Healing is pretty vital in 5e, especially if you live in a world where almost everything wants to kill you. Thankfully, Faerun is also a land of healing magic, a land where people can heal with a touch or even a word. That’s where the healing word spell comes in, and it’s often a lifesaver for novice adventurers and seasoned veterans alike.
This is our guide to one of the most useful healing spells in 5e, and how you can use it to keep everyone alive during the thick of combat.
What Is Healing Word?
Here are the stats for healing word according to the Player’s Handbook:
- Level: 1st
- Casting Time: 1 bonus action
- Range: 60 feet
- Components: V
- Duration: Instantaneous
- Classes: Bard, Cleric, Druid
- School: Evocation
- Attack/Save: None
- Damage/Effect: Healing
A creature of your choice that you can see within range regains hit points equal to 1d4 + your spellcasting ability modifier. This spell has no effect on undead or constructs.
At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the healing increases by 1d4 for each slot level above 1st.
Breaking the spell down we see that it is a first-level spell, so the Bard, Cleric, and Druid classes can get it pretty early. It only requires a vocal component to be cast, as it is a word that needs to be spoken. It does have a range of 60 feet, so unlike some of the other healing abilities of the early game, you don’t need to touch your target to heal them.
It allows you to heal 1d4 points of damage plus your spellcasting (usual wisdom) modifier, which can bring people back from the brink of death in the early game. As the game progresses and you get higher-level spells, you get additional d4 dice for every slot above first. A 2nd level spell slot will get you 2d4, a 3rd 3d4, and so on. Even at higher levels, you can burn a spell slot to restore a lot of health.
It’s a pretty useful spell, and a great ability for bards, druids, and clerics to have in their arsenal of spells. Plus, it only takes a bonus action to cast, so that teleports up its usefulness.
What Makes Healing Word So Good?
The main reason that everyone adores the healing word is because of the 5e action economy. To make a winded explanation shorter, nearly everything in the game has an action. Moving takes an action, attacking takes an action, casting spells takes actions, and you get 2 actions per turn. Bonus actions are actions you can take for free.
Now, action economy is where you use your actions effectively during combat. For example, if you use one action to cast the spell cure wounds and heal the fighter for 10 damage, but the bugbear enemy does 15 damage the next turn, that’s poor action economy. You could have been spending that spell slot to damage the enemy because a dead bugbear isn’t going to wound anyone.
Now, the healing word uses a bonus action, and while it still eats up a spell slot, you can move around the battlefield and possibly attack an enemy as well as heal. Your bard and druid can use cantrips, and your cleric can attack with their weapons, dealing damage or applying debuffs to the enemy, while also using a bonus action to heal.
If you can do damage while also healing your allies, then you can end fights quicker. The faster you can end fights, the less risk you can have for your party.
When To Use Healing Word?
With healing words eating up a spell slot, you do want to be careful when you use it, same with any type of healing spell or resource. There are two times to heal, during combat and out of combat, but before we get to that we need to look at a typical adventuring day.
Some DM’s and adventuring groups love the combat aspect of D&D, to where they will have multiple encounters per day or be slogging through dungeons every week. That’s fine, while other DM’s tend to focus more on roleplaying and social encounters. In these games, combat can be very rare or might even be avoided entirely by clever uses of skills or spells.
You’ll know pretty quickly what type of group you find yourself in, and that will affect how often you or your healer does all the healing. If you are the type of party that does several encounters per day, you might decide to heal only whenever you fight very large threats. Several goblins coming at you, they might do scratch damage at best, so probably not enough to warrant a healing word. A beholder attacking the party is another story, as it requires all the healing spells you can muster.
It depends on your group and also how your DM builds their encounters. Good DMs will be able to tailor encounters to their party design because not every single party needs a source of healing. Regardless, if you have healing, then you need to use it liberally. Even though you can take advantage of the short and long rest mechanics, healing can still be beneficial.
Healing In Combat
You should focus on healing only whenever battles drag on for a long time, or a party member is at serious risk of going down. If combat with some skeletons and a lich lord is starting to drag on and your frontline fighters are starting to go down to half health, then throwing out a few healing words can be the difference between life and death.
