Character Build: Order Domain Cleric

Goals of This Build

Tanky Control

Combine the Order Domain’s spell list with the cleric’s spell list and you have a ton of control, especially against humanoids. Battlefield control, crowd control, you name it and the cleric has it in droves. The only challenge is maintaining concentration on your control spells to ensure their effectiveness.

However, due to the Order Domain Cleric’s natural tankiness this issue is significantly lessened. This tankiness is further bolstered by choosing a hardy race like a hill dwarf. This makes you a force to be reckoned with even in the frontlines.

Provide Plenty of Support and Utility

The cleric is a fantastic support caster. Their spell list has ample utility such as healing, buffs, and out of combat utility to assist the party in all facets of the game. The Order Domain Cleric kicks this up a notch, especially in combat.

Voice of Authority gives an ally an extra attack when they provide support to them via a spell. They can also cast enchantment spells as a bonus action to keep providing support while they use their action to deal damage to their enemies.

At the highest levels of play, they can even mark a target to give their allies’ next attack a damage boost in the form of psychic damage.

They’re an enormous boon to have in a fray.

Books Needed for this Build

Player’s Handbook

Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica OR Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Level 1

Class: Cleric

Background: Acolyte
Note: You can swap out skill proficiencies or the feature per RAW so focus on flavor.

Race: Hill Dwarf or Variant Human
Note: I was originally gunning for a +2 WIS & +1 CON race, but there’s jack all if you’re not playing with the Eberron Marks mechanic. Hill Dwarf is a fun choice to give us some extra tankiness and frontline capability. Variant Human’s extra feat makes it a fantastic choice for any build in my opinion.

Ability Scores: This was done using point buy. Check out this article for more info on point buy!

STR:  10 (+0)
DEX:  14 (+2)
CON: 16 (+3) – +2 from Hill Dwarf
INT:   8 (-1)
WIS:  16 (+3) – +1 from Hill Dwarf
CHA: 10 (-1)

Note: Non-dwarves want to dump DEX in favor of 15 Strength to avoid the movement penalties of heavy armor. Our dwarven racial features allow us to bypass the strength requirement of heavy armor so we can focus on bolstering Dexterity which is great since it’s a common saving throw ability.

Skills: Insight & Religion (Background), Medicine & History (Class), Intimidation (Subclass)

Post Level 1

Ability Score Increases (ASIs)

There are a total of 5 ASIs on our journey from level 1 to 20 Cleric.

Ability Score Priorities

Dwarf: Wisdom >> Constitution > Dexterity > Intelligence = Charisma = Strength

Non-Dwarf: Wisdom >> Constitution > Strength > Dexterity > Intelligence = Charisma

Wisdom is the key to playing any Cleric. Doubly so for the Order Domain Cleric. Each time we raise our Wisdom modifier, our Spell Save DC increases making it more and more difficult for enemies to avoid our control. Ergo, you should cap your Wisdom as soon as possible!

You may wish to bolster your Constitution after maxing your Wisdom, especially if you aren’t playing a Hill Dwarf and getting that sweet +2 CON bonus. 16 Constitution, however, is perfectly acceptable to leave as-is if you want to instead pick up some feats or improve our more flavor-focused ability scores.

Still, maintaining concentration is paramount for making our control spells as effective as possible. You’ll want at least a +3 CON modifier to help with this.

Strength is a nice pick-me-up if you find yourself in the frontlines. However, if you have the 15 Strength soft requirement for Splint and Plate armor you probably don’t need to boost it further. Dwarves can ignore Strength entirely and focus solely on Dexterity.

Feats

Resilient (CON) – While it’s not as flashy as War Caster, Resilient (CON) is more reliable for longer campaigns. Since we’re looking to max our Wisdom ASAP this is the best option for our level 12 ASI.

Lucky – This feat is always good. I can’t think of a build where having a few luck points wouldn’t be helpful.

Observant – While this messes with our race to 20 Wisdom, this is a very flavorful feat for the character I envision. After all, maintaining order requires vigilance!

War Caster – If you’re playing as Variant Human or grabbing a feat early, War Caster is the way to go. Plus you get some other cool stuff like casting offensive Cantrips for your Attack of Opportunity.

dwarven cleric
Swap the maul for a shield and battleaxe and you have the perfect cleric! Credit: WotC.

Class Features

The cleric doesn’t have a whole lot of class features, especially when compared to a martial class. However, their giant spell list and prepared casting method of selecting spells will give us plenty to do each time we level.

Spellcasting – Level 1+

Even at level 1, the cleric is already a powerful character thanks to their STRONG Cantrip choices like Toll the Dead for dealing massive damage plus ample utility with Cantrips like Light

Plus their spell list is no joke either, especially when you consider the fact that they’re prepared casters. Unlike a sorcerer or bard who knows their spells, clerics and other prepared casters can swap their spell list after every long rest.

