5th Edition Spells – Wrathful Smite

Wrathful Smite

Paladin - 1 Level Spell

School: Evocation
Casting Time: 1 Bonus Action
Range: Self
Components: Verbal
Duration: 1 Minute
Attack/Save: WIS
Reference: PHB 289

The next time you hit with a melee weapon attack during this spell’s duration, your attack deals an extra 1d6 psychic damage. Additionally, if the target is a creature, it must make a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened of you until the spell ends. As an action, the creature can make a Wisdom check against your spell save DC to steel its resolve and end this spell.

My Comments: Probably my favorite of the Smite spells, Wrathful Smite, when used against most targets, will be a very powerful choice.

So let’s dive in, shall we?

The biggest drawback with this spell is that, unlike most of the other Smite spells, it does not scale with greater spell level slots. It will always just deal and extra 1d6 psychic damage. The best thing about that, though, is that few creatures have resistance to psychic damage. And those that do also have high Wisdom, so it’s probably best to avoid using this spell altogether with them.

Most everyone else, though, tends to have lower Wisdom stats. The ones you usually have to worry about are divine spellcasters and Monks. And like most PCs, the majority of NPCs and monsters also consider Wisdom to be a dump stat, or at least less important than others. So even when using it at higher levels, there are some decent chances that a target struck by Wrathful Strike will not be able to save.

And the thing is, you don’t want them to! The damage is piddly compared to your ability to strike the fear of holy retribution into their hearts. On a failed save, the target also is frightened, which causes the following effects:

  • “A frightened creature has disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls while the source of its fear is within line of sight.

  • “The creature can’t willingly move closer to the source of its fear.”

(PHB 290)

You can press the advantage on that fearful and shaken foe, and their retaliations will have less of a chance to hit. You can also, potentially, drive them into a corner or into a place where they have even less of an advantage. This is something that is up to the DM; while they can’t willingly approach you, it does not say they retreat from you. However, I think that it’s safe to assume they may want to, if not wholly withdraw and run away.

For the next minute of your concentration, they will be under this effect, which is more than long enough to end the fight, typically. One of the extra benefits of this spell is either they deal with having less of a chance to attack you or anyone else (as long as you’re in line of sight) or they have to waste an action (foregoing any attack) to try to snap out of it. Unlike spells like Searing Strike, where they get a free saving throw every round, those under the effects of Wrathful Strike have an action tax to do so.

What do you think of Wrathful Smite? It’s one of my favorites, but it may not be yours. Tell me why in the comments below!

Terra Katherine McKeown

Terra Katherine McKeown is a non-binary writer, farmer and bodyworker living in the Southwest. Ze has been playing role-playing games since ze was eight years old. Zir first novel, Chasing Dawn, is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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