, though nothing here explicitly buffs your allies in battle

  • 1st level
    • Tempest Domain spells: Many of the spells are quite repetitive and there isn't much in the way of single target with high damage. Despite these shortcomings, the Tempest Domain spell list does what it sets out to do: be like Thor.
      • 1st level
        • Fog Cloud: Obscuring an area can be better than it sounds. While inside the fog cloud, creatures are effectively blinded so make sure you use the spell in a way that makes it advantageous.
        • Thunderwave: A fantastic, low-level way to knock opponents back if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Damage isn’t bad either but it targets CON saves.
      • 3rd level
        • Gust of Wind: This spell is usually useless unless you find yourself in a rare situation where you can use it to push multiple enemies off of a cliff.
        • Shatter: Decent AoE that can be super effective against specific creatures. Also good for destroying inanimate objects.
      • 5th level
        • Call Lightning: Thematically cool spell that you can keep reusing for free each round. The damage increases nicely at higher levels as well.
        • Sleet Storm: Messes with enemy concentration, can extinguish flames, and has the potential to knock enemies prone.
      • 7th level
        • Control Water: A very effective spell, but only if you’re around water.
        • Ice Storm: You already have fireball, and ice storm does less damage, and the terrain control doesn’t make the reduced damage worth it.
      • 9th level
        • Destructive Wave: Really good damage, and knocking enemies prone is great. Also, you can choose which creatures are affected. All around great AoE.
        • Insect Plague: A decent AoE damage and crowd control option.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: The bonus proficiencies for the Tempest Domain include martial weapons in addition to heavy armor. Tanking and new weapon options all in one.
    • Wrath of the Storm: Potent way to use your reaction. 2d8 damage is a lot at 1st level.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath: Perfect for this build. Ensuring maximum damage every time you connect with a lightning or thunder attack will put the hurt on really quickly.
  • 6th level
    • Thunderbolt Strike: The option of pushing creatures away from you with a lightning attack is quite a bit of utility.
  • 8th level
    • Divine Strike: Thunder damage is really powerful as it is rarely resisted. That said, melee-focused Clerics are usually suboptimal because they are so multi-ability dependant. Even this bonus damage won’t make attacking more optimal than casting spells.
  • 17th level
    • Stormborn: A true superhero ability. Flying whenever you want just feels cool. Sadly it can only be done outdoors.

Trickery Domain

Trickery Domain Clerics have an excellent spell list that feels like a combination of a Rogue and a Wizard, though this also makes them more vulnerable in battle as they aren’t necessarily meant to tank.

  • 1st level
    • Trickery Domain spells: Trickery Domain clerics have some of the best spells available to them out of any of the subclasses.
      • 1st level
        • Charm Person: One of the better options for dealing with NPCs outside of combat. Good for quick interactions, but the biggest caveat to this spell is the target knows it was charmed by you once the effect ends.
        • Disguise Self: Great 1st level infiltration spell.
      • 3rd level
        • Mirror Image: Great way to avoid damage with a low level spell slot. Plus, it doesn’t require concentration. Overall a solid option.
        • Pass without Trace: If you are infiltrating an area with your party that you are unwelcome, the +10 bonus to Stealth is massive.
      • 5th level
        • Blink: 50% chance of completely avoiding any damage for a turn is more consistent over a long period than mirror image and better for builds with lower ACs than blur. Plus, it isn’t concentration.
        • Dispel Magic: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this.
      • 7th level
        • Dimension Door: Teleport, with a friend, over a much longer distance than misty step. Unfortunately, it’s two spell slots higher than misty step and a full action to cast. Still, this spell can save your bacon is a tight circumstance.
        • Polymorph: The best save or suck spell at this level. The hour duration makes transforming a hostile creature and running away a viable option or will give you more time to finish of its friends before it transforms back. This also allows you to shape-shift a friendly party member into a beast for combat or exploration purposes. The sheer utility this spell offers makes it an incredibly effective spell to keep in your arsenal.
      • 9th level
        • Dominate Person: Amazing spell when fighting humanoids. Taking over the mind of an enemy can completely swing the direction of the encounter. While spells like hold person can take an enemy of the fight, dominate person can make that enemy into an ally essentially creating a two for one. If you are fighting against humanoids a lot in the late game, this is a simply outstanding spell.
        • Modify Memory: A relatively powerful spell for infiltration and social encounters. There are a lot of caveats imposed on this spell, mainly to ensure it doesn’t become too broken. If you’ll be heading into an enemy fortress or to a rival’s political meeting, this is a good spell to stock.
    • Blessing of the Trickster: Heavy armor users get disadvantage on stealth checks, so using this feature cancels out that penalty.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity: A good way to confuse your enemies, and deliver spells on your behalf. Outside of combat, you’ll have to be creative on how you use it.
  • 6th level
    • Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows: Becoming invisible without expending a spell slot is neat. Unfortunately it only lasts until your next turn making this feature pretty much pointless.
  • 8th level
    • Divine Strike: Possibly the worst version of Divine Strike, since poison is a common resistance to have.
  • 17th level
    • Improved Duplicity: Having four duplicates opens up a lot of options during battle. Your enemies will probably also waste some attacks on your illusions.

