In Dungeons & Dragons, it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a pretty dire situation. Maybe you’re in battle and things aren’t going your way. Or perhaps you’re in a dungeon and can’t quite find your way around the place. In times like these you may need a helping hand, and that’s exactly where the Divine Intervention ability comes into play. But this is also a pretty complex ability to use properly. So let’s break down what Divine Intervention in D&D 5E is, and how it can be used in your game.
First things first, Divine Intervention is not as simple of an ability as some other class features in D&D 5E. There aren’t too many written rules around it for the most part. And its actual implementation is largely reliant on the creativity of the Dungeon Master. So as you read through this guide, try and think about a few ways that you could implement Divine Intervention in your game. It’s a fantastic ability when used properly to enrich the overall experience.
Divine Intervention is a 10th level cleric ability classes can unlock and use. You essentially call on your chosen deity and implore that they help you out in your current situation. The player needs to describe the assistance they would like, they then need to roll a percentile dice. If the roll is equal to or lower than the Cleric’s level, the deity then intervenes. But this is where things can get a bit complicated.
The exact nature of the intervention is determined by the DM. And in most cases it would be appropriate to use the effect of any Cleric specific spell or ability. But this is really up to the DM, the intervention could even have a negative impact depending on the deity, situation and the Dungeon Master’s mood. And once the Cleric reaches 20th level, the call for Divine Intervention will always succeed without the need to roll for it. But once the feature is used it cannot be called again for 7 days, or until after a long rest.
It’s hard to say exactly what Divine Intervention is or can be because it’s so dependent on the context of the moment. But broadly speaking, it’s a chance for a Cleric to deal some major damage in a battle, or get out of a sticky situation elsewhere. When it works it can be very useful, and when it doesn’t work it’s usually harmless. In practice, Divine Intervention is a class feature that’s really there to enrich the role play of the Cleric. It gives the player a chance to directly communicate with their chosen deity in a meaningful way. And depending on the situation, this could either be a great or terrible thing for everyone around them.
Divine Intervention has the potential to be one of the most powerful features in the game. After all, the player can directly request for something to happen, and in the right situation that could prove very powerful. The intervention could also come in the form of an incredibly powerful spell that 10th level players may not see for quite some time. And this may seem like an overpowered ability to some, but the balancing is pretty fair. Again, a Cleric can’t use it for 7 days or until after a long rest. And the actual intervention could even be pretty weak if the odds aren’t in the Cleric’s favor.
Ultimately, the ability is designed to enrich the relationship between a Cleric and their chosen deity. It allows the two to directly communicate for a short time and this develops the ongoing story between them. There could even be an interesting story to tell there. Maybe the deity routinely refuses to provide aid to the Cleric, or perhaps the Divine Intervention comes with a cost. Divine Intervention can also have some wild effects outside combat. For example, a Cleric could request their deity to resurrect a deceased character. In which case it’s likely that the storyline for the campaign could be thrown in a wildly different direction. But the exact nature of this will be up to the DM, because it’s up to them at the end of the day.
An interesting way for a DM to balance Divine Intervention is by treating the request literally. To the point where their wish is granted, but a potentially negative effect comes with it. It could be looked at as a sort of tumultuous wish from a malevolent being that takes the request very literally. Deities are naturally extremely powerful beings, so it would make sense if requesting their direct intervention came with some sort of cost.
But there’s also the chance that a Cleric doesn’t worship a deity at all, and instead decided to worship an ideal like peace. In this case there is no deity to call upon for aid. However, some kind of intervention could still occur, maybe from another deity who believes in the same ideal, or perhaps from another mystical force. This could be an opportunity for some really cool moments where a deity saves the day at the last minute. Or maybe it could result in an action that has some kind of consequence. Again, the nature of the intervention would be up to the DM in this case.
Divine Intervention gets really crazy when the Cleric and their chosen deity are both somewhat chaotic. If the deity’s domain is trickery, then you can expect the outcome of the intervention to be unexpected. In situations like this, Divine intervention actually becomes more of a potential liability for the overall party, because anything could happen. Of course, the power lies with the DM, and it’s up to them to decide how far they really want to go. It might not be much fun to have a party member that’s able to uproot the campaign and throw a massive wrench into things. But, it all depends on the kinds of players that are together and what everyone wants from the campaign.
