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Homebrew Review: 5 Original Cleric Domains

Ah, clerics. Given flack for having the offensive capability of a flock of religious pigeons, and grief for literally the one time we forgot to put resurrections spells in our line up after a long rest. Our cantrips are pretty laughable from an offensive standpoint, but at least we can eventually roll a d100 in the faint hope that our trickster or storm god can get the sorcerer to shut up about Prestidigitation.

With half the joy of making a cleric being the number of domains you can choose, it’s no surprise that people have tried their hand at homebrewing a few domains of their own. Many of them at around a dollar a pop, but which ones are actually worth the dollar?

So rather than separating each into their own separate article, how about we tackle a handful of them at one time?

1.) Luck

A domain so obvious, you’re wondering why Wizards of the Coast haven’t tackled it before in their own (increasingly-expensive) books. And yes, this domain has made the rounds on the homebrew circuit all around the internet. But let’s see how Mr. Cody Faulk tackles it on Dungeon Masters Guild.

Oh, and support Extra Life too! (Very nice!)

By joining the luck domain, you don’t obtain proficiencies or cantrips. Rather, you get luck points, to be utilized in a variation of the Lucky feat. (While this domain feature overrides the Lucky feat- should it have been granted to you elsewhere- you’ll be granted four luck points instead.) At 2nd level, you gain the Channel Divinity feature Jinx. This forces an opponent making a saving roll to do so at disadvantage. A 6th level luck cleric can shake things up with Overt Manipulation. This alters a number of saving dice a creature is rolling or flips advantage and disadvantage rolls once in between rests. Reaching 8th level grants you Potent Spell Casting (a la the Knowledge domain). The Destiny feature at 17th level lets you change a failed roll into a successful one (once in between rests).

The spell list for this domain is interesting. Objectively, it offers a sort of “make your own luck” theme. You learn spells with opposing actions on the same level, such as Bestow Curse and Remove Curse. In addition, you get misfortune-inducing spells such as Blur and ones literally left up to chance like Mirror Image. (FYI: in Mirror Image, an opponent hitting the castor or a duplicate depends on the result of a d20.)

So, yeah, this Luck domain is very much worth your time. And again, you’re helping sick kids.

2.) Music

Serving the gods of song and dance, these clerics are prime targets for accusations of bard appropriation. But chances are, such accusers never had the smug satisfaction of being able to switch out their spells after a long rest. (While the group bard must to wait for the next level to roll around before they can change their list.) Either way, let’s look at the music domain.

You start this domain with proficiency with an instrument and Performance skill checks, the Friends cantrip also obtained at 1st level. Unfortunately, it’s here that this domain starts flirting with overpowerment. A cleric already proficient with an instrument gets double proficiency. Not to mention that the 1st level feature- Song of Friendship– can allow a successful instrument/Performance skill check to forgo Friends turning its target hostile at the end of its duration. Far from a bad idea for an effect, but it’s very overpowered. (Namely, with the potential double proficiency with your instrument, and the two proficiencies you already get. As is, getting two proficiencies and a cantrip is a bit OP.)

The 2nd level Channel Divinity feature- Song of Might– doesn’t fare much better. It’s effects are more or less a beefed up version Bless. This makes its inclusion in the domain spell list both redundant and useless. (Not to mention that the fact that it bulks up in later levels also carries the risk of overpowerment.) The 6th level Channel Divinity- Song of Clarity– is a bit more balanced. Teammates (number equal to your Wisdom modifier) that can hear you have advantages on all saving throws for one minute. (Provided that you can keep concentration.) The Song of Enchantment feature at 8th level adds one point to the DC saves of 1st/2nd level spells. Still not too overpowered. Then we have the 17th level ability- Song of the Gods– which extremely overpowered. Your party members get enough buffs to make a Life cleric blush while also giving your enemies disadvantage.

And that’s before considering the spell list. Stuff like Charm Person and Enthrall make sense thematically. But otherwise, the list is stuffed with healing spells. On behalf of all former theater kids out there, I’d argue that things like Color Spray or Hypnotic Pattern would fit the stage theme better.

In short, the music domain isn’t quite my tune, but you can still find it here.

3.) Pain

Aspiring cenobites, rejoice! You now how the means to make any D&D session insanely uncomfortable, thanks to the pain domain!

This subclass, needless to say, is designed for the cleric that’s out to hurt their enemies. Like, potentially out-battling the war domain. Everyone who enters this prickly line of faith automatically receives the Chill Touch and Shocking Grasp cantrips. Domain spells such as Hellish Rebuke, Spike Growth, and Vampiric Touch stand in perfect line with the theme of pain. (The inclusion of Dominate Person and Hold Monster all but confirms that a Hellraiser movie marathon was involved in its creation.)

