Healing Spirit 5e: The Healing Spell That Broke D&D
If you’re a druid or ranger looking for a way to heal your allies in and out of combat, forget about cure wounds and look no further than healing spirit in 5e. This powerful healing spell was originally so powerful it broke Dungeons and Dragons. That’s right, it broke a game with rules meant to be broken and changed on the fly. If you’re not familiar with what happened, I touch on it in this article.
Healing spirit in 5e can restore hit points for up to a minute and only requires a bonus action to cast. In this article, we discuss what healing spirit in 5e does, why it was once considered broken, and provide some tips to use this spell effectively.
Healing Spirit 5e Description
CASTING TIME: 1 Bonus Action
RANGE/AREA: 60 feet (5 ft cube)
COMPONENTS: V, S
DURATION: [Concentration] 1 Minute
You call forth a nature spirit to soothe the wounded. The intangible spirit appears in a space that is a 5-foot cube you can see within range. The spirit looks like a transparent beast or fey (your choice).
Until the spell ends, whenever you or a creature you can 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 (no action required). The spirit can’t heal constructs or undead. The spirit can heal a number of times equal to 1 + your spellcasting ability modifier (minimum of twice). After healing that number of times, the spirit disappears.
As a bonus action on your turn, you can move the spirit up to 30 feet to a space you can see.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the healing increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 2nd.Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, page 157
What is healing spirit in 5e?
Healing spirit is a 2nd level healing spell for the druid and ranger classes. For up to one minute, any creature can enter the healing spirit’s space and receive healing. The amount of healing a creature receives depends on the spell slot level used as well as the user’s spellcasting modifier. But the healing spirit cannot heal constructs or the undead.
The design intent of the spell was to enable classes other than the cleric to heal.
“One of the design goals of fifth edition D&D was to let people play with any party composition that they wanted—and one of the main barriers to this style of play was the perceived necessity of the cleric.”James Haeck, DnD Beyond Spell Spotlight: Healing Spirit
This is inline with the trend toward making every class capable of doing the job of every other class.
Who needs variety, specialization, and thoughtful planning when everyone can be mediocre at everything?
Wait, are we talking about D&D or real life?
Casting healing spirit creates an ethereal beast or fey creature to occupy a 5-foot tile. When any creature you can see enters the tile or starts its turn on the tile, you can choose to heal for 1d6 hit points (except undead and constructs). This choice does not require an action.
And the healing spirit can perform this healing action a number of times equal to 1 + your spellcasting ability modifier. Then the spell ends and the intangible spirit vanishes.
You can also use a bonus action to move the healing spirit up to 30 feet to a space you can see.
Why was the healing spirit 5e broken and what changed?
The spell was considered broken because it originally provided unlimited healing for up to one minute. In order to take advantage of it, people described a party of adventurers in a circular conga line rotating through the healing spirit’s space in order to provide 120d6 of healing, which was incredible for a 2nd level healing spell. So incredible was it, that it made many other low- to mid-level healing spells look like a waste of a spell slot.
“Everything is a joke compared to Healing Spirit, which is more powerful than all of them put together and combined.”TekGryphon, DnD Beyond Forums
D&D players across the internet vocalized their fury over why the designers never took into account a circular conga line of players.
Many homebrew solutions were given, including radical ideas like telling your players they can’t do something as silly as walk in a circular conga line for a minute after every battle to heal.
But eventually changes were made and the mob was appeased when Wizards of the Coast added the following limitation: The spirit can heal a number of times equal to 1 + your spellcasting ability modifier (minimum of twice). After healing that number of times, the spirit disappears.
Chaos subsided, the demons retreated, and peace was restored to the world.
What classes can cast healing spirit in 5e?
Druid and ranger classes gain access to healing spirit when they reach 3rd level. And bards can gain access to it at 10th level thanks to their Magical Secrets feature.
Healing Spirit 5e Rules
Healing spirit does not heal when you cast it
The spell description states the healing spirit heals any creature that “moves into the spirit’s space for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there.” That means you can cast the spell and place the healing spirit on the same tile as your ally but that ally will not restore 1d6 hit points until it’s your ally’s turn.
That has a couple of implications. First, an enemy could force your ally out of the space before your ally’s turn, thus preventing your ally from healing.
However, that also means you can take advantage of it like spirit guardians. If your allies have abilities or spells that force a creature to move, you can wait until the wounded ally rolls to restore 1d6 hit points and then push/pull a wounded ally out of the space and back into it, thus allowing the wounded ally to heal again.
The number of times healing spirit can heal
Healing spirit can heal a number of times equal to 1 + your spellcasting ability modifier before the spell ends. So if you have a +3 Wisdom modifier, your healing spirit can heal four times before the spell ends.
Healing spirit only requires a bonus action
Casting healing spirit in 5e requires a bonus action as does moving the spirit itself. This allows you to use your standard action for anything other than another concentration spell since healing spirit requires your concentration for 1 minute.
How do you use healing spirit in 5e effectively?
It is a concentration healing spell, so do your best to avoid situations that might break your concentration. And if you find yourself in compromising situations regularly, consider feats like War Caster or Resilient. War Caster grants you advantage on concentration checks and Resilience grants you proficiency in saving throws of your chosen ability (such as Constitution for concentration checks).
Place the healing spirit strategically
Do you have an ally who keeps getting knocked unconscious? Place the healing spirit on the ally’s tile so every turn your ally gets knocked out the healing spirit will restore 1d6 hit points on your ally’s turn. You don’t need more than 1 hp of healing to be in fighting shape so the amount of healing doesn’t matter.
And remember, you can move the healing spirit anywhere within 30 feet of its current location (that you can see). So throw it around the battlefield as a mobile form of combat healing.
Use healing spirit for more than combat healing
No more imaginary conga lines, but don’t worry, the spell is still more effective than cure wounds (but let’s be real, what spell isn’t more effective than cure wounds).
Druid and ranger classes can snap their fingers after a battle and conjure a healing spirit while everyone is catching their breath. If you have a +3 spellcasting ability modifier, that’s 4d6 (average: 14) hit points from a 2nd level healing spell spread across up to 4 targets. Compare that with cure wounds at 2nd level which heals 2d8 + 3 (average: 12) hit points on a single target.
Healing Spirit 5e compared with other healing spells
How does healing spirit stack up against its competition like cure wounds and healing word? Below is a list of 1st and 2nd level healing spells along with their average healing potential for a +3 spellcasting ability modifier:
- Cure wounds (cast at 2nd level) heals 2d8 + 3 hit points, average 12 hit points
- Goodberry heals a flat 10 hit points
- Healing word (cast at 2nd level) heals 2d4 + 3 hit points, average 8 hit points
- Healing spirit heals 4d6 hit points, average 14 hit points
Conclusion—Is healing spirit in 5e a good spell?
Healing spirit is the best healing spell you can get when you reach 3rd level. And it scales in two ways. The number of times the spirit can heal increases with your spellcasting modifier and the amount of healing per heal increases with the level of spell slot you use to cast it. The downside is that the healing occurs over time. Also, unlike other comparative healing spells, healing spirit is a concentration spell