Cleric Domain

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Cleric Domains, commonly abbreviated to Domains, are a mechanic from Dungeons & Dragons that serves to provide greater individuality for clerics.

Much like how wizard magic is divided into its eight schools, one would presume that the powers granted by the goddess of earth and healing would be different to those granted by the god of fire and plague. Domains, then, serve as a way to mechanically differentiate clerics based on their patron gods, and can even be used to define adherents to specific sub-beliefs or sects of a particular god.

The concept of the Domain has been around since at least the days of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and isn't going anywhere any time soon.

AD&D[edit]

The foundations of the Cleric Domain were laid in two AD&D mechanics; Spheres and Specialty Priests. Specialty Priests were a form of priestly kits that were used to represent specialized followers of specific gods. This gave the priest different mechanical edges and disadvantages, depending on what kit was chosen.

Spheres were direct priestly correlations to the wizardly schools of magic; they represented divine portfolios, areas of influence that a god would have dominion over, and so they had magical spells based on that portfolio. Depending on what god you worshipped, your cleric had either Major access to certain spheres (get all spells as you level up), Minor access (only get spells of level 1-3) or no access, meaning you get no spells. The Spheres determine the kind of spells you can cast - Sun spells, Nature spells, War spells, etc. The original sixteen Spheres are:

  • All, basic spells that all Clerics get.
  • Animal, which has to do with animals.
  • Astral, which allows you to use the Astral Plane for travel and communication.
  • Charm, which lets you make friends and influence people.
  • Combat, which lets you break faces left and right.
  • Creation, which lets you create things ex nihilo.
  • Divination, which lets you detect things, communicate with them and see at great distances.
  • Elemental, which lets you control the elements.
  • Guardian, which lets you create barriers and zones of protection.
  • Healing, which makes you the party's healslut.
  • Necromantic, which lets you smell the funk of fourty thousand years and raise and destroy the dead.
  • Plant, which lets you control nature itself.
  • Protection, which exists because sometimes it's better to prevent damage than heal it.
  • Summoning, because sometimes you want a spell more powerful than an entire class.
  • Sun, for those times you want to praise the sun.
  • Weather, because everybody wants a sunny day now and then.

The Tome of Magic later introduced eight additional Spheres:

  • Chaos, for those who want the power of CHAOS.
  • Law, for those who want to control others.
  • Numbers, because some gods are HUGE NERDS.
  • Thought, for mastery of the self.
  • Time, allow you to manipulate how time affects things and people.
  • Travelers, which lets you travel distances at a fast pace.
  • War, the larger brother of the Combat Sphere.
  • Wards, to protect areas and items from harm.

Of the base sixteen Clerics gain Major access to all Spheres except Animal, Elemental and Plant, and Minor access to Elemental. Speciality priests gain access to a limited set of Spheres, to offset the other abilities they get later down the line. Druids meanwhile gain Major access to the Spheres of All, Animal, Elemental, Healing, Plant and Weather.

3rd edition[edit]

The iconic form of the Cleric Domain, if only due to its lifespan, was made in 3rd edition. This version of a Domain granted a cleric access to both a small list of bonus spells that would not normally be on the Cleric spell list and a single passive mechanical edge - for example, an elemental domain would usually grant the ability to turn and rebuke elementals of the "enemy" element as if they were undead.

In this edition, clerics select two Domains at 1st level, representing the particular divine portfolios that their faith resonates with.

Because of how disorganized shit was in this edition, many domains beyond those in the original Player's Handbook would be reprinted time and time again.

