Arms and eyes upraised toward the sun and a prayer on his lips, an elf begins to glow with an inner light that spills out to heal his battle-worn companions.
Chanting a song of glory, a dwarf swings his axe in wide swaths to cut through the ranks of orcs arrayed against him, shouting praise to the gods with every foe’s fall.
Calling down a curse upon the forces of undeath, a human lifts her holy symbol as light pours from it to drive back the zombies crowding in on her companions.
Clerics are intermediaries between the mortal world and the distant planes of the gods. As varied as the gods they serve, clerics strive to embody the handiwork of their deities. No ordinary priest, a cleric is imbued with divine magic.
Healers and Warriors
Divine magic, as the name suggests, is the power of the gods, flowing from them into the world. Clerics are conduits for that power, manifesting it as miraculous effects. The gods don’t grant this power to everyone who seeks it, but only to those chosen to fulfill a high calling.
Harnessing divine magic doesn’t rely on study or training. A cleric might learn formulaic prayers and ancient rites, but the ability to cast cleric spells relies on devotion and an intuitive sense of a deity’s wishes.
Clerics combine the helpful magic of healing and inspiring their allies with spells that harm and hinder foes. They can provoke awe and dread, lay curses of plague or poison, and even call down flames from heaven to consume their enemies. For those evildoers who will benefit most from a mace to the head, clerics depend on their combat training to let them wade into melee with the power of the gods on their side.
Not every acolyte or officiant at a temple or shrine is a cleric. Some priests are called to a simple life of temple service, carrying out their gods’ will through prayer and sacrifice, not by magic and strength of arms. In some cities, priesthood amounts to a political office, viewed as a stepping stone to higher positions of authority and involving no communion with a god at all. True clerics are rare in most hierarchies.
When a cleric takes up an adventuring life, it is usually because his or her god demands it. Pursuing the goals of the gods often involves braving dangers beyond the walls of civilization, smiting evil or seeking holy relics in ancient tombs. Many clerics are also expected to protect their deities’ worshipers, which can mean fighting rampaging orcs, negotiating peace between warring nations, or sealing a portal that would allow a demon prince to enter the world.
Most adventuring clerics maintain some connection to established temples and orders of their faiths. A temple might ask for a cleric’s aid, or a high priest might be in a position to demand it.
Creating a Cleric
As you create a cleric, the most important question to consider is which deity to serve and what principles you want your character to embody. The Gods of the Multiverse section includes lists of many of the gods of the multiverse. Check with your DM to learn which deities are in your campaign.
Once you’ve chosen a deity, consider your cleric’s relationship to that god. Did you enter this service willingly? Or did the god choose you, impelling you into service with no regard for your wishes? How do the temple priests of your faith regard you: as a champion or a troublemaker? What are your ultimate goals? Does your deity have a special task in mind for you? Or are you striving to prove yourself worthy of a great quest?
You can make a cleric quickly by following these suggestions. First, Wisdom should be your highest ability score, followed by Strength or Constitution. Second, choose the acolyte background.
The Cleric Table
|-Spell Slots per Spell Level-|
|1st||+2||Spellcasting, Divine Domain||2||2||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2nd||+2||Channel Divinity (1/rest), Divine Domain Feature||2||3||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|4th||+2||Ability Score Improvement||3||4||3||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|5th||+3||Destroy Undead (CR 1/2)||3||4||3||2||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|6th||+3||Channel Divinity (2/rest), Divine Domain Feature||3||4||3||3||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|8th||+3||Ability Score Improvement, Destroy Undead (CR 1), Divine Domain Feature||3||4||3||3||2||—||—||—||—||—|
|11th||+4||Destroy Undead (CR 2)||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||—||—||—|
|12th||+4||Ability Score Improvement||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||—||—||—|
|14th||+5||Destroy Undead (CR 3)||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||1||—||—|
|16th||+5||Ability Score Improvement||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||1||1||—|
|17th||+6||Destroy Undead (CR 4), Divine Domain Feature||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||1||1||1|
|18th||+6||Channel Divinity (3/rest)||4||4||3||3||3||3||1||1||1||1|
|19th||+6||Ability Score Improvement||4||4||3||3||3||3||2||1||1||1|
|20th||+6||Divine Intervention Improvement||4||4||3||3||3||3||2||2||1||1|
As a cleric, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d8 per cleric level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per cleric level after 1st
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a mace or (b) a warhammer (if proficient)
- (a) scale mail, (b) leather armor, or (c) chain mail (if proficient)
- (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) any simple weapon
- (a) a priest’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
- A shield and a holy symbol
At 1st level, you know three cantrips of your choice from the cleric spell list. You learn additional cleric cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Cleric table.
Preparing and Casting Spells
The Cleric table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your cleric spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.
You prepare the list of cleric spells that are available for you to cast, choosing from the cleric spell list. When you do so, choose a number of cleric spells equal to your Wisdom modifier + your cleric level (minimum of one spell). The spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots.
For example, if you are a 3rd-level cleric, you have four 1st-level and two 2nd-level spell slots. With a Wisdom of 16, your list of prepared spells can include six spells of 1st or 2nd level, in any combination. If you prepare the 1st-level spell cure wounds, you can cast it using a 1st-level or 2nd-level slot. Casting the spell doesn’t remove it from your list of prepared spells.
You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of cleric spells requires time spent in prayer and meditation: at least 1 minute per spell level for each spell on your list.
Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for your cleric spells. The power of your spells comes from your devotion to your deity. You use your Wisdom whenever a cleric spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Wisdom modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a cleric spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier
Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier
You can cast a cleric spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell prepared.
