DMs Guild Review – Sacrifice Domain

A self-sacrificing Cleric subclass.

A review copy of “Sacrifice Domain” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Mr TarrasqueJVC Parry

Care to guess which class has the most subclasses in officially published 5e books? The bloody Cleric, Wizards of the Coast’s golden child. The class that can be an effective tank and warrior and also a primary healer and support class. Yeesh.

A new cleric domain has to really stand out among a crowded field. The Sacrifice Domain uses themes of self-sacrifice and martyrdom, hampered with highly questionable balance and design.

The super short supplement features all of two pages of content, yet maintains a professional layout and design, with plenty of artwork and an attractive cover page.

Unfortunately my praise ends there, as I have some big problems with the subclass – primarily the signature Channel Divinity feature.

The Channel Divinity is Sacrifice Self, a one-time explosive blast that deals 2d12 force damage per cleric level in a 30-ft radius. At 5th level that’s an average of 65 damage (10d12), and victims don’t get a saveing throw.

The drawback is that it kills you. Permanently. No death saves, no resurrection. Only a Wish spell can save you.

Channel Divinity abilities scale off of Short Rest, and clerics are encouraged to use their signature class ability fairly often while managing their spell slots. Sacrifice Self strips the Sacrifice Domain Cleric of even having a Channel Divinity (aside from the built-in Turn Undead), turning it into a once per adventuring career ability.

It also sucks from a DM’s perspective, knowing you have a player character capable of dealing a large amount of AOE damage without a save. How do you plan for that while still letting your sacrifice-happy Cleric go out in a blaze of glory? Why not allow the Cleric to use their HP or Hit Die to power the ability, and/or leave them unconscious but stable afterward? Maybe add the permanent blaze of glory as a higher-tiered optional function.

The damage isn’t even that impressive! A Great Weapon Master Fighter wielding a Greatsword should be able to deal that much damage by using Action Surge and hitting with three of their four attacks. The difference is the 30-ft AOE blast and the lack of a save throw, which breaks all D&D rules that spells and spell effects have some kind of dice roll.

The first level feature, Tunnel Vision, is also afraid to offer dice rolls. Whenever you deal damage, you can funnel your own HP into extra damage at a simple 1:1 ratio. You can do the same when healing, but at a 1:2 ratio. Adding in some risk/reward dice rolls, as I did with the Lifedrinker weapon in our Tomb of Annihilation campaign (take 3d6 damage to deal 3d6 extra damage), could’ve made this ability a lot more dynamic.

I would’ve loved to see this subclass manipulate and affect death saves, like changing the 1 HP self revival on a nat 20 death save occur with lower rolls. Instead we get is a 6th level ability that grants two weapon attacks as a reaction when dropping to 0 hit points, at the cost of one failed death save. Hope whatever downed you is in melee range!

At 17th level the Sacrifice Cleric can spend Hit Dice to regain spell slots, and vice versa. It’s a solid concept, though more reminiscent of a Warcraft Warlock than a holy cleric – but why is this the 17th level feature? Surely we could frontload this ability and let it scale naturally as the PC gains additional spell slots and Hit Die.

A Cleric subclass who manipulates their own hit points and hit die isn’t a bad idea, but the Sacrifice Domain misses opportunities to create interesting abilities and flavor, and egregiously turns the one thing Clerics can do most often into a problematic, one-time use death bomb.

Pros:

  • Professional layout and design.

Cons:

  • Very short: no flavor tables and bare minimum class features.
  • Channel Divinity is a one-time use.

The Verdict: Hampered by questionable balance and design, the Sacrifice Domain doesn’t make a strong enough case among the crowded Cleric domains.

A review copy of “Sacrifice Domain” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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