Player's Handbook
  • Air
  • Animal
  • Chaos
  • Death
  • Destruction
  • Earth
  • Evil
  • Fire
  • Good
  • Healing
  • Knowledge
  • Law
  • Luck
  • Magic
  • Plant
  • Protection
  • Strength
  • Sun
  • Travel
  • Trickery
  • War
  • Water
Complete Divine
  • Celerity
  • Cold
  • Community
  • Competition
  • Creation
  • Domination
  • Dream
  • Force
  • Glory
  • Inquisition
  • Liberation
  • Madness
  • Mind
  • Mysticism
  • Oracle
  • Pact
  • Pestilence
  • Purification
  • Summoner
  • Weather
Book of Exalted Deeds
  • Celestial
  • Community
  • Endurance
  • Fey
  • Glory
  • Herald
  • Joy
  • Pleasure
  • Wrath
Book of Vile Darkness
  • Bestial
  • Corruption
  • Darkness
  • Demonic
  • Diabolic
  • Greed
  • Pain
Deities & Demigods
  • Artifice
  • Charm
  • Community
  • Creation
  • Darkness
  • Glory
  • Liberation
  • Madness
  • Nobility
  • Repose
  • Rune
  • Scalykind
  • Weather
Fiendish Codex 1
  • Corruption
  • Demonic
  • Entropy
  • Fury
  • Ooze
  • Temptation
Frostburn
  • Cold
  • Winter
Libris Mortis
  • Deathbound
  • Hunger
  • Undeath
Lords of Madness
  • Corruption
  • Force
  • Hatred
  • Madness
  • Mind
  • Vile Darkness
Oriental Adventures
  • Ancestor
  • Celestial
  • Community
  • Divination
  • Flame
  • Fortune
  • Fury
  • Grave
  • Guardian
  • Healing
  • Hero
  • Knowledge
  • Metal
  • Nature
  • River
  • Stone
  • Travel
  • Trickery
  • War
  • Wood
Planar Handbook
  • Abyss
  • Arborea
  • Baator
  • Celestia
  • Elysium
  • Hades
  • Limbo
  • Mechanus
Races of Destiny
  • City
  • Destiny
Races of the Wild
  • Sky
Sandstorm
  • Nobility
  • Repose
  • Rune
  • Sand
  • Summer
  • Thirst
Stormwrack
  • Blackwater
  • Ocean
  • Seafolk
  • Storm
Dragon Magazine
  • Dragon (344)
  • Army (317)
  • Avarice (323)
  • Beguilement (312)
  • Charity (355)
  • Chastity (355)
  • Chromatic Dragon (344)
  • Deathless (319)
  • Emotion (340)
  • Envy (323)
  • Gem Dragon (344)
  • Generosity (355)
  • Gluttony (323)
  • Hope (355)
  • Humility (355)
  • Hunger (312)
  • Hunt (342)
  • Life (319)
  • Lung Dragon (344)
  • Lust (323)
  • Metallic Dragon (344)
  • Night (342)
  • Patience (355)
  • Pride (323)
  • Radiance (321)
  • Seduction (312)
  • Sloth (323)
  • Spirit (312)
  • Temperance (355)
  • Undead (312)
  • Wrath (323)
  • Zeal (355)
Spell Compendium
  • Balance
  • Cavern
  • Celerity
  • Charm
  • Cold
  • Community
  • Competition
  • Courage
  • Craft
  • Creation
  • Darkness
  • Deathbound
  • Domination
  • Dragon
  • Dream
  • Drow
  • Dwarf
  • Elf
  • Envy
  • Family
  • Fate
  • Force
  • Glory
  • Gluttony
  • Gnome
  • Greed
  • Halfling
  • Hatred
  • Hunger
  • Illusion
  • Inquisition
  • Liberation
  • Lust
  • Madness
  • Mentalism
  • Metal
  • Mind
  • Moon
  • Mysticism
  • Nobility
  • Ocean
  • Oracle
  • Orc
  • Pact
  • Pestilience
  • Planning
  • Portal
  • Pride
  • Purification
  • Renewal
  • Retribution
  • Rune
  • Scalykind
  • Slime
  • Sloth
  • Spell
  • Spider
  • Storm
  • Suffering
  • Summoner
  • Time
  • Trade
  • Tyranny
  • Undead
  • Wealth
  • Windstorm
  • Wrath
  • Abyss
  • Arborea
  • Baator
  • Celestia
  • Elysium
  • Hades
  • Limbo
  • Mechanus

Dragonlance Domains[edit]

Dragonlance Campaign Setting
  • Alteration
  • Community
  • Forge
  • Insight
  • Liberation
  • Meditation
  • Mentalism
  • Necromancy
  • Passion
  • Pestilence
  • Restoration
  • Storm
  • Sun
  • Treachery
Age of Mortals
  • Channeling
  • Sensitivity

Eberron Domains[edit]

Eberron Campaign Setting
  • Artifice
  • Charm
  • Commerce
  • Community
  • Deathless
  • Decay
  • Dragon Below
  • Exorcism
  • Feast
  • Life
  • Medness
  • Meditation
  • Necromancer
  • Passion
  • Shadow
  • Weather
Faiths of Eberron
  • Revered Ancestor
  • Warforged

Forgotten Realms Domains[edit]

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting
  • Cavern
  • Charm
  • Craft
  • Darkness
  • Drow
  • Dwarf
  • Elf
  • Family
  • Fate
  • Gnome
  • Halfling
  • Hatred
  • Illusion
  • Mentalism
  • Metal
  • Moon
  • Nobility
  • Ocean
  • Orc
  • Planning
  • Portal
  • Renewal
  • Retribution
  • Rune
  • Scalykind
  • Slime
  • Spell
  • Storm
  • Suffering
  • Time
  • Trade
  • Tyranny
  • Undeath
Faiths & Pantheons
  • Repose
Underdark
  • Balance
  • Portal (Alternative)
  • Watery Death

Ravenloft Domains[edit]

Ravenloft Campaign Setting
  • Mists
  • Repose
Van Richten's Guides
Ravenloft Gazetteers
  • Bindings (I, V)
  • Mora (I)
  • Salvation (I)
  • Slaughter (IV)
  • Scrutiny (V)
  • The Weave (V)

4th edition[edit]

In something of a throwback to AD&D, 4th edition Divine classes - the Cleric, the Paladin, the Avenger, and the Invoker - didn't initially have Domains. The idea was that the sheer variety of powers, feat-based "worshipper of X" class bonuses, and paragon paths could grant quite a bit of variety to a clerical concept as it was.

However, Domains were too potentially interesting an idea to just up and abandon. Thus the "Divine Power" splatbook contained a whole segment dedicated to reintroducing Domains. In addition to examining them from a fluffy angle and how to respin Domains for odd-seeming alignment fits - a Good God of Destruction, a Chaotic Evil God of Freedom, an Evil God of Protection, etc - it provided mechanical details for making them work.

