Arcana Cleric 5E Guide | Rules, Tips, Builds, and More

Arcana Cleric 5E

A domain located only in the fantastic Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, the Arcana Cleric worships gods of magic. Unlike the Knowledge domain, these clerics are less concerned with smarts and more about the pure power of spell-slinging. A lot of gods find this domain to be somewhat useful in their divine duties, but most have unique connections to elves, the moon, or dragons. So, what kind of magic tricks does this strange mixture bring? Pull out your holy symbol, don your robes and wizard hat, and we’ll find out in our Arcana Cleric 5E Guide!

Inscribe the Runes: Arcana Cleric 5E

The Arcana cleric is one of the most complex and unique domains ever introduced to 5e. It functions as a strange “utility cleric,” focused on having many options for different specific scenarios. On the one hand, this versatility is what makes Wizards powerful, so giving it to a d8 class with Cleric spells is great. However, some of the scenarios that this domain counter might be… A little too specific, especially with the domain spells. However, if there’s any Cleric that can handle any encounter a DM throws at a party, it’s this one.

Domain Spells

The domain spells are probably the worst options that the Arcana Cleric gets. However, since they are actually pretty strong, you know the rest of the domain has got some good tools.

This is box title
  • 1st Level – Detect Magic, Magic Missile
  • 3rd Level – Magic Weapon, Nystul’s Magic Aura
  • 5th Level – Dispel Magic, Magic Circle
  • 7th Level – Arcane Eye, Leomund’s Secret Chest
  • 9th Level – Planar Binding, Teleportation Circle

Ugh… I guess “Magic” is the word of the month for this domain.

There are quite a few potent spells on this list, especially early on. Detect Magic and Magic Missile are both crazy good for what they do; Magic Missile is the only significant damaging spell on the list, and Detect Magic might be the best Divination spell in 5e. They really pack level 1 full of good stuff!

Speaking of good stuff, Dispel Magic and Arcane Eye. When it comes to saving party members, Dispel Magic can never go wrong… Except for your GM, who probably forgot you had it. Arcane Eye is one of the best information spells in the game, and clever use of it can circumvent dangerous encounters.

The rest of the spells are… Fine. Magic Weapon is decent early on, to boost the damage of other characters. Nystul’s is occasionally good for non-combat campaigns, or when fighting an enemy wizard. Magic Circle and Leomund’s Secret Chest are both problematically specific. Magic Circle lets you choose from five enemy types, at least, but it’s an expensive solution. Leomund’s is a cute flavorful spell that is underused… Probably for good reason.

The level 5 options are strictly too situational to ever really be worth the slot. The teleportation just takes too much time, and Planar Binding requires a lot of time, investment, GM allowance, and money. You’ll be glad to have them there if a situation does arise… Though your gold pouch might not be so happy!

Arcane Initiate

The Arcane Initiate ability really starts the trend of the power that this domain has.

When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain proficiency in the Arcana skill, and you gain two cantrips of your choice from the wizard spell list. For you, these cantrips count as cleric cantrips.

Starting out with the more flavor-driven side of this package, a free proficiency is never bad. Arcana is a good skill for item identification and enemy knowledge. Nice and simple.

Now, to the fun part. One of the weaknesses of the Cleric cantrip list is a lack of damage. They get 3 cantrips that can lower the health of enemies, which is problematic for ranged characters. Wizards have no such weakness with their cantrips. Want ranged options? Firebolt, Poison Spray, Ray of Frost, Thunderclap, Frostbite, just to name a few. How about melee? Green Flame Blade, Booming Blade, and Shocking Grasp are just a couple viable options. These tend to have better debuffs, scaling, or damage types than Cleric cantrips as well, so they can be super useful for a cantrip game.

The level 8 ability down the line supports offensive cantrips, which is why we also suggest spreading out damage types. However, Wizards do have a few options that may be intriguing for clerics; Encode Thoughts, Mind Slither, Mage Hand, and Mold Earth to name a few. Check out our list for Wizard Cantrips if you’re not sure what to choose.

Channel Divinity: Arcane Abjuration

Oh boy, hope you’re ready for a novel. Level 2 gives you quite a few paragraphs.

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to abjure otherworldly creatures.
As an action, you present your holy symbol, and one celestial, elemental, fey, or fiend of your choice that is within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw, provided that the creature can see or hear you. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes any damage.

A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can’t willingly end its move in a space within 30 feet of you. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can only use the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.

