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How does Healing Spirit interact with a Cleric's Disciple of Life feature?

This is a multi-class question regarding the possibly synergy between the Druid/Ranger spell Healing Spirit and the domain feature Disciple of Life (DoL) from the a Cleric's Life Domain.

Can Healing Spirit benefit from a Cleric's DoL domain feature? - i.e. an additional 2 + spell level.

Disciple of Life Also starting at 1st level, your healing spells are more effective. Whenever you use a spell of 1st level or higher to restore hit points to a creature, the creature regains additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level. (PHB p. 60)

Healing Spirit "Until the spell ends, whenever you or a creature you can see moves into the spirits space for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, you can cause the spirit to restore ld6 hit points to that creature (no action required)." (XGE p. 157)

I appreciate suggestions, including whether it is a DM's call on how to interpret the interaction.

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Yes, Desciple of Life clearly triggers when using Healing Spirit.

Let's adress the rules first. Disciple of Life states 3 conditions:

  1. use a spell
  2. of 1st level or higher
  3. to restore hit points to a creature

Healing spirit is a spell of 1st level or higher that you can cause (use) to restore hitpoints. It almost word for word fulfills the conditions required for the disciple of life. This is how this feature works.

Addressing some concerns

It should not work because there is no action required to restore hitpoints.

Disciple of Life does not require you to use an action, it does not mention the action economy at all.

Also as @jgn pointed out, it is useful to note here that Desciple of Life does not trigger when you cast a spell but any time you use it to restore hit points. (This is somewhat unusual since many features trigger when casting a spell, but it is an important distinction)

It is not the character but the spirit who is causing the healing.

The spirit is not a creature, it is not referred to as a creature or anything that would have any mechanical in-game impact or agency besides healing and moving which you cause it to do. It is how the spell takes effect. You are not commanding a spirit do something, you are causing a physical manifestation of a spell to do it. If the spell summoned an elemental creature that could heal on its turn this argument would make sense, but that is not what healing spirit does.

A similar argument could be made for goodberry spell (you are not restoring hitpoints, eating the berry does), but it was clarified in the Sage Advice Compendium (SAC contains official rulings on how to interpret the rules) that Disciple of Life does, in fact, work with the goodberry spell.

Healing spirit is too strong.

In the end, it is the job of the DM to manage the game. If they feel the healing spirit is too powerful they can ban it or change it to be less powerful.

If this is the case, I would suggest changing the text of the spell to:

Healing Spirit "Once per round until the spell ends, whenever you or a creature you can see moves into the spirits space for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, you can cause the spirit to restore ld6 hit points to that creature (no action required)."

(highlighted text added by me)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer could be made stronger by using your argument from Sage Advice to support your reading that any spell that causes a creature to gain hit points triggers Disciple of Life. This is the crux of the question after all, so having to piece it together isn't ideal. Perhaps you could elaborate the first concern to address the idea that Disciple of Life triggers on cast, instead of triggering on any spell effect. \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Jan 28 at 6:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your concern #2 could probably be improved too. Healing Spirit is a conjuration spell that "calls forth a nature spirit" which "restore[s] 1d6 hit points" but "can’t heal constructs or undead". It seems pretty explicit that the spirit has actually been summoned and actually does the healing. The SAC link is a strong argument, but the argument you put forward doesn't make much sense. \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Jan 28 at 6:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jgn To address the second comment my argument is that it does not matter that it is a conjuration spell that summons a "spirit" because a "spirit" in this case is not a creature or a mechanical thing in DnD 5e that has stats, actions it can take, agency, initiative, or anything like that. It is an energy puppet that you fully control, the same way you fully control a fireball explosion. I think people are just letting their idea of what they imagine as a spirit misinterpret what the spell does. \$\endgroup\$ – Deeps Jan 28 at 8:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think if the spell summoned a creature friendly to you and the creature knows for example cure wounds that it uses to cure someone on its turns, I don't think it would trigger. \$\endgroup\$ – Deeps Jan 28 at 9:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes that is part of it, but I also think it is important that this is something that as I said it does not have a turn, cannot be interacted with besides dispel magic and the other reasons I previously mentioned. I think comparing this spell with Conjure Celestial illustrates the differences as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Deeps Jan 28 at 9:37
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A case of Rules and Interpretation

The spell appears to meet the requirements for Disciple of Life every time someone enters its space. The requirements for Disciple of Life state that...

Whenever you use a spell of 1st level or higher to restore hit points to a creature

you gain the benefits of...

the creature regains additional hit points equal to 2 + the spell’s level.

Note, this does not say you must "cast a spell" only that you use the spell. Now let's refer to Healing Spirit. The spell states...

you can cause the spirit to restore ld6 hit points to that creature (no action required)

which is using the spell to restore hit points to a creature. Again we note the above quote in that it says no action required. In addition it is you who initiates whether something is healed or not.

Now the interpretation that I have seen some DMs make would be that, as T.J.L.'s answer states, the spirit causes the healing and is independent from the "you" clause of Disciple of Life. Additionally this spell is listed as Conjuration and states that it summons a spirit, not that you create a spirit of healing. Now this is a valid interpretation of the rules and, barring official guidance, DMs are left to their own devices as to which interpretation to follow. As T.J.L. mentions in their footnotes, sometimes RAW and RAI do not match, and in particular Disciple of Life interacts with spells that it normally shouldn't be able to interact with.

In summary, the decision that Disciple of Life and Healing Spirit interacts or does not is left to the DM. There are reasonable interpretations of the rules that can go either direction. And personal belief can decide how you should interpret the rules. People who believe in harder, grittier games might seek to limit the spell while more high fantasy games might not. In my opinion as your ruling is fun for your group that's what matters.

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This is kind of a tough one.

Yes...

The most permissive reading is "It's a spell that heals, so of course it does!" and if I were playing a character with that combination in a game with a DM that allowed it, you can be sure I'd take advantage of it.

...and No.

That said, considering how powerful Healing Spirit already is, I'm inclined to parse things a bit more closely, in order to reign in an unbalanced (albeit official) spell.

The key element of my ruling would be "Whenever you use a spell" from Disciple of Life and "you can cause the spirit [...] (no action required)" from Healing Spirit. The spell summons a spirit, so it is not the character doing the healing, it's the summoned spirit that's doing it. The character isn't spending an action beyond the initial casting, and that casting doesn't heal anybody, so it doesn't qualify for Disciple of Life.

By the same logic1, I don't apply Disciple of Life to Goodberry, because the spell doesn't actually heal anybody, it creates objects that can later be used to heal.

By contrast, I would apply the Disciple of Life bonus to something like Aura of Vitality, because it requires an (bonus) action to trigger.

1For the record, the ruling in SAC v2.3 doesn't agree, but the actual published text doesn't support their ruling. Either Goodberry or Disciple of Life needs an errata for their conclusion to be valid. They have the power of errata, and can make RAW match RAI, but have not done so.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The spell is explicit that you are summoning a spirit and the spirit is doing the healing. I think the point of contention is whether or not summoning a spirit to heal constitutes "using a spell to heal". The wording says "you can cause the spirit to restore 1d6 hit points", so whether or not it takes an action doesn't seem relevant, you are causing the spirit to heal the creature. Disciple of Life also doesn't appear to trigger only on "cast", it's whenever you "use a spell to heal". I agree the SAC ruling is lazy, more work is needed. \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Jan 28 at 6:49

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