In the rich lore of Dungeons & Dragons, gods of the forge represent the fiery heart that fuels innovation and drives civilization ever onward. Clerics devoted to such deities embrace metal, fire, and stone as the fundamental elements of creation. Their bodies are sturdy anvils forged by the strike of divine hammers. Their minds teem with elegant designs waiting to be shaped into gleaming arms and ingenious tools.
The forge cleric lives to create, but not just works of mundane labor. Their ambition is nothing short of breathing life and purpose into the very earth itself through mastery of their craft.
This definitive guide illuminates everything you need to embrace the way of the forge and play an unforgettable forge cleric in your D&D 5th edition campaigns. From character creation insights to high-level optimization, you'll find the comprehensive techniques to tap into the true potential of this subclass.
So heat up the furnace, grab your smith's hammer, and let's begin crafting a legend!
Introduction: The Soul of the Forge Cleric
Imagine a workshop aglow with roaring flames, ringing with hammer strikes on iron. The shelves are laden with glimmering blades, suits of armor, and intricate tools. At the heart of this place, their muscles rippling as they swing their hammer, is the forge cleric.
More than just master craftspeople, forge clerics see themselves as conduits of divine inspiration. Their patron deities guide their hands, infusing mundane metal and stone with transcendent purpose. To the forge cleric, crafting a sword is not just shaping steel—it's unlocking that steel's destiny to defend the innocent.
This mentality extends beyond metalwork into every aspect of their adventures. A forge cleric approaches problems like a blacksmith approaches raw ore, seeing not just obstacles, but opportunities to craft solutions.
In battle, the forge cleric is a stalwart defender, but also a force of righteous fury. Enemies may dent their heavy armor, but nothing can extinguish the fiery resolve that burns in their heart. Forge clerics fight with conviction because their work is never done until their gods' ideals reign ascendant.
Devotion, creativity, resiliency—these define the soul of the forge cleric. This guide explores how to capture that soul in your own character.
Creating a Forge Cleric
To play an impactful forge cleric, your choices during character creation are critical. This section examines optimal selections for race, background, ability scores, and other key elements.
Dwarves are the quintessential forge clerics with their affinity for mining and metalwork. Of the subraces in the Player's Handbook, hill dwarves make excellent forge clerics with Wisdom boosts to their spellcasting and extra hit points to wade into battle. Mountain dwarves offer Strength increases to swing mighty warhammers as a cleric of Moradin.
Dragonborn are another good option, especially red and brass dragonborn. Their breath weapons deliver blasts of fire, fitting the forge theme. A goliath's powerful build and cold resistance also work well.
For a more unconventional choice, playing a warforged forge cleric results in a character intricately linked to the subclass conceptually. Their construct bodies were forged, not born.
The Guild Artisan and Clan Crafter backgrounds mesh nicely with the forge cleric's crafting skills. The Folk Hero can represent an ingenious village blacksmith rising to adventure. Hermit can convey a cleric devoted to mastering their art in isolation.
Soldier and mercenary backgrounds complement the martial capabilities of some forge clerics. Just tweak details to show your weapons and armor were self-crafted.
Foremost, forge clerics need Wisdom to channel spells and use cleric abilities. After that, Strength is crucial to wear heavy armor effectively and Constitution to survive on the frontlines. Charisma is helpful for leading others confidently like a legendary craftsman.
With their demands on multiple ability scores, forge clerics are quite MAD (multiple attribute dependent). Strategize your ability score improvements carefully over your career.
Gods of fire, stone, and civilization reign over the forge domain. Moradin is an iconic forge deity for dwarf clerics as their creator god. Gond governs invention as the Wonderbringer. Greek and Celtic myth provide Hephaestus and Goibhniu. Onatar drives progress as a sovereign deity in Eberron.
Class Features and Progression
Now that you've envisioned your forge cleric's background, let's examine how their capabilities evolve as they advance in levels.
Right away at 1st level, forge clerics gain proficiency with heavy armor and smith's tools. This catapults them to the frontlines with the highest AC options in the game. Forge clerics wearing plate need only a 14 Dexterity compared to 15 for other cleric domains.
Their signature Blessing of the Forge ability also comes online at 1st level. After a long rest, a forge cleric can imbue a nonmagical weapon or armor with a +1 bonus to attack/damage or AC respectively. This might seem small, but that single +1 heavily tips the scales early on when magic items are scarce. The bonus lasts until you die or finish another long rest, so keep it applied diligently.
For 1st level spells, clerics gain access to the versatile cleric list plus two domain spells: Identify and Searing Smite. Identify isn't extremely useful with just an hour of inspection. Searing Smite, however, is a stellar damage booster for weapon attacks that remains viable even at high levels if upcast.
Overall, 1st level delivers a sturdy base for a prospective forge cleric to build upon. You'll be crafting key magical items for the party and wading into combat prepared thanks to your heavy armor and flaming weapon.
