Paladins in Dungeons & Dragons are the ultimate divine warriors. They swear a holy oath to their deity to uphold the forces of good and banish evil. To do this, they are granted several powerful bonuses, but none is more iconic – or more devastating – than Divine Smite.
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Starting at Level 2, whenever you successfully hit with a melee weapon, you may choose to expend a single spell slot. Doing so will deal additional radiant damage to the attack. The amount of damage for a 1st-level spell slot is 2d8 (average 8 points). Using Divine Smite with a higher-level spell slot increased the damage by 1d8 per level to a maximum of 5d8 (average 20 points). If the target is a fiend or undead, the damage is increased by another 1d8 to a maximum of 6d8 (average 24 points).
How To Use Divine Smite 5e
Once a Paladin reaches level 2, they have access to spellcasting. At this level, they also unlock two 1st-level spell slots. These are key to using Divine Smite. A Paladin’s spellcasting utilizes their Charisma score, but luckily for you, Divine Smite doesn’t involve any kind of saving throws or DCs. The enemy simply takes the additional damage.
You can choose to use Divine Smite after you make your attack roll which is nice because you never feel like you’ve wasted your smite. Many Paladins prefer to hang onto their Divine Smites until they roll critical hits so that they can get the most out of the extra radiant damage.
As a Paladin, players have the option to super-charge any melee weapon attack they make against a creature. After making a successful attack, a Paladin may choose to use one of their spell slots to channel the divine rage of their deity. By doing so, they imbue their weapon with radiant energy to deal a massive amount of extra damage. For a level 2 Paladin, this is 2d8. At 5th level, Paladins gain access to 2nd-level slots and may use these to power Divine Smite to deal an additional 1d8 damage for a total of 3d8.
By 11th level, all of a Paladin’s melee weapon attacks automatically do extra radiant damage from Improved Divine Smite, even if you don’t spend a spell slot. That’s an extra 1d8 of radiant damage just for swinging your weapon around. This also stacks with your normal Divine Smite, meaning that if you expend a 5th-level spell slot, you can do a total of 6d8 extra damage. If your target is a fiend or undead, that increases to 7d8 (average 28 points) damage.
As a level 2 Paladin, players only have access to two 1st-level spell slots a day. That means that you can only use Divine Smite twice. It is not technically a spell, but it does require the player to consume spell slots. This means that if a player chooses to use Divine Smite too often, they can find themselves unable to cast spells. Especially early in the game, when the Paladin may be a party’s only healer, this can be a serious risk.
To help balance that out and let Paladins use their Divine Smite, the creators also gave them the feature Lay On Hands. For every Paladin level, players gain 5 hit points that they can use to heal another creature. That means that a level 2 Paladin has 10 hit points. You don’t have to use them all at once; you can give out a few hit points to multiple creatures or all of them to one. You can also choose to spend 5 hit points to cure a target of poison or disease.
Other Smite Spells
Despite Divine Smite being the iconic Paladin feature, there are plenty of smite spells that can augment a Paladin’s weapon attacks. Keep in mind that these spells can stack with your Divine Smite, letting you potentially do a ruinous amount of damage in a single blow. The downside of smite spells is that you must cast one as your bonus action before you make your attack. That means you have to use the spell slot and still might not hit your enemy. Luckily, they’re concentration spells, so you’ll have another chance on your next turn without expending another spell slot, but it can still feel like a waste.
The text from the Player’s Handbook reads: The first time you hit with a melee weapon attack during this spell’s duration, your weapon rings with thunder that is audible within 300 feet of you, and the attack deals an extra 2d6 thunder damage to the target. Additionally, if the target is a creature, it must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be pushed 10 feet away from you and knocked prone.
This 1st-level spell deals an extra 2d6 thunder damage when your weapon emits a loud ringing noise. We certainly don’t recommend this one if you’re trying to be stealthy, but if your target is a creature, they have to make a Strength saving throw. If they fail, they’re either knocked prone or pushed 10 feet away from you; your choice. This is a fantastic way to shove an enemy into a dangerous area effect or off a cliff. Otherwise, you can knock them prone and give everyone making melee attacks against them advantage.
The text from the Player’s Handbook reads: The next time you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack during this spell’s duration, your weapon pierces both body and mind, and the attack deals an extra 4d6 psychic damage to the target. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks and can’t take reactions until the end of its next turn.
As a 4th-level spell, this smite does a bit more damage at 4d6 psychic damage. That might not be impressive on its own, but the spell also forces the target to make a Wisdom saving throw. If they fail, they have disadvantage on all attack rolls and ability checks and can’t take reactions until the end of their next turn. That’s key if you or someone else needs to get out of melee without wanting to risk provoking attacks of opportunity.
Of course, giving your foe disadvantage on attack rolls is always beneficial during combat because you become that much more likely not to get hit. With a Paladin’s notoriously high armor class and d10 hit dice, that’s not too much of a worry for you, but characters who aren’t as well fortified, like Rogues, Monks, and Barbarians, will certainly appreciate it. Barbarians can feel free to use their Reckless Attack feature, and foes will only be able to roll straight attacks (no advantage or disadvantage) in response.
The text from the Player’s Handbook reads: 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.
