The cleric is a surprisingly versatile class. With the right stats, spells, feats, and equipment, you can make just about any kind of cleric you can dream up. But clerics are perhaps best known for their healing capabilities, and no other subclass offers as many benefits to healing spells as the Life Domain.
Whether you’re looking for the best build for Shadowheart or playing your own custom cleric in Baldur’s Gate 3, we’ll help you get the most out of your Life Domain Cleric with this build guide.
The Life Domain Subclass
The Life Domain subclass is a healing specialist; no other build can restore as much health all at once. You’ll also get proficiency in Heavy Armour through this subclass, which pairs well with your Shield proficiency to make you extra tanky.
Here are the features you’ll get through the Life Domain subclass:
- Disciple of Life at level 1 causes your healing spells to restore even more hit points.
- Heavy Armour Proficiency at level 1 lets you use any armor in the game.
- Preserve Life at level 2 is an action that heals all allies within a 9 meter radius without using a spell slot.
- Blessed Healer at level 6 causes your heals on allies to also heal yourself.
- Divine Strike at level 8 lets you deal an extra 1d8 radiant damage with weapon attacks.
You’ll also learn two Domain Spells at levels 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, which we’ll list under the Spells section below.
Race and Subrace
The Dwarf race will give you Darkvision, which is always nice to have, as well as proficiency with some additional weapon types and Dwarven Resilience, which grants poison resistance and advantage on poison saving throws. The Gold Dwarf subrace will give you Dwarven Toughness, increasing your hit points by 1 for every level you gain. Raising your maximum health is always beneficial, especially when you’re able to heal yourself as effectively as a Life Domain cleric.
That said, your choice of race won’t make a tremendous difference for this build, so feel free to pick something else if it appeals to you.
As a cleric, you always want to max out your Wisdom score. This is your main spellcasting ability that will increase the effectiveness of all of your spells. However, keep in mind that you only really benefit from even numbered scores, so it’s not worth putting a 17th point in Wisdom unless you’re planning to even it out later on, such as by taking a feat. Constitution is also really good for a Life Domain cleric, both increasing your health pool and helping you maintain concentration by improving your Constitution saving throws. The last few points can go into Dexterity for some commonly used skills and saving throws, or Charisma for improving your social skills.
- Strength: 8
- Dexterity: 10
- Constitution: 16
- Intelligence: 10
- Wisdom: 16
- Charisma: 14
Background and Skills
The background and skills you choose should be determined by the way you’d like to approach the game. For example, if you want to bully people into giving you what you want, take Intimidation. If you want to befriend all the squirrels, take Animal Handling.
Clerics can choose from History, Religion, Insight, Medicine, and Persuasion for skill proficiencies. If you want proficiency in a different skill, you’ll have to get it through your background.
The Acolyte background is a straightforward choice for a cleric, offering bonuses to Insight and Religion, but those are both skills you can already gain proficiency in through your class, so you may want to look elsewhere. Guild Artisan is a good option if you’re looking for more conversational skills due to its bonuses to Insight and Persuasion. Folk Hero will give you Animal Handling and Survival, both of which will be good skills for you to use due to your high Wisdom score.
As a Life Domain Cleric, we’ll focus on healing and support spells, with a few solid options for dealing damage when the opportunity arises. Keep in mind that as a cleric, you can change your spells at any time as long as you’re out of combat. This gives you a lot of flexibility and lets you make use of some of your more niche spells when the situation arises. The spells listed below are ones that we recommend keeping prepared at all times. Spells marked as (Life Domain) are gained through your subclass and are always prepared.
- Guidance: This is hands down the most useful cantrip in the game, giving you +1d4 to all ability checks.
- Light: Lights up the area around you so you don’t wind up with disadvantage in combat. It doesn’t even require concentration.
- Sacred Flame: Your best option for a damaging cantrip. Something to throw out when you’re low on spell slots and want to deal some damage.
Level 1 Spells
- Bless: (Life Domain) One of the best buffs in the game. If you cast it at 2nd level you can put it on your entire party at once.
