Balin the Hill Dwarf Light Domain Cleric knelt over the body of the fallen wizard. While Peregrine the Half-Elf Paladin hammered with his mace and Hotstuff the Fire Salamander Wrestler attacked with her coils, Balin sprinkled diamonds on his dead friend’s chest.
The cleric did not know how long his friend the paladin could hold off their enemy. He did know that if they failed to stop her, they would all be cooked alive.
The hill dwarf prayed to his god Forseti to revivify his wizard friend.
Revivify 5e Guide: Bottomline
Revivify is one of 6 back-to-life spells within 5e Player’s Handbook (PHB) rules:
It is the most accessible since it is the lowest level spell slot, 3rd level. All other back-to-life spells are 5th level or higher. The only major drawback for Revivify is that you have to be able to get to the deceased within 1 minute (10 rounds).
How Does Revivify Work?
Revivify allows you to revive a creature that has died within the last minute by touching them. The revived creature has 1 hit point.
The spell cannot:
- Revive a creature dead longer than 1 minute
- Return to life a creature that has died of old age
- Restore missing body parts
Here are its stats:
- 3rd level Necromancy Spell
- Casting time: 1 action
- Range: Touch
- Components: V, S, M (Diamonds worth 300 gp, which the spell consumes)
Who Can Cast Revivify?
In the Player’s Handbook (PHB), clerics and paladins can cast Revivify.
Is Revivify Good?
Yes. When your characters are 5th level (2nd tier), this is the only way to bring them back to life. When your character first has access to Revivify, at 5th level, if a cleric, they will probably only have 2 3rd level spell slots available, not counting domain spells.
It may be tempting to postpone Revivify in favor of other spells. I would say that for clerics this is not necessary. As you will see in my sample 5th level cleric build, domain spells add an additional 2 3rd level slots. 4 3rd level slots are definitely not bad for a 5th level character.
Any additional spells you want that you can’t prepare because of Revivify, you can add to your backlist, as I will discuss in my Cleric Build section below.
For paladins, Revivify might not be the right choice. My reasoning is that paladins can’t cast Revivify until 9th level. By that time, their peers in other classes (bard, druid, cleric) will have access to higher-grade back-to-life spells like Raise Dead and Reincarnation.
Depending on the party’s composition, such valuable 3rd level spell slots might be better spent elsewhere.
In order to show how Revivify would work in a game context, I’m providing a Revivify caster.
Balin is a male hill dwarf cleric. His domain is Light and oddly enough, he worships the human Norse god Forseti, responsible for justice and law. In order to justify his use of Revivify Spell, I’ve boosted him to 5th level.
|4th Lvl. ASI||+2|
|Ability Scores Total||14||13||18||10||14||8|
|5||16||43||25||Warhammer +2. +7/+5 Dam 1d18+5 (6-13)||+1 shield, half plate, +2 Warhammer, Potion of Flying, 2 Potions of Healing|
Below is Balin’s prepared list. His domain spells are in boldface:
|Cantrips (4)||Guidance, Light, Sacred Flame, Spare the Dying|
|1st level (4)||Burning Hands, Faerie Fire, Detect Magic, Create or Destroy Water, Guiding Bolt, Healing Word|
|2nd level (3)||Flaming Sphere, Scorching Ray, Silence, Enhance Ability, Prayer of Healing|
|3rd level (2)||Daylight, Fireball, Revivify, Dispel Magic|
Obviously, ritual spells like Augury don’t need to be prepared in advance and are, therefore, not on the prepared list.
Since clerics prepare their spells daily, they can change their list from day to day. The prepared list above represents the spells used for a typical adventuring day. These are spells that your character probably doesn’t want to leave home without. This would include Revivify
There are a few spells that might be useful but not as essential as what would be on a prepared list. These spells go to the backlist. Backlist spells are mission-specific.
Your character won’t need them for every adventuring day and they can wait a day or two for you to switch spells from your prepared list into spells from your backlist just for that day. Example:
The party kills some bugbears and Balin would like to use Speak With Dead Spell to interview one of the corpses. The problem is that Speak With Dead was not on his prepared list that day.
