While a well-crafted support character can be an absolute joy to play, sometimes it helps if you can reduce an entire group of bandits to smouldering ash too. When it comes to D&D 5E this role is neatly filled by Light Domain Clerics.
This particular Character Craftroom is a live-fire exercise of sorts, as I will actually be playing Brother Umbra in an upcoming mini-campaign showing how one of the main roster returned to the party after an unfortunate incident involving a Sun Sword and Vampirism. This means that we have to create him with a few restrictions.
For one, he – and the rest of our mini-party – come into the game at level 12, which is an interesting point in the 5E progression.
By this point everybody should be rocking a 20 in their primary attribute and a 16 or so in their secondary, but they haven’t quite got to the point where they can reach a +10 to hit without magic weapons. At the same time, the party has access to 6th-level spells that are incredibly powerful but not quite game-breaking.
He also needs to be a regular, non-variant human with no particularly fancy magic items and certainly no multi-classing.
With this is mind, Brother Umbra was a fairly simple character to create. The fact that the Light Domain is almost entirely based around spellcasting – as opposed to War or Tempest Clerics that smash people with hammers as much as they heal – means that there’s no hesitation over what we should max out first.
The first two Ability Score Increases go straight into Wisdom, bumping it up to 20 as soon as possible and improving not just his damage output but also the amount of times he can use his Improved Warding Flare. This is an extremely powerful ability that allows us to impose disadvantage on any attack made on an ally within 30 ft., and while this may look a little uninspiring at first glance it can reduce incoming damage considerably if used well.
The next two abilities he needs to focus on are Constitution and Dexterity. These both help to increase his survivability, either by boosting his AC and saves or by bumping up his hit points. Brother Umbra will be wearing medium armor, which has a maximum Dexterity bonus of +2, so it makes sense to concentrate on his Constitution and leave his Dexterity at 14.
With these mechanics-heavy attributes nailed down the rest become more of a matter of personal preference.
As a representative of a sun god he has a fairly inspiring and warm nature, which leads us onto picking Charisma as a good choice for the best score remaining (a 13 after the +1 from being human). Intelligence is probably next, as while he isn’t stupid he more of a feeler than a thinker.
As a cloistered acolyte of Pelor who definitely doesn’t want to be on the front lines it makes sense to pick Strength as his lowest score – he’s more of a thoughtful day-dreamer than a brawler and probably doesn’t mind getting others to do his manual work for him.
As far as equipment goes he travels fairly light. The church he is personally involved with is fairly involved with a Golden Dragon so shimmering scale mail is the obvious – if not quite mechanically optimised – choice for armor.
When combined with a shield (emblazoned with a golden sun, obviously) it’s enough to give him a perfectly respectable AC of 18. Decent hit dice and a good Constitution also give him 99 hit points, so while he may not be a front-line bruiser he can certainly take his licks in combat.
Weapons are a little less clear-cut. The only finesse weapon he has access to is a dagger, but that doesn’t feel very appropriate for the character. A Cleric of a trickster god may feel comfortable with knife-fighting, but it doesn’t match the image of a Pelorian ideal.
Instead, he carries a quarterstaff that in all honesty he never plans to use. For one thing, the Potent Spellcasting ability (which adds his wisdom modifier on to Cantrip damage) ensures that his Sacred Flame will almost always be a better option that simply whacking his foes with a stick.
The Acolyte background provides proficiencies in Insight and Religion, and from his time as a travelling Cleric Brother Umbra has also picked up some expertise in Medicine and Persuasion – a choice that befits his radiant nature.
It should be interesting to see how the good Brother feels on the tabletop. The nature of the Light Domain gives him access to a much wider range of damaging abilities than most Clerics, including Wizard staples such as Fireball and Scorching Ray. How much these will be mainline spells for Brother Umbra is yet to be seen, but it certainly makes him much more flexible than a Life or Knowledge Cleric, for example.