4e Cleric Domains take advantage of the comparatively high number of feats that a 4e PC gets access to. Each Domain has two associated feats; one that grants a permanent passive skill buff and takes on a special rider to a thematically appropriate set of at-will powers, and one that provides a new, thematic way to use the Channel Divinity class feature.

The list of 4th edition domains is as follows:

Arcana: The "Arcana Ward" feat adds a new Channel Divinity that gives Resistance 5 to a type you just got damaged by. The "Power of Arcana" feat adds +2 to all Arcana checks while also making the powers Divine Bolts, Lance of Faith, Radiant Vengeance, and Virtuous Strike count as Arcane powers. If any of these powers hit, you gain a +1 to hit them the next turn with another arcane power.

Change: The "Cycle of Change" feat adds a Channel Divinity that lets you transfer a condition you're suffering to an ally right next to you (or vice versa). The "Power of Change" domain adds +2 to all Thievery checks and if successful with the use of Bolstering Strike, Divine Bolts, Overwhelming Strike, or Recovery Strike, you gain +1 to hit the target with an encounter or daily power on the next turn.

Civilization: The "Anthem of Civilization" feat adds a Channel Divinity that grants either yourself or an ally within 3 spaces a +2 bonus to hit while flanking, which while useful requires selecting the right person. The "Power of Civilization" feat adds +2 to Diplomacy checks and adds +1 to the damage of Leading Strike, Mantle of the Infidel, Priest's Shield, or Valiant Strike for each enemy right next to you when used.

Creation: The "Creation Secret" feat adds a Channel Divinity that gives you a chance to use a magic item's power without spending a use. The "Power of Creation" feat adds +2 to Religion and grants +1 AC to you or an ally when you hit with Bolstering Strike, Grasping Shards, Radiant Vengeance, or Righteous Brand.

Darkness: The "Darkness Consumes" feat adds a Channel Divinity that grants you and every ally within a Burst 1 concealment. The "Power of Darkness" feat adds +2 to Stealth and grants concealment from the next attack when you hit with Ardent Strike, Overwhelming Strike, Priest's Shield, or Visions of Blood.

Death: The "Death Knell feat adds a Channel Divinity that instakills a bloodied enemy with an HP lower than 5+1/2 your level. The "Power of Death" feat adds +2 to Religion and grants a scaling bonus to damage against bloodied enemies when using Enfeebling Strike, Radiant Vengeance, Righteous Brand, or Visions of Blood.

Destruction: The "Path of Destruction" feat adds a Channel Divinity that lets you re-roll damage for one melee attack. The "Power of Destruction" feat adds +2 to Intimidate and deals scaling extra damage against unbloodied enemies when using Ardent Strike, Bond of Censure, Grasping Shards, or Righteous Brand.

Earth: The "Earth Hold" feat adds a Channel Divinity that immobilizes you but slows down any foe within a Burst 2, which is handy for someone trying to draw attention. The "Power of Earth" feat adds +2 to Athletics and slows any enemy hit by Bolstering Strike, Overwhelming Strike, Recovery Strike, or Visions of Blood.

Fate: The "Fate Rolls On" feat adds a Channel Divinity that's a big wild-card; if someone passes a saving throw, they gain a +2 to their next save, but if they fail they get a -2 to their next save. The "Power of Fate" feat adds +2 to Insight and adds +1 to damage bloodied enemies when using Astral Seal, Avenging Light, Bond of Retribution, or Holy Strike.

Freedom:The "Path of Freedom" feat adds a Channel Divinity that enables allies to either escape a grab or roll a save against an immbobilized, slowed, or restrained condition. The "Power of Freedom" feat adds +2 to Acrobatics and gives you or an ally +2 to the next Saving Throw when you use Holy Strike, Leading Strike, Righteous Brand, or Vanguard's Lightning.

Hope: The "Hope Remains" feat adds a Channel Divinity that gives someone who just recovered from 0 HP a +2 to attacks, saves, and defenses for the turn. The "Power of Hope" feat adds +2 to Diplomacy and gives you or an ally +1 to the next attack when you hit with Avenging Light, Leading Strike, Righteous Brand, or Valiant Strike.

Justice: The "Immediate Justice " feat adds a Channel Divinity that immediately deals radiant damage to an enemy who just downed an ally. The "Power of Justice" feat adds +2 to Insight and lets all bloodied allies take +1 to their next attack when you hit with Bond of Censure, Mantle of the Infidel, Righteous Brand, or Virtuous Strike.

Knowledge: The "Sure Knowledge" feat adds a Channel Divinity that lets anyone taking a knowledge test to re-roll. THe "Power of Knowledge" feat adds +2 to history and grants a +1 to all defenses when you hit with Astral Seal, Grasping Shards, Leading Strike, or Virtuous Strike.

Life: The "Pulse of Life" feat adds a Channel Divinity that gives one person a +10 on a death saving throw. The "Power of Life" feat adds +2 to Heal and gives one ally a scaling amount of THP when you hit with Astral Seal, Avenging Light, Bolstering Strike, or Radiant Vengeance.

