As the name suggests, the Tempest cleric is built on a theme of storms and natural magic. This starter subclass for the Cleric focuses on the aggressive usage of thunderbolts and lightning to slay their foes. Common character concepts for this class include vikings, warlords, demigods, or pious druids. So, let’s batten the hatches and get ready for rough waters because there’s a storm coming in our Tempest Cleric 5E Guide.
Brave the Storm: Tempest Cleric 5E
The Tempest domain in D&D 5E is rather simple. What it can possibly do is limited, but the abilities that it gets greatly increases the Cleric’s ability to be a frontline damage-dealer. That’s not factoring out ranged abilities, either. The Tempest Cleric’s ability to blast is largely improved over the baseline Cleric. The combination of fierce frontline tankiness and brutal new options for damage makes this a real hurricane of a domain.
Tempest Domain Spells
The Tempest domain gets blasting options outside of the standard 5E cleric spells that are affiliated with storms… Or at least, natural disasters. These options focus primarily on damage and combat control, with a few utility spells.
- 1st Level – Fog Cloud, Thunderwave
- 3rd Level – Gust of Wind, Shatter
- 5th Level – Call Lightning, Sleet Storm
- 7th Level – Control Water, Ice Storm
- 9th Level – Destructive Wave, Insect Plague
Most of these spells deal lower damage but focus on a longer duration. Call Lightning, for example, calls multiple bolts of lightning over a 10 minute period. Per round, it deals less damage than a traditional blasting spell, but it makes up for it with the ability to deal that damage more times. The same deal goes for spells like Ice Storm and Insect Plague.
Still, the domain has some blasting, with Thunderwave, Shatter, and Destructive Wave. Gust of Wind, Fog Cloud, Sleet Storm, and Control Water all affect environments, letting the Tempest Cleric craft battlefields to their want. You can really make the fight into something that is highly beneficial to your team with good placement of these spells. The spell list really emphasizes this subclass as a battle-cleric and quite an awesome display of godly power.
When you pick up this class, you’re getting proficiency with both heavy armor and martial weapons. Obviously, this is quite big. Heavy Armor is a staple of the frontline tank, increasing AC by quite a bit without needing to build into Dexterity. You’re free to build a lot more into Strength and Constitution in order to be a bruiser. While no Forge Cleric, the benefits of Heavy Armor are quite prevalent in 5E, and thus using it to build into the frontline role would be a major upside.
Martial Weapon proficiency unlocks two major directions. Adding to the frontline role with weapons like the Greatsword and Lance offers options for the frontliner to become more dangerous. Martial weapons tend to be, at least, one dice category stronger than the simple variant, meaning that you naturally do more damage. They also have a lot more options for the one-handed build path, like the Longsword or Morningstar, which deal good damage and let you have a shield… Or another weapon. Alternatively, the options of the Longbow gives a consistent ranged build some love, along with the two Crossbow variants. Either path you choose, you can either become a frontliner or backliner, without needing cantrips for your resourceless damage.
Wrath of the Storm
Your true 1st level ability comes as a counter-attack, lending credence to a melee build;
Also at 1st level, you can thunderously rebuke attackers. When a creature within 5 feet of you that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to cause the creature to make a Dexterity saving throw. The creature takes 2d8 lightning or thunder damage (your choice) on a failed saving throw, and half as much damage on a successful one.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
What a powerhouse of the early game! As a reaction, inflicting 2d8 damage to a melee-ranged enemy is quite strong. To put it in perspective, that’s basically using a reaction to cast a level 1 spell at someone hitting you. And you get to do it a few times per day. That’s not bad at all! As a level 1 ability, this absolutely melts low-level attackers, so it’s important that you use this whenever you take damage.
However, the weakness of this ability comes with lack of scaling. Dealing 2d8 damage in the early game is crazy good. But, the fact that the damage never increases means that this ability becomes less and less impressive as the campaign goes on. Thankfully, the lightning damage that this ability uses is super good with the future aspects of this domain.
Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath
Rather than simply turning undead, the Tempest Cleric prefers to bring their A-game;
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to wield the power of the storm with unchecked ferocity.
When you roll lightning or thunder damage, you can use your Channel Divinity to deal maximum damage, instead of rolling.
