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DnD 5e - Writing Homebrew Character Options

Last Updated: October 9th, 2020

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

Introduction

At some point you'll come up with an idea which you don't see reflected in the rules of the game. Maybe it's something small like a feat or a spell, but maybe it's something bigger like a whole class. Regardless, writing homebrew can be a great way to bring your idea into existence.

However, it can also be very challenging. Most of us aren't professional game designers, and few of us have the advantages of professional editors, playtesters, or any other form of formal review process. Still, those limitations shouldn't stop you from flexing your creative muscles to create something that fits the idea in your head.

If you're considering allowing other creators' homebrew content, you may also enjoy my article on Balancing Homebrew Character Options.

Before You Start

Before you get started, I'd like to offer some advice that I try to give myself whenever I write something new.

Be Brave. You're going to fail. Everyone fails. Don't let that stop you. Writing homebrew isn't driving a car. If you mess up, you're not going to hurt anyone and it's not going to cost you anything but time. Sure, it's fine to fear judgement from other people; everyone does to some degree. But remember that tabletop RPGs are a welcoming community primarily made up of well-meaning, kind-hearted people who want to see everyone succeed, including you.

Be Curious. You should always seek to learn. Learn new things about the game. Learn from other people. Read other people's ideas. Learn from failure, both your own and others.

Be Humble. Whatever you write isn't going to be perfect, especially on your first attempt. Even the folks at Wizards of the Coast still going through a lengthy design and review process. When people offer feedback, consider it objectively and don't get offended or defensive. Most people offering criticism aren't doing it to be rude or mean; they're trying to help you improve.

Be Patient. Writing homebrew takes time. As much as you may want your idea to spring into existence fully formed, that's usually not the way it works. Some things like races and items may be quick to write due to their limited complexity, but other things can take a phenomenally long time and you might never consider them truly "finished".

Hold Nothing Sacred. No matter how much you like your idea or how much work you put into it, you need to be willing to abandon it completely. Maybe you start over, maybe you don't. Giving up on work that you've put time into can be very hard, but sometimes it needs to happen. Learn from the experience and take it as an opportunity to grow as a creator and as a person.

The Process

Writing homebrew goes through a series of roughly-defined steps to eventually reach a point where it's complete enough that you might consider it "done".

I wish that I could honestly say that these all worked in a nice linear order, but in my experience that's not how it goes most of the time. It's more like putting a marble inside a box where each side represents one of the steps and shaking the box until your arms get tired.

This is also my idea of the process of creating homebrew. I'm an Adamantine best-selling author on DMsGuild, but sales are not authority, and even if I was some big-name respected game designer, my process may not be perfect for you. Try different things, read other peoples' ideas, and don't be afraid to experiment. As I said above: Be Curious.

Concept

You probably already have an idea of what you're setting out to create. Very few people who write homebrew content are going to sit down wrack their brains for ideas to produce. Generally the people who need to do that are professionals.

What makes your concept unique? What about it excites you? Keep those things in mind, and that will help inform your decisions for the rest of the process.

Research

Writing should always begin with reading.

In many cases you might find that someone else is doing the same thing that you are. Maybe you can borrow their ideas, or maybe they've created exactly what you wanted to write. Even if that's the case, there's nothing wrong with writing your own version even if it's just to see how your version might differ.

I know math isn't everyone's favorite academic subject, but if ever there was a time to consider math, this is it. A little bit of math can tell you a ton of things about the game that you might not otherwise learn, and that learning can make your homebrew content much easier to balance.

Implementation

This may be the hardest part of homebrew. Staring at a blank page is intimidating, and there's always a fear that what you write down won't reflect the vision in your head. The best advice I can give is to just start writing. Write down the first things that come into your head, even if they might be bad. It's much easier to write something rough and improve it than it is to immediately produce a goood product. Remember: Be Brave.

Iteration

Iteration is the process of studying what you created, testing, soliciting feedback, and making improvements. This process may repeat indefinitely. You might find that your creation is fundamentally broken and start fresh, or you might eventually reach a point where you're happy and decide that our creation is "done".