After you reach 5th level, when a creature fails its saving throw against your Arcane Abjuration feature, the creature is banished for 1 minute (as in the banishment spell, no concentration required) if it isn’t on its plane of origin and its challenge rating is at or below a certain threshold, as shown on the Arcane Banishment table. 

Arcane Banishment

  • 5th Level – Banish CR ½ or Less
  • 8th Level – Banish CR 1 or Less
  • 11th Level – Banish CR 2 or Less
  • 14th Level – Banish CR 3 or Less
  • 17th Level – Banish CR 4 or Less

So, essentially, you get Turn Undead that now affects more creatures; the effects are the same, the save is the same. You can force celestial, elemental, fey, fiend, or undead to run with Channel Divinity.

Obviously, because of the options, this is better than just having Turn Undead. As we said before, this archetype brings versatility to the table, though occasionally at the expense of power. Nonetheless, the Turn effect is normally restricted to Undead for a reason; causing something to run until it is hurt is deadly. There is no additional save for them; you’ve taken them out of the fight for a full minute, unless the Wizard hits them accidentally or something.

The banishment effect is less strong. The CR caps are abysmally low, and you’ll be at the stage where you spending the action should kill that CR anyways. Or the Wizard’s Fireball should wipe them. And it’s not even permanent, so it’s worse than Destroy Undead. They just come back to annoy you. Use this Channel to cause fleeing against dangerous enemies, more than you banish useless ones.

Spell Breaker

So, what versatility does the level 6 ability grant this versatile archetype?

Starting at 6th level, when you restore hit points to an ally with a spell of 1st level or higher, you can also end one spell of your choice on that creature. The level of the spell you end must be equal to or lower than the level of the spell slot you use to cast the healing spell.

Oh. Oh my. This essentially says “any time you heal an ally with spells, cast Dispel Magic on them.” It is a weaker Dispel Magic, sure, but this ability can get insane. Let’s talk about two spells that work well with this;

Healing Word takes a bonus action, and can be scaled from Level 1 to 9. That means, as a bonus action, you can heal someone for okay health and remove a debuff of your choice. That’s insane efficiency, as it lets you heal someone, remove a debuff, and then cast a cantrip afterwards. Potentially strong stuff!

Mass Cure Wounds or Mass Healing Word. It’s an area of effect spell. And this does not put any limits on your dispels per turn. Watch as your GM’s – or your player’s – face falls into despair as an en masse Hold Person becomes negated. Listen to them grumble as they accept their new status as they waste a spell.

The downside is that you need to match spell levels with the enemy. But that shouldn’t come up too often and, hey, that’s what the actual Dispel Magic is for.

Potent Spellcasting

The damage dealing option for the Arcana cleric is as any seasoned cleric player would expect.

Starting at 8th level, you add your Wisdom modifier to the damage you deal with any cleric cantrip.

Okay, cool. You get some extra damage to your cleric cantri-

Wait… Your cleric cantrips… Didn’t the first ability transform some wizard cantrips to cleric ones?

This is why we suggest using your Arcane Initiate for damage options. Adding Wisdom to cantrips like Acid Splash and Green Flame Blade greatly increase Area of Effect damage for no cost. Firebolt and Chill Touch benefit by a bit with Wisdom damage. Out of all the Potent Spellcasting domains, this one easily becomes one of the top alternatives for damaging cantrips.

Arcane Mastery

So, like I said, the Domain spells leave a little bit to be desir-

At 17th level, you choose four spells from the wizard spell list, one from each of the following levels: 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th. You add them to your list of domain spells. Like your other domain spells, they are always prepared and count as cleric spells for you.

This subclass has something new right around the corner. Even if this said that you get 4 extra prepared spells, it’d be pretty good. But you get them from the Wizard spell list. And they become Domain spells.

You can take quite a few options at 6th level. Area of Effect options like Chain Lightning, defensive options like Investiture of Stone, aggressive options like Flesh to Stone, just to name a few. Level 6 is an awfully powerful level, mostly for crowd control, but pick whatever your party needs most!

7th level has some more crowd control options, with Prismatic Spray, Mirage Arcane, Forcecage, and Reverse Gravity as good options. Defensively, Plane Shift and Etherealness are okay, and likely to be used. Simulacrum or Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion sound cool, but… You’re probably not using them TOO often. 

8th level is, surprise surprise, mostly for crowd control. Dominate Monster, Feeblemind, Maze, Mind Blank, and Power Word: Stun are all potent. Depending on your campaign, Sunburst can be okay, especially to monsters weak to it. Once again, Demiplane can be cool, but it tends to be unlikely to be used as often as other combative options.

