Beefing Up Cure X Wounds Spells

June 2013

Written by Bryan Fazekas

This article was originally published in & Magazine Issue 4 in February 2013.

As presented here the article is slightly modified from the published format. The optional minimum healing rules have been extracted from the individual spells and moved to the end of the artcle as a concise section.


A couple of years ago I initiated an online discussion regarding beefing up AD&D clerical Cure X Wounds spells. Magic user spells grow significantly with level, yet a 20th level cleric can still produce a 1 hp Cure Light Wounds (CLW). It didn't seem right but I was lost in my search for a way to beef things up without over doing it.

People responded with a number of interesting ideas, some of which were far more complicated than I had any interest in figuring out during a game. Others produced ideas like adding the cleric's level to the cured hit points value, e.g., a CLW cast by a 5th level cleric would heal 1d8+5 hp of damage. Or adding half the cleric' level to the amount healed. This sounded close but wasn't quite what I wanted.

Another problem was the way the Cure Light, Serious, and Critical Wounds spells were not an even progression. I have yet to understand the progression, other than maybe evening out the cleric spell lists?

The solution to my quandary came from Frank Mentzer, author of the D&D Basic/Expert/Companion/ Masters/Immortals (BECMI) sets. He posted what he would have done had he written AD&D 2E, which was to make five Cure X Wounds spells for spell levels 1 to 5. Each level heals 1d8 hp times the level of the spell, e.g., the Level 3 spell cures 3d8 hp of damage. This evens out the progression and better addresses the needs of higher level adventuring.

In my campaign I replaced the original Cure Light, Serious, and Critical Wounds spells with the following spells. I use the same system for druids as well.

Disclaimer: Frank Mentzer is the real author of these spells. I was simply the scribe, recording his ideas.

Frank further postulated a system for improving results as the cleric's level increases. Instead of boosting the maximum hp healed, Frank's system raises the minimum healed. I have included this as an optional rule in the following five spells.

Cure Light Wounds

Level:Cleric 1
Type:Necromancy
Reversible:Yes
Range:touch
Duration:Instantaneous (Permanent)
Area of effect:Creature Touched
Components:V, S
Casting Time:5 segments
Saving Throw:None

Cure Light Wounds allows the cleric to lay hands upon a wounded creature, healing up to 1d8 hit points of damage to the spell's beneficiary. This spell does not heal disease, reattach limbs, or bring back the dead, nor can it add hit points beyond a character's normal maximum number. Non-corporeal creatures are not affected by this spell, nor are undead, or creatures harmed only by iron, silver, or magical weapons.

The reverse of the spell operates in the same manner (although requiring a to hit roll), inflicting 1d8 hit points of damage. If the cleric fails to hit while casting Cause Light Wounds the spell is lost.

Cure Moderate Wounds

Level:Cleric 2
Type:Necromancy
Reversible:Yes
Range:touch
Duration:Instantaneous (Permanent)
Area of effect:Creature Touched
Components:V, S
Casting Time:6 segments
Saving Throw:None

A benison similar to Cure Light Wounds, this spell permits the cleric to lay on hands for 2d8+1 hit points of healing. The spell's limits are otherwise similar to those of Cure Light Wounds. The reverse of the spell (Cause Moderate Wounds) inflicts damage rather than healing, requiring that the cleric successfully touch the target.

Cure Serious Wounds

Level:Cleric 3
Type:Necromancy
Reversible:Yes
Range:touch
Duration:Instantaneous (Permanent)
Area of effect:Creature Touched
Components:V, S
Casting Time:7 segments
Saving Throw:None

A benison similar to Cure Light Wounds, this spell permits the cleric to lay on hands for 3d8+2 hit points of healing. The spell's limits are otherwise similar to those of Cure Light Wounds. The reverse of the spell (Cause Serious Wounds) inflicts damage rather than healing, requiring that the cleric successfully touch the target.