Love: The "Loving Sacrifice" feat adds a Channel Divinity that lets you take damage for an ally. The "Power of Love" feat adds +2 to Diplomacy and gives the bizarre option of forgoing damage when using Radiant Vengeance, Recovery Strike, Sun Strike, or Virtuous Strike to grant up to two allies a tier-scaling amount of THP.

Luck: The "Imminent Luck" feat adds a Channel Divinity that's a safety net for a safety net: if you use a power to re-roll and it gets lower than the original roll, you can re-roll the re-roll. The "Power of Luck" feat adds +2 to Acrobatics and lets you crit on a 19+ with Bond of Censure, Holy Strike, Lance of Faith, or Vanguard's Lightning.

Madness: The "Screaming Madness" feat adds a Channel Divinity that makes an enemy hit themselves after you hit them with a Fear power. The "Power of Madness" feat adds +2 to Bluff and makes an enemy hit by Enfeebling Strike, Overwhelming Strike, Righteous Brand, or Visions of Blood take -1 to attack for the next turn.

Moon: The "Moon Touched" feat adds a Channel Divinity that continuous heals up a bloodied ally on a value that scales by tier with a twist: when the die is rolled, an odd adds that value as THP (Which won't stack with other THP and ends the power) while an even just adds flat HP and ends the power. The "Power of the Moon" feat adds +1 Perception and when you hit with Bond of Censure, Enfeebling Strike, Hand of Radiance, or Righteous Brand, the defense you hit is reduced by -2.

Poison: The "Original Poison" power adds a Channel Divinity that just adds +2 to hit with a poison power. The "Power of Poison" feat adds +2 to Bluff and lets you make Enfeebling Strike, Grasping Shards, Overwhelming Strike, and Righteous Brand deal poison damage instead of whatever it used to while also dealing extra damage that scales by tier (Which makes these feats work very well with each other).

Protection: The "Sure Protection" feat adds a Channel Divinity that lets any one person taking a Second Wind add +3 to their defenses for that turn. The "Power of Protection" feat adds +2 to Heal while also letting an ally gain +1 to all defenses when you hit with Leading Strike, Priest's Shield, Valiant Strike, or Vanguard's Lightning.

Sea: The "Sea Surge" feat adds a Channel Divinity that lets you slide an ally who just got forcibly moved. The "Power of the Sea" feat adds +2 to Athletics and when you hit with Bond of Censure, Divine Bolts, Recovery Strike, or Virtuous Strike, you can either make a save or force -2 on the target's next save.

Skill: The "Divine Excellence" feat adds a Channel Divinity that adds +2 to a skill check for you and gives a +2 to anyone else trying that skill. The "Power of Skill" feat lets you add +1 to all skills you're trained in and makes Divine Bolts, Overwhelming Strike, Righteous Brand, and Valiant Strike count as basic attacks.

Storm: The "Storm Sacrifice" feat adds a Channel Divinity that grants you and one enemy Vulnerable 5 to lightning and thunder damage (Unless they're already resistant, in which case they lose that resistance). The "Power of the Storm" feat adds +2 to Intimidate and lets Overwhelming Strike, Righteous Brand, Valiant Strike, and Vanguard's Lightning deal thunder damage instead of their normal typing while also adding a tier-scaling damage bonus for using this.

Strength: The "Strength of the Gods" feat adds a Channel Divinity that lets you add your Strength mod to the damage of one move. The "Power of Strength" feat lets you add +2 to Athletics and deals extra damage that scales by tier when you use Avenging Light, Holy Strike, Overwhelming Strike, or Priest's Shield.

Strife: The "Sudden Strife" feat adds a Channel Divinity that makes two enemies take -4 to all attacks while they're within 3 spaces of each other - handy in some situations, but useless for shooters. The "Power of Strife" feat adds +2 to Bluff and deals tier-scaling extra damage for all enemies near the target when you use Ardent Strike, Bond of Retribution, Lance of Faith, or Sun Strike.

Sun: The "Solar Enemy" feat adds a Channel Divinity that forces a Vulnerable 2 to radiant damage on all enemies within a burst 2 area. The "Power of the Sun" feat adds +2 to Insight and inflicts a tier-scaling vulnerability to radiant damage when you use Lance of Faith, Radiant Vengeance, Sun Strike, or Virtuous Strike.

Torment: The "Perfect Torment" feat adds a Channel Divinity that gives nearby enemies a -2 on their saves that turn. The "Power of Torment" feat adds +2 to Intimidate and lets an enemy hit with Ardent Strike, Astral Seal, Mantle of the Infidel, or Overwhelming Strike grant combat advantage to whoever attacks them next.

Trickery: The "Trickster's Fortune" feat adds a Channel Divinity that forces a -2 on an enemy's saving throw while letting you or an ally roll their own save if the enemy fails. The "Power of Trickery" feat adds +2 to Thievery and allows you to shift yourself or a nearby ally when you hit with Avenging Light, Enfeebling Strike, Overwhelming Strike, or Recovery Strike.

Tyranny: The "Master of Tyranny" feat adds a Channel Divinity that just adds +2 to hit bloodied enemies. The "Power of Tyranny" feat adds +2 to Intimidate and forces targets to take -2 on their saving throws when you use Astral Seal, Bond of Censure, Divine Bolts, or Enfeebling Strike.