And guess what 9th level specializes in? That’s right; killing things. Meteor Swarm, Power Word: Kill, and Weird are all solid options. Imprisonment or Gate can be cool if you have the money for it. Time Stop is not amazing on a Cleric, but can be a good setup tool if you have some Delayed Fireballs.

And all of these are Cleric spells, so Wisdom-based. Astounding. You only get one of each level, however, so think a lot before you pick your four.

5E Arcana Cleric
Credit: Juan Ochoa

Best Race for Arcana Clerics

For this subclass, I only have four words; Get. Your. Wisdom. High. Unlike a lot of clerics, this subclass cannot dedicate much to statistics other than their Casting stat, since so much of their kit is reliant on casting and having their spells be effective. Wisdom is overwhelmingly important to this class, to the point where you should sincerely ignore other options.

Hill Dwarf

Thanks to Booming Blade and Green Flame Blade, a Dwarf can make a good arcana cleric. You will need to be able to take the Heavily Armored feat, if your GM allows for feats, before really considering Dwarf. But, the area of effect options in melee range – with Hand of Radiance and what has already been mentioned – are useful up close. And the healthier the Cleric, the happier the party!


Volo’s Guide introduced the Firbolg race, which allowed players to add +2 to their Wisdom score to start. The only other option for this is the Kalashtar, which is an… okay race, at best. The Firbolg, however, get a lot of information abilities, temporary invisibility, and Disguise Self. That’s not only fun, that’s hilarious! Plus, the Firbolgs have a stereotype of being slow or traditional, so you’re in a position to prove them wrong with heinous amounts of arcane power.


What a tank of a race! Pick Medium Armor and watch as your versatile Wisdom increase, massive amount of health, and natural resistances make you surprisingly durable. And flavor-wise, it would make sense for the Warforged to be invested in magic, even if they’re not traditionally religious types.

Race Notes: Magic is Universal

When I say to drop everything and go for Wisdom, I am somewhat serious. However, don’t think that Wisdom is the only thing that matters. Races that get increases to Constitution often have interesting things to help clerics. If you’re feeling reptilian, Lizardfolk and Tortles are solid. And Humans will never be a horrific choice. Seriously consider increasing Wisdom, but remember to have fun while doing it.

Arcana Domain Gods

As perhaps expected, the Arcana Domain mixes the gods of Wizardry and generic magic with the Cleric’s normal suite of gods. You will most often focus your efforts on gods of arcane magic and magical arts. You will also find yourself mixed with gods of races related to magic, such as Elves and Dragons.

Azuth (Faerûn)

Magic. When you say magic, many would immediately think of one name in particular. The Lord of Spells is not the harbinger of magic, but brought magic to the point where it is today. The personal scion of the Lady of Mysteries, the First Magister is worshiped far and wide by magic users, and most Wizards mutter his name while deep in their studies.

Azuth is the Lawful Neutral god of Arcane Magic. As the Patron of Wizards, Azuth began life as a mortal wizard whose service to the Lady of Mysteries earned him godhood. He is a good-natured old man by personality, with a particular wit and love of wordplay. While he is a demigod, those who wish to understand magic to a deep level may call to him.

Worshipers of Azuth tend to be magical in nature. The clergy of Azuth exist only in places where potent magical guilds also reside. They serve as a magical administration to enable communication between different casters and to reinforce the Magebond. His complex and intimate relationship with the goddess Mystra means that most who worship Azuth also worship him.

Arcana Clerics of Azuth are integral for facilitating the connection between wizards and their not-so-distant God. Through Auguries and Communes, Clerics of Azuth bring their god to those worshiping arcane magic from a distance. Their personal studies remain neutral in the modern world of politics, making them seem distant, traditionalist, and non-confrontational.

Corellon (Forgotten Realms)

Scratched on walls and scribed on scrolls come the name of Corellon, the Creator of the Elves. The deity responsible for the construction of all Tel’Quessir is well-known to all races, whether it is in reverence or to curse at. He is held in the highest esteem amongst elves in particular, and that race feels his love more closely than the other fey he created.

Corellon is the Chaotic Good god of Elves and the creator of many Fey races. He is closely connected to the culture, innovation, and magic of Elvenkind. He is the elves’ image of perfection through reincarnation, and is often credited in the defense of elven borders. He is cautious of forbidden magic used by the Drow and angered by those who oppress or defile bodies of the dead.

