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I know that the Multiclassing Proficiencies are listed on p. 164 of the Player's Handbook:

Proficiencies
When you gain a level in a class other than your first, you gain only some of that class's starting proficiencies, as shown in the Multiclassing Proficiencies table.

Multiclassing Proficiencies
[...] Cleric — Light armor, medium armor, shields [...]

Cleric proficiencies are listed as:

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
Weapons: All simple weapons

So it's clear that simple weapons are not available to one multiclassing into Cleric.

However, Cleric's Tempest and War Domains both have the following Bonus Proficiency on p. 62 and p. 63 of the Player's Handbook, respectively:

Bonus Proficiency
At 1st level, you gain proficiency with martial weapons and heavy armor.

And of course, specific rules beat general rules, as noted on p. 7 of the Player's Handbook, but it's not clear to me which of the two is more specific.

Do I get these Domain Bonus Proficiencies when I multiclass into Cleric and use the War or Tempest domain?

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4 Answers 4

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The bonus proficiency is a domain feature. Domains are a class feature. The multiclassing rules state that you gain the class features when you get a new level in the new class. It then lists exceptions to this with channel divinity, extra attack, spell casting and unarmored defense. Domains are not listed, so it seems that the bonus proficiency is the more specific rule and you gain the domain proficienices.

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Yes!

When you take levels of a new class, you get all of the benefits of their class features.

When you gain a new level in a class, you get its features for that level. A few features, however, have additional rules when you're multiclassing...

While channel divinity is one of the things that is listed as having a special rule surrounding it, Cleric domain features is not (the other ones are extra attacks, unarmored defenses and spell casting).

So yes, when you take a new level of Cleric, you get their L1 domain proficiency, when you take the second level, you get their Channel Divinity features etc. Specifically, because these items are not part of the main class proficiency, but classified with your domain features.

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However, the Bonus Proficiency listed under Life, for instance states "When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain proficiency with heavy armor." Now, that sentence is a bit vague out of context, but in context, one must ask "Can you choose this domain at a level other than 1st?" That's quite important. There has to be a reason 'at 1st level' is added. Because yes, through multiclassing, you can choose that domain at a level other than 1 - but you always choose it at 1st level of cleric (whether that's your 1st, 5th, or 19th level).

So, contextually, it appears most accurate to state that you only get the Bonus Proficiency at the only time your Class level and Character level equal 1; and multiclassing into cleric doesn't provide this benefit.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This appears to be partly formulated as a reply to another answer, but answers need to be able to stand alone. Please edit a bit to clean that up and make sure your answer directly answers the question. (You can address misconceptions, possibly from other answers, as long as you state what those misconceptions are.) \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 18, 2015 at 1:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this is the case. Compare cleric domain features at (for example) 6th level. I think it's pretty clear that the text means "at 1st cleric level" \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Jul 1, 2019 at 12:57
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I had this exact scenario come up at my table recently, I ruled against it. Downvotes be damned, here’s why.

Is it a feature: Yes
Is it a proficiency: Yes
Is it a starting proficiency: Debatable

The marked answer ignores the relationship proficiencies are to class features (proficiencies are features) and the exclusion specificity in the multi-class rule. You don't just get ALL features.

For the marked answer to have credibility you need to also ignore the key-word Proficiency all together and focus instead on the subcategory of the feature (1st level Order Domain Feature). They could have used any other words to name this feature instead of Bonus Proficiencies (A Hard-Knock Life for example), they do for all other features. AFAIK, errata for Tasha’s doesn’t rename this feature.

My core argument is how the feature is being granted to the character. It’s given to them in the form of a Bonus Proficiency. This feels to me like an order of operations issue, with specific wording.

At that point is where I think the specificity of the multi-class rule applies, it’s a Proficiency (first) granting a 1st level Order Domain feature (second).

This is complicated by the way the player’s handbook reads (PHB page 57):

Class Features
As a cleric, you gain the following class features.
…
Proficiencies
…

So, Proficiencies themselves are a type of Class Feature. Our order of operations is:

Class Features: Divine Domain(feature): Order Domain(subclass): Bonus Proficiency (proficiency): 1st-level Order Domain Feature (feature)

The multi-class rule is being specific about “Starting Proficiencies” (remember, a proficiency is already a type of class feature).

Is it a “Starting Proficiency”? I think this is a fare counterpoint to my argument, since were traveling down the path of specificity they use the word Starting to differentiate in the multi-class rules. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I can’t find a solid definition for the term Starting Proficiency in the books or errata (No, I don’t own everything in Beyond. No, I don’t own every book).

Left to my own devices, my definition for Starting Proficiency then becomes, any Proficiency granted to a class at 1st level as a Class Feature. This Bonus Proficiency fits the definition, again, because they used the word Proficiency to name the class feature.

Additional Context:

I have a habit of doing this ceremony at my table called “House Cleaning”. I make a controversial call at the table during play, I make a note, I try to fix it in next session after doing some research. It’s important to me to try to play fair.

This was way more research than I’ve ever done on a single controversial call, the community accepted answer just feels wrong to me with not a good counter-point argument represented.

Not gaining this proficiency doesn’t restrict the Order Domain at all, additionally it doesn’t seem to hinder any of Tasha’s optional class features that use the keywords Bonus Proficiency.

The balance of the game is already player favored; this seems trivial to lose over the advantages of the multi-class in general.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm having trouble understanding your argument. All I could gather was that you believe that because it's a first-level feature, it is interchangeable with regular proficiencies. Which sounds weird, since they're different mechanics entirely, and not even in the same scope (one's from the class, the other from the subclass). \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Jul 17, 2023 at 6:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's good criticism, I'll update the original answer for some clarity, but basically the argument is: It's a class feature. It's a proficiency (proficiencies are features). Is it a "starting proficiency"? \$\endgroup\$
    – dev null
    Jul 17, 2023 at 11:31

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