Undeath: The "Undeath's Ally" feat adds a Channel Divinity that lets you steal an ally's Healing Surge but grant them THP equal to that surge amount + 1/2 your level. The "Power of Undeath" feat adds +2 to Religion and lets you make Bond of Censure, Enfeebling Strike, Grasping Shards, and Lance of Faith deal necrotic damage instead of their typical type while also adding a tier-scaling damage bonus for using it.

Vengeance: The "Small Vengeance" feat adds a Channel Divinity that instantly deals damage that scales by tier the instant an enemy bloodies an ally. The "Power of Vengeance" feat adds +2 to Intimidate and makes it so that anyone hit by Astral Seal, Avenging Light, Holy Strike, or Radiant Vengeance and then attacks you or an ally takes a small bit of instant damage that scales by tier.

War: The "Path of War" feat adds a Channel Divinity that gives everyone a +2 to hit but -2 AC. The "Power of War" feat adds +2 to History and adds +1 to hit an unbloodied enemy with Bolstering Strike, Bond of Retribution, Priest's Shield, or Visions of Blood.

Wilderness: The "Grasp of the Wilderness" feat adds a Channel Divinity that makes a small burst 1 area within 10 spaces difficult terrain, which has uses for a Controller. The "Power of the Wilderness" feat adds +2 to Nature and lets you and all nearby allies ignore difficult terrain when you use Overwhelming Strike, Recovery Strike, Sun Strike, or Valiant Strike.

Winter: The "Path of Winter" feat adds a Channel Divinity that grants you and any friends a resistance to cold damage that scales by tier. The "Power of Winter" feat adds +2 to Endurance and lets Bond of Censure, Enfeebling Strike, Hand of Radiance, and Lance of Faith deal cold damage instead of whatever they used to do while also adding a tier-scaling damage bonus for using this feat.

5th edition[edit]

With 5th edition taking the approach of mandatory subclasses, turning Domains in the cleric subclasses was as natural as turning the schools of magic into the wizard subclasses. As in 3rd edition, a 5e Cleric Domain grants a list of bonus spells for all of the spell levels. More importantly, it also grants a number of bonus class features, at levels 1, 2, 6, 8 and 17, which mechanically alter how the cleric plays and what it can do to a far greater extent than the oft-meager domain powers of 3e.

In addition to the domains sorted below, several Domains have appeared in Unearthed Arcana, namely the d20 Modern-themed "City" Domain, the Protection Domain, and precursors to the Forge and Grave Domains.

Core Domains[edit]

The core Domains in 5e's Player's Handbook are Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, and War.

Knowledge covers deities who value learning and understanding, although its observation that some such gods hoard their knowledge and others coax their followers to seek forbidden secrets makes it plain to see that this is as much the Domain of Vecna as it is the domain of Oghma or Gilean. At first level, you gain the Blessings of Knowledge feature, which grants you two bonus languages and Expertise (apply double your proficiency bonus when making such checks) in two skills of your choice selected from a list of Arcana, History, Nature or Religion. Its Channel Divinity is Knowledge of the Ages, which grants you 10 minutes of proficiency in a skill or tool of your choice. 6th level provides the Read Thoughts feature, which as the name suggests lets you reach out and probe a victim's mind once per long rest; if they fail a Wisdom save, you can read their surface thoughts for the next minute and, when you break contact, can leave them under the effects of a Suggestion spell. At level 8, you gain the Potent Spellcasting feature, which adds bonus damage to your Cleric cantrips equal to your Wisdom modifier. Finally, at level 17, once per short rest, you can undergo a 1 minute long meditative ritual to engage in some postcognition, reading the most recent history of either an object or your immediate vicinity, courtesy of your Visions of the Past feature.

Life is, of course, the healing and fertility gods Domain of choice, and is all about making you a better healer. Aside from a bevvy of curative Domain Spells, this Domain gives you free proficiency with Heavy Armor and the 1st level feature Disciple of Life, which causes your healing spells to grant 2 + the spell's level bonus hit points to the total they heal. Your Channel Divinity is Preserve Life, which lets you use Channel Divinity to heal up to 5 times your cleric level in hit points in any number of non-construct, non-undead creatures within 30 feet of you. Level 6 grants the Blessed Healer, which causes you to be healed of 2 + spell's level hit points whenever you cast a healing spell. Divine Strike, a level 8 feature, lets you deal +1d8 (+2d8 at 14th level) radiant damage with a weapon attack once per turn. Finally, at 17th level, you gain the Supreme Healing feature, which causes your dice roll-based healing spells to always restore the maximum possible hitpoints (so a 2d6 healing spell cast by you will automatically heal 12 HP).

