D&D 5E How should I improve stoneskin?

Stoneskin has always felt underwhelming to me. At the same time, I can understand why they went with the version in the PHB: it is devilishly hard to balance it well.

I think what really makes it feel underwhelming is that it both requires concentration and costs gold. But just removing one or the other might make it a little bit too good.

It's a spell that never loses effectiveness (given that magical bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage is a generally rare phenomenon). If you take off both concentration and cost, it would become a dominant, almost assumed to be in play, go-to spell at just about all levels.

If you take off just concentration, it will get used more from the start, but somewhat sparingly still because of the cost. Once you get high enough level that the cost is irrelevant, it will become dominant.

If you take off just cost, it is a little too good at lower levels, but becomes weaker at higher levels when you have better things to do with your concentration--probably keeping it subpar.

I'm thinking that perhaps there is some way to address this with the "at higher levels" mechanic. I also think it could start working against magic damage in a higher slot, so that when you are up against such foes you can still use the spell.

What are your ideas of how to adjust the variables to keep it a balanced defensive option throughout the game (if possible) without it becoming a dominant, assumed go-to option?

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I have a different version in my game as a homebrew spell (Boulderhide is the unoriginal name). It is a 2nd level spell and it grants you Damage Resistance 2 (like heavy armor specialization feat's DR, this is just a subtraction, not a halving) against all piercing/bludgeoning/slashing/thunder/acid/fire/cold. You can upcast it which increases the DR by 1. It has no material cost and lasts for 1 minute (concentration), but casting it with a 7th level slot or higher removes the concentration requirement.

A few spellcasters have taken it. None use it regularly as they often prefer their concentration to be used on offensive capabilities or abilities that boost the whole party. However, it has been cast when there are a good number of weaker hitting enemies in a battle (as that is where it really shines - usually at 5th level for DR 5. When enemies are hitting for 10 or less, that really stretches the hps.

Fundamentally I would basically never use a personal defensive spell that requires concentration but makes me no less likely to need to make concentration checks. Nor do I want to get locked into maintaining concentration on someone else for an hour; they're soaking hits depending on having resistance so if suddenly I have to concentrate on something else I'm leaving them high and dry. It doesn't mean I would never use it, but it becomes so rarely what I would want to do that I'm never going to prepare it. Currently the only context where this would be a go-to spell for me is if a party member is competing in a tournament or something and giving them a buff is the only way party members can contribute.

I would make it Damage Reduction. Not only does that lend itself to an upcasting mechanic as (jgsugden alludes to above) but it means that when you cast it on yourself it will reduce the number of concentration checks you need to make. Once it's more useful as a personal defense players are more likely to take it or prepare it, which makes it more likely to see use for party members as well at the times when that makes sense.


I'd make it similar to the 2e version, give it a number of hits before it fades and remove concentration. Higher spell slots allow it to absorb more hits. Leave the duration at 1 hour which should still limit its usefulness to a single fight.

I like this! It's a fun idea to use Temporary Hit Points as a meter for the AC bonus.

If the caster receives THP from another source, does the spell retain its effect? Or do they just track the Stoneskin THP for the AC boost?
By default, THP never stack. If you get more THP later, they override the exiting pool.

I've normally seen it played the a player can refuse THP if tey like - you wouldn't want to end armor of Agathys or (this version of) stoneskin because of a twilight cleric just walked over to you.


I'd make it similar to the 2e version, give it a number of hits before it fades and remove concentration. Higher spell slots allow it to absorb more hits. Leave the duration at 1 hour which should still limit its usefulness to a single fight.

I remember stoneskin from 2e - it REALLY added to caster supremacy!

Martial classes generally have exactly 1 way to deal with casters - hit them until they are not a problem. Stoneskin gave casters a way to completely ignore that!

Now, the current version resistance to nonmagical P/B/S damage AND concentration AND a costly material component - that's IS too restrictive.

I like the temp HP, no concentration proposed by @jmartkdr2 - simple and hard to abuse because Temp HP don't stack.

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