D&D 5e: Peace Domain Cleric Guide
D&D 5e: Peace Domain Cleric Guide
Role in the Party
Many Clerics naturally become the heart of the community they call their own, combining the role of educator, therapist, and religious leader. Peace Clerics extend that same aegis over any party that they choose to join.
Out of combat, the Peace Domain soothes fears and tends to wounds, as well as acting as an intermediary between their allies and temples, nobles’ courts, and other official parties. In combat, the Peace Cleric might not be directly dealing damage, but they ensure that their allies will, handing out buffs from one of the most comprehensive lists in the entire game, and empowering key members of the party who work closely together.
The Peace Domain is widely regarded as one of the most powerful subclasses in 5e. This guide breaks down why, how to build a character using this subclass, feat and skill choices, and everything else you need to know.
Peace Domain Features
Peace Domain Spells: At the levels detailed, the Cleric permanently gains the below spells. These spells are always prepared and don’t take up any of the Cleric’s spell slots.
Heroism: Heroism is a great spell at low levels, where the temporary HP matters most. Poor scaling means this is less useful once the party hits mid-levels, but having a pocket immunity to fear can be handy against certain enemies.
Sanctuary: A solid and dependable defensive buff that can shut out entire encounters of low WIS enemies.
Aid: A fantastic spell to cast at the start of the adventuring day, Aid can significantly increase the party’s total HP count, and it lasts for 8 hours, so persists through any healing or short rests.
Warding Bond: The effect, resistance to all damage, and +1 AC to an ally, make this feature very powerful, but the risk is also high, as you take the other half of that damage. Drop this on the Rogue or Paladin and let them lay into monsters without fear, while you focus on keeping the pair of you alive.
Beacon of Hope: This is just too situational to be worth concentrating on, especially with the wealth of other spells fighting for that privilege.
Sending: Telepathically sending a message to someone you know can occasionally be useful, but realistically this isn’t going to come up much. Still, it’s free.
Aura of Purity: A 10 minute aura that grants Advantage on saves against a laundry list of negative conditions, as well as resistance to poison damage and immunity to disease. The huge list of effects this works to prevent, and the big 30ft radius of this, are both incredibly useful.
Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere: Contain a hostile creature or a critical ally, inside an impenetrable shield of force. (The only way to destroy it is Disintegrate.) This is one of the best offensive and defensive spells in the game and a great addition to the list.
Greater Restoration: A great spell that’s invaluable when it’s needed. All Clerics have this on their spell list anyway, but this can be considered a free spell slot.
Rary’s Telepathic Bond: Telepathically connect up to 8 creatures, allowing them to communicate as long as they’re on the same plane. The duration is only an hour, and the creatures have to be within 30ft when the spell is cast. It’s hard to understand why this is a level 5 spell. The only reason it’s yellow is that it can be cast as a ritual.
Implement of Peace: Gain proficiency in Insight, Performance, or Persuasion. Getting a free skill proficiency is always nice, and most of the skill selections are good. (But why is Performance here?)
Emboldening Bond: This is the principal ability of the Cleric of Peace, and it’s where much of the subclass’s power lies.
As an action, the Peace Cleric picks a number of targets within 30ft, which can include themselves, up to their proficiency bonus. For the next 10 minutes, while one of these targets is within 30ft of any of the others, they can choose to add a d4 to an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, once per turn, completely for free and without using an action.
This is a ridiculous amount of power to add to the party. A d4 added to a key attack roll on two main attackers massively increases the chances of their attacks landing. The once per turn usage restriction means that any of the targets can make an attack roll on their own turn, then on every single enemy’s turn, add another d4 onto a saving throw or ability check, so this ability scales with the number of enemies in an encounter, as well as the Cleric’s proficiency bonus.
It also stacks with Bless, one of the most useful level 1 spells in the game, which adds another d4 to attack rolls and saves. That’s an average of +5 to both of these rolls, which mathematically works out to be the same as permanent advantage, (except you can also gain advantage on top of this) for 1 minute, across multiple targets.
The ability can be used a number of times equal to the Peace Cleric’s proficiency bonus, coming back on a long rest. That’s two areas where the ability naturally scales with level, making this possibly even more useful in later levels as it is at level 1.
This ability is so powerful that the class has landed itself on restricted lists. It pushes the power of the party so far above their expected power curve that it’s difficult to balance encounters around it. Some GMs even restrict the subclass, refusing to allow it at their tables. It’s incredibly powerful, is what we’re saying.
Channel Divinity: Balm of Peace: From level 2, a Peace Cleric can take an action to move up to their speed, without provoking opportunity attacks. Moving within 5ft of any creature during this movement allows the Cleric to heal them 2d6 + WIS if they choose to.
The ability to get away from a big, smashy monster without issues, as well as heal the entire party if they’re close enough, makes this a strong, reliable, and useful ability. It scales poorly, but Channel Divinity uses refresh on a short rest, and from level 6 can be used twice per rest, so this can also effectively be considered just another free source of HP to heal everyone up before a short rest, plus a nice emergency button, at the point that the healing stops being so relevant.
