PHB pg 60 lists the domain spells that Life domain clerics gain access to each odd level from 1 through 9, but these spells are all spells that clerics automatically have available anyway. For example, at level 3, all clerics learn 2nd level cleric spells and at level 3 when you've chosen Life domain, the two spells you gain access to are Lesser Restoration and spiritual weapon. But these are both included in the 2nd level cleric spells that you would have access to automatically under any other domain.

Conversely, other domains get access to spells not available to other clerics at odd 1-9 levels (such as Mirror Image and Pass Without a Trace at 3rd level for the Trickster domain, just as an example).

So do Life domain clerics just get the short end of the stick? Or do those Life domain spells in particular get some sort of bonuses or something?


3 Answers 3


That's not how cleric spellcasting works

While clerics know all the spells on their list, they can only prepare a certain number per day: (PHB 58)

You prepare the list of cleric spells that are available for you to cast, choosing from the cleric spell list. When you do so, choose a number of cleric spells equal to your Wisdom modifier + your cleric level (minimum of one spell).

However, domain spells don't count against your preparation limit (PHB 58):

Once you gain a domain spell, you always have it prepared, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.

Thus, getting these domain spells allows you to keep them in reserve while preparing other spells, increasing the variety of spells you can cast per day (but not the total number, which is limited by spell slots).

You're 100% correct that life domain clerics don't get spells from other spell lists, but I'd dispute whether that means they get the short end of the stick, for the reasons listed above.

Additionally, life domain clerics do get bonuses to their healing spells, both domain and non-domain, through their Disciple of Life and Blessed Healer features.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I was actually wondering about that; thanks for the heads up! \$\endgroup\$
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Life Clerics do not gain any access to spells that are outside of the Cleric spell list, but that does not mean that they are given the "short end of the stick."

The Life domain spells are what many players recognize as staple spells that almost any cleric will want to take. Bless, for example, is so useful that it is almost mandatory for many campaigns; and life clerics get it for free! Spiritual Weapon is a fantastic bonus action spell, and the life domain is the only cleric domain in the PHB that has any revival spells (both Revivify and Raise Dead) on their domain spell list.

This allows the Life Cleric freedom to pick from other spells on the cleric list to supplement the support that they can give the party, while always having their core spells at the ready.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Adam, for answering the QAI, instead of the QAW. ;) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5, 2017 at 4:16

What you are missing is that Clerics do not 'Learn' spells. Clerics automatically have access to every spell on their list that they have spell slots for and are the proper level to cast. Clerics must choose a certain number of spells from that list to Prepare each day... which is quite different from a class that learns spells.

Each Cleric Domain gives the Cleric a list of spells that are automatically, permanently prepared and do not count against that total number of spells they can prepare between long rests. This means every single Life Domain spell frees up that many spells you don't have to prepare, allowing you to prepare other spells you may not have.

By way of example: What Cleric wouldn't prepare Lesser Restoration and Spiritual Weapon the moment they unlocked 2nd level spell slots? Very few. You get to have those two very helpful spells prepared for free and still prepare your maximum number of other spells per day. Awesome, right?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please read the edit. The OP is asking if Life clerics get access to any non-cleric spells, like the other domains do. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5, 2017 at 3:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Correction to my previous comment: I shouldn't have said "if Life clerics get access to any non-cleric spells." They patently don't. I should have phrased it as "Do they get something to balance the fact that they do not get any non-cleric spells in their domain, as other clerics do?" You've written a good answer, but not one addressing what the questioner is after. Nevertheless, since the question itself has some problems, I've removed my downvote. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5, 2017 at 4:13

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