D&D 5e: Ambition Domain Cleric Guide
D&D 5e: Ambition Domain Cleric Guide
Role in the Party
The Ambition Domain Cleric is an unusual subclass that’s not legal in organized Adventurer’s League play: despite technically coming from Wizards of the Coast, it’s still not quite “official” content. Ask your dungeon master before using this and other Plane Shift: Amonkhet content.
The Ambition Cleric puts personal drive and ambition above all else; the flavor text mentions that ambition is even more important to these clerics than devotion to a deity, and it’s unusual for this to be the case among cleric subclasses. The subclass is also heavily tied to the deity Bontu and the Amonkhet setting in general.
Flavor aside, the mechanics of the Ambition Cleric are suspiciously like the Trickery Domain cleric. In fact, a huge portion of their features are nearly identical, and they’ve pillaged a few things from other cleric subclasses too. In general, you’ll be a lot like a Trickery Domain cleric, but with a far worse spell list and a more generally applicable level 1 core feature.
Ambition Domain Cleric Features
Ambition Domain Spells
1st: Bane is fine, but it’s already on the cleric spell list and rarely ever cast, and Disguise Self is a good spell for doing sneaky things.
3rd: Mirror Image is a good defensive spell, and Ray of Enfeeblement is kind of underwhelming.
5th: Bestow Curse is a weak spell, but it upcasts extremely well, but it’s already a cleric spell, but it has a ridiculous amount of versatility in the debuffs you can deliver, but none of the debuffs are as good as just using Hold Person… yeah it’s a very mixed bag. Vampiric Touch is just an awful spell.
7th: Death Ward is a fine spell that clerics already get. Dimension Door is a powerful teleportation option that clerics don’t normally get, but it’s less useful since the introduction of Vortex Warp on other casters.
9th: Dominate Person is circumstantial and is risky to use, but it does have a dramatic impact if it lands. Modify Memory is useful for covering up your crimes.
When you choose this domain at 1st level, you can interpose divine light between yourself and an attacking enemy. When you are attacked by a creature within 30 feet of you that you can see, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll, causing light to flare before the attacker before it hits or misses. An attacker that can’t be blinded is immune to this feature.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
The Light Cleric’s level 1 feature. Disadvantage as a reaction is pretty good on a character who already has a high armor class since it makes you mostly unhittable. Less potent at high levels due to the higher chance to hit high CR enemies and their multiattacks.
Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to create an illusory duplicate of yourself.
As an action, you create a perfect illusion of yourself that lasts for 1 minute, or until you lose your concentration (as if you were concentrating on a spell). The illusion appears in an unoccupied space that you can see within 30 feet of you. As a bonus action on your turn, you can move the illusion up to 30 feet to a space you can see, but it must remain within 120 feet of you.
For the duration, you can cast spells as though you were in the illusion’s space, but you must use your own senses. Additionally, when both you and your illusion are within 5 feet of a creature that can see the illusion, you have advantage on attack rolls against that creature, given how distracting the illusion is to the target.
A somewhat meh channel divinity. You could fool some enemies into wasting attacks at the cost of an action and concentration, or it could do nothing. Decent for hijinks though, but not for the advantage on attack rolls since clerics make very few of those. You will get occasional use out of this.
Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows
Starting at 6th level, you can use your Channel Divinity to vanish. As an action, you become invisible until the end of your next turn. You become visible if you attack or cast a spell.
This is sort of like one dodge and two disengage actions for the price of one action and your Channel Divinity since it lasts until the end of your next turn. You won’t always need to take these actions though. Still, it’s another okay defensive feature that synergizes with your high armor class.
Starting at 8th level, you add your Wisdom modifier to the damage you deal with any cleric cantrip.
Bleh. It’s a damage boost, and it’s better than the Trickery Domain’s actual level 8 feature, but just use the Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything version of the level 8 subclass feature.
