• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

5E How is the Cleric in Actual Play?

Ashrym

Explorer
I don't see how it does, actually. Any other ratio could have been used, or classes could have been given explicit 'caster levels.'

Technically it could have been, but that was working away from the simplicity goal.


Not surprising, but the 3e bard was, as you point out, also technically a full caster, just one with a slower progression that only reached 6th level spells.

Except 3e didn't rank spells the same way it does now. The same spell would have different spell levels to adjust for when a class was expected to gain it. That caused higher level spells to be classified as lower level spells for bards so they did get 8th level spells for other classes at similar class levels. That was, of course, further complicated by the DC calculation so the same spell would have a lower save DC for the bard. In essence they got the same spell roughly the same time and the mechanics made it easier to save against anyway.

Spell song DC's were still high instead of the spells, however. Fascinate DC was the perform check (which gets ridiculously high) and other spell songs like suggestion or mass suggestion were based on class level instead of spell level for higher base DC's than 9th's level spells at 20th level.

So while spells themselves had a lower DC, the songs had better DC's to replace those of higher level spells. 29 spells of 1st thru 6th level vs 24 spells (30 with specialization) of 1st thru 6th level for a wizard is very similar. The difference was 20 high DC spell songs vs 12 (15 with specialization) higher level spells. Combined it was 49 spells/songs vs 36 (45 specialized) spells on a wizard. The bard increased versatility via skills and the wizard had a broader spell versatility plus metamagic feats to improve spells. That's very similar to 5e where they have the same spell progression but the versatility in bards comes from skills and much less inspiration but the wizard adds a spell recovery option and subclasses improve spellcasting instead of metamagic feats.


Oh, they have been, though you can debate to what degree.

We've had those discussions and I chose to respect your right to your opinion, lol. Agreed to disagree and moved on. I don't see the issues in the games I play so I base my opinion on that.

And, I don't think it's irrelevant to the Bard's WotC-edition arc: from 3rd Tier compared to the Wizard's Tier 1 in 3e & the butt of jokes, to nominally balanced with everything from Wizard down to lowly fighter in 4e & rehabilitated as a 'leader,' to finally being the traditional Wizard's near-equal in 5e & kinda baddass.

It's only badass based on the presumption of the wizard's efficacy, but being comparable is solid anyway.

I find bard power can be lacking in direct comparison. It's more noticeable at higher levels after other spell casters get the goodies to help their spell casting that bards get to improve skills instead. Plenty of versatility, but compared to even just and extra cantrip, arcane recovery, and the difference in ritual casting mechanics it's clear wizards make for better spell casters. Let alone spell mastery, signature spells, and subclass bonuses.

Just because both classes use the same spell progression table doesn't make them equal as spell casters. It's only part of the story.

The Bard's quite a success story.

Totally all me and only me and my awesome playtest feedback, lol. :p


And a pretty serious alternative to Cleric. (to nod towards the actual topic)

Absolutely agree, with the caveat that spells known by taking the alternate-to-a-cleric route restricts knowing other spells. I find heroism for temp hit points can be much better than using the same spell slot for healing (concentration limitation sucks though) and song of rest can add up to quite a bit, especially in wilderness adventuring.

Clerics get more spells available by a wide margin (and therefore more rituals available for use), better armor, another cantrip, and the caster focused domains apply bonus damage to cantrips bards don't get. That shows clerics are also a bit better than bards as spell casters before adding things like domain enhancements to spells.

Even sorcerers have 2 more cantrips, font of magic / sorc points, and metamagic for more potent spell casting. Warlocks have several enhancements for eldritch blast and several decent spell-like abilities at will via invocations.

The closest bards get to other full spell casters is the base druid. Same spell progression, same number of cantrips. No spell spell enhancements inherent to the class or bonus spells available like cleric domains in the base class. Druids might still edge bards out because their prep mechanic allows swapping spells out more easily, they prep 25 spells vs 22 known at cap, and eventually they all get the beast spells ability.

When it comes to full spell casters, bards are the bottom of the spell-casting list and spell secrets at higher levels tends to get a bit over-rated. What's nice about them is skills and bardic inspiration dice more than the spell casting.