The most effective way to do that is through playesting. But playtesting can take a huge amount of time. Even for a small piece of content like a cantrip, you might need to playtest it across several play sessions, making tweaks every session until your happy with it. Wizards of the Coast has the advantage of most of their staff being players, so if they have playtest content then can pass it around and ask people to try it out (I'm not sure if that's how this works; I'm making dubious assumptions). If you're reading this, you probably don't work at Wizards of the Coast (If you do, please email me. That would make me very happy.), so we'll have to look for other options.

You might choose to playtest your content in your regular game. If you're in a longform campaign, passing your idea off to another player is a great way to get feedback and a great way to watch for issues. If they're a character optimization enthusiast, they're a great candidate. Try to avoid giving your playtester direction on how to use whatever you give them. If they can't figure it out on their own, that may be an indicator of a problem. If they figure it out from the text you gave them, great. If they immediately find an abuse case, that's a great piece of feedback.

As an example: look up the original version of the spell Healing Spirit. It had no cap on usage, so people like me encouraged parties to form a conga line and march their party through the effect between encounters to get full hit points at nearly no cost. Character optimizers spotted those issues immediately, and the Dungeons and Dragons team eventually released errata to fix the problem.

If live playtesting isn't feasible for some reason (you're between games, etc.), you can still do some simulated playtesting. Build yourself some characters who use your new character option, and see how you could use it to the absolute maximum effect. Character optimization is a great way to look for balance problems, even if you're just "theorycrafting".

Whether playtesting is available to you or not, you should also solicit feedback. Asking someone to look at something you produced can be scary, but as I said above: Be Brave. Be Humble. Hold Nothing Sacred.

Sharing what you created and asking for suggestions is a great way to get immediate ideas for improving your creation. Talk to players new and old. Talk to strangers. Post on communities like Reddit's r/unearthedarcana. People with fresh eyes will often provide feedback which is both honest and helpful, but since it's feedback on something that you created it's easy to get defensive and takes things personally. Most people take the time to provide feedback because they want to see you succeed. You may not like or agree with the feedback, but their intent is rarely to make you feel bad.

Finalization

At some point, you're going to stop working on any single piece of homebrew. If you're fortunate and things go well, you'll consider it "done", and ideally you will be happy with the results. If you're fortunate enough to reach this point, congratulations! Whatever you've made, write it down. Consider posting it online somewhere. If you keep writing (and I hope that you do), you may accumulate a horde of wonderful homebrew content to share.

But if you never consider your homebrew "done", or if you decide to abandon it for any reason, that's okay too. Failure is part of the process. Even in this case, whatever you did was a learning experience. Remember: Be Brave. Be Humble. Be Patient. Hold Nothing Sacred.

Example: Let's Write a Cantrip

Cantrips are a great first step into new homebrew content (thought maybe not the easiest). They touch a lot of important mechanics, there are numerous ways to adjust them for balance, and since they generally only do one thing it's easy to keep them small and avoid "scope creep".

Concept

I'd like a sort of melee attack cantrip for the cleric. Sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards got Green-Flame Blade and Booming Blade, but low-level clerics built for melee have always felt underwhelming to me, and as they gain levels spellcasting outshines weapon attacks even if your Divine Domain grants a version of Divine Strike. The addition of the Word of Radiance cantrip in Xanathar's Guide to Everything further disincentivizes cleric to use weapons because if you hit two or more targets with Word of Radiance it's going to outdo the damage from weapon attacks, and the gap grows exponentially as yur cantrip damage increases.

So: I want clerics to have an answer to Green-Flame Blade and Booming Blade. It needs to feel divine, and it should be good enough that weapons make sense even though Word of Radiance exist and Toll the Dead exist, and ideally it would be good if multiclassing or taking Magic Initiate to get Booming Blade or Shillelagh weren't so tempting.

Research

As I said before: writing begins with reading. So we'll look at what already exists to get a sense of how we can differentiate our new cantrip, how effective our new option should be to keep it in line with existing options, and what "knobs" we can turn to adjust and balance our new catrip.

Since we're trying to provide an equivalent Green-Flame Blade and Booming Blade, using the two for comparison makes sense. Both cantrips are cast as an Action, require a melee weapon attack to deliver the spell, and have additional effects if that attack hits. Both spells add additional damage, but to get all of the damage some specific condition needs to be met: a secondary target for Green-Flame Blade, or movement for Booming Blade. All of those data points are important.

