Spare the Dying Could Become One of D&D’s Most Powerful Spells

Dungeons & Dragons’ proposed rule changes could make one spell significantly more powerful. Today, Wizards of the Coast released a new One D&D playtest packet, which primarily focused on the Druid and Paladin classes. However, the new playtest documents also made several changes to a few spells, including the Spare the Dying cantrip. Previously, Spare the Dying stabilized a character who had no Hit Points, preventing them from making any death saving throws, but keeping them functionally out of the fight. Under the proposed rules changes, Spare the Dying now gives a character with the Dying condition 1 HP, which ends the Dying condition and brings the fallen character back into the fight.

The new rules packet also introduces some new rules about Dying, turning it into a condition and adding some minor tweaks to how death saving throws work. While the mechanics of death saving throws remain the same (roll a D20, with a success coming on a 10 or higher), players no longer return to consciousness if they succeed on three death saving throws. Instead, they regain 1 HP but remain unconscious until they either regain another Hit Point or until another character makes a successful Medicine check to administer first aid on the fallen character.

There is some confusion about the new Dying rules – the rules specify that regaining any number of hit points ends the Dying condition, but some players think that players remain Unconscious even after the Dying condition is removed. This doesn’t appear to be the intent of the rules – a Petrified player doesn’t remain Incapacitated after that condition has been removed – but it will likely need to be clarified in a future rules packet.

Assuming that Dying in D&D remains mostly the same, Spare the Dying becomes a situationally powerful healing spell. Since removing the Dying condition doesn’t come with any lingering after-effects like it does in Pathfinder 2E, players can use Spare the Dying to guarantee a fallen player character is back in the battle without using a spell slot. Players have wanted a healing cantrip for a while, and Spare the Dying provides players with a way to prevent a TPK even if they’re running out of spell slots.


Of course, since this is a playtest, none of these rules are final. However, you can check out the full playtest here and prepare your feedback for the survey that comes out on March 20th.