As the leader of the Elven Pantheon, Corellon is most commonly worshiped by Elvenkind. Outside of Elves and Eladrin, he is sought after by creative souls who take inspiration from elves, such as Bards. These clerics are expected to uphold his ideals of freedom, defense of Elven culture, and avoiding corruption.

Arcana Clerics of Corellon will most likely be elven in some capacity. They channel the god Corellon specifically to further understand elven magic. As elves are a naturally magical race, Arcana Clerics are a conduit between an elf’s understanding of themselves, and often serves as a guide for those who wish to further pursue their magic. They also must be on the lookout for those Fey who might be privy to the Shadow Weave, a type of magic that easily corrupts.

Lunatari (Dragonlance)

The Order of the Red Robes, the pure neutral organization, know where they pull their power from. For every illusion they cast, they mutter a prayer to the Maid of Illusion. For every enchantment that confuses or obfuscates, they thank Luin. Their moon is critical for them – and every trickster – and she wants to know it. For she is Lunitari, the Illusionist daughter of Gilean.

Lunatari is the Neutral goddess of the Red Moon. She is an illusion specialist and trickster, whose Red Moon is seen as a symbol of trickery and obfuscation. She was born from a thought of her father Gilean, and is the cousin of Solinari and Nuitari. She attempts to be a middle ground between the two cousins, Neutral between them.

Worshipers of Lunatari tend to be those who are secretive, but neutral in nature. The Order of the Red Robes, for instance, are the ultimate neutral force in Dragonlance, dedicating themselves to balance. Any who worship the goddess are naturally excellent at illusions, enchantments, and trickery.

Arcana Clerics of Lunatari are the perfect members of her clergy. They embrace neutrality and develop their magic for the sake of knowledge and personal growth. They should be active in politics to ensure that neither side gets too much of an edge over another. They also may embrace any who seek magic like them, as long as the magic will not be used for an effort against balance.

Math Mathonwy (Celtic)

The Celtic God of Sorcery has a few rules specific to his household. As the god of magic, he wields a mighty magical staff that shall not be taken, but expects his minions to take power when they can. He demands service by his followers, but does not promise to cast spells to help them or protect them. And, as the owner of his household, he expects maidens to warm his feet at all times.

Math Mathonwy is the Neutral Evil Celtic god of magic. He is naturally selfish, and will only get involved in human affairs if there is a major magical event occurring. He only truly respects himself and requires full obedience by those around him. He is quite defensive of the maidens in his employ, though this could be seen as objectification more than anything else. 

Worshipers of Math Mathonwy are likely looking for magical power for themselves. They understand that the god they worship is not going to help them without major sacrifice or turmoil. But, they aren’t looking for aid: They’re looking for pure magical energy, and evil gods like Math Mathonwy offer that in spades.

Arcana Clerics of Math Mathonwy are expected to be extremely knowledgeable about magic. In reward for their worship, they may be granted wizard magic beyond the normal limits for a cleric… But, they should not expect their auguries or communes to be successful without proof of their power. Math Mathonwy only respects power, so power must be shown.

Wee Jas (Greyhawk)

In the Greyhawk universe, none wear as many hats as the goddess Wee Jas. The Ruby Sorceress is integral for any civilization to exist to a reasonable degree. Her name is uttered at Wizard’s study halls and in the courtroom. It is exclaimed in backstages of theaters and in funeral homes. Her hand is felt across the plane, and all respect her under one name or another.

Wee Jas is the Lawful Neutral goddess of magic, death, vanity, and law. She shows herself as an attractive woman of whatever culture she sends her avatar to. She is a benign death goddess and often allows undead that are created legally and with consent. She is not a moral goddess, concerned more with law than ethics. She supports self-beautification and access to magic.

Worshipers of Wee Jas are far and wide. Since her domains are so numerous, congregates come together from many different walks of life to engage in prayer. Lawyers, politicians, actors, magicians, and embalmers all find reasons to speak her name. They find common ground in pursuit of law, and necromancers and lawyers can find enjoyment in debating law issues in churches of Wee Jas.

Arcana Clerics of Wee Jas engage primarily with her knowledge of magical arts. They should focus on preserving the institution of magic in accordance with the law of the land. However, they should also engage on several of Wee Jas’s other fronts: Aiding with rituals to the dead, serving as jury members in courtrooms, or even helping the arts.

