For a multiclassed paladin/sorcerer, can the range of the paladin's Lay on Hands ability be modified with the sorcerer's Distant Spell metamagic option?

I assume that to do so it would have to be considered a spell or spell-like ability, but I cannot find a solid source on what exactly Lay On Hands is.

I started off a sorcerer as a paladin for flavor and tried to use Distant + Spell Sniper on Lay on Hands to heal somebody from 60 ft. away. DM ruled in my favor, since he is a big fan of the Rule of Cool, but I wanted to know more RAI or RAW.

The answers to What would you roll for "attacking" an enemy with Lay On Hands? make me believe that Lay On Hands is generally considered to be a spell or spell-like ability with a range of touch, so that's a starting point for me.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Based on one of your comments I changed "some feat" in your question to "spell sniper". Feel free to revert that if it was incorrect. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2018 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose it was correct \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeutnarg
    Aug 29, 2018 at 16:30

3 Answers 3



An effect is only a spell if it has a spell description like you might find in the chapter called Spells by Level in the Player's Handbook.

Lay on Hands is simply a class feature that functions in a somewhat similar way as a touch spell. Although, to be honest, it isn't that similar. There are no components for Lay on Hands as an example.

Distant Spell (and every Metamagic option) requires an actual spell (emphasis mine):

When you cast a spell that has a range of touch, you can spend 1 sorcery point to make the range of the spell 30 feet.


As David Coffron's answer states, Lay on Hands is not a spell, but a separate class feature.

  • It is listed separately from "Spellcasting" in the Paladin's Class Features (PHB, p. 84).
  • In that section it is not described as a "spell" or "cantrip", nor given a level; nor does it use up spell slots (instead drawing from a "pool of healing power").
  • It is not listed in the Paladin's spell list (PHB, p. 208-209), nor in the alphabetical spell list (it would be on page 254), nor in any of the Paladin oath bonus spell lists.

Although it isn't the headline of your question, it is worth noting that even if Lay on Hands were a spell, you could not use it with Spell Sniper. The relevant part of that feat says (PHB, p. 170):

When you cast a spell that requires you to make an attack roll, the spell’s range is doubled.

(Emphasis mine.)

Lay on Hands does not require you to roll a d20; it automatically "hits", and thus is not a spell attack.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn’t appear to answer the question by itself. This site isn’t “threaded” nor a discussion forum, so it can’t be posted to like one: answer posts have to be actual answers directly and only to the OP. You can edit this post to make it a complete answer. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2018 at 16:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah this is a good start to a complete answer though! So editing in points supporting the fact (as you imply) that Lay on Hands is not a spell would make this a complete answer to the question. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2018 at 16:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK. I saw that David Coffron's answer didn't mention Spell Sniper but forgot that that isn't in the question "headline". There's no point me just repeating his answer, so should I: edit my answer into his; turn my answer into a comment on his answer or the question; or delete it completely? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2018 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tektotherriggen: You can briefly summarize David's answer (or the answer to the question, in other words: "Lay on Hands is a class feature, not a spell") before adding your clarification. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Aug 29, 2018 at 18:36

This is a great question! I believe the answer is no, but of course rule of fun, D&D is what you make it, blah blah blah.

Here is the PHB, Chapter 10 on "What is a Spell":

A spell is a discrete magical effect, a single shaping of the magical energies that suffuse the multiverse into a specific, limited expression. In casting a spell, a character carefully plucks at the invisible strands of raw magic suffusing the world, pins them in place in a particular pattern, sets them vibrating in a specific way, and then releases them to unleash the desired effect — in most cases, all in the span of seconds.

Spells can be versatile tools, weapons, or protective wards. They can deal damage or undo it, impose or remove conditions, drain life energy away, and restore life to the dead.

Uncounted thousands of spells have been created over the course of the multiverse's history, and many of them are long forgotten. Some might yet lie recorded in crumbling spellbooks hidden in ancient ruins or trapped in the minds of dead gods. Or they might someday be reinvented by a character who has amassed enough power and wisdom to do so.

Well hey, look at that! Spells restore life, so we're good right? Not necessarily. Cure Wounds is certainly a spell that restores life, but that doesn't mean that all abilities that restore life are spells. For example, a healer's kit restores life, but is certainly not a spell. Then again, unlike a healer's kit Lay on Hands is definitely magical: "Your blessed touch can heal wounds," says the PHB.

The real damning text is back in the Chapter 10 definition of spell, which states "Every spell has a level from 0 to 9." Lay on Hands improves as you level up, but there is nothing suggesting that this feature has a "spell level". The chapter continues to explain that spells are associated with spell slots, suggesting that anything that does not require a spell slot to cast is not a spell.

Lay on Hands is not a spell; it is a "Class Feature". It is listed under "Features" for the Paladin class description.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You might also mention that even if it did apply, per the metamagic description, spells with a range of touch are given a range of 30', and so the 60' in this instance would have been out of range of the Distanced LoH. Adding Spell Sniper to the mix might fix that, again assuming that LoH was a spell to begin with, which it is not. Then again, maybe it is best left out as overly confusing, but I thought it worth bringing up in case this comes up with another (actual) touch spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – cpcodes
    Aug 28, 2018 at 23:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @cpcodes I did have Spell Sniper. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeutnarg
    Aug 29, 2018 at 0:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PinkSweetener feedback is not required, and if you want feedback it is best to ask politely without insulting the entire community. The main reason I downvoted is because this answer contains many inaccuracies and things that don't seem relevant. For example, the whole section on "What is a Spell?" doesn't seem to serve any purpose (and BTW healer's kits do not heal, and lay on hands is not a magical ability). If you edited the first part of your answer out and focused only on the fact that Lay on Hands is not a spell, I would give this answer an upvote however. It just isn't useful as-is. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2018 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I haven’t downvoted but I almost did because the beginning is strange enough that it made me think the answer was setting up to actually conclude “yes”. That kind of thing matters to answer usefulness, so I understand why others would downvote and it’s why I can’t upvote. This could be improved by trading the playfulness away for improved clarity and message alignment between first paragraph and the rest of the post. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29, 2018 at 16:02

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