Twilight Domain

Twilight Domain clerics have a strong set of protective and buff spells and some of the best class features out of all clerics. Twilight clerics like their allies to be close to them to get the full benefits of their powerful aura.

  • 1st level
    • Twilight Domain spells: Nice, effective spells at all levels. 
      • 1st level
        • Faerie Fire: Giving your allies advantage is really good, especially if you have a rogue or paladin in the party. Invisible creatures can also be a nuisance, so having a way to deal with them as extra value is sweet.
        • Sleep: Sleep is a very good 1st level spell slot. It can easily end encounters at lower levels. By the time you reach 5th-level  it will be pretty useless unless you want a semi-consistent way of none lethal damage.
      • 3rd level
        • Moonbeam: The spell does decent damage and has a good AoE, but it is clunky to move around because it requires an action. Unless you can trap enemies inside the moonbeam and prevent them from leaving, most of the time this spell isn’t worth it. The part where shapechangers make the save with disadvantage and revert to their normal form if they fail is extremely situational.
        • See Invisibility: If you know you’re going to be coming across invisible creatures, this spell is worth it to stock. Otherwise, faerie fire is a better option as it allows party members to see the invisible creatures as well.
      • 5th level
        • Aura of Vitality: The healing takes set up and isn’t that impressive considering this requires concentration.
        • Leomund ’s Tiny Hut: This spell is both better than it looks at first glance and worse than it looks on a second glance. Being able to long rest uninterrupted or use it as cover anywhere you want is really useful. However, if you abuse it your DM will make you pay, like setting up an ambush just outside the dome. Even still, this spell is a fan favorite
      • 7th level
        • Aura of Life: Protection from hit point maximum reduction is very situational, although resistance to necrotic damage is handy when facing the undead. Bringing up all downed allies within the radius at the start of their turn sounds useful, but you will need to maintain your concentration until then for this to have an effect.
        • Greater Invisibility: Being able to attack or cast spells while invisible is a huge upgrade from regular invisibility. Give it to a melee party member and watch them get advantage on every attack and disadvantage on attacks against them, bonus points if it’s a paladin or rogue for extra crit + Divine Smite / Sneak Attack potential.
      • 9th level
        • Circle of Power: Useful full party buff that makes hostile magic less of a problem.
        • Mislead: Pretty decent scouting spell or opportunity to plan an ambush. Pretty high spell slot for the meager effect though.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: Heavy armor is great for clerics, martial weapons are nice to have but not necessary.
    • Eyes of Night: 300 feet of darkvision is simply ridiculous, plus you can share it with an ally that doesn’t have darkvision, making dungeons a lot easier to navigate as a team.
    • Vigilant Blessing: One party member can have advantage on Initiative for every single fight, given that you remember to use it between fights. This is very strong, especially for characters that like to go first to cast buffs or to get into position.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary: Getting temporary hit points every round and being basically immune to being charmed or frightened is really powerful, especially since all it costs is an action.
  • 6th level
    • Steps of Night: Flying is always good, even if this can only be used in dim light or darkness. The best part of this feature is that it only costs a bonus action and does not require concentration.
  • 8th level
    • Divine Strike: Radiant damage is one of the least resisted damage types, making this a solid way to improve your damage output.
  • 17th level
    • Twilight Shroud: Permanent half cover for the whole gang is one of the most busted subclass features in 5e, giving your whole party +2 AC and +2 to DEX saves.

War Domain

War Domain Clerics care more about melee fighting than spellcasting, but without permanent extra attacks it falls a bit short.

