D&D 5e: Twilight Domain Cleric Guide
Role in the Party
A Cleric of Twilight embraces the duality of life. They understand that the light is good, but too much can burn and scour, and that darkness may contain fear and wickedness, but it is also a time of recuperation and change.
Unlike the strict dogma of other orders, these holy warriors are comfortable using every tool available to them. Whether it’s bolstering their allies, cladding themselves in night’s embrace, or terrifying their foe, the Twilight Domain will use holy light and deepest darkness to achieve their goals. And may the gods save those who stand against them.
This guide breaks down the subclass, how to effectively build a character, feat and skill choices, and more.
Twilight Domain Features
Twilight Domain Spells: At the character levels below, the Twilight Domain Cleric adds these spells to their spells known. These spells count as Cleric spells, and are always prepared and available.
The list is excellent, packed full of spells the Cleric doesn’t generally have access to, including some incredibly powerful buffs and other spells that might see regular use.
Faerie Fire: A big AOE of Advantage to attack targets, plus anti-invisibility, tied into one level 1 package.
Sleep: The Sleep spell can win entire early level encounters by itself, but falls off very quickly. Don’t expect to use this past around level 5.
Moonbeam: Reasonable ongoing AOE damage with a rider against shape changing enemies, should that ever come up.
See Invisibility: This lets the character see invisible creatures. Of course. But you can also see into the Ethereal Plane for the duration. A 1-hour time limit and no concentration make this a very handy ability when it’s needed.
Aura of Vitality: One of the strongest healing effects in the game at its level. A 30ft aura of healing that synergizes perfectly with Twilight Sanctuary, heals 20d6 damage over its duration (an average of 70HP), and only needs a bonus action every turn.
Leomund’s Tiny Hut: An 8-hour, near impenetrable 10 person resting place. The inside is warm and comfortable, the spell is impervious to anything that doesn’t dispel it, creatures and effects from outside fail, and it can be cast as a ritual. Having access to this as a Cleric is just lovely.
Aura of Life: Even though it’s very situational, if you find yourself fighting certain types of enemies (mostly Undead) then resistance against Necrotic and immunity to HP reduction is handy to have.
Greater Invisibility: One minute of invisibility that doesn’t drop when taking actions, attacking, or casting spells, for yourself or an ally. Sure, that’s nice.
Circle of Power: Advantage on saves against spells and magical abilities, and if a successful save would mean half damage, (like a Fireball or Dragon’s Breath) the creature passing the save takes no damage instead.
Another 30ft aura of massively improved defenses? Absolutely. Because the party just isn’t unkillable enough yet.
Mislead: Turn invisible and create an illusory double of yourself for an hour, which you can move, see and hear from, and act with (though it can’t manipulate things, it’s an illusion.) This is a fun scouting and social tool and can be used to keep the Cleric safe, but it’s kind of niche, and very solo-oriented.
Bonus Proficiencies: The Twilight Cleric gains proficiency in Heavy Armor and Martial Weapons. This is a good boost to AC and weapon damage and allows the character to take to the frontlines if that’s something they want to do.
Eyes of Night: From level 1, the Twilight Cleric has permanent 300ft Darkvision. This is 5 times the distance of normal Darkvision, so it almost eliminates the option of creatures ever sneaking up on the party at night.
That’s already good, but a Twilight Cleric can share this ability with up to its WIS modifier number of creatures (generally 3 at level 1, which conveniently is the standard party size.) This lasts for an hour and can be refreshed with any spell slot.
The Darkvision spell is level 2 and only affects ONE target. This ability is outright better in every single metric, free to use once, then only takes a level 1 spell slot afterward. It’s amazing.
Vigilant Blessing: Touch a creature, it has Advantage on its next Initiative check. No limit on daily uses, though it can only be on one creature at a time. Simple. Powerful.
Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary: Using an action, the Twilight Cleric can create a 30ft aura of dim light centered on themselves. It lasts one minute, or until the Cleric is incapacitated or dies.
Whenever a creature ends its turn inside this aura, the Cleric can grant them one of two effects, neither requiring any action.
Temporary HP equal to the Cleric’s level + 1d6
Automatically ending a Charmed or Frightened effect on that character
This ability is the single reason why the Twilight Domain is widely regarded as too strong, and to be honest, it’s easy to see why.
