We all stand together
There's no “I” in “TEAM”! All for one and one for all! The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few! This Cleric subclass is all about showing your party some love, and some of the benefits that you can get from buddying up with a... buddy can be well worth the effort! Let's see what the Unity Cleric has to bring to the table.
The subclass features below have short summaries of the rules they relate to. You can download the full rules for this subclass for free from the Wizards of the Coast website, here.
The Unity Domain spells are all very much on-theme, with many of them granting a buff to other members of the party and a few utility spells thrown in to boot. There's not a huge amount to talk about here, other than the fact that it really doubles down on the role of the Unity Cleric as a purveyor of buffs with a penchant for support.
Emboldening Bond - 1st Level
Bond two willing creatures within 30 feet of you for 1 hour. They gain a bonus d4 to attack rolls, ability checks and saving throws for the duration.
And so it begins. Clerics have a reputation for being overpowered in some circles, and I compared this ability to what you get at 1st level in other subdomains to make sure I wasn't going completely crazy before I stated my opinion. This, much like a lot of what you'll see in the following features, seems pretty broken.
At first glance, you're casting Bless, but on a reduced number of targets. However, when you look a little closer, you notice that you're also casting Guidance. Except this version of Guidance doesn't expire after you use the d4. It lasts an hour. No concentration required. Did your hour run out? Well then why not just expend a spell slot (no limit on how high or low a spell slot there, so those 4 level 1s that you'll have at higher levels are about to become additional uses of this ability) and activate it again. Not cast. Because it's not a spell.
I do feel that when abilities like this can add even a d4 across your choice of rolls for such a long time without you having to sacrifice barely any resources at all, we're a little bit on shaky ground. Bless ends after a minute if your concentration doesn't run out before then. This lasts for an hour! Yes, this is only two party members rather than three but this is a huge step up.
Channel Divinity: Shared Burden - 2nd Level
Use your Channel Divinity to split damage from an attack between a number of creatures you can see equal to your Wis modifier.
And so it continues. At early levels, this won't really break the game – if you run into a Bugbear that lands a lucky critical hit then maybe it'll help to keep someone from dying, but otherwise it might not find huge amounts of use.
However, at higher levels, you're likely to have a high Wisdom modifier, and you can start the shenanigans. You'll only have the chance to truly go into spider-tank mode twice but, when you do, you can really start to shave away at those numbers. Remember that whenever you're left with a fraction in D&D it gets rounded down unless you're instructed otherwise, so just splitting damage across 5 players can potentially take care of 2 or 3 damage before we start.
We then run into the fact that RAW this does not say split the damage equally between the creatures you choose. This is reinforced by the next sentence, which says that each of the creatures must take at least 1 damage. There are scenarios where players in your party will have immunity to certain damage types, and this allows you to abuse that, effectively granting it to everyone (40 points of fire damage being redirected and only actually causing 1 point of damage to the original target, for example). Resistance to damage (via something like Barbarian Rage) comes into play too. The idea of being able to do this twice is a good one, but there is nothing that allows damage reduction, mitigation (or even negation) on this scale anywhere else in the game and it would probably seem a little less overpowered if not for...
Protective Bond - 6th Level
One creature affected by Emboldening Bond can use its reaction to give resistance to all damage to the other until the end of the current turn.
You're not using your own resources at all for this feature (unless you've picked yourself to be affected by Emboldening Bond). In combination with your Channel Divinity, both of the warded creatures can just use their reaction and your party has become a damage sponge. Each of the creatures can use this every turn for 100 rounds, too, so while you only get one reaction to spend per round, you can easily switch it on for a big attack and then worry less about the little ones from the rank-and-files.
This makes single creature boss fights less impactful on its own, before any of the other class features are factored in. Resistances can be easy to come by thanks to class features (particularly fire and poison) but resistance to all damage isn't – it only shows up in a few select places. Being able to give this to any other class in the game means that dragons' breath attacks take a huge nerf, as do area of effect spells and various other abilities.
Potent Spellcasting - 8th Level
Add your Wis Modifier to the damage you deal with your Cleric cantrips.
This is fairly standard for Clerics and certainly not overpowered. It comes with a design note that's useful for anyone dabbling in their own Cleric homebrew... and an effective reminder that this subclass is not necessarily designed to go wading into melee – sitting back and providing other characters with monstrous buffs is more the idea.
Enduring Unity - 17th Level
Remove the 30 foot range constraint from creatures benefitting from Emboldening Bond. If one of them drops to 0HP, the other gets increased benefits from their version of the bond, including the ability to use their Hit Dice to heal their counterpart.
If, in the unlikely event that the DM is able to deal any damage to the party, one of the megatanks produced by Emboldening Bond happens to drop unconscious, the other one gains advantage on everything, the ability to heal them without having to cast any spells and resistance to damage into the bargain.
It's worth just posting a reminder that this can benefit any character of any class – you get to choose any of your allies to give your Enduring Bond ability to, and some of them will majorly benfit from their bonded pal dropping to 0. That includes Rogues (hello Sneak Attack). That includes Barbarians (goodbye Reckless Attack). I'm sure most power gamers wouldn't overtly attempt to finish off another member of their party just so they could pump their damage throughput to maximum for a couple of turns, but the opportunity is definitely there with this ability.
Of all the features for this subclass so far, this is the most flavourful (you killed my brother, now you must die!) but I can't help but feel we're still way into the realms of overpowered here.
This is pretty much the opposite of the College of Creation Bard for me – I really do like the idea of the Cleric creating a battle bond between two of the members of the party, because it gives some fantastic roleplaying opportunities revolving around kinship and loyalty that could even continue in character once the Emboldening Bond has been turned off. However, I do have some fairly major concerns about the sheer amount of damage that this subclass could potentially mitigate.
Let's not forget that this is a Cleric, with access to the top tier healing spells in the game. When you compare the Unity domain to the Life domain, for example, it definitely becomes a question of whether the couple of extra hit points that you can get from being healed by a Life Cleric outweighs the bonus to saving throws that could prevent chunks of damage at lower levels. At higher levels, I feel like the Unity Domain's Channel Divinity, combined with the free all-round resistance that they can give to two party members positions them to deal with burst damage in a much better way than Life Clerics could. It is, of course, worth mentioning that I haven't crunched the numbers and worked out the probabilities, so maybe it'll turn out that things are not as game-breaking as they seem...