The domain features raise a few eyebrows, but I’ll still (hesitatingly) say that they seem to be pretty well balanced.

  • Hurts So Good at 2nd level channels not only divinity, but also the Blood Hunter class by having you cause harm to yourself in exchange for a boost in attack and damage.
  • A Channel Divinity at 6th level- Share the Pain– allows you to disperse an amount of pain between all enemies in a 30ft radius depending on your cleric level. A brief concern, one recalls that spells like Guiding Bolt can pull in some serious numbers at 1st level casting.
  • The 8th level feature- Inspired By Pain– kicks in when you drop at zero or below health points. You’re kept at zero health, gain 1d6 inspiration, and seize advantage on your next attack/skill/saving roll. Out of all the functions of this domain, this carries the highest risk of overpowerment. Because as far as I could tell, players are able to utilize this multiple (if not infinite) times between long rests. It would’ve been more balanced if this were only usable once in between long rests or something. Not to mention that the inclusion of inspiration and advantage on rolls is a bit much. (Maybe have the player pick one from the other?)
  • The domain rounds out at the 18th level (not 17th?) with Lord of Pain. A pain cleric picks a target that gets half as much damage that they deal to the cleric. This lasts as many rounds as their Wisdom modifier. Again, no telling if there’s a limit to how many times this can be used a day/in battle.

If you’re getting this domain- which you can here– I would suggest adding in the limits to Inspired By Pain and Lord of Pain. Other than that, the only problem with this domain is the risk of edgelords taking it in their subconscious crusade to have a crab tell their story on Youtube.

4.) Trade

The trade domain falls into every D&D player’s absolute favorite category of classes/subclasses– “really cool concept, but whoo boy is it situational.” Channeling the deities of wealth and civilization, trade clerics are less about slashing enemies to ribbons and more about slashing prices, the domain itself dealing with commerce. A really interesting concept, to be sure.

Not only do you start with a proficiency in Persuasion and Insight, your proficiency in these areas double when involved with matters of commerce. In addition to including a 20ft increase in ride travel, Channel Divinity functions include Haggle (which allows you to get more money and sales, increasing at 18th level) and Everything’s On Sale (which allows you to snag items at a discount).

But all these good points said, this domain drops the ball a quite, quite few times. The domain spell list- in my opinion, anyway- doesn’t quite fit the domain’s theme as well. Spells such as Identify, Fabricate, and Legend Lore make sense. However, several others aren’t exactly fitting with the theme; at least, not as well as spells not on this list. For example, Distort Value is nowhere on the list, despite it being an easy attribution to the trade domain. Same with other more theme-appropriate (and even field-functional) with spells such as Locate Object, Leomud’s Secret Chest, and Incite Greed.

It’s arguable that the most obvious spell to put on this list- Distort Value– isn’t included due to redundancy created by the Haggle and Everything’s On Sale features. But this could just mean that both can be combined into the Distort Value spell, allowing this domain to have more variety in its features. Like, for example, channeling divinity to find increasingly rare objects for sale, or maybe the ability to summon a spectral shopkeeper while in the field.

In short, the Trade domain is a good idea, but it could use some tweaking. If you still want to have a look in the bargain bin, you can find it here.

5.) Burial

I love a domain with an intriguing concept, bonus points tacked on if it’s a pretty obscure-sounding domain. But the burial domain gets even more bonus points by actually coming with a god (in this case Osiris) and a culture (in this case the secretive Green Hand cult). But a question immediately pops into my mind– is this any different from the grave and death domains?

In short– yeah, pretty much. For one thing, the domain spell lists are mostly different, save for Gentle Repose and Death Ward. (But then again, how can you not have Gentle Repose in a domain about burying people?) The rest of the burial domain spell list fits in with its theme, its inclusion of spells like Sleep and Bestow Curse just screaming “beware all who enter my ancient tomb.”

Which brings us to the domain features. 1st level only gives you a proficiency with martial weapons and a necromancy cantrip of your choosing, the Reaper feature allowing you to cast it on two targets within a 5ft distance. Your 2nd level Channel Divinity function- Restore Drained Life– to end an effect that reduces health or skill points. At 6th level, Rest In Peace amps up a clerics Destroy Undead feature, treating its effect as though you were three levels higher and allowing a 17th level burial cleric to succeed at CR 5 or lower. An 8th level Divine Strike allows additional radiant damage, Lore of the Dead at 17th level allowing you to pick one necromancy spell between 1st and 9th level.

This domain sticks to its theme and- in my opinion- is pretty balanced. Definitely one to check out!

About the Author
Went to film school instead of real college. Writes stuff, animates things, and programs whatchacallits. Currently playing a rogue/cleric (trickery) warforged that's basically a life-sized Victorian porcelain horror doll. You can find more of her stuff at kerahildebrandt.com, including D&D modules/such!

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