Cleric Class Feature
Beginning at 10th level, you can call on your deity to intervene on your behalf when your need is great.
Imploring your deity’s aid requires you to use your action. Describe the assistance you seek, and roll percentile dice. If you roll a number equal to or lower than your cleric level, your deity intervenes. The DM chooses the nature of the intervention; the effect of any cleric spell or cleric domain spell would be appropriate. If your deity intervenes, you can’t use this feature again for 7 days. Otherwise, you can use it again after you finish a long rest.
At 20th level, your call for intervention succeeds automatically, no roll required.
Player’s Handbook, pg. 59
Divine Intervention 5e
Divine Intervention is a 10th-level Cleric class feature in DnD 5e; one of the most powerful class features in the game. With the power to call directly upon your god, you wield awesome power that’s close to on-par with Wish, a 9th-level spell that’s considered the strongest effect in the whole game.
Let’s cover exactly how Divine Intervention works in 5e, a few of the most creative situations for players to use it, and rewarding ways that DMs can run it.
This article is very personal for me — I currently have an 8th-level Cleric character, and I’m already looking forward to using this feature — hopefully, writing this article will give me a few ideas for how to employ it in my campaign.
How Does Divine Intervention Work in 5e?
Divine Intervention allows a Cleric to call on their god and ask for whatever assistance they seek. They then roll a d100 (or 2d10, assigning one as the first digit and one as the second digit). If the result is equal to or lower than your Cleric level, the deity grants assistance.
Basically, you start with a 10% chance of success, increasing by 1% each Cleric level. At 20th level, Divine Intervention automatically works.
What form of intervention you receive from the deity is entirely up to the DM. While the guidance described in the feature’s description states that “a cleric spell or domain spell would be appropriate,” but this should not be seen as a limiting factor; only as a way for DMs to gauge the relative power level of the deity’s intervention.
If your deity does intervene, you can’t use Divine Intervention for 7 days. If you attempt to call on your deity but fail, you can use the feature again after a long rest.
That’s how Divine Intervention works in a nutshell — now let’s get to the more exciting question…
How Do I Use Divine Intervention in 5e?
The ways you can use Divine Intervention are as numerous and varied as the amount of DnD campaigns that exist. I couldn’t hope to give an exhaustive list of ways to use this incredible feature, but what I have done is include a few general ideas that may spark your imagination in a way that’s relevant to you and your campaign.
And remember — you don’t get to choose the effect of Divine Intervention; the effect itself is up to your DM. All you can control is what aid you ask for. But, to make this guide DM friendly as well, I’ve included possible forms of assistance a DM might give if a player, depending on what they ask for.
With all that in mind, here are a few ways to use Divine Intervention in DnD 5e:
“Help me get to [location].” Travel can be one of the most time-consuming and possibly perilous parts of many DnD adventures. Plus, finding a hidden lair can be a challenge in itself. This simple but effective prayer can be a great way to use Divine Intervention when you’re unsure how to get where you’re going.
On top of that, there’s often a ticking clock that makes fast travel an absolute necessity to achieve your goal (save the city, stop the ritual, etc.).
DM assistance possibilities: Divine Intervention in this case could take many forms. The simplest being a straight-up teleport right to the front door of whatever location you were looking for. A god of forging and construction might send the party magical vehicle, maybe even one with flight, to speed up their journey and avoid some dangers.
Or if the party doesn’t even know where they’re meant to go, a deity’s valuable aid could simply boil down to revealing the safest possible path, or providing insight on the road they must take to reach the place.
“Return [person] from the dead.” A straightforward request that aligns perfectly with actual Cleric spells in DnD 5e. And this effect could even match True Ressurection without requiring 25,000 gp worth of diamonds.
DM assistance possibilities: Death reversal is quite a strong effect, especially with no constraints on time deceased, gold cost, or the need to actually have a body. I think if it’s something your Cleric asks for right after a PC death and they’re close by, it’s not a big deal to give them the resurrection with no cost.
However, if you feel that the god wouldn’t necessarily be friendly toward the dead PC (i.e., conflicting ideals), then maybe impose a greater cost on the resurrection, like the -4 penalty imposed by the Resurrection spell.
