Cantrips come in all shapes and sizes, from attacks to buffs to debuffs. There are even several cantrips meant to be used outside of combat. While not as powerful as leveled DnD spells, nor do they scale as hard as attacks from a martial class. What makes Cantrips worthwhile are their utility and consistent damage output.
It does get stronger as the caster levels up but compared to characters that can attack thirteen times in one round or deal over two hundred damage in one attack, these are pretty mediocre.
Hello again, I am back at it with another spell explanation, this time with a twist. Since we will be talking about what is essentially a level zero spell, I decided that I want to go into a more personal opinion of it. I believe that I can make these kinds of statements due to my decade’s worth of experience in D&D, not including other TRPGs as well.
With that in mind, let’s kick off our Resistance 5e guide and get into Resistance.
Resistance is an Abjuration cantrip with an action casting time. It is a concentration spell and has a range of touch. It can only target a willing creature and last for one minute or until the effect is used.
When you touch a willing creature, you can let them roll and add a 1d4 bonus to one saving throw of its choice. It can roll the die before or after rolling the saving throw; afterward, the spell ends.
Suppose you want an even shorter version. Then there are the essential details of the spell.
- One action casting time
- Range of Touch
- Targets a willing creature
- Concentration spell
- Duration of one minute or when the effect is used.
- Adds a 1d4 bonus to a saving throw
- Lets you roll the bonus before or after the saving throw is rolled.
- Once rolled, the effect of the spell ends.
Let’s look at the positive effects of this spell.
It Takes only One Action
Unlike leveled spells, cantrips do not take any resources at all. You can consider it similar to taking an action to attack as it’s free, and rarely will it ever punish you for doing so. Even for a cantrip, its effect is robust compared to low leveled spells.
You can cast it while moving as a party, or if you have nothing to do while your party is doing other things. You can even spam this out of combat as the casting time is one action or six seconds.
It excels as a preparatory tool, mainly while exploring or if you are paranoid and believe an ambush is incoming. It could even save you some trouble if someone were trying to pickpocket you or if your DM randomly throws saving throws while you travel.
Bonus to ANY One Saving Throw
This effect is massive. Rarely do spells give direct bonuses to saving throws; usually, they give advantage or damage Resistance and nullification. It seems small, like a one-to-four bonus, but it can still push you over the edge of what is naturally possible for your character. A twenty can become a twenty-four, and so on.
You can even choose not to roll it for the first few saving throws, waiting for one in which your character is particularly weak or when you see that the roll has a low result. Since you can choose after seeing the initial roll result, it’s even better; make sure your DM does not blurt out whether you pass or fail; otherwise, you cannot roll for Resistance.
Since it is an Omni-buff, you can relax with your high stat saving throws and save it for those low statted ones. You can guess if the DC is high and throw the bonus there. Anything goes, and because of that, Resistance can go anywhere with anyone. A powerful effect right here.
Lasts One Minute
Due to it being a concentration spell, they can keep it up for a duration, this one being one minute, but since it is an action to cast, you can ask your DM if you can cast this every minute. You can cast this on yourself or an ally within touch range; then, you can head back to a safer area behind your frontline fighters and wait to do other things.
One minute is actually quite long in D&D combat; ten whole rounds usually never happen as most encounters aim to end fast. Since most attack spells are saving throw based, having this spell up means that one of these spells thrown at you could be dodged or defended against.
So long as the concentration is maintained, it makes even the toughest dragon’s breath little more than a gust of wind.
With every good side, there is a downside, and while this cantrip has good mileage, it falls short compared to other cantrips that soar in comparison to this spell.
Concentration for a One Use
Concentration as a tag on its own is not necessarily a downside. Usually, this is put into place to balance out spells with powerful effects or for spells with a longer duration than instant—for example, Tidal Wave or Searing Smite.
In comparison, cantrips with concentration are in a weird spot because they are concentration until used. Much like the previously stated Searing Smite, once it’s used up, it ends the effect, but at least the Smite spells have an easy-to-activate trigger. Resistance requires you to be attacked, making it rare to reach that trigger.
What makes it worse is that its casting time takes away from other things you can do for the round. Even Smites are bonus actions to cast, and while yes, you can say that because this is a cantrip, it makes sense to take both an action and concentration, I would say that it makes the spell far less worth it than it seems.
Remember, casters can only concentrate on one spell at a time; using it on this cantrip could prevent you from casting a big spell to turn the tide.
Action Casting Time
Actions are the lifeblood of a combat situation and can be used to attack, cast a spell, or retreat. Features, feats, and abilities all take actions to use; while some take bonus actions, those are fewer and far between.
Due to this, if you cast this spell, you take away an important action to be used for anything else, no dashing or dodging, just this protection spell.
You can still use your bonus action to cast a spell and have a reaction available, but rarely can you deal direct damage to a specific target unless your party forces it to happen. At that point, using your action to do something else might be better.
In regular combat, each character has one action, one bonus action, and one reaction per turn. So if you use it for defense, you cannot attack, leading to my next point.