  • 1st level
    • War Domain spells: This spell list is well-rounded to suit many fighting situations.
      • 1st level
        • Divine Favor: Solid turn after turn damage for the cost of a 1st-level spell slot and a bonus action. Unfortunately, it can’t be used to buff other party members so you have to be a weapon-wielder in order to use it. Plus, it requires concentration.
        • Shield of Faith: +2 AC is quite good, especially in the early game. Sadly, this spell requires concentration. Great buff for a tanking party member if you intend to stay out of the fray.
      • 3rd level
        • Magic Weapon: Making your weapon magical is necessary against some enemy types and the +1 to attack and damage rolls is nice. Concentration hurts if you’re going to be using this then charging into the fray. Good option when you party is lacking magic weapons, but can be dropped once you get into higher levels.
        • Spiritual Weapon: Spiritual Weapon is an amazing spell that can provide tons of damage and action economy over an encounter. The fact that the weapon sticks around without needing concentration, is a bonus action to summon, has an effective damage type, and scales with your spellcasting modifier make this an absolutely stellar spell.
      • 5th level
        • Crusader’s Mantle: Great if you have loads of martial characters with you, poor in a party of casters. This spell requires concentration which will likely make you a target if you’re wading into battle with it activated.
        • Spirit Guardians: Acts as a deterrent against melee attackers or gives them a hard time moving away. This will be especially potent if you plan on diving into the fray.
      • 7th level
        • Freedom of Movement: It’s nice to give extra movement options to allies, but there are better buff spells and this one is pretty situational.
        • Stoneskin: Effectively double your or your favorite melee fighter’s hit points. Better at lower levels or when fighting enemies without magical attacks. If you’ll be casting this on yourself, make sure you have a decent CON modifier and consider taking the Resilient (CON) feat if you don’t have proficiency in CON saving throws or the War Caster feat for advantage on concentration checks.
      • 9th level
        • Flame Strike: Not particularly exciting when you compare it with fireball but seeing as the War Domain cleric doesn’t get fireball this is as good as your AoE will get.
        • Hold Monster: Spell that can take a creature out of the fight. Allows for a save after each turn which makes it worse than banishment for consistently keeping a monster out of the fight, but the monster can be attacked with advantage which will make quick work of it after it fails a save or two.
    • Bonus Proficiencies: The bonus proficiencies for the War Domain include martial weapons in addition to heavy armor. Tanking and new weapon options all in one.
    • War Priest: Essentially a limited “Extra Attack” feature. This is quite strong at lower levels because you gain access to it right at 1st-level. Once you reach 5th-level, this will start to fall behind as martials start being able to Extra Attack each turn, unrestricted.
  • 2nd level
    • Channel Divinity: Guided Strike: Not bad to have in your back pocket for when you really need it. A +10 to the attack roll should let you hit almost anything with an average roll.
  • 6th level
    • Channel Divinity: War God’s Blessing: Being able to give +10 on an attack roll to an ally instead is quite a bit better than using it on yourself. Other martial classes can probably deal significantly more damage than a cleric on a single attack.
  • 8th level
    • Divine Strike: If you have multiple weapons on your person with different damage types, you can change the damage type almost as easily as a Nature Domain Cleric.
  • 17th level
    • Avatar of Battle: Resistance to nonmagical damage is certainly a strong feature. Unfortunately, by 17th-level you will be facing a lot of magical damage.

2nd Level

Channel Divinity: Clerics are a good anti-undead character with this feature. Channel Divinity also comes with some great additional uses depending on which Divine Domain you choose.

5th Level

Destroy Undead: More undead hate, but a weaker one due to CR limiting. There are ~20 undead creatures that can be forced to save or die right at 5th level and it just gets better from there. By 17th level,  there are close to 80 monsters that can be affected by destroy undead. One round of insta-killing a couple of undead baddies your DM has thrown at your party will make them think twice about which undead creatures they throw at you in the future.

10th Level

Divine Intervention: An interesting class feature. If your creativity knows no bounds, Divine Intervention can be extremely cool. The effect is deliberately vague in the Player’s Handbook, so its true potential will be at your DM’s discretion. Once you reach level 20 this becomes the cleric’s capstone ability. You won’t even need to make a roll, so expect your DM to reign in your craziest ideas. Still, it’s extremely flavorful and lets you flex your roleplaying.

