Time Domain (Cleric)

Did you know that there are FOURTEEN published Cleric subclasses? It makes it kind of hard to carve a niche. Thankfully, none of them are based around time! Which is perfect because I was really dying to make a d12 mechanic called “clockwork.” Let’s dive in and I’ll share my build notes!

Time Domain (Cleric)
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Time Domain (Cleric)

Time Domain Clerics make sure that things stay in order, and they aren’t past changing around time to make sure.

Time Domain Class Features

Cleric
Level       
Feature
1st Pocketwatch, Bonus Proficiencies, Circle of Time
2nd Channel Divinity: Timespin, Clockwork
6th Channel Divinity: Slow Magic
8th Divine Strike
17th Swarm of the Covenant

Build Notes

Spell List

Thanks to twitter for help with the spell list, which went from this to this:

I erred on the side of cutting the spells which were native to the Cleric spell list (bold), since the player could access them anyhow.

Your 1st level spells feather fall and longstrider help you manipulate time to move faster or slower. I cut expeditious retreat here because I didn’t want to commit the player’s bonus action to dashing.

For 2nd level spells, hold person and warding wind let you manipulate time to stop foes and projectiles in their tracks. This takes your time spells from affecting yourself to affecting things outside of you. I still like a lot of the options left on the cutting room floor. Even though I could have dropped hold person to

With 3rd level spells, haste and slow form a natural dichotomy that show you can both speed up and slow down time. In addition to being powerful and helping define how you can play the class, these spells drive the flavor perfectly.

While 4th level spell options are limited, dimension door and freedom of movement take the next step for the movement options that you initially accessed at first level.

Finally, the 5th level spells far step and modify memory round out the class. Far step is like a repeatable dimension door and you can easily see flavoring those short-burst teleports as stopping time to run over to the other side of the battlefield. Modify memory also presents some interesting roleplay options.

Pocketwatch

We start building the narrative by giving the player a pocketwatch to use as a divine focus. Really, this can be any kind of timepiece as long as it follows the rules of a regular holy symbol.

Bonus Proficiencies

Cleric classes tend to get some pretty good stuff at level 1. I needed to give the cleric tinker’s tools so they could keep the watch functioning. But, that wasn’t quite enough. Heavy armor is a common proficiency given to clerics and it seems right for someone that tinkers with things.

Circle of Life

Immunity to aging was a nice little roleplay thing to throw in. It also became mechanically important because of the 2nd level Clockwork mechanic. While I realize that Monks get this ability at a higher level, this feature is weaker because it doesn’t provide immunity from magical aging. Also, it can be OK to give a feature with equivalent power to a different character class at an earlier level, when it’s critical to the flavor of the class. In the case of a ribbon ability like this, I’m not sweating it.

Channel Divinity: Timespin

Timespin lets you rapidly pass time for your foes, exhausting them. The easiest way to do this was to tie it right into the exhaustion condition.

Clockwork

Here’s where the fun comes in. When I originally had the idea for this class, I wanted to use some sort of d12 mechanic, because clocks. Duh. Also, it’s the best die. Eventually I came up with a list of things that could happen.

Time Domain - Clockwork

The lower you roll, the worse the result; the higher you roll, the greater the benefit:

  • At the very bottom, you can age 1 year! This was the old penalty for casting haste, so it’s a nice little easter egg to give that mechanic a nod here. While unlikely to really affect the character’s viability, it does present some interesting roleplaying opportunities.
  • The next few results play on time dilation by making you exhausted or helping you recover.
  • The next couple options let you peek into the future. This grants you advantage on your next ability check or saving throw.
  • Next, we come to a set of direct benefits for combat. Speed increases. Fast casting cantrips. Extra action economy.
  • Finally, rolling an 11 or 12 will allow you to rest. Notably, this may recharge your Channel Divinity, which is important because the 6th level skill is tied to Channel Divinity.

I wanted these to happen often, but not too often, because they could become overpowered. So I tied it to use of Channel Divinity.

Channel Divinity: Slow Magic

By 6th level, your time manipulation powers have become so strong that you can slow the development of magic around you. This gives you and your allies extra time to react. We represent this by giving advantage on saving throws. In the case of spells that target your Dexterity save, you may also have time to escape the effect completely and negate all damage.

Divine Strike

This little damage boost is the bog-standard for Clerics. At level 8, they either get Divine Strike or Potent Spellcasting. I had initially slotted Potent Spellcasting in here because I time manipulation felt like a spellcaster thing. But, after building the rest of the class, Divine Strike fit better. None of the spells on the class list deal direct damage, so there’s nothing on-theme to boost. Since tinker tool proficiency needed a complement, heavy armor felt right, which puts the Time Domain Cleric in melee. Ultimately, Divine Strike fits the narrative of hyperaccelerating your strikes.

Temporal Reserve

Finally, the capstone! You’ve waited 11 long levels for another subclass feature and this one better pay off. I think I’ve come up with something powerful but simple.

Once you reach 17th level, you can steal time from the future. This allows you to ready actions as bonus actions.

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