Are Healing Cantrips Broken? Balancing D&D Spells

Last Updated on July 4, 2024 by Francis

Healing cantrips in Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) gameplay have sparked a lively discussion in the gaming community. Players are questioning their balance and potential issues, sparking suggestions for house rules and modifications to make these spells more viable options. Cantrips like Blade Ward, True Strike, Guidance, and Spare the Dying are at the center of the debate, with players arguing that adjustments could provide more balanced healing options.

Key Takeaways:

  • Healing cantrips in D&D gameplay are being discussed for their balance and potential issues.
  • Players have suggested house ruling certain cantrips to make them more viable options.
  • The debate revolves around cantrips like Blade Ward, True Strike, Guidance, and Spare the Dying.
  • Modifications such as concentration cantrips and limited usage have been proposed.
  • Considerations include resource management, world immersion, narrative impact, and game design.

Blade Ward Cantrip Modification

Blade Ward Cantrip

When it comes to balancing the Blade Ward cantrip in Dungeons & Dragons, one suggested modification can make it a viable option and an alternative to always relying on mage armor. The idea is to modify Blade Ward into a concentration cantrip that grants a +3 bonus to Armor Class (AC) against the first non-magic weapon attack made against the caster.

By making Blade Ward a concentration cantrip, players would need to concentrate on it to maintain its effects. This, in turn, would require the player to make a strategic decision on whether to prioritize using Blade Ward or other concentration spells during combat. Casting Blade Ward would also require an action, further adding to the decision-making process.

The modification of Blade Ward into a concentration cantrip with an AC bonus against the first non-magic weapon attack strikes a balance between providing defense and using limited resources. Players would have the option to mitigate potential damage from a specific attack, but they would need to carefully consider the risk of being targeted by other types of attacks or spells.

Comparison: Blade Ward and Mage Armor

CantripEffectCasting TimeDuration
Blade Ward+3 AC against the first non-magic weapon attackActionUntil the start of your next turn
Mage ArmorAC becomes 13 + Dexterity modifierAction8 hours

The table above compares Blade Ward to the commonly used mage armor spell. While mage armor provides a longer duration and potentially higher AC, Blade Ward offers immediate defense against the first non-magic weapon attack, which can be crucial in combat situations. The concentration requirement of Blade Ward adds another layer of tactical decision-making.

By modifying Blade Ward to require concentration while granting a specific defense against the first non-magic weapon attack, players gain an alternative to the usually popular mage armor spell. This adjustment ensures that different playstyles and strategies are viable, introducing variety and depth to character customization in Dungeons & Dragons.

True Strike Cantrip Modification

True Strike Cantrip Modification

Another suggestion for balancing healing cantrips in D&D gameplay is to modify the True Strike cantrip. Currently, True Strike allows the caster to gain advantage on their next attack roll against a specific target within the cantrip’s range. However, its limited usefulness has led to discussions about how to make it a more viable option for players.

One proposed modification is to transform True Strike into an indefinite length concentration cantrip with a flat +2 bonus to the first attack roll made by the caster. This adjustment would allow the cantrip to be cast ahead of combat and provide a consistent bonus to the first attack, irrespective of the target’s defense. By maintaining concentration, the caster would continue to benefit from the +2 bonus until they choose to end the spell or lose concentration due to external factors.

However, the modification comes with a trade-off. After the first attack roll, successful or not, the caster would need to recast True Strike to regain the bonus on subsequent attacks. This trade-off adds decision-making complexity for players, as they must choose between recasting True Strike or using their action to cast other concentration spells that might provide different benefits during combat.

This proposed modification seeks to address the issues players have raised with the current state of the True Strike cantrip. By offering a consistent bonus to the first attack roll, it grants players increased accuracy in their initial strikes. The trade-off of recasting introduces strategic considerations, as players must decide when it is most advantageous to use their actions for recasting True Strike or allocate them to other spell options within their repertoire.

Ultimately, the modified True Strike cantrip aims to make it a more appealing choice for players by providing a reliable advantage in combat situations without overpowering its effectiveness or limiting other concentration spell options.

Guidance Cantrip Modification

Guidance Cantrip Modification

The guidance cantrip is a valuable tool in the arsenal of casters, providing a helpful boost to skill checks and ability checks. However, some players have raised concerns about its potential for abuse and overpowering effects. To address these concerns, a suggested modification for the guidance cantrip is to implement a concentration limit, restricting the number of times a person can benefit from it per long rest.

The proposed house rule advocates for each individual to receive guidance no more than once per long rest. This adjustment aims to prevent the cantrip from becoming overly powerful and ensure a balanced gameplay experience. By implementing a concentration limit, players would need to strategically choose when to utilize guidance, considering its limited availability.

