Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Clerics are one of D&D 5e’s most versatile classes.
Rather than sacrificing some spellcasting potency for improved martial prowess, the cleric manages to be one of the most powerful spellcasting classes in the game and a capable frontline fighter.
Then we have the fact that clerics can choose from the biggest (and most varied – although that’s more contentious) list of possible subclasses of any class.
Basically, the 5e cleric is so, so much more than a gods-bothering healbot.
They can be guardians of the wild places, whose attunement to nature rivals that of druids; they can be devastating battle mages, able to dish out offensive spells that make draconic bloodline sorcerers green with envy; and they can embrace the darkness wholeheartedly, choosing to worship death itself as its ultimate servants.
And that’s barely scratching the surface.
Whether you want to be a spell-slinging nuker, stalwart tank, social manipulator, healer, leader, utility support, a little bit sneaky, or some combination of the above, there are very few roles where a (well-thought-out) cleric build doesn’t shine.
That being so, let it never be said you can’t improve on perfection. There are a whole heap of ways to give your cleric a nice power boost or change up how they feel to play, from feats to magic items.
There’s one method that stands out from the rest, however, and that’s multiclassing.
Multiclassing (the act of taking some levels in one class and more levels in one or more other classes to create a hybrid class of your very own) can be a daunting prospect, especially for newer players.
With a base class as strong as a cleric, it can also be easy to get the feeling you’re just diluting something potent for the sake of some suboptimal abilities.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the best multiclass options for clerics to make building your very own hybrid character simple, easy, and effective.
Let’s jump right in.
Multiclassing: Some Things To Consider
The rules for multiclassing can, in all honesty, be kind of fiddly. It’s a complicated process applied to an already kind of dense and complicated game.
However, if you take these points into consideration, you should have your cleric/X-class up and running in no time.
If you’re interesting in multiclassing but find the additional rules are putting you off, try using an online character builder like DnDBeyond or Aidedd to do the heavy lifting for you.
You can click here for our complete guide to some of the best online character builders.
Prerequisites for Multiclassing
Before you can branch out into a new character class, you need to make sure your character’s ability scores meet the necessary threshold for multiclassing.
This is a holdover from older editions when your “Prime Requisite” ability score determined whether you could play certain classes (like the “Elf”, race-as-class fighter/wizard hybrid in B/X D&D) and also affected how much XP you gained.
The higher your prime requisite, the bigger your XP bonus at the end of the adventure.
The idea of having a prime requisite modifier isn’t explicitly stated in 5e – you can build a Strength 6 fighter and be on your not-very-merry way – but the concept still lurks under the surface, and multiclassing is one of the areas where it rears its snaggle-toothed head.
Each class’ unspoken prime requisite in 5e is tied to their most-used ability score.
Martial classes like the fighter and barbarian are intrinsically linked to their Strength.
Spellcasters tend to be tied to their spellcasting ability modifier; Intelligence for wizards, charisma for bards, Wisdom for druids and clerics, for example.
When choosing a multiclassing option, in order to take your first level in a new class, the 5e rules state you must have a score of at least 13 in the prime requisite ability (or abilities) of your new class.
Clerics tend to invest their ability score points into Strength, which powers their melee attacks, and Wisdom, which fuels their spellcasting.
Therefore, classes with Ability Score Minimums relating to either Strength or Wisdom are going to be prime candidates for a cleric multiclass.
That being said, there are plenty of ways to make other builds work for you, especially if you have a particular multiclass route in mind when you roll up your cleric at 1st level.
Multiclassing and Spellcasting
Keeping track of spell slots, spell levels, lists of prepared spells, material components, whether or not your hands are free to cast a spell, and any number of other considerations already make spellcasting one of the more daunting aspects of D&D.
This is why I recommend new players roll up a fighter or a barbarian.
When you multiclass, especially between two spellcasting-focused classes, things get even trickier.
Your spellcasting abilities depend partly on your combined levels in all your spellcasting classes and partly on your individual levels in those classes.
First, the easy stuff.
Spells Known and Prepared:
When figuring out which spells you know and which spells you can prepare, things are relatively straightforward. You just treat your character as two or more separate characters and combine the total results.
A Cleric 3/Wizard 1 character can learn and prepare all the spells that a 3rd-level cleric and a 1st-level wizard can prepare.
Calculating spell slots is a little trickier.
To figure out how many spell slots your multiclass build has, add up all your levels in the bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, and wizard classes and half your levels (rounded down) in the paladin and ranger classes.
The result is your multiclass spellcasting level, which you compare to the table below.
For example, a Cleric 4/Paladin 2 character’s spellcasting level is 4 (for the cleric) + 1 for the paladin for a total of 5, meaning they can cast four 1st-level spells, three 2nd-level spells, and two 5th-level spells.
Also, if you have more than one spellcasting class, this table might give you spell slots of a level that is higher than the spells you know or can prepare.
You can still use those slots but only to cast your lower-level spells.
If a lower-level spell that you cast, like burning hands, has an enhanced effect when cast using a higher-level slot, you can use the enhanced effect, even though you don’t have any spells of that higher level.
This free upcasting is one of the main attractions of multiclassing between spellcasters and half-caster classes at lower levels.
Multiclassing and Proficiencies
Multiclassing into a new class doesn’t guarantee you get all the proficiencies granted by that class as though you had chosen it at 1st level.
Check this table to make sure you’re not missing out on something vital to your build.
The thing most people miss when multiclassing is that heavy armor proficiency isn’t something you can get through multiclassing.
You need the Heavily Armored feat (and maybe the Moderately Armored feat as well) to put a wizard in platemail – although there are plenty of multiclass options that are going to get you a medium armor proficiency.
Multiclassing and Channel Divinity
Lastly, we should quickly address how multiclassing can interact with one of the cleric’s defining abilities: channel divinity.
