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Cleric Wizard 5e Multiclass Guide - A 5e Guide to Godlike Wizardry
Clerics are masters of divine magic, versatile enough to fill any role on the battlefield with access to countless spells and holy blessings. Wizards are the masters of arcane magic, powerful spellcasters with the widest range of spells including the most useful of utility spells and the most devastating damage spells that can delete your enemies from existence. Put them together and you get a versatile magical powerhouse with access to practically every form of magic players can get in 5th edition dungeons and dragons. Ready your spellbook and your holy symbol as we go through everything you need to know.
Why Play a Cleric Wizard Multiclass?
With full access to both class spell lists and with divine spells and arcane spells these mages essentially have about 90% of the game’s spells at your fingertips. No other dual-classed character gets you this much access to additional spellcasting options. Clerics also sneakily gain quite a bit of resilience that the wizard typically lacks, and the dnd wizard class gains the powerful mid-level damage spells that usually leave the cleric lacking in raw spell DPS. Wizards are often stuck in either just their robes or light armor while cleric levels give us medium armor or even heavy armor. And, even just as a level dip, giving a wizard access to cure wounds and heavy or medium armor is worth considering.
Beyond that, both classes are considered “full casters” for the purposes of our multiclass character. We aren't arcane tricksters or a magic initiate getting a touch of spellcasting in our martial character. This means that while our spell level progression can be slowed with multiclassing, our spell slot progression still goes full steam ahead regardless of our level investment. So, while we still dip on reaching higher level spells, those higher slots will mean we can still be casting full value fireballs with the best of them.
What are the Downsides?
The main problem here is our multiclass cleric wizard needs to meet both Cleric multiclass requirements and wizard multiclass requirements, meaning you need both Wisdom and Intelligence. To make this build work we’re going to have to maximize two mental ability scores which means we’re going to be pretty darn wimpy on the physical scores, potentially making your melee attacks weaker. We also get tripped up when it comes to holy symbols vs arcane foci. The rulings get complicated but unless we take the war caster feat, we’re essentially stuck using an arcane focus in one hand while keeping the other hand empty for somatic components.
A single-class character will usually have stronger abilities but fewer options than a dual-classed character. And as with every other multiclassed character, you give up on late game class features like their 20th level capstones and 9th level spells by multiclassing and you reach the mid-tier features far later.
When Does a Cleric Wizard “Kick In”?
There aren’t any specific features we’re looking to synergize (except for a couple of the weird builds) but you’ll feel the difference as early as 2nd level with only a single level in each class. However, we get our wizard archetype with 2 levels, so we’ll feel most of the way kicked in at 3rd level with 1 level in cleric and 2 levels in wizard.
What Class Features Do We Care About?
We’ve got a few key features every build is going to care about and then a few that only the wackier builds will want. But here’s everything you should be paying attention to.
Significant Cleric Features
- Armor Proficiencies. Base cleric gets medium armor proficiency as part of their core proficiencies. But we can even get heavy armor proficiency depending on the divine domain we select. Depending on domain as well we can also pick up some additional proficiencies like tool proficiencies and extra proficiencies are always nice.
- Spellcasting. Clerics are a full prepared spellcasting class. This means you have access to the full cleric spell list; you just have to pick which spells you prepare each day. Clerics have a couple really good damage spells, but you’ll likely get the most value out of their utility, buffing, and healing spells such as cure wounds and healing word.
- Channel Divinity. Clerics get a special divine resource in their uses of “channel divinity”. You first gain this feature with your 2nd cleric level, and you get one of these “uses” of channel divinity every short or long rest and more uses at your 6th cleric level. The base use of your channel divinity is “turn undead” which is unsurprisingly only useful if you’re running into undead monsters. All the cleric archetypes however provide us with much more interesting uses of our channel divinity power that can potentially give us extra damage output. Tasha’s also gave us another “base” use of our channel divinity power called “harness divine power” that lets us spend it to regain a lost spell slot. You can only do this once per long rest to stop us from farming spell slots, but you can do it more often at higher cleric levels.