For an even more tumultuous situation, let’s take a different example for how Divine Intervention would work. What if you were in a place where your deity couldn’t reach you? For instance, let’s say the party finds themselves in a place like Hell, where only darker and evil gods reign. In this case it’s unlikely that the Cleric’s plea would reach a benevolent being, and you could then have the Divine Intervention feature be unusable. Or if the Cleric worshipped an evil being anyway, the Divine Intervention could manifest itself in an even stronger way, since you’re in Hell right alongside them. You can use situations like these to add a lot of spice to the feature, but you’ll need to be careful about balance.
Divine Intervention is potentially an extremely powerful ability, but there are ways to balance it to make it much more predictable. The easiest way to do that is by restricting the intervention to only come in the form of a Cleric’s spell. And if you really want to limit its use, you could only let the deity use a select number of spells from the list. This would make the intervention much easier to predict and simpler to implement in the game.
You could also spend some time thinking about the deity that the Cleric worships. Think about the goals and nature of the deity, and their relationship with the Cleric. If their relationship seems tumultuous or if the deity is rather mean spirited, the intervention could be far less helpful. This would make sense from a story perspective, as well as something that could change as the game progresses and the party becomes more powerful. At which point the intervention that the deity provides wouldn’t necessarily be as fundamentally powerful.
The ability can be limited to working in some very situational circumstances to make things a bit less chaotic. For example, Divine Intervention could only be called upon if the Cleric is at very low HP. In this circumstance it would make sense if their deity intervened, and it would also help the party get through a difficult combat encounter. You could do other things like making it so a deity whose domain is Light can only intervene during the day. If a deity’s domain is death you could limit the intervention to only take place at night, or perhaps you could make it require a sacrifice. If you want to play with the rules a bit to make it fit better in your campaign, you can do that fairly easily.
Divine Intervention is a class feature that’s important to balance since things can get pretty crazy with it. And since balancing and restricting its use isn’t so difficult it may be a good idea to think about ways of doing that. It doesn’t help that the actual description of the feature in the Player’s Handbook is pretty vague about what the ability can or can’t do. So again, don’t be afraid to put some restrictions on the spell if you feel like it needs it.
This is a fair question to ask because both Divine Intervention and Wish share a lot of similarities. Divine Intervention is sort of a wish in its own way, the player is just directing their plea to an actual entity as opposed to simply wishing for something to happen. But that’s where the key difference lies. Divine Intervention is dependent on the Cleric and their deity, and the exact outcome of that intervention depends on several controlled factors.
On the other hand, Wish is a spell that can do almost anything within the bounds of fairness in a game of Dungeons & Dragons. One of the basic uses of the spell is to duplicate another spell of 8th level or lower. But there are plenty of alternative effects that the spell can achieve, too. One of the more powerful things someone could do is give up to 8 creatures immunity to a spell or magical effect. This could make some boss encounters trivial if used correctly. Wish can also undo a single recent event. This works by forcing a reroll that occurred in the last round, and there are plenty of situations where this would be extremely useful.
Wish is obviously very powerful, and while there are plenty of similarities between the two, Divine Intervention is also very different. And that’s because the latter is more about its role play aspect than its actual viability in the game. As mentioned before, Divine Intervention is a chance for a Cleric and their deity to interact with each other. Wish is simply an extremely powerful spell that has so many uses, but lacks that critical role play aspect.
But before any Clerics out there get excited about the idea of having two powerful wish granting abilities, Wish can only be used by Sorcerers and Wizards. But in fairness that makes a lot of sense considering Divine Intervention is almost the same thing, but with a lot more restriction. Divine Intervention is honestly a bit more fun, though. Again, Dungeons & Dragons is all about those little memorable moments in the role play. With Divine Intervention, the possibility of funny or awesome moments is pretty high. On the other hand, Wish is a very powerful ability but one that doesn’t feel as inventive. Again, it all depends on the situation and many other factors besides that. But don’t feel that Divine Intervention is simply a weaker version of Wish, because in practice the two abilities have plenty of differences.
That’s a wrap on our guide for Divine Intervention in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. It’s one of the coolest class features in the game, but one that can come in many different forms. And since its exact nature is dependent on the DM, you can get plenty of chaotic moments with this ability alone. Just make sure you stay on your DM’s good side if you plan to make use of this ability a lot.
If you’ve got any other questions related to Divine Intervention, be sure to leave a comment down below!