Nature Clerics in D&D 5e have many roles.
In service to deities who preside over nature, forests, and agriculture, Nature Clerics work to maintain these foundations of all life.
Farmers eagerly seek these Clerics’ blessings on their fields and those who would corrupt or destroy nature fear these Clerics’ wrath.
Do you find your faith in the heart of the forest? Will you stand to defend nature and advance the will of the deities who rule over it?
Then this article is for you!
This is the full subclass guide to the Nature Cleric in D&D 5e!
What is the Nature Cleric in D&D 5e?
Realistically, the Nature Cleric is a type of mixture of the Cleric and Druid classes.
The difference between the theme of the Nature Cleric and that of most Druid subclasses is admittedly small. However, there is an important bit of nuance between the two.
Druids revere nature as a whole. They recognize and revere many natural deities as an important aspect of the greater picture. Passing down legends, knowledge, and rites that have been virtually forgotten, they function more like mystics and sages.
Nature Clerics recognize the various deities who rule the Nature Domain, but they heavily tie themselves to one. In service to this chosen deity, the Nature Cleric takes an active role in advancing that deity’s agenda.
Think of Druids as looking over the well-being of an entire farm. Nature Clerics work alongside Druids in doing so but focus primarily on one section of the farm like the pumpkins, tomatoes, or cabbage.
Nature Clerics defend nature from threats such as monstrosities, plagues, and the ravages of war. Meanwhile, they also will typically take an active role in ensuring that a town’s fields are yielding sufficient harvests.
Deities commonly revered by Nature Clerics include:
- Silvanus, God of Nature (particularly Wild Nature)
- Chauntea, Goddess of Agriculture, Life, and the Harvest
- Eldath, Goddess of Groves and small bodies of water
- Mielikki, Goddess of Forests, Autumn, and Dryads
- Obad-Hai, God of Nature, Woodlands, Hunting, and Beasts
- Balinor, God of Nature and Instinct in Dragonlance
Role in the Party
The Nature Cleric fills a slightly weird role in the party.
Gaining heavy armor proficiency at level 1, they’re able to hang on the frontlines of the party much easier. A higher Armor Class means they can hold their own much easier while still offering healing and support to their allies.
Additionally, you’ll be dealing more damage with your melee attacks once you gain Divine Strike at level 8.
However, the Nature Cleric also pulls in some of the Druid class’s nature-based utility and battlefield control. This is especially the case with the spell list you get from the Nature Domain.
Nature Clerics are at their best when they have plenty of plants and animals that they can interact with.
In a campaign that sees the party bushwhacking their way through a jungle or navigating woodland areas, a Nature Cleric will be right at home. There they can use their features to make friends with beasts and plants or diffuse an encounter with one.
Beyond that, Nature Clerics can dish out some Divine punishment upon their enemies and heal/support their party as the situation calls for.
Nature Cleric Features 5e
Unsurprisingly, the features you gain from the Nature Domain are primarily based on… well… nature!
You’ll be gaining a druid cantrip and proficiency with a nature-based skill of your choice. From there you get the ability to charm beasts and plants and eventually command them.
The big draw, however, will be your ability to give yourself or an ally resistance to certain elemental damage types.
Let’s take a closer look starting with the spells you gain from the Nature Domain!
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Nature 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 Nature Domain!
|Cleric Level||Domain Spells|
|1||Animal Friendship, Speak with Animals|
|3||Barkskin, Spike Growth|
|5||Plant Growth, Wind Wall|
|7||Dominate Beast, Grasping Vine|
|9||Insect Plague, Tree Stride|
Thoughts on the Nature Cleric Spell List
Most of the Nature Cleric’s spell list is extremely situational with a few exceptions.
At low levels where you’re more likely to encounter beast enemies, Animal Friendship can be handy for getting around those encounters. With Speak with Animals, you might even be able to get some information from some furry, feathered, scaley, or otherwise friends.
Spike Growth is a standout spell on this spell list. It can make for a great enemy deterrent or possibly combo with other features/abilities to be devastating. Your other spell at level 3, Barkskin, is nice but your concentration will generally be better spent elsewhere.
Despite being situational, I do like Plant Growth. With some creativity, you can come up with all kinds of clever uses for it like sealing areas off with overgrowth or becoming very fast friends with every farmer you meet.