This has a lot of potential throughout a Tempest Cleric’s career. At level 2, your options are somewhat limited. Even then, maxing out the damage on Wrath of the Storm or Thunderwave means dealing 16 damage for a use of Channel Divinity. As levels go on, maxing out abilities like Call Lightning and Destructive Wave can do upwards of 100 damage, guaranteed, to targets. For Call Lightning, do remember this ability only triggers on a singular lightning bolt.
And this ability is for “when you roll.” Depending on your GM’s discretion, you roll damage either before or after a target saves. If your GM has you roll damage after the target saves, then you can guarantee high damage to whoever you want. Otherwise, this ability still guarantees high damage, potentially to multiple people, with spells like Thunderwave and Destructive Wave; halving maximum damage to a target still deals about average damage.
And, the options get wild if you multiclass into Storm Sorcerer. Any arcane multiclass would give fantastic, high damage options for Thunder or Lightning spells, since the Cleric doesn’t get many options. That’s not to say that staying the Cleric path isn’t powerful, but for a pure Blasting role, consider the Sorcerer or Wizard multiclass, just because this ability is so strong.
And now for another reason to consider multiclassing;
At 6th level, when you deal lightning damage to a Large or smaller creature, you can also push it up to 10 feet away from you.
This ability is quite solid, right? Good battle control, no save requirement. Even if the creature fails a save against a lightning spell, it gets pushed. Awesome! Sadly, you have two options for this ability; Wrath of the Storm and Call Lightning.
Because this ability isn’t applied to Thunder damage, the options a Cleric has for using this effect are rather dismal. Still, not all is lost. Call Lightning allows you to push someone back 10 ft once per turn, for 10 minutes. That is significant, and gives your combat group a lot of room to breath. Similarly, Wrath of the Storm can trigger this ability and get a wonderful push-back as well, to avoid flanking rules (should your GM use them) or just to prevent multiple attacks. This also synergizes well if you can find any alternative ways to deal Lightning damage, such as a Javelin of Lightning.
However, if you want to really use this ability, the area of effect options offered to Storm Sorcerers and Wizards should be considered. That way, you can push back multiple groups of foes, have better options to push foes, and control the battlefield from a more specific distance. Lightning Ball, Lightning Bolt, and even some shocking cantrips can use this ability quite well. It also wouldn’t be so easily countered by being indoors.
Even so, the Tempest Cleric’s options continue to rise in power. This one in particular makes fighting mano-y-mano a little easier. At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with divine energy. 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 thunder damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
Oh, if only this were Lightning damage…
Like a lot of Divine Strikes, this one is short and sweet. However, “thunder damage” is one of the elements that is most ignored by the Monster Manual, with not many creatures being resistant or immune to it. This makes Thunder damage on a Divine Strike pretty significant, even without much else to supplement Thunder damage from the archetype. With how often the Tempest Domain expects you to brawl, however, the extra burst of damage is always significant. And the damage increases, making it up to 16 damage.
The final ability of the Tempest Cleric helps the brawler mindset become universal.
At 17th level, you have a flying speed equal to your current walking speed whenever you are not underground or indoors.
Nice and simple! You get to fly around like Mary Poppins, but only when you’re outside. This is not as situational as it sounds; a lot of campaigns have to take place outside in the late game. With this ability, your melee build can more easily tussle with dragons or demons, flying high above your Fighter or Barbarian allies. Having constant flight is one of the strongest abilities possible for a melee combatant, so the Tempest Cleric getting it as a class ability frees up your item slots for magic items quite a lot.
In addition, the out-of-combat usefulness is bountiful. No more failing Athletics checks because of that bulky suit of full plate. You’ll be more easily accessible to any ally who needs a Cure Wounds or other form of aid. And flying high above a town as lightning bolts crash down around you is sure to get you advantage on Intimidate checks.
All in all, a pretty significant capstone. It’s a shame that there are caveats to it that make it less useful in campaigns where you are dungeon crawling. With luck, the campaign you will be in will be centered more on towns, invasions, or warfare… Otherwise, you might want to check with your GM before choosing Tempest Cleric for a late-game campaign. This ability is useless inside tombs or dungeons.
What Race is Best for Tempest Cleric?
As with our Forge Cleric guide, beefy frontliners with bonus to Wisdom tend to be massively beneficial for the Tempest Cleric to succeed.
The extra durability and wisdom of the Hill Dwarves make them far and away the best option for your typical Tempest Cleric. Considering you only really need Wisdom, Constitution, and some Strength, the Dwarf’s natural spread is fantastic. Not being slowed by Heavy Armor is good for your melee abilities. And, after all, those beards might be the most “viking” thing in the core rulebook!
