Would I be reasonable to argue that in 5e, a cleric of the grave's god can be Sarenrae as she is originally a Pathfinder god with the subdomains Restoration and Resurrection? (Sarenrae is already in our 5e campaign and heavily associated with my character who I want to multiclass into a grave cleric).

My DM already stated my character could be a cleric of Sarenrae. When I asked about her domains, he said Light and Peace. He said I could go with the Raven Queen if I wanted to be a grave cleric. For story reasons I would prefer Sarenrae. My DM said her domains were only peace and light.

My DM is open to reasonable arguments, I just want to know if this argument is unreasonable because I don't really understand subdomains and it might be a faux pas to try and argue about a class's faith that is so entwined in world building.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this can be answered by anyone but your DM. You're talking about which gods exist in the specific game world your game takes place in, which isn't a system question. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 22, 2022 at 18:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I added the Golarion tag, since Sarenrae is from that setting. It’s not perfect but I figure it’s close enough. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jun 22, 2022 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you or they watched Critical Role? Campaign 2 included a Firbolg PC Grave Cleric of the Wildmother, who took his clericing pretty seriously; his family tended a special graveyard in the wilderness. And campaign 1 included a cleric of Sarenrae who started out a Life cleric, but switched to War domain (for reasons, at some point while they were still playing Pathfinder, before they started streaming their game). (This is halfway to being an answer, let me know if anyone thinks it should actually be posted as such. e.g. with a suggestion to read about those PCs in more detail as examples?) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23, 2022 at 10:19

3 Answers 3


Pathfinder Lore Supports This

Sarenrae was originally created for the world of Golarion in the Pathfinder RPG, and with Pathfinder 2e she has an Anathema to 'create undead' that could match well with the 5e grave cleric lore which has:

Gods of the grave watch over the line between life and death. To these deities, death and the afterlife are a foundational part of the multiverse’s workings. To resist death, or to desecrate the dead’s rest, is an abomination.

I'd also argue against 'peace' as a domain for her, as Sarenrae is very decisively martial in responding to evil that refuses the opportunity of redemption. Her worshipper's are described in Pathfinder as:

They oppose evil everywhere with words first, and when necessary, with scimitar and flame.

In any case, it seems worth noting that deities in 5e are presented with "Suggested Domains" rather than a hard limit. Allowing slightly unorthodox worship by a player character seems entirely reasonable.

  • \$\begingroup\$ While Sarenrae and the grave domain have similar aversion to the undead, I feel your quoted text implies they would be equally opposed to one another. Supporting resurrection, while opposing resistance to death, seems incongruent to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim
    Jun 24, 2022 at 1:05

Personally, I'm a big fan of the "this is fun for me" argument.

You asked for arguments you could make to convince your DM to let you be a grave cleric with your chosen deity. As a DM, one of things I am looking for to help create an engaging story is player buy-in. If the players have bought in to the story we are telling is both easier and more fun to tell that story. When the players are engaging with the story and with their own characters, it is significantly easier for me to prepare for the game and keep things fun and moving forward. Ergo, when my players are looking into character building and advancement, I am looking for the things that make them interested in the character they are playing.

What you are proposing here is a good example of something that makes me, as a DM, say "oh hell yeah!" You have a character concept you like and a mechanical selection that you like. When my players are hyped about both who their characters are and what their characters can do, that is the sweet spot I am looking for.

Now, the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide offer some suggestions for pairing cleric domains with the gods of the various pantheons presented. The pairings there are loosely thematic. Very loosely. I see no reason to hold to those pairings as hard and fast rules. As long as the player can prove to me that they have thought about the pairing enough to be able to articulate the blended theming and how they work together, I'm generally cool with any cleric domain and deity combo.

So when making your case, just explain to them that you've thought about it a good bit, you're really stoked to pair this domain with this deity for these reasons, and respect their decision. That's the most important part - respect their decision. If that's a deal breaker for you, that's okay, find a new game. If you still want to play with this group, you may just have to compromise. How you handle it is up to you, but it is important to be respectful and to respect the DM's ruling on it.

Sarenrae's followers die too.

I'll also leave you with a little nugget of an in-universe argument you might consider bringing to the table: Sarenrae's followers die too. You mentioned grave cleric, and someone needs to be responsible for handling the last rites of the faithful dead.

Playing a cleric with a lively and active faith puts a lot of responsibility on the DM.

It may help to see things from the DM's side a little. Selecting a god as a cleric is a matter of how your character building relates to the DM's world building. Your choice of god needs to be sensible in the context of the world, and the DM needs to be okay with you interacting with the associated practical faith of that god. If your experience as a cleric is to have anything beyond just you saying "I pray to Sarenrae", then your DM has to work those opportunities into the narrative. If you interact with other followers of Sarenrae, the DM has to roleplay them. If you do any quests for Sarenrae, the DM has to build them. If you ever cast commune, your DM has to roleplay your god answering your questions. Playing a cleric with a lively and active faith puts a lot of responsibility on the DM for interacting with that aspect of your character, so you need to ask them if they are okay with that choice.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What I would add is that if not being allowed to do this is a deal breaker - tell the DM before they make a decision. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Jun 23, 2022 at 18:51

This is going to be a long shot

Serenrae is described as associated with Healing and the Sun, her portfolio of domains in Pathfinder is Sun, Redemption, Honesty, Healing, with subdomains Day, Heroism, Light, Restoration, Resurrection.

The Grave Domain is described as follows in XgtE:

Gods of the grave watch over the line between life and death. To these deities, death and the afterlife are a foundational part of the multiverse. (...) Deities of the grave include Kelemvor, WeeJas, the ancestral spirits of the Undying Court, Hades, Anubis, and Osiris.

These are gods of death, dying and the underworld. There is a slight subtheme of Resurrection, for example, with Osiris, and as you have identified, this is about the extent of overlap with the healing side of Serenrae's portfolio that can be found. Apart from that, they are pretty much direct opposites, a goddess of light vs gods of death.

So when you talk with your DM, like in every negotiation, I think it is important that you see their perspective. These portfolios are very different. It is not unreasonable to say there is no fit. But maybe, coming from this perspective, you can work together to see if there could be a possibility to make it work, nonetheless. Maybe there is some concept that the you can come up with that is focusing around the Resurrection aspect.

Outside of that, I think Thomas' answer it your best shot, appeal to the fun of play. Some of the coolest characters in the history of D&D have been those that went against the grain, just think of Drizzt do'Urden. And be prepared for them to stick to their guns without holding a grudge against them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Critical Role provides two examples: Campaign 1 (pre-stream while they were still playing pathfinder), Pike switched domains from Light to War. And Campaign 2, Caduceus was a Grave cleric of the Wildmother, from a family of Firbolgs that tended a special graveyard around a holy relic the connected the Wildmother to the Raven Queen. The latter is probably a better example, since it was more fleshed out by RP in how it fit narratively, with the cleric very much being about nature and the natural order of things, and the cycle of life including death. Mechanically, fully a grave cleric. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23, 2022 at 10:34

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