As we continue our series on new subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons we come to my favorite class: the cleric. People love to joke about how there are an insane number of domains for clerics, and for good reason: not only are there an immense number of canonized domains, but people have spent a lot of time making homebrewed domains for their favorite deity from their favorite pantheon. And in a game where gods and supernatural forces are very real and wield great power, this makes sense.
As I looked through the domains, though, I did not find a domain for the hunter and huntress goddesses - the Nature Domain (my favorite domain) does not touch on this, nor do the Life or War domains. And I found this strange as some of the best mythical stories involve the hunt deity. Whether this is Artemis hunting in the forest, Orome finding the elves in Arda, or a tale of Cernunnos the Gaelic god of hunters and wild animals, these entities have incredible stories.
And they deserve a domain, even if there are a flood of cleric domains around us.
The Hunt Domain: Theme and Inspiration
Cleric domains have some of the best flavoring in the game in my opinion. With the ability to wield divine magic and call on their deity for aid gives a lot of roleplay possibilities, the Hunt Domain is similar to the Nature Domain in its desire to live in harmony with nature, and particularly the beasts of the earth.
Where it differs is its means of pursuing harmony. While the Nature Domain seeks to help plants to grow, charm and work with animals, and dominate beasts to aid them in their tasks, the Hunt Domain lives in harmony by bringing life (reverently) to an end, providing food for sentient races and carrion animals alike through the death of living creatures, with what remains feeding plants so that the circle of life may continue.
The activity of "the hunt" also takes on special significance: it is not just a means of feeding and/or clothing others and providing materials for tools and weapons (though all of that is good), it is a path to pursue the virtues and ways of the deity, shaping the life of the acolyte as they learn to use their weapons and track their quarries.
As you can imagine, the class is heavily themed around the traditional weaponry and activities of these deities. They have a strong affinity for ranged weapons and nets, so the subclass encourages the cleric to use those items. Some deities use mounts while others do not, so I have not included advantages for being mounted in the subclass (though, naturally, being mounted while using a ranged weapon is very useful, even with no specific rules assisting you).
The Hunt Domain: Mechanics
You can find the details of the subclass here, easily printable for your game master to consider if desired thanks to the team at Homebrewery. Your domain spells cover the gamete of things that a hunt deity would aid you with: making food, moving through forests, tracking prey, and downing it (especially with ranged attacks). Like all clerics you are not a powerful "blaster" mage (though you gain access to some useful ammunition-based spells from the Ranger spell list, so you can do more damage with your spell slots than most clerics), but you shine compared to other clerics through far superior effectiveness with ranged weapons.
While most clerics pay more attention to their melee weapon choice, your choice of either a light crossbow or a simple weapon means you can start the game with either a crossbow or a shortbow as your primary weapon. And since you start at 1st level with proficiency with martial ranged weapons and nets, you could attempt to purchase a longbow or a heavy crossbow at the start of the game.
Your Channel Divinity allows you to turn a ranged attack into a small area of effect and slowing attack, reducing the speed of the targets if they take damage (albeit small damage) to them to whittle down the resilience of the enemy, which is a useful feature in combat.
As you level up your ability to pass through difficult terrain increases as does your speed, allowing you to run with the fleet feet of Artemis or traverse the world like Orome. And when you reach the highest levels of the game, you will have the ability to deal high-end damage a few times every day to display the might of your deity.
Is it as strong an attacker as a Light Domain or Tempest Domain cleric? No. Does it do as strong control magic as the Nature Domain? No. It doesn't help you heal people and has limited aid to your sneaking, but it does provide two unique benefits that you don't really see in other domains: enhanced movement and ranged damage. So you can play a cleric that does not rely on cantrip damage, which is rare. And that means you will have a unique and exciting adventure.
The Hunt Domain is the kind of class I would totally play in either a one-off campaign or a grand campaign. It allows you to aid a party from range while still providing the healing and support magic that has made the cleric famous. So if you are looking for a new way to play a cleric, consider the Hunt Domain.
In our next post we will discuss another cleric domain that is very common across the pantheons of the world that is not present in D&D: the domain of the love god or goddess. And if you're looking for a radically different play experience from any other class in D&D, you'll want to take a look at this one.
Until next time,