This modification challenges players to think tactically about when to use the guidance cantrip, forcing them to prioritize its usage based on the importance and difficulty of various skill checks and ability checks they may encounter throughout their adventures. It adds an element of decision-making to the game, encouraging players to consider the opportunities and potential risks associated with relying heavily on the guidance cantrip.

“The guidance cantrip is undeniably useful, but in its current form, it can be easily manipulated to grant constant advantages. By limiting the concentration time per long rest, we maintain balance and prevent it from overshadowing other cantrips.” – Player feedback

Pros of the Guidance Cantrip Modification:

  • Ensures gameplay balance and prevents the guidance cantrip from dominating other options
  • Encourages strategic decision-making and thoughtful usage of the cantrip
  • Avoids potential abuse and maintains fair gameplay for all players

Considerations for the Guidance Cantrip Modification:

  • May require adjustment of strategies and tactics for players accustomed to relying heavily on the constant benefits of guidance
  • Could impact the success rate of skill checks and ability checks, potentially making certain challenges more difficult
  • Players may need to explore alternative options or rely more heavily on their character’s inherent abilities

Overall, the proposed modification for the guidance cantrip strikes a balance between preserving its usefulness and preventing potential abuse. By introducing a concentration limit, players will be prompted to carefully consider when to seek the guidance of mystical forces, enhancing the strategic depth of the game.

Ensures gameplay balance and prevents overshadowing of other cantripsMay require adjustment of strategies and tactics for players
Encourages strategic decision-makingCould increase the difficulty of certain challenges
Avoids potential abuse and maintains fairnessPlayers may need to explore alternative options

Spare the Dying Cantrip Modification

Spare the Dying cantrip image

In the realm of D&D gameplay, the Spare the Dying cantrip has been subjected to scrutiny and proposals for enhancement. One intriguing suggestion is to introduce an additional healing effect to the cantrip, tying it specifically to recipients at zero hit points. When cast, Spare the Dying would not only stabilize the recipient but also grant a bonus of +1d4 to the amount healed the next time they receive any form of healing. However, it’s important to note that this boon would only apply to those who are at zero hit points at the time of casting. The proposal aims to bolster the utility of Spare the Dying, particularly for characters in critical conditions.

This modification offers an opportunity to add an extra layer of strategy and decision-making for players, as they must determine when to cast Spare the Dying and maximize its potential. Additionally, it injects a sense of urgency and importance to this cantrip, as it becomes a valuable asset during dire circumstances. The limited scope of the additional healing effect ensures that multiple castings of Spare the Dying cannot stack the boon, maintaining balance within the game.

Here’s an illustrative table showcasing the potential healing benefits that can be gained from the modified Spare the Dying cantrip:

Recipient’s HPHealing Received from Spare the Dying
0 hit points+1d4 (next healing received)
1 hit point or moreNo additional healing effect

Implementing this modification not only enhances the healing potential of the Spare the Dying cantrip but also introduces a strategic layer to the decision-making process for players. With characters at zero hit points being the focus of this additional healing effect, it encourages thoughtful resource management and tactical positioning during combat encounters.

Why the Proposal Matters

“Adding an extra healing effect to the Spare the Dying cantrip adds depth to character choices in critical moments, amplifying the value of this often overlooked cantrip.”

By empowering the Spare the Dying cantrip with an additional healing effect limited to zero hit point recipients, players gain a strategic tool that can potentially turn the tide of battle. This modification ensures that even in the most desperate situations, characters have a chance to secure a lifeline. Furthermore, it adds a layer of immersion and narrative tension as characters and players alike hold their breath, waiting for that crucial moment when the cantrip can unleash its healing boon.

Healing Cantrips and Short Rests

resource management

The use of healing cantrips in Dungeons & Dragons often sparks discussions about their role in short rests and resource management. During a short rest, characters have the opportunity to spend hit dice to recover hit points. However, an interesting suggestion is to explore a trade-off where healing cantrips provide an alternative way to spend hit dice, albeit with a drawback.

By using healing cantrips, characters would be able to immediately spend hit dice for healing during short rests. This option could save time and streamline gameplay, as casting a cantrip is quicker than spending hit dice individually. However, there would be a cost to this convenience. Characters would forfeit the Constitution (CON) bonus for each hit die spent on healing with cantrips.

This trade-off introduces an interesting dynamic in resource management. Players would need to weigh the benefits of immediate healing against the potentially higher amount of healing that could be obtained by spending hit dice individually, taking advantage of their Constitution modifier.

This resource management strategy encourages players to carefully consider their options during short rests. They must evaluate whether the immediate healing from healing cantrips is worth sacrificing the additional healing provided by their Constitution modifier. This decision-making process adds depth and complexity to the gameplay experience, requiring players to make thoughtful choices based on their character’s abilities and the needs of the party.

