The newest cleric subclass is known as Forge Cleric. First released in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, this unique class offers tons of options for both frontline combat or spellcasting. There is a lot of fun to be had, and a well-built character can fit a number of roles in a party. For example, it is possible to sling a battleax and forgo magic entirely. You could also dedicate your character to magic while still being able to tank substantial damage. If we’ve piqued your interest, strap in and check out our Forge Clerics 5e Guide.
The Ultimate Forge Cleric 5E Guide
There is a lot to like about the Forge Domain. If you dream of romping through battle swinging a giant ax, that is certainly possible. There are several Forge Cleric builds that can soak up damage, and damage output is solid even if you don’t use magic. The Forge Cleric is still a full caster, however, giving you plenty of options for a magic-centric build. As another bonus, the domain spells are both powerful and typically unavailable for clerics.
As we mentioned above, we are a big fan of the Forge Cleric domain spells. There are 10 spells in total. There are many options outside of the standard Cleric Spells in 5E; some are available at level one and all available by level 9.
The good stuff starts at level one with Searing Smite. This is a strong option for increasing your weapon damage, and it remains valuable at higher levels. At level five, both spells are game-changers. Elemental weapon offers a cool alternative to combat while protection from energy is a critical defensive spell.
The spells only get better at higher levels. Fabricate and Wall of Fire are both useful, but fairly situational. At the top of the list are Animate Objects and Creation. Neither of these spells is naturally available for a cleric, and both of them are excellent. All told, the Forge Cleric could have my favorite set of domain spells.
There are two important bonus proficiencies that come with the Forge Domain: heavy armor and smith’s tools. The heavy armor proficiency is especially important for combat, as it allows for a powerful tank even without a shield or magic. Adding in magical items could build a substantial AC. There are a lot of offensive options for a Forge Cleric, but heavy armor is usually a part of the equation for these characters.
Smithing tool proficiency might not mean anything in combat, but they add a lot of flavor to a character. While there is obviously value for roleplaying purposes, forging tool proficiency could play a practical role as well. In fact, there are countless directions a quest could go regarding crafting weapons or other important items.
Blessing of the Forge
Available starting at level 1, Blessing of the Forge is one of the mainstay features of the Forge Cleric. According to the Xanathar’s Guide:
At 1st level, you gain the ability to imbue magic into a weapon or armor. At the end of a long rest, you can touch one nonmagical object that is a suit of armor or a simple or martial weapon. Until the end of your next long rest or until you die, the object becomes a magic item, granting a +1 bonus to AC if it’s armor or a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls if it’s a weapon. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
In words, you have the power to buff a suit of armor or basic weapon. This +1 buff to AC or damage remains with the weapon for as long as you like, or until your character dies. It goes without saying that this feature is useful. It is especially powerful in the early game, as a +1 weapon or armor can go a long way for a level 1 character. What’s more, you need a long rest to use this ability.
While many will use this weapon or armor for their own character, anyone in your party may use it. Technically, the item remains enchanted even if your party manages to lose it, at least until your character uses Blessing of the Forge again. This is helpful if you manage to acquire +1 armor and weapons through other means and can use your bonus on another party member’s item.
The book is very specific on what Blessing of the Forge applies to. Some of the items that may not receive the bonus include:
- Magical weapons
- Weapons other than simple or martial
Channel Divinity: Artisan’s Blessing
The second unique ability held by Force Clerics is Artisan’s Blessing. Available at Level 2, Artisan’s Blessing offers some tremendous creativity – even if Wizards of the Coast quickly shot down many attempts to break this feature.
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to create simple items. You conduct an hour-long ritual that crafts a nonmagical item that must include some metal: a simple or martial weapon, a suit of armor, ten pieces of ammunition, a set of tools, or another metal object. The creation is completed at the end of the hour, coalescing in an unoccupied space of your choice on a surface within 5 feet of you. The thing you create can be something that is worth no more than 100 GP.
As part of this ritual, you must layout metal, which can include coins, with a value equal to the creation. The metal irretrievably coalesces and transforms into the creation at the ritual’s end, magically forming even nonmetal parts of the creation. The ritual can create a duplicate of a nonmagical item that contains metal, such as a key if you possess the original during the ritual.
For many players, the first response to this Channel Divinity was to abuse it. Many hoped to manufacture high-priced items using inexpensive metal objects. However, you should probably avoid getting cute. Most DMs are unlikely to allow you to craft some costly item one piece at a time to avoid what would normally take months to forge.
Uses for Artisan’s Blessing
That does not mean Artisan’s Blessing is not useful. When you are in a pinch for a weapon or armor but have gold to spare, you only need an hour to create something useful out of thin air. Where Artisan’s Blessing gets really useful is when your creative juices get flowing. Trapped in a pit? create a ladder. Locked in a dungeon? Craft a key. Want to check out that gold vein in the side of a mountain? Here’s a pickax! What you make of this Channel Divinity is up to you.
