A cleric can opt "to have no deity" yet such a cleric still "select[s] two domains to represent his spiritual inclinations and abilities" (Player's Handbook 32). If such a cleric picks the domain War (PH 189), the cleric receives the domain's granted power: the feat Martial Weapon Proficiency (PH 97) with the cleric's deity's favored weapon (the text parenthetically noting if necessary) and the feat Weapon Focus (PH 101) for that deity's favored weapon.

Can such a spiritually inclined cleric pick any weapon as this favored weapon—even an exotic or simple weapon—or must the weapon picked be a martial weapon? If the cleric can pick any weapon, if the weapon's exotic or simple, does the cleric forsake the domain-granted feat Martial Weapon Proficiency yet still receive the domain-granted feat Weapon Focus for the weapon? Finally, is there any special dispensation for picking as this favored weapon the unarmed strike or a natural weapon? (This last closely related to this question.)

As an aside—and to demonstrate the ripples an answer sends throughout the game—some published deities grant their clerics access to the domain War and have favored weapons that are exotic weapons: for example, Eberron Campaign Setting's the Mockery and the kama; Player's Guide to Eberron's Spirits of the Past and the double scimitar (presumably shorthand for the Valenar double scimitar rather than intended to be the Arms and Equipment Guide's double scimitar, but whatever); and Serpent Kingdom's Parrafaire and the tail scythe (really whatever). Is it safe to assume what occurs with the War domain's feats when a spiritually inclined cleric picks the domain War and picks an exotic weapon also occurs to clerics of such deities when such clerics pick the War domain?

Note: I'm probably way late to this party, but on behalf of one of my players (okay, fine, yes and myself) I'm assembling a list of domains and, subsequently, gods, yet texts don't seem to address to this issue. I suspect it's long since settled somehow somewhere, but so far—after digging around in the final 20 or so books published for the game by Wizards of the Coast (I start my research at the end and work backward)—an answer eludes me.

  • \$\begingroup\$ rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/42067/… Related \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Apr 28, 2017 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Kou- get the pincer staff as their favored weapon, which is pretty sweet (just mentioning cause they're not on your list). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 28, 2017 at 18:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer While Blibdoolpoolp does, indeed, have the pincer staff as her favored weapon, she doesn't (in my research so far) grant her clerics access to the War domain, but Zuoken does and his favored weapon is nunchucks, so if you've ever wanted to be Bruce Lee in full plate (and, really, who hasn't? O, righteveryone), Greyhawk's got your back. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2017 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Greyhawk has so many fun options. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Apr 30, 2017 at 1:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ While still mining for an answer to this question myself, I happened upon this Miniatures Handbook entry: "[A] cleric with the War domain automatically gains Weapon Proficiency and Weapon Focus with the deity’s favored weapon" (75). While the rule applies to the D&D Quick Reference cards included with the Chainmail miniatures battle game, it nonetheless sort of speaks to the War domain's granted power's intent. \$\endgroup\$ May 2, 2017 at 14:03

4 Answers 4



As written, the War domain power is:

Free Martial Weapon Proficiency with deity’s favored weapon (if necessary) and Weapon Focus with the deity’s favored weapon.

(Pulled from d20SRD.org, and I have checked that it is a verbatim match for the 2004 printing of the 3.5 PHB).

If you don't have a deity, your non-existent deity doesn't have a favored weapon. You might be able to argue that this still fulfills pre-reqs, if you could find a pre-req which was "have any martial weapon proficiency," but even that would be somewhat iffy.

And really, there's not a lot of need to worry about whether Clerics are getting enough toys, especially Clerics of causes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ No deity = no favored weapon = no feats for picking the War domain. That's probably the most accurate reading even though it's also the least fun. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2017 at 18:51

The rules don't explicitly state what happens when a cleric without a deity takes the War domain. I don't feel there's any harm in letting the player choose whichever martial or simple weapon they like as their patron weapon. Excluding exotic weapons closes the door on most exploits while still letting the player flavor their character they way they want.

If you do want to set a guideline, the spell spiritual weapon talks about how to handle needing a deity's weapon when the cleric doesn't worship one.

A cleric without a deity gets a weapon based on his alignment. A neutral cleric without a deity can create a spiritual weapon of any alignment, provided he is acting at least generally in accord with that alignment at the time. The weapons associated with each alignment are as follows.

Chaos: Battleaxe

Evil: Light flail

Good: Warhammer

Law: Longsword

Per @Baka-mastermind, Magic of Incarnum mirrors this weapon list, making it a strong contender as a guideline for non-deity-worshiping clerics.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In Magic of Incarnum, we have another set of alignment-specific summoned weapons in the soulmeld Incarnate Weapon. and it mirrors the choices of weapons of the Spiritual Weapon spell. It would seem that this pattern is somewhat constant, so such houserule is pretty reasonable (thou I'd make an exception in this rule if my player wanted some other, reasonable weapon for character fluff reasons) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 28, 2017 at 20:52

It's up to the GM's Discretion

The SRD states:

If a cleric is not devoted to a particular deity, he still selects two domains to represent his spiritual inclinations and abilities. The restriction on alignment domains still applies. Each domain gives the cleric access to a domain spell at each spell level he can cast, from 1st on up, as well as a granted power. The cleric gets the granted powers of both the domains selected.

