I recently proposed a homebrew replacement for the War Priest domain feature. Consensus was that it was overpowered, because 1st level domain features should (paraphrasing):

  • Be situtational if they are powerful.
  • Have a meaningful resource cost.
  • Pose a trade off to the player.

(My personal opinion is that some equivalent abilities - e.g. the Order Domain feature - do not abide by these restrictions, but obviously there are contextual differences between subclasses).

I've written a new homebrew replacement for the War Priest feature based on that feedback. It allows a War Cleric to make an attack when they reduce the power of a spell they cast.

When you use your action to cast a spell by expending a spell slot, you may instead have the spell assume the level below the slot's and use your reaction to make one weapon attack against a creature that was a target of the spell.

The assumed level must be a valid level at which the spell may be cast.

Some comments:

  • It's situational. It requires the cleric to be blasting / debuffing (instead of the more common healing / buffing). This also better matches the aggressive nature of the original feature.

  • It's limited by the number of spell slots the cleric can use, and costs a reaction. There is a soft precedent for using a reaction on your turn in the UA Blade Mastery feat, and there may be other such features that I'm not aware of.

  • It trades an extra attack for one level of a spell slot. So the cleric can either throw away a low-level slot to weak blast + attack, or nerf a high-level slot to strong blast + attack.

  • It stacks with Spiritual Weapon. So in the best case, the cleric can blast + reaction attack + bonus attack with spritual weapon. In contrast, the Order Domain cleric can heal + have an ally reaction attack + bonus attack with spiritual weapon.

Do you think there are mechanical or balance issues to the homebrew feature?


1 Answer 1


There is a very clear mechanical issue with this proposed feature, which is:

It's useless at 1st level

You're endeavouring to make a replacement for a class feature gained at first level, but your feature triggers off casting a spell using a slot of a level above the minimum level for that spell (so that you can downgrade the effective level); but 1st-level clerics only get 1st level slots, and 1st-level spells cannot be cast any lower than 1st-level.

  • \$\begingroup\$ To be more explicit: I believe the wording of the feature would allow a 1st level War Cleric to make an attack when they cast a cantrip like Sacred Flame by expending a 1st level spell slot. \$\endgroup\$
    – mjmartis
    Mar 11, 2020 at 15:42
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @mjmartis Cantrips don't expend spell slots. In 5E, you can't expend a spell slot to cast a cantrip. Can a cantrip be cast using a higher-level spell slot?, Can I cast cantrips using spell slots to get a more potent effect? \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    Mar 11, 2020 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah - thank you for that context which I was not aware of. I would still contest that you can cast cantrips using spell slots in RAW, since a cantrip's spell level is 0 (PHB pg 201), nothing in the "Casting a Spell at a Higher Level" rules (PHB pg 201) excludes 0th level spells, and there is no relevant errata (media.wizards.com/2018/dnd/downloads/PH-Errata.pdf). However, I understand that it makes this feature more problematic. Edit: my apologies, your latter link addresses my concern. I agree that (even in RAW) this feature doesn't work as I intended. \$\endgroup\$
    – mjmartis
    Mar 11, 2020 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like it could be fixed in the wording of the feature, if the intent is to allow casting cantrips: "You may spend a spell slot one level higher than the spell's level to both cast the spell and make an attack..." \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Mar 11, 2020 at 18:51

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