Example Healing Cantrips and Short Rests Resource Management

Healing MethodHealing AmountCON BonusTotal Healing
Using Healing CantripsN/ANoneN/A
Spending Hit Dice Individually1d8 per hit die+CON ModifierTotal = (1d8 + CON Modifier) x Number of Hit Dice Spent

This table illustrates the difference in healing outcomes between using healing cantrips and spending hit dice individually during short rests. Choosing to utilize healing cantrips means forgoing the additional healing provided by the Constitution modifier. On the other hand, spending hit dice individually allows characters to benefit from their Constitution modifier, potentially resulting in higher amounts of healing.

“Resource management in D&D is a delicate balance. Healing cantrips provide a convenient shortcut during short rests, but the forfeiture of the CON bonus can impact the overall effectiveness of healing. It’s a strategic decision that requires weighing the immediate needs of the party against the potential benefits of maximizing healing through hit dice individually.”
– Player Feedback

This approach to resource management aligns with the core principles of Dungeons & Dragons, where careful decision-making and trade-offs are essential elements of gameplay. By incorporating healing cantrips into short rests, players must strategically balance the immediate needs of their characters with long-term resource sustainability.

Balance in Army and World Immersion

army immersion

The discussion around healing cantrips also extends to their impact on army and world immersion. Some argue that spells like the Healing Spirit spell, which can provide mass healing, have the potential to create unrealistic scenarios where entire armies can be healed within minutes. While this may seem unbalanced, it’s important to consider the broader context.

Firstly, it’s crucial to note that healing cantrips are not free. They come with an opportunity cost. Players must strategically choose their cantrips, weighing the benefits of mass healing against other spell options. This decision-making process adds depth and complexity to the game, ensuring that players must prioritize their resources effectively.

Additionally, introducing more powerful healing options may have consequences for the overall balance of the game. While mass healing can provide significant advantages, it must be carefully balanced to avoid making encounters too easy or trivializing the impact of combat. Game designers must strike a delicate balance between providing healing options and maintaining challenging gameplay experiences.

“Allowing entire armies to be healed within minutes can create unrealistic scenarios, but it’s important to consider the opportunity cost and game balance.”

Ultimately, the inclusion of healing cantrips like Healing Spirit and the potential for mass healing adds an element of immersion to the game world. It reflects the extraordinary abilities of characters within the narrative context of Dungeons & Dragons. However, it requires careful consideration to ensure that the game remains engaging and balanced, providing a fulfilling challenge for players.

Reflects the extraordinary abilities of charactersPotential for unrealistic healing scenarios
Strategic decision-making for playersPossible imbalance of encounters
Enhances immersion in the game worldNeed for careful game balance

Consideration of Opportunity Cost

When it comes to selecting cantrips in D&D, players must carefully consider the opportunity cost associated with their choices. Each class has a limited number of cantrips that they can learn, and choosing a healing cantrip means sacrificing the opportunity to select other potentially beneficial cantrips.

This decision-making process starts at character creation and continues throughout the game as players level up and gain access to new cantrips. The choice to include a healing cantrip in one’s repertoire has significant implications for gameplay and resource management.

Introducing more powerful healing cantrips may make the decision easier for players, as the benefits of these cantrips become more apparent. However, it is important to consider the opportunity cost it entails. By prioritizing healing cantrips, players may limit their options and overlook other valuable cantrips that could contribute to their overall effectiveness in combat or other situations.

Here’s a closer look at the opportunity cost of selecting healing cantrips:

Opportunity Cost of Healing CantripsImpact
Limiting the selection of cantripsBy choosing a healing cantrip, players are forgoing the chance to select other useful cantrips like damage-dealing spells, utility cantrips, or cantrips that enhance their abilities.
Reducing versatilityIf a player favors healing cantrips, they may find themselves lacking in other areas, such as offensive spells, supportive abilities, or utility options. This can limit their versatility in different encounters or scenarios.
Impact on decision-makingThe inclusion of healing cantrips affects the tactical decisions players make during combat. They must weigh the benefits of healing against the potential damage or support they could provide through other cantrips.

By understanding the opportunity cost of choosing healing cantrips, players can make more informed decisions when building their characters and leveling up. They need to carefully assess their role in the party, consider their playstyle, and evaluate the overall balance of their spell selection.

It’s important to strike a balance that aligns with the player’s preferences and the needs of the party. This balance ensures that healing cantrips provide valuable support without overshadowing other cantrips or reducing the complexity of decision-making in the game.

In-Game Considerations

The use of healing cantrips and their potential adjustments can have various in-game consequences. One of the concerns raised is that allowing characters to easily heal through cantrips might undermine the need for food, potions, and spells that heal outside of combat. This could impact the economy of healing resources within the game world, as well as the value and significance of other healing options. Players may find themselves relying solely on cantrips for healing, diminishing the challenge and strategic decision-making associated with managing health and resources.