There are several other spells which are less obviously important, but we can still draw inspiration from them. Shillelagh allows spellcasters to use their spellcasting ability modifier in place of Strength to fight with clubs and quarterstaffs. Primal Savagery and Shocking Grasp allow melee spell attacks that deal damage but not much else.

We can learn a lot from the other cantrips noted above. A lot of it is useful for creating an interesting spell, but there are also important design considerations.

  • Casting Time: Nearly all cantrips are cast as an Action. Shillelagh is a weird exception because the caster is expected to activate it as a Bonus Action, then Attack in the same turn. We should expect to cast our cantrip as an Action, but that's not set in stone.
  • Components: If we expect the caster to cast our cantrip and attack with it, we need to consider appopriate components. Somatic components typically can't be done with a hand holding a weapon, so we don't want somatic components. Green-Flame Blade and Booming Blade both require Verbal and Material components, and copying that makes sense.
  • Concentration: Most cantrips don't require Concentration, especially those used as the spellcaster's equivalent to the Attack action. However, there are a few like Guidance and Shillelagh which do require Concentration so there's a precent.
  • Damage: If our cantrip adds damage, there needs to be a secondary condition to apply that damage. Without that requirement, our cantrip would outshine regular weapon attacks at low levels which would be a balance problem.
  • Range: Green-Flame Blade and Booming Blade are both limited to melee weapon attacks. But they're also intended to fill a niche by allowing spellcasters to use weapons effectively in melee without the benefits of things like Extra Attack. We're targeting a different audience, so it's possible that our needs are different.

Beyond just spells, there are other factors which we should consider. Divine Strike appears on Divine Domains that are expected to use weapons, and adds some scaling damage as you gain levels. It's not going to keep up with martial classes, but I think that's intentional. The problem is that it also doesn't keep up with spells! Basically, the only reason to even hold a weapon is for Opportunity Attacks, and Divine Strike doesnt apply to those (it only works once on your own turn).

While not all research is going to involve math, a lot of mine does because that's just how my brain works. So let's do some quick math. We'll start with the assumption that hitting with an attack and enemies failing a save against a cantrip are equally likely so we don't need to worry about that math. We'll then take the damage of a cleric with Strength starting at 16 and advancing to 20 as quickly as possible and picking up Divine Strike from their Divine Domain and compare that to options which might replace an attack, namely Sacred Flame, Toll the Dead, and Word of Radiance since those are the cleric's go-to options. We'll look at multiple weapons to get a good sense of the math.

Sample Cleric Damage Options: Weapons and Divine Strike vs. Cleric Cantrips
Mace Longsword Greatsword Sacred Flame Toll the Dead Word of Radiance
Level Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg. Dam. Avg.
1 1d6+3 6.5 1d8+3 7.5 2d6+3 10 1d8 4.5 1d12 6.5 1d6 each 3.5 each
4 1d6+4 7.5 1d8+4 8.5 2d6+4 11 1d8 4.5 1d12 6.5 1d6 each 3.5 each
5 1d6+4 7.5 1d8+4 8.5 2d6+4 11 2d8 9 2d12 13 2d6 each 7 each
8 1d6+5+1d8 13 1d8+5+1d8 14 2d6+5+1d8 16.5 2d8 9 2d12 13 2d6 each 7 each
11 1d6+5+1d8 13 1d8+5+1d8 14 2d6+5+1d8 16.5 3d8 13.5 3d12 19.5 3d6 each 10.5 each
14 1d6+5+2d8 17.5 1d8+5+2d8 18.5 2d6+5+2d8 21 3d8 13.5 3d12 19.5 3d6 each 10.5 each
17 1d6+5+2d8 17.5 1d8+5+2d8 18.5 2d6+5+2d8 21 4d8 18 4d12 26 4d6 each 14 each

See? This is why I like to do math in these articles. If you stared at that table as long as I did, there are some really good insights to be found. I'll save you the trouble and spell them out:

  • Using a one-handed weapon is roughly equivalent to Sacred Flame, and there are small bands of levels where weapons actually do more damage on average. You do give up the advantage of range, and it requires investing in Strength before Wisdom so your other spellcasting will also suffer.
  • Using a two-handed weapon does the most single-target damage until cantrip damage increases at 11th level, at which point Toll the Dead pulls ahead and stays there. These are both interesting options because they involve accepting some risk for the hope of higher damage output: two-handed weapons mean no shield, and Toll the Dead requires a Constitution save, and Constitution saves tend to be high.
  • Word of Radiance against 2 targets is the best damage output starting at level 11 when cantrip damage increases. Against 3 targets, it's at least equal to every other option except at level 4 where a greatsword very briefly does one more point of damage.

