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D&D 5E Cleric Houserules

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Edited.

I've posted about this before, but I think WotC really dropped the ball in the way they baked combat vs spellcasting options into domain choice rather than making it independent and by not emphasizing it enough in the way they designed the cleric in 5e. There's a clear "charismatic man of the cloth" archetype gap continuing from previous editions when it could have easily been designed into the 5e cleric.

I wrote some houserules to address this and wanted to start up some discussion about it. The gist of it is that the choice of features basically gives you a choice between being a strength-secondary cleric or a charisma-secondary cleric in a way that represents layered options instead of base changes to the class. I feel charisma is under-emphasized for clerics in the core rules so this is a two-birds-with-one-stone approach for me.

Faith Armor
Many clerics avoid the front lines and are not accustomed to physical combat. These clerics may eschew armor in place of ceremonial vestments and trusting their faith or deity to protect them.

Clerics that do not gain heavy armor proficiency 1st level based on their domain selection instead get this ability. When not wearing armor and not using a shield, your AC is 10 + Dexterity modifier + Charisma modifier. You must be wearing or wielding a holy symbol to gain this benefit.

Some domains, such as Life, Light, or Nature, may allow a choice between Heavy Armor proficiency and Faith Armor.

Channel Divinity - Renewal
All clerics gain Channel Divinity - Renewal at 2nd level.

You can use your Channel Divinity to swap out a prepared spell for a different one and regain one spell slot in the process. This can only be done once per day.

The maximum spell level is equal to your current spell level -1. So, if you are able to cast 4th level spells, you can do this with a spell of 3rd level or lower.



Domain Options
All domains offer one of the following three features at 8th level.


Castigation
Castigation is renamed from Potent Spellcasting and adds your charisma modifier to damage rolls with cantrips rather than your wisdom modifier. Cannot be taken by Domains that provide Heavy Armor proficiency.

Divine Strike
As in the core rules. Available to all Domains. Uses Radiant damage unless otherwise noted.

Sacred Chant
Gain a number of spells equal to your Charisma modifier from the Bard spell list. These must be chosen in successive order of cantrip - 4th level. Cannot be taken by Domains that provide heavy armor proficiency
 
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cbwjm

Hero
I like to do something similar but I still give out the standard cleric kit of simple weapons and light, medium, shield proficiency. Any domain that gets divine strike can instead swap to potent cantrip, drop the weapon/armour proficiencies and pick up a related cantrip (life gets spare the dying as a bonus cantrip for instance).

In some cases, I see the 1st level abilities as core to the identity of the domain, knowledge for instance gets bonus skills with expertise and I feel it goes against the identity to trade them for martial weapons or heavy armour so in this case, it might just be a direct swap of potent cantrip to divine strike with no bonus proficiency in weapons or armour.

Something else I tend to do for flavour, is provide bonuses for a faith. It could be proficiency in a skill or weapon or additional higher level domain spells or even an expanded spell list. I have in my campaign world the Stag King a god that grants the nature domain, he also has druids who follow him. In this case, all clerics and druids who follow him also gain proficiency with the shortbow and longbow. Clerics of the Sun God (grants light and order domains) add the spells sunbeam and sunburst to their domain spells having them always prepared once they reach the relevant level, whether they have the light or order domain.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Edited.

I've posted about this before, but I think WotC really dropped the ball in the way they baked combat vs spellcasting options into domain choice rather than making it independent and by not emphasizing it enough in the way they designed the cleric in 5e. There's a clear "charismatic man of the cloth" archetype gap continuing from previous editions when it could have easily been designed into the 5e cleric.

I wrote some houserules to address this and wanted to start up some discussion about it. The gist of it is that the choice of features basically gives you a choice between being a strength-secondary cleric or a charisma-secondary cleric in a way that represents layered options instead of base changes to the class. I feel charisma is under-emphasized for clerics in the core rules so this is a two-birds-with-one-stone approach for me.

Faith Armor
Many clerics avoid the front lines and are not accustomed to physical combat. These clerics may eschew armor in place of ceremonial vestments and trusting their faith or deity for protection.

