Playing with DnD5 Characters – 6th level Cleric

Oh, yes. I’m gonna make me some Durkon Thundershield. Well, a 5th Edition Cleric of the Tempest, anyway. But that’s basically what I’m going for here. Well, he’s human. But still . . . Durkon Lankyshield!

As the author notes in his wonderful document, nobody gets +2 to Wisdom, so the you have to choose among three races with a +1 to Wisdom:

  • Human: +1 to everything
  • Hill Dwarf: +2 to CON, +1 to WIS. Plus racial stuff.
  • Wood Elf: +2 to DEX, +1 to WIS, racial stuff.

I’m going with Human, because the ideal cleric as I’ve seen them played (and would tend to play them myself) is a first or second rank combatant. They don’t have to be played this way, but I’m going for a general theme of “somewhere between useful and badass in combat” in my musings here, so there we go. If there were a race with +2 STR and +1 WIS, I’d go with that.

The Tempest domain has some really good stuff in it for laying waste to foes, so again, we go with that.

That gives a surprisingly effective combination, as will soon be seen. 


Durkon Lankyshield, 6th Level Cleric of the Tempest (Thor)

With race and stats in place, and allocating his fourth level stat increase to CON and WIS (with initial rolls as before of 16, 15, 14, 13, 13, 11) I wind up with:

STR 16 (+3); DEX 12 (+1); CON 16 (+3); INT 14 (+2); WIS 18 (+4); CHA 14 (+2)
Giving up DEX and making it a “dump stat” is the oddly appropriate choice for anyone that expects to be in melee a lot, but wearing heavy armor. And since Clerics get all armor, shields, simple and martial weapons as proficiencies . . . well, his DEX save won’t be impressive, but his AC can be.
Speaking of which, anything from chain and a shield to plate and a shield should be doable, giving him AC 18 through AC 20. His weapon will be, of course, a Mjolnir clone – a short-handled hammer.
That gives him AC 19 on the average, and the usual 51 HP assuming the average roll of 5 on the d8.
Saving throws are somewhat middle-of-the-road, with WIS at +7, CHA at +5. STR and CON are at +3, INT is +2, DEX is +1. Keep the healer away from traps requiring a save versus DEX.
His skills are Insight +7, Medicine +7, Persuasion +5, and Religion +5.  Perception is an OK +4, as are (surprisingly) Animal Handling and Survival.

For fighting, he’s only got the single attack, and at 1d20+6 to hit, 1d8+3 bludgeonong damage, he’s not going to be that nasty to face relative to front-line guys.

The Full Skinny

RACE: Human
• +1 to all ability scores
• Size: Medium
• Speed: 30ft
• Languages: Common, Elvish, Dwarvish, Gnomish
BACKGROUND: Acolyte
• Feature: Shelter of the Faithful As an acolyte, you command the respect of those who share your faith, and you can perform the religious ceremonies of your deity.
• Skills: Insight, Religion
• Tools: none
• Languages: Two of your choice
CLASS: Cleric
• Armor: All armor, shields Light and medium armor, shields
• Weapons: Simple and martial weapons

This was an error in the character generator; thanks to Chandley for pointing it out. It makes the addition of heavy armor and martial weapons make a heck of a lot more sense later.

• Tools: none
• Saves: Wisdom, Charisma
• Skills: Choose 2 from History, Insight, Medicine, Persuasion, and Religion
• Spellcasting Cast a cleric spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and the spell is prepared. Spellcasting focus: holy symbol
Divine Domain (Tempest)
• Bonus Proficiency: martial weapons and heavy armor

Not sure why this is there, since you get all armor and martial weapons anyway? Perhaps this is a quirk of the spreadsheet? Yes. It was an error. 

Divine Domain Feature (Wrath of the Storm) When a creature within 5ft that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to cause it to make a Dexterity saving throw and it takes 2d8 lightning or thunder damage (your choice) on a fail, and half as much on a success. This can be used 4 times, expended uses regained after a long rest

This is quite nasty against low-level foes, as four times per fight, if they hit me, they take 2-16 HP, averaging just under enough to drop a 1st-level foe with max HP, and plenty enough to take out one with 5-8 HP.

• Domain Spells 1st (fog cloud, thunderwave) 3rd (gust of wind, shatter) 5th (call lightning, sleet storm)

I’ll talk spells latter, but call lightning? Bad. Ass.

• Channel Divinity: 2 uses between a short or long rest – Turn Undead Undead that can see or hear you within 30ft make a Wisdom save or be turned for 1 min or until they take damage – Destructive Wrath (Divine Domain Feature) When you roll lightning or thunder damage, you can use your Channel Divinity to deal max. damage

Again, this means that twice per fight I can either turn undead, or do max damage on that 2d8 strike above . . . or on some of the nastier spells that involve thunder and lightning.

• Ability Score Improvement / Feat: Level 4
• Destroy Undead: CR ½ or lower
• Divine Domain Feature (Thunderbolt Strike) When dealing lightning damage to a Large or smaller creature, you can push it up to 10 feet away
ABILITY SCORE IMPROVEMENT & FEATS
• Ability Score Improvement – Level 4 – Increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or increase two ability scores of your choice by 1
Spellcasting

Due to his high WIS and the nice domain spells, he has a lot of horsepower under the hood. He gets 4 1st level slots, and 3 each of 2nd and 3rd level . . . plus four cantrips and six (for now) domain spells. I picked out 15 spells, leaving one open.

