Last Updated on November 28, 2022
In D&D, healers can be huge force multipliers for their party. They offer a unique playstyle that many players love.
Healers have the power to heal injured allies, get downed allies back into the fight, or even resurrect the dead.
They can also bring tons of extra utility to their group. Some healers can purge status effects, or levels of exhaustion, and provide a variety of ways to reduce incoming damage.
It’s important to think about your party’s needs when picking a healer, but also to choose a class that you’ll have fun playing!
This list will help you choose the healer that’s right for you and your group.
D&D’s healers can be divided into three main groups: main healers, support healers, and off-healers.
These characters are specialized primarily in healing. They’re able to provide sustained group-wide and spot healing.
They provide excellent utility for keeping their group alive and plan to spend most of their time and resources doing that.
Most subclasses capable of main-healing can also specialize into a support healer role by choosing a balance of damage and healing spells.
Cleric: Life Domain
When most people imagine a D&D healer, they’re thinking of a life cleric. Life clerics are the absolute masters of healing throughput.
Clerics have access to all of the most useful healing spells in D&D, from the absolutely essential Healing Word to high throughput spells like Prayer of Healing.
They can also resurrect dead allies with Revify or remove status conditions with Lesser Restoration.
Life Domain’s Disciple of Life feature makes all those powerful spells heal for more, adding a flat HP bonus which scales with your cleric level.
You also get a huge extra party heal from Channel Divinity: Preserve Life.
Life cleric seems like the obvious choice for anyone looking to play a healer in D&D. That being said, there are some very good reasons to consider other healers.
D&D uses a system of unconsciousness and death saving throws, rather than player characters outright dying when they hit 0 HP.
This means there are heavily diminished returns on topping party members up to full HP because low-HP characters aren’t at immediate risk of dying.
Some DMs use house rules to make falling to 0 HP more punishing. These games are where life clerics really shine.
Cleric: Grave Domain
In D&D, healing goes farthest when it’s used on downed characters.
Grave clerics can access all those fantastically powerful cleric spells, and Circle of Mortality makes those spells heal for their maximum possible healing when it really counts – when they’re used on 0 HP allies.
These clerics specialize in the yoyoing death save dance that most D&D players are familiar with. In practice this will often effectively result in much higher healing throughput than life clerics.
Druid: Circle of Dreams
Druids also make excellent healers. They can’t use some important cleric spells like Aid or Prayer of Healing, but they can use Healing Word, Mass Cure Wounds, and Heal.
Druids have access to polymorph which is, slightly counterintuitively, an extremely powerful way of protecting allies who are close to death.
Enemies can’t kill your low-HP ally if you transform them into a 136hp T-Rex! Healing Spirit also offers fantastic healing to keep your party topped up between combat encounters.
Druids can also use Goodberry which, with some preparation, will enable all of your party members to revive downed allies. This is especially important when you (as the main healer) get knocked to 0 HP.
Goodberry is a druid spell which allows the caster to create ten berries, each of which can be used to restore 1 HP.
All druids can provide strong healing, but Circle of Dreams druids are slightly ahead of the pack with their extra spot-healing from Balm of the Summer Court. Hidden Paths also allows you to extract allies from dangerous situations.
Bard: College of Lore
Bard is D&D’s third major healing class. Bards can use Healing Word and Mass Cure Wounds and, similarly to druid, they can also use Polymorph.
Lore Bard can access other class’s spells with Additional Magical Secrets, which will allow you to round out your toolkit with the best spells from Cleric and Druid.
Plus, they can use Cutting Words to mitigate a ton of damage without expending any spell slots.
Bard: College of Glamour
Glamour bards don’t receive any additional healing or support abilities beyond those that bard ordinarily has. They do deserve a mention, though, because of their role in roleplay-heavy games.
Glamour bards can fill the healer role in combat, and they can also act as a roleplay support in non-combat situations.
A glamour bard will sing tales of their party’s heroic deeds, improving their standing with NPCs they meet and healing initially rocky relationships.
Alchemist is another really strong choice for a main healer. Alchemists can access powerful healing spells like Healing Word, Aid, and Mass Healing Word. They can also purge status effects through free casts of Lesser Restoration.
Alchemists have a ton of extra support options, including healing, through their Experimental Elixirs and Infusions. With some preparation, these allow you to kit out your party with magical equipment and potions for every situation.
Alchemists can use their spell slots to create Elixirs. These are potions, with effects ranging from HP restoration to temporary flight.All artificers can create Infusions which add magical effects to items, for example a piece of armor could be infused to provide additional AC.
Sorcerer: Divine Soul
Divine soul sorcerers make great main healers, with access to the full spell lists of both cleric and sorcerer. Not only can they pick the best spells from both spell lists, but divine soul sorcerers can also use Twinned Spell to apply their single-target heals to two targets instead.
Sorcerers can use Metamagic to modify their spells in various ways. One particularly useful Metamagic option is Twinned Spell, which makes your single-target spells instead effect two targets.
The biggest downside of divine soul sorcerer, as compared to a cleric, is your limited number of spells known. Sorcerers can only learn a very small number of spells and, while you’ll be picking the absolute best spells from two classes’ spell lists, divine soul clerics will still have less breadth of utility.
