D&D 5e: Zeal Domain Cleric Guide

A female human cleric of the zeal domain prepares to cast a fiery spell.

D&D 5e: Zeal Domain Cleric Guide

Role in the Party

The Zeal Domain Cleric is an unusual subclass introduced in the semi-official Plane Shift: Amonkhet article. It’s not legal in organized Adventurer’s League play, but some tables still use the Plane Shift content regardless.

Zeal is the fifth and final virtue of the society of Amonkhet; there’s some lore about the God-Pharaoh and the goddess Hazoret, but the Zeal Cleric is fueled primarily by their desire for a good afterlife. This somehow means that you’re a damage focused cleric that’s suspiciously like a Tempest Cleric.

In general, you will do standard cleric activities while also being sort of like a multiclass Tempest Cleric: you have a version of their powerful level 2 Channel Divinity and some of the best possible spells to take advantage of it.





Zeal Domain Cleric Features

Zeal Domain Spells

1st: Searing Smite is a bad spell, but Thundrous Smite might occasionally be useful to knock an enemy around. Clerics don’t normally get smite smells, but they’re not the class best suited to take advantage of them.

3rd: Magic Weapon is okay if you fight werewolves and someone doesn’t have a magic weapon, but otherwise not useful. Shatter isn’t the best damage option, but it’s unusually good on you from levels 3-4; you can boost it with your Channel Divinity to make it deal quite a lot of damage for a second level spell. Less good at high levels, but the ability to deal 24 damage at level 3 with an area of effect is so good that this has to be Epic.

5th: Haste is a great spell and it’s lovely to have it always prepared, and… Fireball? And your Channel Divinity works with fire damage? Oh yes. Tempest Clerics have to multiclass to get a max damage 8d6 spell, but you just have it on your spell list for free. This alone makes this an amazing spell list

7th: Fire Shield is a great non-concentration buff spell that’s particularly good on you thanks to your occasional melee weapon use and Spirit Guardians, and Freedom of Movement is nice for emergencies.

9th: Flame Strike is just a worse Fireball, but Destructive Wave can be a decent way to avoid friendly fire and fire resistance while dealing the same damage as an upcast Fireball. Neither of these are great Channel Divinity candidates due to the split damage types.

Bonus Proficiencies

At 1st level, you gain proficiency with martial weapons and heavy armor.

These are both nice to have, especially since some of your features focus on weapon use. Heavy Armor is great on any cleric too.

Priest of Zeal

From 1st level, Hazoret delivers bolts of inspiration to you while you are engaged in battle. When you use the Attack action, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.

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.

This is the War Domain’s level 1 feature, and it’s sort of like a bootleg Extra Attack you can use a few times per day. At levels 1-4, this is a very good feature, but it loses effectiveness starting at level 5, and eventually, your cantrips will be more powerful than this feature. Still, this is enough of a low to mid level boost to be a good feature.

Channel Divinity: Consuming Fervor

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to channel your zeal into unchecked ferocity.

When you roll fire or thunder damage, you can use your Channel Divinity to deal maximum damage instead of rolling.

A better version of the Tempest Domain’s feature and you can use this with Shatter at first, and then eventually Fireball. This adds an average of 20 damage to your Fireball spell, which is fantastic.

However, do not use this feature at the wrong time; you might be tempted to nuke the lone boss enemy for 48 damage, but if they have legendary resistance and reduce it to 24, you just used a 3rd level spell slot, and your channel divinity and your action to deal 24 damage to a single creature. This is especially bad if you’re high level and the boss monster had 300 hit points. It’s a powerful feature, but be smart when using it, and don’t fall into the trap of just upcasting Fireball all the time; you need those slots for other things too.

Resounding Strike

At 6th level, when you deal thunder damage to a Large or smaller creature, you can also push it up to 10 feet away from you.

You can use this with Shatter, but you otherwise have almost nothing that deals thunder damage. Thunderous Strike I guess?

Divine Strike

At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with divine energy. 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 damage of the same type dealt by the weapon to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.

Lame, just like all level 8 cleric features: take the better Tasha’s version instead, it applies to both cantrips and weapon use.

Blaze of Glory

Starting at 17th level, you can delay death for an instant to perform a final heroic act.

When you are reduced to 0 hit points by an attacker you can see, even if you would be killed outright, you can use your reaction to move up to your speed toward the attacker and make one melee weapon attack against it, as long as the movement brings it within your reach. You make this attack with advantage. If the attack hits, the creature takes an extra 5d10 fire damage and an extra 5d10 damage of the weapon’s type. You then fall unconscious and begin making death saving throws as normal, or you die if the damage you took would have killed you outright.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.