Especially since Healing Word is a bonus action, you can still move around and contribute to the battle with damaging cantrips or melee strikes. Most D&D healing should be done with long fights against boss monsters, but keep on your guard because even the goblins get lucky with their rolls sometimes.
Healing Outside Of Combat
Short rests are great ways for healing to happen outside of combat. As long as you are in a safe location and can spend an hour of time, a short rest allows your heroes to bandage themselves up and regain their breath and strength after a few fights or an unlucky jaunt in a dungeon. If a short rest has already been taken or it is inadvisable to take a short rest right now, then a quick healing word can get the wounded back on their feet.
If you have a lot of spell levels, most people would advise using the higher-level healing spells during combat whenever higher-level spells are needed and saving the lower-level ones for the outside of combat healing.
What Exactly Is A ‘Healing Word?’
If you want to get into the roleplaying depth of magic, some healing spells are very easy. To cure wounds, your character focuses on the wound the injured person has and restores the body to a point where the wound was never there. For lay on hands, your character lays a hand on the injured person and allows healing magic to flow out of their hands to heal the wound. A healing word is a simple verbal component, so how does it work? What’s the word in healing word?
Well, it can be whatever you want it to be. It can add some depth to roleplaying and also to your character if they add some flair to their spells. In some cases, it can be a word of power that commands the body to heal, perfect for a serious character. Other times it can be a prayer or the name of a god or goddess for a paladin. Or you can have a sillier character shout ‘Stop dying’ or ‘Get back up!’ as their word.
You could easily turn the healing word into whatever you want it to be, or just say ‘my character casts healing word at 3rd level.’ However, it is more fun to add a bit of flavor to your spells!
Should I Use Mass Healing Word?
Mass Healing Word
3rd Level Evocation
- Casting Time: 1 bonus action
- Range: 60 feet
- Components: V
- Duration: Instantaneous
- Classes: Cleric
As you call out words of restoration, up to six creatures of your choice that you can see within range regain hit points equal to 1d4 + your spellcasting ability modifier. This spell has no effect on undead or constructs. At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the healing increases by 1d4 for each slot level above 3rd.
Mass healing world acts just like healing word, but it affects up to six creatures of your choice. These can be party members or allies, or even NPC’s as long as they are not undead or constructs. If your party gets in a lot of fights or is locked in combat with the big boss or a very tough enemy, then this spell can easily save a life. Plus, if you have bards and druids working alongside you, they can spend their single-use healing words to fix smaller wounds while you save this spell for the big AoE heals.
Healing Word FAQ
Question: Do I Need To Be A Healbot?
Answer: Most Clerics tend to function as heal bots, or characters with no offensive or defensive skills, just the ability to heal and heal a lot. Not only can this become boring to play, but it also can trivialize encounters. Plus, if the cleric goes down and the rest of the party is still up, they’ve got no healer.
While it can seem smart to make sure you have healing word, and cure wounds, and lesser restoration, and a sack of potions, you don’t need it as much as you think.
You don’t need to hoard healing items, because the rest mechanic as well as getting healing from various NPC’s and healers kits and potions can be options. While you can go full heal, you can also get an arsenal of offensive and defensive abilities that will be sure to aid your party in other ways.
Question: Do I Need To Be A Cleric?
Answer: While Clerics tend to get the coolest and flashiest healing spells in the game, you can certainly be a bard or a druid and use the healing word. While you might not be the best healer in the entire party, a well-timed healing word can easily save the day, no matter who it is from. Plus, Bards and
Druids have a few more abilities that can restore health and buff their allies. So you don’t need to be one of the religious classes to be a healer, anyone can heal if you want.
Question: Is Healing Word The Best Healing Option For Low Level?
Answer: Typically, healing words and cure wounds are the spells of choice for low-level characters, but which one is better. Well, Cure wounds heal a lot more than the Healing word does, but cure wounds also require you to be touching your target. It also takes an action, meaning that you need to move to your target and then take an action to touch him, and that’s your turn. However, the healing word does heal for less but is more versatile.
If you want to throw out a few healing spells, but still want to attack and perform other actions, then the use of the healing word is the best for you. Healing word is a battle spell, while cure wounds is a better spell to use outside of combat where everyone can rest. The speed at which you can cast it and the range just makes it a much better option for battle heals.