Especially if you’re considering a multiclass into a Sorcerer, the Dragonborn are a great addition. The blue dragons are somewhere in their blood, after all! A Lightning breath attack gets a lot of mileage from the lightning abilities in the domain, and gives you an additional option for area of effect. The Charisma is beneficial for the multiclass, but the Strength is fantastic for the frontliner kit. You can consider this race even without a multiclass! If you do, remember to invest heavily in Wisdom.
Races to Avoid
Try to stay away from small races, such as Gnome or Halfling. As good as multiclassing towards a Wizard can seem, the power of Heavy Weapons for this subclass is somewhat painful for the smaller races. In addition, heavy armor worsens their already low movement speed (without some Strength dedication, which may harm casting).
Example Deities for Tempest Clerics
Tempest clerics are not only clerics of the storm. They are also clerics of physical strength, domination, and courage. They are seafaring people as well as explorers and sailors. Their gods tend to have thunderous personalities, quick to anger but passionate friends and allies. Because of this, the choice of god for a Tempest cleric is somewhat one-note. Here are a few examples of gods that are fairly popular in the main settings of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.
The Brawler is known across the land of Greyhawk. Statues of his chiseled and muscular form dominate sporting regions and battle-oriented civilizations. His thunderous voice echoes through the minds of his followers, louder than any firearm. He is the god of strength, bravery, and battlefield perfection. He symbolizes physical fitness, freedom incarnate, and the love of the little things in life.
Kord is a Chaotic Neutral god of battle and warfare in the Greyhawk campaign. He has a high temper, but is also known to be caring and loving to those with pretty faces. He is known to often speak with his numerous illegitimate offspring, and even offer them demigod status if seen as worthy enough. While he is not the most powerful of the gods, he is well-known for a reason.
Followers of Kord relish his views on freedom and physical perfection. They are almost universally fighters and gladiators, those who wish to leave their mark on the world through pure bravery. His priests accept new challenges without any sort of qualm. They must seek strength and to grow stronger whenever possible.
Tempest Clerics of Kord are known for their incredible bravery and potential for incredible courage. Their thunderous cries are designed to aid on the battlefield in every way possible; from intimidation to simply being the unbreakable wall in front of the army. Their electricity often comes from pure battle adrenaline, as Kord grants them the strength of the heavens during their quest for strength. They should also enjoy the beauty of the world… And of other people they meet along the way.
For those who wish to be less about storms and more about a tempestuous personality, gods of warfare and bravery like Kord are perfect.
Talos (Forgotten Realms)
The crash of lightning. A harbor destroyed by a massive tsunami. A tree, ancient in years, taken down in an instant. Terrible winds tear apart a mother and her child as the major city crumbles under the might of nature. This is the will of Talos, the Destroyer, the Storm Lord, the Raging One. His thirst for destruction shall never be quenched.
Talos is the Chaotic Evil god of destruction in the world of the Forgotten Realms. His dogma is self-serving, as he seeks only to cause as much destruction as possible along the world. His will of wild magic and his unending fury cause many to seek cover from the oncoming storm. He is a natural bully, and calls to the will of those who understand that power is all that matters in the world. He despises those who wish to build society.
His followers listen closely to the will of their god. They seek destruction wherever possible, and tear down civilizations wherever they can. They pursue wealth and luxury with reckless abandon, understanding that the strength given to them by their god can be used to gain ever more power. They are often a secret organization, or holed up in easily-defended strongholds that Talos himself protects to ensure their strength can grow. They are the heralds of destruction, only organized through pure violence.
Tempest Clerics of Talos are his enforces. Calling down lightning on combatants and structures alike are exactly what he seeks. As such, the durability and potential for growth of the Tempest Cleric make them obvious leaders in his clergy. These Clerics know their own strength and should seek to destroy basic foundations of civilization whenever possible. However, they are more than just mindless killing machines, and are more than willing to work with others if it can lead to more power for them. Talos’s focus on pure destruction is perfect for Clerics of the Tempest, though his Chaotic Evil nature makes it more difficult to play. Think of ways to worship gods like Talos without necessarily ruining the campaign for your party.