Clerics that do not gain heavy armor proficiency at 1st level based on their domain selection instead get this ability. When not wearing armor and not using a shield, your AC is 10 + Dexterity modifier + Charisma modifier. Visibly wearing or holding a holy symbol grants an additional +1 AC.

Channel Divinity - Renewal
All clerics gain Channel Divinity - Renewal at 2nd level.

You can use your Channel Divinity to swap out a prepared spell for a different one and regain one spell slot in the process. This can only be done once per day. The maximum spell level is equal to your current spell level -1. So, if you are able to cast 4th level spells, you can do this with a spell of 3rd level or lower.

Domain Options
The Life, Light, and Nature domains are versatile and provide feature options. At 1st and 8th levels, the player can choose either Faith Armor and Potent Spellcasting respectively, or Heavy Armor Proficiency and Divine Strike.

Potent Spellcasting
You add your charisma bonus instead of your wisdom bonus to cantrips. This is a slight nerf that brings it more in line with Divine Strike and helps encourage high Charisma, something that I feel is thematically appropriate.

I like the idea of more of a "priest" in vestments. I understand your desire to bring in CHA, but personally I think CHA is overblown in 5E already and would stick with WIS. After all, CHA has little, if anything IMO, to do with faith in a higher power, which is WIS as I see it anyway.

So, for Faith Armor, I would make it 10 + DEX + WIS, gaining +2 for held holy symbol, equivalent to an actual shield. :) I might actually add this to the list of house-rules for our group to consider.

I would simplify Channel Divinity - Renewal to make:
As a bonus action, you can use your Channel Divinity to regain one of your expended spell slots. The expended spell slot cannot be of a spell level higher than your Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1). You can use this slot to cast a Cleric spell you do not have prepared.

I would not bother with Potent Spellcasting for CHA, again since to me clerics should be all about WIS for their spells anyway.

Thanks for sharing! I am always interested if learning of other tables' house-rules. :)
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
It's interesting, but I don't know why you feel like you can't play a Charismatic priest with the current rules?

Why should "charismatic people of the cloth" get mechanical benefits that other clerics don't? A change like this would push people to make Charismatic clerics, but that doesn't make sense from a design standpoint IMO.

You can play a Charismatic cleric but there is a cost to that (assuming standard array or point buy), in that you won't be as good at combat. This kind of a house rule would mean you don't have to sacrifice anything to have high social, it's all gain. You're better at combat defense/damage AND you're better at the Social pillar.

This feels like a house rule to have your cake and eat it too in many ways. I.e. have the unarmored defense of a monk without multiclassing, gain good social skills without any sacrifice to combat in any way.

The newest UA on Class Features has something similar to your house rule on Channel Divinity, but yours is more powerful. They also changed up Potent Spellcasting and Divine Strike into a single feature called Blessed Strikes that deals 1d8 radiant damage on either a melee or spell against a single target once per turn.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I like the idea of more of a "priest" in vestments. I understand your desire to bring in CHA, but personally I think CHA is overblown in 5E already and would stick with WIS. After all, CHA has little, if anything IMO, to do with faith in a higher power, which is WIS as I see it anyway.

So, for Faith Armor, I would make it 10 + DEX + WIS, gaining +2 for held holy symbol, equivalent to an actual shield. :) I might actually add this to the list of house-rules for our group to consider.

I would simplify Channel Divinity - Renewal to make:
As a bonus action, you can use your Channel Divinity to regain one of your expended spell slots. The expended spell slot cannot be of a spell level higher than your Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1). You can use this slot to cast a Cleric spell you do not have prepared.

I would not bother with Potent Spellcasting for CHA, again since to me clerics should be all about WIS for their spells anyway.

Thanks for sharing! I am always interested if learning of other tables' house-rules. :)

It isn't just about faith in a higher power, though. That's just the first layer of it. It's also about one's ability to influence the world with it, which is directly tied to Charisma. Think about how, in the real world, religious leaders are always charismatic. In this model, Charisma replaces Strength as an important secondary stat. In general, I greatly prefer MAD to SAD as it makes character building a lot more interesting.

