Let’s be honest, adventurers are a rowdy bunch.
One moment they’re avoiding traps in abandoned temples and fighting terrifying creatures while the next they’re commandeering boats and setting off to be pirates.
I mean, at what point do “occupational hazards” just become sheer recklessness? Thankfully, the party has someone to tend to their wounds WHEN (not if) they find themselves in some serious trouble!
As it just so happens, that person is you!
It might sound like a huge burden, and it can feel like herding cats sometimes.
But don’t worry!
Between this full guide to the Life Cleric in D&D 5e and your deity, you’ll be just fine!
What is the Life Cleric in D&D 5e?
The Life Cleric is one of the seven Cleric subclasses published in the 5e Player’s Handbook. In many ways, this is exactly the type of character that most people have in mind when they think about Clerics.
And for good reason!
Life Clerics are exceptional healers who use their powers to tend to the sick and wounded. They spread the teachings of their deity and are fully committed to preserving and protecting life.
Because of their healing abilities, Life Clerics are commonly revered pillars within their community. This is especially true in smaller communities where there might not be a large, formal temple.
While one doesn’t have to be of “good” alignment to be a Life Cleric, this subclass certainly skews that way. After all, I don’t know that anybody would say healing the sick/injured is anything but good.
Because of the nature of their work, these Clerics tend to be especially devout. While virtually all Clerics certainly revere their deity and work to spread their influence, the Life Cleric is perhaps the most devout of all of them.
Preserving and protecting the positive energy of life is at the very core of everything they do.
While deities that symbolize healing and endurance through suffering (like Ilmater, for example) are the most common option, Life Clerics can be found among the worshippers of nearly every deity that isn’t evil.
Role in the Party
Don’t mistake Life Clerics for timid and squishy characters hiding in the party’s backline!
While they are certainly good at healing others, they are an instrument of their deity’s influence on the world. Sometimes that might mean healing the sick and feeding the hungry, but it also means defending those same people from evil.
When darkness (particularly the undead) threatens innocent lives, the Life Cleric takes their place on the frontlines.
With the protection of both their deity and heavy armor on their side, Life Clerics are formidable warriors just as surely as they are gifted healers.
You are the party’s shield using a combination of melee attacks and spells to defend your allies.
As you level up, you become even more efficient at healing the party. This means you have more spell slots that you can use to destroy the forces of evil that oppose you!
Life Cleric Abilities
As level up as a Life Cleric, you’ll gain new features that help you to be a more efficient healer. Nearly every one of the features you gain is meant to buff your healing output.
When playing a Life Cleric, don’t forget to keep track of what all bonuses you’re getting to your heals. We’ll be going over each feature individually in this guide, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t leave any of those hit points on the table!
So, let’s get into it!
Life Domain Spells
Every Divine Domain (Cleric subclass) also comes with its own unique list of bonus spells. These are called Domain Spells.
You gain these Domain Spells when you hit the level on the table below. These spells are considered to always be prepared for you and they don’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.
Some Domain Spell lists might include spells that aren’t normally on the Cleric spell list. In these cases, the spell counts as a Cleric spell for you and uses your Wisdom modifier as the spellcasting ability.
So, let’s check out what you get for choosing the Life Domain!
|Cleric Level||Domain Spells|
|1||Bless, Cure Wounds|
|3||Lesser Restoration, Spiritual Weapon|
|5||Beacon of Hope, Revivify|
|7||Death Ward, Guardian of Faith|
|9||Mass Cure Wounds, Raise Dead|
Thoughts on the Life Cleric Spell List
The Life Domain Spell list hits pretty much every note you could want or expect from this subclass.
If you can keep your concentration up, Bless is an excellent staple buff that will serve you well at any level.
Cure Wounds is another excellent staple spell. Pick up Healing Word since that will work MUCH better for you in combat, but Cure Wounds is excellent when you need more healing.
Getting paralyzed, poisoned, blinded, or deafened can lead to an inglorious end for characters, especially at lower levels. As the party’s healer, having Lesser Restoration is always handy!
Spiritual Weapon is a much-loved Cleric spell for good reason. For the spell slot and use of your bonus actions, it’s pure value.
When you need even more “oomph” for your healing spells and the party has burned through most of their Hit Dice, Beacon of Hope is excellent.
Revivify is another Cleric staple. If the party’s Rogue finds a trap in a not-so-pleasant way, you’ll be able to bring them back to life.