- Divine Domains. Clerics gain their archetypes at 1st level and more than most classes you’ll be getting most of your unique magical abilities and class features from your archetype. Most start out providing some additional proficiencies like skill proficiencies or tool proficiencies or martial weapons proficiency along with a unique ability. In particular we really care about the domains that give us heavy armor proficiency, including Forge, Life, Nature, Order, Tempest, and War.
Significant Wizard Features
- Spellcasting. Wizards are first and foremost spellcasters and they have access to powerful damage spells and useful utility spells across every spell level.
- Arcane Recovery. A somewhat underplayed ability unique to wizards, once per short rest you can regain some expended spell slots. Sadly this is based on your wizard levels so as a multiclass we won’t regain nearly as many, but it is still nice to have for some emergency utility or extra damage output.
- Arcane Traditions. Wizards pick up their archetype at 2nd level with most options providing a unique ability alongside a “specialization” in a specific spell school. There are a lot of offensive options, tactical options, and utility options to go around here but just know for now that your arcane tradition matters for the build.
Cleric / Wizard Ability Scores
Every multiclassed character has to deal with a bit more than a single-class character when it comes to ability score increases. We’ve got two mental scores to worry about, Wisdom and Intelligence that should get most of our ability score increases. With wisdom powering our cleric features and intelligence powering our wizard features. For some of our builds we’re going with essentially an even split and we’ll want to use our ability score increases to maximize both scores. For a few builds however we’ll only be dipping into cleric, so we only need to meet the minimum requirement of 13 Wisdom.
Beyond that we want our tertiary score to be Constitution to help offset our otherwise flimsy hit points.
We aren’t using weapons and we’re using heavy armor for our AC, so Strength, Dexterity, and Charisma are all largely irrelevant to us and we can use them as dump stats.
Cleric / Wizard Equipment
We’re going full spellcaster mode here, but thanks to our cleric levels we get heavy armor proficiency and should put on the best heavy armor we have access to. Note that the Strength requirement on heavy armors doesn’t stop us from wearing it, our movement speed is simply reduced by 10 feet if we don’t meet the Strength requirement. As a caster we don’t need to be terribly fast and can waddle our tanky butt around a bit slower if it means a high AC. If that doesn't work for you medium armor is still an option, but I'd definitely take the speed reduction if plate armor is available.
Now unfortunately, we must deal with our spellcasting foci. To cast our wizard spells we need to use an arcane focus, and to cast our cleric spells we need to use a holy symbol. There’s some awkward rulings, wordings, and niche rules at play here but we can shortcut all the minutiae. To effectively cast all our spells, we need to have our arcane focus in one hand, keep the other hand empty for somatic components, and then wear our holy symbol or otherwise have it displayed on us somehow.
This will remain your setup until you get your first feat (more on that in a second) which should be war caster. War caster among other things lets us perform somatic components even when our hands are full, which will let us fill that empty hand with a handy shield for some extra protection.
As for weapons, we'll have access to simple weapons no matter what, and also access to martial weapons depending on our cleric domain. I don't recommend trying to use this build to create a battle ready intelligence-based front-line character with martial weapons but you can. Bladesinging wizard + war domain can work as a sort of melee damage fighter, but I doubt its effectiveness against the single class options and recommend you stick to spell slinging.
Cleric / Wizard Feats
The short answer here is that for practically any Cleric and Wizard multiclass build you should strongly consider taking the War Caster feat. War Caster should be familiar to most players who’ve messed around with the spellcasting classes, and it has three components:
- Advantage on concentration saves.
- You can perform somatic components of spells even when your hands are full.
- You can cast spells instead of making normal weapon attacks roll for attacks of opportunity.
All of this is a fantastic buff and tactical option for us, but we especially care about the somatic components part. We won’t be stuck keeping a hand empty and can use it on a shield instead. It's a solid force multiplier to our level of spellcasting and even if we're trying not to get into melee it's worth it in place of the extra ability score increase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Start with Cleric or Wizard?
You’ll gain all the important skill proficiencies and tool proficiencies no matter what, but you should still start with your first class level as a wizard for a strange reason. Spellbooks are expensive in the early game, and by starting out as a wizard you get yours for free. If you start out as a cleric, you’ll need to cough up 50 gp for your spellbook and depending on the campaign that can be a prohibitive amount of money. If money isn't an issue, then feel free to start as either since their core proficiencies are very similar.