Short Version

Not all "full" spell casters are created equally, and the comparison of bards because "full" spell casters is actually false equivalence.

Clerics have more cantrips, better armor, many more spells prepped than bards know and therefore more rituals available, and caster oriented clerics gain damage to cantrips bards do not. Cleric domains often offer spell improvements or additional abilities.
 
Last edited:

akr71

Explorer
Odd, in our group clerics and wizards are great, druids are good, and we think bards suck. :)
This is my experience as well. I have never understood all the love the Bard gets...

I would have to say that with Cleric Domains, the class is one of the most versatile out there. Wanna through Fireballs around? Sure, pick Light Domain. Wade into combat to deal damage as you get to the wounded and revive them? How 'bout Tempest or War? Don't have a Wizard to Identify all those magic items? Knowledge domain is the one for you.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Technically it could have been, but that was working away from the simplicity goal.
Nod. Simplicity, as a goal, has all sorts of complications. ;P

Except 3e didn't rank spells the same way it does now. The same spell would have different spell levels to adjust for when a class was expected to gain it.
It could be a 'different level spell' for a different class, sure. But, it really was that level for all purposes. Spell save DCs, for instance, or making magic items using it.


We've had those discussions and I chose to respect your right to your opinion, lol. Agreed to disagree and moved on. I don't see the issues in the games I play so I base my opinion on that.
Well, I respect your opinion based upon your play experiences, in that context.

In the context of what's between the covers of the book, OTOH, the numbers speak for themselves.

It's only badass based on the presumption of the wizard's efficacy, but being comparable is solid anyway.
I find bard power can be lacking in direct comparison.
... It's more noticeable at higher levels after other spell casters get the goodies to help their spell casting that bards get to improve skills instead. Plenty of versatility, but compared to even just and extra cantrip, arcane recovery, and the difference in ritual casting mechanics it's clear wizards make for better spell casters.
When it comes to full spell casters, bards are the bottom of the spell-casting list and spell secrets at higher levels tends to get a bit over-rated. What's nice about them is skills and bardic inspiration dice more than the spell casting.
There is a strong argument for neo-Vancian Casters being Tier 1 and Bard (like other 'merely' spontaneous casters) 'only' Tier 2, certainly. I think the Bard edges up there, thanks to that versatility.

But that /is/ one where there's plenty of room to agree to disagree. ;)

Absolutely agree, with the caveat that spells known by taking the alternate-to-a-cleric route restricts knowing other spells. I find heroism for temp hit points can be much better than using the same spell slot for healing and song of rest can add up to quite a bit, especially in wilderness adventuring.
Depends on what your party needs from you, but sure.

I would have to say that with Cleric Domains, the class is one of the most versatile out there.
It's a neo-Vancian caster, so plenty versatile, of course. Domains make it a little more versatile as a concept-building tool, not so much as spheres in 2e, but it's nothing to sneeze at.
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
I like the cleric, as it seems to have the ability to provide the option for many character builds because of the various domains. Tanks, blasters, support, and even control can be done fairly well out of cleric. The problem some have is they make a "generic" cleric that doesn't really do any of these things well, or at least worse than other classes can do them.

Unlike most prior editions, they are no longer a "must have" class, and I feel a lot of groups are enjoying this fact a lot. Not because they don't like the class, but because it's a novelty.
 

ClaytonCross

Explorer
My group is pretty meh to the cleric. They think the bard is amazing, the druid is solid, the wizard is awesome.

But the cleric...on paper it just doesn't seem that strong. On of my players tried out a cleric at 6th level for a few sessions and then promptly changed to a wizard, and has never looked back.

I'll admit that looking at the cleric's 2nd and 3rd level spell list I've never been particularly impressed. So for those who have played clerics for a while in game, what's your actual experience?
I am playing a Dwarven Forge Cleric tank of Moradin. At level 1 had a base AC19 + 2 for AC21 when casting shield of faith, inpart due to blessing of the forge. Since I mostly use self buff spells and self healing I have a low 14 wisdom but I have 16 constitution so my health is pretty good. At level 4, I picked up Dwarven Fortitude with my ASI so I can take the dodge if I am surrounded and regenerate some health at the same time. Combine with the Cleric only spell "Word of Radiance" doing AoE radiant damage for all the enemies in melee combat.... So since lvl 1 I have constantly been tanking 4-5 enemies at a time like its cool. I have played tanks before, but the Cleric Tank is pretty awsome. I also half warding bond as does the parties Clecistal Sorccerer healer which can make me near imposible to kill, becasue the healer doesn't even need line of sight, he just takes half my damage and heals himself arount the courner.

