The DnD 5e Cleric Guide

Published on May 7, 2020

, Last modified on July 26th, 2020

In this post, we will be examining the Cleric’s Class Features and how you can optimize your Cleric through choosing your Race, Ability Score, Spells, Feats, etc. This article will focus primarily on content from the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook, but will also delve into some of the content in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e Cleric. For a quick overview on the Cleric Class, see our breakdown of the DnD 5e Classes. You can see the Cleric Class Features here.

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.

Before You Start

Races

Check out our Guide to DnD Races for non-standard races. Keep in mind, most races and subraces are limited by the setting and source material chosen by the DM. Check with your DM before selecting any of the races not listed below.

Clerics are a spellcasting class that uses WIS, so prioritize this. CON is important because you can’t heal your party if you’re dead, can you? Clerics can also be effective at playing the role of tank, so STR and DEX are useful depending on your build. 

Dragonborn: 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.

  • Hill: Adding an increase to WIS makes the Hill Dwarf the perfect choice when it comes to Clerics.
  • Mountain: STR is good if you want to wear heavy armor. It also helps with damage for heavy weapons.

Elf: DEX is good for initiative and light armor capabilities and Perception pairs well with the Cleric’s presumably high WIS score. No WIS bonus is the real downside here. Advantage on saving throws against being charmed and immunity to being put to sleep keeps you healing and buffing your party in dangerous situations.

  • Drow ElfCHA won’t do a Cleric much good and sunlight sensitivity is annoying.
  • High Elf: INT is useless for Clerics.
  • Wood Elf: Small WIS bonus and increased walking speed is nice.

Gnome: INT is useless for Clerics.

  • Forest: A DEX bonus can be okay depending on your build. Minor Illusion is useful if nobody in your party has it, but that’s highly unlikely.
  • Rock: The only thing worth mentioning is the CON boost that helps the Cleric’s survivability.

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. 

Half-Orc: STR is good depending on the build and CON is always welcome. Relentless Endurance keeps you in the fight to save your friends. The lack of WIS hurts though.

Halfling: DEX is good for light armor Clerics and Lucky is always nice to have.

  • Lightfoot: CHA is mostly wasted on a Cleric and they don’t typically have a reason to hide behind allies.
  • Stout: More CON never hurts, but nothing else is relevant here.

Human: Humans are always decent.

  • Vanilla: A middle of the road pick because they increase all their ability scores by 1.
  • Variant: Increased WIS and a feat at 1st level. Variant Humans are simply a solid choice for most classes.

TieflingTieflings don’t have any features that make them appealing for a Cleric.

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.

DEX: Good for light armor Clerics, bad for heavy armor Clerics.

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 hitdice. 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. 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!