You can use a holy symbol (see the Adventuring Gear section) as a spellcasting focus for your cleric spells.
Choose one domain related to your deity: Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, or War. The Life domain is detailed at the end of the class description and provides examples of gods associated with it. See the Player’s Handbook for details on all the domains.Your choice grants you domain spells and other features when you choose it at 1st level. It also grants you additional ways to use Channel Divinity when you gain that feature at 2nd level, and additional benefits at 6th, 8th, and 17th levels.
Each domain has a list of spells — its domain spells — that you gain at the cleric levels noted in the domain description. Once you gain a domain spell, you always have it prepared, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.
If you have a domain spell that doesn’t appear on the cleric spell list, the spell is nonetheless a cleric spell for you.
At 2nd level, you gain the ability to channel divine energy directly from your deity, using that energy to fuel magical effects. You start with two such effects: Turn Undead and an effect determined by your domain. Some domains grant you additional effects as you advance in levels, as noted in the domain description.
When you use your Channel Divinity, you choose which effect to create. You must then finish a short or long rest to use your Channel Divinity again.
Some Channel Divinity effects require saving throws. When you use such an effect from this class, the DC equals your cleric spell save DC.
Beginning at 6th level, you can use your Channel Divinity twice between rests, and beginning at 18th level, you can use it three times between rests. When you finish a short or long rest, you regain your expended uses.
Channel Divinity: Turn Undead
As an action, you present your holy symbol and speak a prayer censuring the undead. Each undead that can see or hear you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes any damage.
A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of you. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.
Ability Score Improvement
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Using the optional feats rule, you can forgo taking this feature to take a feat of your choice instead.
Starting at 5th level, when an undead fails its saving throw against your Turn Undead feature, the creature is instantly destroyed if its challenge rating is at or below a certain threshold, as shown in the Destroy Undead table.
Destroy Undead Table
|Cleric Level||Destroys Undead of CR…|
|5th||1/2 or lower|
|8th||1 or lower|
|11th||2 or lower|
|14th||3 or lower|
|17th||4 or lower|
Beginning at 10th level, you can call on your deity to intervene on your behalf when your need is great.
Imploring your deity’s aid requires you to use your action. Describe the assistance you seek, and roll percentile dice. If you roll a number equal to or lower than your cleric level, your deity intervenes. The DM chooses the nature of the intervention; the effect of any cleric spell or cleric domain spell would be appropriate.
If your deity intervenes, you can’t use this feature again for 7 days. Otherwise, you can use it again after you finish a long rest.
At 20th level, your call for intervention succeeds automatically, no roll required.
In a pantheon, every deity has influence over different aspects of mortal life and civilization, called a deity’s domain. All the domains over which a deity has influence are called the deity’s portfolio. For example, the portfolio of the Greek god Apollo includes the domains of Knowledge, Life, and Light. As a cleric, you choose one aspect of your deity’s portfolio to emphasize, and you are granted powers related to that domain.
Your choice might correspond to a particular sect dedicated to your deity. Apollo, for example, could be worshiped in one region as Phoebus (“radiant”) Apollo, emphasizing his influence over the Light domain, and in a different place as Apollo Acesius (“healing”), emphasizing his association with the Life domain. Alternatively, your choice of domain could simply be a matter of personal preference, the aspect of the deity that appeals to you most.
Each domain’s description gives examples of deities who have influence over that domain. Gods are included from the worlds of the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and Eberron campaign settings, as well as from the Celtic, Greek, Norse, and Egyptian pantheons of antiquity.
Arcana DomainSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
Death DomainDungeon Master's Guide
Forge DomainXanathar's Guide to Everything
Grave DomainXanathar's Guide to Everything
Knowledge DomainPlayer's Handbook
Life DomainBasic Rules
The Life domain focuses on the vibrant positive energy — one of the fundamental forces of the universe — that sustains all life. The gods of life promote vitality and health through healing the sick and wounded, caring for those in need, and driving away the forces of death and undeath. Almost any non-evil deity can claim influence over this domain, particularly agricultural deities (such as Chauntea, Arawai, and Demeter), sun gods (such as Lathander, Pelor, and Re-Horakhty), gods of healing or endurance (such as Ilmater, Mishakal, Apollo, and Diancecht), and gods of home and community (such as Hestia, Hathor, and Boldrei).
Life Domain Spells
You gain domain spells at the cleric levels listed in the Life Domain Spells table. See the Divine Domain class feature for how domain spells work.
Life Domain Spells
|1st||bless, cure wounds|
|3rd||lesser restoration, spiritual weapon|
|5th||beacon of hope, revivify|
|7th||death ward, guardian of faith|
|9th||mass cure wounds, raise dead|
When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain proficiency with heavy armor.
Disciple of Life
Also starting at 1st level, your healing spells are more effective. Whenever you use a spell of 1st level or higher to restore hit points to a creature, the creature regains additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.
Channel Divinity: Preserve Life
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to heal the badly injured.
As an action, you present your holy symbol and evoke healing energy that can restore a number of hit points equal to five times your cleric level. Choose any creatures within 30 feet of you, and divide those hit points among them. This feature can restore a creature to no more than half of its hit point maximum. You can’t use this feature on an undead or a construct.
Beginning at 6th level, the healing spells you cast on others heal you as well. When you cast a spell of 1st level or higher that restores hit points to a creature other than you, you regain hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.
At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with divine energy. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 radiant damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
Starting at 17th level, when you would normally roll one or more dice to restore hit points with a spell, you instead use the highest number possible for each die. For example, instead of restoring 2d6 hit points to a creature, you restore 12.