I am not saying that defensive abilities are bad; however, exchanging your attack for defense is bad in D&D specifically. While MMORPGs have created the class triangle of healer, DPS, and tank, most TRPGs have characters that can do a little of all three or most of one. This is to keep the action economy fair while making the game fun for all players at the table.
Most defensive abilities last a whole round or longer. Usually, players will do this when they have a specific goal in mind rather than using an ability or attacking—dodging to block up a choke point or casting a defensive ability to ward off incoming attacks.
As they say, the best defense is a good offense; in this case, just defending yourself gets you nowhere. Enemies will keep attacking you even if you keep defending; they need to fall before you do.
Nature of Saving Throws
So spells and abilities that require saving throws can be divided into two types; damage and crowd control. Succeeding on the saving throw usually cuts the damage in half or entirely, while it is generally avoided with no repercussions for crowd control spells.
The problem with Resistance is that it can only save on one throw, and the caster is usually in the area of effect that you may use the spell on. If the Resistance target chooses not to use it, they might lose the effect since the caster might fail their concentration check.
Additionally, when it comes to saving throws attached to CC, if they land the effect on the caster of Resistance, they might drop the spell if it puts them to sleep or forcefully breaks their concentration.
Range and Targets (Note, not bad per se, just lackluster)
While melee spells are not that uncommon, I would say that in this case, it is kind of bad, not as bad as the others on this list, but bad enough that I would warrant some caution. Of course, out of combat, this spell is lovely.
In melee, a squishy mage walking up to buff an ally opens them to getting attacked by the enemy. In combat, anything goes, so it’s a priority to try and keep the spell casters safe; putting themselves into danger is not something I would recommend.
Classes that Can Cast this
It is interesting to see that only two classes can cast this spell. Excluding feats and racial abilities that allow you to learn spells outside your class (I’m looking at you, Elves), this is a surprisingly rare cantrip to see.
Clerics being the token healer and supporter class, have this spell. It’s good on them since certain Clerics can wear heavy armor so they can survive in a melee. Most of their spells are not concentration spells either, so having this up is not a significant detriment to them.
Seen as the backup support, this control-oriented spell caster has one big flaw when you consider this spell. Most of their more powerful spells are concentration, so they have to choose between keeping it up or dropping it for a more powerful spell, and at least to me, the choice seems clear.
When to Use
I have mentioned it multiple times already, but I find that the best usage of this spell is outside of combat. While yes, I would say that Guidance is better since by succeeding in the ability check, you can most of the time avoid the instance where you need to make a saving throw. Trap disarming, stealthing, and insight is the most often cases.
In combat, this is best used in situations where the target is forced into making saving throws every turn, for example, being petrified or trying to get out of Hold Person. Sometimes they cannot naturally break out of the effect, so a little boost can help them go a long way.
That is not to say that you can’t use it in other situations, but unless you know that you are not going to cast a concentration spell, it might be better to cast a different spell rather than this defensive buff. If you still choose to cast this spell, I would say use it if you know the enemy can force saving throws- for example, dragons or ghosts.
“Fixing” the Spell
Forewarning, this is my opinion as a DM, so make sure to clear this with your DM or players before adding this into the pool.
Change the casting time to one reaction, remove the concentration tag and reduce the spell’s duration to 6 seconds. This way, you can apply it to yourself or anyone next to you in a pinch; of course, it also means that you can only choose to use the bonus on any saving throws you make within that round.
Increase the range of the spell to 20 ft. By doing this, you can cast it from a safer distance, then retreat further away to dissuade the usage of an AOE. It’s not the most significant change, but giving it a small amount of range makes this spell miles better.
Question: Can You Cast Resistance on Yourself?
ANSWER: YES. RESISTANCE HAS A RANGE OF TOUCH AND A TARGET OF ANY WILLING CREATURE. SO LONG AS YOU ARE WILLING, YOU CAN MOST DEFINITELY CAST THIS SPELL ON YOURSELF.
QUESTION: WHAT DOES THE CANTRIP RESISTANCE EVEN DO?
ANSWER: IN SHORT, IT GIVES YOU A BONUS OF 1D4 ON ANY ONE SAVING THROW YOU MAKE WITHIN ONE MINUTE. ONCE YOU USE THAT 1D4, THE SPELL EXPIRES.
QUESTION: DOES RESISTANCE AND BLESS STACK?
ANSWER: YES, IT DOES. SO LONG AS THE SPELLS DO NOT HAVE THE SAME NAME, THEY CAN STACK EFFECTS. SO IT WOULD GIVE YOU A 2D4 BONUS ON YOUR SAVING THROW RATHER THAN 1D4.
Resistance 5e Guide: Final Thoughts
I do not think this spell is that good; it is very niche and usually better replaced with leveled spells or the Guidance cantrip. Usually, it cannot be used proactively; however, since it is a cantrip, there is merit in using it outside combat.
Other than that and the few situations I have listed, I cannot say that I advocate for this spell, which is a definite 6/10 for me.