As long as the party stays within 30ft of the Cleric, which is easy to do, they gain free temporary HP at the end of every one of their turns. The amount scales so it will stay relevant throughout every level of the game, it automatically refreshes itself without an action, and there is no limit on the number of recipients.
As a bonus, if the party is facing creatures that rely on the Charmed or Frightened effects to do a lot of the heavy lifting, for example, Undead or Fey, their abilities just fail, at the end of every player’s turn.
Channel Divinity uses come back on long or short rests, and total uses before resting increase to two at 6, and 3 uses at 18. Realistically, a level 6 Twilight Cleric with access to one short rest, (which is going to be safe because Tiny Hut is on their spell list) can use this ability a ridiculous 4 times per day.
To put that another way, this ability will be available for the vast majority of combat encounters a party will expect to have. A 4 man level 6 party can expect to get 38 temporary hitpoints on average from this divided between them, 7-12 each. Every single round. That’s an entire character’s HP pool. For the price of a single action at the start of combat.
Imagine ever taking real damage again. What a world that would be.
Steps of Night: From level 6, if the Twilight Cleric is in dim light or darkness (Yes, the Twilight Sanctuary Channel Divinity counts…) they can use a bonus action to gain a fly speed equal to their walking speed for one minute.
Another fantastic ability. It can be used a number of times per day equal to the character’s proficiency bonus, and only uses a bonus action, so can be used without eating into your action economy, in the same turn as a spell or Channel Divinity.
Divine Strike: From level 8, once per turn, when the Cleric hits a creature with a weapon, they can add 1d8 radiant damage. This bonus damage doubles at level 14.
All ‘melee style’ Clerics get this ability. It’s a nice bonus if you happen to swing a weapon, but by this level most turns are going to be taken up with spellcasting.
Twilight Shroud: At level 17, the Twilight Sanctuary Channel Divinity now offers half cover to you and your allies while it’s active.
A free +2 to AC and DEX saves, on top of the other bonuses this ability brings, just makes it even stronger. At this level, everyone in the party is gaining 18 to 23 temp HP per turn, so it didn’t need more power, but here you go.
Where to begin?
The Cleric is already a useful class in 5e. The base kit has a decent spell list with a good spread of different spell types, including some of the most essential heals and revives in the game. It also packs a reasonable defensive profile with an average hit die and good armor proficiencies and base abilities that don’t eat into the class’s resource pool.
Almost every single ability the Twilight Cleric gains builds on top of this base power. And almost every single ability it gets is amazingly effective and would be a worthy main ability for another subclass.
The best Darkvision in the game can also be shared with allies. What amounts to a free initiative buff. Bonus action flying, multiple times per day. A fantastic, varied Domain spell list.
Twilight Sanctuary, which by itself can shut down enemy damage dealers, as well as remove two of the strongest disabling effects in the game.
With all this power at its fingertips, the Twilight Cleric can be built to do almost anything. Lean into the subclass abilities and buff the party into the stratosphere. Take some damaging blast spells and burn your foe into holy-scented ashes. Or strap on the biggest weapon you can carry and wade into melee.
As a Twilight Cleric, the world is your oyster. You can pick something and be great at it, and as long as you take the time to put your buffing auras up, be confident that the obscene power of the class is always in play.
The Twilight Cleric is one of the strongest Cleric subclasses in the game, if not the strongest.
That said, it benefits most when it’s surrounded by a party who knows what their roles are and is willing to take risks and work with the Cleric to maximize everyone’s abilities.
A Cleric of Twilight might also struggle to deal major damage at many stages of the game. The Cleric list traditionally isn’t heavy in effective blasts, and the Domain spells and abilities of the subclass don’t offer anything to offset this, so you might find yourself falling back on one or two staple spells.
On top of this, while the Twilight Cleric does get a melee damage boost as part of its ability list, that’s not going to come close to the damage a dedicated melee character is capable of doing. Still, neither of these things matter when you can outlast most standard encounters, and fly away from major threats.
A small skill list paired with a lack of regularly used ritual spells means that Clerics can also sometimes lack things to do outside of combat.
It’s always worth making sure that your build has something it wants to do when out in the wilderness, or if the party is recuperating in town. Even throwing an Insight roll to peer inquisitively at the noble your party is talking to is more interesting than standing at the back of the room and trying to look all mysterious and Twilight-y.