Example Feats for Arcana Domain Clerics

Arcana clerics have good damage and spell utility options through their access to potent Arcane magic. So, feats can enhance our defenses to give us an edge, letting us survive for much longer.

Fey Touched

Not exactly what you think of when “defensive feat” comes up, huh? The Fey Touched feat is an immensely useful feat that provides a massive amount of utility to our fledgeling Cleric. +1 Wisdom is stellar, providing you with a tiny bit of additional casting power. Very useful if you have an odd number for your Wisdom score.

Then, the other benefits. Being able to cast Misty Step for free once per day is a godsend. As a bonus action, teleporting 30 feet in any direction is great. You can reposition, chase someone down, or access areas that your DM wouldn’t expect. And you learn it as a 2nd level spell!

Then, you learn another 1st level spell with the same free-cast. While there are valid options, we recommend Silvery Barbs. It’s a very good reaction that is a good use of your 1st level spell slots, all the way to endgame.


There has never been a simpler feat than Resilient. It is one of the cleanest ways to get proficiency in a saving throw. And it even comes with a +1 to the prerequisite Ability Score! We almost always recommend using this for Constitution on a Cleric, though Dexterity can work sometimes. This is a great way to keep yourself safe and improve the chance that you keep your Concentration spells active.

Shadow Touched

We prefer Fey Touched over Shadow Touched feat, but both are very valid options. This feat comes with the same +1 Wisdom as Fey, which is nice if your Wisdom is odd. But, the more active parts of the feat are just as potent!

Invisibility is a consistently good out-of-combat spell in 5E. It provides ambush potential, run-away ability, or even scouting. It’s useful, but not always worth a full action. The 1st level spell options are much weaker than they are for Fey Touched, which stinks. We recommend either Silent Image if your DM is creative or Ray of Sickness if they aren’t. Color Spray can be handy in early-game control situations.


For staying alive, few feats can be as impactful as Tough. Tough provides a simple, potent +2 HP per level. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s as if you increased your Constitution by 4! That usually will let you tank one to two extra hits.

It isn’t necessarily better than taking the generic +2 to Constitution, though. Your Constitution save matters a lot, especially if you have a lot of Concentration Spells prepared! It’s a hard choice, though, and you should think on if you need the Con or not.

War Caster

War Caster is a great defensive and offensive feat. On the defense, you get advantage on Concentration checks. Many of the Cleric’s best spell slots lie in Concentration, so this is great for you. Then, you get the ability to cast a spell in place of taking an opportunity attack. This means you’ll be able to cast impactful spells like Banishment as someone tries to leave. Great for an otherwise defenseless cleric, in terms of melee combat.

Then there’s the ability to cast while holding weapons and shields. Not overly impactful, but occasionally comes up!

Multiclassing for Arcana Clerics

Arcana clerics don’t need their last two levels very much. What can they take instead?


Druid offers a very simple reward for multiclassing: Full spell levels! You’re replacing Divine Intervention and a single Ability Score Improvement with Wild Shape and the Druidic Circle. Legitimately strong options! Circle of the Moon provides a bonus action to gain a health shield, and other circles provide interesting support benefits or utility options. A fine option for a caster-driven Cleric.


Fighter is a traditionally strong multiclassing choice for any character, and it’s easy to see why! The Defense fighting style grants a small AC bonus, while Second Wind can put you back in the fight. But all of that pales in comparison to Action Surge, letting you cast two spells in a turn! An immense power spike that requires very little investment, and almost always a correct choice.


Paladin is a ton of investment, but provides the Arcana cleric with better defense, damage options in Smite, and okay spells for an aggressive cleric. It usually isn’t worth the investment compared to Fighter, but offers some utility and damage options outside of Fighter’s standard Action Surge.

Suggested Arcana Cleric Backgrounds

Arcana clerics are researchers, magicians, and town guides. But, that pales in comparison to the most important ingredient: The proficiencies! Try to get a skill proficiency that lets you use your massive Wisdom score more effectively.


Hermit is a strong background for Clerics, and offers a very fun feature. Medicine, Religion, and the Herbalism Kit are quite potent, letting you flex your Wisdom in a valid manner. An extra language, like Elven, can be useful for conversations. Then, you get some basic equipment… And a Herbalism Kit! Nice to have early on.

The feature is fun, but requires a DM with a very creative mind. Keep it in mind, but don’t expect it to be easy to work into every campaign.


