Nerfing Holy Weapon for Xanathar's Guide

I feel this spell is too powerful for one that can potentially last for an hour. With an additional 2d8 damage it's in many ways better than Elemental Weapon enhanced with a 5th level slot, and I really see no reason why anyone would want to discharge burst when they can keep on using it with the additional 2d8 damage.

Some notable things about this spell is that while it was probably designed to be a 5th level Paladin spell, Clerics also get the spell. And it can be cast on others, and used on ranged weapons too. So a Cleric of Trickery who likes to hide a lot could just cast it on an archery using Ranger, it and wouldn't go away until someone uses Dispel Magic.

So for me I'd still let Clerics use it and have this castable on others, but I'd put something on it like a limit of 5 charges which one can spend for the additional 2d8 damage, at the end of running out of charges they may use the discharge burst effect.

I realize this is supposed to be an ultimate spell for the Paladin, and present an alternative option from using that 5th slot for smiting. The 5 attack limit would be sort of like investing a smite to get 2 smites over time.
 

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kbrakke

First Post
How much damage do you think a 5th level spell should do? It's 1 hour with concentration, so I would expect it to last for 2 to 3 fights, less if your cleric doesn't hide every turn. Assuming a ~5 round combat our super buffed ranger gets an extra 2d8 * 5 (rounds) * 2 (attacks) * 3 (combats) or 270 damage. Cone of cold by comparison does ~36 per target so you would need to hit 7.5 people to match it.
Honestly, a very good holy weapon which involves the cleric hiding and contributing less to combat is about equal to a very good cone of cold. It seems like a reasonable trade off.
If you only have 1 combat in that hour, Holy weapon looks pretty bad, if your cleric doesn't just hide every round it creates a sub-objective for the monsters which can be fun and also reduce the power, if your ranger misses attacks (Though admittedly at level 9 I assume players always hit) then it starts to look worse. Alternately if your combats tend to have fewer stronger monsters then Holy Weapon looks a lot better. In either case, there are actual tradeoffs here, and too much in one direction can be mitigated.
And at the end of the day, players dealing more damage or hitting more often are the least of my concerns when I try to make a compelling and difficult combat for my players.

My overall suggestion, don't nerf it, your best case scenario is about as good as other best case spells at that level (Other things at that level that worry me more: 2x Banishment, 4x Hold Person, Animate Objects, Synaptic Static, Scrying, Wall of Force). If a spell encouraged my players to develop tactics like the cleric enchanting the ranger and then focusing on keeping concentration I would be ecstatic, combats where the players have sub-objectives (Keep this spell going) are much more fun than simple melees. Your worries sound more like theorycrafting than actual in play problems, and I would almost never nerf something without seeing it in play first.
 

Have you seen it abused in this way? Are characters really walking around for multiple encounters with this up in practice? Or are these white room theory-crafting worries?
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
With an additional 2d8 damage it's in many ways better than Elemental Weapon enhanced with a 5th level slot...
It is deliberate design that spells of a particular level generally out-perform lower-level spells cast with a higher-level spell slot of the same level.

There are a few intentional exceptions (fireball and lightning bolt are better than other spells on purpose), and a few accidental exceptions (Mordenkainen's sword isn't supposed to "suck")

As for the details of the holy weapon spell, it appears to be within the guidelines for creating new spells found in the DMG - as a multi-target 5th level spell shows a value of 8d6, which comes out close to the same as 6d8, and the spell is only dong 4d8 when used as a multi-target attack. The hypothetical use of 2d8 bonus for a whole bunch of rounds because the spell could last an hour would is making up for it dealing lower than normal damage otherwise - and has way to many variables that could stop it from happening to be considered the "normal" circumstances of casting the spell (sort of like how basing damage expectation off the assumption that the target will be vulnerable to the damage dealt doesn't make sense).
 

mellored

Legend
It's really not much better than elemental weapon once you factor in the +2 to hit.
Assuming a level 11+ paladin with improved smite.

holy weapon
2d8+5+2d8 * 60% accuracy = 13.8 damage per attack.
vs
elemental weapon
2d8+5+2d4 * 70% accuracy = 13.3 damage per attack.

So 1 damage per round more for a 5th level spell than a scaled up 3rd level one.
 

It seems easier and more elegant to just change the text "You imbue a weapon you touch with holy power." to "You imbue a simple melee weapon, a martial melee weapon, or a single piece of ammunition you touch with holy power." That solves most potential problems and still leaves the PC's with the option of using the spell to make a flash/bang grenade out of a dagger or arrow.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Heaven forbid that Paladins actually have a spell worth casting, instead of saving all their slots for Smite.
 

Heaven forbid that Paladins actually have a spell worth casting, instead of saving all their slots for Smite.
One of my issues with it is that it is a Paladin spell that's sub-optimal if the Paladin uses it on themselves. If you losing concentration on damage is in effect with RAW, then it lasts 2 maybe 3 rounds as the Paladin is likely taking damage after they cast it. But have someone else who doesn't commonly get into the fray cast it on someone else like a Fighter or a Ranger, it'll last far longer than 2 to 3 rounds.
 

Votan

Explorer
One of my issues with it is that it is a Paladin spell that's sub-optimal if the Paladin uses it on themselves. If you losing concentration on damage is in effect with RAW, then it lasts 2 maybe 3 rounds as the Paladin is likely taking damage after they cast it. But have someone else who doesn't commonly get into the fray cast it on someone else like a Fighter or a Ranger, it'll last far longer than 2 to 3 rounds.

Not sure the occasional spell that allows the Paladin to support the party is all bad. This is even more true if it is a cleric.
 

Nevvur

Explorer
It's really not much better than elemental weapon once you factor in the +2 to hit.
Assuming a level 11+ paladin with improved smite.

holy weapon
2d8+5+2d8 * 60% accuracy = 13.8 damage per attack.
vs
elemental weapon
2d8+5+2d4 * 70% accuracy = 13.3 damage per attack.

So 1 damage per round more for a 5th level spell than a scaled up 3rd level one.

I agree, though I think it's worth pointing out resistance to radiant damage is much less common than the damage types offered by elemental weapon.
 

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