Drawing on insights gained from those data points, it looks like the character options in the Player's Handbook did a good job of balancing cantrips against cleric weapon damage, provided that the balance goal was for those options to do similar damage on the player's turn.

However, characters that get Divine Strike still get the same damage progression from their cantrips, and you need to give up having a free hand to hold a weapon. So you're giving up a precious resource (the ability to perform Somatic components, among other things) for the ability to do almost exactly the same amount of damage. You don't even get to use Divine Strike for Opportunity Attacks.

This leaves room for our new cantrip. Adding the cantrips comes with an opportunity cost (one of your cantrips known) and using it still takes an action of some sort, and in exchange the character gets damage or something. However, that opportunity cost is less than the opportunity cost to get Booming Blade via a feat or multiclassing, so the effect of our cantrip should be smaller to reflect the difference in opportunity cost.

Implementation

We want to have an equivalent to Green-Flame Blade and Booming Blade, so we'll use them as a starting point. Green-Flame blade's additional damage is partially based on the character's spellcasting ability modifier, which I like a lot. It's a great option for a class that's splitting their ability scores between Strength or Dexterity for weapon attacks and Wisdom for spells because the choice between increasing either ability score still meaningfully improves the effect of our cantrip.

That gives us the damage output and the scaling, and we can use the cantrip as an Action. We can change the damage type to radiant, rename it something apporpriate, and we're most of the way to our initial version.

The thing that keeps Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade from outshining martial characters is that there's a specific condition that must be met to apply the extra damage. But what condition do we use? We don't want to just copy the existing cantrips because that would make our cantrip less unique.

We could make the secondary damage only apply to certain creature types like fiends and undead, but that provides very little incentive to select the cantrip in most campaigns. We could use alignment, but 5e tries really hard to avoid using alignment mechanically and I think that's a good choice which we should respect. We could make the secondary damage apply if the target harmed you or an ally in the previous turn, but beyond the first turn of combat it'll be nearly guaranteed. We could make the secondary damage apply if the target attacks you or another creature, which is interesting and would support martial clerics acting as a front-line martial character despite their opportunity attacks being relatively weak compored to many barbarians, fighters, and paladins. In fact, I think that's the way we'll go: the secondary damage applies if the target attacks a creature other than you.

Now that we have our initial design, we need to account for the differing opportunity cost between Booming Blade/Green-Flame Blade and our new cantrip. I think we can best handle that by dropping the size of the damage dice. Booming Blade/Green-Flame Blade use d8's, but they're also intended to close the gap between a single attack and Extra Attack. We don't need to close a big damage gap; we just need to put the Cleric's weapon attacks slightly ahead of Sacred Flame. That doesn't require a big damage die, so we'll start at d4's. That might feel underwhelming, but the math shows that that's plenty, especially since those damage dice might be applied twice, like when the target triggers the extra damage from Booming Blade.

Now we need to name this thing. There are few truly "wrong" answers in naming something, but it's still really hard sometimes. Our cantrip protects our allies from our enemies by punishing our enemies. "Retribution" sounds cool and it fits our divine theme, but it's not quite right since we're not using our cantrip as a response to something. How about "Retributive Strike"? That sounds right.

That gives us "Version 1" of our cantrip:

Retributive Strike
Level Casting Time Range/Area Components
Cantrip 1 Action 5 ft V, M *
Duration School Attack/Save Damage/Effect
1 Round Evocation Melee Radiant (...)

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within the spell’s range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack’s normal effects, and motes of divine energy appear and float around it until the start of your next turn. If the target makes an attack roll, casts a spell that requires a saving throw, or uses an ability which requires a saving throw and the attack or effect targets a creature but does not target you, the target of your Retributive Strike takes Radiant damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier (if positive).

This spell’s damage increases when you reach higher levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d4 radiant damage to the target, and the damage the target takes for moving increases to 2d4. Both damage rolls increase by 1d4 at 11th level and 17th level.