This background, from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, offers an impressive skill suite. Insight, Investigation, and Perception are all stellar, though we suggest drifting towards Investigation and Perception. Perception is a must-have for Clerics, since it is a common skill in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. Disguise Kits and Thieves’ Tools are also incredibly potent, improving your ability to infiltrate and even letting you help pick locks!

The equipment options are fine. A Magnifying Glass is funny, and the trinket is fine. Nothing irregular or powerful here. You’ll have to invest in a Thieves’ Tools yourself!


Outlander provides some exceptionally basic benefits for you, and lets you become a sort of Magical Explorer. Athletics and Survival are solid skills to have around, Survival letting you flex your Wisdom! Musical instruments are… Acceptable, potentially letting you make money in towns or distract people. A language (like Sylvan or Dwarven) is great, and your equipment is good enough to work with.

The feature is actually very strong. Being able to always harvest free food every day is always useful. And you can flex your knowledge well in most campaigns. Legitimately strong feature!

How to Play Arcana Clerics

Out of Combat

  • Remember Your Domain Spells! You always have access to your list of domain spells, so make the most of them! Detect Magic, Nystul’s Magic Aura, Dispel Magic, Magic Circle, Arcane Eye, and Teleportation Circle all have their uses out of combat!
    • Don’t be afraid to prepare some Cleric spells for out-of-combat scenarios. You can transform most spells into useful magic through Domain Spells, so having utility magic is very valid.
  • Spell Breaker can Stop Some Things! If you heal someone, you might be able to break specific curses, like Blindness/Deafness, for free! Don’t be afraid to prick someones finger if you want to end a spell on them freely.

In Combat

  • Use primarily Cantrips. Cantrips are about as strong as weapon attacks, and will eventually deal extra damage equal to your Wisdom. Get used to having a small swathe of cantrips – both Cleric and Wizard cantrips – and using them in different combat situations.
  • Memorize what things you can turn. Arcane Abjuration is highly situational, but it can guarantee that some monsters are unable to fight. Spending your turn causing a creature to run is handy.
  • Spell Breaker is a strong feature… In specific situations. Using a bonus action to cast Healing Word while also ending an extra spell effect? You got it! Try to keep this in mind while you’re in fights.
  • Remember to collect strong damaging spells for Arcane Mastery. Always having strong damaging options prepared with Arcane Mastery opens you up to prepare utility spells with your high level spell slots. You can always turn them into high-damage, high-impact spells!

Arcana Cleric FAQ

Is Arcana A Good Domain?

Arcana is a fine domain, combining the Cleric’s strong durability and stellar spell list with the great spell list of the Wizard. It is not the best domain, since it just adds versatility to an already versatile class without making them strictly stronger in any sense.

Does Arcane Abjuration Permanently Banish?

No, arcane abjuration banishes a creature for a maximum of 1 minute. This banishment only works on lower CRs compared to the character’s cleric level.

What Book is the 5E Arcana Domain in?

The Arcana Domain is found in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, on page 125.

What are Arcana Gods Like?

Arcana Gods are specifically interested in the Arcane schools of magic. This means they tend to be gods of innately magical beings, like Elves, Sorcerers, or Dragons, as well as the gods of Wizards.

Arcana Cleric Example Build

As an important note, we will be using every race’s base Lineage bonuses for this example build. If your Game Master allows you to choose racial stat bonuses, this choice is no longer as impactful! We will also assume that your Game Master will also let us use most books.

We’re going to use a Warforged Arcana Cleric of Azuth. While the Warforged doesn’t offer much in terms of versatility – unlike a Human or Half-Elf – we’ll be relying on its innate durability mixed with the Arcana Cleric’s extremely powerful spell list. We’ll also choose the Investigator background from Van Richten’s book, since having the additional utility from Perception and Thieves’ Tools will be quite needed! Our Warforged skill will be Persuasion so we can talk with others. Our tool will be Alchemist’s Supplies, for the minor utility it offers.

We will also be using the Standard Array for determining stats. So, 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8. This is not used by all GMs, but we find it to be useful for fairness’s sake.

While we normally recommend new players use the game’s default starting gear, we really want to start with Thieves’ Tools! Let’s take the average Lump Sum – 200 gp – and work from there. We don’t care much for melee combat, so we can save money by getting a Dagger, basically “replacing” a Mace with the Thieves’ Tools. That leaves us with a ton of gold for early bribes, bartering, or purchasing miscellaneous, campaign-based equipment. You can even afford Alchemist’s Supplies, if that tool interests you!

