Hey guys, we’re gearing up for a happy holiday season and we’re going to kick off by taking a look at the new Unearthed Arcana releases for the last month. The Mad Wizards of the Coast are playtesting a bunch of new options for the core classes from the Player’s Handbook (my guess is as a prelude to releasing a new player’s handbook or options book). These offer a lot of new ideas and spins for players looking to spice up the world’s greatest roleplaying game. Today we’re going to take a look at the Cleric archetypes. Remember, these are playtest material, so they aren’t compatible with adventurer’s league play, yet. We’ve got three new Cleric domains, Forge, Grave, and Protection. Each one plays a little differently, and adds some new options for our cleric playing friends. Let’s take a closer look at each domain..
The Forge Domain
The Forge Domain represents the divine powers of craftsmanship in all its splendid glories. From the humble smith making horse shoes to the dwarven master shaping jewelry for royalty, all of these ideas and concepts come together within the forge domain. These are clerics that take joy in their work and love to show off the heavy armor they’ve crafted and decorated. These clerics have specific domain spells and have alternative abilities at 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 17th level. Note: Forge Domain clerics are proficient with Heavy Armor.
1st Level: Searing Smite, Shield
3rd Level: Heat Metal, Magic Weapon
5th Level: Elemental Weapon, Protection from Energy
7th Level: Fabricate, Wall of Fire
9th Level: Animate Objects, Creation
The domain spell options this time fall into the traditional roles of either shaping metal or setting things on fire, which works for the motif. A Little surprised to see Fabricate and Creation on this list, but that’s fine. At low levels, with judicious application of searing smite plus the other 1st level ability that Forge Clerics have may finish a lot of boss fights against non fire resistant monsters.
Blessing of the Forge
At 1st level, the Forge Domain cleric can imbue a non-magical weapon or suit of armor with magical power. At the end of a long rest, the cleric touches a suit of armor, a simple weapon, or a martial weapon. Until the end of the cleric’s next long rest, the item is considered to be magical, granting a +1 bonus to AC if armor, or +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls if a weapon. This ability does a lot to get around monsters that have resistances or immunities to non-magic weapons, and with an offensive cleric build, it can position a cleric as a primary damage dealer. The other thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to be the cleric’s item touched, so the tank fighter may get a boost to his AC, or the damage dealing barbarian may have just gotten a boost. Thanks Forge Cleric *Cue inspirational music*
Channel Divinity: Artisan’s Blessing
At 2nd level, the Forge Domain cleric gets another interesting ability. They can use their channel divinity ability to craft simple items. Starting at the beginning of a short rest, the cleric can perform a ritual that allows the cleric to craft a finished item as long as part of it is made of metal. The item can’t cost more than 100 gp, and it does require treasure, raw materials, or objects of equal value to make the new item (no turning copper into gold without massive quantities of copper). It can be an exact copy of a nonmagical item, like a signet ring, key or other small metallic item as long as the cleric has the original on hand during the ritual.
Soul of the Forge
At 6th level, prolonged study and contemplation of the forge provides a bunch of interesting benefits.
- +1 bonus to Armor Class wearing medium or Heavy Armor
- Resistance to Fire damage
- When hitting a monster of the construct type, the cleric deals additional force damage equal to their cleric level.
At 8th level, the Forge Domain cleric can imbue their attacks with fiery, burning death. Once per turn, when the cleric hits a creature with a weapon attack, they can cause the attack to do an additional 1D8 points of fire damage. Note, this does not require a bonus action nor a reaction to activate, meaning the cleric can still be throwing healing words while mashing faces. The damage increases to 2D8 at level 14.
Saint of Forge and Fire
At 14th level, the Forge Domain cleric gets their capstone ability, and it’s a doozy. The cleric is immune to Fire damage, and while in heavy armor has resistance to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage.
Overall, this cleric domain works very well as a utility player. Being able to make a magic weapon at low levels can be remarkably handy, and while that ability loses some of its punch over time, the other abilities (especially the increased resistances and extra burning damage) mean that this cleric is happy on the front line. This is probably a melee focused cleric build with the emphasis on Heavy Armor (and the strength that you’ll need to wear it), but you can have a lot of fun wading into enemies and smacking them with your forging hammer.
The Grave Domain
The Grave Domain is utilized by gods and divinities that despise the walking dead, and have charged their minions to oppose and obliterate these foes wherever they crop up. This is a tradition as old as dungeons and dragons itself, and we’re going to take a closer look at the Domain Spells and features that the Grave Domain offers for a cleric. These clerics have specific domain spells and have alternative abilities at 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 17th level. Note: Grave Domain clerics are proficient with Heavy Armor.
1st Level: Bane, False Life
3rd Level: Gentle Repose, Ray of Enfeeblement
5th Level: Revivify, Vampiric Touch
7th Level: Blight, Death Ward
9th Level: Antilife Shell, Raise Dead
The Domain spells for the Grave Domain are keyed to the themes of either bringing the unquiet dead back to silence, or they are intended to prevent the living and the dead from interacting. They’re also very useful at putting the living in their graves as well, with blight, vampiric touch, and antilife shell.
Circle of Mortality
At 1st level, when a Grave Domain cleric heals a creature that’s at 0 hit points, they automatically heal the maximum of damage the spell they are casting heals. In addition, they can cast Spare the Dying (if they know it) as a bonus action.