It's my opinion that tying these features to Wisdom instead of Charisma really overloads the already overloaded Wisdom stat for clerics. Spellcaster clerics already way too SAD, which I think is an issue. As mentioned in my OP, the goal here is to basically give a way for clerics to secondary specialize into either Strength/Dex for those that want more combat prowess or Charisma for those that want more spellcasting prowess.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
It's interesting, but I don't know why you feel like you can't play a Charismatic priest with the current rules?

Why should "charismatic people of the cloth" get mechanical benefits that other clerics don't? A change like this would push people to make Charismatic clerics, but that doesn't make sense from a design standpoint IMO.

You can play a Charismatic cleric but there is a cost to that (assuming standard array or point buy), in that you won't be as good at combat. This kind of a house rule would mean you don't have to sacrifice anything to have high social, it's all gain. You're better at combat defense/damage AND you're better at the Social pillar.

This feels like a house rule to have your cake and eat it too in many ways. I.e. have the unarmored defense of a monk without multiclassing, gain good social skills without any sacrifice to combat in any way.

The newest UA on Class Features has something similar to your house rule on Channel Divinity, but yours is more powerful. They also changed up Potent Spellcasting and Divine Strike into a single feature called Blessed Strikes that deals 1d8 radiant damage on either a melee or spell against a single target once per turn.

I'm not following your argument. They only get that benefit if they invest in Charisma, in the same way that clerics are only good in melee combat if they invest in Strength or Dexterity. You're implying that Charisma is a stronger attribute than Strength, but it isn't. Not only that, but Charisma won't elevate a cleric's AC on its own as much as heavy armor would.

This doesn't make Charisma-secondary clerics more powerful than standard clerics, it's just a new alternative that makes them an interesting option.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
They only get that benefit if they invest in Charisma

If you give someone benefits in something, they are going to invest in it.

Currently RAW if you want to have a charismatic cleric you're going to have to sacrifice something else like Str or Dex or Con to get your 2nd high stat in Cha. Probably Str or Con since you're giving them unarmored defense tied to Dex + Cha.

Mechanically, Charisma IS a stronger attribute than Strength in 5e because it accounts for 4 skills that make up 1/3 of the game in the Social Pillar. Cha is the primary casting stat of both Sorcerer's and Warlocks, as well as driving many of the Paladin secondary abilities including spellcasting.

Strength has... one skill and outside of damage is basically just for grappling and climbing and wearing heavy armor. Unless your table uses the variant encumbrance rules you don't even need Str to carry equipment any more really.

If you don't do multiclassing then that is less of a concern I guess.

I don't see the mechanical need to provide the differentiation your offering in this house rule is my main point.

You can have Charismatic Clerics, right now. I don't know why that character concept needs mechanical incentives to do it though.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
It isn't just about faith in a higher power, though. That's just the first layer of it. It's also about one's ability to influence the world with it, which is directly tied to Charisma. Think about how, in the real world, religious leaders are always charismatic. In this model, Charisma replaces Strength as an important secondary stat. In general, I greatly prefer MAD to SAD as it makes character building a lot more interesting.

It's my opinion that tying these features to Wisdom instead of Charisma really overloads the already overloaded Wisdom stat for clerics. Spellcaster clerics already way too SAD, which I think is an issue. As mentioned in my OP, the goal here is to basically give a way for clerics to secondary specialize into either Strength/Dex for those that want more combat prowess or Charisma for those that want more spellcasting prowess.
Sure, as I said I can see why the OP ties it to CHA, I just think CHA is already too much used in 5E. It is the "DEX" of the mental ability scores. :)

By making it CHA, the OP is making WIS, CHA, and DEX all important. With CON nearly always a +1 mod or better, this is too much MAD. Unless you roll for stats and/or dump STR and likely INT as well, you would be hard pressed IME to have WIS, CHA, DEX, and CON all good. With the proper races and build, you can do it of course, but its just too me to me.

Nothing wrong with it, of course, simply my preference.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Faith Armor
Many clerics avoid the front lines and are not accustomed to physical combat. These clerics may eschew armor in place of ceremonial vestments and trusting their faith or deity for protection.