We also get to choose a free language! We went with Draconic, which isn’t the most common language. But, it makes sense for our character’s background, since Draconic is an inherently magical language.

5E Arcana Cleric Build
Race: WarforgedAbility Scores: STR 8, DEX 14, CON 15 (13 + 2), INT 10, WIS 16 (15 + 1), CHA 12Proficiencies: Insight, Investigation, Medicine, Perception, Disguise Kit, Thieves’ ToolsStarting Equipment: Dagger, Light Crossbow with 20 Bolts, Holy Symbol, Priest’s Pack, Scale Mail, Shield, Thieves’ Tools, Magnifying Glass, Picture of a Crime, Common Clothes, 77 gpLanguages: Common, Draconic
LevelsNew FeaturesChoices To Make
1-Spellcasting-Divine Domain (Arcana)
-Arcana Domain Spells (1st Level)
-Arcane Initiate
Whew! We’ve already made a ton of choices! Let’s make a few more.Cantrips: We start with only a few cantrips, and get up to 5. Start with 1 Aggressive and 1 Support cantrip: Our favorites are Toll the Dead and Guidance. Then, your last cantrip can either be aggressive or supportive. Something like Spare the Dying can come in handy. Or Mending for your Thieves’ Tools!Spellcasting: Magic can constantly change for Clerics, which is why they are so powerful! To start, you can always take a few default good options. Healing Words and Shield of Faith are great options early. So is Command, Guiding Bolt, and Bless/Bane. Arcane Initiate: You don’t just get Cleric Cantrips. Other than the Arcane skill, we need to select some extra cantrips! We suggest taking aggressive cantrips with utility, like Frostbite. Or, you can take supportive cantrips like Minor Illusion, Prestidigitation, or even Shape Water!
2-Channel Divinity (1/rest)
-Channel Divinity: Arcane Abjuration
Arcane Abjuration is okay against the specific targets that you can Turn. However, it isn’t going to be useful all of the time. You’ll have to make up for this with excellent spell selection! Protection from Evil and Good is usually pretty good.
3-2nd Level Spells
-Arcana Domain Spells (3rd Level)
Welcome to 2nd level spells! Spells like Blindness/Deafness and Hold Person can really hinder your opponents. Silence is a crazy anti-mage spell, and Spiritual Weapon is a strong damage option.
4-Ability Score ImprovementSadly, we’re going to pay for selecting the immense safety of the Warforged. We’ll basically need to select +2 Wisdom for the first two Ability Score Improvements. I know, quite lame. But, we need to boost our Difficulty Checks on our spells if we want to influence fights. And the Warforged’s racial traits are really good for survivability!
5-3rd Level Spells
-Arcana Domain Spells (5th Level)
-Destroy Celestial, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, or Undead (CR ½)
Welcome to the third level of spell slots. Get used to scanning through this list: There are killers here! Check out spells like Mass Healing Word, Protection from Energy, or Remove Curse.
6-Channel Divinity (2/Rest)
-Spell Breaker
No choices required from class. Check out other level three options and swap them out when needed! Glyph of Warding can protect your camp or room, Life Transference is a massive heal, and Revivify is the earliest that you can bring people back to life. Spirit Guardians is great for damage!
7-4th Level Spells
-Arcana Domain Spells (7th Level)
Level 4 spell slots are slightly less impactful than level 3 was. You’ll still get strong control tools like Banishment and Stone Shape.Heightening Spells: Always be on the look out for spells that you want to cast at higher level. Damaging spells are great for bring to higher spell levels. Dispel Magic is really nice to have at higher levels, too!
8-Ability Score Improvement
-Destroy Celestial, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, or Undead (CR 1)
-Potent Spellcasting
Once again, a boring Ability Score Improvement for our poor Warforged. We’re gonna collect our +2 Wisdom to put us to the max of 20. We have the best DCs we could ask for, now! At least, without magical items. Cantrips are also crazy strong at this point.
9-5th Level Spells
-Arcana Domain Spells (9th Level)
You have a quite long spell list for level 5. Dispel Evil and Good is situational, Greater Restoration is situational but comes up often. Holy Weapon is a great support option, and Summon Celestial is a great summoning spell.
10-Divine InterventionDivine Intervention has a 10% chance to succeed, making it not useful in combat yet. Consider using it out-of-combat for things like a free Augury. In the meanwhile, keep reading your level 5 spell list for winners like Dawn, a decent combat control tool.
11-Destroy Celestial, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, or Undead (CR 2)
-6th Level Spells
You’re more than halfway there! Spells like Harm and Heal are must-prepares. Blade Barrier is a decent control tool. True Seeing is a great counter tool, if you know you’re going against invisible folks.
12-Ability Score ImprovementFinally, we can get some feats! We are at an excellent point in stats, so it’s too juicy to not take Resilient for Constitution. That puts us to 16 Constitution, and gives us proficiency in Constitution saves. That’s a really important one to have for us, since we need it for Concentration checks. This massive boost for your Concentration should be noticeable right away.
13-7th Level SpellsThis spell level offers some powerful solutions to many different problems. Divine Word can secure kills, Fire Storm is a gigantic Area of Effect, Resurrection is a fantastic healing spell, and Plane Shift is great travel.
14-Destroy Celestial, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, or Undead (CR 3)Nothing here. Keep scanning through your spell list to find strong magic for later game. Guardian of Faith is impactful, for instance. Speak with Dead is a good problem-solving tool.
15-8th Level SpellsWe’re almost there! Check out some spells like Antimgaic Field, Control Weather, and Sunburst. You can really swing a fight into your favor now!
16-Ability Score ImprovementIf only we could realistically take Fey Touched! Oh well. We can instead take War Caster to further buff out our Concentration Checks while becoming a much larger threat to melee enemies. They’ll try to scoot away from a weak little Cleric only to get targeted by Banishment!
17-9th Level Spells-Destroy Celestial, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, or Undead (CR 4)
-Arcane Mastery
And now we’re at 9th level spells! World ending magic like Gate is here, as are powerful healing spells like Mass Heal and Power Word Heal.Arcane Mastery: This is a crazy strong ability! Our late game options are superb, but we are limited to high level spells… Let’s make them count!Let’s learn Disintegrate for 6th, Force Cage for 7th, Dominate Monster for 8th, and Wish for 9th. Disintegrate is solid damage, Force Cage is excellent combat control, Dominate Monster can turn a fight in your favor, and Wish… Is literally anything.
18-Channel Divinity (3/rest)Keep rotating through spells and learning as much as you can about the divine list! At this point, even spells like Forbiddance can be important for defending castles.Multiclassing: At this point, we’d likely multiclass to Fighter or Druid. The Cleric no longer offers much utility, outside of some few additional spells. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll simply gain additional spell slots.
19-Ability Score ImprovementAt this point, we’re pretty happy with what we have. Let’s get Tough to improve our health pool. We really need to survive turns! This might let us survive and cast Mass Heal, completely resetting everyone’s health so they can try again.
20-Divine Intervention ImprovementKeep cycling your spells! We have options remaining that we haven’t talked about, like Commune, that help you solve problems.Divine Intervention is now a consistent combat solution. Even out-of-combat, you can do things like refresh your spell slots, if your DM agrees! Surely, an Arcana god would fulfill that request!

