A battle-hardened War Cleric walked calmly into the heat of battle. She gripped something tightly in both hands. Tossing her head back, she uttered a guttural battle cry. As enemies crept forward, they were startled by a radiant explosion of ethereal but hungry-looking sharks surrounding the Cleric.
The enemies who ventured too close to the Cleric began bleeding heavily from bite wounds. As the transgressors turned to flee, the Spirit Guardians moved quickly to slow their exit. One combatant turned its head just in time to see an archer nock an arrow and aim directly at his forehead.
The swarm of Spirit Guardians distracted him and limited his movement until it was too late. Nearing death, this enemy of the Cleric felt the death strike of an arrow before everything went black.
What is Spirit Guardians 5e Spell?
Spirit Guardians is a Cleric level 3 conjuration spell. It requires somatic, verbal, and material components. The spell lasts for 10 minutes with concentration. The caster must focus on this spell. If they take damage or try to cast another spell, the Spirit Guardians spell will end.
A Cleric calls out to protective spirits or Spirit Guardians. These spectral beings surround the spellcaster 15ft in all directions. Any creature chosen by the Cleric who enters or starts their turn within 15ft of the spellcaster must make a WIS saving throw. On a failed save, they take 3d8 Radiant or Necrotic damage, depending on the alignment of the spellcaster.
Creatures within the area of effect move at half speed. At higher levels, damage increases by 1d8 for every slot level above 3rd. If the caster uses a 5th-level spell slot to cast Spirit Guardians, the creatures within the area of effect will take 5d8 damage.
This spell is handy if the spell caster plans to enter the brawl. It is important to note that Spirit Guardians uses concentration. Concentration in spellcasting means if the caster takes damage, they must roll a CON saving throw to maintain the spell. They cannot cast more than one spell that requires concentration at one time. If the caster dies or is incapacitated, the spell ends.
Spirit Guardians 5e Spell Description
Source: Player’s Handbook
You call forth spirits to protect you. They flit around you to a distance of 15 feet for the duration. If you are good or neutral, their spectral form appears angelic or fey (your choice). If you are evil, they appear fiendish. When you cast this spell, you can designate any number of creatures you can see to be unaffected by it.
An affected creature’s speed is halved in the area, and when the creature enters the area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, it must make a wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 3d8 radiant damage (if you are good or neutral) or 3d8 necrotic damage (if you are evil). On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage.
At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 3rd.
Spirit Guardians 5e Stats
|Components||Verbal, Somatic, Material|
|Material||A holy symbol|
|Duration||Up to 10 minutes|
|Casting Time||1 action|
How to Use Spirit Guardians Effectively in 5e
Spirit Guardians centers on the caster. The spellcaster can move around the battle area and manipulate enemies’ movements while dealing decent damage. The spellcaster can continually change the scope and range of the field through their movements. The long spell duration means the Spirit Guardians will be present most of the encounter.
Two features of the Spirit Guardians spell that are important to note are the duration of the spell and the caster’s choice. The caster chooses who is affected by this spell. They don’t have to worry about accidentally killing a friendly character.
The Spirit Guardians spell is useful when fighting one enemy in close quarters. Spirit Guardians limits the movement of that enemy. Party members could then focus their attacks, stacking them with the damage dealt by the Spirit Guardians.
Spirit Guardians is also great to cast when there are many low-level enemies. The Cleric can keep many enemies in place while other party members take them out, all while dealing decent damage. The spell caster still must be careful not to take any damage while using this spell. On a hit, the caster risks losing concentration and their Spirit Guardians.
To optimize Spirit Guardians, a Cleric should choose a subclass that gives them access to heavy armor. Additionally, they should select feats that boost concentration checks.
Resilient 5e feat
The Resilient feat allows you to add +1 to any ability score. Resilient also enables you to gain proficiency in saving throws in the selected ability.
This feat is a good choice for someone who wants to use Spirit Guardians regularly. The player can apply the Resilient feat to CON and gains proficiency in CON saving throws which will help maintain concentration.
War Caster 5e feat
War Caster is another remarkable feat to use in concert with Spirit Guardians. The War Caster feat gives the spellcaster advantage on CON saves while they take damage. If the Cleric has the War Caster feat, they could move confidently in the fray.
War Caster feat also allows the spellcaster to do the somatic movements of a spell while holding a weapon or shield. The feat also enables the caster to use an opportunity attack to cast a spell to target that creature.
War Caster is an excellent feat for any magic user who wants to be front and center in the chaos of war.
Forge Domain Cleric Subclass 5e
Forge Domain Clerics gain proficiency in heavy armor at level one. The ability to wear heavy armor allows these Clerics to enter the battle with less risk of taking a hit. These Clerics can cast Spirit Guardians 5e spell amid a battle with less risk of losing concentration.
Forge Domain Clerics gain the Blessing of the Forge feat at level one. This feat allows the Cleric to imbue an item with magic once per long rest. If the item is a weapon, it gains +1 to attack; if it is armor, it gains +1 to AC. Using this feat to improve their AC would decrease the Cleric’s chances of getting hit even further.
The Forge Domain Cleric is a great tank build. The additions to AC will allow these Clerics to cast Spirit Guardians more confidently.
War Domain Cleric Subclass 5e
One of the best ways to optimize Spirit Guardians is to choose the correct subclass of Cleric. War Domain is a great choice.
War Domain Clerics worship the god of war and are rewarded with abilities and proficiencies to aid them in battle. At level 1, War Domain Clerics become proficient in heavy armor and martial weapons. These proficiencies allow the Cleric to deal more and take less damage.