Knowledge Domain
  • 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: A smart command word can disarm a dangerous enemy.
      • Identify: If you immediately need to identify an item or a spell, this spell can save lives. Most of the time, it won’t be that time sensitive, in which case you can do it during a rest.
    • 3rd Level
      • Augury: Augury is such a fun spell. It’s probably not as good as we think it is but it makes for some amusing circumstances and keeps the game moving along if your party tends to be indecisive. 
      • Suggestion: Open up new possibilities for your adventure by making an uncooperative NPC less of a headache or disarming an enemy.
    • 5th Level
      • Nondetection: Your campaign will really cater to this spell for it to have any kind of application. You often won’t even cast this once for an entire campaign.
      • Speak With Dead: Better than Nondetection because you are rather likely to encounter a corpse at some point. Get some interesting lore, help solve a mystery, or get advice on how to proceed through a dungeon.
    • 7th Level
      • Arcane Eye: Good scouting tool since it can be moved.
      • Confusion: Not the best crowd control spell because the outcome is random. Even if the creature fails the save they may still get to act normally or attack your allies at random.
    • 9th Level:
      • Legend Lore: Gain some knowledge on things of legendary importance. While cool, it doesn’t do much most of the time.
      • Scrying: Similar to Legend Lore, but let’s you see what people are doing.
  • Blessings of Knowledge: It’s always helpful to know more languages. Plus, proficiency in two skills makes you more useful to the party.
  • Channel Divinity: Knowledge of the Ages: More ways to be useful to your party. 
  • 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.
  • Potent Spellcasting: If you’ve been increasing WIS with your ASI, Potent Spellcasting gives you a significant damage increase with your cantrips.
  • 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 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: Having a buff this good at 1st level will help you breeze through low level encounters.
      • Cure Wounds: You need healing spells for your party, especially at low levels where a single attack can decimate a character. 
    • 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: Some enemies need to be taken down by magical means. Spiritual Weapon is a good early level solution to that problem. Also improves the Cleric’s ability to dish out damage. 
    • 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: Pretty much every Cleric wants Revivify, even if they aren’t in the Life Domain. 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.
    • 7th Level
      • Death Ward: Some redundancy with Revivify, but it is preemptive instead. Sometimes it feels bad to waste a spell slot if encounters weren’t as deadly as you thought they’d be. 
      • 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: This spell feels unnecessary since you have Preserve Life. However, since Preserve Life can only be used once per short rest, you may find a use for Mass Cure Wounds on particularly encounter-heavy days.
      • Raise Dead: Raise Dead is different from Revivify in that it takes longer to cast, but also works on creatures that have been dead for longer, so it is used outside of combat. Naturally, it gets used far less often. It also kind of takes away the narrative gravity of a PC dying, for better or for worse. If the creature you’re healing managed to lose its head the spell will still fail.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Divine Strike: Divine Strike helps your melee damage output not fall too far behind the other classes. 
  • 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 Spells: The Light Domain spell list turns the Cleric into a spellslingin’, damage dealin’ powerhouse.
    • 1st Level
      • Burning Hands: Early game, Burning Hands delivers an effective way to deal damage to multiple enemies at once.
      • Faerie Fire: Giving your allies advantage is really good, especially if you have a Rogue in the party. Invisible creatures are also a nuisance, so having a way to deal with them right off the bat is sweet.
    • 3rd Level
      • Flaming Sphere: Mediocre damage and a save. 
      • Scorching Ray: Good ranged spell damage, and can hit multiple targets if you want them to.
    • 5th Level
      • Daylight: The Light cantrip on steroids. Dispelling darkness could be situationally useful.
      • Fireball: Everyone loves Fireball! This iconic spell punches above its weight for getting it at such an early level.
    • 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: Walls are always sweet. Split up the battlefield to your liking and punish enemies that get too close.
    • 9th Level:
      • Flame Strike: The Light Domain Cleric already has Fireball as their massive AoE spell. Nice if you want radiant damage.
      • Scrying: Usually not too impressive, but can come in handy in specific circumstances.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Potent Spellcasting: If you’ve been increasing WIS with your ASI, Potent Spellcasting gives you a significant damage increase with your cantrips.
