Welcome to the Spare the Dying spell breakdown! Now that you have an idea as to how we feel about each spell, we can now delve into the fun part – playing the game! If your dungeon masters is anything like me, they will reward creativity that fits into the reality of the world that you are playing in. Each article will be broken into five sections – The spell attributes, pros, cons, when you can use it, and when you should be thinking about a better option. This spell is a great option; so much so that it landed on our list of Best Cleric Spells in 5E. So let’s put our spellcasting cap on, and Spare your Eyes from any further delays.
Spare the Dying 5E Guide
With the touch of a hand, you stabilize a character that is at zero or less life. This spell will not affect any undead or constructs.
A character is considered to be dying when they go below zero hit points. They are considered dead when they hit negative eight hit points. When you stabilize a character, you bring them up to zero hit points. Unfortunately, this does not cure any ailments that they might have like Poison. When you attempt to stabilize a dying character, you make a DC10 Medicine Check. Medicine is an ability every character can use during the game, and they can improve their chances of being successful at it by putting Ability Ranks into it. To make a successful Medicine Check, follow this formula:
1d20 + Medicine Modifier + Misc Modifiers = Medicine Check
Your Medicine Modifier will look like this:
Applied Ranks + Wisdom Modifier + Misc Modifiers = Medicine Modifier
Please note that you do not need to have applied any ranks into the ability in order to use it. If you have no ranks, you simply use your Wisdom Modifier to make the Medicine Check. To succeed in making a Medicine Check, your final outcome needs to be a ten or higher.
You do not have to make a Medicine Check when you are casting Spare the Dying – you simply stabilize the dying character.
Spare the Dying requires no materials to cast, you do not have to concentrate, and you do not have to prepare the spell before casting. Unlike other spells that heal or revives a character back to life, Spare the Dying is the only spell in the game that positively affects a player’s hit points without requiring anything in return. To me, Spare the Dying is one of the reasons you play a Cleric. In fact, it sits at the top our both our lists for best 5E cantrip and best Cleric cantrip.
This spell also does not require you to roll a die in order to stabilize another creature. You simply cast the spell to stabilize the character so they can go back to business.
The biggest con is the fact that Spare the Dying requires the use of your one action for the round. While it does not seem like a huge cost, if you are in the middle of combat, using your one action to stabilize another character could possibly cost your character a lot of hit points and possibly put them into critical condition too.
And finally, the target must be touched in order for you the stabilize them. That is another good reason to not use Spare the Dying while in combat, as it can possibly take two actions for you to reach your desired target. It is better to wait until after the combat for you to cast this spell.
When Should You Use Spare the Dying
The best time to use Spare the Dying is right after combat, and only if a character is below zero hit points. You can use Spare the Dying to make sure that the character is capable of engaging again if necessary, then heal them up with another spell so they will not reach critical condition in the short term. This is especially important if you know your Dungeon Master is the type to chain multiple encounters in the same session.
If the pushing is shoving your ally to death though, you might need to find a way to pull your comrade to the side so you can stabilize them as quickly as possible. If I am a Cleric, one of the first actions I take in preparation for a big combat is to do a spot check for any available hiding spots that I can pull a dying party member towards. Once I have my marks checked, I will tell my team to start making their way towards a designating resting spot when they feel like they are nearing the zero hit point mark. When someone is in my healing station, I should have enough time to cast Spare from Dying before the enemies notice where we are. Once complete, my party member can now go back to battle!
When Better Options Are Available
In combat, there is always a better option. It will be rare that you have the chance to touch your comrade and bring them back to stable, so if you can cast a heal spell that can put some hit points back in the positive, I will always recommend using that spell first. Any curing spell can stabilize a character, but this is the only spell that will not eat any resources for you to do exactly that. Plus, they are not dead at zero; a character is dead when they hit negative eight hit points.