Every other level, skim through your new spells and make a note of what is useful where. Some spells may become your new bread-and-butter spells and slot right into your daily prepared list. Others will have niche uses and might only be prepared as needed.

Most spells are useful in their typical situation, so I’m not going to go through every single one and tell you what to, or not to use as I tend to do in my bard or sorcerer guides due to their limited number of learned spells.

The number of spells they can prepare is based on their WIS mod + cleric level so it’s continuously increasing.

For reference, here are the cleric spellcasting formulas for their save DC and attack mod:

Spell save DC = 8 + proficiency + Wisdom modifier
Spell attack modifier = proficiency + Wisdom modifier

This should further cement why you want to hit 20 Wisdom A.S.A.P. The wiser you are, the more potent your offensive and healing spells are, plus your control spells are harder to break out of.

As if the cleric didn’t have enough utility, they also have Ritual Casting. This allows them to spend extra time to cast a spell they have prepared, but with the trade-off of the spell not requiring a spell slot to cast. Ergo, giving the cleric extra utility provided that time is not a facto

Channel Divinity – Level 2, 6, and 18

Channel Divinity is the cleric class resource. You can expend a use of Channel Divinity to do two different things, one of which is determined by your domain. The other is a baseline ability for all clerics.

Channel Divinity uses are regained on a short or long rest. At level 2 you only have one usage, but you gain a second at 6 and a third at 18.

Channel Divinity: Turn Undead is the baseline cleric Channel Divinity. The cleric expends a use of Channel Divinity and uses an action to cause any undead creature within 30 ft. of them to make a Wisdom saving throw. Any creatures that fail are turned.

Turned creatures must spend their turn moving as far from the cleric as possible and they cannot move into any space within 30 ft. of the cleric. They can only take the Dash action, escape from an effect, or use the Dodge action if there’s nowhere to move.

This effect breaks upon a turned creature taking damage, so ensure that your party knows this before you use it!

Destroy Undead – Level 5, 8, 11, 14, and 17

If an undead fails their saving throw against your Turn Undead they may straight-up die. This only works on low-CR creatures, but it’s a pretty gnarly feature nonetheless, especially if your campaign is littered with undead.

Here’s a handy chart to help you keep track of Destroy Undead’s effectiveness at each of your levels:

Cleric LevelUndead CR
5th1/2 or lower
8th1 or lower
11th2 or lower
14th3 or lower
17th4 or lower

It’s not the most flashy or consistent feature, but when it hits, it hits. Also, if you’re a DM throw a bone to your clerics and toss in a mess of low CR undead because this is a fun feature for flexing their clerical powers to the rest of the party.

Divine Intervention – Level 10 and 20

You can use an action to ask your deity for aid. At level 10, you need to roll 1d100 and have the result be less than or equal to your cleric level for this literal Hail Mary to succeed. However, at level 20, your plea is automatically answered and your deity intervenes immediately.

What your deity does is at the DM’s discretion, but the rules suggest that the intervention uses the effect of a cleric spell or a domain spell. Some DMs might go the extra mile depending on the situation so consider how your DM rules this mechanic when you go for it.

If your deity intervenes, you can’t use this feature again for 7 days. However, if they fail to do so, you can make another attempt after a long rest.

It’s a cool, flavorful feature, but it’s not consistent at all until you hit max level since there’s only a 10-19% chance of it paying off until then. Although, a god always having your back is a pretty solid capstone feature.

Divine Domain – Order Domain

Clerics are one of the few classes that get their subclass right off the bat. This is handy since they’ll get quite a few useful features from the get-go such as heavy armor proficiency and a pair of extra prepared spells.

It’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but you’re going to be super strong at level 1 if your game starts at that point.

Domain Spells – Levels 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9

The following spells are always prepared and don’t count as one of your prepared spells when you prep your list at the end of a long rest:

1st – Command*, Heroism*
3rd – Hold Person*, Zone of Truth*
5th – Mass Healing Word, Slow
7th – Compulsion*, Locate Creature
9th – Commune, Dominate Person*

* Enchanment School Spell

This is a phenomenal list. It has six enchantment school spells to synergize with Embodiment of the Law, a few of which are not included in the cleric spell list.

It also includes a fair amount of crowd control thanks to Command, Hold Person, Slow, Compulsion and Dominate Person. All of which impede on the target’s ability to fight to some degree. Plus, Slow, Compulsion, and Dominate Person are all non-cleric spells so you have some new toys to play with!

Heroism is a so-so spell, but thanks to Embodiment of the Law it’s a cheap way to use Voice of Authority on an ally with only a bonus action. Mass Healing Word is really your only bread-and-butter style utility spell on this list, but Locate Creature, Commune, and Zone of Truth will come in handy when called upon.

Bonus Proficiencies – Level 1

You gain proficiency with heavy armor and proficiency in either Intimidation or Persuasion.

If you want to make a more Charismatic cleric then I’d suggest grabbing Intimidation here and grabbing Persuasion with one of your class skill proficiencies. Otherwise, just choose whichever suits the flavor of your envisioned character here.