Protective Bond: Whenever a creature under the influence of Emboldening Bond is about to take damage, another creature that is also affected can spend a reaction to teleport to within 5ft of them, and take the damage in their place.
This is excellent. Allowing the party’s front line tanks to appear next to the squishy casters and take hits for them, ready to attack on their next turn, is incredibly powerful. Bear in mind there are no restrictions on how many times this ability can be used, save the reaction cost, and it’s confirmed by the game designers that any resistance or damage reduction the teleporting character has does apply when they take the damage.
So yes, this means the Barbarian can comfortably tank damage from the entire rest of the party, only taking half of any damage rolled, again and again, while the Cleric keeps them on their feet with healing spells.
But there are also edge cases to this ability that are worth considering. The ability states that it can be triggered when a character takes damage. So as an example one character gets somewhere others can’t, for example by flying or teleporting. They then stab themselves with a knife or punch themselves for minimal damage, which still triggers the ability and allows the other party members to teleport next to them, adding a ton of mobility to the classes that wear heavy armor and can’t climb or fly.
Potent Spellcasting: From level 8, the Cleric can add their WIS modifier to the damage of any cantrips they cast. All ‘spellcaster’ Clerics (as opposed to the melee ones) get this, and it’s a useful, relevant damage boost that comes just in time for Wisdom to hit 20.
Expansive Bond: From level 17, the range of both Bond features is doubled to 60ft, and when a character uses Protective Bond to teleport and take damage, they have resistance against it.
This is a solid boost to the ability. The range increase is nice, but many parties won’t spread out enough to take advantage, and a lot of indoor encounters won’t allow that anyway.
But adding resistance to Protective Bond lets the ability be used every time someone takes damage. At this point, the Cleric has a proficiency of +6, which is high enough that it should cover every member of most parties. That means this ability is now a free teleport and halves all damage every member of the party takes, making the job of keeping everyone alive that much simpler.
The Domain of Peace is the classic buffing Cleric. Their abilities and spell lists are built around making the party better at everything they need to do, rather than boosting their power or directly interacting with enemies offensively.
It’s actually possible to play the Peace Cleric as a pacifist, dealing no HP damage to any hostile threat, and potentially never casting a spell in anger, and still be useful.
Instead, the Peace Cleric is exceptional at picking a member of the party and massively empowering them. With enough buffs stacked, a character supported by a Cleric of Peace will have bonuses to all of their major rolls, will rarely miss an attack, and have boosted AC and HP. And should they ever take damage that might actually threaten to kill them, another member of the party simply teleports right by their side and takes the damage instead.
But those who push hard enough need to remember that peaceful doesn’t mean weak. The Peace Domain is still a Cleric. That means it is a warrior priest, clad in armor and shield, who has a spell list full of potent debuffs, decent damage options, and, should the occasion call, the ability to summon the forces of the Heavens and Hells to their aid.
Outside of combat, the Peace Cleric is still going to play a mostly supportive role. Guidance is the premier skill buffing cantrip, and it works in concert with Emboldening Bond, allowing other party members to add 2d4 to skill checks.
The bonus skills of the Peace Domain also push the character towards a more active role in social situations. Persuasion and Insight are two essential skills for the party to have, to sway people to the cause, and detect liars, so getting one of these for free, especially if the party lacks it, is a big help.
It might sound strange, but the Peace Domain is also an incredibly strong multiclass option, especially for melee builds. The main abilities of the class come early, don’t require any investment, and naturally scale with character level, instead of class level or stats.
A Fighter who dips 1 Peace Cleric will be able to throw out an Emboldening Bond that is exactly the same power as a character who puts all their levels into the class. +d4 to spells and attacks for yourself and other party members, plus Cleric spells and other bonuses? That’s just incredible value.
While it’s not surprising, the Domain of Peace gets no options from its subclass that directly help it deal damage, apart from a small (but efficient) boost to damage cantrips.
Even Clerics of Life, the healing Domain, have Spiritual Weapon and Guardian of Faith in their domain spells. But the Peace Domain has nothing but buffing and utility. That means any character with this subclass who wants to deal damage is stuck using the base Cleric spell list, which can be limited on higher level damage options.
And while characters built using this subclass might focus on enabling their allies and keeping them in the fight, they should be careful not to overdo it. A d8 hit die and medium armor isn’t the best protection, and overuse of the Protective Bond skill or Warding Bond can leave you perilously low on HP. And if the Cleric falls, who is there to resurrect them?
Best Race Options
Lotusden Halfling: Perfect stats, advantage against fear, and the Lucky ability to reroll 1s are great for the subclass, and the daily spells from the Druid spell list might come in handy. Alternatively, take Ghostwise to swap the spells for short range telepathy, which conveniently meshes perfectly with Emboldening Bond.
