The Tal’dorei Campaign Setting Reborn has an impressive number of character options for Dungeon & Dragon 5th Edition. Despite being third-party, Darrington Press is trusted by Wizards of the Coast, and this guide shows their competence for game development! They do have a tendency towards the macabre, and this domain is no different. The Blood Domain embraces the gods who influence the life force, and use it to grant extra power. Hemocraft is rarely seen as a positive thing, but these clerics are trusted for defense and offense alike. Do you wish to take on this blood magic to benefit your cleric power? If you do, our Tal’dorei Blood Cleric 5E guide will teach you the odds-and-ends of this class.
Homebrew Content: This subclass is not official WOTC material.
The Crimson Gods: Blood Cleric 5E
The Blood Domain is an interesting concept for a Cleric. They have a very unique mix of aggression and utility. Most Cleric domains get a healthy amount of defense, or even healing! This is a support Cleric with the ability to kill when needed, which makes it a potent force. Combined with the fantastic Cleric spell list, this class promises to be one of the strongest choices for a Cleric who needs to be able to take people down. This subclass is another play on blood magic from Critical Role, similar to the Blood Wizard Subclass.
To start, the Blood Cleric gets a few spells that it will always have prepared. They get the following Domain list.
This is an interesting list, though not necessarily strong. The main potency of the list is near the end of your levels. False Life and Sleep are both strong early, but do not scale well into the late game. 8 temporary HP isn’t necessarily worthless, and is actually pretty great early. And Sleep can be an encounter-winning spell at early levels. However, once you reach a certain point, you don’t want to spend first-level spell slots on False Life. You don’t even want to spend higher level spell slots on it! These spells will carry you until higher level, but should be replaced with Shield of Faith and other strong 1st levelers.
Now, Hold Person. That’s a great spell! As long as the target is a Humanoid, you can basically take them out of the fight. Or set up for some really high damage. Ray of Enfeeblement is kind of mediocre, but it can be handy for making a high-level boss a bit weaker. But, it can be a bit too situational to be great all the time. It only halves the damage of Strength attacks.
Haste and Slow are both extremely strong spells. You’ll need a heavy hitter to make use of it, like a Barbarian or Paladin. But, Haste is otherwise a very impactful spell for a frontline or even backline weapon attacker. Slow is much stronger in general, countering spellcasters and attackers alike.
Blight is a mediocre blasting spell, but Clerics don’t have too many damage dealing methods. This at least has additional utility. Stoneskin is a bit situational. Against beasts or armies of non-magical men, this can be quite effective, and even encounter-winning if your strongest tank can solo them all. However, by the time you get this, it wouldn’t be unthinkable that most enemies had magical weapons of some kind. Budget accordingly.
Dominate Person and Hold Monster are both immensely strong. Both of these spells take someone out of the fight while positively influencing the damage that your party can deal to enemies. Dominate Person can also be used in social situations to ruin someone’s reputation or open doors for you. Hold Monster is just a generally incredibly potent combat spell. Overall, this list is very impactful. Your first level spells will carry you until you get your more impactful combat spells. And your 5th level spells are insane!
At level 1, you are proficient in martial weapons. Martial weapons are strictly stronger versions of simple weapons, with some extra utility.
Great, but suggests that you should be using weapons. You could be a ranged cleric with a bow, while benefiting from high Dexterity. Or, you can use weapons like Greatswords and be a high-damaging melee character. If you plan on going melee, make sure your armor can support you heading into the frontline! You can either get Heavy Armor, or get just enough Dexterity to max out your AC with medium armor. Whatever you choose, you’ll want your weapon to be fairly accurate for your level 8 ability.
Don’t discount your cantrips, and your Wisdom is more influential than your weapon stats. But, keep your weapon stats high enough to deal consistent damage in the lategame.
Also at level 1, you get another damage-centric ability. Whenever you spend a spell-slot that deals damage to an enemy (and doesn’t have a duration), you will deal necrotic damage to living creatures equal to 2 + spell level. So, a level 1 Inflict Wounds now does 3d10 + 3 Necrotic damage.
