D&D 5e: Trickery Domain Cleric Guide
D&D 5e: Trickery Domain Cleric Guide
Role in the Party
The Trickery Domain is a somewhat underrated cleric subclass; it’s often depicted as one of the weakest options, but the features are actually on the stronger side. Most importantly, the domain spells are absolutely unrivaled by any other cleric domain.
In general, the Trickery Cleric is centered around making mischief and being a disruptive force in the world, for good or evil. The flavor text encourages you to get up to wacky hijinks, so in a party that’s on board with them, you can have some serious fun with this subclass.
Trickery Domain Cleric Features
Trickery Domain Spells
1st: Charm Person is an okay spell that clerics normally don’t get, and the same with the extremely useful Disguise Self. You can immediately fill a stealth/social role at level 1, and that’s excellent.
3rd: Mirror Image is a decent spell, but it’s better on characters with a low armor class than a high armor class, so you might get less use out of it. It’s still a solid spell though. Pass Without Trace is an utterly insane spell that gives your whole party +10 to stealth checks, letting you all sneak around together instead of just sending the rogue or the wizard’s familiar on a suicide mission. In one campaign, I played a ranger with this spell and I would often say things like “oh, I rolled terribly, that’s only a 23”. The party was almost undetectable.
5th: Blink is similar to Mirror Image in usefulness, and Dispel Magic is a great spell that clerics already have access to.
7th: Dimension Door is an exceptional teleportation spell, but since Vortex Warp came out, it’s a bit less useful. Still a great spell for clerics. And Polymorph… in addition to the utility and its potential to instantly take out an enemy, it’s also the best buff to put on a level 7 character. Giant Apes can deal 6d10+12 damage a round and have 157 hit points; the 6th level Heal spell only restores 70 hit points. If you use Polymorph on a fighter with low hit points, and they burn through 130 of the Giant Ape’s hit points before finally winning the fight, you outperformed a Heal upcast to 9th level by 30 hit points and probably increased the fighter’s damage output too.
9th: Dominate Person is a bit circumstantial and risky to use, but it’s fun when you can pull it off. Modify Memory is an amazing spell for covering up your crimes and causing mischief.
Before we move on to the other features, look at these ridiculous domain spells; every single one is at least a decent spell, and the vast majority aren’t on the cleric list, and some of these spells are utterly insane. That’s why this is an Epic feature, and it’s the Trickery Cleric’s best feature. When we look at the weaker features, later on, keep the immensely powerful domain spells in mind.
Blessing of the Trickster
Starting when you choose this domain at 1st level, you can use your action to touch a willing creature other than yourself to give it advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks. This blessing lasts for 1 hour or until you use this feature again.
When you’re sneaking around with the party, and that paladin only has a “mere” +9 to stealth checks due to their -1 dexterity modifier and +10 from your Pass Without Trace, you can cover up their shortcomings and turn them into… a character with +9 on stealth checks and advantage. Or if you suspect the enemies ahead are very perceptive and you need a true master of stealth to go in alone with your Pass Without Trace, give the rogue advantage on top of their +25.
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.
Not that powerful of a feature, but it’s fun to just show up with two of you. It’s a perfect illusion, so you might manage to get enemies to attack it instead of you and waste movement and actions. Advantage on attack rolls is less useful for you since you probably aren’t good at attacks anyway, but keep it in mind in case it’s useful; Spiritual Weapon might get a bit of a boost. Casting spells through the illusion is possibly powerful but needs some creativity and strategy to pull off.
The big problem is that this requires concentration, so you can’t use Bless or Spirit Guardians or anything else while this is active. However, at low levels, you don’t have many spell slots, so this is a decent thing to concentrate on if you don’t have other options available.
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.
Eh. It’s like a Disengage action that gives enemies disadvantage to hit you for a round. I guess it’s okay, but it doesn’t give you that much.
At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with poison – a gift from your deity. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 poison damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
This is a terrible feature that boosts a thing you shouldn’t be doing with a damage type you don’t want to deal. Use the Tasha’s optional class feature instead so you can add radiant damage to your cantrips instead.
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.
Going from one duplicate to four isn’t that much of a boost, but you could get some use out of it. You could put a few of them near your allies so you can deliver touch spells in an emergency without needing to be near them or put on a performance at a bar with four clones of yourself, or you could trick an enemy into attacking several duplicates before they discover the real you. The real problem is that you’re level 17 and your level 2 channel divinity requires concentration, and you almost certainly have better things to concentrate on than your channel divinity.
