D&D 5e: Three New Cleric Spells


As part of working on a new manuscript for Tribality Publishing, I decided that I wanted to create some new cleric spells. I’ve already got a handful of new cantrips ready to go, so I wanted these to be 1st-level or higher. I also wanted to explore some divine magic themes that the current cleric and cleric spell list don’t draw on very much. Oh, and here’s a previous collection of five cleric spells that I wrote.

Bard Spell List

Third Level
Clarion Call

Cleric Spell List

Third Level
Clarion Call
Fourth Level
Angelic Boon
Fifth Level
Righteous Accusation

Paladin Spell List

Third Level
Clarion Call
Fifth Level
Righteous Accusation

Angelic Boon

4th-level evocation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
You invoke the powerful name of an angel, causing you to embody a small portion of the angel’s power. Evil clerics receive a similar boon from fallen angels. You may spend an action to touch an adjacent creature. If the creature you touch is an ally, you restore hit points equal to 2d8 + your spellcasting modifier. If the creature you touch is an enemy, make a melee spell attack. On a hit, the target takes 3d8 radiant damage.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the amount of damage healed or caused by the spell increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 4th.

Clarion Call

3rd-level abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, M (a horn of great quality, worth at least 50 gp)
Duration: Instantaneous

You sound the horn or clarion, waking sleepers and clearing thoughts of outside influence. Choose any number of creatures within range, and end one of the following effects or conditions on them: charmed, frightened, the confusion spell and similar effects, and the enthrall spell. Additionally, all sleeping creatures in range are awakened. This spell cannot affect deafened creatures.

Righteous Accusation

5th-level enchantment
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, optional M (see below)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
You denounce one creature within range for its sins against your holy ethos. Choose one sentient or undead creature within range, who must succeed a Charisma saving throw or suffer 8d10 psychic damage and become frightened for the duration. A creature that succeeds its saving throw takes half as much damage and isn’t frightened. A frightened creature may make a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns; on a success, the frightened condition ends.
If you create a scroll worth at least 100 gold pieces that names the creature and details its specific crimes or sins and present this scroll during the casting, the creature makes its initial saving throw with disadvantage. The scroll is consumed in the casting. As long as it is frightened, it also suffers vulnerability against bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, and one additional damage type that you specify when you create the scroll. If your scroll names a creature other than the one you have targeted, or specifies crimes or sins inapplicable to your target, your spell fails, but the scroll is not consumed.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, the base damage increases by 1d10 for each slot level above 5th.

Design Notes

The D&D cleric already draws on the Old Testament and Christian hagiography, since these are major elements within the whole of Western storytelling, and because the overwhelming majority of American D&D players have no contact with clergy other than Jewish or Christian clergy. My point here is that the first two spells are inspired by Western ideas of angels. The third comes from the cleric as one to show sinners the error of their ways – in typical D&D fashion, this involves a combative approach.

Angelic boon comes from a brief read of the deva in the OGL (since that is stripped down to pure stats) – the deva can use a powerful healing touch three times per day. What I wanted here was a versatile spell that offered alternate healing functionality, and once I started along that line I thought it would be cool to give it an attack alternative. Making the attack Reliable (to borrow the 4e terminology) is intended to handle the fact that you had an option within the spell that didn’t have to roll to hit.

The original version of angelic boon I wrote worked only three times in its duration. I showed it to Stands-in-Fire, who pointed out (in much kinder terms) that my knowledge of the new-to-5e healing spells, such as aura of vitality, was for shit and I should really rethink the spell. The spell’s closest comparison now is vampiric touch, which both damages and heals in the same action. Angelic boon heals a lot more damage than vampiric touch cast with a 4th-level slot (and isn’t a self-only heal), and deals a fairly comparable amount of damage, but doesn’t do both at once. To me, that says that there’s a place for this spell in the cleric’s arsenal. Many thanks to Stands-in-Fire for his help with this spell.

Clarion call comes from the shofar and the angelic trumpets (there’s historical debate over whether a clarion and a trumpet are the same thing) of the Book of Revelation. And, well, the “horn that wakes the sleepers” of the Night’s Watch oath in A Song of Ice and Fire. Anyway, I don’t think bards or clerics have a lot of good ways to cleanse the charmed or frightened conditions or wake sleeping characters, to say nothing of confusion and enthrall. (On a related note, I still wish that confusion had just been a condition in itself.) Effects “related to” confusion include the umber hulk’s Confusing Gaze trait.

By making clarion call work on all sleeping characters except for deafened ones, I’ve created one set of circumstances where you really don’t want to use this spell (stealth missions, or while escaping from the Woodland Realm in barrels), and set up silence as a workaround. Silence is such a weird spell, with such a botched history in D&D (hint: not originally intended to be a 2nd-level spell ideal for pwning absolutely any spellcaster) that I wanted to create an alternate (if very, very corner-case) use for it.

I’m concerned that clarion call steps on greater restoration a bit, but it covers a different arrangement of effects, most of which the game treats as lower-powered than the other things greater restoration fixes. Still, it’s an open question to me.

Righteous accusation is, as much as anything, inspired by the Accusers of the Left Hand of the Throne in Dust to Dust, a general analogue for the Holy Office of the Inquisition. A writ of grievances, delivered at point-blank range, fueled by a lot of righteous anger… my thinking is that this spell is a great way to open a boss fight once you’re a 9th-level cleric (you know, high enough level to start facing off against the people or things behind some of the really bad stuff), and it makes a deeply satisfying scene.

There are two weird mechanics going on here. First of all, clerics don’t spend a lot of time throwing around psychic damage, but I wanted to represent the mental strain of being forcefully confronted with one’s sins, and… I dunno, if clerics were ever going to deal psychic damage, this seems like the way. Secondly, the optional material component is something I don’t recall seeing in other spells so far, though a few (like imprisonment) have variable-cost components. Basically, there are two ways you use this spell. It is on-par when used without a component, against a target you know nothing about (as long as that target is sentient or undead). The other use is that showdown opener that I mentioned. The only problem is that Legendary Resistance might really crimp your style against bosses of CR 13 and up. But, well, for all that Legendary Resistance gets in your way, even imposing vulnerability might not be worth spending a Legendary Resistance (from the boss’s point of view) if he’s worried about what else your spellcasters have in store.

What I’ve learned from this exercise is that designing healing spells is a lot more complicated than conventional attack spells, just because the healing already in the game is precise in its variation – looking for a new healing niche is tricky. Attack spells and condition-cleansing spells are rarer, and fall off even more at mid-levels.

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