Over on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted explore the idea of an all cleric party for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. With a couple of these videos in the can now we’re seeing lots of people enjoying them and asking for more. Requests for one character class in particular comes up quite a bit. Playing an all cleric party in 5E D&D pop up more than any other. This video series is a lot of fun but for me the real juice is here on the website. Dave and Ted can give you the insights into 5E D&D party composition and over here we’re continuing to build the scenario we started with the all bard party — a campaign setting of academia for each particular character class. So let’s get into it and consider what an all cleric party composition in a 5E D&D academic setting could look like.
How I would run an all cleric party for 5E D&D
In 5E D&D clerics demonstrate tremendous variety. They’re powerful spellcasters and competent warriors. There’s 13 Divine Domains to choose from, if you include the Twilight Domain from Unearthed Arcana. And I’m totally going to because I love that Divine Domain, so there. Divine Domains provide thematic Domain spells cleric always have prepared along with class features at 1st, 2nd, 6th, 8th and 17th levels. A ton of character races get bonuses to Wisdom, and with all the variety in special features along with backgrounds, players can really create some versatile, personalized cleric characters very different from one another.
The all bard party are cohorts at Bard College, and all warlock party attends Otherworldly Patrons. For a new campaign I would gather players together for session zero and propose the idea for an all cleric party. And same as for bards and warlocks, the backdrop for the campaign comes straight out of the fifth edition Player’s Handbook.
“In a pantheon, every deity has influence over different aspects of mortal life and civilization, called a deity’s domain. All the domains over which a deity has influence are called the deity’s portfolio. For example, the portfolio of the Greek god Apollo includes the domains of Knowledge, Life, and Light. As a cleric, you choose one aspect of your deity’s portfolio to emphasize, and you are granted powers related to that domain.”
Domains is school of theology representing the broad study of Religion. Attendees will learn about all the deities of the multiverse, with particular focus on a single area of influence. By the time new students arrive for the start of classes at Domains, they’ve already chosen their focus from the course catalog, and I imagine there would be lots of showing off to each other. A Forge cleric and a War cleric compare the strength of their arms and armor. “I can make mine magical,” the Forge cleric boasts. “Oh yeah, let’s test it out,” says the War cleric before delivering two attacks (subdual damage of course).
An all cleric party, especially in a setting surrounded by other clerics and theologians can help answer a Dungeon Master’s worldbuilding prayers too. Get the players involved in developing the pantheon. Even if there’s overlap in Divine Domains between the player characters, they can each follow a different deity or value system. Part of the fun of playing a cleric is considering what principles the character follows. Characters can interpret the powers they serve in their own ways, and these explorations can create amazing roleplaying scenarios between players and NPCs. Even ff you have an established pantheon for your campaign setting, there are many forces in the multiverse and it can be very rewarding to let players help develop and expand the scope.
As for the sorts of adventures an all cleric party in 5E D&D might expect, this part is easy. Unlike temple priests, clerics carry an expectation of going out into the world. Domains is a very hands-on learning experience, so students will be called upon to make pilgrimages to holy sites, serve the worshipers of their deities or principles, recover and safeguard relics, deal with extraplanar threats and perform missionary work for just a few responsibilities. The faculty and staff of Domains consists of acolytes and lay people mostly. Powerful clerics might be adjunct professors or visiting dignitaries, spending the bulk of their time out there doing the same sorts of things as the adventuring party. No one reaches high level sitting around!
Other high level NPC clerics make excellent quest givers too. Coming and going from the Domains campus, they may call on student cleric followers of their own to accompany them out of dire need or to be witness to a miracle of faith elsewhere. Fellow party members can certainly sign up as volunteers to come along. They might focus on different areas of influence but there’s always elective credit to earn.
This series of single party class discussions is a lot of fun to explore. There’s a long way to go but when we’re done we’ll have a solid foundation for an entire 5E D&D campaign setting in a world of academia. For a running recap, here’s the list of 5E D&D class-related institutions. I’m looking forward to exploring the next one along with the video from the YouTube channel.
- Bard College carries on a fine tradition of arts and arcane education
- Primal Paths sounds like a private school
- Domains is a seminary
- Circles is a new age school
- Martial Archetypes is a either a military school or a certified training program
- Monastic Traditions maybe a charter school
- Sacred Oaths is definitely a private school
- Ranger Conclaves is a series of correspondence courses (I know they’re called Ranger Archetypes but I think Conclaves sounds cool)
- Roguish Archetypes a trade school for sure. I learned how to pick pockets and now I’m doing great. Thanks, Roguish Archetypes!
- Sorcerous Origins get to attend Arcane Traditions U on a full-ride scholarship
- Otherworldly Patrons is 100% charter school
Any of these individual campaign ideas really makes me want to play or run a campaign with these elements. 5E D&D party composition with all the characters of the same class is more about your group discussing their character choices together than about filling traditional roles. An all cleric party can fairly easily cover all the bases though, and if the worse comes to pass there’ll be plenty of healing to go around.
I like the idea of working with the players to develop and expand a pantheon, and exploring how fellow students, faculty and staff react to and approach things different depending on their philosophical points of view. And with deities, high level NPC clerics and a never-ending flow of divine threats in a 5E D&D campaign setting the all cleric party calling on them to serve their faith, characters won’t have any shortage of adventures to pursue.
What do you think? Does an all cleric party campaign make you think holy moley that would be fun? Do you like the idea of a 5E D&D campaign set within academia? What sort of favors shenanigans do you think an all cleric party might get into on the Domains campus? Let me know in the comments!