Your domain spell list is unparalleled; you’re pillaging some of the best wizard and druid spells, as well as some decent spells that do things that clerics can’t normally do. You can turn the entire party into stealth experts and do powerful and varied things with your spells. Creativity can also turn your second level Channel Divinity into a solid combat option.
Your non-domain class features range from okay to awful, and you don’t have heavy armor proficiency, so your AC will be one lower than other clerics. Your 2nd level feature is also an illusion, and every dungeon master handles illusions slightly differently. Lastly, you have a ton of powerful and amazing spells, but you don’t have any more spell slots than the usual cleric, so you might hesitate to cast Disguise Self if you only have three spell slots for the entire day. Polymorph also loses its shine at high levels, and you don’t get domain spells after level 9, so you are weaker at high levels than most clerics.
Best Race Options
Forest Gnomes tend to be tricksy fellas, and Gnome Cunning is really good. This is a great opportunity to play a gnome cleric, and they even come with Minor Illusion, which you want.
Githzerai have the Detect Thoughts and Shield spell; everyone wants Shield and it’s an amazing spell, but you especially want Detect Thoughts as a Trickery Cleric. There are several other benefits from the race, but reading minds is something you want to do when you’re causing mischief.
You want typical Cleric proficiencies as well as some charisma and dexterity skills, so your proficiencies will be stretched. The Kenku have two extra skill proficiencies, can give themselves advantage on checks they’re proficient in and have some mimicry-based features. Half Elf is also a strong option.
Choosing the Right Skills
You’re a high wisdom character, so you can specialize in Perception, and you may also want Medicine and Insight proficiency, or Survival if nobody else has it.
Trickery Clerics are incentivized to do a lot of shady business, so Stealth and Sleight of Hand proficiency are both useful. Acrobatics is probably your skill of choice for escaping a grapple or for physical activities.
You want proficiency in Deception and Persuasion to maximize your trickery and social manipulation potential.
Metamagic Adept with Subtle Spell is the ultimate feat for anyone who wants to cast magic in public without anyone noticing that they cast it. Use this to cast Detect Thoughts or Charm Person or whatever without the other people in the room noticing. Extend Spell is a solid choice for your second metamagic option.
Under no circumstances do you want to lose concentration on Polymorph while the fighter is tearing a dozen orcs apart; take War Caster or Resilient (Constitution).
The Telekinetic feat will add an invisible mage hand to your repertoire of tricks, and in combat, you can push people into your Spirit Guardians for extra damage, and it’s a half feat that can boost wisdom. Telepathic is also a solid option if you didn’t get Detect Thoughts from the Githzerai race.
Acolyte is a solid pick for any cleric. Remember that trickery clerics love punching up and disrupting forces in the world, so your trickery-based institution might be small or looked down upon by the authorities.
Folk Hero is excellent if you wanted to start your adventuring career by performing an act of trickery to save your village; perhaps you were already a cleric before that event, or maybe your actions got the attention of a god of mischief.
Quandrix Student is the option if you’re a cheeky minmaxer: Vortex Warp is incredibly good teleportation, Entangle is a great low level control spell, and you’ll like a lot of the other spell options too. Use the free feat to either grab the Shield spell for bonus defense or the wizard’s Find Familiar spell for extra trickery potential.
Starting with one level in Rogue will give you more skill proficiencies and Expertise in two skills; perfect if you think skills will come up a lot in a campaign.
Your charisma might be 13 or higher, so a level of Hexblade Warlock could be doable. You’re mostly here for the Shield spell, but the other benefits are also nice.
You’re stealing from the wizard’s spell list, so why not steal more? Two levels of wizard will let you take the Divination school, letting you humiliate enemies and bolster allies with your powerful Portent dice. You also get a variety of extremely good 1st level spells and some utility cantrips.
Would I recommend playing a Trickery Domain Cleric?
I absolutely recommend the Trickery Domain, and I recommend it even more for a roleplay heavy campaign that will give you opportunities for stealth, trickery, and mischief. You can be a powerful and incredibly fun force of chaos, or if you’re in a standard dungeon crawl, you can just polymorph the fighter into a giant ape and kill everything.
I recommend it less for campaigns taking place exclusively at higher levels; although you still have powerful high level cleric spells, you don’t get anything good from your subclass after level 9, so the Arcana domain or another cleric with good high-level features might be a superior pick. Still, you won’t have a bad character; not in the slightest. Overall, you’re unlikely to regret your choice if you go Trickery.