How does Multiclass Spellcasting Work?
When you mix spellcasting classes things get a little messy. The easy part is the spells you know. Your known and prepared spells don’t mix whatsoever. If you’re a 3rd level wizard and a 4th level cleric, you’ll have all the spells of a 3rd level wizard and a 4th level cleric.
The spell slots are the confusing bit. In the back of the basic rules, you can find a table called “Multiclass Spellcaster” that shows you your pool of spell slots by your combined levels in spellcasting classes. Thankfully both cleric and wizard are “full” spellcasters, so you don’t have to recalculate anything, and your effective level of spellcasting is just your character level. Essentially, you’ll have the same amount of spell slots as if you were fully leveling up in either class, we just take a roundabout way to get there.
When it comes to actually casting your spells, you’re going to have to keep track of your spell attack modifiers, attack damage, and the spell DCs of each class. Your cleric spells will all run off your Wisdom, and your wizard spells will all run off your Intelligence.
Finally, you need an arcane focus (orb, staff, whatever other magical thing you feel like) in your hand to cast your wizard spells. The cleric spells are a bit easier, you need a holy symbol (literally anything that represents your god) but you can thankfully just be wearing or displaying that so you don’t need to be holding it. You do need to keep a hand completely empty though to perform the somatic components of spells due to some wonky rulings about spell foci, but thankfully it can be the same empty hand for both your cleric and wizard spells.
Your proficiency bonus is based off of your total levels, not your level in your class.
Cleric / Wizard Multiclass Builds
Any build of this multiclass has access to a whole host of magical options but there are a few fun synergies we can also strive for. Take a look at the following builds to get the most out of your level dip or full multiclass.
I couldn't find any specific synergies with the following archetypes but there are a few you should keep your eye on for value or extra skill proficiency alone.
The 2nd level chronal shift from the chronurgy magic wizard allows you to force a reroll for any attack roll, ability check, or saving throw twice per long rest. Chronurgy wizard is a powerful anti-crit tech that can justify the level dip all on its own as a tactical option. And as a nice little perk a chronurgy wizard gets to add their Intelligence modifier to initiative rolls.
The arcana domain gets an extra skill proficiency and two bonus wizard cantrips instead of heavy armor proficiency. The extra non-combat options and particularly the cantrip make this a tempting option over wizard as a single class. Being stuck with medium armor ensured this was stuck as only an honorable mention but having extra proficiencies, bonus cantrips, and some of the better utility options always prepared as your cleric spells can potentially be worth a single level dip.
It's for a drastically different build taking the nature druid can essentially function like a druid class level since it gives us access to the druid cantrip shillelagh. If you're trying to use this multiclass combination for melee this guardian of nature is one of your best martial options since shillelagh lets us, make weapon attacks using our spellcasting ability. Or you could just take a druid class level but that gets into a much weirder multiclass.
The go-to cleric offensive option but only really useful for this build if you want to stretch it into martial options. You get to add your Intelligence to initiative rolls and essentially get a free "shield" as a reaction which is a great defensive buff and a tempting option. We're both an intelligence-based character and a wisdom-based character so it's rough to try and roll up with martial weapons but if you're shooting for intelligence-based front-line characters this domain is a good place to start. But that's a tangled mess of other class levels like a barbarian class level for rage. 5 levels of fighter gets a fighting style and an extra attack, a level of rogue gets sneak attack, a level in paladin for divine smite, a level of armorer artificer for battle smith. Unless you're interested in a monstrous multiclassed character with 5 classes by 10th level I recommend leaving war domain behind even if it seems like a tempting option.
Starting with a simple defensive option, we’re just taking a single class level as cleric and selecting the forge domain, alongside with the rest of our levels in abjuration wizard as our primary class. Our goal here is essentially just to play a normal intelligence-based character wizard but also to make them as survivable and tanky as possible.