Eyes of the Grave
Also at 1st level, A Grave Domain cleric can spend 1 uninterrupted minute in silent contemplation to determine the presence and nature of any undead creatures within 1 mile. This provides direction and distance, and the type of undead with the highest challenge rating. This ability recharges on a long rest.
Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave
At 2nd level, the Grave Domain cleric gets the ability to channel divinity to mark a creature for death. As an action, the cleric touches a creature, and the next time that creature takes damage from an attack or spell from the cleric or one of it’s allies, that creature has vulnerability to that form of attack. If it causes multiple types of damage, the target is vulnerable to all of those types. If the targeted creature has resistance or immunity, it loses whichever one it has, and takes damage normally.
Sentinel at Death’s Door
At 6th level, the Grave Domain cleric can use its reaction to turn a critical hit into a normal hit on any ally within 30 feet (or the cleric itself). Any special critical hit effects triggered by this critical are cancelled. This ability recharges on a short or long rest.
At 8th level, the Grave Domain cleric can imbue their attacks with lingering, hateful death. Once per turn, when the cleric hits a creature with a weapon attack, they can cause the attack to do an additional 1D8 points of necrotic damage. Note, this does not require a bonus action nor a reaction to activate, meaning the cleric can still be throwing healing words while mashing faces. The damage increases to 2D8 at level 14. This seems like a failure of imagination, because the damage is necrotic, which most undead are resistant or immune to. I think Radiant damage is probably the better choice from a “seeing this ability used against stuff” perspective.
Keeper of Souls
At 17th level, the Grave Domain cleric gains the ability to manipulate the line between life and death. When an enemy the cleric can see that is within 30 feet of them dies, they can either heal themselves or an ally within 30 feet a number of hit points equal to the enemy’s number of hit dice. This ability can not be used if the cleric is incapacitated, nor more than once per round.
Overall i think the Grave Domain gives the cleric in question some versatility in how they hunt down and interact with the undead. They also have a variety of options for managing the pain and suffering of living creatures, and the ability to cheat death once in a while. If you’re looking for a different take on a necromantically powered character, but don’t want to play a wizard, this has a couple of interesting ideas for making something different.
The Protection Domain
The Protection Domain is utilized by gods and divinities that see the protection and defense of the weak and helpless as their purview. These are gods who look upon the word and see things worth protecting and fighting for. Thick armor and stout shields are the best defense against evil, and we’re going to take a closer look at the Domain Spells and features that the Protection Domain offers for a cleric. These clerics have specific domain spells and have alternative abilities at 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th, and 17th level. Note: Protection Domain clerics are proficient with Heavy Armor.
1st Level: Compelled Duel, Protection from Evil and Good
3rd Level: Aid, Protection from Poison
5th Level: Protection from Energy, Slow
7th Level: Guardian of Faith, Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere
9th Level: Antilife Shell, Wall of Force
The Domain spells for the Protection Domain are keyed to the themes of either protecting someone indirectly by separating combatants, or direct interference in the form of protection spells and the ever popular Compelled Duel to make someone fight the cleric rather than their desired target.
Shield of the Faithful
At 1st level, a Protection Domain cleric can protect it’s allies. When a creature attacks a target other than the cleric that is within 5 feet of the cleric, the cleric can use its reaction to force disadvantage on the attack roll.
Channel Divinity: Radiant Defense
At 2nd level, the Protection Domain cleric gets the ability to channel divinity to augment the defenses of its allies. As an action, the cleric channels energy into one of its allies within 30 feet. The first creature that hits the warded ally is hit within the next minute takes 2D10+Cleric level in radiant damage. This ability has some issues, in that the cleric can’t target himself or herself with it, and it seems like a much more reactionary ability than the Protection theme. I would rather see an ability that boosts armor class rather than causes damage, because protecting friends from getting hit in the first place seems like something that the Protection Domain seems more inclined to do.
At 6th level, the Protection Domain cleric heals itself while casting healing spells on its allies. As long as the cleric casts a spell with a spell level that targets any creature other than the cleric, it heals Hit Points equal to the spell’s level +2.
At 8th level, the Protection Domain cleric can imbue their attacks with radiant, blessedl death. Once per turn, when the cleric hits a creature with a weapon attack, they can cause the attack to do an additional 1D8 points of radiant damage. Note, this does not require a bonus action nor a reaction to activate, meaning the cleric can still be throwing healing words while mashing faces. The damage increases to 2D8 at level 14.
At 17th level, the Protection Domain cleric gains the ability to shrug off damage of a couple of specific types. The cleric has resistance to their choice of two of the following: bludgeoning, necrotic, piercing, radiant, or slashing. After a short or long rest, the cleric can change their resistances to different things. Further, they can transfer one of their resistances to another creature with a touch. The other creature gains the benefit of resistance until the cleric chooses to take it back with a bonus action, or until a short or long rest has been taken.
Overall i think the Protection Domain gives the cleric in question some versatility in how they protect their allies and fight the good fight. This domain has a couple of weird ability choices, mostly the radiant defense and i’m not necessarily sold on Blessed Healer for a god of protection. It just feels thematically off. I’m also not certain why the Protection Domain only received one first level ability, i don’t think that the ability to force disadvantage on attack rolls within the narrow framework of the Shield the Faithful is that powerful.
Hopefully we get to our good friends the druid and the fighter this week. Check back later in the week to see our kickoff to season 2 of the Adventurer’s League program with a breakdown of Mulmaster and the first adventure in that series.
Game On, Game Fans