Best Feats for Cleric

  • Alert: Being up higher in the initiative order can be very valuable for any class. Clerics will be able to buff their allies right at the start of the fight, but this feat probably isn’t worth it just for that option.
  • Chef: CON or WIS are both good for Clerics, as are the shareable temporary hit points for your party.
  • Defensive Duelist: No clerics are outright designed with DEX in mind, but something like the Trickery Domain could work.
  • Eldritch Adept: While the bonus of a new at-will spell isn’t bad, most clerics will probably be interested in the advantage on Eldritch Mind. However, between this feat, Resilient (CON), and War Caster, Resilient is the superior feat for clerics. Other invocations, like casting detect magic, are probably better.
  • Fey Touched: Great for the misty step spell alone, but also gives +1 WIS and another 1st-level spell of your choice. There are a ton of choices here for clerics. Melee clerics would love either hex or hunter's mark, caster clerics will have a lot of fun with silvery barbs or dissonant whispers.
  • Fighting Initiate: War and Forge Domain clerics can benefit from Great Weapon Fighting, Dueling, or Defense depending on your build.
  • Great Weapon Master: Clerics who prefer to be more melee-focused, such as War Domain clerics, and want to output damage at the expense of defense can certainly make use of this feat. They can output a lot of damage and won’t be limited by spellcasting as they can wear their holy symbol. Keep in mind, that this is feat is only useable for subclasses that can use martial weapons.
  • Lucky: Lucky is a feat that is useful to any character, but is less good for spellcasters.
  • Magic Initiate: This feat is a good choice if you pick wizard as the class that you can draw spells from. The tried and tested find familiar as your 1st level spell lets you deliver touch spells and give Help actions to players. Minor illusion and mage hand for the cantrips nicely fill out your other needs.
  • Metamagic Adept: Offers some exciting synergies with the sorcerer’s metamagic ability. You could get Twinned Spell to improve heroism or a healing spell, or Quickened Spell to cast a powerful heal and still attack.
  • Polearm Master: Clerics don’t have any features that allow them to attack with their spellcasting modifier like the Battle Smith or Hexblade. This makes melee-oriented clerics multi-ability dependant right off the bat. If you want to play a build that makes the most of Polearm Master, you might want to look somewhere other than a cleric.
  • Resilient: Being better at CON saves is great for clerics since they need to keep up their concentration a lot of the time.
  • Sentinel: This feat works well with almost all Cleric domains, as long as they prefer to be wading into battle. War Domain and Forge Domain will especially prefer this feat, as they’re guaranteed to be up close and personal.
  • Shadow Touched: While most cleric classes could use this feat well, I think it best suits Trickery Domain, Grave Domain, or Death Domain clerics. It expands their spell list slightly, stays flavorful to their domains, and can upcast if needed.
  • Sharpshooter: Clerics that don't solely rely on spellcasting typically spec into a melee weapon build, rather than a ranged weapon build.
  • Shield Master: If your cleric will be keeping their distance in combat, this isn't the feat for you. Melee clerics on the other hand can benefit from this feat as they tend to use shields more often than not. It not only lets them last longer in a fight, but it also helps keep enemies away from them in a pinch. This feat is especially good for clerics that like to attack with their weapons, rather than using cantrips in battle because they will have invested in STR for the Shove bonus action.
  • Skill Expert: There is one particular domain that Skill Expert synergizes particularly well with. Knowledge Domain clerics get access to select two skills, gain proficiency, and double their proficiency, which works as a pseudo-expertise. Skill Expert allows you to choose a third skill to double your proficiency with, while also giving you an ASI. For the rest of the cleric builds out there, +1 to WIS and expertise in Perception is absolutely worth the effort of taking this feat.
  • Skulker: It’s rare for clerics to be too far away from the frontlines, making this feat challenging to recommend. Trickster Domain clerics might find some use out of it, but the rest of the subclasses won’t benefit.
  • Slasher: Clerics can use this feat if they want to be in the thick of it, especially War Domain clerics.
  • Telekinetic: This feat can add a bit of extra value to clerics as they aren't normally able to learn mage hand. This, combined with the ASI makes this feat relatively worthwhile. Unfortunately, the biggest downside is that Telekinetic uses your bonus action, which you will likely be using for spiritual weapon. Still, it's worthwhile utility out of combat and can help your battlefield control.
  • War Caster: War Caster isn’t a required feat Clerics, even though some subclasses are prominent melee spellcasters. Typically, builds that use a sword and shield who want to cast spells will run into issues because they need a free hand for somatic and material components of those spells. Clerics have the ability to adorn their spellcasting focus on their shields. This means that they can cast spells that require somatic and non-costly materials without having to free up a hand. One of the biggest draws to picking up War Caster is the ability to perform somatic components of spells while you have a sword and shield in hand. That said, there is plenty of other value for War Caster, mainly that it grants advantage on CON checks made for retaining concentration. There are plenty of powerful cleric spells that require concentration, this feat helps you make sure you don’t lose concentration on spells while in combat. The ability to cast spells with a single target as an opportunity attack is also beneficial for sneaking in extra damage.

Best Spells for Cleric

Cantrip

  • Guidance: Outside of combat, you can use this literally every time a party member makes an ability check.
  • Light: Useful, but there are plenty of ways around having to pick up this spell. As long as your not underwater, simple torch could save you a slot for another cantrip.
  • Mending: Being able to repair mundane object is situationally useful at the best of times, a waste of a cantrip at the worst.
  • Resistance: It's difficult to predict when saving throws will need to be made. So, spending concentration for a save that might not come isn't worth it, even if you're not sacrificing a spell slot.
  • Sacred Flame: Good ranged damage option early on. Also scales well as a source of radiant damage.
  • Spare the Dying: When you're in the middle of combat and don't have any healing spells or potions left, you don't want to leave stabilizing a companion to chance. This is always a good spell to have as a backup.
  • Thaumaturgy: Much worse than minor illusion or prestidigitation but can still be effective in roleplay scenarios.
  • Toll the Dead: Good damage, rarely resisted damage type, and solid range. Obviously, it's best to use on an enemy that has already been damaged.

