An exclusive feature of the Paladin class, Wrathful Smite brings extra damage and an extra feature causing a fear effect to overtake the target.
Normally a Paladin uses a spell slot to unleash the Smite ability. There are, however, a few versions of Smite that are spells themselves. Each variation is cast as a bonus action and exchanges damage for an added effect. They last for the duration with concentration or until the next hit, whichever comes first. Wrathful Smite is no different.
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.
Wrathful Smite exchanges the normal 2d8 radiant damage of Smite for 1d6 damage and the potential to cause fear on the target resulting in the frightened condition. The frightened condition has the following properties:
- 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
Wrathful Smite Optimized
The spell is cast as a bonus action prior to making the attack roll. This doubles the damage dealt on a critical hit. It is also possible to use Divine Smite by spending a spell slot. 2d8 damage is added on a regular hit or double on a critical. If the Paladin has Great Weapon Fighting Style, they may also reroll all 1s and 2s on all of the damage dice. This combination allows for some massive damage on critical hits.
Other Smite Options
In addition to Wrathful Smite, there are other spells that are cast as a bonus action. Each provides a unique effect with added damage and could be a substitute for Wrathful Smite in the optimization above.
- 1st Level Searing Smite: Adds 1d6 fire damage and ignites target for additional damage.
- 1st Level Thunderous Smite: Adds 2d6 thunder damage and can push target away.
- 2nd Level Branding Smite: Adds 2d6 radiant damage and causes target to shed light, makes target visible.
- 3rd Level Blinding Smite: Adds 3d8 damage and blinds the target.
- 4th Level Staggering Smite: Adds 4d6 psychic damage and the target has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks, also loses reactions.
- 5th Level Banishing Smite: Adds 5d10 force damage and banishes the target if it drops under 50 hit points form the attack.
All of these variations are cast as bonus actions and require concentration until used or for the duration. They each feature a saving throw for the additional effect that can be repeated each turn.
Wrathful Smite is part of the unique Paladin spell set that makes the class so much fun to play. The Paladin has limited spell slots so picking the right time to unleash these features often results in massive damage. The variations of the Smite spells provide usefulness as the character levels. They provide some additional flavor depending on which version the character uses often.