Sanctuary is a 1st-level supportive defense spell falling under the Artificer and Cleric spell lists.
Players who want to support their party and summon creatures will find sanctuary is an excellent addition to their character.
The Player’s Handbook specifics are as follows:
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a small silver mirror)
Duration: 1 minute
You ward a creature within range against an attack. Until the spell ends, any creature who targets the warded creature with an attack or harmful spell must make a Wisdom saving roll.
If the saving roll fails, the creature must choose a new target or lose the attack or spell.
Note: Sanctuary does not protect the warded creature from area effects, such as fireballs and explosions.
If the warded creature makes an attack, casts a spell that affects an enemy, or damages another creature, sanctuary ends.
What is Sanctuary in 5e?
Sanctuary is part of the 1st-level spell list, also containing another defensive spell, Armor of Agathys. Many players will compare sanctuary to Armor of Agathys; however, their uses are entirely different.
Armor of Agathys is a defensive spell used by offensive spellcasters to protect themselves while fighting at close range.
However, sanctuary is a supportive spell merely used to avoid attacks and save party members at a distance. It is described as a ‘supportive’ defense spell because if a target attacks while warded by sanctuary; the attack will cancel the spell.
Note: A target affected by sanctuary will still take damage from area effects such as the explosion from Fireball.
So is Sanctuary Good in 5e?
Sanctuary has very low-level availability as it’s a 1st-level spell. It is also a ranged ability with a decent range of 30 feet.
Sanctuary is also not cast using an action and is instead cast using a bonus action. It makes casting sanctuary an even better supportive spell for players who want to help their party while casting other spells like Heal.
Casting sanctuary doesn’t require any concentration, making the benefits it provides a target even more valuable. More detail regarding concentration is given later in the guide.
When Shouldn’t I Use Sanctuary?
Do not use sanctuary when you know you or an ally you wish to ward wants to make an attack. If you were to cast sanctuary here, it would be a waste of your bonus action.
If your party wants to force enemies to make saves, casting sanctuary against them would result in the spell being canceled.
If enemies use area effect attacks, players should avoid using sanctuary defensively. As mentioned before, sanctuary cannot block any damage coming from AoEs.
How Do I Use Sanctuary Effectively in Battle?
Most players think attacking and forcing saves are the only ways to deal with enemies effectively. If that were true, then sanctuary would be useless. But, luckily, it isn’t!
While warded and under the effects of sanctuary, you can still heal (allies or yourself), buff party members, summon creatures, and alter the terrain around you.
These spells will not cancel sanctuary and leave you with all the benefits of the spell.
Therefore, players wishing to be the annoyance they always wanted to be can take sanctuary and witness how enemies despise them!
Does Sanctuary Require Concentration?
As mentioned before, sanctuary does not need any concentration to be active.
Feel free to cast concentration spells like Hypnotic Pattern, Fog Cloud, Heat Metal, and Conjure Animals to help aid your comrades.
You can summon increasingly stronger creatures at higher levels and use improved supportive spells while warded.
Can You Use Sanctuary on Yourself?
Using sanctuary on yourself is not only possible but highly recommended to use it fully.
Supportive players should always be targeted by sanctuary; if that is you, then cast sanctuary on yourself. Your ability to support, buff, and heal your party will be more valuable than doing insane damage along with them.
Sanctuary Compared To Similar Spells
Since sanctuary is similar to many low-level defensive spells, some players need help choosing which spells are appropriate in different situations.
Shield of Faith
The casting time of both spells consists of 1 bonus action, making it extremely good for supportive players wanting to not only cast one spell.
The range of shield of faith is increased by 30 feet while a material component (small parchment with a bit of holy text written on it) is also required to cast the spell.
A terrible setback for shield of faith is the concentration needed to maintain the spell, as sanctuary needs no concentration at all.
Realize that shield of faith only gives you a +2 bonus to your AC (Armor Class), while sanctuary offers you a chance not to be harmed by a spell.
In the end, both spells have their weaknesses and strengths if used correctly.
Protection From Poison
Sanctuary and Protection From Poison are remarkably similar spells, as both have specific times and places where they are most valuable.
Protection from poison takes one action, is extremely short range (touch), requires no material components to be cast, and lasts around one hour.
Players shouldn’t use sanctuary mindlessly in every fight; the same goes for protection from poison. These spells wouldn’t be much use if you faced enemies with AoEs or no poison damage.
However, one massive disadvantage of protection from poison is its range and scenario-specific use.
In the end, sanctuary will be a more valuable spell overall.
In the end, allocating sanctuary a place in your spell list will be worth it for most players wishing to support their party without having a traditional support playstyle.
Its flexibility, low cost, and long-lasting effects can turn the tide of battle when things look rough. It can become a formidable supportive spell if paired with someone who has amazing knowledge of D&D.
Just be sure to choose your spell combinations carefully and not accidentally break the warded effect of sanctuary, as it can end badly for your entire party.