1st level

  • Bane: A simple and effective low-level debuff. If you have access to it, bless is strictly better because it doesn't require a CHA saving throw.
  • Bless: Bless is simply an amazing 1st-level buff. Adding 1d4 to all attacks and saving throws can really add up over a combat encounter. When given the choice, it's almost always worth it to cast bless on your party than bane on your opposition.
  • Ceremony: Interesting spell that allows for a number of one-time buffs. These buffs have very specific circumstances like the target being a young adult or a someone looking to be dedicated to your god's service. That said, adding a d4 to ability checks and saving throws for 24 hours, no concentration, as a ritual seems like a worthwhile pick up if you are heading into a tough day. If you're party is a bunch of young adults, that are looking to dedicate themselves to your god, and all want to be married, this spell can provide a pretty huge one-time power boost.
  • Command: Very effective charm spell that can be very versatile in combat, you can lock down opponents, cause them to drop important items, and so on. Make sure the target can understand your language before casting. Unfortunately, it only lasts one round so using it out of combat is pretty tricky.
  • Create or Destroy Water: Being able to conjure 10 gallons of water isn’t particularly effective unless you are dying of thirst in a desert.
  • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it.
  • Detect Evil and Good: Can be quite useful if you're suspicious that an aberration, celestial, elemental, fey, fiend, or undead is undercover around you. Solid spell to stock when traveling to other planes.
  • Detect Magic: Every party should roll with at least one character who has access to detect magic.
  • Detect Poison and Disease: Being able to detect poison or disease within 30ft of yourself is definitely a situational effect. Only stock when you think you'll need it.
  • Guiding Bolt: Fantastic damage early on, and if the creature doesn’t die the next attack against it gets advantage which should do the trick.
  • Healing Word: Great option even if you have a dedicated healer as it can be useful for resetting death saving throws from a distance and only requires a bonus action.
  • Inflict Wounds: Does slightly more damage on average than guiding bolt but is a touch spell instead of range and doesn't provide the additional trait where it allows the next attack to be with advantage. Not worth it in most circumstances.
  • Protection from Evil and Good: You love to see this spell in any party, the buffs this can provide are extremely useful in any combat scenario. The creature types this affects are very common so this spell will likely be useful in your campaign.
  • Purify Food and Drink: If you're DM likes to poison you via food or drink a lot, this could be a good pickup? Otherwise, save it for when you go to a political banquet in enemy territory.
  • Sanctuary: A good spell to have in your pocket if a team member is in dire straits or you need to protect an NPC.
  • Shield of Faith: +2 AC is quite good, especially in the early game. Sadly, this spell requires concentration. Great buff for a tanking party member if you intend to stay out of the fray.

2nd level

  • Aid: Proactive healing rather than reactive healing and at a higher, guaranteed rate than Cure Wounds. 5 hit points can make a huge difference in keeping the party alive, and the spell doesn’t require concentration. Can be cast at higher levels.
  • Augury: This is a fun spell but, unfortunately, D&D is a game of chance and the results of your next 30 minutes will likely be left to chance. This means you'll be getting weal and woe most of the time.
  • Blindness/Deafness: Very effective debuff that doesn’t require concentration. The only downside is that it targets CON.
  • Borrowed Knowledge: If your party is lacking a critically important skill, getting time limited proficiency can come in handy.
  • Calm Emotions: The fact that this spell has two different use cases makes it decent, even if those events may not come up too often. Enemies often have effects that charm or frighten in an area of effect, so being able to suppress those effects also in an area of your choosing could save your whole party. When used on enemies, you can make them non-hostile for a whole minute, giving you enough time to escape. The main issue with this spell is the concentration and the relatively small radius.
  • Continual Flame: Most of the time you can just cast light or use a torch as a light source and save yourself the 50 gp.
  • Enhance Ability: Decent buff before you go into combat. Also has a fair amount of utility for just about any out-of-combat situation.
  • Find Traps: Reveals the presence of traps but not their exact location. Definitely not the best use of a spell slot.
  • Gentle Repose: Extremely situational spell.
  • Hold Person: This can be encounter-breaking against humanoids. Scales well with levels.
  • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do.
  • Locate Object: 1,000 feet isn't a particularly wide radius but this spell will be extremely useful when it's needed. Great for city campaigns where everything is packed in tighter together.
  • Prayer of Healing: Up to 12d8 + (your spellcasting modifier * 6) is insanely good healing for a 2nd-level spell slot. Unfortunately, the 10 minute casting time makes it impossible to use in combat and each creature only gets 2d8 + spellcasting modifier. If your party needs a boost of healing and doesn't have time for a short rest, this can be effective.
  • Protection from Poison: Has some use if you have a poisoned party member but don't have access to lesser restoration. The resistance to poison and advantage on saving throws against poison is a nice buff in specific circumstances, especially because it doesn't require concentration.
  • Silence: Silence is a niche spell with a high ceiling. It can be used in stealth scenarios but it’s most powerful usage is if you can target a caster who won’t be able to cast spells requiring a verbal component. Of course, it’s only a 20ft radius so you will either need to be fighting in close quarters or will need to find a way to prevent the caster from moving.
  • Spiritual Weapon: Spiritual Weapon is an amazing spell that can provide tons of damage and action economy over an encounter. The fact that the weapon sticks around without needing concentration, is a bonus action to summon, has an effective damage type, and scales with your spellcasting modifier make this an absolutely stellar spell.
  • Warding Bond: This buff is really good, but can be quite risky for yourself if used at the wrong time. Make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by enemies and have a sizeable amount of hit points and AC.
  • Zone of Truth: Great for when you need to gain the trust of some NPCs, or when you don’t quite trust them yourself.