At 17th level, you can create up to four duplicates of yourself, instead of one, when you use Invoke Duplicity. As a bonus action on your turn, you can move any number of them up to 30 feet, to a maximum range of 120 feet.
We’re 17th level: we have better things to be concentrating on than our channel divinity, regardless of how many shadow clones we can make.
Your defense will be especially good, and there are some okay domain spells. In low level campaigns, you’ll be a fine character. You also have the standard suite of useful cleric features.
There’s less here of substance than the Trickery Cleric: you get very little from this subclass, especially after level 6. Level 1 might be the level that gives you the most. Additionally, if you want to be a sneaky sort of spellcaster, your spell list isn’t that great. Just go druid, wizard, sorcerer, or bard.
Best Race Options
If you’re using Plane Shift: Amonkhet content, you might as well pick the Naga, which is a great option from that setting. Poison immunity is stellar, and the Constrict attack is also amazing. Grab someone in your snake body, restrain them, cast Spirit Guardians, and just keep them there while they flail around. It can be hard to have a high enough strength to use the Constrict especially well though.
Plane Shift: Ixalan and Zendikar both come with a moderately broken Vampire race. It thematically fits due to the selfish nature, but because of their infinite healing from their vampire bite, I wouldn’t count on this being allowed at a lot of tables. It might be an option if your DM is nice and you’re using Plane Shift content anyway.
Humans are well-known for being ambitious, so Human is a fine option. Pick Variant Human for a free feat at level 1.
Choosing the Right Skills
Perception is the most important skill, and you have the wisdom score to be great at it. Insight will help you in social situations.
Persuasion and Deception will help you get what you want from NPCs, and you could always resort to Stealth and Sleight of Hand if those fail.
Medicine is usually a good pick, but it may not fit with the selfish theme of the subclass.
Acrobatics will let you escape from grapples, run away, and then turn the grappler into someone else’s problem.
Resilient (Constitution) and War Caster will let you maintain concentration on your powerful spells, as well as your level 2 Channel Divinity.
Telepathic lets you read minds with Detect Thoughts and telepathically talk to allies, and it’s a wisdom-boosting half-feat.
You might as well specialize in defense if your most substantial features are defense-based: the Tough feat is great if you have no other feat you want.
The Plane Shift backgrounds are appropriate: Initiate is a standard background for any cleric in this setting, and you can have servitor mummies as servants while preparing for your trials, which you’ll want to undergo.
Dissenter is another appropriate Plane Shift: Amonkhet background. Perhaps you took this “ambition” thing too far and decided that the gods could go screw themselves. Go beat the gods to death with your spirit guardians/naga constrict combo. It’ll be fun.
Strixhaven backgrounds, as usual, are the optimal choice for raw power. Although honestly, the social clout offered by the Plane Shift Vizier background might be too good to pass up if you’re playing in the setting. You are the representative of a god! Excellent.
You could go with six levels of Paladin and then take Ambition Cleric levels from there to be a hybrid of a holy warrior and holy spellcaster. Any subclass will do.
Two levels of Rogue for Cunning Action and Expertise will let you do ambitious, sneaky things.
Bards are a particularly ambitious sort of caster, so maybe one to three levels of bard (possibly Eloquence) would be useful. You can pick up Silvery Barbs and some skill buffs and other spells, and the powerful Eloquence debuff.
Would I recommend playing an Ambition Domain Cleric?
I would not recommend it unless you’re playing in the Plane Shift: Amonkhet setting. There’s not enough here to justify taking the subclass since Light and Trickery are both superior options by far while having an equal amount of thematic coolness.
Given how this subclass has a lot of okay to underwhelming features that are taken from other subclasses, and given how the only unique thing here is the setting-specific flavor, I don’t think people playing in non-Amonkhet settings will mind this subclass being mediocre.
If you are in Plane Shift: Amonkhet, if you’re not too attached to any of these features, ask your DM if you can flavor another subclass to fit the theme of this one; that way you can get something more interesting.