Whenever an abjuration wizard casts an abjuration spell, they also get to generate an “arcane ward” around themselves that can soak up an amount of damage equal to twice your wizard level + your Intelligence modifier. The arcane ward's functions are almost identical to temporary hit points but aren’t actually temporary hit points so we can stack them using spells like false life. False life only uses 1st-level slots and together each defensive buff is a bit weeny, but together you can actually take a few hits as a wizard. If you want to go a bit further into cleric levels I recommend also going for the 2nd level spell aid. Aid also provides hit points that aren't technically “temporary hit points” so they can all stack up together.
What we get for our single cleric level dip is access to heavy armor and shield proficiency, healing spells, and a magical +1 bonus to our armor for good measure. Plate armor, a shield, and that +1 magical bonus means we can easily strut around with 21 AC, and two layers of temporary hit points, healing spells, and full access to the wizard’s deadly spell arsenal!
Our goal here is to firmly and confidently tell our enemies what to do and have them listen.. To accomplish this, we want to start with 1 level of wizard, followed by 2 levels of order domain cleric, going back for 5 more levels of wizard selecting the school of enchantment, and then 4 more levels of cleric. We should have 6 levels in each class, after which we want to push our wizard levels up to 10th to pick up split enchantment.
From our 6 levels of enchantment wizard, we get the feature hypnotic gaze which we can use to charm a creature indefinitely so long as we don’t damage them and maintain eye contact. We also get instinctive charm which lets us divert one attack from every enemy every day to another nearby target if they fail a Wisdom save.
From our 6 levels of order domain, we get the voice of authority which lets our allies make an attack as a reaction when we buff them with our spells. We also get the channel divinity feature order’s demand that can charm a creature indefinitely until they take damage. Finally, we get the embodiment of law feature that lets us cast spells from the compulsion school using a bonus action instead of an action.
So, what have we accomplished here? Essentially a fantastic buff/debuff monster with multiple sources of creature control at any given time. Anything that gets in your grill is one failed save away from being your puppet and worst case you can likely divert their attacks away from you using instinctive charm. Your buff spells are also giving your allies extra attacks due to voice of authority, and you can rely on them to actually finish off the targets you don’t charm or hold into submission.
Our goal here is to cast the most devastating lightning bolts known to man by focusing on the lightning damage type and dealing automatic damage. To become the biggest weapon of all we want to start with 1 level of wizard, followed by 2 levels of tempest domain cleric, going back for 5 more levels of wizard selecting graviturgy wizard to get up to a 3rd level spell, and then 4 more levels of tempest cleric. We should have 6 levels in each class, after which we can evenly level up either class.
At 5th level wizard we get access to the classic wizard spell lightning bolt along with some other powerful early lightning spells like shocking grasp for our cantrips, witch bolt for our 1st-level spell slot, and dragon’s breath for our 2nd- level spell slot. Graviturgy also uniquely lets us overcome our heavy armor speed issue using adjust density to lighten ourselves up as needed. Our 6th graviturgy level also gets us the feature gravity well, that lets us move targets of our spells by 5 feet whenever we hit them, or they fail a save.
From our cleric levels we get call lightning, which is our secondary source of lightning elemental damage, wrath of the storm which retaliates on our attackers for 2d8 lightning damage, and the channel divinity feature destructive wrath. Destructive wrath is the real kicker here, as it lets us MAXIMIZE the damage of a lightning or thunder spell. Maximizing a spell means you don’t roll for attack damage, and instead you simply deal automatic damage of whatever the highest possible die result could be. And finally at 6th level we get thunderbolt strike, which lets us move enemies 10 feet away whenever we deal lightning damage to them.
Putting this all together, at our 12th effective level we’ll have access to 6th level spell slots for a huge pileof damage. If we cast a 6th level lightning bolt and use destructive wrath to maximize it we get to launch a 100-foot line of 70 flat damage (assuming +4 Int) that also moves each target that fails up to 15 feet back. We’ll be able to fire two of these maximized bolts per short rest. That’s essentially a flat 140 damage per combat multiplied by however many targets you can line up! Past those we won't have as many high-level spells, but we can still use all our "extra spell slots" on elemental damage spells that can bounce our enemies around and into hazards.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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