An answer to this question doesn't actually exist in any of the D&D 3.5 sourcebooks I've read to date. The books cover the feats that you get when you take the war domain, but they don't specify the specific instance for which you have provided an example, therefore, since it doesn't exist in the ruleset, it's up to the GM's discretion on how he chooses to treat this instance.

My recommendation is to allow the cleric to choose any non-exotic martial weapon with which to gain weapon proficiency if they choose to take the war domain.

The reasoning behind this is that a cleric gets weapon focus for the chosen weapon, which has a value of one feat. If a cleric also gained Exotic weapon proficiency, that would be a total of two feats from one domain choice.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed - the last thing most games need is a CoDzilla with a focused Spiked Chain for the low price of just one domain. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 28, 2017 at 19:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re: feat value: the cleric does not have martial weapon proficiency to begin with. As well as weapon focus, they gain martial weapon proficiency with the weapon if appropriate, which is two feats. There's no mention of exotic weapon proficiency even if the deity's favoured weapon is exotic, so RAW a War domain cleric whose favoured weapon is exotic still needs to take the exotic weapon proficiency feat independently (personally, I would rule they get it as if it were martial weapon proficiency). There's no feat advantage to taking an exotic rather than martial favoured weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – Carcer
    Apr 28, 2017 at 19:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are easier ways to get martial weapon proficiency than burning a feat however. The same cannot be said of Exotic weapon proficiency. Multiclassing as a fighter/cleric for example would get them all of the martials, plus a bonus feat. Choosing an aasimar or elf for example would give access to quite a few. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Apr 28, 2017 at 20:02

As written Martial Weapon proficiency applies to a single weapon.

Your linked content says:

Choose a type of martial weapon. You understand how to use that type of martial weapon in combat...You can gain Martial Weapon Proficiency multiple times. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of weapon.


A cleric who chooses the War domain automatically gains the Martial Weapon Proficiency feat related to his deity’s favored weapon as a bonus feat, if the weapon is a martial one. He need not select it.

As the rule is written here, it only applies if the deity's favored weapon is classed as a martial weapon. NOT anything else (so exotic is right out).

The cleric doesn't get all the weapons.

they get:

Clerics are proficient with all simple weapons, with all types of armor (light, medium, and heavy), and with shields (except tower shields). A cleric who chooses the War domain receives the Weapon Focus feat related to his deity’s weapon as a bonus feat. He also receives the appropriate Martial Weapon Proficiency feat as a bonus feat, if the weapon falls into that category.

So they get just the one weapon, and the proficiency to use it IF they need it and IF it is a Martial Weapon. If it happens to be a simple weapon, then they don't need it and they don't get an extra Martial Weapon Proficiency feat or anything else to replace it. This is just so that they can not only use the weapon without penalty but also so that they can use Weapon Focus. They don't get to pick ANY weapon, they get to pick ONE.

So there should be limits. Even if you don't have a deity. Otherwise a DM can argue it can get overpowered pretty quickly.

Guidelines that the player can use to choose their weapon and argue against that:

  • culture. The culture that the cleric comes from uses this weapon extensively in their given area, especially in a religious context.
  • alignment. Use the spiritual weapon spell as your guide, as Karelzarath suggests or look at the deity list with the corresponding alignments allowed, and let that be your guide. Keep in mind that if you play a good cleric and you are wanting to use a weapon that is favored by an evil god, there might be stigma attached to that, so it's a decent guide, and really, pretty broad as far as choice is concerned.
  • philosophy There should be drawbacks to being unattached to a god, you must look closely at the philosophy and tenets your holy man follows.

If because of one of these things you wanted it to be unarmed, or a natural weapon, sure. But you don't get special bonuses or some kind of feat applied to it--because yes, weapon focus does apply to unarmed strike.

Under Weapon Focus it says:

WEAPON FOCUS [GENERAL] Choose one type of weapon. You can also choose unarmed strike or grapple (or ray, if you are a spellcaster) as your weapon for purposes of this feat. Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected weapon, base attack bonus +1. Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls you make using the selected weapon. Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of weapon. A fighter may select Weapon Focus as one of his fighter bonus feats. He must have Weapon Focus with a weapon to gain the Weapon Specialization feat for that weapon.

I have seen monsters in Eberron that have a weapon focus on a natural attack, and for those purposes it is considered a weapon. Plus, I do believe that natural attacks ARE considered Unarmed Strikes. So it's not special dispensation, that would actually be what you get, a +1 to that attack whatever it might be.

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    \$\begingroup\$ worthy to note: If the favored weapon happens to be an exotic weapon you will not get proficiency at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Weckar E.
    Apr 29, 2017 at 2:05

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