Spare the Dying 5E Guide | Attributes, Pros, Cons, and Uses

Spare the dying 5E

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

Spare the Dying Attributes
  • School: Necromancy
  • Casting Time: One action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • Class: Cleric

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 unconscious when they reach zero hit points. Typically, this is the point where the character begins to make death saving throws. Three failed death saving throws and the character is dead. Three success, and they are considered “stabilized.” What does stabilized mean? A character is stabilized when they are at zero hp but no longer have to make death saving throws. They simply wait there to be healed by an ally, or they eventually return to 1 HP when enough time passes.

Spare the dying allows you to get around that nasty death saving throw business. The target of this spell is immediately stabilized, which prevents that character from dying as long as they don’t take additional damage.

Is Spare The Dying Good?

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 revive 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.

What are the Downsides of Spare the Dying?

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. Of course, if you are playing a grave cleric, you can cast this cantrip using a bonus action.

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 when possible, as you might need to dash just to get in range. Ideally, you or an ally would use spells like healing word that can be cast at range and restores some HP to the target. In a pinch, spare the dying is better than nothing though!

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.

Spare the Dying 5E FAQ

Does Spare the Dying Stop Death Saves?

Yes, spare the dying prevents a character at zero HP from making additional death saving throws.

Does Spare the DYing Give HP?

Spare the dying only stabilizes a character; it does not give the character HP or return them to consciousness. However, a stabilized character will eventually return to 1 hp on their own if they are not healed by an ally.

How Many Times Can You Use Spare the Dying

Spare the dying is a cantrip that requires your action to cast. That means you can cast it as many times as you like so long as you have an action available.

Does Spare the Dying Work on Undead?

No, spare the only works on living creatures. That means you cannot cast spare the dying on either undead or constructs.

Wrapping Up our Spare the Dying 5E FAQ

That wraps up our Spare the Dying 5E Guide. This is a useful cantrip in a pinch, especially for grave clerics. It can’t fully heal a character, but it could be the difference between life and death in some situations. It’s not a bad option to have in your back pocket! Didn’t fire off spare the dying in time? Check out our Resurrection Spells 5E Guide for help with what to do next.

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