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I have concerns about the immense healing potential that the Healing Spirit spell can put out.

As it appears in Xanathar's Guide to Everything (page 157), the Healing Spirit spell is able to heal any creature that starts its turn within its effect, or passes through it during their turn. In practice, this spell is limited by the mobility of the party that tries to take advantage of it, but in my experience, the spell is still able to dramatically improve the hitpoint recovery of the whole party, along with minimizing the impact of Unconsciousness or Death Saving Throws. In my experience, campaigns where Healing Spirit is accessible tend to trivialize/obsolete use of features like Hit Dice, Second Wind,

For reference, at its base level, it's capable of healing any creature that runs through it for 1d6 hit points once per turn for 10 turns. So even if you only hit a single creature, you're still confidently healing an average of 35 hitpoints to a single creature, and much more than that on more than one creature. And all of that scales with the level of the spell. The spell, once cast as a Third Level Spell, is strictly better than the Paladin-exclusive spell Aura of Vitality (also a third level spell), which has action-economy restrictions and does not scale with level, and unlike Aura of Vitality, Healing Spirit is accessible to a full-spellcaster capable of upcasting the spell and casting the spell many more times in a day.

It's also been my experience that banning "out of combat" use of the spell doesn't help much, since it only takes a single combat encounter being dragged out to permit optimal use of this spell.

I could choose to ban the spell entirely, but I want to consider a compromise first before I resort to that. So for my campaigns, I'm proposing the following version of the spell designed to keep some of its power as a healing spell while tempering its more ludicrous features:

Healing Spirit

2nd-level conjuration
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You call forth a nature spirit to soothe the wounded. The intangible spirit appears in a space that is a 5-foot cube you can see within range. The spirit looks like a transparent beast or fey (your choice).

Until the spell ends, whenever you or a creature you can see moves into the spirit's space for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, you may use your reaction to cause the spirit to restore 1d6 hit points to that creature. The spirit can't heal constructs or undead.

As a bonus action on your turn, you can move the spirit up to 30 feet to a space you can see.

The two changes are the following:

  • Instead of being a free action, healing with this feature now requires the use of the spellcaster's Reaction
  • The ability to gain benefits by upcasting the spell have been removed

So in general, this is a significant nerf to the spell. It becomes unable to be upcast, and it can only heal one creature per turn. It puts the spell more in line with the relative power of spells like Aura of Vitality while still making it accessible very early for low level druids. I think the spell will still be competitive in terms of raw healing output and for helping keep allies alive, while keeping it from trivializing all other possible sources of healing.

Does this version of the spell bring it more in line with the relative power level of other sources of Healing? Or are my assumptions/observations about the power of the original spell off-base?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: How does the spell Healing Spirit work? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 16 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ You also added the concentration requirement, that's a pretty significant change that should be noted. \$\endgroup\$ – yinzanat Jan 16 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @yinzanat Healing Spirit always required Concentration, that's not a change. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Jan 16 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not on D&D Beyond. \$\endgroup\$ – yinzanat Jan 16 at 20:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @yinzanat There's an icon of a diamond with a 'c' inside it that's supposed to indicate the Concentration requirement. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Jan 16 at 20:22
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This is fairly balanced, but up-casting should remain

Overall I think this is a pretty decent change to the spell and is much closer to the intended use (my opinion). It does beg the question of why a druid would bother taking it though. With only 2 second level slots at 3 level and only ~9 prepared spells I would be unlikely to bring this with me ahead of combat spells or healing word.

Reaction is a good change

The modification to use a reaction solve the action economy issues with the original spell. Limiting to 10 creatures healed per casting. The only problem with that is that you are unlikely to ever use the full 1 minutes concentration time during combat. So the majority of the healing will be done out of combat.

Removing up-casting goes too far.

By limiting this to 1d6 per reaction it quickly becomes irrelevant at mid-to-high levels. Instead I would modify it to use the up-casting rules of prayer of healing. Adding 1d6 per 2 levels above 2nd. This makes casting this in a 6th level slot heal 3d6 to ten creatures over a minute, average of 105 points of healing total. Contrast this with mass healing word at 6th level which would heal 4d4+Wis to 6 creatures instantly, average of 90 points of healing.

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I think that's in keeping for other spells of its tier, but it raises questions of whether it's worth including at all.

  • it consumes your concentration slot.
  • it consumes your reactions
  • it requires repositioning and/or use of your bonus action to apply the healing where it needs to go.
  • it takes place over 10 rounds, meaning that it's of limited value as far as panic healing.
  • it heals a total of 10d6 (avg 35) damage for a 2nd level spell slot.

It has a significant stack of disadvantages that only apply in combat... to the point that it's arguable that it's not worth casting in combat. So, what happens if we compare it to same-level out-of-combat healing spells?

Prayer of healing takes 10 minutes. That's a bit more than the one minute that Healing Spirit requires, but not by all that much. It heals 2d8+spellmod (avg 13, if your casting stat is 18) to up to 6 people. If you have three or more party members who are sufficiently damaged to need the help, it's more efficient. If you have fewer, it's less so. Regardless, it's less swingy. That's... probably about right, really, given that the new healing spirit can be used in combat, and prayer of healing is cleric, rather than druid.

What you wind up with, though, is a spell that has intricate tactical implications... where the obvious thing to do most of the time is to use it out of combat and avoid those implications. What is having the modified spell on the spell list supposed to do for druids? Does it do that thing? Would some other (perhaps simpler) spell do it better?

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