This is not really a big problem because Speak With Dead is good for a corpse up to 10 days old. Balin can take a rest and prepare Speak With Dead the next morning before interviewing the corpse and choose to not prepare another spell for that day, like Revivify or Dispel Magic.
Then, if time allows, he can take another long rest and switch to his prepared list before adventuring the next day.
Be warned, however, many DMs have a problem with players who abuse long rest too often and such DMs have creative ways of solving this problem. I.e., Baldur’s Gate III has each of the players infected with a mind flayer tadpole, so there is a definite time limit for the adventure and too many long rests would make you run overtime.
Balin has customized background options for his proficiencies as per PHB, p. 125.
Revivify, Death, and Zero Hit Points
Even though Revivify is a good spell to have, you probably won’t need it as often as you think. The reason is that having your hit points reduced to 0 often doesn’t result in death. What happens when you are reduced to 0 hit points?
Let’s say that Morgran is the party’s 5th-level wizard. His hit point maximum is 23 meaning that when uninjured, he has 37 hit points (HP).
In combat, Morgran is brought from 37 to 0 hit points. Unless he suffers his point maximum after being brought to 0 and is brought all the way down -37 HP or more, Morgran will be allowed a series of death saving throws to cling to life.
On his next turn, he must roll a death saving throw at DC 10. This means he must roll a d-20 and score 10 or higher with no modifiers. If he succeeds, he is stabilized and no more saving throws are necessary. Revivify would not be necessary either in that case.
If Morgran fails the save, however, he must roll a second death saving throw on his next turn. If he passes that save, he is also stabilized.
If Morgran fails his second death save, he must roll a third death saving throw on his next turn. Again, he passes that save, he is also stabilized.
Only if he fails 3 death saving throws in a row or is brought down to 0 minus his hit point maximum (taking a total of 74 HP of damage) would Morgran actually die. Then and only then, would Morgran need Revivify. (assuming he has passed all of his death saving throws)
At any point during the death saving throw process, unoccupied characters can end the process with healing spells. Even if no healing spells are available, they can use the Medicine proficiency or Spare the Dying Cantrip to stabilize Morgran.
If Morgran is stable and doesn’t take any additional damage, he will recover 1 hit point naturally in 1d4 hours. So, a lot has to occur for Morgran to actually die.
A Case Study in Revivify: Balin the Hill Dwarf Light Domain Cleric vs Fire Salamander
Balin is exploring a dungeon with 2 companions: a mountain dwarf evocation wizard and a half-elf oath of vengeance paladin. The wizard, Morgran, uses his familiar, a bat, to scout ahead and find the location of the Big Bad, a female fire salamander named Hotstuff and her henchmen, a squad of 10 bugbears.
Balin informs his friends that he could probably use Silence Spell to enable the party to ambush their enemies. Even though fire salamanders are immune to fire damage, it would be worth using their 2 Fireballs, 1 from Balin and 1 from Morgran, to wipe out the bugbears.
After casting Silence Spell, Balin leads the party down a tunnel to the entrance of a large temple shrine. He also casts Aid Spell on himself and his allies to boost them an additional 5 hit points for the upcoming battle.
Peregrine’s player asks if Aid Spell stacks and the DM rules that is does. So, with the paladin’s Aid Spell added, everyone has +10 HP.
60 feet from the entrance, they spy Hotstuff on a dais, surrounded by her bugbears. Perfect target!
The cleric stands behind the left side of the threshold for cover and the wizard stands behind the right. They cast their Fireballs and every single bugbear is incinerated in a perfect crossfire. As predicted, Hotsuff is left untouched due to her fire immunity but she is also left standing alone:
|Hotstuff||12||15||114||20+4||14+2||18+4||12+1||10||12+1||Heated Body+2, (spear+ tail)||+8/+5 +8/+5||2d6 fire, 2d8+5+1d6 2d6+5+2d6|
|Balin||5||16||43||14+2||10+0||14+2||13+1||18+4||8-1||Spell, +2 warhammer||+7 spell, +7/+5||Dam 1d18+5|
|Morgran||5||18||37||12+1||14+2||16+3||16+3||10+0||8-1||Spell, +2 battleaxe||+6 spell, +5/+4||Dam 1d10+4|
|Peregrine||5||22||39||18+4||10+0||12+1||8-1||14+2||16+3||2, Mace +2||+9/+6||Dam 1d6+6/x2|
Due to her 14 Dexterity, the fire salamander is faster than most of the adventurers and manages to get the initiative. She uses Dash as her action and covers the full 60-foot distance to the adventurers. Even though she can’t attack, just being within 5 feet of them does damage, 7 points, due to her Heated Body feature.
