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Death Ward 5e D&D Guide

Death Ward 5e D&D Guide

A chill runs down your spine as Death recoils from your presence, unable to touch you with its icy grip.

For the duration of the spell, you are protected from the brink of the abyss, able to face any foe with unshakeable courage.

Death Ward 5e

4th-level Abjuration

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Touch

Components: V, S

Duration: 8 hours

Touching a creature grants it a measure of protection against death. 

If the target drops to 0 HP for the first time due to taking damage, it will instead drop to 1 HP, ending the spell.

When an effect that instantly kills the target without dealing damage is applied while the spell is still active, the effect is nullified against the target, and the spell ends.

Which Classes Can Pick Death Ward 5e?

Traditional classes like the Cleric and Paladin can unlock and use Death Ward. 

Clerics gain access to the spell at level 7, while Paladins can only access it at level 13.

Subclasses like the Life Domain (Cleric), Death Domain (Cleric), Grave Domain (Cleric), The Undying (Warlock), The Undead (Warlock), and Alchemist (Artificer) can unlock and use Death Ward.

The Cleric and Warlock subclasses mentioned above gain access to Death Ward at level 7, while the Alchemist (Artificer) only gains access to it at level 13.

Is Death Ward Good in 5e?

Yes, Death Ward is, without a doubt, a good spell. 

The ability to save someone from death already makes this spell worth it, but then looking at how easy it is to cast and that its spell slot level isn’t too high makes it even better.

Advantages – Death Ward

Saved From Death

No one looks for death, so with Death Ward, you can still escape it even if death eventually finds you.

Ease of Use

Death Ward doesn’t use any Concentration yet lasts 8 hours; it also doesn’t use a Material component, making it even easier to use constantly.

Disadvantages – Death Ward

One-Time Use

When activated, you’ll need to either cast Death Ward again to keep your protection going or go without it.

Note: It might be better to focus your resources on finishing a battle quickly rather than using Death Ward, but that will depend on how well the battle has gone up to that point.

Touch Range

If you want to imbue a creature with the powers to withstand death, you’ll have to touch them, potentially leaving yourself vulnerable to attacks.

Spells Similar to Death Ward 5e

Spells with similar features to Death Ward are; Shield of Faith (1st-level), Warding Bond (2nd-level), Beacon of Hope (3rd-level), Aura of Life (4th-level), and Circle of Power (5th-level).

When or How Should You Use Death Ward?

Keep NPCs Safe

Throughout your campaign, you’ll encounter various NPCs, some helpful, others intimidating, and a few significantly important.

These important NPCs can be valuable informants, important nobles/heirs, powerful merchants, or simply someone who your team values. 

Having the NPC die will be a net negative for your party, so when they’re in danger, and you’re tasked to protect them, just cast Death Ward!

Taking Risks

Whether you’re a character or DM, taking risks and watching risks being taken can be both traumatic and highly entertaining. Unfortunately for the DMs, in this case, it’ll probably shift in the favor of the players.

Having Death Ward allows your most combat-efficient players to take more risks that’ll have your team coming out on top, like fighting hordes of enemies, engaging more formidable foes, or attempting dangerous stunts they otherwise wouldn’t have.

I also think Death Ward is an excellent newbie spell, as it can help newer players learn the limits of their characters without dying in the process.

Dungeon Crawling

Death Ward is the ideal spell for players to cast when they go dungeon crawling because of its long 8-hour duration.

Having a spell last 8 hours is enough to clear an entire dungeon, as they rarely take that long to complete. That means you’ll effectively be unable to die within the dungeon until you get out.

Most players know how dangerous dungeons can get, so having a countermeasure for when things get ugly can save the party’s resources and time.

Resurrection Alternative

In the early game, resurrection can be expensive and tedious; to avoid that, just use Death Ward to ensure you don’t die. 

It’s easier to have your HP healed, but in many cases, it’ll also be less expensive than resurrection. 

Having Death Ward cast on you means you won’t be taken out of battle if you die. However, with resurrection, you’ll have to have another player resurrect you (taking him out of battle) and use a valuable spell slot that could’ve been used to end the battle.

Note: At higher levels, resurrection becomes extremely powerful (cost is irrelevant after reaching the end-game, as you’ll have enough GP).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dispel Magic End Death Ward?

Since Death Ward is a lingering effect latched onto a creature, I see no reason for Dispel Magic not to work against it.

However, in the end, it does depend entirely on your DM.

How Can I Find Out if an Enemy Has Death Ward Active?

If you suspect an enemy has Death Ward active, you can cast Detect Magic and find out if that’s the case.

Discovering it means you can make an educated decision, most likely leaving it for last or at least knowing that it can’t die outright.

Should I Unlock Death Ward?

Yes, especially if you’re party leaves a lot to chance. 

Death Ward will be a contingency when someone inevitably dies due to becoming overconfident or making a simple mistake.

Final Thoughts

Death can come to you in many ways while exploring the vast reaches a D&D world offers. 

Having a measure of protection against at and not having to worry about resurrection puts many players at ease.

Even though Death Ward isn’t applicable in every scenario, if you plan on frequently nearing death, having this spell can boost your courage!

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