9
\$\begingroup\$

War Priest is a 1st level feature that lets War Domain Clerics use their bonus action to make a second attack when they take the Attack action.

I (and others online) feel that this feature is poor, for a few reasons:

  • The wisdom-based use limit does not scale well to mid- and late-game.

  • The Spiritual Weapon spell available to all Clerics outperforms the feature in most circumstances (e.g. it allows a casting action to be followed with an attack bonus action) with only slightly more resource cost.

  • The feature is hard to use in mid- to late-game, where Clerics almost always cast a spell in preference to using the Attack action.

I would like to propose that my DM remove the original feature and replace it with the following:

If you cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher and an ally is one of the targets of the spell, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.

This replacement is based off the Voice of Authority feature, and seems roughly balanced with it (e.g. it is slightly stronger compared to that feature used on a Wizard, and slightly weaker compared to that feature used on a Fighter).

It also leaves a distinct niche for Spiritual Weapon: when you'd like to all-out blast by using damage spells along with bonus action attacks.

Are there any balance or mechanical issues that you can foresee with this replacement feature?

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, you really did mean replace. Ok. Could you also explain why you feel that both "Attack or cast a spell on an ally" is undesirable for your proposed change? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 20 at 16:38
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The problem with that (or related options, like "when you cast a non-cantrip spell, you can bonus action attack") is that they allow a low-level Cleric to do the most attacks / damage all the way up until martial classes get an extra attack (typically lvl 5). This isn't an issue for the original feature since it has a long rest use limit. \$\endgroup\$ – mjmartis Feb 20 at 16:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I see; you've removed the "X times per long rest" part. I get it now. Yes, then I agree with leaving out the "Attack" part (unless you wanted to have it such that you are limited as per RAW in how many times you can do it based on an Attack, but when doing it after casting a spell on an ally, it's unlimited, but that gets clunky; also, your way is still limited by spell slots, and having two separate limits increases the total "pool", which then makes it unbalanced again. Ok, I've convinced myself that your proposal as-is is fine; already +1'd). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Feb 20 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't spiritual weapon always out preform the base feature? It's a bonus action to cast and you get an attack on the turn it appears. A 1d8+ wis seems like it'd almost always be better than 1d8+str. Plus it's force damage which is the most unlikely to be resisted \$\endgroup\$ – Glenn Driver Feb 20 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GlennDriver I think that's mostly correct, with some mitigating cases (e.g. magic weapons, heavy weapons, weapon feats). The Voice of Authority feature also has this issue, perhaps because Spiritual Weapon uses a spell slot of at least 2nd lvl. \$\endgroup\$ – mjmartis Feb 20 at 17:09
7
\$\begingroup\$

It's probably too strong

Firstly let's compare to what other 1st level domains get.

  • Arcana: Arcana proficiency, two Wizard cantrips
  • Death: Two martial weapon proficiencies, Reaper*
  • Forge: Heavy armor proficiency, smiths tool proficiency, Blessing of the Forge*
  • Grave: Circle of Mortality*, Eyes of the Grave*
  • Knowledge: Two ability proficiencies
  • Life: Heavy armor proficiency, Disciple of Life*
  • Light: Light cantrip, Warding Flare*
  • Nature: One druid cantrip, one ability proficiency, heavy armor proficiency
  • Tempest: martial weapons proficiency, heavy armor proficiency, Wrath of the Storm*
  • Trickery: Blessing of the Trickster*

Domains that only get cantrips and proficiencies are definitely worse than your proposed feature, so lets compare with Death, Forge, Grave, Life, Light, Tempest and Trickery. But first...

About spiritual weapon:

Is it better than one attack per round? Well yes and no.

  • It uses your spellcasting ability modifier, this could be better or worse but it's certainly different.
  • It is a second level spell, that lasts for one minute
    • You can't cast an action spell on the turn that you use spiritual weapon

Because it is a second level spell, it is a limited resource that you can't have forever. When a typical cleric decides to cast spiritual weapon, they can't cast an action spell that turn which limits their action economy.

With your proposed feature the extra attack itself doesn't cost any resources. While you do need to use resources to activate it, those resources still do whatever they would have done otherwise - making the extra attack free.

Why is this feature too strong compared to...

As you've explicitly mentioned, what do higher level clerics tend to do with their actions? Cast a lot of spells. So what do they usually do with their bonus action? Not much. They might be using spiritual weapon, however that comes at the cost of spell slots and not being able to cast an action spell. Typically a Cleric won't use their bonus action much of the time.