* - (a weapon)

Nice. I'd take that cantrip on a front-line cleric, but it's not so powerful that it'll make me use it instead of Word of Radiance if I'm being swarmed.

Iteration

Now that we have an initial version, it's time to improve it. What we wrote above may well be the single greatest piece of spell design every conducted in all of human history. But that's unlikely. As I said above: "Be Humble".

So now we look for ways to improve. Let's say I'm between games, so we'll do some "virtual playtesting", and we'll try to build some characters who might abuse this. Then, we'll get in touch with some people and ask for their opinions.

I like to think that I'm pretty okay at character optimization, so I think we can come up with some abuse cases. The obvious build is a single-class cleric with a domain that provides Divine Strike. That's exactly our target audience, so we'll consider that the baseline of effectiveness we expect, and we should watch for any other builds which dramatically exceed that level of effectiveness.

The most obvious option is the Paladin. Clerics already offer a lot of tempting goodies for paladins (mostly spellcasting), so a Paladin/Cleric or a paladin with the Magic Initiatie feat might look at Restributive Strike. But it doesn't add much, if we're being honest. Paladins already get the Fighting Style (Protection) and the spell Compelled Duel, so they already have ways to handle the non-damage parts of Retributive Strike. Retributive Strike also won't match the Paladin's normal damage progression as they add Divine Smite, Extra Attack, and eventually Improved Divine Smite. So this would be neat on a paladin, but unremarkable. And they could get Booming Blade at the same opportunity cost.

Other likely users are martial casters like the Artificer, the Eldritch Knight Fighter, the Arcane Trickster Rogue, and some sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards. But every single one of them except the Artificer gets both Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade already, so there's no incentive to take Retributive Strike except that it deals radiant damage. That's a poor reason since Thunder damage from Booming Blade is comparably reliable and the damage dice are much bigger.

Since we started with balance in mind and considered issues like other spells, opportunity costs, and what niche our spell would fill, we semi-accidently wrote something that appears to be reasonably balanced and difficult to abuse beyond what could already be done with options which would be more effective in the same usage patterns.

Our next step is to solicit feedback. So I went and bothed RPGBOT contributing author Random Powell and sent him our version 1.0 from above and asked for his unbiased opinion.

RPGBOT: Hey, I need an unbiased opinion: Tell me what you think

about this as a cleric cantrip.

Random: Basically you want booming blade taunt.

RPGBOT: Kinda yeah...

Random: Booming blade though is only a taunt against something with no ranged, aoe, or teleportation... Every other taunt mechanic has resource cost. Booming blade just holds somebody still... Imagine as a paladin. You'd be doing it wrong if you didn't dip or spend a feat for this. Like actually doing it wrong.

(The elipses are where I cut text for brevity or because we remembered things incorrectly that would make the exchange confusing to read. At one point my phone auto-corrected words to "Thundercats, Thundercats, Shatter".)

There's a ton that we can learn from that exchange. First: how important peer feedback is. Random was absolutely right here, both about what I was trying to do, and where I made mistakes. We discussed above how I thought paladins would consider our version of Retributive Strike, but would still prefer Booming Blade and Random disagreed with me because I was objectively wrong. And that's totally okay. We didn't get it right on the first try, and we overlooked some things in the design. Remember: Be Humble.

Now we make changes. Our "taunt" mechanic is too powerful. There's no way around that fact (and no way around our taunt mechanic). So it's back to the drawing board.

I'm not dead set on a taunt mechanic; we just need a way to block off the extra damage unless some specific condition is met. We don't want to limit the target's actions like Booming Blade, and we don't want to target secondary creatures like Green-Flame Blade. We're intending for this to be used by clerics who are doubling as front-line Defenders, so how about some kind of support effect? Let's try applying the secondary damage when another creature hits our target with an attack before the end of our next turn. That allows us to trigger it ourselves if no one else does it, but that means locking us into attacks (rather than other spells) for another turn if we choose to do so. We'll need a new name: how about Guiding Strike? Mark of something? We'll go with Guiding Strike for now.

Alternatively, we could drop the secondary damage and do something like granting temporary hit points for one round. But that's a different cantrip for a different round of homebrewing.