....So much fun.
 

rgoodbb

Explorer
This is my experience as well. I have never understood all the love the Bard gets...
I know this is a Cleric thread but for me a lot of what the Bard does, goes unnoticed sometimes. Reducing the enemy's ability to be effective in many different ways doesn't get the wow effect of something like spirit guardians or a fireball, but can be just as potent, and for some players just as fun.

Clerics are cool as well. Me likes them all.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
I am playing a Dwarven Forge Cleric tank of Moradin. At level 1 had a base AC19 + 2 for AC21 when casting shield of faith, inpart due to blessing of the forge. Since I mostly use self buff spells and self healing I have a low 14 wisdom but I have 16 constitution so my health is pretty good. At level 4, I picked up Dwarven Fortitude with my ASI so I can take the dodge if I am surrounded and regenerate some health at the same time. Combine with the Cleric only spell "Word of Radiance" doing AoE radiant damage for all the enemies in melee combat.... So since lvl 1 I have constantly been tanking 4-5 enemies at a time like its cool. I have played tanks before, but the Cleric Tank is pretty awsome. I also half warding bond as does the parties Clecistal Sorccerer healer which can make me near imposible to kill, becasue the healer doesn't even need line of sight, he just takes half my damage and heals himself arount the courner.

....So much fun.
I also played a Hill Dwarf Forge Cleric in my group. (The others being a mountain dwarf bear totem barbarian, a human necromancer wizard, and a half-orc monk of the open hand.) I had incredible HP and AC. I was probably one of the few party members that never dropped to 0 HP in our adventures. You are not necessarily pumping out the single-target damage of a fighter, barbarian, or rogue, or the AoE damage of a wizard, but you have a lot of support utility and sticking power in a fight. People have already mentioned Spiritual Weapon and Spiritual Guardians, which are both top notch spells in a fight, but you also have Guidance and Bless.

As an aside, I am also thankful that WotC switched out Shield for Identify for the Forge cleric domain spells. My group was already doing that when playtesting the UA Forge cleric, because my group and I found the Forge cleric with Shield was just too absurd of a tank in play.
 

akr71

Explorer
I know this is a Cleric thread but for me a lot of what the Bard does, goes unnoticed sometimes. Reducing the enemy's ability to be effective in many different ways doesn't get the wow effect of something like spirit guardians or a fireball, but can be just as potent, and for some players just as fun.

Clerics are cool as well. Me likes them all.
Its all good. Some people hate on the paladin, I hate on the bard.
 

ClaytonCross

Explorer
I also played a Hill Dwarf Forge Cleric in my group. (The others being a mountain dwarf bear totem barbarian, a human necromancer wizard, and a half-orc monk of the open hand.) I had incredible HP and AC. I was probably one of the few party members that never dropped to 0 HP in our adventures. You are not necessarily pumping out the single-target damage of a fighter, barbarian, or rogue, or the AoE damage of a wizard, but you have a lot of support utility and sticking power in a fight. People have already mentioned Spiritual Weapon and Spiritual Guardians, which are both top notch spells in a fight, but you also have Guidance and Bless.