This is a 1st-level spell, so you’re only looking at an additional 1d6 psychic damage on a hit, but psychic damage is rarely resisted unless you’re fighting aberrations or spending a lot of time in the Underdark. Plus, with your Divine Smite, you won’t have to worry about damage. The best part of this spell is the rider effect: the target must make a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened of you until the spell ends.
The frightened condition is surprisingly useful, especially if you’re fighting in a wide open space. As a melee fighter, you probably won’t care much about the part where they can’t willingly move any closer to you, but as long as they can see you, they have disadvantage on all ability checks and attack rolls. Unfortunately, this doesn’t give them disadvantage on future saving throws to end the frightened condition, but it’s plenty powerful on its own.
It’s a concentration spell that can last for up to a minute, but there are two main reasons why it likely won’t: as a Paladin, you’re a frontline fighter and are probably taking damage and rolling Constitution saving throws constantly and your target can use an action to make another Wisdom saving throw to try and end the frightened condition. Even if they succeed, you still managed to make them waste their action doing so, which is likely a good trade-off, no matter what level you’re at.
The text from the Basic Rules reads: The next time you hit a creature with a weapon attack before this spell ends, the weapon gleams with astral radiance as you strike. The attack deals an extra 2d6 radiant damage to the target, which becomes visible if it is invisible, and the target sheds dim light in a 5-foot radius and can’t become invisible until the spell ends.
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the extra damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 2nd. You can combine this with Divine Smite for some serious damage.
At level 2, you might be expecting a little more than 2d6 radiant damage, but the rider effect is where this spell shines. You negate existing invisibility and ensure that the target can’t become invisible again as long as you maintain concentration on the spell. Considering how great invisibility is, that’s pretty powerful.
When someone is invisible, they have advantage on all of their attack rolls, and everyone else has disadvantage on attack rolls against them. The invisibility spell ends when the creature makes an attack roll or casts a spell, but plenty of creatures in D&D have innate invisibility traits that don’t work the same way and can allow the creature to remain invisible while attacking (like the 4th-level spell greater invisibility). Branding smite makes sure that they remain visible for the entirety of the spell.
The text from the Player’s Handbook reads: The next time you hit a creature with a weapon attack before this spell ends, your weapon crackles with force, and the attack deals an extra 5d10 force damage to the target.
Additionally, if this attack reduces the target to 50 hit points or fewer, you banish it. If the target is native to a different plane of existence than the one you’re on, the target disappears, returning to its home plane. If the target is native to the plane you’re on; the creature vanishes into a harmless demiplane. While there, the target is incapacitated. It remains there until the spell ends, at which point the target reappears in the space it left or in the nearest unoccupied space if that space is occupied.
So, to begin with, this spell deals an additional 5d10 force damage (average of 25 points) to your target. That’s a great start, but since this is a 5th-level spell, you just know there’s more coming. And banishing smite absolutely does not disappoint. There’s no saving throw, but if your target has 50 hit points or fewer, they are automatically banished to their native plane of existence.
You read that right: automatically banished. Don’t worry if your enemy is from your plane of existence, though, because the spell still shunts them to a harmless demiplane. Regardless of where your foe was sent, they are incapacitated as long as they remain there. Unlike the spell banishment, there is no possibility of permanently containing them because they’ll come back once the spell ends (1 minute), but that should give you and your allies plenty of time to prepare a round of attacks.
If the target is already at 50 hit points or fewer, you should be able to take them out with your prepared round (assuming you aren’t fighting other baddies at the same time).
The text from the Player’s Handbook reads: The next time you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack during this spell’s duration, your weapon flares with a bright light, and the attack deals an extra 3d8 radiant damage to the target. Additionally, the target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the spell ends. A creature blinded by this spell makes another Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns. On a successful save, it is no longer blinded.
The only 3rd-level smite spell, blinding smite, does exactly what it says in the name. You get an additional 3d8 radiant damage (average of 12 points), and the target is forced to make a Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the spell ends. Sadly, many enemies have notoriously high Constitution modifiers and are likely to make the saving throw.
Even if they fail initially, the target can make a new Constitution saving throw at the end of each of their turns to try and end the blindness again. Most Paladins concentrate on their Strength score, not their Charisma score, so unless you have some powerful magical items, your spell save DC is unlikely to be high enough to reliably win in Constitution saves.
The text from the Player’s Handbook reads: The next time you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack during the spell’s duration, your weapon flares with white-hot intensity, and the attack deals an extra 1d6 fire damage to the target and causes the target to ignite in flames. At the start of each of its turns, until the spell ends, the target must make a Constitution saving throw.
On a failed save, it takes 1d6 fire damage. On a successful save, the spell ends. If the target or a creature within 5 feet of it uses an action to put out the flames, or if some other effect douses the flames (such as the target being submerged in water), the spell ends. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the initial extra damage dealt by the attack increases by 1d6 for each slot.
Searing smite’s real draw is the ongoing effect of consuming your enemy in flames and dealing more damage in future rounds. The problem is that the majority of enemies have high Constitution saving throws and are likely to either succeed and end the spell’s effects or find a source of water to douse the flames themselves.
Unlike other spell effects, the flames generated in searing smite are not magical. Even normal water is enough to put someone out. Considering how common having a waterskin is in Dungeons & Dragons, it seems unlikely that a foe wouldn’t be able to extinguish the flames before they take much damage.