- Level: 5th
- Casting Time: 1 Bonus Action
- Duration: 1 Hour (Concentration)
- Classes: Cleric, Paladin
- School: Evocation
- Range/Area: Touch
- Attack/Save: Constitution Saving Throw
- Damage/Effect: Radiant Damage, Blinded
- Components: V, S
Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Holy Weapon Spell Description
Lay your fingers on a weapon, and imbue it with holy, divine power. Until the spell ends, the weapon shines with bright light, illuminating a 30-foot radius around and shedding dim light for an additional 30 feet.
In addition, weapon attacks made with the holy weapon inflict an additional 2d8 radiant damage on a hit. If the weapon isn’t already a magic weapon, it counts as one for the duration.
As a bonus action on your turn, you can dismiss this spell and cause the weapon to emit a burst of radiance. Each creature of your choice that you can see within 30 feet of the weapon must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 4d8 radiant damage and is blinded for 1 minute. On a successful save, a creature takes half as much damage and isn’t blinded. At the end of each of its turns, a blinded creature can make a Constitution saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.
What Is the Holy Weapon Spell in DnD 5e?
Holy Weapon is a powerful 5th-level evocation spell for Paladins and Clerics that imbues a weapon they touch with divine power, causing it to become magical and deal extra radiant damage for up to an hour.
If the caster chooses to end the spell early using their bonus action, the holy weapon emits a burst of light which inflicts even more radiant damage and potentially blinds all enemies within 30 feet.
Is Holy Weapon a Good Spell?
While casting Holy Weapon has a relatively steep cost, it’s nonetheless an extremely powerful spell if you can manage to make the most of it by ensuring you don’t break concentration, cast it on the right party member (which doesn’t always mean you), and dismiss the spell at the right time to catch the most enemies in its radius.
First of all, you get to add an extra 2d8 radiant damage to every single one of your weapon attacks. While 2d8 isn’t necessarily all that impressive on its own, a character with the Extra Attack feature can easily double, triple, or even quadruple the effectiveness of this spell. A 20th-level fighter making four attacks per round with Action Surge could theoretically get an extra 10d8 radiant damage out of this spell, followed by 8d10 on every single subsequent round.
Then, while the extra radiant damage is nice to have when the spell is dismissed using a bonus action (not just ended, but actively dismissed), the real benefit here is the potential mass blindness you can inflict with it. Because of the way that the blinded condition works, it can be the perfect way to set up a final flurry of blows to bring down the BBEG.
The Blinded Condition
A creature affected by the blinded condition can’t see what’s going on around them well enough to be effective.
- A blinded creature can’t see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight.
- Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.
Now, while it might intuitively seem as though you could use the blinded condition to set up a huge AoE spell like Flame Strike or Fireball and impose disadvantage on your opponents’ Dexterity saving throws, that’s not strictly how it works. Because the blinded condition only affects ability checks and attack rolls, a blinded target could still save against the spell normally with the Rules as Written.
However, I think that stinks and that you should listen to the section on saving throws from pg. 180 of the Player’s Handbook. It states that a saving throw can be modified by a situational bonus or penalty and can be affected by advantage and disadvantage as determined by the DM.
I think being blinded by the light is a perfectly good reason not to see a giant fireball coming your way, and as a DM, I would definitely impose Disadvantage on any Dexterity-based (and probably Wisdom-based) saves a blinded creature makes.
However, going purely by the letter of the law, Holy Weapon is best followed up with a series of weapon and spell attacks to best make use of the advantage from the blinded condition.
Still, if you manage to keep this spell activated for the majority of the hour duration, it can end up dishing out an outrageous amount of damage. Obviously, you’re probably not going to be in combat for all of that; that’s about 600 rounds of combat.
What’s more likely is that you keep this weapon activated for about three combat encounters, each of which lasts for about 4 rounds. Assuming bounded accuracy means you hit around ¾ of the time and you cast this spell on someone who attacks twice per round, that’s (2d8 x 2) x .75 x 3 = 9d8 radiant damage per encounter for a total of 21d8 extra radiant damage over the day.
Then, if you successfully trigger the blinding flash, that’s an extra 4d8 radiant damage (x .75 for the likelihood enemies pass their saving throws) for a rough total of about 23d8 total damage — not to mention however much extra damage you get from attacking a bunch of blinded enemies with advantage for at least a round.