Cure Grievous Wounds

Level:Cleric 4
Type:Necromancy
Reversible:Yes
Range:touch
Duration:Instantaneous (Permanent)
Area of effect:Creature Touched
Components:V, S
Casting Time:8 segments
Saving Throw:None

A benison similar to Cure Light Wounds, this spell permits the cleric to lay on hands for 4d8+3 hit points of healing. The spell's limits are otherwise similar to those of Cure Light Wounds. The reverse of the spell (Cause Grievous Wounds) inflicts damage rather than healing, requiring that the cleric successfully touch the target.

Cure Critical Wounds

Level:Cleric 5
Type:Necromancy
Reversible:Yes
Range:touch
Duration:Instantaneous (Permanent)
Area of effect:Creature Touched
Components:V, S
Casting Time:9 segments
Saving Throw:None

A benison similar to Cure Light Wounds, this spell permits the cleric to lay on hands for 5d8+4 hit points of healing. The spell's limits are otherwise similar to those of Cure Light Wounds. The reverse of the spell (Cause Critical Wounds) inflicts damage rather than healing, requiring that the cleric successfully touch the target.

Optional: Minimum Damaged Healed

Frank Mentzer suggested an optional rule in which the the level of the cleric casting the spell may affect the minimum hit points healed by this spell. The roll used to determine the number of points of damage healed changes every two levels, increasing the minimum value while not altering the maximum value. Regardless of caster level none of the Cure Wounds spells heals a maximum greater than that listed in the spell description.

At first level the cleric's healing is rolled as per the spell. In the case of Cure Light Wounds, 1d8 is rolled. At third level the minimum healing is increased from 1 point to 3 points. To address this, instead of rolling d8, roll a d6 and add 2. For example, Cure Light Wounds cast by a 3rd level cleric heals 1d6+2 hit points of damage, and a Cure Moderate Wounds heals 2d6+5.

This progression continues every two levels, so at fifth level the cleric rolls 1d4+4 for Cure Light Wounds, at 7th the roll is 1d2+6, and at 9th level and above the spell always heals 8 hit points of damage. The following table summarizes this rule by level and spell:

LevelCLWCMWCSWCGWCCW
11d8----
31d6 + 22d6 + 5---
51d4 + 42d4 + 93d4 + 14--
71d2 + 62d2 + 133d2 + 204d2 + 27-
9+817263544

Note: This optional rule applies only to curing of wounds. Caused wounds are rolled normally, e.g., Cause Light Wounds inflicts 1d8 hit points of damage and Cause Critical Wounds inflicts 5d8+4 hit points of damage


Sidebar: What Does That Spell Cost?

Pages 103 and 104 of the Dungeon Masters Guide contains a section on hiring NPC clerics to cast spells. There is a table listing suggested costs. The following table extends the figures for Cure spells to cover all spells listed in this article.

Note that the cost of NPCs casting spells may vary by locale, NPC alignment, difference between the PC and NPC alignment, and/or DM fiat.

SpellCost (GP)
Cure Light Wounds100
Cure Moderate Wounds225
Cure Serious Wounds350
Cure Grievous Wounds475
Cure Critical Wounds600

Sidebar: This bonus cleric spell is the antithesis of the Cure Wounds spells!

Righteous Rage

by Andrew Hamilton

Level:Cleric 5
Type:Enchantment/Charm
Range:touch
Duration:1 round/level
Area of effect:one person
Components:V, S, M
Casting Time:1 round
Saving Throw:None

A spell often used by clerics who worship gods of war, the Righteous Rage spell is similar in effect to the spell Aid, although with a far greater benefit. The cleric (or other person) under the effects of the spell gains +2 to hit and damage, +2 to all saving throws, and receives a temporary boost of hit points equal to 1d8 + the caster's level, e.g. a 9th level caster receives 1d8+9 temporary hit points.

While under the effects of the Righteous Rage, the cleric is immune to all fear and charm effects, and radiates such am powerful aura that all turning attempts are treated as if the cleric is 1 level higher. The material component is the cleric's holy symbol.


Copyright 2013 Bryan Fazekas, 2013 Andrew Hamilton