Cleric, Paladin - 1 Level Spell
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, and Material
Duration: 1 Minute
Reference: PH 216
You bless up to three creatures of your choice within range. Whenever a target makes an attack roll or a saving throw before the spell ends, the target can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to the attack roll or saving throw.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 1st.
* – (a sprinkling of holy water)
My Comments: The cleric appeared in D&D back in the 1973 box set, as a cross between the “Fighting Man” and the Mage classes; able to wear armor, a wider variety of weapons than a mage, and “holy” spells instead of arcane. They were basically an homage to the old Hammer film vampire hunters, so a lot of their abilities were best when facing undead.
Their spell list was mostly centered around healing and support, and Bless was on that original list at 2nd level. By the way, you had to be 4th level to get access to 2nd Cleric level spells back then. Worse, at 4th level you only got to cast 2 1st level spells and 1 second-level spell per day, so you had to be careful with your casting.
Bless was also one of the spells that could be “reversed” by anti-clerics. Basically, evil clerics could cast anti-Bless, which we now see as a separate spell called “Bane”, as well as causing light wounds instead of curing and putrefying food and drink instead of purifying.
Back then, the Bless spell gave a +1 bonus to morale and attack rolls to one person. And remember, at 4th level you could do that once per day.
Luckily, things have improved for our poor clerics, aka, divine-casters. Along with that, Bless has also improved.
But really, what you probably care about is the 5th edition version of the Bless spell, so let’s get to it!
First, the benefit is much better than it used to be, with 3 targets and a +d4 instead of one and +1. Nice. I’ve heard of people passing over Bless because +d4 doesn’t seem like that much of a buff. The truth is +d4 can save your party and, when used properly, can also increase damage output tremendously.
The key is to take into consideration the encounter type and what other concentration spells you might want to cast. Bless is a concentration spell, and you can only have one going at a time, but it can often be the most useful one. A duration of 1 minute might seem like a short period of time, but when you consider not many battles make it through 10 turns, it’s definitely significant.
Also, keep in mind that it affects the target’s attacks every time in that minute. This means that it’s really useful when your fighter has multi-attack, or you really want the rogue to hit with some massive sneak-attack damage, or that paladin who’s ready to smite your opponent into oblivion.
On the other side, it also affects saves, so your party can feel a little better about facing off against that poisonous spider, a medusa or beholder. A little, anyway.
Obviously, this is best for a support role character, but there isn’t any reason to leave yourself out when casting. Go ahead and have yourself as one of the targets and get that sweet, sweet +d4 bonus.
As a matter of fact, as my excellent DM friend Josiah pointed out, you definitely want to cast it on yourself to get +d4 on your concentration checks!
While this is generally best for low to mid-level encounters, definitely consider it during higher levels when multiple attacks per round (and multiple saves per round, for that matter) are more common.
One note, it doesn’t stack with itself. If you have multiple divine casters casting Bless on the same target, they still only get +1d4.
All in all, this is one of the core foundational Cleric spells and generally a must-have, in my opinion.