Moreover, the adjustments to healing cantrips can also affect rest and recovery mechanics, such as short rests and the spell “Prayer of Healing”. These mechanics are designed to provide an opportunity for characters to heal and regain resources. If cantrips become too potent, they could overshadow the need for these traditional rest methods, altering the balance of gameplay and potentially eliminating the need for strategic resource management.

Additionally, the narrative impact of healing cantrips should not be overlooked. In the context of the game world, the accessibility and potency of cantrips can shape the dynamics of society and combat. For instance, healing through cantrips may shift the focus on religion and divine casters within armies. The reliance on cantrips may foster a heightened need for divine intervention, altering the narrative and potentially reshaping power dynamics among different factions.

Considering these in-game consequences is crucial when discussing the adjustments to healing cantrips. It is necessary to strike a balance between providing convenient healing options for players and preserving the integrity of the game’s rest and recovery mechanics, as well as the narrative immersion of the world.

The Narrative Worldbuilding Perspective

From a narrative worldbuilding perspective, the impact of significant modifications to healing cantrips in D&D gameplay should not be underestimated. Such changes have the potential to profoundly affect the immersion and consistency of the game world. In particular, adjustments to healing cantrips may require corresponding alterations to how armies operate and the role of divine casters, such as clerics, in combat scenarios.

Introducing powerful healing cantrips may revolutionize the dynamics of battles, leading to a heavier emphasis on recruiting divine casters within armies. This shift in power dynamics can greatly shape the narrative and create new opportunities for worldbuilding. The reliance on divine casters in combat can be leveraged to explore intricate relationships between religion, magic, and military operations.

However, any changes made to healing cantrips must be balanced carefully to ensure the integrity of the game and maintain overall gameplay balance. Injecting too much power into healing cantrips can tip the scales in an undesired manner, potentially overshadowing other aspects of the game and disrupting its fundamental mechanics.

While the introduction of powerful healing cantrips can undoubtedly enrich the narrative and worldbuilding aspects of the game, it is essential to strike a delicate balance that respects the existing game design and maintains narrative immersion. Finding this equilibrium will allow players to fully engage with the narrative, explore the complexities of the game world, and enjoy a satisfying and immersive gaming experience.


Ensuring the balance of healing cantrips in Dungeons & Dragons gameplay is a critical consideration for game designers. While adjustments and modifications can be suggested, it is essential to evaluate their impact on overall gameplay, resource management, and narrative immersion. Striking a balance between providing accessible healing options and maintaining challenging gameplay experiences is key.

The ongoing discussion surrounding healing cantrips highlights the importance of careful consideration and attention to detail from both game designers and players. Creating a fair and balanced gaming experience requires thoughtful game design, taking into account the intricate interplay between healing mechanics, player resources, and the narrative world.

By maintaining a delicate equilibrium in healing cantrips, game designers can ensure that players face meaningful choices in their character builds, spell selections, and overall strategy. This not only enhances the depth and immersion of the gameplay experience but also preserves the integrity of the game’s world and mechanics.


Are healing cantrips in D&D gameplay broken?

Healing cantrips in D&D gameplay are being discussed for their balance and potential issues.

How can the Blade Ward cantrip be modified?

One suggestion is to make it a concentration cantrip that grants +3 AC against the first non-magic weapon attack made against the caster.

How can the True Strike cantrip be modified?

One suggestion is to make it an indefinite length concentration cantrip that grants a flat +2 to the first attack roll made by the caster.

How can the Guidance cantrip be modified?

Some suggestions include limiting the number of times a person can benefit from it per long rest.

How can the Spare the Dying cantrip be modified?

One suggestion is to add an additional effect where it provides +1d4 to the amount healed the next time the recipient receives any form of healing, but only when cast on someone at zero hit points.

How do healing cantrips relate to short rests and resource management?

Healing cantrips can provide a trade-off during short rests, allowing characters to immediately spend hit dice for healing but forfeiting the CON bonus for each hit die.

What are the consequences of healing cantrips in army and world immersion?

Some argue that spells like Healing Spirit, which can heal multiple people, can lead to unrealistic scenarios, impacting army immersion and resource management.

How does choosing a healing cantrip impact opportunity cost?

Selecting a healing cantrip means sacrificing the opportunity to choose other beneficial cantrips, affecting character creation and decision-making.

What are the in-game considerations of healing cantrips?

Healing cantrips may undermine the need for food, potions, and spells that heal outside of combat, impacting resting mechanics and narrative immersion.

How does modifying healing cantrips impact the narrative worldbuilding perspective?

Modifying healing cantrips can impact the immersion, world consistency, and power dynamics within the game world.

What are the key considerations for balancing healing cantrips in D&D gameplay?

Balancing healing cantrips requires careful consideration of game design, balance, and player experience.

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