DnD Grave Cleric 5e subclass guide

Want to build a Grave Domain Cleric for your next Dungeons and Dragons game? Here’s how to get started with the Grave Cleric 5e subclass

DnD Grave Cleric 5e on blue background (art by Wizards of the Coast)

The DnD Grave Cleric sees the end of life as a sacred thing. They commune with the gods of the grave, ending the suffering of tortured spirits and helping the dying pass on peacefully. It’s not all gentle goodnights and last rites, though; the Grave Cleric 5e subclass also includes intense exorcisms and plenty of zombie bashing. This is a subclass that gives D&D’s standard holy smiting a darker edge, and you can learn all about it here.

If you’re still trying to decide what kind of character to play, our DnD classes, DnD races, and DnD backgrounds guides can help narrow down your options. Also, if you’re new to playing a DnD Cleric, our full class guide will be the best place to start. We’ve also got a DnD Cleric spells list for some extra detail. For now, let’s delve into the Grave Domain.

DnD Grave Cleric 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a dwarf Cleric in armour

Tips for building a Grave Cleric

Wisdom and Constitution are important DnD stats for any Cleric, and Dexterity is a nice-to-have for keeping you out of trouble in combat. If you’re exclusively working with The Player’s Handbook, the Hill Dwarf 5e, the Wood DnD Elf, and the Variant Human 5e are your best options.

While your domain grants you some useful 5e spells (more on these later), you should choose your prepared spells carefully. Your main focuses will be preventing death and dealing with the undead. Here are some of our favourites for the Grave Cleric:

  • Cure Wounds – healing isn’t quite the same thing as delaying death, but it never hurts to have a healer on-hand
  • Spiritual Weapon – an essential damage dealer that keeps your enemies at arm’s length
  • Spirit Guardians – as well as the cool spectral flavour, this is a great way to chip away at your enemies’ speed and hit points
  • Sanctuary – Keep death from a friend’s door for just a little longer

There are plenty of 5e feats that can boost your key ability scores, such as Resilient or Telekinesis. Spell Sniper is an excellent choice, granting you increased range for spell attacks and the ability to ignore some levels of cover. War Caster is also an obvious pick, as it beefs you up to provide extra magical support in combat.

A human DnD Grave Cleric 5e smirks while casting a spell (art by Wizards of the Coast)

Grave Cleric features

Here are the class features for the Grave Domain:

  • Grave Domain spells
  • Circle of Mortality
  • Eyes of the Grave
  • Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave
  • Sentinel at Death’s Door
  • Potent Spellcasting
  • Keeper of Souls

Grave Domain spells

Level: One

DnD level ups give you the chance to learn fresh Cleric spells. The spells offered by the Grave Domain are:

Cleric level Spells
1 Bane, False Life
3 Gentle Repose, Ray of Enfeeblement
5 Revivify, Vampiric Touch
7 Blight, Death Ward
9 Antilife Shell, Raise Dead

Dwarf DnD Grave Cleric 5e heals a fallen elf with a scroll (art by Wizards of the Coast)

Circle of Mortality

Level: One

At level one, you learn Spare the Dying as an extra cantrip. You can cast it as a bonus action, and it has a range of 30ft. It also doesn’t count towards the Cleric spells you know – and who doesn’t love a freebie?

Circle of Mortality is also handy when aiding fallen friends. If you want to restore a creature with zero hit points using a spell, you’ll use the highest possible result for each die you roll rather than leaving it to chance.

Eyes of the Grave

Level: One

You’re so offended by the existence of the undead, that you can often sense them coming. Eyes of the Grave lets you spend an action to magically detect any undead within 60ft. As long as they’re not behind total cover and there’s no divination magic involved, you’ll sense the rotting gits. You won’t know anything about what kind of undead is coming, but you’ll be prepared for their approach.

This feature can be used a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier. The number of uses will refresh when you next take a long rest.

DnD Grave Cleric 5e on blue background (art by Wizards of the Coast)

Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave

Level: Two

Channel Divinity is a signature move for the Cleric, and Path to the Grave is this Domain’s particular flavour. If you spend an action on Channel Divinity, you can use it to mark one creature within 30ft. They’re now cursed until the end of your next turn.

The result of this curse? The next time you or an ally hits the target, they’re vulnerable to all types of damage dealt by the attack. This is a one-off effect, meaning the curse ends after the effect resolves.

Sentinel at Death’s Door

Level: Six

While the Grave Cleric respects the sanctity of death, that doesn’t mean they can’t delay it a little. Sentinel at Death’s Door grants you a reaction when you see a creature within 30ft take a critical hit. Spend the reaction, and you turn that crit into a regular hit. The effects of the critical hit are cancelled out entirely. You might just save a party member’s bacon.

This ability can be used a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier. You’ll get all those uses back once you finish a long rest.

A dwarf DnD Grave Cleric 5e casts purple magic on a fortress (art by Wizards of the Coast)

Potent Spellcasting

Level: Eight

This is a pretty simple one. You can now add your Wisdom modifier to any damage dealt with Cleric DnD cantrips.

Keeper of Souls

Level: 17

Any time you see an enemy die within 60ft, you can steal some of its life force for healing purposes. You or another creature of your choice then gain hit points equal to the dying enemy’s number of hit dice.

Once used, Keeper of Souls is off the table until the start of your next turn. You also can’t use the ability if you’re incapacitated.