We’re officially a quarter of the way through the year, and what better way to celebrate that completely arbitrary achievement than with a new cleric domain? The Order Domain puts the lawful in lawful good/neutral/evil.
On the face this looks like an exciting new domain that keeps a nice cleric flavor, but seemingly presents them in a similar light to their martial counterpart, the paladin. Also, when I took a look back in January’s Unearthed Arcana, I was asked to give a little more analysis, so I’ve tried to throw some in there without breaking out the calculator. Let me know how you like this or if there’s something else I could be doing to give these Persuasion Checks advantage!
The Order Domain Spells are the first hint at the flavor meeting mechanics. I tried to figure out which of the domains in the Player’s Handbook would be best for comparison, and after deciding that none of them are great, that the War Domain would be my best bet to compare and contrast against. While the War Domain has plenty of spells that either bolster defenses or improve damage (such as shield of faith and spiritual weapon respectively), the Order Domain plays heavily into the enchantment school of magic, including such spells as command, hold person, and compulsion. The key here is that rather that cast a spell that beats down an enemy, the Order Domain sticks to imposing their will upon others. The only spells I find out of place is mass healing word, but otherwise I think all of these spells play greatly into the flavor that this domain is going for.
Channel Divinity: Order’s Demand
Even though you gain two other features before the Channel Divinity, I wanted to throw this in now as it goes in hand with the Domain Spells, and all the other features have synergy with each other. This Channel Divinity is almost like an AOE command meets charm person. It lasts a turn, it charms any creatures within 30 feet of you on a failed Wisdom save, and as part of this you can cause the charmed creatures to fall prone.
The reason I like this feature so much is that it has use both in and out of combat. In combat, it’s a great way to potentially control the battlefield and halt enemies for a moment, making them prone and therefore easier to hit. Outside, it could be used in tense negotiations or other heavy roleplay to significantly alter the outcome, especially when a room of influential people all need to be convinced at once.
But how does this stack up to similar level 2 Channel Divnities? Sticking with the War Domain comparison, it certainly has more flexibility (The War Domain simply allows you to add +10 to an attack roll that you roll). It hardly seems fair that you could be giving your entire party advantage on hitting prone creatures compared to a single +10 to hit. But maybe War isn’t the best comparison, so let’s take a look at another Domain. How about Light? Again, Light is somewhat one-sided (it deals damage), though it does also dispel magical darkness, so there’s that? On the combat side however, Light’s Radiance of the Dawn deals 2d10+cleric level radiant damage (or half on the save), meaning that you’re guaranteed a pretty good amount of damage. Rather than knocking some goblins down, you’re probably obliterating them pretty good.
So is Order’s Demand game-breaking? Probably not; it could have major reprecussions in certain scenarios (ones where a lone BBEG being knocked prone means they turn into a piñata for the party), but in most cases I see it standing around where most other Channel Divinities stand with a little more flexibility.
Voice of Authority (& Bonus Proficiency)
At level 1, you can expect two features. One is a bonus proficiency in heavy armor. Seeing as how about half of the domains get this, not going to dive into it other than it makes sense based on how the rest of these abilities work.
Voice of Authority though, this is a potentially awesome or broken ability. The short of it is, anytime you cast a spell on an ally with a 1st or higher level spell, they can use their reaction (provided they have it) to make a weapon attack against a target of your choice that you can see. Caveat here is AOE spells still only allow one ally to use this, thank Tyr. So, I actually like this ability at level 1. Your mileage will vary with your party composition, but for example healing the barbarian and allowing him an extra swing at an enemy seems like a no brainer, and only being able to do it twice a day doesn’t seem that bad, especially when the War Domain cleric is making weapon attacks as bonus actions. They’re limited to their Wisdom modifier though, and the Order Domain is limited by their spells. At level 1 this is not bad, but what about level 6 when that’s potentially ten uses of it? Or level 10 when it’s a potential fifteen? You could argue that not all fifteen spells are going to be going towards buffing or healing your allies, but I still think it gets out of hand and become better than most other level 1 abilities thanks to how it scales. War will get at most 5 bonus attacks per day, as a reminder. And, to quickly play devil’s advocate, not all characters will want this- for example, a rogue that wants to keep their reaction open for a usage of Uncanny Dodge may opt to not take the attack in some situations.
And this is where I start to see some synergy that worries me about this class. The basics are, at level 6, casting an enchantment spell at level 2 or higher grants you an expended spell slot of a level lower, with a cap of a 5th level slot. Ok, how does this stack up in a vaccuum? Well, the War cleric can instead use its same Channel Divinity to instead grant the +10 to another creature within 30 feet of it. That hardly holds a candle to regaining spell slots, and then potentially allowing even more of your allies to get reactionary attacks.
I hope you can see my concern here when doing a direct comparison with the War Domain. But, War was pretty lackluster on the Channel Divinity, so let’s look at yet another domain. Most of these Domains just grant a second Channel Divinity option, but Life and Tempest don’t so let’s compare. The Life Domain heals the cleric for 2+spell level whenever they use a spell of 1st or higher to heal a creature other than themselves. That seems pretty good, actually, as it allows them to focus on healing others while slowing healing themselves up. I’m not sure if that’s as good as just getting a ton more healing spells in the same way that Order’s enchantment spells grant more spells, but it’s not awful. And tempest… allows you to push a Large or smaller creature 10 feet away from you when you deal lightning damage. Great? It seems like spell regeneration, largely a Wizard class feature, is more powerful to me and starts to push the Order Domain into unbalanced territory.
Divine Strike & Order’s Wath
I’m wrapping up the last two abilities together as Order’s Wrath works directly off of Divine Strike. At level 8, once per turn, Divine Strike allows the cleric to deal an extra 1d8 force damage on a weapon attack. This become 2d8 at level 14. This is actually the same exact ability that the War Domain has, so I don’t think it can be that much of a problem, can it? Well, not exactly, not until we get to Order’s Wrath at least.
Order’s Wrath at level 17, like I mentioned, works directly off of Divine Strike. Basically, anything you deal Divine Strike damage to a creature,
the next ally to hit it with a weapon attack before your next turn triggers another 2d8 force damage each ally to hit it on every turn until your next turn triggers another 2d8 force damage (thanks to reddit user u/Drazarus for pointing this out!). That sure as hell beats War’s resisitance to nonmagical bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing damage (basically, permanent stoneskin, woooo). Life could in some places contest Order a little bit here, as they always heal for maximum at level 17 when they get Supreme Healing, but having every party member deal an extra 2d8 force damage every turn is nothing to scoff at, especially when you can always be getting more spells back and keeping the healing and enchanting train going.
Despite some negativity and unbalance towards the middle and higher levels, I’m still digging the Order Domain. I think it’s appropriate at lower levels, gets a little ridiculous around level 6-8, and then downright silly near the highest levels, but seeing as how you’ll have a wizard potentially casting wish every day, I don’t think it’s game-breaking; just better than a fair amount of its alternatives. Also, if anything, writing this has made me feel bad for the War Domain; I struggle to find a reason to take War over Order; Divine Strike would have done it if Order also didn’t have it, and it doesn’t seem to have a good niche to fill.
Let us know what you think in the comments and across our social media. Be sure to check out the Unearthed Arcana release and let us know how you feel about the Order Domain!
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