Conclusion – Our Arcana Cleric 5E Guide

A powerful domain with a lot of versatility. What struggles in the Domain spell list easily gets picked up by the insane support abilities and defensive options it gets. The ability for the Cleric to get even more Crowd Control is astonishing, and it could easily change encounters for the better. Consider this subclass if you’re tired of making Wizards or Warlocks, and watch as you become the Swiss Army Knife of any party.

Want to see your other Cleric options or how to optimize your character in general? Check out our Comprehensive Cleric 5E Guide!


  1. The Arcana Cleric is one of my favorite variants. For the Wizard cantrips I take shocking grasp and chill touch, as the melee cantrip will do more damage than any weapon the Cleric has access to (simple weapons only) meaning I only have to worry about Wisdom.
    For my race I go Half-Elf (I always play Half-Elf).
    Starting stats, 8,16,14,10,16,10.
    Background, Entertainer. I use the rules on page 125 to trade disguise kit for thieves’ tools. Instrument: Lute.
    Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Stealth, Arcana, Insight, Perception, Performance, Persuasion.
    He’s basically a “fill in the blanks” character.
    Obviously as a Cleric he’s good support for the rest of the party in combat. If they lack a rogue he can scout and open locks fairly well. He’s somewhat persuasive, and can act as a face if there’s nobody else in the party who’s a dedicated Charisma character. He’s very perceptive and insightful.
    Remember to take Wish as your 9th level Wizard spell.
    Also remember that your 20th level appeal to your deity is automatic, so if you burn out your wish just ask for your deity to restore it. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.