(5E) How to play Trickery Cleric?

Undrave

Adventurer
I've always liked the concept of a Cleric who uses underhanded methods to bring about his Deity's goals... and the Trickery Cleric looked like that at first but I'm not quite sure. I've tried it before and was somewhat dissapointed.

Honestly, it should have been called the Shadow Domain, what with its emphasis on stealth rather than deception, sleight of hands and other things, even if it has access to a perfect illusion (with some terribly written rules BTW...).

I've accepted this aspect and I'm considering eventually playing a Trickery Cleric but I'm just not sure what that's supposed to look like. I know that outside of combat you need to focus on Stealth and you can do some shenanigans with your Duplicate, and your extended spell list is GREAT. but once combat start is where I'm at a loss.

The features seem, to me, to imply a melee cleric, but you don't get any extra armor or extra attacks. Even if you decided to use a ranged weapon to use your Divine Strike feature, you only got a limited choice of weapons to pick from and you don't get extra attacks for your bow or whatever. The Duplicate and invisibility powers seem to imply using them in melee but, again, not really armoured unless you invest heavily in DEX?

I guess you could play them as Caster Cleric, but since the PHB only has ONE attack cantrip, which does RADIANT damage, you lose a lot of flavour there (Why wasn't Toll the Dead in the PHB anyway?). Like, outside of combat you're this shadowy figure orchestrating sneaky operations and support your party, but then once battle lines are drawn you're just some generic Divine Caster who might as well not have a domain

Any insight on the strength of the Trickery Domain and how to properly use it once a fight break out? What's the game plan to really make you FEEL Tricky? That would be much appreciated!
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
This speech is my recital, this domain is very vital
A subclass sublime that's perfect in design
It's Tricky tricky, here we go

It's tricky to commune with the divine, to have a domain that perfectly designed
It's tricky, it's tricky, tricky
(Tricky, tricky)
It's tricky to commune with the divine, to have a domain that perfectly designed
It's tricky, tr-tr-tricky, tricky
(Trrrricky)

...is there any problem that Run DMC cannot solve?
 

Undrave

Adventurer
This speech is my recital, this domain is very vital
A subclass sublime that's perfect in design
It's Tricky tricky, here we go

It's tricky to commune with the divine, to have a domain that perfectly designed
It's tricky, it's tricky, tricky
(Tricky, tricky)
It's tricky to commune with the divine, to have a domain that perfectly designed
It's tricky, tr-tr-tricky, tricky
(Trrrricky)

...is there any problem that Run DMC cannot solve?
Nice!

Do you have first hand experience with Trickery?
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Do you have first hand experience with Trickery?
Didja see my name? ;)

This may be helpful-

I don't agree with everything in that article but I do think that Trickster Clerics can be a lot of fun played properly; that said, they are not great at combat, and their abilities have to used judiciously.
 

DemoMonkey

Explorer
I think the whole idea of a Trickery Cleric, is that you don't GET into combat. That's why it doesn't have any combat enhancing abilities.

What's the game plan to really make you FEEL Tricky?


Avoiding the fight in the first place, because you have outwitted Thor your enemies!
 

Undrave

Adventurer
Didja see my name? ;)

This may be helpful-

I don't agree with everything in that article but I do think that Trickster Clerics can be a lot of fun played properly; that said, they are not great at combat, and their abilities have to used judiciously.
Yeah I read that, helped me appreciate the spell list but doesn't answer my combat conundrum.

I think the whole idea of a Trickery Cleric, is that you don't GET into combat. That's why it doesn't have any combat enhancing abilities.

What's the game plan to really make you FEEL Tricky?

Avoiding the fight in the first place, because you have outwitted Thor your enemies!
Fair enough, but sometimes it can't be helped. What kind of tricky support can a Trickery Cleric bring? And if they're not meant to get into combat then why do they get that useless Divine Strike with Poison Dmg? Or why the duplicate specifically calls out it grants you combat advantage (but you can't use it to do the Help Action to aid your allies?! What kind of support class is this?).
 

ninjayeti

Explorer
Yeah as others have said Trickery Domain isn't focused on offensive power.

Out of combat don’t ignore Disguise Self and Charm Person. While they require some creativity they provide lots of potential for deception, infiltration, and sowing confusion.

