Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Clerics
Since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was released in November, I’ve been having a look at the new class options. This week I’m having a look at the new cleric domains.
A cleric of the forge domain can improve weapons or even spiritually transform metal (such as coins) into equipment. At higher levels, the forge cleric can also avoid fire damage and receives extra benefits from heavy armor.
Does this represent a spiritual mastery of physical reality? It doesn’t seem to be a denigration of the mundane and material, but a kind of spiritual materialism, where the physical is improved. I wonder if a forge cleric would see their practices as symbolising moral purification or spiritual conversion? In this way, the forge domain seems almost like an alchemist, and I think that’s the way I’d want to play this subclass.
Xanathar’s Guide says that gods of the grave are focussed on maintaining the order of death and the afterlife, regarding the disruption of this order as ‘an abomination.’ It seems that it is acceptable for clerics of the death domain to delay or quicken someone’s death, but that they must ensure the dead stay dead. The idea here is that death is not an evil in itself, but part of the natural order, and that the dead deserve their rest.
Having abilities that help protect other characters from death, I think this subclass would effectively represent a medic character. At first level, this subclass has improved healing abilities and can stabilise other characters from a distance, while at higher levels they can actually use the spent life-force of the dying to heal the living. The obvious way to use this feature would be to heal your comrades using the life-force of the enemies you just defeated, but it could also take on a more tragic tone. Maybe the life-force of a friend who died in battle can be used to heal a wounded ally? This could have a big impact on the character who has been healed, leading them to live out the legacy of their fallen comrade.
This subclass would also suit a cleric who works as an undertaker or a caretaker in a cemetery, making sure the dead continue to rest in peace. (In my games these have often been followers of Kelemvor.) A grave cleric would also make a good zombie hunter, with the ability to detect undead and mark them for termination. If you’re playing Tomb of Annihilation, this would be a good reason that such a character would arrive in Chult. They might have heard that the jungles are swarming with undead, and have arrived with a bit of a saviour complex, thinking they’re going to cleanse Chult of zombies. (Good luck with that!)