Can’t Touch This: Building My First Non-Squishy Cleric

Recently, my D&D group was able to get back together for a session! And since it’s been so long since any of us played, and no one can remember where we were at with our previous campaign, we decided to start fresh.

Just to mix things up, Shane decided to get us started on 5th edition instead of Pathfinder.

Personally, I was more than okay with it because 5e is much easier to set up and start running than Pathfinder, which averages five hours so far for our group just to create characters. But I knew I’d have to do something a bit different this time, since I’m typically very skilled at dying in 5e.

So, I decided to build a cleric.

I’ve been thinking about playing a pure cleric for a while, ever since I built a warpriest and learned how effective they are at keeping people standing in the midst of battle. And well, our party has a habit of dashing into situations, so I’ve always made sure I have healing spells because you better believe we need them.

I never really got into clerics, though, for two reasons:

  1. They’re squishy as heck
  2. I wasn’t sure how much utility they’d really have

It wasn’t until I watched a video from A Crap Guide to D&D (amazing YouTube channel for learners, by the way) that I learned just how flexible clerics really are, and that I could actually build one that wouldn’t be squishy.

So, I did some research on possible cleric builds for 5e, and thus was Silver born.

Or, more accurately, forged.

Part 1: Picking the right type of cleric

In 5e, each class tends to have branches that it can choose from at third level. Clerics, however, choose their domain at first level, and there are many, many more than you find with most classes.

For my build, I decided on the forge domain from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. It isn’t exactly canon, but because it is an official 5e book, it’s generally accepted at most tables. The reasons I wanted forge domain in particular were that it gives proficiency with heavy armour, and it also gives very early AC bonuses, which are hard to come by in 5e.

At first level, you get the ability to add +1 to your armour or to a weapon once per long rest, and you get bigger bonuses as you level too, including a +1 just for wearing heavy armour and fire resistance and immunity.

That, added to the fact that a cleric gets a shield with its starting gear, meant at first level, I had 19 AC.

Part 2: Choosing what my character would be

One of the builds I researched suggested that warforged was really good to use for a tanky cleric, and of course I absolutely love Iron Man, so naturally that’s what I decided on for my character. It was a little tricky to find the right rules, since there are so many versions of it floating around from playtests and things—but the official warforged build came out with Eberron: Rising from the Last War late last year.

Along with the things you’d expect, like immunity to disease and sleep, the warforged has two very big advantages:

  1. It comes with its own +1 to armour
  2. It wears armour by integrating it into its body

It doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but the way a warforged wears its armour means that no one can take its armour away, and technically, it can wear a shield by integrating that into its body—say, clipping it into a forearm—thus leaving one hand free for cleric spells.

So at first level, I had 20 AC, a weapon hand, and a spell hand.

Part 3: Figuring out spells

One of the primary reasons I wanted to play a cleric was for its healing abilities, but that doesn’t mean I really knew anything about the rest of its spells. In fact, I had to spend a while figuring out what domain spells were, and whether they’d take up my spell slots if I used them.

The answer to that’s yes, in case you were wondering.

What I didn’t realize when I signed on to play a cleric was just how potent their spells really are. Even their cantrips are really powerful; for example, Silver (who named herself for the very logical fact that she is silver) has two in particular that seem incredibly strong for the fact that they’re 0-level spells.

  • Sacred Flame does 1d8 radiant damage on a failed Dex save
  • Word of Radiance does 1d6 radiant damage to everything in melee range on a failed Con save

And both of them add another damage die at 5, 11, and 17.

All in all, I’m really excited to play a cleric, and I think it just might grow on me. Though most of our group has a go-to class that they really love playing, I’ve yet to find my own little D&D niche—so who knows? This could be it!

Have you ever thought about building a cleric? What’s your go-to class in D&D?

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