D&D’s new Fate Domain Clerics, now in playtesting, can bend fate and twist wills
In D&D, subclasses are some of the most powerful and interesting choices any character class can make — and they’re especially powerful for Clerics, who can choose their subclass, known as a “Domain,” at level 1. Most classes don’t pick their subclass until third (sometimes second) level: only Clerics, Sorcerers, and Warlocks get to make this class-defining choice during character creation. The Domain a Cleric chooses sets their path, and defines the type of god they worship as well as how they serve it. Domains inform what spells your Cleric will be able to select, and grant specific divine powers you can channel through faith in your deity or creed.
And like every other Cleric subclass, the Fate Domain Cleric that debuted in the recent Wonders of the Multiverse playtest content defines the type of Cleric you’re going to play. These Clerics can twist fate, bring luck or misfortune, and alter the destinies of others. Whether your Cleric worships a god like Istus or the Norns, or just the very concept of Fate itself, the Fate Domain has some interesting powers and abilities. Let’s take a look at exactly what Fate Domain Clerics can do — and why you might (or might not) want to play one in your next D&D game.
Fate Domain Cleric spells help them detect danger and root out secret
First and foremost, let’s look at the Domain spell selection for the Fate Domain Cleric:
- 1st level: Dissonant Whispers and Heroism
- 3rd level: See Invisibility and Warding Bond
- 5th level: Beacon of Hope and Clairvoyance
- 7th level: Death Ward and Divination
- 9th level: Commune and Geas
Because these are Domain spells, these spells are always prepared and don’t count against the number of spells a Cleric can prepare each day. That means the Fate Cleric is a powerhouse at learning secrets and detecting dangers: always having See Invisible ready to go at level 3 is pretty excellent if you ask me, and spells like Clairvoyance, Divination, and Commune are all potent ways to gain access to information you wouldn’t otherwise have.
The Fate Domain spell list also includes Geas, which is a hidden gem of a spell:
You place a magical command on a creature that you can see within range, forcing it to carry out some service or refrain from some action or course of activity as you decide. If the creature can understand you, it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become charmed by you for the duration. While the creature is charmed by you, it takes 5d10 psychic damage each time it acts in a manner directly counter to your instructions, but no more than once each day. A creature that can’t understand you is unaffected by the spell.
You can issue any command you choose, short of an activity that would result in certain death. Should you issue a suicidal command, the spell ends.
You can end the spell early by using an action to dismiss it. A remove curse, greater restoration, or wish spell also ends it.
It’s a fairly restricted spell — the spell has a casting time of one minute, and the being you’re using it on has to understand what you’re saying, so it has limited utility in combat. But the spell lasts 30 days! And if you upcast the spell with a 7th or 8th level spell slot, Geas last a full year — and a 9th level spell slot makes it last indefinitely. And the best part? Once you cast Geas, it requires nothing from you — no concentration, nothing. Geas does what it does, and if your target doesn’t make the initial save to resist I, the spell just keeps on trucking and there’s no additional saving throws to get out of it. It’s an immensely powerful ability that can force others to do whatever service you might require.
Right off the bat I’m liking the Domain spells for Fate Domain Clerics. They’re really good fits for the theme of the subclass and they provide a good mix of information and utility, with spells like Warding Bond and Death Ward to protect your party. And because the Domain has such a great selection of spells, Fate Domain can choose to prepare other spells every day while still having all of these tools available.
Fate Domain Cleric Features are particularly powerful at low levels
But a Divine Domain is more than just a selection of spells. Fate Domain Clerics also get access to some powerful abilities that build on the theme of twisting fate. Here are all of the Domain’s features:
Omens and Portents (1st level)
Cast Augury without expending a spell slot or needing to have verbal, somatic, or material components. Augury is a second level spell, so getting it at 1st level is very good. Additionally, when Fate Domain Clericvs cast a divination spell with a chance to give no answer, the chance of not getting an answer is reduced by 25%, making such spells much more powerful. This is a really strong 1st level feature.
Ties That Bind (1st level)
Fate Domain Clerics can link their fate to someone or something else, although an unwilling target can make a Wisdom saving throw to avoid it. Anything bound to them (and on the same plane of existence) is unable to hide — a Fate Domain Cleric will know what direction it’s in and know what direction it’s moving. Also, when casting healing or damage spells on a bonded target, these Clerics deal 1d6 more healing or damage.