Light is a diverse domain mostly associated with deities of good, but whilst its fluff claims it can be metaphorical, its mechanics lean more towards the literal. If you liked the Laser Cleric build from 4e, this is the Domain that you want. Its Domain spells are all about making light and fire, and it grants Light as a bonus cantrip. Its level 1 feature is Warding Flare, where you can use a reaction in response to being attacked by a visible creature within 30 feet to impose Disadvantage on its attack roll, which you can do a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1). As this is flavored as being due to a sudden flash of light, creatures immune to blindness are unaffected by this feature. Your Channel Divinity is Radiance of the Dawn, which lets you burn a Channel Divinity to dispel magical darkness within 30 feet and to inflict 2d10 + your cleric level radiant damage on all hostile creatures within 30 feet of you - a successful Constitution save halves the damage, and being behind total cover protects them from all damage. Improved Flare, your 6th level feature, now lets you use Warding Flare to protect allies within 30 feet. At level 8, you gain the Potent Spellcasting feature, which adds bonus damage to your Cleric cantrips equal to your Wisdom modifier. Finally, at level 17, Corona of Light lets you envelop yourself in an aura of divine light for a minute as an action. Whilst your aura is up, you emit bright light for 60 feet and dim light for 30 feet, but any enemies within that bright light have disadvantage on saving throws against any spell that inflicts fire or radiant damage.

Nature is the "so, why are druids and clerics not the same thing again?" Domain, focusing on control over plants and animals. Its Domain Spells all manipulate plants and animals, whilst at first level it gainst the Acolyte of Nature, which gives the cleric a free druid cantrip and proficiency in either Animal Handling, Nature or Survival. It also gets free heavy armor proficiency, which really doesn't make a lot of sense. Its Channel Divinity is Charm Animals and Plants, which... well, you can probably take a wild guess what it does. Dampen Elements, its level 6 feature, lets them burn a reaction to apply Resistance to acid, cold, fire, lightning or thunder damage delivered against either themselves or an ally within 30 feet. Their 8th level feature, Divine Strike, lets them add +1d8 (+2d8 at 14th level) bonus damage to a weapon attack once per turn, which can be cold, fire or lightning damage as they choose each time they use this feature. Finally, at 17th level they gain the Master of Nature feature, which lets them use a bonus action to verbally command animals & plants charmed by their Channel Divinity.

Tempest is the Domain of storm gods, making it all about the weather, the thunder and the lightning. Granting bonus proficiencies with martial weapons and heavy armor, its 1st level feature is Wrath of the Storm, which lets you blast a visible foe within 5 feet of you with 2d8 lightning or thunder damage as a reaction if that creature hits you with an attack, although they can halve the damage with a Dexterity save and you can only do this a number of times per long rest equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1). This Domain's Channel Divinity is Destructive Wrath, which lets them burn a charge of Channel Divinity to max out the damage on a thunder or lightning attack. Level 6 grants Thunderbolt Strike, where dealing lightning damage to a Large or smaller creature lets the cleric push them up to 10 feet away. Another Domain with the Divine Strike 8th level feature, this one grants +1d8 (+2d8 at 14th level) Thunder damage on a weapon attack once per turn. Finally, at level 17, they gain the Stormborn feature, which grants them a Fly speed equal to their current walking speed whenever they're not underground or indoors.

Trickery is the Domain of holy rogues and divine tricksters, all about mischief and deception. With an assortment of enchantment and illusion spells, plus dispel magic, dimension door and polymorph, as its Domain Spells, its 1st level feature is Blessing of the Trickster, which lets you grant a creature other than yourself Advantage on all Stealth checks for the next hour or until you bless somebody else, whichever comes first. Its Channel Divinity is Invoke Duplicity, which lets you create an illusory double that can cast spells for you and grant you advantage on attack rolls by double-teaming the same target, but can't physically interact with the world. At level 6, you gain a second Channel Divinity in Cloak of Shadows, which lets you become invisible until the end of your next turn, you attack or you cast a spell. Another Domain with the Divine Strike 8th level feature, this one grants +1d8 (+2d8 at 14th level) Poison damage on a weapon attack once per turn. Finally, Improved Duplicity at 17th level lets your Invoke Duplicity create up to four illusory doubles instead of the normal 1.

War is... do you really need to be told what kind of gods give this Domain? Its Domain Spells are all about bolstering attack or defense, it grants bonus proficiencies with heavy armor and martial weapons, and its 1st level feature is War Priest, which lets you make a secondary weapon attack as a bonus action a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1). Its Channel Divinity is Guided Strike, which grants you a +10 bonus to an attack roll when invoked, which is done after you see your roll but before the DM tells you if this was a hit or a miss. Another Domain with two Channel Divinities, its level 6 one is War God's Blessing, which is the same thing as Guided Strike, but applied to an ally's attack roll as a reaction. Another Domain with the Divine Strike 8th level feature, this one grants +1d8 (+2d8 at 14th level) damage on a weapon attack once per turn, with the bonus damage being the same type as the base damage. Finally, 17th level grants you Avatar of Battle, which is permanent resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage.

Sourcebook Domains[edit]

The very first sourcebook to feature a new Domain was the Dungeon Master's Guide, which featured the Death domain. Hilariously, the PHB itself acknowledges that death and its clerics aren't necessarily evil, and lists multiple non-evil death gods in its various appendices. But the discrepancy can be explained; trying to finally untangle the snarl of "why do Death Gods who hate the Undead have spells relating to creating the undead?", 5e split up the Death God archetype into its two main components; the Death Domain is for "Reaper" Gods, those Death Gods who embody the actual role of killing people, such as Nerull, Loviatar, Bhaal, Talona, and Morgion. In fact, it goes so far as to break up the three components of 3e's Death Domain - The Reaper God, the Underworld God and the Necromancer-God - that it actually completely forsakes the mastery of necromancy associated with "Death Priests" in editions past. This means that the necromancer wizard is finally the best character class at its actual role.