The Devourer (Eberron)
In a world as advanced as Eberron, few consider the potency of the world around them. In a world where tanks and wizards alike can destroy cities, it is easy to forget how easily a tornado can do the same. Those who live in the ocean, however, will never forget the name of the Devourer. Those who rely on the ocean for their pay will never consider forgetting his presence. This beast is a threat to all, humbled by his worshippers… for now.
The Devourer is a Neutral Evil deity from Eberron. He is well-known by aquatic races, and any who consider taking a boat over the deep pay some attention to his reign to ensure they are not slain. His basic personality is akin to that of a sahuagin or large shark, where he seeks basic needs and instincts over all else. However, when enraged, tsunamis and hurricanes ravage the shorelines and ruin the lives of landwalkers.
The worshippers of the Devourer tend to be sea creatures or shore communities. Many highly intelligent worshippers understand that the Devourer grants them power from nature itself. That said, the beast does not necessarily require destruction from no end. He is focused on defending bodies of water and can sometimes send his worshippers to rescue those lost at sea. Worshippers must be cognizant of bodies of water and of nature as a whole.
Tempest Clerics of the Devourer are often sailors and seafarers. They bring his wrath against all of those who dare bring any sort of harm or foul play against bodies of water and those who live in there. They are basic protective clerics, offering blessings against droughts or floods. They are respected by creatures and people of the sea, and should be respected by those who rely on water for their livelihood.
The Devourer is an example of the pure natural side of the Tempest Domain, and is one of the few Evil gods that can be easily run in a Good party. Waterside clerics should look for gods like this.
Thunder, lightning, battle, and beer. With a mighty roar, the god Thor makes his appearance known. Whether he crashes into battle against Giants himself, or simply strikes the ground with mighty strikes of thunder, all know when this god is nearby.
The god Thor is the epitome of physical prowess, and his hammer Mjolnir is a symbol of strength and the storm. As a major leader of the Norse Pantheon, Thor’s power is recognized in any universe where these gods are worshiped. Thor is boisterous, a lord of battle and extremely active in the world. He loves combat, can control the weather, and his Mjolnir will always decimate opponents that dare defy him.
Worshipers of the Norse god of thunder and lightning are combat-loving, physically fit, and the center of attention in any room. They are critical to society, as their prayers bring rainfall. They are also brave warriors and always members of the frontline. Thor tends to be allied with Good, and thus these worshipers form the backbone of armies that defend worthy cities.
Tempest Clerics of Thor are the most direct incarnation of Thor’s strength granted to a mortal. They are required in any town where weather is key, such as farming civilizations or harbor towns. They are also required in any town where battle and fortification are parts of daily life, as their battle prowess is extremely helpful. They are great testers for the durability of any structure, as well.
For those who want a god of battle and weather, Thor is a great deity to follow! He is an example of a good deity of the Tempest.
Umberlee (Forgotten Realms)
Taverns on the dock often have a shanty, sung during days of dangerous journeys. These songs are both taunting and reverent of a specific goddess; the Great Queen of the Sea. Those who disrespect her risk her wrath, but her pure greed and vanity cause those who do not follow her to laugh. Her great strength gives the Wavemother a particular post in society, where she must be loved or people die.
Umberlee is the Chaotic Evil goddess of the sea. She is the goddess who must be respected by those on the coast, or she will quickly turn to anger. And the anger of a Goddess who is quick to drag any being underwater is not to be trifled with. She is unapologetically vain and cruel, willing to do whatever it takes to improve her wealth or image. Sacrifices and offerings must be often sent by those who often use her services by crossing the ocean.
Many worshippers of Umberlee follow her reluctantly. Destruction at sea is not often wanted, and thus offerings are made. Those who actively worship her out of love are few and far between, but are often water-faring creatures who seek a share of her wealth and power. They follow her for power, and those who follow her on the shore can consider her to be a force of nature, defending the sea from the unworthy.
Tempest Clerics of Umberlee follow her dogma of power and cruelty. The sea is one of the most powerful and secretive places on the plane, and thus should be respected. These clerics are known for their raw, brutal power that come entirely from the potency of Umberlee’s ocean waters. They command the power of the deep ocean and the drowned dead. For clerics looking to harness the power of the sea, gods like Umberlee are great. However, Umberlee is hard to worship in the Forgotten Realms due to her evil tendencies.
Zeboim is another example of a goddess of storms. Because she is somewhat similar to Talos, we will not go over her in depth. She is a great example of a Storm god whose mood shifts constantly, and thus is a good Chaotic Evil option for a Tempest Cleric to worship, even in a good-aligned party.