3rd level

  • Animate Dead: More options for your bonus action and another body between you and the baddies. For necromancers that are looking to guide a horde of undead, this is the best option you're provided. Essentially, you can use a 3rd-level spell slot to animate one undead, or reassert your control over four undead. Depending on how many spell slots you have to work with, you can steadily grow your undead army. Just make sure you have the spell slots to reassert your control or your undead horde will revolt.
  • Beacon of Hope: Beacon of hope seems to be best used in a moment of desperation when many of your party members are severely hurt. Unfortunately, this spell uses up your action so you can’t get to healing until the next round.
  • Bestow Curse: If you can get within touch range, this can be an extremely powerful debuff for a single, tough enemy. The effect that causes the enemy to make a WIS save or waste their turn is extremely powerful and is made more powerful because they only get one chance to save, at the initial casting of the spell.
  • Clairvoyance: Not many situations will call for this spell but it can be useful for scouting.
  • Create Food and Water: Pretty much only useful for survival scenarios in which you aren't able to cast goodberry for whatever reason.
  • Daylight: The light cantrip on steroids. The biggest downside of this spell is the misleading name which causes people to think that this spell actually produces daylight, which can be helpful when fighting creatures with Sunlight Sensitivity. Dispelling darkness could be situationally useful.
  • Dispel Magic: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this.
  • Feign Death: Extremely niche. Could be useful if you are attempting to recreate Romeo and Juliet.
  • Glyph of Warding: Costly components and a long casting time are the major hurdles in the way of making glyph of warding a stellar spell. As it stands, its probably the best way to set a trap if you know where the enemy will be coming through and have at least an hour to prepare.
  • Magic Circle: While celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead are quite common, this spell provides a very lackluster effect against them. As the creatures can still attack inside the cylinder and can still teleport out using a CHA save, it's not very effective at containing, nor protecting from, these creatures.
  • Mass Healing Word: Like regular healing word this is used as a bonus action. This, combined with its low healing potential, means its primary use is also to revive downed teammates, but having multiple downed allies at once is quite rare.
  • Meld into Stone: Good for long rests, though you may pop out of the stone to realize you've been surrounded by an ambush.
  • Protection from Energy: This is typically outshined by absorb elements except in the specific circumstances when you are constantly being subjected to a type of damage.
  • Remove Curse: Cursed items can be absolutely brutal. This is an excellent way to make sure your party member isn't possessed by a demon after the put on a locket they found in a haunted house.
  • Revivify: Every party needs a party member with revivify. The nature of D&D is such that PC deaths happen fairly easily, so your friends will be looking to you to save them from that fate. Because each round of combat is 6 seconds, a party member that dies during combat can typically be revived within 1 minute. Make sure you've got diamonds worth 300 gp on you if you're planning on stocking this spell.
  • Sending: Solid communication spell for at least one party member to have.
  • Speak with Dead: Get some interesting lore, help solve a mystery, or get advice on how to proceed through a dungeon.
  • Spirit Guardians: Acts as a deterrent against melee attackers or gives them a hard time moving away. This will be especially potent if you plan on diving into the fray.
  • Spirit Shroud: Most spellcasters can skip this, but if you're a martial spellcaster that attacks multiple times a turn, this is definitely worth it.
  • Tongues: Most of the time, it will be tough to justify a 3rd-level spell for the effect this produces. Of course, understanding a creature and allowing it to understand you could have the potential to stop a terrible situation unfolding. This is a spell that would be worthwhile to prepare for specific situations, but is too niche to consider stocking all the time.
  • Water Walk: This is likely not to see use in an entire campaign.

4th level

  • Banishment: Get rid of creatures from another plane, or take out a big threat for most of the combat. One of the better save or suck spells out there. Keep in mind that, unless the creature is natively from another plane, they will return after the spell ends.
  • Control Water: A very effective spell, but only if you’re around water.
  • Death Ward: Has an 8-hour duration and doesn't require concentration so it could be a good spell to cast pre-emptively if you have the ability to regain spell slots during a short rest.
  • Divination: This is best used when you're asking about a relatively straightforward event that will happening in the near future. As with most "message from a deity" spells, it relies heavily on your DM and is intentionally vague which can impact its usefulness.
  • Freedom of Movement: It’s nice to give extra movement options to allies, but there are better buff spells and this one is pretty situational.
  • Guardian of Faith: A decent way to get some extra damage in if you know that a fight will take place in a specific location. Guardian of faith can also be used as a sort of alarm when taking a long rest in a dangerous place.
  • Locate Creature: More thorough than locate animals or plants, and can be used to find people. It’s still pretty situational.
  • Stone Shape: Can be used to deal damage if you get creative, or circumvent annoying parts of caves and dungeons since they are usually made of stone.