Clerics that do not gain heavy armor proficiency at 1st level based on their domain selection instead get this ability. When not wearing armor and not using a shield, your AC is 10 + Dexterity modifier + Charisma modifier. Visibly wearing or holding a holy symbol grants an additional +1 AC.

I like The idea. This would be a very appropriate alternate class feature for Clerics.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Here is some added stuff I found in a class features document I was working on. I honestly don't know if these are original or something I saw elsewhere (I'd have to dig around to know of certain):

Channel Divinity - Soothing Words: You can speak words of comfort to help another. By using your action, you can remove one of the following conditions from a creature: blinded, charmed, deafened, fatigued (one level), frightened, or poisoned. If the effect is temporary, using this ability ends it. If the effect is permanent, the conditions are removed for 1 minute.

Investiture: You choose to gain one of the following benefits:

Martial Training: you gain proficiency with martial weapons and heavy armor. You also gain proficiency in Strength saving throws. In addition, you can bless one weapon, armor, or shield to grant it a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls until you finish a long rest. If the weapon is magical, it cannot benefit from this feature if is already has bonuses to attack and damage rolls.

Scholastic Training: you gain proficiency with one language, one skill, and two tools or kits. You also gain proficiency in Intelligence saving throws. In addition, you can bless one creature, granting it a +1 bonus to all saving throws until you finish a long rest.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Armor of Faith (alternative class feature. Replaces Armor proficiency of both the Cleric and Domain)
When openly wielding a symbol of your domain or god and not wearing armor or a shield, you can choose to calculate your AC as 10+Charisma+Wisdom.

Clerics whose domain normally grants Heavy Armor proficiency who wield a holy symbol in one hand gain an additional +2 AC.

Note I removed Dex. You must let your faith protect you; no dodging!
 

Undrave

Hero
Edited.

I've posted about this before, but I think WotC really dropped the ball in the way they baked combat vs spellcasting options into domain choice rather than making it independent and by not emphasizing it enough in the way they designed the cleric in 5e. There's a clear "charismatic man of the cloth" archetype gap continuing from previous editions when it could have easily been designed into the 5e cleric.

I wrote some houserules to address this and wanted to start up some discussion about it. The gist of it is that the choice of features basically gives you a choice between being a strength-secondary cleric or a charisma-secondary cleric in a way that represents layered options instead of base changes to the class. I feel charisma is under-emphasized for clerics in the core rules so this is a two-birds-with-one-stone approach for me.

Faith Armor
Many clerics avoid the front lines and are not accustomed to physical combat. These clerics may eschew armor in place of ceremonial vestments and trusting their faith or deity for protection.

Clerics that do not gain heavy armor proficiency at 1st level based on their domain selection instead get this ability. When not wearing armor and not using a shield, your AC is 10 + Dexterity modifier + Charisma modifier. Visibly wearing or holding a holy symbol grants an additional +1 AC.

Channel Divinity - Renewal
All clerics gain Channel Divinity - Renewal at 2nd level.

You can use your Channel Divinity to swap out a prepared spell for a different one and regain one spell slot in the process. This can only be done once per day. The maximum spell level is equal to 1/2 your current spell level. So, if you are able to cast 4th level spells, you can do this with a spell of 2nd level or lower.

Domain Options
The Life, Light, and Nature domains are versatile and provide feature options. At 1st and 8th levels, the player can choose either Faith Armor and Potent Spellcasting (Castigate) respectively, or Heavy Armor Proficiency and Divine Strike.

Potent Spellcasting
This is renamed to Castigate. You add your charisma bonus instead of your wisdom bonus to cantrips. Currently, Potent Spellcasting is considered superior to Divine Strike. This is a slight nerf that brings it more in line with Divine Strike and helps ensure balance between melee-oriented clerics and laser-clerics.

I feel like the Cleric should have been a mix-and-match class like the Warlock, with Domains replacing the Patron and your... I dunno 'Congregation' maybe? Replacing Pact Magic and informing your favoured Fighting style.

