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I want to create a Abjuration wizard (PHB, p. 115-116) that uses the Life Transference spell (XGtE, p. 160) and the Arcane Ward feature to heal people, but I've heard people saying Life Transference is bad due to how it interacts with resistance (half the damage taken = half the healing).

That is pretty relevant for me, because of the Spell Resistance feature that Abjuration wizards get at 14th level.

What if Life Transference worked like the Overchannel feature from the School of Evocation wizard (PHB, p. 118): necrotic damage that ignores resistance and immunity?

I believe that would be very thematically appropriate considering the fact that it is a self-sacrifice spell. I know that this is all up to the DM, but I want to know: Would that be unbalanced? Could that somehow be exploited?

EDIT: It has come to my attention that this particular combo (Arcane Ward + Life Transference) doesn't work due to Arcane Ward preventing damage (0 damage taken = 0 hit points healed), but my point still stands, as I still wish to use Life Transference with my Abjuration wizard and I still believe it is thematically appropriate for Life Transference to ignore resistances as it is a self sacrifice.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify: what you're proposing is allowing the spell to fully ignore the spellcaster's possible Necrotic Resistance, meaning the spell would deal full damage to the spellcaster even if they have resistance, and therefore heal the normal amount to their target? Or are you proposing allowing the healing to be equal to 4x the damage in the scenario where the spellcaster has resistance? \$\endgroup\$
    – Xirema
    Apr 18, 2019 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ The first option, just ignore necrotic resistance fully and always heal the normal amount. I believe it is only appropriate considering it is a self sacrifice. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2019 at 21:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you clarify something? I'm not sure how Arcane Ward is involved in this process. How are you using it to heal people? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 18, 2019 at 21:18
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    – V2Blast
    Apr 18, 2019 at 21:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GabrielIrabelCiriloCorso If the ward takes 10 damage, you restore zero hit points. Life Transference only heals based on how much damage you take. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 19, 2019 at 0:16

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As of 2020, Life Transference always does full damage, ignoring damage resistances and immunities

This was clarified by the 2020 XGTE Errata:

You take 4d8 necrotic damage, which can’t be reduced in any way

Therefore, even if you are immune to necrotic damage. Life Transference will still do the full 4d8 damage and will heal for twice that amount.

As the spell is written now, Life Transference works exactly as you wished it would: as an act of self-sacrifice. You physically give up 4d8 HP.

I guess that renders the question of whether it would be unballanced moot, as this is now how it works.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you add a bit about how this answers the question? I think you mean to say the whole question is moot due to the way the spell is changed, but I'm not sure. As it stands, this doesn't read like a full answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    May 9, 2021 at 18:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the suggestion, Erik. I have expanded on my answer. Let me know if it needs anything more. \$\endgroup\$
    – lodewykk
    May 11, 2021 at 12:44
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This is perfectly reasonable

Of course, it'll come down to what your DM says, since this is not Rules-as-Written. But Life Transference already has a quite substantial opportunity cost associated with it, and all this change does is revert to the mean, so to speak: instead of the feature being weaker for Abjuration Wizards, it's instead normal strength.

So if I were DM, I'd be perfectly fine allowing this. The few possible exploits are things that would be exploitable for non-abjuration wizards anyways, so I can't even think of what might constitute an exploit particular to this combo.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP specifically mentioned the exploit they intend to use - fuelling Life Transference with Arcane Ward. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Apr 18, 2019 at 23:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you! I really believe this would make much more sense, because as Life Transference woks now, not only Abjuration wizards suffer, but Necromancers too. I find it pretty funny that a Necromancy spell would get worse as you get better at necromancy (Necromancy school wizards get Inured to Undeath, which gives resistance to necrotic damage thus healing half as much as any other character). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 19, 2019 at 15:47
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This would not be imbalanced.

The features like Spell Resistance and Inured to Undeath (both for wizards) are perfectly fine on all other characters, and life transference works as intended on most other characters.

The question, therefore, is "does having both Spell Resistance and life transference work as intended on a character with both make it overpowered", and I think the simple answer is no, because the combination of the two doesn't make the spell or the feature any more powerful, only removes the detriment to bring it back to level with all other characters.

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The spell specifically states that the damage cannot be reduced by any means. That includes spells cast or passive resistances (such as a vampire, protection from certain damage types, etc.). Even if it could, it would also reduce the amount of healing, because the heal is based on the damage that you take. Jeremy Crawford already ruled that it is not a healing spell, and thus not subject to any healing modifiers such as the life cleric feature or Beacon of Hope. I'm pretty sure that's because the magic behind it is necrotic, just like False Life is not a healing spell because it gives you temporary hit points rather than healing your hp lost to damage. Life Transference is pretty locked down and exploit-proof imho.

P.S., I think the only way it would be OP would be if it granted temporary HP after max HP is filled.

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