This ability affects the action economy quite significantly, giving the cleric with this ability a large number more attacks per long rest than most other cleric types.

Compared to Death Domain

Reaper allows the cleric to cast a necromancy cantrip at two targets instead of one, as long as they are next to each other. This might be the closest comparison to your feature however it's definitely not as strong. The effect only triggers in specific scenarios (compared to almost always) and when it is used, the caster must spend their action on a cantrip which is not an overly strong manoeuvre.

Compared to Forge Domain

Blessing of the forge allows you to add +1 to a weapon or armor, which is OK in the early game but quite insignificant in the long run.

Compared to Grave Domain

Grave domain has a significantly better save the dying cantrip, and better healing on restoring creatures from 0. They can also sense the undead. Neither is particularly game-breaking and both are situational.

Compared to Life Domain

Extra healing on spells, nothing too noteworthy here.

Compared to Light Domain

Gets an extra reaction option to give an enemy attack disadvantage, can be useful but reactions are limited resources. You can only use this as many times as your WIS mod.

Compared to Tempest Domain

Gets a reaction damage option. Reactions are limited resources, and you can only use this as many times as your WIS mod.

Compared to Trickery Domain

Can give a creature advantage on DEX saves for an hour, not gamebreaking.

tl;dr - Summary

I think this ability is too strong and versatile into the late game. Most of these other level one features are good or OK in early game and much worse later. The best ones are situational and this ability is almost always good.

My Recommendation

If you cast a spell with a spell slot of 1st level or higher and an ally is one of the targets of the spell, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action. 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.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Spiritual Weapon does not require concentration! You may want to revise your answer to take this into account \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Feb 20 at 17:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ You make some good points, thanks. However, I don't think Spiritual Weapon does use concentration (see dndbeyond.com/spells/spiritual-weapon). Also, the action economy of this feature is arguably worse than Voice of Authority (the corresponding feature in the Order Domain from the Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica), which uses an ally's reaction instead of your bonus action. \$\endgroup\$ – mjmartis Feb 20 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good comparison, however I'm not sure that limiting uses to an amount equal to the WIS modifier is really necessary here. Seeing as the feature would require the use of a spell slot, it already would be resource limited. From a player standpoint I think the added bookkeeping would just be a nuisance. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrendire Feb 20 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Apologies all, you are right about concentration \$\endgroup\$ – Max Colledge Feb 21 at 9:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've updated the answer to remove considerations about concentration, however I stand by my original answer when considering that casting of spiritual weapon limits the usage of action spells that turn. \$\endgroup\$ – Max Colledge Feb 21 at 9:15
3
\$\begingroup\$

Proposed feature seems reasonably balanced

tl;dr The advantage of being able to deal damage and attack in the same round is more or less balanced out by changing the resource cost to spell slots and certain spells.

Allows to more easily heal and do damage in the same round.

This allows a cleric to do both healing and damage in the same round. The level 8 ability, Divine Strike, adds and additional 1d8 damage to the attacks this bonus action makes.

Has more uses than War Priest

The war priest feature will likely get 3 or 4 uses per long rest. Beginning at 3rd level this feature will potentially get 6 uses per long rest.

Spirit Weapon Consideration

Spirit weapon is an excellent way for a cleric to gain some damage output while being able to heal/buff allies. The cost of this is a 2nd level spell slot and one round of not doing buff/healing.

This proposed feature essentially provides an alternative to spirit weapon for a while. The opening spell can be healing or buff and the cleric still gets to deal damage. Then they can continue to heal while still getting attacks similar to spirit weapon. Additionally, they can have the added bonus of making attacks with whatever magic weapon they've picked up in their adventures.

When running low on spell slots for a protracted combat, spirit weapon is still an option after the proposed feature has been used many times.

Resource Cost

The doubling up on spell slots and restriction of spells that trigger the feature seems like an interesting and reasonable balance.

Consolidation on spell slots

This changes the resource of getting a bonus attack from WIS bonus per long rest to spell slots per long rest. This removes a separate resource from the character and doubles up on the existing spell slots resource.

Restriction of spells that trigger the feature

The limitation that an ally has to be a target adds some complication as the spells that can be used. Many of the buffs in combat require concentration so casting them multiple times to trigger this feature is unlikely. Healing is the most likely use to trigger the feature. This shifts the incentive for a cleric to be the consummate healer at the expense of direct damage spells.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for?Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.