  • 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
  • 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: Situationally useful to avoid a fight.
      • Speak with Animals: Situationally useful to learn more about a place or to get something done.
    • 3rd Level
      • Barkskin: Like a worse Mage Armor becauses it requires concentration.
      • 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: Out of all the wall-based spells out there, Wind Wall ranks among the worst.
    • 7th Level
      • Dominate Beast: Yet another spell to use only on beasts. If a Nature Domain Cleric doesn’t encounter many beasts, they are going to have a bad time.
      • Grasping Vine: Only really works if you can pull the creature into something that is actually going to hurt it.
    • 9th Level:
      • Insect Plague: Finally 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Tempest Domain
  • 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. It can help you hide and get your Rogue into Sneak Attack position, or lure enemies into a trap.
      • Thunderwave: Hit multiple enemies for damage and push them away on a failed save. Not much more you can ask for at 1st level.
    • 3rd Level
      • Gust of Wind: Annoy your foes with a breeze. 
      • Shatter: Mediocre damage.
    • 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: If you find yourself near water a lot, Control Water is quite powerful. Otherwise not so much.
      • Ice Storm: The damage for an AoE spell isn’t too shabby.
    • 9th Level:
      • Destructive Wave: Really good damage, and knocking enemies prone is great.
      • Insect Plague: Finally 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.
  • 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.
  • Thunderbolt Strike: The option of pushing creatures away from you with a lightning attack is quite a bit of utility.
  • Divine Strike: This time it’s only lightning damage, which doesn’t put it on par with the Nature Cleric’s Divine Strike.
  • Stormborn: A true superhero ability. Flying whenever you want just feels cool. Sadly it can only be done outdoors.
Trickery Domain
  • 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.
      • Disguise Self: Helps you infiltrate an off-limits area with the help of Charm Person.
    • 3rd Level
      • Mirror Image: One of the best ways of avoiding damage.
      • Pass Without Trace: Turn your whole party into a team of assassins. 
    • 5th Level
      • Blink: Another good way to avoid damage, but if you need to be tanking for your squishy friends you probably shouldn’t cast this.
      • Dispel Magic: The need for this spell comes up far more often than most other situational type abilities.
    • 7th Level
      • Dimension Door: A way to teleport is important for any party.
      • Polymorph: Always a good time. Turn your ally into a giant beast or your enemy into a rat while you obliterate his friends. Or turn into a creature that flies to get to those hard to reach places.
    • 9th Level:
      • Dominate Person: Make your enemy fight your battles for you or get you into a restricted place.
      • Modify Memory: Another pretty solid tool for your infiltration missions.
  • Blessing of the Trickster: Heavy armor users get disadvantage on stealth checks, so using this feature cancels out that penalty. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Divine Strike: Possibly the worst version of Divine Strike, since poison is a common resistance to have.
  • Improved Duplicity: Having four duplicates opens up a lot of options during battle. Your enemies will probably also waste some attacks on your illusions.
War Domain
  • War Domain Spells: This spell list is well-rounded to suit many fighting situations.
    • 1st Level
      • Divine Favor: More damage with a bonus action will allow you to clear out those early game monsters.
      • Shield of Faith: Additional AC is quite good, sadly it uses concentration.
    • 3rd Level
      • Magic Weapon: Making your weapon magical is necessary against some enemy types. Concentration hurts though.
      • Spiritual Weapon: Another way to hurt those magic resistant creatures. It uses a bonus action and doesn’t require concentration.
    • 5th Level
      • Crusader’s Mantle: Great if you have loads of martial characters with you, poor in a party of casters. Concentration once again.
      • Spirit Guardians: Acts as a deterrent against melee attackers or gives them a hard time moving away. It is also quite flavorful.
    • 7th Level
      • Freedom of Movement: Extremely good when your DM throws crowd control effects your way, or you decide to take a trip underwater.
      • Stoneskin: Similar to Avatar of Battle. Can be used on other creatures but requires concentration. Not a bad placeholder.
    • 9th Level:
      • Flame Strike: Flame Strike is much better here than with the Light Domain because you don’t have Fireball. 
      • Hold Monster: Great way to swing the odds in your favor by taking a threat out of the action.
  • 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: It’s rare that you would want to use your bonus action for an attack, and the number of times you can do it is limited to your WIS modifier. 
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Avatar of Battle: Nonmagical weapons no longer scare you. Nice.

