I have a pacifist cleric in my party, so I created this spell to replace spiritual weapon for him:

Spiritual Shield

2nd-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 bonus action

Range: 60 feet

Components: V, S (Note: I don't really hold my players to components, so I don't really care about this part for balance.)

Duration: 1 minute

You create a floating, spectral shield within range that lasts for the duration or until you cast this spell again. The caster must specify a target when first casting the spell. It can target any creature, hostile or not, and does not require a saving throw if the target is hostile. If the shielded creature moves on its turn, the shield moves with it. As a bonus action on your turn, you can move the shield to another creature within 20 feet of the first creature. The shield can appear however you wish, and its stats do not change based on its appearance. The shield can have one (1) of the following effects:

  • The target’s AC is boosted by +2, as if they were using a shield, but without the requirement of actually holding one.
  • The target gains resistance to one of the following forms of damage: necrotic, poison, or psychic.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the target gets a +1 to AC for every two slot levels above 2nd, regardless of initial impact chosen.

Is this an acceptable replacement for Spiritual Weapon? If not, how do I make it so?

My thought process:

Spiritual Weapon does damage equivalent to common weaponry, so I designed Spiritual Shield to give the same bonus to AC as given by a regular shield. It has the same components and basic requirements as Spiritual Weapon. It is designed to be as close to a 1-to-1 exchange as possible.

  • As I was just recommended, have a look at this link for tips on improving questions about homebrew balancing: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/q/8171/45088 – L0neGamer Dec 6 at 19:31
  • 1
    @Grosscol No, because Spiritual Weapon also doesn't require concentration, and this spell was intended as a replacement for that spell. – L.S. Cooper Dec 6 at 19:31
  • What if the target has a normal shield and the resistance effect is chosen? Does the person then have +2 AC (from mundane shield) and resistance simultaneously? What if, in the same situation, it gets upcast? Does the target get +2 (mundane shield) +1 (upcast) and resistance or does the AC still not stack then? – Sdjz Dec 6 at 19:46
  • @Sdjz Erik's answer suggests to not incorporate the +1 for a higher level, which I think sounds fair. So, in that case, they would just get the resistance, as I will probably change the spell to reflect that. (I won't update it within the question because I believe that violates the rules.) – L.S. Cooper Dec 6 at 19:47
  • I see, thank you for considering all these cases. If you want to revise the spell and ask again, you can do so in a new question (see this meta). You may want to wait a bit before doing so to allow other answers or changes for the spell to be considered. – Sdjz Dec 6 at 19:55
up vote 13 down vote accepted

The base spell is fine, but the scaling AC is probably too much.

If we compare this spell to the 1st level Shield of Faith, then it has a few advantages:

  • it doesn't require concentration
  • you can change the target

It also has the disadvantage of not lasting as long, and it's a level higher. That seems about right to me.

The alternative use of warding someone against an energy type also seems about right; if you compare it to Protection from Poison then it has shorter duration and less effects, at the advantage of being moveable to others. The other two damage types are probably also okay. Note that Protection from Energy is a 3rd level spell, but then it works against the more common damage types, so that's probably fair.

The only thing that might be an issue is the rising AC bonus. Due to bounded accuracy, a +2 AC is a good thing to have at any level. None of the other AC-boosting spells scale with the level you cast it from, probably for that reason. Adding a high level version of this spell to an already well armored character would make them all but untouchable.

  • Excellent advice, thank you. My reason for the AC increase was to try and match the increase in damage that Spiritual Weapon gets when increasing the level at which it is cast. – L.S. Cooper Dec 6 at 19:53
  • 2
    I'm just going to point out there's a comparable item to this called the Animated Shield, and it's a Very Rare item. Having such a high boost to AC as low as level 3 is likely to upset the balance of the game quite a bit. The lack of a concentration requirement is pretty huge, despite the reduction in time to offset it. Many combats won't exceed 10 rounds anyways, but more importantly it makes it that much harder to turn the effect off. Increases in damage from Spiritual Weapon are irrelevant because as you level health increases which already accounts for that. – Lino Frank Ciaralli Dec 6 at 20:24
  • I would also like to add that resistance to psychic on a lvl 2 spell is also quite powerful, it is supposed to be the damage type which is the hardest to resist – casualplayer Dec 7 at 5:36

It's pretty balanced, but Spiritual Shield + Spiritual Weapon is too much.

Concentration exists to keep too many effects from occurring on the battlefield at the same time, because that gets hard to track. Spiritual weapon is nearly unique in providing a substantial ongoing combat benefit that doesn't require concentration. I don't think you should introduce a second spell like this. This spell is even more work to track than spiritual weapon is. Spiritual weapon doesn't have any passive effects-- its existence only matters during the caster's turn. This spell can matter on anyone's turn.

In addition to other's recommendations to remove the scaling AC, I recommend that you maintain the number of effects that low-level clerics can have active at one time by changing the first line to "You create a floating, spectral shield within range that lasts for the duration or until you cast this spell again, or until you cast spiritual weapon."

  • This is probably a good thing to add if anyone else was to use it, but this spell is specifically designed to replace Spiritual Weapon for pacifist characters. I will add it, but it's not something I was concerned with when making it, as I specified in my first sentence. – L.S. Cooper Dec 6 at 23:01
  • That makes sense. I missed that it was a full replacement. – mbocek Dec 6 at 23:06

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.