5th level

  • Commune: Better than augury and divination to get the answers you need, since it’s a simple “yes or no” and you have to be given a correct answer.
  • Contagion: The poisoned condition is a pretty strong one and this spell grants the condition on-hit for at least 3 turns. You get the potential for more turns under the poisoned condition and a lasting effect which are both quite strong. Make sure to avoid casting this on constructs, undead, fiends, or elementals.
  • Dispel Evil and Good: Absolutely amazing spell to use when fighting celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead, which are all common enemy types. Not only do their attacks have disadvantage against you, each time you land a hit, they will be forced to make a CHA save or be banished back to their home plane. Simply an amazing spell in the correct circumstances.
  • Flame Strike: Not particularly exciting when compared to fireball. It does the same amount of damage but has a better damage type (half radiant/half fire) and has a slightly larger radius. The "improved" damage type doesn't mean much because it still does half of it's damage as fire damage. So, if you're looking to work around fire resistance, this won't be a worthwhile choice.
  • Geas: Not for use in combat but has extremely potent effects if you can cast it. The max damage this can do is 5d10 a day, so it's best used on a particularly influential commoner.
  • Greater Restoration: Great spell to have that can get you or party members out of very tricky situations.
  • Hallow: More of a DM spell than a player spell. It has an extremely long casting time and no particularly potent effects.
  • Holy Weapon: Doing a 1st-level Divine Smite's worth of damage every time you hit is pretty great. Being able to do AoE damage and Blind as a bonus action at the end of the spell is a nice bonus if you end up getting surrounded. If you'll be using this as part of your build, picking up Resilient (CON) would be worth it.
  • Insect Plague: A decent AoE damage and crowd control option.
  • Legend Lore: Gain some knowledge on things of legendary importance. While cool, it doesn’t do much most of the time.
  • Mass Cure Wounds: Range, multiple targets, and decent healing power. One of the best bang-for-your-buck spells if you have multiple party members down.
  • Planar Binding: The 1 hour casting time makes this a fairly hard spell to pull off. If you manage to pull it off, this can be an extremely powerful spell when combined with summon greater demon or something of the like.
  • Raise Dead: A more powerful resurrection spell than revivify because it has a 10 day time span and can cure Poisons and Diseases. Unfortunately, if you resurrectee is missing their head or other body parts, you'll have to wait until you get resurrection.
  • Scrying: Useful but niche.
  • Summon Celestial: One of the best summon spells from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The celestial you summon has flight, ranged and melee attacks, radiant damage, and healing abilities.

6th level

  • Blade Barrier: Most wall spells are worthwhile ways to divide a battlefield and provided a consistent source of damage and blade barrier is no different.
  • Create Undead: You can create stronger undead than with animate dead but main downside is the higher spell slot required. Create undead isn't usually worth it when creating a troop of undead servants to follow you around, because it will require too many spell slots to maintain.
  • Find the Path: Lousy effect, especially for a spell at 6th-level.
  • Forbiddance: This is an extremely effective way to protect a large space from extradimensional enemies. Only really worth it if you have a stronghold that you need to protect.
  • Harm: 14d6 damage isn't anything to turn your nose up at, but is outpaced by most other spells that inflict AoE damage. The only real use for this spell would be if you're fighting a single, really tough enemy. This spell really shines if the single, really tough enemy has abilities to heal themselves because it can reduce their hit point maximum.
  • Heal: Strong, dependable healing with no roll needed. Also can be used at range and has some of the lesser restoration benefits built in. At 6th-level, it's expensive but worth it if you can use its effects to the fullest.
  • Heroes’ Feast: The expensive casting cost doesn’t take away from the undeniably powerful buff your whole party will receive. The benefits also last a full adventuring day and don't require concentration. Great spell to burn the night before a deadly battle.
  • Planar Ally: This can be an extremely powerful spell if you're on good terms with the deity you're beseeching for aid, and the creature that they send. This usually works best for lawful good relationships when you're fighting an obviously evil force. This can be an extremely powerful spell because the creature that is sent isn't limited by CR like most other summon spells. Although, this can get extremely expensive for long-term endeavors. It's quite hard to rate this spell because so much is left up to the individual campaign, and the DM.
  • True Seeing: Gain the abilities of truesight, spotting secret doors, and seeing into the ethereal plane, all without concentration. This will be effective at some point but a 6th level spell is steep.
  • Word of Recall: Allows you to instantaneously pull the plug if things are going south, or simply skip the long trek back home to avoid potential encounters. Requires prep and you could have trouble getting everyone within 5 feet of you quickly enough in a losing battle but still a great contingency to have.

7th level

  • Conjure Celestial: You don't have a lot of choice when choosing the celestial you're summoning. It will either be a Pegasus (CR 2), Couatl (CR 4), or Unicorn (CR 5—requires spell slot 9). That said, if summoning a Couatl is definitely worth the 6th-level spell slot, its a powerful ally that can fly, has a good AC, a decent amount of hit points, useful spells, and good attacks. If your DM lets you pick the celestial to conjure, this is a worthwhile and very effective spell. If not, and you either get a CR 2 ally or a CR 4 ally randomly, it's not quite as worth it.
  • Divine Word: This is a situational spell that will make you feel like a literal god in the right circumstances. Obviously this is at its best for larger groups of enemies with few hit points, at which point you can impose massive debuffs to all of them (or just straight up kill them). Also, if you're fighting more than four celestials, elementals, fey, fiends that are not on their plane of origin, this automatically becomes better than banishment.
  • Etherealness: This spell allows you to fly or move through solid objects, while not being affected or able to affect creatures not on the Ethereal Plane. You can only target yourself but there is no concentration. Pretty middle of the road all around.
  • Fire Storm: Depending on the size and position of the crowd you are fighting, this can either be insanely big damage or an easy to aim fireball. Most of the time it will be the latter.
  • Plane Shift: Good utility to run away from a fight that has turned south, or force a CHA save to avoid getting banished.
  • Regenerate: Not much more healing than mass cure wounds, but it does have the advantage of growing limbs.
  • Resurrection: Death is temporary when you’ve got resurrection. Because there is no time limit like revivify, this can be stocked when required.
  • Symbol: Can be useful if you're setting a trap or protecting an area from enemies. Can be used in a pinch because of the 1 minute casting time. Unfortunately, it's quite expensive due to the 1,000 gp worth of powdered diamond or opal. This spell is certainly more DM-focused than player-focused.