Best Race Options
Harengon: Flexible stats, proficiency in Perception, a bonus to DEX saves, a bonus action to bounce out of combat, and a bonus to Initiative all work perfectly with what the Twilight Cleric wants to do.
Kenku: A bunch of skills and skill advantage checks, plus perfect stats add some social adeptness and out-of-combat utility to the character.
Fierna Tiefling: Decent stats, resistance to fire damage, and some useful social spells. Plus the background ties in perfectly with a shadowy, boundary-dancing Cleric.
Choosing the Right Skills
If there’s something a Twilight Cleric lacks, it’s skill slots. Most Clerics will have 4-5 skills all told, once classes, backgrounds, and racial traits are taken into account.
The high WIS of the Cleric means that it’s a naturally good fit for Perception and Insight, the skills used to observe the world, and people. If possible, always take both of these.
From here, frontline characters with higher STR might want to take Athletics, whereas backline characters could choose to take one or two social skills like Persuasion, or some utility skills such as Survival to forage out in the wilderness, or knowledge like Religion instead.
Alert: Do you want +5 to those Initiative checks that you’re already taking with Advantage, as well as never being able to be surprised by enemies again? Yes, yes you do.
War Caster: The Twilight Cleric can happily be built for the front lines. Even if not, Advantage on concentration checks, opportunity attacking with cantrips, and casting spells while holding a weapon and shield are all things the subclass likes.
Metamagic Adept: By mid levels, most Clerics will spend their turns casting spells, and the Cleric list is full of things that can benefit from a sprinkling of metamagic. Quicken a blast, or twin a key buff on two of your allies. There are a lot of options here, all of them useful.
Acolyte: The ‘traditional’ Clerical background. Insight and Religion make sense as skills, and the two languages help with social situations, as well as with the Cleric’s traditional role as a community leader.
Noble: History and Persuasion lend themselves to a more educated social character. A gaming set will probably never come up, but the language is nice to have.
Spy: This variant of the criminal offers two sneaky skills and a gaming set, but also gives the character proficiency in Thieves Tools, vital if the party doesn’t already have it, and the Cleric probably has enough DEX to use these.
The core Twilight Domain subclass is very powerful, and a lot of its core abilities scale with Cleric level. Multiclassing is always a difficult balance, weighing up what’s lost vs what’s gained.
This class in particular suffers from multiclassing too heavily, pulling power away from its key abilities, for what tend to be lower level replacements. With that in mind, all of the multiclass options here are low-level ‘dips,’ taking the minimum amount of levels possible to be effective.
Gloom Stalker Ranger: Become the thing that haunts the shadows, and deal with your enemies directly. 3 levels in this subclass give another bonus to initiative, as well as bonus movement, an extra attack, and bonus damage on the first round of combat.
But the best thing about this dip is immunity to other creatures’ Darkvision. That means, if the only way they could see you would be with darkvision, they CAN’T see you. Pair that with the Twilight Cleric’s own, absurd, 300ft Darkvision distance and you’ll never operate during the day again.
Eldritch Knight Fighter: This multiclass only requires 2 Fighter levels, as we’re here for one thing. Action Surge. This lets the Twilight Cleric take the most effective first turn possible, dropping their Twilight Sanctuary Channel Divinity and a spell in the same round.
Taking extra levels can turn this multiclass into an effective gish, at least 5 Fighter levels to get Extra Attack is good, taking Eldritch Knightminimizese the impact on spell levels, but still starts to hurt the overall power of the build.
Paladin: We’re here for one thing, and one thing only. Smites.
The addition of Smite to the Twilight Cleric’s arsenal suddenly makes the character a terrifying threat in melee. The Cleric has a ready list of spell slots to fuel the damage, plus bonus damage from its subclass as it scales.
No more than 2 levels are recommended. Paladin is a class that requires investment, and we have what we need, plus a few nice bonuses like 10HP of Lay on Hands for an emergency heal.
Would I recommend playing a Twilight Domain Cleric?
The Twilight Cleric is widely regarded as one of the strongest subclasses in the entire game, to the point that there are multiple ‘fixes’ for the Twilight Sanctuary ability out there in the wilds.
Even without that ability, the class would be strong. With it, it’s an absolute force at any table, capable of walking into fights confident that it has the tools to deal with what it faces. Plus, everything that the class does is just fun. It’s just a great class that’s well worth playing.