Death Domain Clerics gain access to a bevvy of spells based on offensive or debilitating necromancy, such as Rays of Sickness and Enfeeblement, False Life, Blight and Cloudkill. They get a bonus proficiency with martial weapons, and the 1st level feature "Reaper", which grants them a bonus necromancy cantrip from any class's spell list and the ability to target two adjacent (within 5ft of each other) creatures with the same necromantic cantrip. Their Channel Divinity is Touch of Death, which lets them inflict bonus necrotic damage (5 + 2 X Cleric Level) on a melee attack. 6th level grants them the Inescapable Destruction feature, which means their necrotic damage cleric spells, Channel Divinity and Divine Strike options all ignore necrotic resistance. 8th level gives them Divine Strike, which is the ability to inflict +1d8 Necrotic damage (+2d8 at 14th level onwards) with a weapon attack once per turn. Finally, at level 17, they get Improved Reaper, which applies Reaper's bonus to any single-targetting necromancy spell of 1st through to 5th level.

The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide adds the Arcane domain, for a little more of a Mystic Theurge feel to the cleric. As worshippers of the God of Magic, these clerics possess abilities that make them a lore more wizardly. In addition to a bevvy of "basic arcane" and arcane magic-manipulating spells, like Detect Magic, Magic Missile, Dispel Magic and Teleportation Circle, their first level feature is Arcane Initiate, which grants them proficiency in the Arcana skill and two wizard cantrips of their choice, which function for them as Cleric cantrips. Their Channel Divinity is Arcane Abjuration, which is basically the ability to turn planar creatures (celestials, elementals, fey and fiends) as if they were undead, which upgrades to the ability to banish them from the material plane for a minute from 5th level onwards, if the creature is weak enough. At 6th level, they gain Spellbreaker, which lets their curative spells function as a Dispel Magic on whoever they are targeting. Potent Spellcasting, their 8th level feature, lets them add their Wisdom modifier to the damage rolls they make for their offensive cantrips. Finally, at level 17, they can pick one wizard spell from each of the 6th through 9th level lists and turn these into bonus Domain Spells.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything would add two more Domains; Forge and Grave, based on an earlier Unearthed Arcana article.

Forge Clerics worship smithing creator deities like Moradin, Gond, and Reorx, and thusly have abilities aimed at filling the artificer role, with a dash of tankiness. Their Domain Spells all relate directly to their role, consisting of Identify, Searing Smite, Heat Metal, Magic Weapon, Elemental Weapon, Protection from Energy, Fabricate, Wall of Fire, Animate Objects and Creation. They receive a free proficiency with heavy armor and smith's tools, and their 1st level feature is the Blessing of the Forge, which lets them temporarily imbue a suit of armor or a single weapon with magic until their next long rest or they die, which makes that item function as a +1 item. Their Channel Divinity is Artisan's Blessing, which lets them spend a Channel Divinity use over the course of an hour to create one item from the following list: a simple or martial weapon, a suit of armor, ten pieces of ammunition, a set of tools, or any other metal-based object that costs no more than 100 gold pieces. It can be used to create duplicates of metal objects you already possess, such as an exact replica of a key. 6th level grants them the Soul of the Forge, which gives them Resistance to Fire, plus it also gives them a +1 bonus to AC when wearing heavy armor. 8th level grants them a Divine Strike that deals +1d8 (+2d8 at 14th level) fire damage with a weapon attack once per turn. Finally, 17th level's Saint of the Forge improves their Soul of the Forge to Immunity to Fire and means they gain Resistance to Nonmagical Bludgeoning/Piercing/Slashing damage when wearing heavy armor.

Grave Clerics are, as you'd expect, the "non-evil death clerics!" domain; whilst Death is mechanically aimed at gods of the undead, murder and other "death as an evil force to be feared" deities, the Grave Domain is aimed at gods of "death as a natural part of the cycle", like Kelemvor, Pharasma, the Raven Queen, the Undying Court and Wee Jas. This means the two main traditional depictions of a Death Priest in D&D are now covered, although the "Necromancer Cleric" traditionally held by servitors of deities like Vecna or Chemosh is still yet to be covered. Domain Spells for the Grave Domain are a weird grab-bag of "gently offensive" necromancy spells (Bane, Ray of Enfeeblement, Blight) and benign necromancy spells (False Life, Gentle Repose, Raise Dead). At 1st level, they gain Circle of Mortality, which not only causes them to always count as rolling the maximum value for their dice-based healing spells, but also gives them a 30ft long, cast on a bonus action version of Spare the Dying as a bonus cantrip that doesn't count against their cantrip limits. 1st level also gives them Eyes of the Grave, which lets them sense the location of all non-protected (that is, neither in total cover nor warded against divination) undead within 60 feet as action, which they can do a number of times per day equal to their Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1) before needing to take a long rest to recharge it. Their Channel Divinity is Path to the Grave, which lets them curse a creature within 30 feet so that it counts as having Vulnerability against the next attack to hit it. 6th level grants them the feature Sentinel at Death's Door, which lets them nullify a critical hit against themselves or an ally within 30 feet (downgrading it to a normal hit and cancelling any rider effects that trigger on a crit) as a reaction; again, they can do this a number of times per day equal to their Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1). At level 8, they gain the same Potent Spellcasting feature as the Arcane Domain Cleric does. Finally, 17th level grants them the Keeper of Souls trait, which means that once per turn, when an enemy dies within 60 feet of them, the cleric can heal a creature of their choice that is also within 60 feet, giving the target hit points equal to the dead creature's Hit Dice.