8th level

  • Antimagic Field: You want to be able to cast spells as a spellcaster, and this spell prevents that. Maybe there is some powerful magic around you that you want to stop, but you’re better off tackling that problem with a spell of your own and taking another 8th level spell instead.
  • Control Weather: This is one of those spells that could have massive repercussions outside of combat. Its effect is extremely powerful though its uses may not be.
  • Earthquake: There is way too much left up to the DM’s discretion for this spell to be effective in combat. The only use I can see for this spell would be destroying a city.
  • Holy Aura: Wow, what a buff. Having all attacks against creatures in the aura at disadvantage and all saving throws at advantage can massively turn the tides of the encounter. Plus, at higher-levels your more likely to run into fiends or undead which provides a whole other level of value.

9th level

  • Astral Projection: Niche and you will probably have some other reason for getting to the Astral Plane if you need to be there.
  • Gate: Helps you move to another plane of existence, which you can hopefully already do by 18th-level. The feature which allows you to summon a creature from another plane can be extremely hit-or-miss because you don't gain any control over the creature. Be careful of what kind of cosmic horror you might accidentally unleash upon your world…
  • Mass Heal: The best healing spell a healer can hope for. 700 hit points divided as you choose can essentially hit the "reset" button on an encounter you were about to lose. Also bundled with some lesser restoration benefits.
  • True Resurrection: Crazy expensive material components and requires a 9th-levels spell makes this a tough choice when regular resurrection will often be good enough. Providing a new body to the resurrected creature is the other main benefit, since you might want to resurrect some legendary hero whose body has been lost.

Best Multiclass Options for Clerics

Multiclassing is always an opportunity cost; you have to determine if taking a level of another class is worth what you will lose from the original class. Many factors come into this decision, with the main factor being how long your campaign will run and, ultimately, what level you will be playing until.

Clerics aren’t the best class for multiclassing due to their reliance on multiple ability scores. Additionally, they can already cast spells and fight in melee range, so there isn’t too much to be gained from other classes. However, clerics are one of the more interesting classes to multiclass with. Clerics choose their domain at 1st-level, so builds can get a fair amount of value for just a one-level dip.

Druid: Druids also cast spells with WIS, so you won’t need to worry about INT or CHA. There are some good spells on the druid’s spell list that clerics usually can’t get, as well as Wild Shape. Although, clerics will have to forgo metal armor to multiclass into a druid.

Fighter: A few fighter levels can be great if you want to focus more on fighting than spellcasting. Access to all weapons and armor leaves you open to many build options. With Action Surge you could cast two spells in a single turn, laying down destruction or bringing your party up from the brink of defeat.

Monk: Monks also rely on WIS, ensuring that you won’t be wasting any stat points. This creates the possibility for a DEX-based cleric that dips into the Monk. Unarmored Defense could get you quite far with a high DEX score.

Wizard/Sorcerer: Combining the cleric and the wizard’s or sorcerer’s spell list will give you an absurd amount of spells to choose from, but will also delay getting access to the more powerful spells at higher levels. Low-level spells like absorb elements, shield, and feather fall will have a lot of utility on a cleric. The most common option is for wizards or sorcerers to take a one-level dip into cleric to pick up heavy armor proficiencies, the guidance cantrip, and healing spells.

Sources Used in This Guide

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

7 thoughts on “Cleric

  1. Hey, one thing. Great guide, but the Blessings of Knowledge 1st-level feature of the Knowledge Domain doesn’t just give proficiency in two good skills, it gives expertise in the skills chosen as well. This makes it almost certainly the best domain to choose for the classic and most likely optimal Cleric 1 -> Wizard 19 build, as both proficiency and expertise in two of your best skills, not to mention two more skills being proficient, much less expertise, is just huge in general in 5e (and a big part of the Half-Elf’s overall strength)… and languages can’t possibly hurt, even if Comprehend Languages is a ritual spell.

    Thanks for all your time and effort! <3

    1. Funny you mention that, we just updated the guide to include this! I find the best combo to be cleric 1 / wizard x. Wizards can then get access to heavy armor proficiency, the guideance spell, and healing spells.

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