It’s always nice to have some extra insurance and Death Ward is quite the lifesaver. I’m not particularly keen on Guardian of Faith, personally, since you have much more efficient ways of dealing damage with your spell slots. *cough, Spiritual Weapon, cough, cough*
The spells you gain at level 9 are good to have “just in case”, I suppose. Mass Cure Wounds can be great, but your Channel Divinity pretty much has you covered on group heals.
Raise Dead is good when you need it, but if you’re needing it too often as a Life Cleric then you should really focus on tending to your party’s hit points before they end up on the wrong side of an enemy’s weapon. Your spell slots and friends will thank you!
Bonus Proficiency (Level 1)
As a Life Cleric, you gain proficiency with heavy armor at level 1.
You know how healers in most games are usually hiding in the backline while buffing and healing their allies?
Yeah… that’s not you.
Decked out in heavy armor with symbols of your faith, you’re right there on the front line. When your allies need a buff or some healing, you’re right next to them. When they’re doing alright, you can bring divine pain upon whatever enemies are standing against you!
This may seem like a small bonus proficiency, but it’s incredibly helpful!
Recommended: Concentration in D&D 5e Explained
Disciple of Life (Level 1)
Considering that healing is what this subclass is all about, is it any wonder that you’re starting off with more potent healing spells?
Whenever you use a spell of level 1 or higher to restore hit points to a creature, the creature regains additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.
This is so good that it’s not a stretch to imagine every healing spell you cast being accompanied by harps. As you level up and get access to more healing spells, this will only get better!
Efficient healing means that you’re healing for more and need to use fewer spell slots to do so.
Let’s use a staple healing spell as an example here.
Cure Wounds normally restores hit points equal to 1d8 per spell level + your Wisdom modifier. Let’s assume you have a Wisdom ability score of 18 which means you’re getting a +4 from that.
|Cure Wounds Level||Healing||Disciple of Life Bonus||Max Total Healing||Average Healing|
|1||1d8 + WIS||+3||15||12|
|2||2d8 + WIS||+4||24||17|
|3||3d8 + WIS||+5||33||23|
|4||4d8 + WIS||+6||42||28|
|5||5d8 + WIS||+7||51||34|
The benefits here are exponential and will serve you very well throughout your adventuring career!
Just keep in mind that this only applies to healing spells. Things like potions or your Channel Divinity don’t get this bonus.
(Also, shout out to Rumkin for making this handy dice stats tool to help with these numbers.)
Channel Divinity: Preserve Life (Level 2)
While all Clerics can use their Channel Divinity to turn or destroy Undead, the Life Cleric gets a unique use of this feature.
Keep in mind that you can use Channel Divinity a number of times per short rest based on your level. (Once for levels 1-5, twice for levels 6-17, and three times for levels 18 or higher.) This includes using it for either Turn/Destroy Undead OR the option you get from your Divine Domain.
Fitting with the Life Cleric’s role in the party, this is a simply fantastic healing feature. Used well, it can quickly turn the tides in combat!
As an action, present your holy symbol and restore a number of hit points equal to five times your Cleric level. Choose any creatures within 30 feet of you and divide these hit points among them.
This feature can restore a creature to no more than half of its hit point maximum.
You cannot use this feature on an undead or construct.
In those darkest moments where a TPK seems inevitable, the Life Cleric puts their fate entirely in the hands of their deity. Channeling divinity, a burst of healing energy can revitalize the party and help them emerge victoriously!
This gets more and more potent as you continue to level up. Furthermore, you can use it multiple times per short rest as you take more Cleric levels.
If there was only one reason (though there are so many more) to play a Life Cleric, it’s this.
It won’t put a character above 50% of their max HP, but it’s more than enough to have a huge impact. Bonus points if you’ve got multiple allies that are currently at zero HP and can pick them all up at once!
Blessed Healer (Level 6)
“Physician, heal thyself” is wise advice and now it’s remarkably easy to do!
When you cast a healing spell of level 1 or higher that restores hit points to a creature other than you, you regain hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.
Thanks to your high armor class because of your heavy armor, you probably aren’t getting hit terribly often. But we all need a little “pick me up” from time to time!
Being able to recover some of your own hit points while healing your allies just adds even more efficiency to the Life Cleric’s kit.
You can never have too many hit points after all!
If you’ve just taken a beatdown from an enemy, this won’t be enough to go crazy about. Give yourself a heal then get back into the fight. As you’re healing your allies, Blessed Healer should help top you off during the encounter.
Divine Strike (Level 8)
Life Clerics don’t get an Extra Attack feature, but Divine Strike at level 8 helps boost their melee damage output.
Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 radiant damage to the target.
When you reach level 14, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
As a heavily armored Cleric, you’re on the party’s frontlines. You’ve got some potent spells, but don’t hesitate to swing your weapon at enemies!
Radiant damage is a very dependable damage type so this will serve you well. Unless you’re fighting Angels, you’re not likely to encounter many creatures that resist it.
Just make sure that you’ve invested in either Strength or Dexterity so that you can reliably deal melee damage. If you can’t hit enemies, this feature becomes useless!
Related: Ability Scores in D&D 5e Explained
Supreme Healing (Level 17)
At level 17, we come to the Life Cleric’s capstone feature: Supreme Healing.
When you would normally roll one or more dice to restore hit points with a spell, you instead use the highest number possible for each die.
For example, instead of restoring 2d6 hit points to a creature, you restore 12.
As if the Life Cleric couldn’t become a more efficient healer for the party, Supreme Healing just puts them over the top.
Obviously, more healing is always a good thing. Even with your many bonuses, rolling a 1 on a healing die is just a deflating feeling. Now you’re always healing at maximum capacity, baby!
But this also means that you’re better able to plan how you’re using your spell slots.
Now you know exactly how much a spell will be healing for at a given spell slot. You don’t have to bet on the average to upcast a healing spell and hope that it’s enough without being wasteful!
This won’t benefit you with certain higher-level spells like Heal that don’t involve rolling dice. However, it’s very handy for lower-level staple spells like Cure Wounds or Healing Word.
At these higher tiers of play, being able to be more efficient with your resources is never a bad thing!
Pretty much any deity that isn’t evil would make sense for Life Clerics to dedicate themselves to. Protecting and promoting life is pretty objectively a good thing, after all!
A Cleric from a small farming community could have just as much reason for dedicating themselves to the Life Domain as one from a large city.
The farmer might take more of a natural view on life and be a pillar in their small but tight-knit community. Meanwhile, a Life Cleric in a large city might take more of an activist stance within an organization helping the homeless, starving, and downtrodden of the city.
This subclass greatly leans towards a character that is fundamentally good. Within a large religious organization, they might be more lawful. On the other hand, they might be more Chaotic Good and seek to help and heal others that the temples have neglected.
Though you might explore why your character believes so strongly in the force of life.
Where do they draw the line between being a healer and instead raising their weapon against an enemy? Do they believe that their enemies can be redeemed?
What has motivated your Life Cleric to join the party beyond “we need a healer”?
Perhaps you believe that money earned from adventuring can be used to better assist the poor in your hometown? Has your deity guided you to meet this party for some greater calling that has not been revealed to you yet?
There’s a ton of potential with the Life Cleric when it comes to connecting them to the story and party!
But, as with all Clerics, make sure that you clearly connect their faith and reasoning to the adventure. If it is the will of their deity, a devout Cleric will gladly serve accordingly.
Is the Life Cleric Good?
Life Clerics are the undisputed GOAT when it comes to healing in D&D 5e. They’re able to pump out insane levels of healing to keep their party up in even the most dangerous situations.
Even better, gaining proficiency with heavy armor right out of the gate means they’re deceptively tanky. You’re not a squishy, robed priest hiding in the party’s backline as a Life Cleric. You’re an armored agent of your deity dedicated to preserving the lives of your party and destroying evil!
There is a reason that the Life Domain is exactly what comes to mind when most people think of Clerics!
It’s hard to overstate the amount of impact that Life Clerics have on the game. They can almost singlehandedly turn an encounter from almost certain defeat into a resounding victory!
Honestly, the Life Cleric is so good that it’s almost difficult to justify even considering a different domain.
When you say that you’re playing a Cleric, the party will almost certainly be happy. If you mention that you’re playing something other than the Life Domain, you might need to do some explaining. (That’s been my experience and observations, anyway.)
In any case, the Life Cleric is unmatched in their healing abilities and every party is better for having one!
Curious how the Life Cleric stacks up against the other Divine Domains? Check out my ranking of every Cleric subclass in D&D 5e!
Conclusion – Life Cleric in D&D 5e
I hope you’ve found this guide to the Life Cleric in D&D 5e helpful!
What are your thoughts on the Life Domain? Let’s chat in the comments!
I’ve had a ton of requests for Cleric guides so I’m excited to start getting those published. If there’s a particular Cleric subclass you’d like to see a guide for, let me know! (There are a ton of subclass options for Clerics and commenting lets me know what will be the most helpful for you!)
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