In combat you should mostly be using non-domain spells. Your duplicate, mirror image, and blink are great for keeping you safe while you do regular cleric stuff like healing or dropping Hold Person. Even with the poison damage, melee attacks at higher levels are essentially cantrips – just there for rounds you don’t want to burn a spell slot. Use advantage from you duplicate to deliver powerful melee attack spells like Inflict Wounds and Contagion.

At the end of the day you’re are a cleric with some cool trickster abilities. The domain stuff is there to supplement your regular class abilities, not replace them. If you don’t think the general cleric abilities are interesting or powerful this is not the build for you.

Finally, never let the Tempest cleric convince you to do “get help.” It’s humiliating.
 

Esker

Explorer
Treantmonk has a three part video on YouTube going in depth on the Trickery Cleric which is worth checking out. He obviously has a particular style of building characters that isn't for everyone, but there's a lot of useful insight there. He does assume you have access to Toll the Dead though, and builds the character as a caster.

Divine Strike is terrible, but that's true for all Cleric subclasses. It takes some very specific build choices (and likely multiclassing) to make a cleric that still wants to be using weapons by level 8.

I think the main use of Invoke Duplicity is defensive support: give the enemy a false target to attack, diverting that attack from someone else. If you don't mind getting in close, you can merge with the duplicate, then separate again, playing a shell game to keep the enemy guessing which one of you is real. I assume that when you have Mirror Image up, the duplicate also looks like it has its own mirror images, but that's something to ask the DM about.

Once you hit 7th, you get Polymorph, which makes you better than the Life Cleric at single-target in-combat "healing". You also get Dimension Door, which lets you rescue somebody from a bad situation.

And as @ninjayeti said, you still have all the base cleric stuff. You'll want to be using spiritual weapon and spirit guardians just like any Cleric.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
At the end of the day you’re are a cleric with some cool trickster abilities. The domain stuff is there to supplement your regular class abilities, not replace them. If you don’t think the general cleric abilities are interesting or powerful this is not the build for you.
I usually like playing support characters, but I'm not SUPER thrilled by the base cleric (compared to 4e where it was my favorite class)... Mostly because from round to round you don't feel enough like a support class until you drop a heal or a Bless a few times per day. But I do like a lot of the base domain abilities because they feel like their own domain. Light domain with its radiant bonus, life cleric with the extra healing, Nature cleric and the Druid cantrip, etc... Trickery just feels like the one that doesn't have that strong of a flavour in battle that stands apart from the base class like the other Domains.

But I'll probably not play a Cleric for my next character in my current ongoing game, but maybe at some point in another one.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Bane is also thematic but not strong
Spiritual weapon seems thematic enough
Command is perfectly fitting IMO
Silence
Hold Person
Bestow Curse


I think you have plenty of spells to do tricky things.
I think trickery is more of a mindset than a mechanic.
I think I'd drop str to maybe 10 and go dex and wisdom. Bows and finesse weapons seem fitting.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
It's the weakest cleric IMHO.

We've been building clerics as casters perhaps using shillagh via magic Initiate to key everything off wisdom if you want to melee.

Otherwise you kind of need to roll stats or resort to heavy armor master feat. I prefer nature and Arcana for beatdown otherwise go spellcaster IMHO.

Default array

15 wisdom
14 Dex
13 con
12,10, 8 everything else.

After racials you want 16 Wis, 14 Dex and con.

That's basically for every cleric that can't use heavy armor.

For beatdown you need to start making sacrifices if you want to use heavy armor.

Even with the heavy armor feat you get a 13 con then you have to make the choice to buff strength or wisdom at higher levels.

Rolled stats and Gauntlets of Ogre power changes things.
 
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FrogReaver

Adventurer
It's the weakest cleric IMHO.

We've been building clerics as casters perhaps using shillagh via magic Initiate to key everything off wisdom if you want to melee.

Otherwise you kind of need to roll stats or resort to heavy armor master feat. I prefer nature and Arcana for beatdown otherwise go spellcaster IMHO.

Default array

15 wisdom
14 Dex
13 con
12,10, 8 everything else.

After racials you want 16 Wis, 14 Dex and con.

That's basically for every cleric that can't use heavy armor.

For beatdown you need to start making sacrifices if you want to use heavy armor.

Even with the heavy armor feat you get a 13 con then you have to make the choice to buff strength or wisdom at higher levels.