This is another strong opening class feature, which will reward clever uses — if your party is fighting a mysterious gang of thieves and they cut and run into the shadows, a successful use of this ability will give the party a solid hour of knowing what direction their quarry is in. And in combat, you could bind another player and thus get an extra 1d6 healing or an enemy to do an extra 1d6 damage, or use it to determine where they are if you lose track of them.
Channel Divinity: Strands of Fate (2nd level)
As a bonus action, Fate Domain Clerics can see the weaving of the tapestry of fate itself for one minute (or until they lose concentration). In this state, when anyone they can see makes an attack roll or an ability check, they can use a reaction to give them advantage or disadvantage on the dice roll, their choice.
That means that for the cost of one bonus action, these Clerics can use this ability up to 10 times to buff an ally or rebuff an enemy, which could easily turn the tides of combat. Each use of the ability costs a reaction, but players will still have their action and bonus action on these turns, so it doesn’t lock you down. This is a very strong feature and a very cool use of the Channel Divinity that’s at the heart of the Cleric class.
Insightful Striking (6th level)
As a bonus action, Fate Domain Clerics can choose a creature they can see within 30 feet and gain an understanding of their defenses. You can choose to roll a d6 and add that to your attack rolls against a target, or you can force someone making a saving throw against a spell you cast to roll a d6 and subtract that roll from their saving throw. This can be used a number of times a day equal to your proficiency bonus, and players gain all uses back after a long rest.
This ability’s good, but not as good as some of the others. It’s similar to Bardic Inspiration, but it can also be used on enemy targets — though the cost of this expanded utility is that it remains 1d6 indefinitely, while Bardic Inspiration grows more powerful as the Bard levels up.
Potent Spellcasting (8th level)
Starting at level eight, Fate Domain Clerics can add their Wisdom modifier to damage they deal with Cleric cantrips. Note that this specifically says Cleric cantrip, so this isn’t just any spell or cantrip you can cast. This is a nice enough bonus, but while there’s nothing wrong with this ability, but it’s a little underwhelming compared to some of the others.
Visions of the Future (17th level)
Allows Fate Domain Clerics to cast the Foresight spell without expending a spell slot, though the spell’s duration for is only 1 minute. Foresight is a heck of a spell, and being able to cast it for free is pretty powerful:
You touch a willing creature and bestow a limited ability to see into the immediate future. For the duration, the target can’t be surprised and has advantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. Additionally, other creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls against the target for the duration.
You can give your party Fighter or Barbarian advantage on all attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws for the duration of the spell. Plus, everything attacking them would have disadvantage on their attack rolls. Even this shortened, 1 minute duration version of the spell is pretty great. But I do feel like we could have left the duration alone considering this is a subclass feature you’ll only see at 17th level.
Should you play a Fate Domain Cleric?
Even at first level, a Fate Cleric is going to be a unique, interesting, and powerful addition to a D&D party who will be able to get into the middle of combat. Clerics get medium armor and shields for free, and although the Fate Domain won’t grant them access to heavier armor like some subclasses do, with medium armor, a shield, and the Omens and Portents and Ties that Bind class features available at level 1 these Clerics are sturdy enough to handle combat, whether by taking a hit or by manipulating fate so their enemies never manage to land a hit in the first place. On top of that, they have potent party buffs like Heroism and powerful attacks like Dissonant Whispers without having to prepare them, so they’ll always be ready to help allies (or hinder enemies) in a fight. Fate Doman Clerics are a versatile and solid choice for your 1st level Cleric, and the Domain only gets better at higher levels.
Still, picking Fate Domain does come with a cost. Your Cleric won’t have the physical power and defense of Life or War Domains, and you won’t have the very useful ability to negate a Critical Hit that Grave Clerics have. Still, I think features like Strands of Fate and Ties That Bind really are worth that tradeoff. Maybe not for every Cleric, but if you like the idea of playing a wild-eyed prophet whispering dark truths gleaned from the skein of fate, definitely give Fate Domain a try.
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