Morgran actually has equal Dexterity to the fire salamander, so the DM allows a tie. Morgran has the opportunity to do a ranged attack without a close-range penalty during Hotstuff’s Dash.
Knowing that fire salamanders are vulnerable to cold damage, he sends a cold Chromatic Orb her way. He also bumps it up to a 2nd level spell slot for 4d8 damage. He rolls a 20 but the damage is doubled to 40 since Hotstuff is vulnerable to cold damage.
Peregrine is next and he wants to melee. He casts Branding Smite as his bonus action and successfully strikes 2 times with his mace. He does 2d6 radiant damage (7) and 2d6 +12 damage with his two mace attacks (19) for a total of 26 damage points.
As a light domain cleric, going up against a fire salamander has invalidated more than half his arsenal: Fireball, Scorching Ray, Flaming Sphere, and Burning Hands.
Frustrated, Balin touches his talisman and casts Create or Destroy Water directly above the fire salamander, causing 30 gallons to come crashing down on all combatants. This does not injure Hotstuff, but there will be no fire damage for the next turn.
Round 2 ends with Hotstuff in pretty bad shape:
|Character||HP (+10 with Aid)||Damage||Remainder|
|Balin Cleric||43 + 10 = 53||R1:7||46|
|Morgran Wizard||37 + 10 = 47||R1:7||40|
|Peregrine Paladin||39 + 10 = 49||R1:7||42|
Like Balin, Morgran has had a lot of his arsenal invalidated due to facing a fireproof opponent. He wants to get out of melee range with Hotstuff so he can throw another blue (cold) chromatic orb. He wants Peregrine to cover him so the wizard can move back 5 feet to make a ranged attack within the same turn.
Hotstuff, however, decides to attack Peregrine with her spear and Morgran with her tail. Hotstuff is taller than the average salamander and stands 8-feet when balanced on her tail. Consequently, her tail is very long and can easily reach Morgran while she is still fighting Peregrine.
Because Peregrine has +1 plate and a +1 shield, his AC is 22 and Hotstuff misses her spear attack.
Peregrine has the Protector Fighting Style and can make Hotstuff’s tail-attack on Morgran have a disadvantage. Hotstuff, as the Big Bad of this adventure, however, is no ordinary fire salamander. She has purchased the Grappler feat, giving her an advantage on her grappling attack against Morgran.
Her advantage cancels out Peregrine’s disadvantage and there is a normal roll for grappling between Hotstuff and Morgran. Hotstuff’s 20 Strength is overwhelming for Morgran and he is grappled and squeezed for 12 points of concussion damage but no fire damage thanks to Balin’s Create or Destroy Water Spell.
In tandem with her action, Hotstuff interacts with an object to trigger a trapdoor in the floor. It is so close to her that she can just slide back (She cannot step back because she has no feet.) and fall through the floor.
Therefore, there is no opportunity attack for Peregrine and Balin. The trap door immediately shuts behind Hotstuff and Morgran. End of Round 3:
|Character||HP (+10 with Aid)||Damage||Remainder|
|Balin Cleric||43 + 10 = 53||R2:7||46|
|Morgran Wizard||37 + 10 = 47||R2:7, R3: 12||28|
|Peregrine Paladin||39 + 10 = 49||R2:7||42|
Because our 2 remaining heroes lost their turn with Hotstuff’s escape, the DM gives them the initiative at the top of Round 4.
Peregrine wants to use his great strength, combined with his +2 mace to smash open the trapdoor. Balin wants to cast Enhance Ability so Peregrine can have advantage on his Strength Ability check. The DM rules that both actions will take place on the same turn.
Peregrine successfully breaks through the trapdoor and the 2 adventures fall through and take 3 points of falling damage. Morgran’s bat familiar flies through the shattered trapdoor and uses echolocation to detect the wizard’s position and take off after them.