I'd also like to sneak in one additional effect of the spell: our target audience already gets Divine Strike, which grants damage of some specific type. I'd like to emphasize that ability, so maybe we make Guiding Strike deal damage of the same type. But for some domains, the damage type is considerably worse than Radiant (poison and fire are common resistances and immunities). We don't want that to accidently weaken the spell, so we'l make that an option but we won't lock the user into it.

This gives us Version 2:

Guiding Strike
Level Casting Time Range/Area Components
Cantrip 1 Action 5 ft V, M *
Duration School Attack/Save Damage/Effect
1 Round Evocation Melee Radiant (...)

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within the spell’s range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack’s normal effects, and motes of divine energy appear and float around it until the end of your next turn. If the target of your attack is hit by another attack during the spells duration, the target takes damage equal to your Wisdom modifier. If the attack which triggers this additional damage is a critical hit, the additional damage from Guiding Strike is not multiplied.

If you have the Divine Strike class feature, whenever you cast Guiding Strike you may choose to have Guiding Strike deal the same type of damage as the additional damage granted by Strike rather than radiant damage.

This spell’s damage increases when you reach higher levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d4 radiant damage to the target, and the damage the target takes for moving increases to 1d4 plus your spellcasting modifier. Both damage rolls increase by 1d4 at 11th level and 17th level.

* - (a weapon)

I'm actually much happier with this version than Version 1. Adding a support mechanic feels like a great cleric option, but the caster doesn't give up any of their own resources to make their allies more effective. Adding the ability to switch damage types might be a problem, but as I said previously: most damage types will be less effective than radiant damage.

Now we go back for more peer review. This time I decided to throw myself to the metaphorical wolves by posting v2 on Twitter. Normally Twitter is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, but the people who follow me tend to be really kind, friendly sorts, and they offered some useful feedback and questions.

Right now it looks crazy overpowered to me, and could be exploited by a monk with magic initiate. High wis and multiple attacks with flurry of blows.

That reminded me that I put "Wisdom modifier" into the text, when I meant "spellcasting modifier". I had to clarify that the spell took and Action to cast, allowed only one attack, and wasn't compatible with Martial Arts or Flurry of Blows due to the action economy limitations. I've had similar conversations about Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade in the past, which should say something about how confusing those spells can be.

I would definitely cast this before the paladin's turn of smiting multi-attacks.

The duration of the "mark" effect is 1 round, but the main attack needs to be made the same turn as you cast the spell. I explained this on twitter and did it badly enough that I had to correct myself.

Did you intend for it to be applied on multiple attacks?

Now there's something else that I missed. As written, the effect will apply bonus damage until the duration expires. If you have a bunch of allies, you're going to turn the target to dust in a hurry. I'll need to correct the wording to fix that.

Between all of that feedback, there are some serious errors to correct to get our text to line up with our intent.

This gives us Version 3:

Guiding Strike
Level Casting Time Range/Area Components
Cantrip 1 Action 5 ft V, M *
Duration School Attack/Save Damage/Effect
1 Round Evocation Melee Radiant (...)

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within the spell’s range, otherwise the spell fails. On a hit, the target suffers the attack’s normal effects, and motes of divine energy appear and float around it until the end of your next turn.

If the target of your attack is hit by another attack during the spells duration, the target takes damage equal to your Spellcasting Ability Modifier, and the spell's effect ends immediately. If the attack which triggers this additional damage is a critical hit, the additional damage from Guiding Strike is not multiplied.

If you have the Divine Strike class feature, whenever you cast Guiding Strike you may choose to have Guiding Strike deal the same type of damage as the additional damage granted by Strike rather than radiant damage.

This spell’s damage increases when you reach higher levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d4 radiant damage to the target, and the damage the target takes for moving increases to 1d4 plus your spellcasting modifier. Both damage rolls increase by 1d4 at 11th level and 17th level.

* - (a weapon)

At this point, I think we're ready for playtesting. That might take me some time to get through, but I'll be sure to update this article if I can talk one of my players into taking this spell for a test drive.

Finalization

We've done a lot of work at this point. To be honest, I went through this whole process as I was writing this article and I didn't think it would go this well.

I expected our concept to be too much a problem to actually work, and I didn't think that my initial concept of "Green-Flame Blade for clerics" was going to result in something that I'd actually be excited to see at the table. I was expecting this to fail so could provide a good example of my advice to "Hold Nothing Sacred".

But sometimes things work out. Be Brave.