Ahead is the Tomb of Horrors. A deadly pathway leads to the next level and your destination. Time is of the essence. You must go fast before the entire Island is consumed by the curse. You trust your party, and you have excellent communication together. The only problem you have is with the barbarian, always making more trouble than necessary.
You go forward and enter the first walkway of the tomb. A long and strange corridor that seems to have been lost in time. You all know the dungeon is filled with deadly traps and turn to the rogue for his ability to disable them. He looks around and starts working on his thieves’ tools.
All was going smoothly until the barbarian yelled, “This is taking too long!” and ran ahead. You tried to stop that brainless brawn, but it was too late. The room tremored, and you panicked as a barrage of bullets, arrows, darts, fire, and more engulfed the barbarian. The rest of the party felt the collateral damage. In the end, the barbarian stood prideful at the hall’s back and turned to the rest to you. “Mmh, it wasn’t that bad,” he said, smiling.
After much deliverance, the near-death party starts to rest for a bit while they tie up the barbarian. Thank Ilmater, you already knew something like this would happen and gave everyone just that necessary bit of resilience.
Welcome to an Aid 5e Guide.
Is Aid a good spell?
Aid is a strong buff, simple, and broadly applicable. If you’re looking to fulfill the support role of the party, this abjuration spell is almost essential. The Aid spell has lasting benefits and virtually no downside.
Grabbing this spell assures a better result for the party and helps both the tanks and the glass cannons. Now let me help you understand why Aid is a great but underrated spell.
What is “Aid?”
As stated in the PHB (Player’s Handbook), Aid is a 2nd level abjuration spell. The casting time is 1 action, the range is 30 feet, and the duration is 8 hours. The Components are Verbal, Somatic, and Material. The effect reads as follows:
“Your spell bolsters your allies with toughness and resolve. Choose up to three creatures within range. Each target’s hit point maximum and current hit points increase by 5 for the duration.”
The spell’s hitpoint bonus increases by 5 for every spell slot above the second.
Breaking down the spell’s characteristics
Aid is a 2nd level spell, which means it will come into play early in the game when most characters don’t have more than 20 HP. It has to compete with spells like Barkskin, Lesser Restoration, Enhance Ability, Enlarge/Reduce, Healing Spirit, etc. Nonetheless, the spell stays relevant throughout the game.
It is an abjuration spell. The magic of this school tends to protect, negate or banish others. It is mainly a defensive school. In the case of Aid, the school of magic is very appropriate. Because of the spell’s simplicity, it’s hard to argue that it belongs anywhere else.
The casting time of one action is standard. With that said, most of the time, the spell is better casted outside combat, meaning the casting time is less critical for this spell. Nonetheless, the spell has some battle applications. Still, they derive mainly from the lack of preparation than a real in-battle utility.
The range is just enough to cast it in a room with all your party members. Having 30 ft is a way of adding an edge in combat for the caster to use the spell without getting too close to harm. This range is one of the reasons I tend to prefer Healing Word over Cure Wounds at the first level, so it is something to keep in mind.
The duration is enough to last an entire adventuring day. You may need to cast it multiple times on a single day because the duration ended, it was dispelled, or you need healing to the party during a battle, and you’re out of options. If the adventuring day tends to go further than 8 hours is good to find the right moment to cast it and not just at the beginning of the day. These moments could go from the time previous to entering a dungeon to the first few seconds when you know a battle is about to happen.
Aid has all three components. These limitations would rarely come into play because the spell is used primarily out of combat. With that said, remember you can’t cast it if you’re silenced, with both hands tied, or without the material component/spell focus.
Breaking down the spell’s effect
Aid is a simple spell with a short description. However, it is essential to analyze the specific wording of the spell and what things it leaves out.
Choose three targets
When you target a creature, you need a line of sight for that creature. Therefore, even if your ally is within the spell’s range, it can’t be behind total cover. You can’t cast this if you’re blinded.
Now for the number of targets, I must say that the spell falls short, but with a good reason. The spell is essentially 15 HP divided between three creatures, and more targets would mean more total HP. Compare this to the new Healing Spirit, which can heal on average 10.5 HP depending on the caster’s ability modifier. The downside is that for most parties, three targets won’t be enough to cover all members.
This is one of the most vital parts of the spell. Whenever there’s a spell with a long duration, it is essential to consider the Concentration requirement. Now we can stack this spell with others that do require Concentration. Furthermore, we can cast this spell more than once to cover the entire party if it’s larger than three members.
Does that mean I can cast this spell multiple times on the same target? Unfortunately, no. According to the spellcasting rules in the PHB, “The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don’t combine…” Which is more than reasonable. If possible, we could multiply the party’s HP, which is broken.
Hitpoints maximum increase
There are two types of Hitpoints in DND: Normal HP and Temporary HP (THP). Many people think this spell gives you 5 extra THP. However, this is not the case. The spell increases your HP maximum, which is totally different for two reasons:
- Temporary Hitpoints can’t be healed. This is important because this spell gives you HP that can be recovered further down the adventure.
- Temporary Hitpoints don’t stack. Combining this with all the rest makes this spell able to mix with many other effects that bring the life pool of a character really high.
Everyone has felt once in this game the terrifying sensation of ending a fight with just 1 HP left. Five extra HP may not seem much, but it can make the difference.
Current Hitpoints increase
When the spell says it gives you 5 current HP, it is intended for casting outside of combat as a way of bumping the total hp of a creature 5 HP higher. However, this spell is sometimes used as a way of healing because, in essence, it is that.