Example Feats for Tempest Clerics
Tempest clerics are heavily reliant on both Wisdom and a physical stat, such as Strength or Dexterity, to be a threat on the battlefield. Try to improve your statistics before investing in feats! If you do want to invest in feats and want some ideas, here are a few good mid- to late-game options.
The Crusher feat is a decent option for Clerics who like bludgeoning weapons. To begin, it boosts your Strength or Constitution by 1. This means you’re not totally losing out on statistics for taking this. Great!
Then, the Crusher feat has two additional benefits. Whenever you deal bludgeoning damage with a weapon, you can force it to move 5 feet. This can let you duck out of the way of opportunity attacks, force the boss into the threatened squares of more of your allies, or push them off a cliff! This does have a size prerequisite, so you’re not shoving Huge Giants off of anywhere, but it can come in handy.
Finally, when you crit someone with your bludgeoning attack, all of your allies get advantage when attacking them. Incredibly useful! Even in the lategame, this will give all of your friends a gigantic boost in accuracy against the target.
This feat is handy for Clerics looking to improve their utility. To start, you get the +1 Wisdom, reducing the pain that taking a feat would normally cause. Then, you get to learn two spells. The first is Misty Step, which you get to cast once for free and otherwise with level 2 spell slots. Misty Step is one of the best 2nd level spells in the entire game, so it’s very nice to not only know it, but have a spellcast! Why is it so good? A 30 ft teleport as a bonus action is just so incredibly useful for a melee-oriented Cleric. You’ll be able to move directly into a fight 60 feet away, teleport through iron bars that you can see the other side of, ignore opportunity attacks… The list goes on!
The other spell you get is a 1st level spell of the enchantment or divination schools. You get a free cast of it, and otherwise just learn it permanently. We suggest learning Silvery Barbs, which forces a lower roll on a d20 and gives another creature advantage on their next roll made in a minute. This is normally a tool for Bards, Sorcerers, and Wizards. But, this is a very handy support tool that you should not miss out on! While this is just a stat and two spells, this is one of the few feats that really expands your toolkit enough to warrant the small stat reduction.
The Resilient feat is very simple. You gain a +1 to a stat, and then you become proficient in the saving throw of that stat. For this feat, you should select Constitution. Constitution saving throws are pretty important as a general saving throw, but you’ll also need it for concentration saves. The +2 to +6 on the throw will come in handy quite often during the course of a campaign.
You can also choose Dexterity if the weapon you use is a Finesse or Ranged option. While Dexterity saving throws aren’t usually as useful as Constitution, they are still almost as prominent. Dexterity saving throws are also attached to spells that deal health damage, and keeping yourself healthy is a must!
The Sentinel feat is a basic area control ability. It allows you to make opportunity attacks against Disengaging people, your opportunity attacks stop movement, and you can make an opportunity attack against someone who hits your ally.
Overall, the second benefit is incredible while the other two are fine. The Disengage action is very rarely used by enemies, since they often either like being in melee or have better escape plans. But, when fighting a Rogue or melee enemy that needs to slip away, you’ll be a massive pain to deal with.
That’s because your attacks stop movement, meaning the enemy has to stay in range of you and any melee ally near you. That can put them in a ton of danger! It will also protect any casters behind you.
The final benefit requires you to have a few melee allies. Clerics don’t get too many impactful Reactions, so being able to punch someone in the dome is handy. Remember that you have this, especially if you’re in the frontlines with squishy characters like Rogues or Monks.
Shadow Touched is a toolbox feat. It begins with a +1 to Wisdom, improving your casting by a small amount. Handy, but not the only thing we’re dealing with here!
You learn the Invisibility spell, and can cast it for free once per day. This spell is useful if your party has no other way to get to Invisibility, but otherwise can be a bit too situational. It takes your Concentration, after all! Still, keeping your Rogue invisible for an hour can be something so useful at any level that it’s worth considering no matter what. Just make sure you have someone who can benefit from this, like a Rogue or Paladin.
The 1st-level spell is a bit trickier, since Illusion and Necromancy spells are not as powerful at level 1. Unlike Fey Touched, we have no definite suggestions here. False life can keep people alive, Cause Fear can be an okay annoyance, and Ray of Sickness is always a fine debuff. Nothing terribly impressive here! Invisibility is what you’d be taking this feat for, so try and make sure you really need Invisibility before taking this feat.