“Reveal the weaknesses of [BBEG].” It’s a common plot point that the party cannot hope to face the big bad evil guy until they know how to defeat them. Heck, that’s the hook for much of Curse of Strahd. Finding out exactly what tools you need, more mechanically-important lore about the villain, or a member of their ranks you can turn to your cause, can be a huge-impact effect.
Plus, this is the kind of request that DMs love — sure, it skips a few steps plot-wise, but it also doesn’t break the game at all. And the players still need to actually go out and use this new-found information effectively.
DM assistance possibilities: It really depends on your BBEG. If it’s a lich, maybe the Cleric has a vision of where they keep their phylactery and have perfect knowledge of how to get there. Or maybe you reveal the curse word that banishes a mummy lord’s minions. Or you see the BBEG’s #2 lieutenant planning a coup of their lord, and learn exactly what would motivate them to overthrow the #1 guy.
“Protect us from [effect].” If you know you’re up against an enemy with a certain ability (like a dragon’s breath), or that you’re entering a lair with a persistent negative effect, you can call on your deity for pre-emptive protection from whatever you fear.
DM assistance possibilities: In most cases, party-wide, 24-hour protection from a specific is probably not too unbalanced; it’ll just make the fight much easier. If you’re at a loss for what fitting protection would be, giving the whole party Death Ward (the first time they drop to 0 hit points, they immediately come back up with 1 hit point) is a safe and always-appreciated buff to have.
“End this affliction.” This could be anything from dispelling an effect that goes beyond Greater Restoration’s ability to reversing negative effects from the Rogue Card Deck of Many Things. It might even be to heal the wildlife in an area that’s fallen under some curse.
DM assistance possibilities: It really depends on the nature of the affliction and how big a role it plays in your plot, but in most cases, granting a straightforward “the affliction is lifted” seems well within a god’s power and not super game-breaking.
“Undo this destruction.” Now, you have to be realistic with how far back you can turn back the clock — even the Wish spell is limited to something that happened in the last six seconds. But something like a sanctuary being destroyed, a bridge collapsing, or a forest consumed by a wildfire, are all within the realm of possibility, depending on who your deity is.
DM assistance possibilities: To me, this one really has to be consistent with the Cleric and their god. A god of chaos or destruction might be less inclined to intercede against their natural inclinations, but they might send an agent to help you achieve your goals. A nature deity, on the other hand, should have no qualms about restoring a natural site that’s been destroyed.
“Save us/help us escape.” “Save us” might be super vague, but it also gives your DM plenty of wiggle room for what form the intervention takes. And, thematically, this is exactly the kind of desperate prayer a Cleric might make to their god when they know they need help, without knowing exactly what kind of help they need.
DM assistance possibilities: A town on fire might be doused by a sudden and strong rain. Or the deity might cause an earthquake that breaks the walls of your prison, allowing you to escape. This one is entirely situation-specific, and you have a lot of narrative control over the deity’s response. Ultimately, as long as it suits the god’s style, it’ll be satisfying for your players.
“Restore us to health.” Pretty straightforward, but a little scary to use in combat (Divine Intervention does take your full action, after all, and it’s more likely to fail than not). But if you’re in a dangerous place where resting is impossible, spell slots are limited, and party health is dangerously low or tacked on with other negative effects, this is just the prayer you need.
DM assistance possibilities: Mass Heal is a 9th-level Cleric spell that divides 700 hit points of healing through the party, and cures all disease, blind, and deafen effects — that’s a fine model to copy for a deity’s intervention. If negative effects are more a problem than hit points, you could also choose to wipe those out along with any exhaustion level the players have.
“Help me find [artifact]/[creature].” MacGuffins are a huge part of DnD — get X item to defeat Y creature or to prevent Z from happening is the essential arc of many adventures. And there’s often some sort of time crunch that requires you to find the thing quickly, or before some adversary gets it first.
Getting an honest and direct clue to where that item is located can be a huge boon for getting your hands on the thing more quickly, with less pain.
Similarly, sometimes you’ll know exactly who your enemy is and what tools you need to defeat them…but not know where the bad guy’s lair is (or where they currently are).