Hotstuff squeezes Morgran for another turn and does 12 points of damage. Her Heat Body feature returns and she deals another 7 points of fire damage to Morgran as she drags him through the corridors of the lower level.
Morgran’s spells are pretty much useless while he is grappled and he is cursing himself for not preparing Misty Step Spell, which has no somatic component. End of Round 4:
|Character||HP (+10 with Aid)||Damage||Remainder|
|Balin Cleric||43 + 10 = 53||R2:7, R4: 3||46|
|Morgran Wizard||37 + 10 = 47||R2:7, R3: 12, R4:19||9|
|Peregrine Paladin||39 + 10 = 49||R2:7, R4: 3||42|
Balin and Peregrine chase the screeching bat down the corridors of the lower level until they see Hotstuff at the end of a corridor. She slams a door shut and as the duo Dash to her, they hear the door lock.
Between constricting and fire, she does another 19 points of damage to Morgran. Morgran is at -10.
He falls unconscious and his bat falls limply to the floor.
He has to make a death saving throw and is successful. Because the bat on the floor hasn’t disappeared yet, Morgran’s friends know that he is still alive.
Hotstuff drives her spear into Morgran for another 15 points of damage plus 3 for fire for a total of 18 points. Morgran is now at -28 and has to make another death saving throw. Again, he is successful.
Balin considers using Flaming Sphere to destroy the door but he thinks it might do too much collateral damage to him and his friends. He considers Scorching Ray but that does damage to creatures, not structures.
Instead, he casts Guidance on Peregrine, who uses his mace and his Strength to smash at where he thinks the lock is.
Meanwhile, Hotstuff uses a combination of fire, constricting, and her spear to do a total of 37 points of damage, bringing the hapless dwarf to -65 hit points. This has far exceeded Morgran’s hit point maximum at below 0 hit points, so the tough mountain dwarf has no choice but to die.
Just as Peregrine breaks open the door, Balin sees the bat disappear and knows that Morgran is now dead. The cleric also knows that they have 10 rounds to revivify Morgran or he will stay dead.
As the 2 heroes burst into a 20 x 20-foot room they see Hotstuff release her coils to drop Morgran’s lifeless body on the floor. She smiles,
“Foolish meatshields! You know nothing of the Firerealm! Run away while you still can and I promise to give your friend a proper burial.”
Balin and Peregrine have a decision to make.
They can have Peregrine fight Hotstuff, while Balin revivifies the wizard. The problem is that Balin only has 1 Revivify spell prepared. Morgran, when revivified, will have 1 hit point and if he gets killed again, they won’t be able to save him again.
They can fight Hotstuff together and hopefully kill her within 10 rounds. As long as they kill her quickly, they can save Morgran.
The problem is Hotstuff’s tail. If she grapples Balin, nobody’s getting revivified.
Obviously, the players debate this for a few minutes, but in game time, the decision is instantaneous. Peregrine the Half-Elf Paladin bravely announces,
“Save the wizard. I got the firetramp!”
Peregrine moves to engage Hotstuff.
Balin has to move around the duelists and that will take most of his movement. He’ll have to wait until the next round to cast Revivify.
Hotstuff attacks the paladin with her spear but misses due to his 22 AC. She tries to grapple him. Even with advantage, she fails.
Why? Peregrine’s Strength of 18 puts him almost at an equal level with Hotstuff’s Strength of 20.
As a bonus action, the paladin casts Thunderous Smite as he jibes,
“Your strength is not so great when you are fighting warriors instead of wizards.”
He strikes with his mace and hits both times, doing 19 points of concussion damage and 7 points of thunder damage for the Thunderous Smite for a total of 26 points of damage.
Hotstuff has to make a Strength saving throw or be pushed 10 feet away and knocked prone. With her 20 Strength, she makes the save. She also still manages to do 7 points of fire damage to Peregrine.