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 weak one at that. There are a multitude of other ways to kill your undead foes, so you probably will want to use your action to do that instead. The CR of undead you can kill with this is pitifully low, even as it scales up at higher levels.

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.

Feats

Many feats aren’t suited to the Cleric Class, but we will go over the ones that you may consider. Since Clerics are a full caster class, maximizing their WIS to get the most out of spells should be a priority. This means that taking too many feats is usually a bad idea.

  • 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.
  • Lucky: Lucky is a feat that is useful to any character.
  • 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. Booming Blade and Minor Illusion for the cantrips nicely fill out your other needs.
  • Resilient: Being better at saves is great for Clerics since they need to keep up their concentration a lot of the time.
  • War Caster: Advantage on CON saves and casting spells as opportunity attacks are both beneficial components of this feat. In addition, you won’t need a free hand to cast, meaning you can hold your shield or weapons in both hands. Overall a really solid choice since Clerics are often in melee range.

Cleric Spells

Clerics have access to a lot of spells. Therefore, we think it would be the most beneficial to only talk about our favorite spells at each level, and which ones to avoid. Just remember that this doesn’t mean the ones we don’t mention are necessarily bad or don’t have a purpose.

For a full list of Cleric spells click here.

Cantrips

  • Guidance: Outside of combat, you can use this literally every time a party member makes an ability check.
  • Light: Useful, but you can probably go without it.
  • Mending: Situational.
  • Sacred Flame: Good ranged damage option early on. Also scales well as a source of radiant damage.
  • Thaumaturgy: Much worse than Minor Illusion or Prestidigitation.

1st Level Spells

  • Bless: Like Guidance but for attack rolls. Consistently landing attacks is important, and Bless gets the job done at early levels.
  • Command: Not quite as good if you don’t get it for free from your Domain. There are better options for 1st level spells.
  • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it. 
  • Detect Magic: Every party should roll with at least one character who has access to Detect Magic.
  • Guiding Bolt: Fantastic damage early on, and if the creature didn’t die the next attack against it gets advantage which should do the trick.
  • Healing Word: The healing potential doesn’t quite stack up with other healing spells, but Healing Word is a bonus action and can be cast from 60ft away. You can heal a critically wounded ally and still have your turn free to do as you please.
  • Sanctuary: A good use of your bonus action to protect your weaker allies.
  • Shield of Faith: A good use of your bonus action and concentration.

2nd Level Spells

  • Aid: 5 hit points can make a huge difference in keeping the party alive, or it can do nothing if hit with a big attack. Can be cast at higher levels.
  • Augury: Augury is such a fun spell. It’s probably not as good as we think it is but it makes for some amusing circumstances and keeps the game moving along if your party tends to be indecisive. 
  • Enhance Ability: This spell does it all. Use it when Guidance won’t quite do the trick.
  • Find Traps: Reveals the presence of traps but not their exact location. Clerics can find much better uses for their spell slots.
  • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do.
  • Silence: Many spellcasters will be thwarted by Silence. The effectiveness of this spell only increases at higher levels when faced with more deadly spellcasting foes.
  • Spiritual Weapon: Some enemies need to be taken down by magical means. Spiritual Weapon is a good early level solution to that problem. Also improves the Cleric’s ability to dish out damage. 
  • 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 Spells

  • Animate Dead: Goes against what many Clerics stand for, but more creatures on your side means improving the action economy in your favor.
  • Beacon of Hope: Not a good spell because you need to use a turn as a set up by casting it, and then a turn using its main benefit on the following turn.
  • Bestow Curse: With four different curses to choose from, Bestow Curse has the potential to cripple an enemy in a way that will be the most beneficial to your party.
  • Dispel Magic: Just like Detect Magic, every party should have a character with this spell at their disposal.
  • 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. If you’re in that situation, you’re often better off finishing the fight as quickly as possible and then using Revivify as needed.
  • Revivify: Pretty much mandatory for Clerics. People will expect you to have this ready to go every time you go out adventuring. Bringing allies back from the dead is extremely valuable.
  • Spirit Guardians: Acts as a deterrent against melee attackers or gives them a hard time moving away. It is also quite flavorful.