Wind Wall is mostly good if you find yourself getting pelted by a bunch of enemies at range. Nice to have, I suppose, but it’s not super commonly used.
Hot take, but I’m a fan of Grasping Vine. Once again, you’ll want to use it creatively and look for ways to interact with the environment. Use Grasping Vine to drag enemies through your Spike Growth or pull them into a whirlpool of doom.
You might find some use for Dominate Beast when you get it at level 7. But beast-type enemies get much more uncommon as you level up, which means you might not get opportunities to use this as regularly as you would probably like.
Tree Stride is a nature-themed answer to being able to teleport. It’s useful and fits the theme of the Nature Cleric well.
If you’re getting overrun or just need to keep some particularly troublesome enemies busy, Insect Plague can be good for crowd control.
Bonus Proficiency (Level 1)
Adventuring is dangerous work. Unless you’re exceptionally quick on your feet, it’s not a bad idea to be as well-armored as you can!
You gain proficiency with Heavy Armor.
Wearing heavy armor means you can dump your Dexterity score (or at least not bother making it higher than 10) in favor of buffing up your Strength score.
Not only are you going to be capable of wearing heavy armor, but you’ll get a nice benefit to strength-based melee attacks too!
Related: D&D 5e Ability Scores Explained
Acolyte of Nature (Level 1)
Pulling from the Druid’s bag of tricks, Nature Clerics get the Acolyte of Nature feat at level 1.
You learn one Druid Cantrip of your choice.
You also gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Animal Handling, Nature, or Survival.
For your cantrip, Thorn Whip is arguably the best choice.
I think a big temptation here is to go with the Druid staple cantrip, Shillelagh.
I’m not knocking that choice and it will play well with your level 8 feature. If you want to bonk your enemies into the ground, I’d recommend checking out my guide to using Shillelagh.
However, this is a golden opportunity to pick up something that you’ll get more use out of.
Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants (Level 2)
As with all Clerics, you’re gaining a new option for how to use your Channel Divinity feature!
As an action, you present your holy symbol and invoke the name of your deity. Each beast or plant creature that can see you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw.
If the creature fails its saving throw, it is charmed by you for 1 minute or until it takes damage.
While it is charmed by you, it is friendly to you and other creatures you designate.
I have to admit, I’m not so crazy about this feature.
Channel Divinity is typically a very powerful feature and it’s often a core aspect of how a Cleric subclass functions. Charm Animals and Plants is incredibly situational.
The good thing about this feature is that it affects every beast and plant creature within 30 feet of you (provided they can see you.) If you’re getting overrun by a pack of dire wolves, this can absolutely save you and your allies’ lives.
At the lower levels where beasts and plant monsters are more common, this is pretty solid in most adventurers.
The reason that I can’t help but shrug a bit at this is that beasts and plant creatures are very uncommon as you continue to level up. While there certainly are some tough ones like Corpse Flowers or Giant Scorpions, those just tend to be less common.
If you’re considering playing a Nature Cleric, you want to make sure that the adventure will put you in environments where this can be useful. That’s a very valid question to ask during your group’s Session Zero.
Especially considering that your capstone feature will be building on this feature, it won’t be super fun to have a feature that just never really comes up.
Dampen Elements (Level 6)
I’m not going to step off my soapbox just yet…
However, for the Nature Cleric’s level 6 feature, I’ve got nothing but good things to say! If there’s one reason to pick the Nature Domain, it would be this one.
When you or a creature within 30 feet of you takes acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage, you can use your reaction to grant resistance to the creature against that instance of the damage.
You’re basically getting unlimited uses of Absorb Elements that you can use to protect yourself OR your allies. If you need to, you can use this every round! Just keep your action economy in mind when it comes to using your reactions.
Remember: you only get one reaction per round. You’ll regain your use of this feature at the start of your next turn.
As for using this, dragons are the first creatures that immediately come to mind with this feature.
This will be very handy when dealing with Black, White, Red, or Blue dragons since they favor acid, cold, fire, and lightning respectively. Green dragons’ poison damage will still be problematic though.
But there’s no shortage of enemies that favor these various elements. Furthermore, this is adaptable enough that you’ll probably find yourself getting some very good use out of it!