You drop to 0 hit points and then bonk someone with your weapon, and it deals about an extra 55 damage; if you still have your channel divinity, you can max the fire damage to make it deal about 75 damage total. That sounds good, but remember that a lot of high CR enemies are resistant or immune to fire, and this damage requires that you hit, and your strength modifier probably isn’t 20, and you probably don’t have the best magic weapon in the party. This also requires that you drop to zero hit points, and you don’t do that in most fights. At least you will deal a bit of extra damage in emergencies every now and then, and you do get this alongside 9th level spells, so it isn’t all bad.

A zeal domain cleric communes with their diety.


You’re as strong as a multiclassed Tempest Cleric but without the usual downsides of multiclassing a Tempest Cleric like delayed spell level progression. On top of that, you are great at using weapons at low levels. Levels 1-5 are amazing for you.


You will struggle at higher levels when a 48 damage fireball just won’t cut it and using weapons becomes less and less of a good idea. Your level 17 feature also has the chance to miss and do nothing.

Best Race Options

The Red Chromatic Dragonborn synergizes uniquely well with your level 1 feature: you can use your breath weapon to replace your attack action attack, then make a bonus action attack with your feature. It’s probably not worth using your Channel Divinity on your breath, but at least it’s thematic.

The Naga is a Plane Shift: Amonkhet exclusive race that synergizes amazingly with your bonus action attack, especially since you probably wanted a good strength to use heavy armor and weapons. You can constrict someone with your action, restrain them, and then get advantage on your other attacks, possibly while doing damage with Spirit Guardians.

The Monsters of the Multiverse Bugbear is particularly good at low levels due to the expanded melee reach and their Surprise Attack feature, possibly letting you deal an extra 4d6 damage at level 1.

Choosing the Right Skills

Religion proficiency is the most important proficiency for a religious cleric. Perception is more important, but if you don’t have Religion proficiency, Hazoret will come over and beat you for not knowing the tenets of the faith.

Athletics can turn you into a half-decent grappler if you have a high strength score, and it’s useful for all kinds of physical activities.

Arcana and History are both appropriate for someone studying the afterlife and the dead, especially if you plan on joining them in a favorable position.

Your wisdom score makes you an ideal Insight and Medicine expert, but skip Animal Handling if you want.

Fitting Feats

I know what you’re thinking: “Elemental Adept will let me ignore resistance!” True, but it’s still a bad idea since that’s the only thing you get when you maximize the damage of a spell, and it doesn’t do anything against immunity.

Instead, take Metamagic Adept with the Transmuted Spell metamagic so you can change fire damage to thunder damage when needed. For your other metamagic option, I recommend Extended Spell so you can double the healing of an Aura of Vitality and prolong a wide variety of buffs.

If you want to use a weapon and a shield and cast spells, you need War Caster; I would prioritize it above everything else. It improves concentration and gives you more options for your opportunity attack anyway.

You will be in melee a lot, so Strixhaven Initiate is an easy way to get the Shield spell on your character, in addition to more cantrip versatility.

Optimal Backgrounds

The Plane Shift: Amonkhet background Initiate is ideal for anyone playing in the Amonkhet setting. Pick Dissenter instead to rebel against the system.

For non-Amonkhet campaigns, Acolyte is a solid pick; presumably, you would reflavor the god to be a different god for this purpose.

Prismari Student is the most powerful option, but not all tables allow Strixhaven backgrounds. The free Strixhaven Initiate feat and expanded spell list are great.

Multiclassing Options

Unlike a Tempest Cleric, you don’t need to multiclass a Zeal Domain cleric. Still, there are some good options:

A single level of Fighter will grant you a fighting style that can empower your capacity to use weapons and starting as a fighter gives you proficiency in constitution saving throws.

A single level of Hexblade is a potent option thanks to Hexblade’s Curse and the Shield spell it offers.

You might consider two levels of the Evocation Wizard sometime after level 5. Sculpt Spells will prevent your allies from taking any of the damage from your 48 damage fireballs since the evocation spells do not have to be wizard spells. Shield, Find Familiar, and Absorb Elements will be helpful extra spells.

Would I recommend playing a Zeal Domain Cleric?

I would recommend it at any table in any setting, but only if your dungeon master is okay with it; this isn’t quite official content and isn’t assumed to be allowed at most tables. Some dungeon masters might balk at the max damage fireballs and refuse to allow this subclass, so watch out.

Lastly, even though a 24 damage shatter and 48 damage Fireball are nice, do not over-rely on them! You are a cleric. You have a full suite of cleric spellcasting. Make sure to use it when it’s appropriate. Keep that in mind and you will have a powerful, versatile, and fun character.

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