Soul of the Forge
Soul of the Forge is one of the highlights of playing a Forge Cleric, which is one of our favorite parts of our Forge Cleric 5E Guide. Using Soul of the Forge is straight forward:
Starting at 6th level, your mastery of the forge grants you special abilities:
• You gain resistance to fire damage.
• While wearing heavy armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.
So, two important special abilities that help you tank: fire resistance and a +1 AC bonus to heavy armor. The resistance bonus is excellent. After all, fire is the type of elemental damage you are most likely to face in many instances. When a dragon comes calling, you might be able to soak up a lot of damage for your party.
I find the +1 bonus interesting, as this flat bonus is pretty rare in 5E. It is useful on its own, but potentially nasty when stacked with heavy armor already bonused with Blessing of the Forge. By level six, your Forge Cleric could hit 20 AC easily without even using a shield.
Another straightforward feature covered by our Forge Cleric 5E Guide is Divine Strike. This provides a free damage bonus with no additional action necessary.
At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with the fiery power of the forge. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 fire damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
Short and to the point: Divine Strike is a nice damage boost that costs you nothing. 1d8 of fire damage is nothing to turn your nose up at, but at level 14 that bonus increases to 2d8. Not bad for doing literally nothing in exchange.
Divine Strike is powerful on its own, but stacks well with a number of other spells as well. Few pair as well as Divine Strike and Searing Smite. By casting Searing Smite and relying on Divine Strike, you enjoy two separate flame damage bonuses. If you load Searing Smite in a higher spell slot, you could also get an additional d6 per level. At high levels, the amount of damage is insane.
How useful Divine Strike is to you will depend on how you build your character. If you lean into the spellcasting abilities of a Forge Cleric, this may not mean much to you. If you plan on swinging steel on the front lines, however, you’ll have a lot of fun with this one.
Saint of Forge and Fire
Saint of Forge and Fire is amazing. It’s powerful. For some, it’s too powerful. If you have read this guide through its entirety, you know that a powerful tank is a reoccurring theme for the Forge Cleric. Saint of Forge and Fire takes that to a whole new level. To wit:
At 17th level, your blessed affinity with fire and metal becomes more powerful:
-You gain immunity to fire damage
-While wearing heavy armor, you have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks.
The description is short, so read it again: i’ll wait. That’s right, those two sentences are short but they pack a lot of power. For starters, your character is entirely immune to fire damage. There is no item to use or ritual spell to wait on. Your days of suffering fire damage are effectively over. This type of immunity is rare, with only the Storm Sorcerer providing something similar. Outside of the Yuan-Ti racial bonus or some rare magical items, fire immunity is hard to come by.
But that’s not all! You get additional resistance buffs any time you wear heavy armor. (Another theme across the subclass). The resistance to nonmagical attacks from bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage adds even more tank to an already sturdy subclass.
Best Race for Forge Cleric 5E
A common question is “what is the best race for Forge Cleric in 5E?” While it is impossible to pick a “best” race, some races are a better fit than others. The consensus favorite for many players is hill dwarf. Below, we consider some of the best options available.
Dwarves make a lot of sense here. The quintessential craftsmen, Dwarves are a natural fit to the forging element of this domain. What’s more, Hill Dwarves are also not slowed down by heavy armor. Given the multiple heavy armor bonuses that come with this domain, Hill Dwarf is a good fit. It also opens up warhammers to your cleric build.
Arguably not as strong as the Hill Dwarf due to being slowed by heavy armor, a Wood Elf provides the bonused Wisdom helpful for any cleric. This race could be especially strong for characters built around spellcasting or bonuses weapons as opposed to tanking with heavy armor.
Races to Avoid
You might be tempted to choose Warforged as your Forge Cleric race. After all, the race has “forge” in the name! In seriousness, Warforged are heavy-tanked monsters that have built-in heavy armor. However, the game is explicit that their natural armor does not qualify as a heavy armor for bonus or spell purposes. This means the Warforged will miss out on most of the tank bonuses of this subclass! There are better options out there.
Likewise, Dragonborn offer little as far the bonuses go. A property built character might work and the breath weapon is always cool. However, Dragonborn abilities are not a natural fit for this domain.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Forge Cleric 5E
That wraps up our Forge Cleric 5E Guide. All in all, this is a very powerful subclass. If you build your character with tank in mind, it can become nearly impossible to kill over time. Thanks to Blessing of the Forge, this domain is useful from Level 1. Starting at Level 6, your options are especially powerful. If you have not tried playing a Forge Cleric now, I highly recommend it!