Owlin: A choice of stats, proficiency in Stealth, and Darkvision are all worthwhile abilities, but we’re here for flight. Swoop overhead, keeping all allies in range of Emboldening Bond, and ensuring that a lot of enemies don’t even have an option to deal with you.
Harengon: Again, your choice of stats, free Perception proficiency, a bonus to dexterity saves, and a bonus to initiative, plus the ability to bonus action bounce out of threatened squares in case anything gets too close.
Choosing the Right Skills
Most Peace Clerics will have a total of 5 or 6 skills available to them, including their free choice granted by the subclass.
On top of their automatically granted skill, good skills are those that use WIS as their stat. Insight and Perception are near essential; a Peace Cleric will be excellent at both, and these are the skills responsible for noticing things in social situations, and out in the wider world.
Other good choices are Medicine and Survival, which help keep the Cleric and their party alive. The Religion knowledge skill is one most Clerics aren’t best at, but it’s relevant and makes sense to take.
Finally, Persuasion, especially if the Cleric takes a little bit of CHA, is the most widely used social skill, and one that ties straight into the subclasses role of mediator and community icon.
Mobile: A 10ft increase in movement speed makes sure that the Cleric is always where they need to be to hand out their buffs and synergizes perfectly with the Balm of Peace Channel Divinity. Extra bonuses around difficult terrain and the ability to slip out of combat are also useful, but less likely to come up with a support-based character like this one.
Observant: +5 to passive Perception and Investigation almost ensures the party will never be surprised again. Most Peace Clerics with this feat will have a Perception of at least 20. +1 to an important stat and ancillary benefits about reading lips and language are also nice.
Resilient: The Cleric doesn’t get proficiency in CON saves, so increasing your Constitution stat and adding +2 to +6 to the save can make sure that the character passes key saves and keeps concentration on buffs when it matters most.
Guild Merchant: Insight and Persuasion are the perfect skills for a face, and Artisan’s Tools and a language are a great spread of useful abilities that offer a lot of balance to the background.
Acolyte: Like the Guild Merchant, Insight and Religion are skills most Peace Clerics are going to want, and languages help if the character is leaning towards social matters.
Folk Hero: Animal Handling and Survival are both skills that key from Wisdom, even if they’re not the most useful. Land Vehicles and Artisan’s Tools might also come up, making this background a grab bag of interesting niche skills.
Circle of Stars Druid: The easiest way to add some damage to a class that lacks it. This multiclass only needs two levels of Druid to get everything it needs. Free spell knowledge, including several free casts of Guiding Bolt per day, is a start to the firepower.
Starry Form is the big draw, though. The bonus action activation helps with action economy, its uses scale with proficiency, and it grants a list of three buffs; one that deals damage every turn as a ranged bonus action attack, one that boosts healing, the third is a boost to skills and CON checks, all of which are useful for what the Peace Domain wants to do.
Fey Wanderer Ranger: If you’d prefer a character that’s a little more direct in solving their issues, the Ranger builds on WIS and still has spell progression.
As well as the typical Ranger benefits out in the wilds, the Fey Wanderer brings to the table extra damage on attacks, extra spells, and a boost to all Charisma-based checks (including, importantly, Persuasion) equal to the Character’s WIS modifier.
To be effective in combat, the multiclass needs at least 5 levels in Ranger for Extra Attack. An example build might take 1 level of Peace for Emboldening Bond, 5 levels of Ranger, then take Cleric levels all the way to the finish.
Rogue: Emboldening Bond says that creatures have to be within 30ft of each other to benefit, but nowhere does it say they have to be able to see each other. So, if the Cleric happens to multiclass into Rogue and disappears mid-combat, that doesn’t stop it from working. The Rogue also offers a plethora of skills and out-of-combat abilities, pushing the class even more into utility and support.
Several subclasses offer decent benefits:
Arcane Trickster helps with spell progression and sneaking skills.
Mastermind lets the character use the Help action at 30ft, as a bonus action.
Inquisitive has benefits to sneak attack, but also offers massive consistency with out-of-combat skills if that’s something your party needs.
Would I recommend playing a Peace Domain Cleric?
The Peace Cleric is a subclass so powerful, that it can be used as a gauge to measure how strong other classes are. While the abilities of the Peace Domain are deceptively simple, it’s when they come together during play, supporting a strong and well put together party, that it becomes obvious why this subclass is so highly regarded.
5e was designed to make in-combat healing generally a bad choice. The most effective method of supporting a party is to prevent enemies from dealing damage, and enable the party to more consistently do their jobs. The Peace Domain delivers hard on both counts, and there’s little more rewarding feeling than seeing the rest of the party’s grinning faces after success, and knowing that it was your abilities that helped snatch victory out of the depths of darkness.
Any group should be glad to welcome one of these characters to the table because a party that can unite around their Cleric of Peace and learns to work together will quickly dismantle any opposition that comes their way.