- Cure Wounds: (Life Domain) The big guns for when Healing Word isn’t enough.
- Guiding Bolt: A pretty powerful damaging spell that can also give an ally advantage on their attack. Two-for-one.
- Healing Word: Weaker than Cure Wounds, but more practical due to its range and the fact that you can cast it as a bonus action.
Level 2 Spells
- Aid: (Life Domain) Another great buff. This one doesn’t require concentration and lasts until you Long Rest, so you can stack it with Bless.
- Hold Person: An excellent crowd control ability. Not only does it lock down the target, it also helps your allies do extra damage to them.
- Lesser Restoration: (Life Domain) Allows you to remove various unpleasant debuffs.
- Spiritual Weapon: Effectively gives you an extra attack every turn, without even requiring concentration. Better yet, it only requires a bonus action to cast.
Level 3 Spells
- Beacon of Hope: (Life Domain) Makes your healing extremely powerful and also helps your allies with their saving throws.
- Mass Healing Word: It’s Healing Word, but more of it. You can heal your entire party (plus a couple of summons) with a single bonus action.
- Revivify: (Life Domain) Good to have if you run out of Scrolls of Revivify. Otherwise you’ll have to pay Withers to resurrect your allies.
- Spirit Guardians: An incredibly powerful area of effect spell. Creates an aura around you that deals damage to anything that gets close. You can kill enemies by just running up to them.
Level 4 Spells
- Banishment: Don’t like what an enemy is doing? Give them an interdimensional timeout for a couple of turns so they can reflect on their life choices.
- Death Ward: (Life Domain) This spell will let you Nope death. It doesn’t get better than that.
- Guardian of Faith: (Life Domain) You get this guy for 10 turns and he doesn’t require concentration. It can be tricky to make use of since he’s stationary.
Level 5 Spells
- Greater Restoration: (Life Domain) You can remove almost any debuff in the game with this, including curses.
- Mass Cure Wounds: (Life Domain) Big heals for up to 6 targets and it has the same range as Healing Word. Now we’re talking.
Level 6 Spells
- Heroes’ Feast: This spell is a great buff for your entire party (including any summons) that lasts until you Long Rest without concentration. It’s a great idea to cast this before any big fight.
As a Life Domain cleric, you’ll want to look for feats that make you tougher and better able to maintain concentration. You may also want to increase your Wisdom to improve the effectiveness of your spells. Here are our recommendations:
- War Caster or Resilient: Constitution at level 4 to improve your concentration saving throws.
- Ability Improvement at level 8 for two extra points in Wisdom (or 1 in Wisdom and 1 in another Ability, if you have odd numbers).
- Ability Improvement at level 12 to max out your Wisdom stat.
You’ll want to look for items that improve your healing abilities, since that’s your primary role in the party. Keep an eye out for these items early in the game:
- Boots of Aid and Comfort: These boots can be purchased from Grat the Trader at the Goblin Camp and will add 3 points to all of your heals.
- Hellrider’s Pride: These gloves are a reward from Zevlor if you stop the ritual in the Emerald Grove. They give resistance against weapon attacks to anyone you heal.
You might also find items that let you use spells or abilities that you don’t otherwise have access to, which can be useful. For example, an Amulet of Misty Step can let you teleport across the battlefield as a bonus action. That’s useful for a character who won’t otherwise have a way to escape without causing opportunity attacks.
As far as weapons, your spells and cantrips will almost always be a better way to deal damage. So treat your weapons as “stat sticks” and look for ones that offer useful spells or bonuses. Note that you don’t have to be proficient with a weapon if you’re only using it for its stats or spells – weapon proficiency only makes you more effective at hitting things with it. So go ahead and wear that cool longsword you found – no one ever has to know that you can’t actually lift it.
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Thanks for reading! We hope this guide has helped you build your Life Domain Cleric in Baldur’s Gate 3. If you have any questions, leave a comment below, and be sure to subscribe to High Ground for more useful guides!