Tough is an incredibly simple feat. You get 2 health per level. In theory, this is like a +4 bonus to your Constitution score. Tempest clerics love being on the frontline. They like taking a little bit of damage now and then, since they can reflect damage. However, this feat does nothing to improve your Constitution saving throw. Make sure you just want health before taking this feat. +2 Constitution is less health, but more durability against some kinds of magic.
War Caster has a bunch of different benefits! To begin, advantage on Constitution saves for Concentration is fantastic! Clerics have some of the best Concentration spells in the business, so the ability to roll twice on these will definitely save your bacon.
Being able to perform somatic components while occupied rarely comes up. But, if it does, you’ll have proof that you’re able to cast with a shield and weapon! Great for clerics that aren’t wielding a two-handed weapon… Which is most of them, admittedly.
Finally, you can use magic on opportunity attacks. This is a little bit silly. You can actually punish someone for running away from you by casting Hold Person. Or Banishment. A great way to cheat out spells, especially in combination with Mage Slayer or Sentinel. Overall, a great spell for the Cleric that likes sitting in their enemy’s face and buffing up. Just the job for a Tempest Cleric!
Honorable Mention: Elemental Adept
Elemental Adept seems like a great feat for Tempest clerics. Lightning and Thunder is your entire M.O.! But, there’s a minor problem. Elemental Adept only works on spells. And… There are 4 spells that can deal thunder damage for Clerics. There are 2 for lightning. You’d be limiting yourself quite a bit, but Call Lightning and Shatter are both completely acceptable spells. If that’s the focus of your build, then Elemental Adept might be worthwhile.
Multiclassing for Tempest Clerics
Clerics are such a strong class that it’s usually not a great idea to multiclass. If you’re desperate to put synergies together, then we do have a few options for you!
Fighters are great for any character that is looking to bring weapons into a battle. At level 1, you get Second Wind to restore health in a pinch and a Fighting Style to improve your combat prowess. Both of these are surprisingly effective to make you handy with a mace or a sword in hand.
At level 2, you get to take two whole damn turns in a row. So, that’s nice. Action Surge is a ridiculous ability that you can use to destroy your opponent. You can cast Hold Person, use this ability, and then beat the crap out of them. This is absolutely worth losing a few Cleric levels!
This is probably enough, but at level 3, you can take Eldritch Knight to get a caster level back or get Champion to improve your critical hit rate. Or Battle Master to improve your combat utility.
Paladin is very hard to multiclass into, needing 13 Charisma. Because of this, this multiclass requires pretty specific racial stat lineups. If you can invest in that 13 Charisma, the Paladin must get to level 2. Level 1 gives you a few pieces of utility and some healing, which is… nice.
At level 2, though, you can spend spells in order to deal up to 6d8 bonus damage on weapon attacks! You can get this by level 10, which is an absurd hike in damage. Not many classes will be able to keep up with a Smite from a Cleric! You’ll also get spells, letting you keep up with your spellcasting levels. And a Fighting Style, letting you become more durable or more deadly with weaponry. An insane lineup of pure damage, and can be totally worth it… If you can pay that 13 Charisma cost.
The Ranger is a weaker version of the Paladin, but requires no Charisma investment. Ranger requires level 2 investment for spellcasting and their fighting style. Their spells are really, really good for ranged or melee characters alike. They offer a good mix of damage with Hunter’s Mark and utility in spells like Absorb Elements and Ensnaring Strike.
The first level of Ranger is rough, similar to Paladin. If your DM lets you select Favored Foe and Deft Explorer, then you can get a lot of utility and even some damage out of the class. Otherwise, you’ll just get some barely useful utility in specific terrains or against specific enemies. Ranger is totally acceptable, as you only lose 1 level of spellcasting for some okay benefits. But, Paladin is much better if you can afford it.
Suggested Tempest Cleric Backgrounds
Like with any Character, your tempest domain cleric build includes a background. For most people, selecting a background is more about utility than theme. In general, you are looking for new skills and languages that could be useful in your campaign.
The acolyte background is a solid choice thematically. Thankfully, it is also a good option mechanically too. You pick up two languages of your choice off the bat, which are always helpful. You also gain proficiency in Religion and Insight. As a Wisdom skill, having proficiency in Insight is a must for a cleric.