They have 9 rounds left to save Morgran. End of Round 7:
|Hotstuff||114||R2: 66, R7: 26||22|
|Balin Cleric||43 + 10 = 53||R2:7, R4: 3||46|
|Morgran Wizard||37 + 10 = 47||R2:7, R3: 12, R4:19, R6: Death||-65|
|Peregrine Paladin||39 + 10 = 49||R2:7, R4: 3, R7:7||35|
Balin rushes to Morgran body as he reaches into a pouch. Kneeling over Morgran, Balin pulls a handful of diamonds from the pouch and places them on Morgran’s chest, and begins his casting.
Meanwhile, Hotstuff strikes at the paladin with her spear again and misses again.
Calmly but with urgency, Balin the Hill Dwarf Light Domain Cleric proclaims his incantation,
“Oh, Foreseti, God of Justice and Law, humbly I beseech you to grant mercy on my friend so that he can return to the world of the living and help me right the wrongs committed against those who cannot fight for themselves.”
The diamonds glow with a fierce white light of increasing brilliance until they vanish.
Hotstuff attempts to grapple with Peregrine again. This time, because of her advantage due to her Grappler feat, she succeeds. Her tail does 12 points of concussion damage to the paladin and her Heat Body feature does another 7 for a total of 19 points. Peregrine is now down to 16 hit points.
As Morgran begins to stir, Balin uses “interact with object” in tandem with his action to retrieve one of the healing potions from the wizard’s body.
Morgran is revivified and alive at 1 hit point. Despite being at 1 hit point he can take any actions he wants at no disadvantages. He sees Peregrine and then sees the potion and laughs,
“Don’t even bother.”
Just as Hotstuff raises her spear up with both hands to stab the fallen paladin, the wizard takes aim as a blue 4 x 4-inch sphere appears in his hand. Still lying on his back, he hurls it at the fire salamander yelling,
The wizard’s ranged attack is successful and the Chromatic Orb lands in the center of Hotstuff’s chest. The orb, buffed by a 2nd-level spell slot, does 20 points of damage, but since fire salamanders are vulnerable to cold damage, the damage is doubled. Hotstuff takes 40 points of damage, bringing her down to -18.
Technically, Hotstuff is unconscious and could be allowed death saving throws in the way that Morgran was. The DM, however, knows that with Hotstuff unconscious and all of her bugbear henchmen dead, the fire salamander’s death is inevitable.
It might take the players a long time to bring Hotstuff down -114 hit points but, eventually, they would succeed. Such a long death saving throw process would be quite anti-climactic for the demise of the adventure’s Big Bad. Instead, the DM decides to waive all that with this epitaph,
“As the orb penetrates her body, Hotstuff is filled with a blue light that makes her glow. She screams as she is turned into a frozen statue. The red glow of her Heat Body cracks the ice statue and she falls apart and melts. Peregrine is released from the fire salamander’s deadly coils and suffers no more damage.”
Question: Can Revivify Work on an Unwilling Subject?
Answer: Yes. Next to possibly Wish, it’s the only back-to-life spell that can bring an unwilling subject back to life. The reason is probably due to the 1-minute proximity from death, where the soul most likely hasn’t had time to leave the body yet.
Question: Can Revivify Work on a Subject whose Death was Caused by Energy-drain/Strength-drain, like Someone Killed by a Shadow?
Answer: Yes. The victim is restored to 1 hit point but still has 0 Strength, energy, etc. until a long rest has occurred.
Question: Can Revivify Work on Someone who has Died of Level 6 Exhaustion?
Answer: Yes. The subject will be restored to 1 hit point and Level 5 Exhaustion.
Revivify can restore a dead character to life no matter how many hit points they lose, provided that the body is intact and the spell is applied within 1 minute of death. It will not restore lost limbs and organs but the character will be fully functional at 1 hit point.
As you can see from the scenario above, Morgran was able to cast spells at no penalty within the same round of coming back from death. That would not have been possible with some other back to life spells like Raise Dead. That’s because Revivify is applied before the soul has had time to leave the body.
As you can also see, a lot of things might need to happen after a character reaches 0 hit points to guarantee that the character is dead. A lot of things can also happen in the 1-minute interim between the character’s death and the application of the Revivify spell: casting, door-breaking, movement, fighting, and more casting, etc.
At 5th level, however, players are very invested in their characters and each other. Back-to-life spells like Revivify helps the story and the character arcs continue in ways that otherwise would not be possible.
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