At 2nd level, clerics unlock Channel Divinity, allowing them to channel their god's power to fuel special abilities. The forge domain's Channel Divinity: Artisan's Blessing lets you perform a 1-hour ritual to create simple metal items worth up to 100 gp. While the long casting time limits its usefulness, creative forge clerics can manufacture their way out of many jams with it. Just be sure to hoard any coins and metal bits you find for this purpose!
When a forge cleric reaches 3rd level, their domain spells improve exponentially. Heat Metal is their signature; while situational against foes without metal equipment, this spell is devastating when it lands. Magic Weapon is helpful but redundant with Blessing of the Forge for buffing gear.
Destroy Undead comes online at 5th level, though its uses will be limited. The new domain spells, however, are spectacular. Elemental Weapon is great for targeting weaknesses, and Protection from Energy is a crucial defensive buff.
The forge cleric's 6th level Soul of the Forge feature represents a huge power spike. You gain resistance to fire damage, which is more useful than almost any other element. You also gain a +1 bonus to AC while in heavy armor, an uncommon boon in 5th edition. Combined with other bonuses, you can hit 20 AC easily by now.
Level 8 brings Divine Strike, adding 1d8 fire damage to a weapon hit once per turn. While fire is commonly resisted, this free damage is still impactful. At 14th level it scales up to 2d8. Combined with a Searing Smite, your strikes will wreak fiery havoc.
Finally, the Saint of Forge and Fire capstone at 17th level is arguably overpowered. You gain full immunity to fire damage, a rare gift. You also gain resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage while armored up. Not many enemies will be able to even scratch you at this point!
Maximizing Combat Impact
Once you've built your forge cleric, it's time to unleash them upon your foes! Follow these tips to maximize your effectiveness on the battlefield.
- Focus on Strength first in ability scores to get your AC as high as possible with plate armor. Prioritize Constitution next for concentration spells and hit points.
- Warhammers are the iconic forge cleric weapon, but any one-handed martial weapon works fine. Use a shield in the other hand for that sweet AC.
- Searing Smite and Spiritual Weapon are your go-to damage spells that don't require concentration. Use Spirit Guardians when wading into groups.
- Utilize your Channel Divinity: Artisan's Blessing. Even in combat, an hour is ten rounds—enough time to craft basic items like caltrops or hunting traps to hamper foes.
- Don't neglect your role as a healer and supporter either. Spells like Healing Word and Bless will keep your group going strong.
Multiclassing and Optimization
While single-classed forge clerics can excel, a multiclass dip into certain martial classes can optimize their capabilities even further. Here are top options to consider.
A 1 level fighter dip gets heavy armor proficiency yet again, plus provides a Fighting Style like Defense for more AC. You also gain a windfall of initial weapon proficiencies and Constitution saving throw proficiency—a godsend for maintaining concentration spells.
From there, considering going to level 2 for Action Surge, or 3 for subclass features like Battle Master maneuvers. But limit fighter levels before extra attack at 5th level delays your cleric progression excessively.
Paladin requires a 13 Strength and Charisma, but rewards your investment. You gain martial weapons, divine smite for nova hits, more hp, and spells like Shield of Faith to further pump AC. Oath features like the Watchers' bonus to initiative rolls help too.
This multiclass is MAD, so optimize your ability scores carefully. But done well, you become a divine magical juggernaut.
Three levels of gloom stalker ranger can make you a deadly striker, gaining darkvision, an initiative bonus, invisibility to darkvision, and a devastating first turn ambush. You also get Hunter's Mark, augmenting your Divine Strike damage.
Alternative Character Concepts
While the quintessential forge cleric is a dwarven armorsmith, the flexibility of D&D allows for more diverse interpretations of the subclass.
For instance, reflavor a forge cleric as a priest of a fire deity who wields flame offensively rather than crafting metal. Use a maul as your weapon and select more blasting spells.
An urban forge cleric could be devoted to a god of invention and crafting mystical devices instead of armor. Access to Fabricate allows for crafting magic items.
In Eberron, a warforged forge cleric might venerate Onatar, the Sovereign of forge and flame who gave constructs life.
Elven forge clerics devoted to artistry could see their metal and stonework as highest expressions of beauty.
The forge domain provides D&D players an opportunity to embody creativity, resilience, and unmatched craft. By merging heavy armor defenses with fiery spells, the forge cleric excels at leading the charge and controlling the battlefield. Their Blessing of the Forge ability directly empowers the party's items and attacks. Later features like Saint of Forge and Fire render them nearly indestructible.
Yet there is greater depth beyond the mechanics. In roleplay, the forge cleric's outlook injects divine purpose into their works that transcends the mundane. Their hands are guided by gods to unlock potential in raw materials where others only see junk. Every situation is a chance to craft solutions, not just metal and stone.
With this guide illuminating character building, class features, and advanced tactics, you now have the blueprint to craft legendary tales with the forge cleric and unleash the true spirit of Moradin, Gond, and Onatar upon your foes! Just be sure to use your powers to forge the world anew—not destroy it. As the great craftsdeities know, even the most ornate sword means nothing without the steady hand that guides it.