Nonetheless, “increasing your current HP” and “regaining” or “restoring” HP are not the same. Jeremy Crawford said on Twitter: “Disciple of Life doesn’t benefit the aid spell. The spell increases your hp maximum. It doesn’t restore hp.” Following that logic, we can infer that increasing your “current HP” is not the same as restoring them.
One misuse of the spell that often derives from this confusion is the waking up of unconscious allies. One strange thing occurs if we go over each rule and run them as written: When an ally of yours falls to 0 HP, it starts to make Death Saves. According to the rules, those saves only occur if the creature “starts their turn with 0 Hitpoints”.
With this in mind, if you cast Aid on an ally making Death Saves, they would stop making those saves. However, the unconsciousness ends if “you regain any Hitpoints.” Thus, your ally would remain unconscious with 5 HP after you cast the spell. They would only wake up if they are healed with an effect that “regains” HP afterward.
I must admit this is kind of a glitch, but both the intention of the spell and the wording of the rules end up in this strange place. As always, the DM can rule otherwise and use their best judgment. I like the ruling, even if it is somewhat nonsense.
This is because if the spell were to wake up downed allies, it would be stronger than the 3rd level “Mass Healing Word,” and if it didn’t work, the spell would be weaker and inconsistent. I like to interpret the spell in those instances as a way of bumping the will to live to the downed ally.
Small homebrew idea: Add this line to the end of the spell, “If the spell is cast in an ally with 0 HP, that ally will stabilize and regain consciousness the next turn with 5 HP.”
Most spells in the game are not very good when you cast them at higher levels. It’s reasonable because the higher the spell level, the better the spell should be. Nonetheless, sometimes there are spells with high potential for casting with higher spell slots.
For each spell slot above the 2nd, Aid gains an additional 15 HP spread across three people. Casting it at the 5th level, for example, would give your party an extra 60 HP. That’s enough to withstand all the bites from a Hydra!
Who can “Aid” their allies?
Firstly, Aid is a second-level spell in the Artificer, Cleric, and Paladin spell lists. Clerics are full-casters meaning they’ll get the spell at 3rd level. On the other hand, Artificers and Paladins would access the spell at the 5th level much later in the game. Besides that, full casters have access to higher-level and more slots. Furthermore, Peace Domain Clerics have this spell always prepared.
Besides accessing those spell lists directly, you could find other ways to catch this spell. Right now, the only two different ways of getting Aid are the Divine Soul Sorcerer’s Divine Magic and the Bards with Bard’s Magical Secrets. The first have to add it to their spell list while the latter have to prepare it at the beginning of the adventure day.
Clerics definitely have the best edge to pick the spell. The ability to choose the spells at the beginning of the day rather than committing to them whenever they level up is excellent. Aid is good, but it’s better reserved when the adventure day will be hazardous. With that said, the other contender is the Divine Soul Sorcerer and their metamagic. Extending the duration of Aid with Extended Spell is a good way of saving spell slots, and having a sort of healing in a sorcerer is a good trick.
Right now, there are no creatures in any of the official books of DND with Aid. The spell is excellent, but the extra 5 HP count on many creatures can be an unnecessary burden on the already full plate of the DM. Besides, the DM can change the life of creatures before the fight if the average seems too low. This makes Aid not a very good spell for DMs in general.
However, ally NPCs with Aid are an excellent implementation for DMs. Tracking those HP can be confusing for monsters, but PCs follow their own HP. Furthermore, this is a good way of granting the party a prize for doing something good, like saving a Paladin from a dungeon. It can also be a paid service some Clerics do for coins.
Aid 5e Guide: FAQs
Question: Can I cast Aid on objects?
Answer: No, the spell specifies that the targets are “creatures.”
QUESTION: DOES AID GIVE TEMPORARY HIT POINTS?
Answer: No, aid bumps your hitpoint maximum. They are two distinct pools of hp.
QUESTION: CAN I HAVE AID CAST MULTIPLE TIMES IN ITS DURATION?
Answer: Yes. Aid doesn’t require concentration, so you can have multiple castings of it simultaneously. So you can cast it over those npcs you need to protect.
QUESTION: CAN I STACK AID WITH HEROES FEAST?
Answer: Yes. Every effect that grants a bonus to your hp maximum can be indefinitely stacked unless stated otherwise. This also applies to things like hill dwarfs’ dwarven toughness.
Do Magic, not Mechanics
Before we leave this spell behind, I’d like to take a step back and see its flavor. Magic in DND is a wonder and must be treated as such. Even a spell as simple and “boring” as this needs good taste, something that makes it fun when you cast it. Describing the Aid spell as “You all gain 5 HP for the rest of the day” is no description. It doesn’t need to be much (it is not a Mirror Image), but some details can make the game experience better for everyone.
There are many roads you can take to describe a good Aid, and I won’t be able to give you all the possibilities because they are infinite. When something is as simple as Aid, it can be reskinned as almost everything. As such, I just want to give you some inspiration and invite you to make your own Aid.
Firstly, think of the spell’s description: “Your spell bolsters your allies with toughness and resolve.” This can be as simple as saying, “You all feel like a battle drum is sounding, and that bumps you up.” You can also infuse your allies with your character’s personality. If your character is a Winter Eladrin Elf, describe, “Tiny snowflakes fall over your shoulders as you feel a cool breeze brushing your face.”
As I said, there are infinite possibilities, so just don’t forget to take them whenever you feel like it. Go ahead and choose this spell; you won’t regret it.