Voice of Authority – Level 1

If you target an ally with a spell that’s 1st-level or higher, the targeted ally can use their reaction to attack a creature of your choice that you can see. If the spell targets multiple allies then you decide who gets to make an attack.

This is a powerful feature when used well as it adds another layer of utility on top of the utility/support spell you’re casting on your ally already. Hell, you’ll add another layer of utility to this if you couple this feature with Embodiment of the Law to cast an enchantment school buff on an ally for a bonus action.

If you have a rogue in the party you will quickly become their best friend as this can give them another opening to use Sneak Attack to pump out ludicrous amounts of damage.

white dragonborn order domain cleric
Dragonborn look so cool when they don’t look anything like their PHB description. That’s not a slight on the artist, it’s more like we’d all rather play half-dragons because they’re actually cool. Credit: WotC.

Channel Divinity: Order’s Demand – Level 2

Instead of using Turn Undead, you can instead charm any creature that can see or hear you within 30 ft, provided they fail a Wisdom saving throw. Also, you can force the charmed creatures to drop whatever they’re holding.

This is a fantastic mass crowd control option, albeit a temporary one since it lasts only until the end of your next turn. However, that’s plenty of time for you and the party to put some distance between yourselves and the mob, teleport away, or quickly tie them up/incapacitate them before the effect wears off.

Do keep in mind that, like most charms, this effect is halted if a charmed creature takes damage. Make sure your party has a plan for leveraging this ability before you set it off.

Embodiment of the Law – Level 6

If you cast an enchantment school spell, you can choose to do so using a bonus action instead of an action. This only works for spells that have a base cast time of 1 action.

This feature is only usable a number of times equal to your WIS mod, but you regain your uses after completing a long rest. So here we have yet another reason to pump up that Wisdom!

This is a powerful feature, but it’s also limited due to the limited amount of enchantment school spells the cleric spell list has. Still, we have many enchantment spells listed as domain spells giving us some additional leeway here.

For reference, here’s a full list of the base cleric enchantment school spells courtesy of DND Beyond.

Don’t be afraid to stack your spell list with a bunch of enchantment options. Casting them with a bonus action makes even more lackluster options phenomenal due to the action economy boost you receive.

Divine Strike – Level 8 and 14

Once per turn, you can deal extra psychic damage with a weapon attack. At level 8 this is 1d8 (4.5) psychic damage, but it increases to 2d8 (9) damage at level 14. Keep in mind that this procs off of ranged weapon attacks as well!

This is standard fare for cleric subclasses, but psychic damage, in particular, is a phenomenal damage type due to the lack of creatures with resistance to it.

Order’s Wrath – Level 17

When you deal damage to a creature with Divine Strike the next ally to hit them with an attack deals an additional 2d8 (9) psychic damage to them. Note that this feature doesn’t specify what type of attack they must make so spell attacks work for this feature as well.

At level 17 it’s not much, but it’s consistent, unlike other cleric domains that have more powerful options but only bolster their Channel Divinity.

Strengths of this Build

  • High AC and Constitution makes us fantastic at maintaining concentration
    • Also lets us hold our own on the frontlines as needed
  • We have tons of crowd control in our spell list
    • Both Channel Divinity: Turn Undead and Channel Divinity: Order’s Demand offer additional crowd control
  • Plentiful utility thanks to Voice of Authority, Embodiment of Law, and our spell list

Weaknesses of this Build

  • While we can survive on the frontlines, it may be counter-intuitive to do so
    • Divine Strike and Order’s Wrath puts us at risk for maintaining concentration on buffs and control spells, and our dwarf build is not suited for melee combat
  • Non-Dwarf build: Low Dexterity makes saving throws, initiative, and ability checks a nightmare

Conclusions

I love clerics, but the Order Domain enhances my favorite parts of the class. All that utility and control makes them such a fantastic support character.

Order Domain Clerics also have excellent role-playing potential as well. You can play as someone attempting to maintain law and order, but it also to what degree? Upholding law and order doesn’t automatically make you a moral person.

How does your character determine if a law is just? Hell, do they bother to question that in the first place? There are so many moral quandaries you can explore in this space.

I cannot wait to play this character the next chance I get. Hopefully, it’ll be played in a long-term campaign because this just feels like a great character to play around in for a long time!

If you enjoyed what you read be sure to check out my ongoing review for all of the official D&D 5e books and my other 5e character builds!

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2 Comments

  1. You don’t need to meet the STR requirements for armor if you’re playing a dwarf as their speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor. So you could swap the 15 STR to DEX and go with a ranged build. It avoids the frontline problem and Divine Strike works on ranged weapon attacks too. Not so good if you end up in melee though as you lack proficiency in the better finesse weapons.

    • Thank you for pointing that out!

      For some reason I misconstrued lacking STR’s mechanics with lacking heavy armor proficiency so I thought the detriments were more than just a lack of movement speed.

      I’ll update this article later today!

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