Rolled stats and Gauntlets of Ogre power changes things.
Personally I'm not the least bit impressed by the nature cleric and shillelagh. Bonus action to use on a class that already has a great use for a bonus action - blah
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Personally I'm not the least bit impressed by the nature cleric and shillelagh. Bonus action to use on a class that already has a great use for a bonus action - blah
It reduced MAD and conserves spells.

Even if you don't want to take PAM you can still go 16 wisdom 14 con and Dex.

Then you only have to buff wisdom, use spiritual guardians which DC keys off wisdom.
AC is one less than war cleric wisdom to hit, shillelagh can be cast outside combat.

If your idea of being a good cleric is blowing all your spells in a few rounds then yeah I suppose the war cleric is good.

At low levels though you only have a few level 2 spells.

By level 8 the nature cleric can pick up warcaster level 2 and have 20 wisdom skipping PAM.

Then you can play primary caster or use spiritual guardians and beat down. If you spam spiritual weapon you'll be out of spells in around 4 or 5 combats.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
To really FEEL tricky?

I'd double down on that concept. Dump Str go with Wis/Cha/Dex as your three primary attributes followed by Con and Int.

Personally I'd grab Magic Initiate as a variant human and pick up Friends, Minor Illusion as my cantrips, and Mage Armor as my 1/day 1st level spell. That + a decent Dex + a shield should keep you in good stead without worrying about heavy armors. AC 17-18 at 1st level for most of your day.

Cleric Skills I'd get: Insight & Persuasion. Every good deception is based in the truth and the ability to see through other's lies after all :p!
Background: one of the many that has Deception as a skill. Charlatan is the natural fit to me.
Human Skill: maybe Stealth, maybe Perception?

Once combat starts...

stay the heck away from melee as much as you can. You can cast all your spells at a range with your Invoke Duplicity and have mirror images of your self up for protection at the same time. No need to get near combat.

As a Trickery Cleric with Charm and Disguise Self, I would say that you're much more about social trickery and such than Stealth as a concept. So play into that. You have the unlimited ability (though one at a time) to give other people in your party advantage on Stealth. So while you might not be the Supreme at it... you can really double down on the Rogue's expertise Stealth with advantage. Plus with Pass without Trace, everyone in the group will be Stealthy.

Heck, with Charm AND Disguise Self and proficiency in the Disguise Kit & Forgery Kits from Charlatan you can really pull off some fun Con's or Tricks or whatever you want to call them.

Disguise kit some plane-jane disguise that will go unnoticed. Forge some documents like letters of credit or something else worthwhile for you or your party. Cast Disguise Self to look like someone the party doesn't like (to frame them) or who has access where you need to go and Charm on people who will then KNOW what their Charmer looked like ;). Then have fun as you drop your disguise self outside and shuffle along in the other disguise while some pissed off people go after who you pretended to be.

At later levels you could pick up some rogue levels if wanted, or grab Prodigy as a Human to get Expertise in either Deception or Stealth for yourself as well. Heck you get another skill and tool, maybe now it's time to get Perception and Poisoner's Kit!
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
To really FEEL tricky?

I'd double down on that concept. Dump Str go with Wis/Cha/Dex as your three primary attributes followed by Con and Int.

Personally I'd grab Magic Initiate as a variant human and pick up Friends, Minor Illusion as my cantrips, and Mage Armor as my 1/day 1st level spell. That + a decent Dex + a shield should keep you in good stead without worrying about heavy armors. AC 17-18 at 1st level for most of your day.

Cleric Skills I'd get: Insight & Persuasion. Every good deception is based in the truth and the ability to see through other's lies after all :p!
Background: one of the many that has Deception as a skill. Charlatan is the natural fit to me.
Human Skill: maybe Stealth, maybe Perception?

Once combat starts...

stay the heck away from melee as much as you can. You can cast all your spells at a range with your Invoke Duplicity and have mirror images of your self up for protection at the same time. No need to get near combat.

As a Trickery Cleric with Charm and Disguise Self, I would say that you're much more about social trickery and such than Stealth as a concept. So play into that. You have the unlimited ability (though one at a time) to give other people in your party advantage on Stealth. So while you might not be the Supreme at it... you can really double down on the Rogue's expertise Stealth with advantage. Plus with Pass without Trace, everyone in the group will be Stealthy.

Heck, with Charm AND Disguise Self and proficiency in the Disguise Kit & Forgery Kits from Charlatan you can really pull off some fun Con's or Tricks or whatever you want to call them.