Heavy armor gives a bonus to AC, lowering the percentage of hits taken in battle. A War Domain Cleric with the War Caster feat becomes a tank priest. This build is optimized for using Spirit Guardians.
How to Deal with Spirit Guardians 5e Spell as a DM
DMs must balance what their players want with a fun and engaging environment. A player may use Spirit Guardians, which may frustrate the DM. For example, a Cleric casts Spirit Guardians whenever enemies surround them. Each enemy may take 3d8 damage. The spell also lasts for 10 minutes with concentration. A War Domain Cleric with Heavy Armor and the War Caster Feat may have an AC of 20 with advantage on CON saving throws. That player could do a Fire Bolt’s worth of damage every minute. How does a DM deal with that situation?
One of the best ways to deal with this situation is to differentiate the attackers. Some attackers may be using ranged weapons while others rush the Cleric. This way, the 15ft radius of Spirit Guardians wouldn’t affect all enemies, and the Cleric wouldn’t be able to use an action like Dodge to escape all attacks.
It is also okay for the DM to create NPCs that use counterattacks and spells to break the spellcaster’s Concentration. Dispel Magic and Counterspell will break the spellcaster’s concentration with Spiritual Guardians. DMs should allow some concentration spells to last. However, occasionally breaking a spell caster’s concentration will add diversity to a campaign. The DM is ultimately in control. The DM has a responsibility for the game to be fun for all players, the DM included.
For some players, Spirit Guardians seems overpowered. However, a closer look at the rules specifies how magic effects stack, which can mitigate any worry a DM might have concerning Spirit Guardians. The DM can also create obstacles to change gameplay. Not every spell works in every situation. That being said, it is still a very powerful level-3 spell.
Spirit Guardians vs. Spirit Shroud
Spirit Shroud is a level 3 necromancy spell. It is available to Clerics, Warlocks, Wizards, and Paladins. Spirit Shroud costs one bonus action and verbal and somatic components to cast. This spell lasts up to 1 minute with concentration.
Spirit Shroud envelops the spellcaster with an aura of the spirits of the dead. Any time the spell caster hits a creature within 10ft, that creature takes an additional 1d8 damage. Depending on the spellcaster’s choice, the damage can be radiant, necrotic, or cold. The damaged creature cannot regain hp until its next turn.
Additionally, creatures within 10ft that can see the spellcaster lose 10ft of speed until their next turn. At higher levels, damage increases by 1d8 for every two spell slots above 3rd.
Spirit Shroud is like the quick and dirty version of Spirit Guardians. Spirit Guardians takes 1 full action to cast, but Spirit Guardians lasts longer and has a longer range than Spirit Shroud.
Spirit Shroud is available to more classes than just Cleric. Spirit Shroud is a good choice if a character can’t access Spirit Guardians or wants to keep a full action open.
Spirit Guardians is a better spell than Spirit Shroud. Spirit Shroud allows the caster to throw in a Cantrip. However, a War Domain Cleric using Spirit Guardians will significantly impact the battlefield more.
Spirit Guardians 5e Spell FAQs
Is Spirit Guardians Spell 5e a good spell?
Spirit Guardians is a great spell. This spell discourages melee attacks and makes it difficult for enemies to flee. A tough Cleric build with a War Domain, Twilight, or Forge subclass along with the Spirit Guardians spell gives a great advantage to those magic users who want to join the fray.
Does movement speed being halved from Spirit Guardians spell 5e count as difficult terrain?
The limit to movement caused by the Spirit Guardians spell is not the same as difficult terrain. Players can stack these effects.
How much damage does Spirit Guardians spell 5e deal?
Spirit Guardians does not do damage when cast. Damage only happens when a creature enters the area of effect or starts its turn in that area. The Spirit Guardians spell affects the creature when it does the moving, not when the area moves to them.
What kinds of creatures can be Spirit Guardians?
Spirit Guardians can be any creature, person, or image the player chooses. Alignment may affect the style a player may want for their Spirit Guardians. An evil character may pick demonic butterflies, and a good character may pick angelic lampreys. The spell dictates the type of damage, but the imagery is up to player preference.
Can I choose which kind of damage I deal with the Spirit Guardians?
The damage type is related to the character’s alignment with Spirit Guardians. Character alignment can change in a campaign, but it is not easily done.
Can classes other than Cleric take Spirit Guardians Spell 5e?
If multiple casters use multiple Spirit Guardians, do the effects stack?
It depends on whether the DM considers damage an effect of the spell.
According to the Player’s Handbook: “The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap. The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don’t combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect-such as the highest bonus from those castings applies while their durations overlap.”
In the most likely scenario, if a creature is in the area of two fields of Spirit Guardians, it will take the damage twice but only have its speed reduced once.
Which class can best use Spirit Guardians?
Cleric is the best class to take if you want to learn Spirit Guardians.
Should I choose Spirit Guardians for my character?
Spirit Guardian is a great spell for any class that can use it. It is excellent for crowd control. It also benefits a fighting magic user like a War Doman Cleric. If your character plans on staying far away from the battle Spirit Guardians may not be the best for you. However, it is a good idea for most Clerics to have this spell prepared.
Jillian started learning Dungeons & Dragons in 2014. After being encouraged by a friend to make a character, she became fully involved in character creation and later became an awesome Dungeon Master. Jillian strives to use her creativity to spread her knowledge of DnD and interpret the ruleset.