The Cleric has received many changes in the Unearthed Arcana updates for Dungeons & Dragons 5E ahead of their inclusion in the upcoming 2024 Core Rulebooks. Clerics now have even more holy powers than before, focusing on letting them concentrate on melee warriors with abilities that kick in when they fight or becoming mystic-style healers with lots of powers that can heal allies and harm foes.
The latest Unearthed Arcana article for D&D 5E is Playtest 6, which can be downloaded for free on the D&D Beyond website. Playtest 6 features a new version of the Cleric class, along with four subclasses appearing in the 2014 Player’s Handbook. This version of the Cleric is intended to be tested by fans before it’s printed, so feel free to use it in campaigns and take notes, so they can be sent to Wizards of the Coast when feedback opens for Playtest 6.
Changes Clerics To Powers In D&D 5E
The version of the Cleric in Playtest 6 now has a much more concrete relationship with their deity, as Divine Intervention is refreshingly direct compared to the version of the Player’s Handbook, while Turn Undead has been overhauled. All of the Cleric powers that have changed in Unearthed Arcana are:
Divine Domain Subclass: Clerics now select their subclass at level 3 instead of level 1.
Cantrips: Clerics can replace one of their Cantrips when they level up.
Turn Undead: Creatures who fail the save are now affected by the Frightened and Incapacitated effects for one minute or until they take damage.
Destroy Undead: This feature has been replaced with Smite Undead.
Divine Intervention: You can use this power once per long rest to duplicate any level 1-5 Divine spell without using a slot or requiring components. The spell cannot have a casting time of Reaction.
Divine Intervention Improvement: This has been replaced with Greater Divine Intervention.
The D&D Cleric’s New Features & Powers
The Cleric has received some major combat buffs in Unearthed Arcana, with the player being able to choose between a front-line warrior priest or a back-row healer who can sling attack spells with the best of them. The new Cleric class features introduced in Playtest 6 are:
Divine Order (Level 1): Clerics choose one of two options with this feature: Protector gives them Martial Weapon proficiency and Heavy Armor Training, while Thaumaturge grants an extra Cantrip from the Divine spell list and a bonus to Religion checks equal to their Wisdom modifier.
Channel Divinity/Divine Spark (Level 2): This power lets you target an ally within 30ft to restore 1d8 + Wisdom modifier hit points, or target an enemy and force a Constitution saving throw, with a failure resulting in 1d8 + Wisdom in Radiant or Necrotic damage, or half damage on a successful save.
Smite Undead (Level 5): When using Turn Undead, you can deal 1d8 x Wisdom modifier in Radiant damage to all enemies affected by the ability.
Blessed Strikes (Level 7): This grants two powers: Divine Strike adds 1d8 Necrotic or Radiant damage on weapon attacks, while Potent Spellcasting adds your Wisdom modifier to Divine spell Cantrips.
Commune (Level 9): You always have the Commune spell prepared, which doesn’t count against your normal allotment of memorized spells.
Improved Blessed Strikes (Level 14): The effects of Blessed Strikes have been improved. Divine Strike now adds 2d8 Necrotic or Radiant damage, while Potent Spellcasting gives you temporary hit points equal to twice your Wisdom modifier when casting a Divine Cantrip.
Greater Divine Intervention (Level 20): You can cast Wish using Divine Intervention once per 2d4 long rests, and you’re immune to its stress effects if the effect involves casting another spell.
How D&D Changed The Cleric Subclasses
Playtest 6 features upgraded versions of four of the Cleric Domains that originally appeared in the 2014 Player’s Handbook: Life, Light, Trickery, and War. As Clerics now receive their subclass at level 3, their existing Domain powers have been changed around. The changes to the Cleric Domains in Unearthed Arcana include:
Life Domain: They no longer gain Bonus Proficiency ability. Disciple of Life and Preserve Life are now received at level 3. Preserve Life now lets you expend uses of Channel Divinity to substitute spell slots when casting Abjuration spells from the Divine list. Divine Strike is now a base Cleric ability. Supreme Healing can be used with Channel Divinity healing effects.
The Domain Spells of the Life Domain are now:
- Level 3: Aid, Bless, Cure Wounds, and Lesser Restoration
- Level 5: Mass Healing Word and Revivify
- Level 7: Aura of Life and Death Ward
- Level 9: Greater Restoration and Mass Cure Wounds
Light Domain: They no longer gain the Bonus Cantrip, Improved Flare, or Potent Spellcasting features. Warding Flare and Radiance of the Dawn are received at level 3. Warding Flare can be used on all targets within 30ft. Radiance of the Dawn lets you choose the targets, and it’s no longer unaffected by total cover. Corona of Light no longer requires an Action to dismiss.
The Domains Spells of the Light Domain are now:
- Level 3: Burning Hands, Faerie Fire, Moonbeam, and See Invisibility
- Level 5: Daylight and Fireball
- Level 7: Arcane Eye and Wall of Fire
- Level 9: Flame Strike and Scrying
Trickery: They no longer gain the Cloak of Shadows feature. The Blessing of the Trickster and Invoke Duplicity features are now received at level 3. Blessing of the Trickster now has a range of 30ft and can be used on the caster. Invoke Duplicity now only requires a Bonus Action to use, and it lets you teleport 30ft. Trickster’s Magic is a new level 6 feature that lets you reduce the casting time of an Illusion Spell to Bonus Action, which can be used a number of times equal to Wisdom modifier per long rest. Improved Duplicity lets you teleport 120ft; allies have Advantage when fighting foes within 5ft of the illusion, and you regain hit points when it stops working.
The Domains Spells of the Trickery Domain are now:
- Level 3: Charm Person, Disguise Self, Invisibility, and Pass Without Trace
- Level 5: Hypnotic Pattern and Nondetection
- Level 7: Confusion and Dimension Door
- Level 9: Hold Monster and Mislead
War: They no longer gain the Bonus Proficiencies or Divine Strikes feature. War Priest and Guided Strike have moved to level 3. War Priest now grants Weapon Mastery, and its uses can be restored on a short rest. Guided Strike can now be used on other characters within 30ft and triggers on a miss. War God’s Blessing now lets you cast Shield of Faith once per long rest without expending a spell slot, and it can affect you and an ally.
The Domains Spells of the War Domain are now:
- Level 3: Divine Favor, Magic Weapon, Shield of Faith, and Spiritual Weapon
- Level 5: Crusader’s Mantle and Spirit Guardians
- Level 7: Freedom of Movement and Stoneskin
- Level 9: Destructive Wave and Hold Monster
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The changes to the Cleric are fascinating for a few reasons. The fight that the instant kill Turn Undead feature is scrapped means that an element from the older editions is now gone while giving them access to Wish is a great way to make up for how Clerics lost the awesome Miracle spell in the jump to 5E. Overall, the changes to the Cleric are positive, and I hope they make their way into the next iteration of the Player’s Handbook.