Plane Shift Domains[edit]

Since it's unclear where WoTC's "Plane Shift" articles, which convert Magic: The Gathering planes to D&D 5e worlds, fit on the canon scale, Domains introduced in such articles are given their own segment here. So far, only four new cleric Domains have arisen from the Plane Shift articles, in the form of the Ambition, Solidarity, Strength, and Zeal Domains associated with the gods of Amonkhet.

The Ambition Domain is the most evil-flavored Domain, because of course wanting to push yourself to the top is most appealing to selfish jerkasses. Its bonus spells are all about cheating or manipulating; Bane, Ray of Enfeeblement, Vampiric Touch, Dominate Person, etc. At level 1, you get the Warding Flare ability, which you can use 1 or Wisdom modifier times per day, whichever is greater. This lets you impose Disadvantage on an assailant's attack roll against you as a reaction, provided that you can see them and they're within 30 feet - oh, and they're not immune to being blinded. Your level 2 Channel Divinity is "Invoke Duplicity", which lets you use your CD to create an illusionary double, which is sustained as per a Concentration spell. Aside from the obvious misleading effects, although it's only got a 120 range, you can cast spells through it, and you can tag-team with it to gain advantage on attack rolls. In comparison, your level 6 Channel Divinity, "Cloak of Shadows, is much simpler: you turn invisible, until your next turn ends, you attack somebody, or cast a spell. Level 8 gives you the Potent Spellcasting feature, where your offensive Cleric cantrips inflict +Wisdom modifier bonus damage. Finally, at level 17, Improved Duplicity lets you make up to 4 duplicates with Channel Divinity instead of 1.

The Solidarity Domain is a sort of cross between the War and Life Domains, as it's all about fostering team-work and unity. Its bonus spells relate to group-targeting heals and buffs, such as Bless, Guiding Bolt, etc. It grants proficiency in Heavy Armor and several features. At level 1, Solidarity's Action lets you spend a bonus action when using Help to assist an ally's attack to make a weapon attack of your own, which you can do Wis bonus times (minimum once) per day. At level 2, you get the Channel Divinity feature "Preserve Life", which lets you heal others as a bonus action without expending a spell slot. At level 6, Channel Divinity "Oketra's Blessing" lets you spend a Channel Divinity use as a reaction to a creature within 30 feet of you make an attack roll; this grants them a +10 bonus to their roll. At 8th level, you get Divine Strike, which lets you bump up the damage on one weapon attack per turn by +1d8 (+2d8 after you hit level 14). Finally, at level 17, you get Supreme Healing, where you automatically heal the maximum possible amount when using a random roll-based healing effect.

The Strength Domain is all about proving your strength, physically and mentally. As such, its bonus spells are an odd mix of physical boosters, protective buffs, and also includes the Dominate Beast and Insect Plague spells. At level 1, you gain Acolyte of Strength (1 Druid cantrip, Proficiency in 1 of Animal Handling, Athletics, Nature or Survival) and proficiency in Heavy Armor. At level 2, your first Channel Divinity, "Feat of Strength", allows you to use Channel Divinity to grant yourself a +10 bonus to any Strength based check. The level 6 version, "Rhonas's Blessing", is the same thing, but targeting somebody else within 30 feet instead. You get the same Divine Strike feature as the Solidarity Domain at level 8, and finally, level 17 gives you Avatar of Battle; permanent resistance to all physical damage that comes from non-magical sources.

The Zeal Domain is a weird mixture of the War and Tempest Domains, in practice. Its bonus spells are all offensive based, either directly (Destructive Wave) or indirectly (Searing Smite), and heavy on the thunder and fire damage. You get free proficiencies with martial weapons and heavy armor, and the Priest of Zeal feature at level 1. Usable 1 or Wisdom modifier (use the higher of the two) times per day, it lets you use a bonus action after making an attack to make an extra weapon attack. Your level 2 Channel Divinity, Consuming Fervor, lets you spend Channel Divinity uses to maximize fire and thunder damage. At level 6, you get Resounding Strike, which means your thunder attacks will knock any target that is Large or smaller back 10 feet when they hit. At level 8, you get Divine Strike, which functions the same as Solidarity and Strength's version. Finally, at level 17, you get Blaze of Glory: once per day, when reduced to 0 hit points by an attacker that you can see, you can use your reaction to move at full speed towards that bastard and make a melee weapon attack with Advantage that deals +5D10 (weapon damage type) damage and +5d10 fire damage if it hits. Whether it hits or not, you then collapse on the spot, either dead or dying, depending on how badly hurt you were beforehand.