Disguise kit some plane-jane disguise that will go unnoticed. Forge some documents like letters of credit or something else worthwhile for you or your party. Cast Disguise Self to look like someone the party doesn't like (to frame them) or who has access where you need to go and Charm on people who will then KNOW what their Charmer looked like ;). Then have fun as you drop your disguise self outside and shuffle along in the other disguise while some pissed off people go after who you pretended to be.

At later levels you could pick up some rogue levels if wanted, or grab Prodigy as a Human to get Expertise in either Deception or Stealth for yourself as well. Heck you get another skill and tool, maybe now it's time to get Perception and Poisoner's Kit!
Why mage armor?
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Why mage armor?
Not a requirement just a suggestion, and a favored option of mine. Helps dump str and focus on Dex.

Also helps protect if you’re doing a disguise where armor wouldn’t work or would be out of place.

Plus it’s a great spell option for your 1/Long Rest Magic Initiate spell with its duration and not being tied to your non-prime casting stat.

If the domain didn't give Disguise Self, that would have been another recommendation for Magic initiate on a Trickery Cleric as well, but it does... so need something else!
 
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Fenris-77

Explorer
If the goal is to combine Friends and Disguise Self then a two level dip in Warlock might be the best answer. Then you get Disguise Self at will and Friends, plus some solid cantrips including the best ranged cantrip in the game. It's a little MAD, but Disguise Self at will makes me smile. I know that's not strictly about Trickery Clerics, but if I were playing one I'd be looking hard at that two level dip.
 

Undrave

Adventurer
To really FEEL tricky?

I'd double down on that concept. Dump Str go with Wis/Cha/Dex as your three primary attributes followed by Con and Int.

Personally I'd grab Magic Initiate as a variant human and pick up Friends, Minor Illusion as my cantrips, and Mage Armor as my 1/day 1st level spell. That + a decent Dex + a shield should keep you in good stead without worrying about heavy armors. AC 17-18 at 1st level for most of your day.

Cleric Skills I'd get: Insight & Persuasion. Every good deception is based in the truth and the ability to see through other's lies after all :p!
Background: one of the many that has Deception as a skill. Charlatan is the natural fit to me.
Human Skill: maybe Stealth, maybe Perception?

Once combat starts...

stay the heck away from melee as much as you can. You can cast all your spells at a range with your Invoke Duplicity and have mirror images of your self up for protection at the same time. No need to get near combat.

As a Trickery Cleric with Charm and Disguise Self, I would say that you're much more about social trickery and such than Stealth as a concept. So play into that. You have the unlimited ability (though one at a time) to give other people in your party advantage on Stealth. So while you might not be the Supreme at it... you can really double down on the Rogue's expertise Stealth with advantage. Plus with Pass without Trace, everyone in the group will be Stealthy.

Heck, with Charm AND Disguise Self and proficiency in the Disguise Kit & Forgery Kits from Charlatan you can really pull off some fun Con's or Tricks or whatever you want to call them.

Disguise kit some plane-jane disguise that will go unnoticed. Forge some documents like letters of credit or something else worthwhile for you or your party. Cast Disguise Self to look like someone the party doesn't like (to frame them) or who has access where you need to go and Charm on people who will then KNOW what their Charmer looked like ;). Then have fun as you drop your disguise self outside and shuffle along in the other disguise while some pissed off people go after who you pretended to be.

At later levels you could pick up some rogue levels if wanted, or grab Prodigy as a Human to get Expertise in either Deception or Stealth for yourself as well. Heck you get another skill and tool, maybe now it's time to get Perception and Poisoner's Kit!
Thanks for the tips!

Maybe 'm just not cut out to play that kind of character...I barely knew what to do with the last character I played that had Minor Illusion...

But I'm playing a Way of the Shadow Monk right now so I'll try to keep an eye open for opportunity to use it and try to get better at this kind of action.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
You'll do fine :) No way to really do it wrong, mine are just suggestions and ideas!

Playing a deceptive/tricky character is the best way to practice playing a deceptive/tricky character!

My mantra when playing a character like this is pretty much WWLD (What Would Loki Do)? And then I try to go with that.

You know,
Thor said:
There was one time when we were children, he transformed himself into a snake, and he knows that I love snakes. So, I went to pick up the snake to admire it, and he transformed back into himself and he was like, “Yeah, it’s me!” And he stabbed me. We were eight at the time.
 

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