There aren’t many 5th-level spells that can give you an average of about 23d8 damage over a day with a single slot while making your weapon magical, eliminating the need for torches, and applying a sweet single-use magical flashbang effect.
The Problem With Holy Weapon
However, that’s not always easy. Just as the plans of mice and men never survive contact with the Lenn-emy, things in D&D rarely work out according to plan; the fact that this is a concentration spell means it’s very possible a stray arrow or AoE spell can end Holy Weapon’s duration before it’s done as much damage as a fairly lackluster rendition of Scorching Ray.
This can be especially heartbreaking if you’re playing a Paladin who didn’t get access to 5th-level spell slots until 17th level. Burning your only high-level spell slot for the day as a half-caster to do significantly less damage than most cantrips at that level is just depressing. Seriously, if you cast this spell and don’t land at least three weapon attacks with it, you’re doing less damage with a 5th-level spell slot than a 17th-level wizard does with Fire Bolt (4d10 fire damage).
Even as a Cleric, you don’t get this spell until 9th level, which means you’ll be expecting to use it against some pretty tough customers, and getting smacked in the face before you’ve had a chance to use it negates both the potential damage from subsequent rounds of bashing and means the blinding flash of light doesn’t fire. Like I said — depressing.
Therefore, we’ve put together some tips for maximizing the effectiveness of Holy Weapon, including who should cast this spell, whose weapon they should be casting it on, and when to cast it for best results.
The Best Way To Cast Holy Weapon
First of all, if you’re a Cleric casting this spell on your own weapon, you’re doing it wrong.
The ideal target for Holy Weapon is the party member with the highest number of attacks per round with a single weapon. This can be you, especially if you use a ranged weapon, but seeing as you want this concentration spell to last as long as possible, you’re going to want to stay as far away from the fighting as possible while this spell is active.
Sincerely, the best use for this spell is as a Cleric with a good AC and a decent ranged attack option, who casts this on the fighter at the beginning of the dungeon and then stays well away from the action as their colleague teaches the dungeon’s occupants the true meaning of multiattack. The fighter can get hit over and over, and it won’t break your concentration. If they ever look like they’re in real trouble or in need of some mass disable, dismiss the spell. All the while, you should be behind at least three quarters cover with Healing Word ready to go.
Wading into melee combat with this spell, even as a big, beefy paladin with an AC of 35 is too much of a risk that the spell’s going to be a waste.
That’s actually all the advice I have for this spell. If you give it to someone who makes a lot of attacks and then go stand somewhere you don’t get hit yourself, it’s an unbelievably powerful spell that can give you a serious edge over multiple encounters, not to mention turn the tide of battle when you need it most. If you run around in the open waving your big glowing sword with a sign on your back that reads “KICK ME,” well, you might as well just cast Thunderwave.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Cast Holy Weapon on a Ranged Weapon?
Yes, you can cast Holy Weapon on any weapon, magical or nonmagical, melee, ranged, or thrown. Also, in the rules for magical bows, it states that ammunition fired from a magical weapon also counts as magical, so shooting an enemy with an arrow from a bow with Holy Weapon cast on it would inflict the additional radiant damage on a hit.
Do I Need To Be Holding the Holy Weapon To Dismiss the Spell?
No, although the rules as written imply that the burst of light blinds creatures you can see within 30 feet of the weapon, implying that you must also be present. RAW, no, but you need to be nearby. RAI, I don’t think so at all. It’s a weird one.
Can I Use Twinned Spell Sorcerer Metamagic on Holy Weapon?
No. Twinned spell explicitly only works on spells that affect a single creature. No more. No less. Holy Weapon affects an object and therefore isn’t eligible for Twinned Spell.
Can You Cast Holy Weapon on a Monk’s Fists?
No. Contrary to the teachings of Mr. Bruce Lee, fists are not weapons in D&D 5e and therefore aren’t eligible targets for the Holy Weapon spell.
Can the Magic Weapon Spell Be Cast on a Weapon at the Same Time as Holy Weapon?
Yes, although both spells use concentration, meaning they would need to be cast by different people, and there are no additional benefits to a weapon being made magical from two sources. The weapon would still gain both the +1 bonus to Attack rolls and Damage Rolls and the additional 2d8 Radiant Damage on a hit.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.