These characters strike a balance between healing and damage. They have excellent group-wide and spot healing and can provide sustained healing when needed.
These characters don’t expect to only heal, though. They also have great tools for dealing damage or providing other utility, and only heal when necessary.
Support healers are arguably the most useful healers for most games. It’s unusual, in D&D, that a party will need one member to exclusively spend their time healing.
Cleric: Tempest Domain
Healing is a very reactive role – you can only heal when your party has taken damage. The rest of the time, you’ll want to contribute to the group in other ways.
Tempest clerics have access to the same fantastic spell list as Life and Grave clerics, but their toolkit is much more focused around dealing damage. Tempest offers the highest damage potential out of any cleric domain.
This is fantastic in practice because you’ll always have something useful to do, regardless of what situations arise in-game. Your party won’t always need a full-time healer, and often the best form of mitigation is to end combat quickly.
The downside here is that tempest clerics expend valuable spell slots to cast both healing and damage spells, so it’s really important to manage those resources carefully.
Cleric: War Domain
War domain clerics are tanky plate-armored bruisers. They don’t have quite as high damage output as tempest clerics, but they have two clear advantages.
War clerics don’t use spell slots to cast spells. Instead, they attack with martial weapons. When things go south, war clerics still have access to all their spell slots for healing.
War clerics can also play the role of party tank, which is often more appealing to support-oriented players than playing a DPS-focused role and may be a good choice if your party is otherwise missing a tank.
One thing to note, if you’re considering playing a war cleric is that, unlike other clerics, your damage and healing stat are not the same. This means good stat rolls in wisdom, strength, and constitution are all very important.
Paladin: Oath of the Crown
Paladin is another excellent choice if you’re looking for a support-tank healer playstyle. Paladins have access to powerful healing spells like Aid and Heal, and crown paladins’ Turn the Tide gives you a great additional party heal for emergencies.
Lay on Hands requires an action and can only be used in melee range, but it’s still a nice additional source of healing. Paladins are missing some important healing spells like Healing Word, but they’re well suited to a mixed damage and healing role.
Celestial warlocks are thematically unique. Instead of a cleric’s devotion to a god, these warlocks have a more transactional relationship with an angel, unicorn, or other celestial.
Celestial warlock’s Healing Light effectively acts as a slightly more powerful Healing Word. These warlocks don’t have the range of healing utility required for main healers, but they can still put out a lot of healing where it counts most.
Celestial warlock’s ability to provide powerful spot-healing with their bonus action means they can use their action to churn out damage with Eldritch Blast.
Monk: Way of Mercy
Way of Mercy Monks have a uniquely spell-free healing playstyle. Their healing and damage abilities are all melee-range, but they have plenty of mobility from Unarmored Movement and Step of the Wind, which allows them to reach allies more easily.
Mercy monks have a few clear downsides, which make them less desirable healers. They can only heal in melee, and they have no bonus action options for healing which means they always sacrifice damage to heal. Mercy monks also don’t have any party-wide healing until level 11.
That said, if you want a good support healer that will keep melee party members topped up while also putting out good damage, Way of Mercy is a strong choice.
These characters are almost entirely focused on damage dealing, and can’t provide sustained healing. In an emergency though, these characters can provide clutch heals which may turn the tide of battle or prevent a TPK.
Ranger: Horizon Walker Conclave
Rangers are primarily damage-focused, but they have access to Cure Wounds which allows them to provide emergency off-healing. This is especially useful for reviving your main healer if they’ve been knocked down to 0 HP.
Horizon Walker is particularly suited here, because of its access to Misty Step. Cure Wounds can only be used on touch, and Misty Step will allow you to get to downed allies quickly.
Rangers also play a support role in exploration: guiding and providing for their party on long expeditions through wilderness.
Banneret fighters can use Rallying Cry once per long rest, to heal three allies within 60ft. This is very limited, as healing goes, but it can make all the difference in an emergency.
A fighter will also typically have more survivability than other party members, and may sometimes be the last person standing. In those situations, this ability can prevent an impending TPK.
It’s debatable whether abjuration wizards can be considered healers at all. Their toolkit doesn’t include any conventional heals, but they offer a unique reactive playstyle for support and damage mitigation.
Abjuration wizard’s Projected Ward ability allows you to see that an ally is about to take damage and to see how much damage they will take. Then, as a reaction that consumes no spell slots, you can mitigate a portion of that damage.
This means abjuration wizards can reactively save allies from damage that would either knock them to zero or even outright kill them, in a way that other healers can’t. They can do this without sacrificing any damage-dealing potential.
The biggest downside of abjuration wizards is that, at higher levels, wizards may want to reserve their reaction for Counterspell. This is especially true in tough encounters, where players are more likely to take outright lethal damage.
In Eberron games, or other settings that use Dragonmarks, playing a Mark of Healing halfling allows abjuration wizards to use some of their many spell slots for healing. This can be enough to make abjuration wizards into viable main healers.
Here is Nerdarchy discussing the topic of their favorites for the Healer role:
Summing Up: What We’ve Found
D&D has a lot of fantastic options for players who love healing. From fantasy mainstays like clerics and druids to thematically unusual archetypes like celestial warlocks, there are plenty of options to get excited about.
Hopefully, you now have the tools to choose the best healer for you, for your group, and for the game you’re playing in!
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.