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D&D > Off TopicDec 16, 2022 4:00 pm CT

One D&D playtest focuses on streamlining the popular Cleric class

The most recent Unearthed Arcana revises the Cleric, the iconic D&D support class, for the upcoming One D&D. Several changes are coming to the class, as the popular roleplaying framework prepares for a new era.

So what will Clerics be like in D&D in the future? Here’s a rundown of the latest playtest document revision and what we as players can expect from the class — even as further revisions continue.

Clerics as they are in 5e are hugely popular, but multiclassing too early was a problem

The biggest changes to Clerics include the moving of their Subclass options from level 1 to level 3. On the official video discussing these changes, Game Designer Jeremy Crawford mentioned specifically that it felt weird for Clerics to have to immediately make the most important choice for their entire class. This formed a barrier to entry that they wouldn’t easily overcome. He also mentioned that Clerics are one of the classes with the highest reports of satisfaction from players in general.

As an example of their overall design philosophy, the other reason for the level change to Subclasses was to make taking a single level dip into Cleric less ideal from a multiclass perspective. Having that level 1 Cleric option as it skewed the way people chose to multiclass — hopefully making people feel like a Cleric multiclass was more than just a fast way to Heavy Armor for caster classes.

Cleric ability changes for One D&D

Rather than larger changes to their spells, in general, Cleric spells were mostly just rebalanced. With these changes, Clerics only get three levels where they don’t get anything new when they level — level 13, level 15 and level 17.

  • Clerics still gain Spellcasting at level 1, allowing them to cast Divine Spells they have prepared after the day’s Long Rest.
  • Channel Divinity at level 1 now has two flavors as a default. Use of either requires a Magic Action, meaning it uses up the same Action as casting a spell.
    • Turn Undead  – You raise your holy symbol and every undead within 30 feet must make a Wisdom Saving Throw or be dazed, unable to do anything but move further away from you.
    • Radiant Spark — You can target an enemy or an ally, healing them with holy power or damaging them with Radiant. You roll a d8 per Proficiency Bonus (so 2d8 at level 1) and the target is either healed for the amount of the roll or has to make a Constitution Saving Throw. Failure means you take full damage, success reduces it to half.
  • Holy Orders at level 2 allows Clerics to choose between three options that were originally part of specific Domains.
    • The Guardian Order gives you training in Martial Weapons and Heavy Armor.
    • The Scholars learn Proficiency in two additional skills based around learning and education, such as Arcana, History, Nature, Persuasion or Religion.
    • Thaumaturges learn an extra 0 level Spell from the Divine Spells list, and regain one expended use of Channel Divinity per Short Rest.
  • You get your first Subclass at level 3, with the Life Domain Cleric available in the playtest.
  • You gain a Feat at 4th level.
  • 5th level amps up Turn Undead with Smite Undead, allowing you to roll a number of d8 equal to your proficiency bonus. Any undead that fails the Wisdom Saving Throw and is Turned takes Radiant Damage equal to the roll’s total. So for a 5th level Cleric who Turns  six undead, each undead will take 3d8 Radiant damage.
  • You get your second Subclass feature at level 6.
  • Blessed Strikes at level 7 lets you add 1d8 Radiant damage to any 0 level spell or Weapon Attack that deals damage. This can only be used once a turn.
  • You gain a Feat at 8th level.
  • You can choose one more Holy Order at level 9
  • You get your third Subclass feature at level 10.
  • Divine Intervention at level 11 instead of the current level 10. It can now specifically duplicate the effect of any Divine Spell, so looking at the Divine Spells list, you could ask for a Gate between any two planes of existence, to heal your entire party, summon a Celestial being like a Planetar or Solar, or even raise a dead character who was annihilated by a spell like Disintegrate. It also has a variable refresh — roll 2d6 days — so you could roll well and get to use it twice in a week even if your God or Domain answers your plea.
  • You gain a Feat at 12th level.
  • You get your fourth Subclass feature at level 14
  • You gain a Feat at 16th level
  • Greater Divine Intervention at level 18 allows the Cleric to automatically succeed and be reusable after 2d4 days.
  • Level 20 grants the Epic Boon of Fate or other Epic Boons as seen in the previous playtests. Clerics can also prepare any Divine Spell, so there’s no specific class spell list for Clerics — as long as it’s a Divine Spell, Clerics can cast it.

Life Domain Clerics are still all about healing

The Life Domain Cleric to Subclass only starts at level 3 now, rather than the current 1st level choice in 5e, because of the overall Cleric Subclass changes. Aside from this change, the Life Domain Cleric isn’t wildly different from the current version. The Life Domain spells are changed from 5e. Domain spells don’t count against the number of Spells you can prepare and they are affected by the subclass’s special features.

  • 3rd level — Lesser Restoration and Prayer of Healing
  • 5th level — Mass Healing Word and Revivify
  • 7th level — Aura of Life and Death Ward
  • 9th level — Greater Restoration and Mass Cure Wounds

The Life Domain grants abilities at levels 3, 6, 10 and 14 allowing them more power and flexibility with healing magic.

  • Disciple of Life at level 3 empowers your direct healing Spells — ones you cast on a creature, not ones like Goodberry — granting the target of your healing Spell additional hit points equal to 2 plus the Spell’s level.
  • Preserve Life — At level 6, you can expend a charge of Channel Divinity to heal a group of critically injured creatures on a Magic Action. This restoring 5 times your Cleric level in Hit Points to any creatures within 30 feet of you. So your 3rd level Life Cleric could heal one creature for 15 Hit Points, or three for 5 each, or five for 3 each, or fifteen for 1 HP apiece. This can only heal a creature up to half its usual maximum Hit Points, so it behooves you to divide it up if it would over heal.
  • At 10th level you get Blessed Healer, allowing you to benefit when you heal someone else. Whenever you cast a spell with a Spell Slot on another creature to restore its Hit Points, you regain Hit Points yourself equal to 2 plus the Spell’s level on that same turn. So casting Mass Cure Wounds at 7th level would grant you an additional 9 Hit Points when you cast it.
  • Supreme Healing, the level 14 Subclass ability allows you avoid even having to roll dice when you cast a healing spell. Instead, just grant the target of your healing the maximum result possible. So let’s again say you cast Mass Cure Wounds at level 7, meaning that you would roll 5d8 for everyone in range. With Supreme Healing you’d just do 40 healing to everyone and gain an additional 9 HO for yourself at the same time.

Overall, the Life Domain is changed but feels like an effort was made to maintain the basic structure of the subclass, which is really the case for Cleric overall in One D&D. The changes made aren’t huge changes, and what changes there are seem intended to strengthen this core class for future players.

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