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April 8, 2023 at 1:37 pm #1192Orion
Cleric is one of the most powerful classes in Neverwinter Nights.
One of the key choices for a cleric is the cleric’s domains, which adds special abilities and spells. Clerics get to choose two domains from 19 domains to choose from. If not familiar with the domains, the choice can be difficult (see the diagram below!).
Source: NWN Wiki, edited to enhance readability
This article lists the most powerful domains in my opinion, and the reasons why.
Ready to get fast? (Image source: NWN Wiki)
Haste provides so many things:
- Move fast, at 150% of usual speed, allowing one to run in and out of engagements, a strong tactical advantage
- An extra attack per round
- Able to cast two spells per round instead of the usual one spell per round.
- Adds 4 dodge AC making one harder to hit.
- Cast on team mates to boost their abilities too!
Clerics are either casters, melee combatants or ranged combatants, so haste helps with whatever the cleric is doing and other party members too!
This only applies to environments where permanent haste (ie Boots of Speed) is not easily available on items. If it is, you may as well equip such items and choose another domain! But if it isn’t, Travel is going to be a winner.
Slow deserves a mention too, as it can slow 1 enemy/cleric level for 1 round/level. Slowed enemies have less attacks per round, have -2AB, -2AC and move at 50% movement! There are other nice spells provided too by travel, including entangle, web and casting freedom as a level 3 spell.
The trickery domain, is in my opinion the second most powerful, purely because of the Improved Invisibility spell. Improved Invisibility grants 50% concealment, which is essentially 50% reduced damage. Normally clerics cannot cast Improved Invisibility but Trickery domain allows it. A high level cleric can have this protection last a very long time.
50% reduced damage? Yes please. (Image Source NWN Wiki)
It also grants invisibility / invisibility sphere, and Divine Trickery which helps if one has rogue skills.
The animal domain runs a very close third behind trickery, and in some situations is better than trickery. It grants more powerful summons (level 1 to 8 summon creature is cast one level higher), cats grace (not normally a cleric spell) and true seeing as a level 3 spell (normally a level 6 spell!). The true seeing bonus and the more powerful summons are the most powerful parts of this domain. True seeing allows one to detect enemies before they are a threat (ie rogues and assassins!), more powerful summons are fabulous to soak up damage, distract and do damage themselves.
The healing domain is seriously underrated. Its special ability empowers all healing spells, making them 50% more effective. In addition it grants cure serious wounds as a level 2 spell, and heal as a level 5 spell.
All cure wounds spells (along with inflict wounds spells) can be ‘spontaneously’ cast by clerics at any time. This means as long as one has a spell memorised at the appropriate spell level, healing is available. To spontaneously cast healing spells, it is very simple, simply click and drag from the spellbook onto the quickbar (see image below). It will have an icon with an ‘s’ above it. If one uses the spell it will use up one of the memorised spells.
Spontaneously cast healing spells. One can see there is no memorised spell at level 4 for healing, but the character can cast it. (Source NWN EE WoG PW)
Healing potions will also be empowered too (ie Cure Light/Moderate/Serious/Critical Wounds Potions). Healing scrolls and wands can also be cast on teammates with 50% more effectiveness as well, Healing spells will be 50% more effective against enemies which take damage from healing which includes undead.
Healing is also good from a role-playing perspective, if that counts, the classic cleric-healer!
The protection domain may be a controversial choice! But it barely makes my top five because it allows casting Minor Globe of Invulnerability, allowing for the silence spell to be self cast without being affected by it. To understand this more, one can read my guide to the Silence spell.
This spellcaster cannot cast spells within my silence aura (white dotted line). My cleric can! (Source: NWN EE, WoG PW)
Spellcasters present one of the biggest threats to players, and clerics in particular are very vulnerable to dispels (think Mordenkainen’s Disjunction cast by a wizard removing all of your amazing spell bonuses!) Being able to silence spellcasters while being able to cast spells yourself presents an extraordinary advantage. Travel and Protection make a good combination, haste allows one to get to the spell caster fast, while silence aura keeps them quiet and not casting spells!
Spell resistance can be used instead of Minor Globe of Invulnerability, but will only protect the player about 50% of the time, so it isn’t as good. UMD can also be used, but will use resources and has a failure rate until high enough level.
Protection also allows the energy buffer spell, to protect against elemental damage, and a sanctuary ability once per day.
Protection makes number 5 only very closely followed by a number of special mentions that are close to it in power.
Other domains worthy of a special mention include:
- Destruction – stinking cloud, turn constructs
- Good – stoneskin, turn outsiders
- Knowledge – identify, knock, legend lore
- Magic – mage armor, stoneskin
- Plant – barkskin, creeping doom
- Strength – divine power at level 3, stoneskin
- Sun – exceptional turning against undead
- War – cat’s grace, aura of vitality, battle mastery.
So this is my opinion on the best cleric domains. What are your thoughts?
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