As an aside, I am also thankful that WotC switched out Shield for Identify for the Forge cleric domain spells. My group was already doing that when playtesting the UA Forge cleric, because my group and I found the Forge cleric with Shield was just too absurd of a tank in play.
lol, My GM switch Identify back out for Shield because the felt it was more appropriate and he doesn't use Identify spell in his games because he thinks curses are silly and you can already identify magic items on a short rest. While it does give me ridiculous AC defense my 20AC +2 shield of faith, +5 shield spell for 27 at level 1, it does not help me for save spells so AoEs still mean my high health and Dwarven Fortitude are needed and because I have high AC he holds nothing back. We were fighting an umber hulk (a CR5 monster) as a level 4 party. It wrecked the group with its +8 to hit modifier and 9-14 damage. However, I took the blunt of the attacks (as a tank should) and we beat it dispite not having the lvl 5 jump in damage. We did have one guy drop to 0... the same guy 5 times! but uses of healing potions + mage hand and healing word managed to prevent him from failing 3 death saves but he got exhaustion from falling so much. It was a hard fight above our level but with my (also Hill Dwarf) Cleric tanking a TON OF DAMAGE by blocking and self healing we did kill it. Not disappointed with my Cleric Tank at all. I also look forward to Getting Resistance to Fire damage at level 6 which will help with some AoE damage but I am looking at getting a Luckstone, ring of protection, and cloak of protection as they will help my saves all around and I don't believe in AC over kill as a tank, lol.

… More so because the Umberhulk came close to dropping me at one point but shield saved me and Dodge + Dwarven resistance got me back on my feat.
 

Al'Kelhar

Explorer
My current PC, Watt, is a warforged storm sorcerer/tempest cleric with heavy plating, shield of faith and the shield spell. One might describe him (it?) as a "solid" build.

Cheers, Al'Kelhar
 

Ashrym

Explorer
An article just came out showing D&D Beyond player data has fighters and clerics as the most popular classes.

I would call that a general indication the class is fine.
 

Greenstone.Walker

Registered User
My cleric never does the same thing in two combats in a row. Sometimes she uses bless and spiritual weapon. Sometimes spirit guardians. Sometimes she smacks things with a warhammer, sometimes she smacks things at range with a cantrip, sometimes she casts spells (heal, banish, curse animate objects, whatever). As a forge cleric, she's got the party covered for item stuff (identiyfing all the magic items, repairing all the nonmagical ones).

She also animated some zombies to row the boat so the party could rest.

I like the flexibility of covering multiple roles as needed. Buffing? Yep, got you there with bless and guidance and so on. Healing? Gods yes, including dispel magic, remove curse and greater restoration. Controlling the battledfield? Well, there is wall of flame to corral the enemies or banish to take out the nastiest one for a few minutes. Or she could just stand at the front with her full plate, shield, and channel divinity and say, "Come at me. I dare you."
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
Druids by the way make the best healers.
I count Revivify as party of the essential healing kit of 5e. It's not a raise dead spell, it's a "stand up from REALLY unconcious" spell. Because the player and the character suffer no more from death than being knocked out until a spell brings them back up, it radically changes the boundary of where meaningful death to the player is.

I do see Druid as a great healer in a game that doesn't have a lot of death.
 

Hussar

Legend
I just finished up playing a 1-11th level Forge Priest in a Storm King's Thunder campaign.

My biggest beef with the cleric is that there's such a pull between options. For example, my Sacred Flame is doing 3d6 damage at this point. Why would I bother using a weapon and tanking? I wound up having three magic items plus the class damage bonus and not doing a whole lot more damage than I would do with Sacred Flame. Never minding Toll the Dead or other attack cantrips.

I guess my beef is that clerics have become wizards with a specialized spell list. There's no point in going heavy armor/tank. You're just wasting resources. Why spend all the money/attunement slots on magic armor, magical weapons, some sort of strength boosting doodad, when you can just stand back and blast away?

And, it's funny, there's been a few comments in the thread about how much folks liked their cleric once they got fireball. Umm, if getting fireball makes you a great cleric, then, well, that's not a cleric anymore AFAIC.
 

Greenstone.Walker

Registered User
Druids by the way make the best healers.
I'm going to disagree slightly, for two reasons. First, druids don't get revivify and remove curse spells. Second, a druid in beast form can't cast healing magic).

I'm not saying a druid is a bad healer, mind you, just that clerics are better. As are bards evil grin.
 

Ashrym

Explorer
I'm going to disagree slightly, for two reasons. First, druids don't get revivify and remove curse spells. Second, a druid in beast form can't cast healing magic).

I'm not saying a druid is a bad healer, mind you, just that clerics are better. As are bards evil grin.
Bards don't get those either unless they make specific choices. I find bards can be great healers but I've made several bards with other choices and flavor in mind.
 

Advertisement

Top