For those spells:
Cantrips

Guidance: Add a d4 to an ability check

Light: What is says on the tin. 20′ radius, plus dim light for 20′ more.
Sacred Flame: 2d8 radiant damage to 60′, resisted by DEX saving throw. Better than his hammer . . . 
Spare the Dying: Stabilizes a critter at 0 HP. Handy, that.
1st Level Spells (D = Domain Spell)
  • Fog Cloud (D): heavily obscures an area to 20′, +20′ more per extra spell level
  • Thunderwave (D): 2d8 thunder damage in 15′ cube, pushes foes 10′ away. Extra 1d8 for each higher level spell slot.
  • Bless: 3 creatures can add d4 to an attack or save. 1 extra critter per spell slot.
  • Cure Wounds: Heals 1d8+4, another 1d per spell level (so in a pinch I can heal 3d8+4 with a 3rd level slot. Must touch beneficiary.
  • Healing Word: Healing at up to 60′, but ony 1d4+4 at 1st level, 3d4+4 at 3rd.
2nd Level Spells
  • Gust of Wind (D): Makes foes work to get at you 10′ wide, 60′ long.
  • Shatter (D): 3d8 thunder damage, 10′ sphere to 60′. Damages objects too, and does 4d8 at 3rd level slot. Combine this with the max-damage on thunder thing and it’s 24 or 32 damage. Boom.
  • Aid: 3 critters get 5 extra HP (and increase maximum) for 8 hours (!). 10 HP at 3rd level. 
  • Hold Person: Paralyzes one (or two, with 3rd level slot) if they fail a WIS save. The foes I’ve seen this used on tend to make their saves, alas. He can try and break free each turn.
  • Prayer of Healing: 30′ range, 2d8+4 HP back, up to six targets. 3d8+4 with 3rd level spell slot. Basically a shot at getting half your HP back for d8 types, for the entire party.

3rd Level Spells

  • Call Lightning (D): Within a 60′ radius, up to 120′ from you, you can rain fire and death on your foes each turn for 10 minutes (!). You can hit 4 5′ squares at once (2×2 array), and on a failed DEX save they take 3d10, half damage on a success. Outdoors in stormy conditions that’s 4d10. This can be made to do max damage with domain power. Additional 1d10 per extra spell slot level. 
  • Sleet Storm (D): Rain and sleet in a 40′ radius to 150′. Douses flames. DEX save or fall prone, and is difficult terrain. CON save or lose concentration if target is a spellcaster.
  • Glyph of Warding: a freakin’ claymore mine for D&D. It’s a great FRONT TOWARDS ENEMY kind of trap, with the right preparation time. Lots of variants on this one – the spell descrption is quite long. But can be used to deliver 5d8 lightning or thunder damage with Explosive Runes . . . 
  • Spirit Guardians: Angelic spirits (valkyries!) will deal 3d8 radiant damage to foes that get within 15′ of you (one time per foe), and they move at half speed in that range.
  • Dispel Magic: Spell B Gone. Not sure if this can de-enchant items, but it’s got a good shot at making lower level spells go away. 50% chance of making even a 5th level spell go away at 1d20+4 . . .
Parting Shot
This is not a melee combatant, though with his mace he’s not awful. 
But he can do 2d8 per turn with his cantrip ad nauseum, and given a teensy bit of prep time and line of sight, Call Lightning is just brutal, with an average of 8 points on a failed save, and 16 average per round on a success, with the option twice per short rest of max damage (15/30 points) on that strike. Shatter with a 3rd level spell slot is even more effective this way – 4d8 in a 10′ sphere.
He can fling healing to a distance, and up close also quite effective at it, as one would imagine. Careful, though – stock up on the potions in case you need to heal after you’ve expended that much power to fight rather than mend. 
I can easily see this being played cautiously. 2d8 is also sorta 1d8+4.5 to 60′. It’s not as far as any sort of bow, really, but does one attack per round as if it were a strong low-level archer. The DEX save instead of AC makes low-DEX but heavily armored foes easier to hit then they’d otherwise be, which is a sneaky way to do in heavy fighters, but not monks or rogues or archers. So the cleric stands back a bit, chooses a target each round, and lets loose with his cantrip. He can then heal at a distance with tiny amounts (5-8 HP with Healing Word), or a party-wide boost with Prayer of Healing at 3rd level (7-27 HP to six targets). If things get real, one use of Call Lightning will give up to four targets at a time (if they cluster) 3d10 damage per round, every round, for 100 rounds. 
To me, a very well-rounded character, even if he’s combat focused in this build. Other builds can be sages, spectacular buffing machines, or other specialties. 

3 thoughts on “Playing with DnD5 Characters – 6th level Cleric

  1. The "get all weapons and armor as a base cleric" is an error in the spreadsheet. PHB p.57 shows them only getting Light, Medium armor and shield, and all simple weapons. Only Tempest and War domains actually give BOTH Heavy Armor and Marital weapons. The rest give one, the other or none.

    With a 16 Str, look into Shield Master + Athletics skill. Its an extra "attack" that can shove folks around or put them on the ground (therby granting advantage to your friends or your follow up hammer). My War Cleric loves that.

    1. Thanks for the confirmation that it's a goof; I was writing the post away from my books, and that makes a lot of sense.

      Shield bashes are nice, and the use of the shield offensively makes it a fantastic reason to carry one other than +2 to AC, which isn't bad, but also isn't THAT big in the grand scheme of things.

    2. The feat also helps with Dex saves in certain circumstances. Basically, it is worth a look at because of the optional Human build: +1 to two stats, +1 feat, +1 skill. And it gives you two things to do in a round, which for me is all about mitigating miserable dice luck 🙂

      But not saying it is the be-all-end-all. Just pointing at it and saying "oooh" 🙂

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