DM assistance possibilities: Your intervention could take many forms here — a map that leads directly to the thing they’re looking for, a companion who acts as the party’s guide, or something more direct, like a vision and perfect knowledge of where to go to find the artifact/creature they’re after.
“Give strength to our arms.” The offensive version of the “protect us from [effect]” example from earlier. Use this before a big battle to ensure everyone hits more often and/or for more damage. Simple and straightforward.
DM assistance possibilities: There are many ways to do this — something like a long-term Bless spell, giving the party +1/2/3 to their weapons/spell attacks/damage, giving out the effects of the Holy Weapon spell to the martial characters, or granting access to a limited use nova effect that’s unique to the god’s power (e.g., lightning bolts, ice storms, etc.)
“Provide knowledge and wisdom on [subject]”. Knowledge is power, and for a floundering party with no idea of what their next step should be, getting divine guidance on something very particular can jumpstart your progress. Plus, most DMs will love the opportunity to share some lore that they have few other ways of communicating directly to your party.
DM assistance possibilities: Look to the Vizier card from the Deck of Many Things for guidance — “a truthful answer to a question. Besides information, the answer helps you solve a puzzling problem or other dilemma. In other words, the knowledge comes with the wisdom on how to apply it.”
“Aid us in battle.” This is risky, since it costs an action to use Divine Intervention, and it will probably fail. But getting your god to directly join you in a fight, even for a moment, through agents or other effects, is super cool. Like when Pike Trickfoot prayed to Saraenra to punch Vorugal from the sky in campaign one of Vox Machina.
DM assistance possibilities: It really depends on the deity — maybe they actually come down to protect you from the enemy’s attacks. Perhaps they intercede by preventing their minions from joining the fight. Or maybe they take away an important environmental advantage that the BBEG was enjoying.
DM Tips on Divine Intervention
I’ve done my best to generalize the above points to be as applicable across campaigns as possible. But for DMs running Divine Intervention, there are more factors to consider than simply what the player asked for and what the specific situation is.
Here are a few tips:
Consider the deity. A god of peace is unlikely to provide direct, offensive support to players. As in, they won’t come down and smite the bad guy or help you find a weapon of dangerous potential. But they might bless players with protective effects or steer them towards a more favorable, diplomatic solution that they hadn’t considered.
A tricky god might even misinterpret the player’s request or provide assistance in a way that’s confusing (but still ultimately helpful) to the party. Or their intervention might come with unintended consequences or collateral damage.
I don’t think this should be taken too far, though. Players should always get some benefit when this super-hard-to-achieve (<20% success rate) ability actually works. Players just might not get exactly what they asked for if the deity isn't naturally inclined to provide it.
Consider the difference between wants and needs. Sometimes, a Cleric could pray for something that they think would solve all their problems. But you, as the DM, know better. In such cases, it might be prudent to consider that their deity knows what you know, and, therefore, will use their wisdom to provide something that’s actually MORE helpful to the party, even if the players don’t know it at the time.
For example, maybe the players are chasing after a fake MacGuffin. When they ask their god to help them find it, a helpful god might intercede to tell them that they’re on the wrong path, and point them on a better one. Rather than take their request at face value and provide honest, but unhelpful, advice.
Consider the relationship between the player and their god. Jeremy Crawford talks about “god-bothering” — asking your god for help every day, to the point where they’re kind of sick of you as a worshipper. Such a god might even be less inclined to provide their maximum level of power when they actually do answer a prayer (or are forced to through the magic of dice-rolling).
Alternatively, a player who uses Divine Intervention sparingly, always asks for things that align with their ideals (and those of their deity), and has an active spiritual life that informs their character’s decision-making might be rewarded with better and more congruous help when their god does choose to intervene.
Consider the risks/costs. There’s a trope that gods who intervene may exact some hidden cost for their help or might cause some unintended consequences by stepping into the realm of mortals. Again, I don’t think players should have to fear using their powerful features due to DM shenanigans, but I do think there is great roleplaying and storytelling potential in employing this trope in some way.
Jeremy Crawford talking about Divine Intervention — pretty neat insights and a look behind the scenes of the design team’s intentions behind the feature.