Usually, your channel divinity (and subsequent effects like turn undead) are tied to your cleric level. A Cleric 3/Fighter 5 can use channel divinity like a 3rd-level cleric. Simple enough.
If you multiclass into a Cleric/Paladin build, you gain two sources of channel divinity.
While this does mean you get access to all the different effects granted by your various subclasses (like the cleric’s turn undead and the conquest paladin’s guided strike), you don’t get an extra use of the feature (much like multiclassing into two characters with Extra Attack doesn’t let you attack three times per turn).
You only gain additional uses when you reach a class level that explicitly grants them to you.
Right, with all that somewhat complicated stuff out of the way, let’s get into the really fun stuff.
Are There Any Exceptionally Good Multiclass Options for Clerics?
Because clerics tend to have high Strength and Wisdom and excel at both spellcasting (with different domains that focus on buffing/debuffing, damage, and healing) and tanking damage on the front lines, the best multiclass options for a cleric are going to be those that synergize with those core competencies.
Cleric/Druid – The Best for Spellcasting
Unlike Charisma-based spellcasters, of which there are a full four strong options, the only other seriously magically inclined class that uses Wisdom as its casting modifier other than the cleric is the druid.
While druidic subclasses that focus on using wild shape like the Circle of the Moon basically waste all the best elements of a cleric, spellcasting-focused druid subclasses can gel really well with a cleric build.
Also, because druids get the Shillelagh cantrip, which lets you use Wisdom as your attack and damage modifier when wielding a club or quarterstaff, dipping into druid can also effectively remove your cleric’s need for a decent strength score.
Clerics also have more and higher-level spell slots than druids, which means you’re going to be able to throw out great low-level druid spells, like Goodberry, per long rest.
Cleric/Fighter – The Best for Fighting
If you want to accentuate the tankier elements of a cleric, consider a simple dip into the fighter class.
Fighters are a hugely underrated class with a whole host of great proficiencies (hello, martial weapons), a fighting style, action surge (this basically gives you a better version of the sorcerer’s Twinned Spell metamagic once per short rest, allowing you to cast a spell and either attack, use a cantrip, or help an ally), and second wind for more survivability after just two levels of fighter.
Best Options for Cleric Multiclassing
The biggest drawback of multiclassing any character is the opportunity cost of forgoing a higher level of one class for a lower level in another.
If you want to multiclass with a cleric, it’s important to understand at which levels the class is particularly powerful and where the class has “dead levels” where you can afford to take a break and pick up something more useful somewhere else.
Cleric Key Levels
The cleric’s most potent power jumps come at 2nd level with the arrival of their Channel Divinity, at 5th level when they gain the ability to destroy lower level undead, and at 10th level when they gain a chance each day to call upon their deity for aid – the rules say that, if the deity intervenes, it’s appropriate to take the form of any cleric spell, which is insanely powerful.
Therefore, you should always weigh a potential multiclass level against how badly you want your next sweet, sweet divine powerup.
That being said, let’s look at some of the potential options for multiclassing clerics.
War Domain Cleric 15/Battle Master Fighter 5
This build doubles down on all the tankiness and melee-damage output that makes the Cleric/Fighter combo so powerful.
The War Cleric’s Divine Strike and Guided Strike abilities make you well equipped to land one powerful blow after another, and you can use the Battle Master Fighter’s maneuvers to keep your enemies focused on you and ramp up your damage output even further.
Also, at 3rd level, War Clerics get access to the Magical Weapon spell, meaning your melee attacks are going to be even more powerful.
It’s worth considering starting this build off as a fighter for the sake of heavy armor proficiency and then switching to cleric after you get your Action Surge.
Assassin Rogue 18/Grave Domain Cleric 2
This is a decidedly cleric-lite build, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention potentially the biggest single-hit damage dealer multiclass in the game.
The Grave Domain’s Path of the Grave Channel Divinity basically lets you double up on your damage against a single creature by making it momentarily vulnerable to the next damage type it suffers.
Combine this with the Assassin Rogue’s insane burst damage from its Sneak Attack, Assassinate (any hit against a surprised enemy is an automatic critical), and Death Strike (any surprised creature must pass a Constitution saving throw or take double damage – which is then doubled again by Path of the Grave), and this build can comfortably dish out north of 150 damage in a single hit.
It’s not good for much else, but if you need to delete an Adult White Dragon from the map in a single blow, this is the multiclass for you.
Life Domain Cleric 6/Circle of Stars Druid 14
This might be my favorite cleric multiclass combo of all.
The Circle of Stars druid’s wild shape – unlike other subclasses – doesn’t require you to transform into a beast and give up all your useful spellcasting abilities.
Instead, you get to choose between several different aspects, including the Archer, the Dragon, and the Chalice – which is the one you’re going to want to pick.
When you are in the Chalice wild shape, whenever you cast a spell using a spell slot that restores hit points to a creature, you or another creature within 30 feet of you can regain hit points equal to 1d8 + your Wisdom modifier.
This is a great way to bump up the healing capabilities of a Life Domain Cleric even further.
This build is, once again, a little non-cleric heavy. You’re welcome to play around with it to get something a bit more divine spellcasting focused.
I just think the Circle of Stars’ 14th-level feature, which gives it resistance to all bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage, is too good to pass up.
And that’s about it. There are a bunch of other cool combinations you can try for a cleric multiclass, like the Nature Domain Cleric/Ranger, the Knowledge Domain/Wizard, the Forge Domain/Paladin, the Tempest Domain/Totem Barbarian – all with their own unique benefits and drawbacks.
Still, if it’s your first time taking a step into the wonderful world of multiclassing, try one of the options above. They won’t disappoint.
Happy adventuring, folks.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.