4th Level Spells

  • Banishment: Get rid of creatures from another plane, or take out a big threat for most of combat. They have to perform a saving throw, but CHA is often not a high stat for those enemies.
  • Control Water: If you find yourself near water a lot, Control Water is quite powerful. Otherwise not so much.
  • Death Ward: Some redundancy with Revivify, but it is preemptive instead. Sometimes it feels bad to waste a spell slot if encounters weren’t as deadly as you thought they’d be. 
  • Divination: In the same vein as Augury; it is a good way to keep an indecisive party moving. Plus, it’s loads of fun to put your DM on the spot!
  • 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.
  • 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 Spells

  • Commune: Even 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.
  • Dawn: Another AoE damage spell. It can be moved and causes radiant damage.
  • Flame Strike: Unless you’re a Light Domain Cleric you won’t have access to Fireball, so this spell is an option for AoE damage.
  • Hallow: A long casting time, but very valuable if you know where a fight will take place and what you’ll be up against.
  • 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.
  • Greater Restoration: Much better than Lesser Restoration for those hard to cure ailments.
  • Raise Dead: Raise Dead is different from Revivify in that it takes longer to cast, but also works on creatures that have been dead for longer (up to 10 days), so it is used outside of combat. Naturally, it gets used far less often. It also kind of takes away the narrative gravity of a PC dying, for better or for worse. DMs can prevent it from working at all because the body can’t be completely destroyed to use the spell.

6th Level Spells

  • Create Undead: The undead you create are not really that much better than from Animate Dead to justify picking up both.
  • Find the Path: Lousy effect, especially for a spell at 6th level.
  • Heal: Strong, dependable healing with no roll needed. Also can be used at range and has some of the Lesser Restoration benefits built in.
  • Heroes’ Feast: The expensive casting cost doesn’t take away from the undeniably powerful buff your whole party will receive.
  • True Seeing: Situational, but so effective if there is magically tomfoolery around.
  • 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. The challenge will be getting everyone within 5 feet of you quickly enough in a losing battle.

7th Level Spells 

  • Conjure Celestial: Depends greatly on what celestial playthings your DM will let you have.
  • Divine Word: Obviously better for larger groups of enemies with few hit points, at which point it can decimate them. Casting this on a single bad dude won’t get you very far. Also good to return hostile creatures to their plane of origin.
  • Plane Shift: Trying to reach other planes of existence is often a hassle. Avoid that with this one simple trick! Can also be used to get rid of a creature permanently.
  • Regenerate: Pretty good healing as well as healing over time. The second bit works much better outside of combat of course.
  • Resurrection: The ultimate “return from the dead” spell since the creature can have been dead for up to a century. It can be situationally good for story reasons, or good to cast on a party member if you really had to wait more than 10 days for whatever reason.

8th Level Spells

  • Antimagic Field: Many effects bundled into one; this is the ultimate magic hate spell. Unfortunately, Clerics also love to cast spells so this stops them just as much as anyone else.
  • Control Weather: You probably don’t want to bother with this spell. Changing the weather is rarely a necessity.
  • Earthquake: Can be devastating to enemies. It is also very unpredictable, especially near buildings or other large debris.
  • Holy Aura: Wow, what a buff. Anything your DM can throw at you instantly becomes much less scary to fight.

9th Level Spells

  • Astral Projection: If you’re thinking of heading into the Astral Plane, this is a great way to do it. It’s a dangerous place and Astral Projection makes it a bit safer. You can still die if your cord is cut or someone with malintent stumbles upon your helpless body back in the Material Plane.
  • Gate: Helps you move to another plane of existence or you can summon a creature from another plane. Be careful of what kind of cosmic horror you might accidentally unleash upon your world…
  • Mass Heal: The best healing spell a Cleric can hope to learn. 700 hit points divided as you choose is a mind-blowing amount. Also bundled with some Lesser Restoration benefits.
  • True Resurrection: Crazy expensive and regular Resurrection will often be good enough, since a century isn’t all that different from two centuries in the grand scheme of things. 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.

Hope you liked the guide! If you have any questions or feel like we missed something for the 5e Cleric, go ahead and post a comment below. If you like our content subscribe to Arcane Eye!

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