This is an incredibly impactful ability. Cleric spells deal decent damage to a single target and miserable damage in a large area of effect. This ability makes your single target damage quite potent early on, though doesn’t increase endgame damage by much. A Harm spell deals 14d6 damage, and this ability would only add 8 damage on top of that. That’s still equivalent to an extra 4d4, which isn’t nothing.
What this spell helps with quite a bit is the Cleric’s area of effect spells. Flame Strike, for instance, does a terrible 8d6 total damage with a level 5 spell slot. Dropping another 7 guaranteed damage on top of that 8d6 makes the spell much better. It actually does the same average damage as a level 5 Fireball now!
Clerics don’t have too many spells that benefit from this ability. Since the duration has to be Instantaneous, and you need to spend a spell slot, you actually only have 6 Cleric Spells that benefit from it. You get to add Blight to the spell list for a total of 7 spells, so…
- Fire Storm
- Flame Strike
- Inflict Wounds
- Life Transference
These are all of the spells that you naturally learn that benefit from this ability. And Life Transference actually hurts you, though it heals quite a bit for an ally. You’ll heal someone for 2 * 4d8+5 if you cast it at base, which is pretty impressive.
Overall, this is a pretty fantastic ability hampered by the lacking Cleric instantaneous spell list. If you wish, you can talk to your DM about spells like Guiding Bolt, which only deal damage once.
Channel Divinity: Crimson Bond
At level 2, you get the Cleric’s new use for their Channel Divinity. When you spend your Divinity, you can bond with a target in sight, or who you have the blood of. This bond allows you to know how far they are, as well as their hit points and conditions affecting it. You can take 2d6 damage to allow the target to make a Constitution save. On a fail, you can see or hear through their senses for a short amount of time. This has a limit of 1 hour, requires Concentration, and breaks the moment you get farther than 10 miles from the target.
This is a pretty wordy, fairly mediocre ability. This technically allows for stealth missions by allowing a Bandit to escape from your grasp, or let you infiltrate a party by having your high Charisma user enter instead of yourself. The ability to see through their sight, at the cost of a mere 7 average hitpoints, is pretty great. If you don’t use their senses, they can’t escape from you by running or hiding, and they have no save against this ability. It’s situational, but good for tracking and countering a hiding creature.
That being said, this has negative combat uses since the Cleric’s list has such stellar Concentration spells. You can’t really use this if you get ambushed, and taking damage will nullify this quite quickly. Just use it to allow a creature to lead you right back to its den. It’s a bit hard to make use of just because the bond is basically only sensory.
This does mean all of your uses of Channel Divinity are fairly situational. Not great!
Channel Divinity: Blood Puppet
At level 6, you get another use for your Channel Divinity. You can target a blood-filled creature, living or dead, within 60 feet of you, as long as it is no bigger than Large. With a Wisdom saving throw – negated for dead or unconscious targets – you can Charm a target, like Dominate Monster, This gives the creature some minor semblance of life. They can move half their speed and either interact with an object, make one attack, or hang out on their turn. It follows your orders and acts right after your initiative. If the creature is living, it gets to make a Wisdom save at the end of every turn. This ability lasts for 1 minute or until you stop concentrating. At level 17, you get to target a Huge creature.
This is a very, very fun ability. Your Channel Divinity finally has a constant combat threat; a summon! Large or smaller isn’t too hard to get, as long as you aren’t fighting Undead all of the time. And the summon gets to keep its stats, meaning a Warlord’s corpse can be incredibly influential during fights. When you animate bodies, you also aren’t restricted from manipulating a corpse again. And the ability doesn’t state how much health the creature has. So, if your DM allows you to “heal” the monster to full every time you use it… This can be a massive headache! Just carry around a corpse of the most recent living boss monster you’ve fought, and you can have a pretty outstanding Action that doesn’t spend spell slots!
Alternatively, if you fight a creature and they fail this Wisdom save, they are in deep trouble. Charms do not inherently end when a friend deals damage to them. So, you can Charm a big threat and, every turn they fail the save, they sit there and do nothing. That’s right, your Channel Divinity can be a budget Hold Monster!
The only thing this doesn’t do great is handle social situations. Your Puppet can’t talk, they just walk, interact, and pick their nose. You can use a corpse to check for traps and pull a far-away lever, but that’s about it for problem-solving. Still more than expected!
