In combat, you need to think about more than damage. Considering how well you can take damage is also a side to ponder if you are looking for victory. Mitigation comes in all kinds of forms. You reduce the damage you take through resistance or avoid it through evasion. Dungeons and Dragons emulates this through Armor Class; colloquially known as AC, and various healing spells.
I have seen all kinds of builds while I was playing and DM-ing in the Adventurer’s League. From massive hitpoint tanks running about to the never-ending healing of a druid. There were players with AC higher than dragons and players who took so little damage they may as well have been immortal. Now that I have been in the game for a decade, I understand how those builds work and what makes them suitable.
In this Healing Spirit 5e guide, we’ll look at one of the most broken healing spells in the game and what they did to fix it. Dungeon Masters, watch out because this D&D spell is insanely good in the right hands.
|1 Bonus Action
|5 ft cube (that can move)
This spell creates an intangible spirit creating a five-foot square around a point of your choice that you can see within range. The ghost looks like a transparent beast or fey (Your choice).
Until the spell ends, whenever you or a creature you see moves into the spirit’s space for the first time on a turn (or starts its turn there) you can cause the spirit to restore 1d6 hit points to that creature. The ghost can’t heal constructs or be undead.
When you upcast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the healing increases 1d6 for each slot level above 2nd.
This 2nd level spell is concentration, meaning that you must focus on it for it to remain active. Losing concentration or casting another concentration spell would end the effects early.
This spell is potent in combat and even more so out of combat. That is, of course, before Wizards of the Coast errata’d it to make it much more balanced. Essentially it could fully heal a party out of combat and in combat.
Read also: Comprehensive Ghosts 5e Guide
Seeing this, they made an addendum to prevent a full heal at such a low level.
“The spirit can heal a number of times equal to 1+ spellcasting ability modifier (Minimum of twice). After healing that many times, the spirit dissipates.”
The ruling limits the seemingly infinite amount to a very negligible amount of healing. From strong to a little less than average. 1d6 is not a large amount of healing, even if you consider it at its smallest 2d6 points of healing.
At the time, the players welcomed the nerf to the spell. They could see how broken the spell was compared to others of its level. As a 2nd level spell, it could output over 300+ points of healing, which was more potent than Power Word Heal (the most powerful healing spell set at 9th level). While the 9th level spell healed one target to full without rolling a die. This spell could heal more and spread it out among the party.
The spell was so powerful that Jeremy Crawford (one of D&D’s lead game designers) even suggested a house rule to go with the spell before the errata came about. Which later on was modified and released as a complete errata for the player base.
What Made It Good
Back then, the 10d6 of healing given to over five party members made it the best healing spell out of combat. In combat, so long as you positioned it right, it would provide a massive area of healing every round.
An old combo would be for the players to gather around and use their movement to dance in and out of the circle to maximize the amount of healing they can receive. So from around 5d6 on average, they turn it into 10d6 per character. On average, that would be about 200 points of healing distributed to 5 characters. Given that this spell is 2nd level, you can get it at level 3, which is a fantastic amount to receive at that level.
Now with the errata, it has been significantly weakened. Now it depends on the Caster’s spellcasting ability modifier. These are the stats used to determine how many spells you can memorize and how potent those spells are.
While it is still a powerful spell in the right hands. It has dropped its usage due to casters who do not put too many points into their primary casting stat. Whether for investment into other stats or chasing a specific gimmick or build.
What Classes Can Use it
Sadly, no subclass feature allows access to this spell. Whether that signifies that Casters must study the spell or it has story implications is up to the DM’s interpretation.
Druids gain access to this spell at level 3. They have to choose to learn this spell as they do not know it naturally. Optionally, the DM can say that they understand it after being blessed by a fae or woodland spirit.
The flavor of it being a magical construct allows for a lot of leeway in the storytelling of a DM. It even falls under the school of conjuration, meaning that the Caster created this from nothing, or you could summon it from somewhere else. The interpretations are endless if you think about it.
Rangers get this spell at level 5. Like Druid, the story and RP potential are vast for a class to pick up this spell. It also has such great potency that even at level 5, it is an excellent spell to take for healing. That is, of course, if you are playing a Ranger with a decently high Wisdom score. Whether it is a spirit you have befriended or a fae creature with whom you have made a pact, this spell can come in clutch at any party.