Or, just split the old school mace swinging Cleric and the Divine Laser Caster apart and create the Cleric and Invoker classes.

In 4e I liked my STR/CHA cleric but support for it quickly dropped. It's a bit understandable since it kinda stepped on the Paladin's thematic toes but its mechanics were fun.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Armor of Faith (alternative class feature. Replaces Armor proficiency of both the Cleric and Domain)
When openly wielding a symbol of your domain or god and not wearing armor or a shield, you can choose to calculate your AC as 10+Charisma+Wisdom.

Clerics whose domain normally grants Heavy Armor proficiency who wield a holy symbol in one hand gain an additional +2 AC.

Note I removed Dex. You must let your faith protect you; no dodging!
What happened to "the gods help those who help themselves"? Seems like DEX should still be included. ;)
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I feel like the Cleric should have been a mix-and-match class like the Warlock, with Domains replacing the Patron and your... I dunno 'Congregation' maybe? Replacing Pact Magic and informing your favoured Fighting style.

Or, just split the old school mace swinging Cleric and the Divine Laser Caster apart and create the Cleric and Invoker classes.

In 4e I liked my STR/CHA cleric but support for it quickly dropped. It's a bit understandable since it kinda stepped on the Paladin's thematic toes but its mechanics were fun.

Yeah I pretty much agree, which is why I said they dropped the ball.

Clerics are pretty much the only class that seems locked into a very specific design philosophy with their subclasses - in large part as a result of the way the core class was misdesigned. Domain choices should have been a core feature incorporated into their base spellcasting system instead of being used for their subclass archetypes.

In essence - Domain should have been a 1st level choice that granted bonus spells and an extra use for Channel Divinity at 2nd level. That's it. Then the subclass space could have been opened up to fill way more concepts.


The truth is I think the cleric is second only to the Ranger in terms of needing a total overhaul from the ground up. They just don't get as much attention as Rangers because they're more powerful. In fact, the more I think about this the more I think I just need to create a whole custom cleric class that goes in a totally different direction from the PHB cleric.
 
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NotAYakk

Legend
The truth is I think the cleric is second only to the Ranger in terms of needing a total overhaul from the ground up. They just don't get as much attention as Rangers because they're more powerful. In fact, the more I think about this the more I think I just need to create a whole custom cleric class that goes in a totally different direction from the PHB cleric.
Obviously the class should be called the Priest.

It can have a Cleric subclass that replicates ... the Cleric.
 
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Undrave

Hero
The truth is I think the cleric is second only to the Ranger in terms of needing a total overhaul from the ground up. They just don't get as much attention as Rangers because they're more powerful. In fact, the more I think about this the more I think I just need to create a whole custom cleric class that goes in a totally different direction from the PHB cleric.

I agree with you. The Cleric WORKS (unlike the Ranger), but its feel is... off. The melee option always ends up inferior to Cantrips at some point and the Cleric often feels more like a Wizard with Radiant damage than a proper Divine Leader character until the ONE round they drop a heal or a maybe a Bless. And don't get me started on the janky Trickery build.

There's no way to build a Cleric that feels consistently like a support character the same way you can with a Bard with Vicious Mockery and Bardic Inspiration.

Obviously the class should be called the Priest.

It can have a Cleric subclass that replicates ... the Cleric.

And a laser-y Invoker class.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I had actually started work on splitting the cleric into subclasses independent of their domain. I had crusader (melee) and priest (caster) splitting the base cleric and a couple of others shaman and rune-priest. I should look up the work again and see how far I got with it.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
I had actually started work on splitting the cleric into subclasses independent of their domain. I had crusader (melee) and priest (caster) splitting the base cleric and a couple of others shaman and rune-priest. I should look up the work again and see how far I got with it.

I'd be happy to collaborate with you on it. I honestly feel this is needed. There are all kinds of concepts that would make great cleric subclasses if you untied them from domains and instead made them a core feature - oracle, archivist, prophet, crusader, apostle of peace, blessed chanter, etc. The list goes on.

Which is why making domains their subclass options instead of just standard options was a bad idea.
 


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