This is a significant boon for your Channel Divinity. Just make sure you always have a blood-filled target. If you’re fighting Constructs, this ability isn’t nearly as good.
Also at level 6, you can cosplay as a Wizard. By taking damage, you can regenerate lost spell slots. The damage you take is 1d8 per spell level, and you can regenerate up to half of your level worth of spell levels. For instance, at level 6, you can take 3d8 damage to regenerate a 3rd level slot, 3 1st level slots, or a mix of 1 1st level and 1 2nd level slot.
Cleric spells are really good. Like, insane. This damage you take is well-worth it to get some spells back. Use this ability to regenerate defensive 1st level spells, or massive heals of 6th level once you reach level 12. You will have to understand your spell list quite well if you want to make the best use of this ability.
You may also want to use information-gathering spells to ensure your regenerated slots are important. You can use Crimson Bond to check for targets in your future, and then generate spells that can help you raid a Bandit Fort, or fight a dragon.
This is a great and flexible ability! It’s worth playing Blood Domain for this alone.
At level 8, your weapon deals bonus Necrotic damage on each hit. This is 1d8 immediately, and then 2d8 at level 14.
Your weapons dealing 4-9 extra average damage is no joke! This damage is also multiplied on critical hits, since they are technically weapon dice added to an attack. You are a bit of a threat with your weapons now! It’s only once per turn, so you’re not benefiting much from Extra Attack or Haste.
Weapons are now stronger than Cantrips, so hopefully you kept your Dexterity or Strength relatively high. Use weapons instead of cantrips when you need to do low but consistent damage, and this ability will help you quite a bit.
Vascular Corruption Aura
The last ability that you get from your domain is a bit of a doozy! At level 17, you can spend an action to make a 30 ft aura. Enemies within this aura that enter it, or start their turn in it, take 3d6 necrotic damage with no save if they have blood. Healing is halved for any creature with blood in the aura. It lasts for 1 minute, does not take concentration, and is only once per day.
This is a fairly solid ability. 3d6 damage guaranteed to most enemies is good, and a 30 ft radius can even be used by bow-wielding Clerics. Halving healing can come in handy in some specific cases.
However, at this point, you’re spending your action for 10 damage a round. That’s not awful but not exactly the most impactful spell you could use. Halving healing will help you take down some cleric-having bosses, but they can also just… leave your aura and heal up outside of it. You’ll need other ways to lock down your enemies if you want to ensure this ability is as strong as possible. Overall, a perfectly reasonable use of your action, but not going to instantly swing a fight in your favor.
Best Race for Blood Clerics
Blood Clerics are a bit weird. They need Wisdom, with how many spells and saves they force you to throw. They also like to use weapons. Martial Weapons are strong, and dealing additional damage on top of the damage a Martial Weapon does is good enough. So, we’re looking for Strength or Dexterity on top of Wisdom.
These gentle giants from Volo’s Guide to Monsters are great for our build. They have that +2 Wisdom, +1 Strength that we’re looking for. They also have the ability to cast Detect Magic and Disguise Self innately, granting them some infiltration abilities that work with the Blood Domain’s innate abilities. The ability to turn invisible as a bonus action is fine, allowing for fairly explosive turns. Overall, not the most flashy race to be, but a great statline and solid problem solving in a race? That’s worth a lot!
Aarakocra or Owlin
Aarakocra from Elemental Evil Player’s Companion are quite strong, with +2 Dexterity, +1 Wisdom, and an impressive fly speed. However, if your DM wishes for you to use the version released in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, then the bird people lose a significant amount of their power. In the case that you are using the newer version, we suggest using Owlin. The larger darkvision and Stealth are worth more than the talons and Gust of Wind. Either way, flight will allow you to position yourself for your Blood Aura and blasting spells, as well as good angles to shoot your opponent from with a bow.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Blood Domain
The Blood Domain is immensely powerful, in a way fairly different from most Cleric archetypes. This is a fresh view on an offensive divine archetype that is much-appreciated. If you are willing to play with 3rd party classes, then the Blood Domain is actually quite fun and impressively powerful. Its early game is pretty mediocre, but it reaches some strong, strong abilities later that emphasize Cleric’s strengths.