Faction agent is arguably the best option available for a Tempest cleric. You get proficiency in Insight plus another skill of your choice that is based on Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. Other Wisdom spells are the obvious choice here. If that wasn’t enough, you also nab two languages of your choice.
Hermit is another interesting option that also opens up some fun roleplayability. Medicine and religion proficiencies are both on-theme and situationally useful. You also get proficiency with a herbalism kit and a language of your choice. Your starting equipment comes with a herbalism kit, among other things, opening up some unique options if you care about something beyond more proficiencies and languages.
How to Play a Tempest Cleric
Tempest clerics are frontline bruisers. As a Cleric, you must balance your spell slots with your party’s daily needs. Talk with your party to see what Cleric spells you’ll need for the day. In fights, make sure you’re in the front of the party with your heavy armor, but make sure you are constantly keeping yourself and your party healed. You need to stay alive in order to support your party! In terms of the Tempest Cleric’s specific wants…
Out of Combat
- At level 17, you can fly. Permanent flight is nice for problem solving. You can carry people across a dangerous cliff, fly just over traps and obstacles, or chase after flying dragons. Just remember that you need to be outdoors!
- Fog Cloud, Gust of Wind, and Control Water are great out-of-combat spells. Your magic doesn’t have to be about blowing up your opponents in the coolest way possible. They can also be about solving problems. Fog Cloud can be used for stealth, gust of wind can push things in front of opponents or push weak levers. Control Water is situationally incredible! Find ways to use your Cleric spells to do good things for your party.
- Keep your weapons updated. While a Fighter or Barbarian makes better use of weapons, be sure to always have something good in your hands. Your best damage becomes weapon strikes at level 8, so having a weapon that hurts people is a very good idea!
- Just spam Wrath of the Storm. 2d8 damage is insane early on, and becomes whatever as time goes on. However, just nuking dudes for 2d8 damage on every reaction is going to be critical. You’re taking damage from foes that are able to hit you. Kill them quickly.
- Destructive Wrath works best with spells. Destructive Wave deals 30 + 5d6 damage with Destructive Wrath. Call Lightning does up to 40 damage on a cast for a 3rd level spell that you can spam. Use your Channel Divinity to boost these spells to the maximum! In an emergency, you can also use it to guarantee that your Divine Strike deals 8 or 16 bonus damage.
Thunderbolt Strike works with Wrath of the Storm. If you need space, make sure to invoke Thunderbolt Strike whenever you use Wrath of the Storm. Unfortunately, it does not work with your Divine Strike… Which is silly. So, use Wrath and your spells to give your allies space in a pinch.
Tempest Cleric FAQ
This section answers all your burning questions bout the Tempest Domain.
What Book has Tempest Domain?
The Tempest Domain can be found in the Player’s Handbook. That means it is one of the oldest subclasses available in 5th Edition D&D.
Can Tempest Clerics Learn Lightning Bolt?
Despite being a subclass built around storms, the Tempest Cleric cannot learn the lightning bolt spell. While the tempest domain spells are a nice mix of thematically appropriate options, lightning bolt seems like the glaring omission. It is worth noting that only one spell on the Tempest Cleric spell list – Call Lightning – can deal lightning damage.
Can Tempest Clerics Fly?
Tempest Clerics gain a flying speed at level 17. This option isn’t bad, as it allows flight at will without a time limit or the use of a spell slot. However, there is a limit: you only have a flying speed if you are outdoors.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Tempest Domain
One of the simplest subclasses in the game also happens to scale somewhat poorly. While the early game of the Tempest Domain is perhaps the strongest of all the domains, the lack of lightning spells means that your abilities and versatility will struggle, just a bit, during the mid-to-late game. Even with my gripes with the subclass, it still offers booming damage, shocking melee options, and spine-tingling flavor. Consider this Domain for a blasting role, using spell slots on things like Call Lightning for consistent ranged damage. Or consider using it to augment your Storm Sorcerer, and really bring on the Thunder. Want to see your other Cleric options or how to optimize your character in general? Check out our Comprehensive Cleric 5E Guide!
I love how you break things down. How helpful!
Just a dumb question from a newbie:
Can I use the high elf/half high elf cantrip with wisdom? Shocking grasp would be excellent to the tempest cleric.
Unfortunately, the free cantrip High Elves get is locked to Intelligence due to the subrace. So if you pick Shocking Grasp for that cantrip you’re stuck using your INT modifier for that spell.
It would be int but you could get booming blade to increase your weapon!