Divine Strike (Level 8)
Time to buff that 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 cold, fire, or lightning (your choice) to the target.
When you reach level 14, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
Getting your pick of what type of elemental damage you want to deal is very handy. It will help you get around enemy resistances and possibly even exploit an enemy’s elemental weakness!
Considering that you’re probably decked out in heavy armor and on the frontlines, this is an excellent feature for you.
Master of Nature (Level 17)
Finally, we come to the Nature Cleric’s capstone feature, Master of Nature.
While creatures are charmed by your Charm Animals and Plants feature, you can take a bonus action on your turn to verbally command what each of those creatures will do on its next turn.
As far as capstone features go, I honestly find this one underwhelming. My gripes for this are largely the same as they are for the Channel Divinity that this feature so heavily depends on.
Using your Channel Divinity’s Charm Animals and Plants feature let you charm a bunch of beasts and plants for 1 minute. With Master of Nature, you can now use your bonus action to command your new friends.
If you could use Charm Animals and Plants to charm a bunch of beasts and plants for several hours, this would be much more useful. I could see the value in gaining a whole pack of dire wolves or sentient plants to help you as you storm the enemy’s fortress.
But you’ve got one minute to find your new friends, charm them, give them orders, then send them on their way.
Considering how rare beasts and plant enemies are at this top tier of play, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any meaningful reason to use this. Even if you do, you can only do so for 2 minutes per short rest by using both of your Channel Divinity slots.
I really try to put a positive spin on things and think of practical reasons something could be considered good. Unfortunately, this feature just provides too little value and comes WAY too late.
Where characters like Druids commonly find their origins in deep and secluded wooded areas, the Nature Cleric can easily break from that.
It’s wise for every town or village to have some kind of shrine or temple dedicated to a deity who presides over some aspect of nature. The Nature Clerics at this shrine or temple would be very important in blessing the fields as well as keeping a balance between civilization and nature.
If the nature of civilization is to expand, Nature Clerics might pray to and communicate with their deity to ensure that such an expansion is blessed.
Furthermore, Nature Clerics are a key line of defense against terrifying monstrosities or dangerous plagues.
Particularly if it’s to prevent harm from being inflicted upon their community and the environment around them, Nature Clerics can be easily pulled into an adventure.
The Gods and Goddesses of the Nature Domain are incredibly old and wise. They might see the importance of spurring a Nature Cleric in their service towards an adventure.
After all, few beings play the long game quite as well as the Nature deities!
Is the Nature Cleric Good?
I need to be honest with you here… Druids are my favorite class which might mean there’s probably some bias in what I’m about to say.
I can’t really think of any good reason to play a Nature Cleric instead of a Druid.
Nature Clerics are powerful because the base Cleric class is very powerful. But the Nature Domain doesn’t particularly do much to really add to the base Cleric.
You can wear heavy armor and your Dampen Elements feature can be especially handy against creatures like dragons that favor certain types of elemental damage. But everything else that this class offers seems to just play like any other Cleric but with some watered-down Druid features.
The themes with the Nature Cleric are fun and you can certainly have a great time playing one.
At least mechanically, however, this subclass suffers from a Channel Divinity and Capstone that will get continually less useful as you level up and a spell list that’s mostly forgettable.
I really want to like the Nature Cleric in D&D 5e, truly. With any class or subclass, I’m very hesitant to dunk on it.
In an adventure like Tomb of Annihilation (review here!) with plenty of jungle/wilderness exploring, the Nature Cleric will be slightly more useful. But it will still face the same issue of relying on creature types that just aren’t as common beyond the earliest levels.
Sadly, the Nature Domain is just not on the same level as the other options available to Clerics.
Conclusion – Nature Cleric in D&D 5e
To be honest, I’m not going to be surprised if I’ve ruffled some feathers here. I know that there are plenty of people who really, really love the Nature Cleric.
But as much as I enjoy the themes of it, it’s just not a standout option to me. As I mentioned, it’s good because the Cleric class is good, but it doesn’t do much to add to the experience in my opinion.
However, I’m just looking at the mechanics here. It’s fully possible to play a Nature Cleric and have them become your all-time favorite character!
I’m certainly interested to get your thoughts on the Nature Cleric in D&D 5e. Let’s chat in the comments!
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