How to Use
So this spell may look simple, but there are many aspects and functions that this spell holds as a continuous healing spell. Its uses can go further than just healing its 1d6 amount.
Let’s look at the spell in parts first to see what makes it different from your conventional healing spell.
- Creates a fey or beast-looking intangible spirit: Typically, healing spells are instant cast. Prime examples are Cure Wounds, Healing Word, or even Power Word Heal. This spell is continuous. Even with the errata, it still lasts over many turns and is concentration. That does not mean it is terrible, but it does mean that there is a chance the spell ends early if you get hit hard enough.
- It is a moving area of effect healing spell: Few healing spells affect an area; for example, Prayer of Healing, Mass Cure Wounds, or Aura of Vitality. Even then, most of the other area of effect healing only targets people in a massive area rather than creating a zone of healing.
- Lastly, it has a limited amount of healing: The spell can only affect a number of creatures a few times total. No other spell has this caveat attached to them yet. It functions like Lay on Hands or Channel Divinity: Preserve Life, where it draws from a pool of hit points to spread out to other characters.
All things considered, you can view this as a heal over time for one character or a big burst heal for one group at low levels. I would say that it falls off compared to more powerful healing spells with the errata, but it still has its uses in higher-level play.
Let’s look at a few healing spells to compare their effectiveness of this spell. For this, we will consider only healing spells available to Druids and take their Spellcasting Modifier as a +3. The healing amount will also be its average for comparison, and we will cast every spell at the 2nd level to match Healing Spirit.
|1st Level (Upcast to 2nd)
|1st Level (Cannot be Upcasted)
|1st Level (Upcast to 2nd)
Of course, Healing Spirit’s numbers are spread around many members. So if you are aiming for a single target heal, then Cure Wounds would heal for more. On the other hand, Healing Spirit heals for more in total. So if your party was hit by an area of effect spell or has had a long day of battling, this spell is superior.
Aside from just healing in an area, here are a few other tricks you can use this spell.
Heal a downed Ally
Consider that this spell heals at the start of the creature’s turn so long as they are within the radius of the spell. If your ally goes down or is being targetted by the enemy, you can drop this spirit over them. This lets them keep coming back up and having their turn. It uses a bonus action rather than spending an action healing them or letting them roll for death saves. So it saves on the action economy.
By doing so, you reset their death saves and gives them a chance to return to the fight. Optionally they can help themselves rather than wait for more turns to come by.
Many spells that heal are touch-based. So with this spell, it only takes a bonus action to move the spirit around and heal somebody. You can consider it an advanced version of Healing Word, especially since it heals for more than the aforementioned spell. Whether it is to keep someone in fighting condition or to get someone back from near death. A moving heal keeps the Caster safe and out of harm while still doing their job.
Out of Combat Healing
Admittedly, compared to Clerics, you are lacking in healing. Still, compared to classes not dedicated to healing, you have a significant weight in how much health gets restored to your party members. On average, the recovery you provide is more effective than a level 2 cure wound, except that it is spread to various party members. If only one character needs healing, then it works just as well. In a few seconds, you will have that character back to good health as Healing Spirit heals every round.
Question: Did Healing Spirit get nerfed?
Answer: Yes, it has. In April 2020, WotC printed the newer versions of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything with this change. “The spirit can heal a number of times equal to 1+ spellcasting ability modifier (Minimum of twice). After healing that many times, the spirit dissipates.”.
Question: Does Healing Spirit heal enemies?
Answer: Not if you do not want to, the wording of the spell is that “you can cause the spirit to heal a creature.” meaning that even if an enemy enters the space of the spirit, he will not get healed if you do not wish to do so.
Question: What is the Spellcasting Ability Modifier?
Answer: That is the number used to calculate how your spell is powered and how powerful it is. Each Caster uses its own modifier; Wizards and Artificers use their Intelligence modifier. Druids, Clerics, and Rangers use their Wisdom modifier. Sorcerers, Paladins, and Warlocks use their Charisma modifier. To get this modifier, you get your stat, subtract ten, then divide by two. It would look like this ([Stat-10]/2) and end up with a number between zero and six.
This spell used to be one of the most broken spells on release. Even to this day, it still holds a high place as a healing spell coming from nature-based magic casters. It has excellent efficiency as a 2nd-level spell and slightly decreased returns as higher-level spells. It is robust and has a good segway into the Roleplaying aspect of your game. I would rate this spell as one of the best low-level options a player can use.