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Most Underrated Cleric and Paladin Spells in D&D 5e



Clerics and Paladins in Dungeons and Dragons are designed to fill a wide variety of roles in a fantasy world, but the most common interpretations of these classes can be categorized by two simple and restrictive words: “Heal” and “Smite”.  This article is going to take the road less travelled and try to identify some diamonds in the rough to present ideas to help players discover new and exciting approaches to playing these vibrant and diverse classes. 

As always, Six Sides of Gaming wants to provide insight and excitement to players who wish to try something new. These opinions are not meant to dismiss a player’s preference or interest, rather we wish merely to provide a second look at some lesser-known spells.

Clairvoyance, Lv 3 Divination

Third level cleric spells are pretty dynamic, but as with Wizards and Sorcerers of the same level, there are a handful of well known go-to spells that seem to be pretty much obligatory.  There comes a point, though, where your bases are covered when it comes to keeping your party fed, topped up on hit points or even safe from the threat of death.  It’s at this point that Clairvoyance becomes a solid option.

The act of scrying is usually the domain of powerful spellcasters, but this spell is able to provide much of the same functionality with a broader scope of surveillance by targeting a location rather than a particular individual. It is a lower tier of spell slot than Scrying, and as such has some limitations in functionality when directly compared, but it is still a valuable resource in an urban or dungeon setting where the range of 1 mile can potentially access many locations of interest.  With a duration of 10 minutes (provided concentration can be maintained), a great deal of information can be gleaned with a relatively low spell slot.  

The biggest drawback would be that the caster cannot perceive audio and visuals simultaneously, but this can be toggled with the use of an action.  Over a 10 minute duration, a single action is a small price to pay, and depending on the purpose of using the spell, one or the other may suit your purposes anyway.

Warding Bond, Lv 2 Abjuration

            This is a delightfully weird spell that is sure to keep your DM on their toes.  It has a fairly costly material component for a second level spell – a pair of platinum rings worth at least 50gp each – which, thankfully, is not consumed when the spell is cast.  This can be a risky spell because any damage suffered by the tethered character is dealt to the caster as well, which means careful planning must be performed before using it.  Even with those considerations, this spell can be extremely potent for both combat and explorational purposes.  Warding Bond acts as both a buff for a character other than the caster and a damage sink for all players involved.  While the designated target remains within 60’ of the caster, the subject receives a +1 bonus to both Armor Class and Saving throws as well as resistance to all forms of damage.

            If the caster were to have resistance to the source of damage affecting the target, the damage inflicted by the spell would be further reduced by half.  On its own, the spell can greatly increase survivability of one party member while simultaneously buying the healer some time by providing several buffs (AC/Saves/Resistances) while consuming only a single spell slot.  This effect lasts for a full hour (unless cancelled by the caster using an action to do so) and does not require concentration.  

Crusader’s Mantle, Lv 3 Evocation

            Paladin spells are not used often in and of themselves unless being used for healing or smiting.  This spell is situational, but as an aura rather than a targeted buff, it can end up providing a LOT of additional damage output.  As a third level spell, Crusader’s Mantle is a substantial investment for a Paladin in terms of spell slot consumption but if used in conjunction with a couple other combatants within range possessing multiattack, this spell can be absolutely devastating!

            This spell adds 1d4 radiant damage to any attack (melee or ranged) made by a non-hostile creature within a 30’ radius of the caster, including the caster themselves, for up to 10 rounds.  A 30’ radius is considerable in a melee combat situation, and with concentrated attacks on a single target from multiple people within range, Crusader’s Mantle can easily add an extra 20 damage per round on average.  Lucky rolls can really put down a heavy target quickly.  Also, as radiant damage, this bonus becomes even more substantial against demonic, devilish, undead and dark-aspected targets. 

The only drawback to this spell is that it does not scale up in damage if cast at higher levels, but the extra damage output remains substantial even at higher levels when more attacks per action are added to the mix.  Without scaling capabilities, this is a prime example of a spell that is good to scribe onto scrolls to diversify a player’s effectiveness.

Circle of Power, Lv 5 Abjuration

            This spell is absurdly powerful and exclusively available to Paladins.  Within a 30’ radius that moves with the caster, all friendly creatures are given advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.  In addition, while protected in this way any spells that allow the player to receive half damage on a success deal no damage if the saving throw (with advantage) succeeds, similar to the Rogue’s Evasion ability except that this applies to all saving throw types instead of just DEX.  

            Imagine your entire party walking away from a fireball unscathed.  Disintegrate?  Pfft.  Cloudkill?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  All of this glory because one heavily-armoured superhero says so (Verbal component only to cast).  Sounds good, right?

Cleric and Paladin spells seem a little less diverse overall, but there are a few hidden gems that can really have lasting impacts on combat encounters and change the trope from healbot to a grand and fearsome defender of the faith.  I think that because the spell lists are inherently available to every player and actual spell use is merely a matter of choice, a wider variety of spells have been experimented with when compared to the Wizard and Sorcerer spell lists.  In the case of the arcane spellcasting classes, the selections made when choosing spells are more dependent on broadly-applicable effects to provide the most utility in the case of Sorcerers or are gated by access or costs to research for the Wizard class.  Those considerations aside, I hope that you find the suggestions above to be interesting additions to your spellcasting repertoire.  

We here at Six Sides of Gaming want to hear what you think!  Are there any spells we missed?  Do you have any questions or comments?  Contact Six Sides of Gaming and make your voice heard!  

You can also tune into my stream of Dungeon of the Mad Mage Wednesday evenings at 5:30pm EST on @SixSidesofGaming’s Twitch feed to see some of these spells put to good use!

Game happy, folks!

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