For some spells it’s hard to know exactly what it does until you’ve read through the PHB entry a couple of times. For others, you get the gist as soon as you see the name. Aid definitely falls into this second category.
A second-level spell for Clerics and Paladins, it increases up to three creatures’ maximum hitpoints by five (with five more as you burn higher level spellslots) for the next eight hours. Importantly, this extra health just gets added on top of the target’s current health, so it essentially heals them at the same time.
Even if you only look at the healing aspect of the spell, Aid performs pretty well compared to many other first- and second-level abilities. It actually dishes out slightly more health than a second-level Cure Wounds cast by a well-skilled Cleric (15hp vs 14hp with average rolls) and benefits from the fact that you don’t need to be standing right next to whoever you’re healing. On the downside it has to be spread among three targets, so isn’t as good at pulling a single ally out of the fire.
The other archetypal healing spell, Healing Word, has Aid beaten in terms of range (60ft. to 30ft.) and has the distinct advantage of only requiring a bonus action to cast, but will always restore less hitpoints. Considering that one of the biggest uses of Healing Word is to bring fallen comrades back into the fight, Aid’s split-targeting might actually count as an advantage as it lets you get almost the entire party back on their feet – for a few moments at least.
The fact that the extra hitpoints last for eight hours is the real icing on the cake, though. At second level many classes will be struggling to reach more than 20hp, so Aid can effectively give them a 25% boost in survivability for the entire day. It doesn’t scale all that well as players’ hitpoints will grow faster than a Cleric’s ability to cast higher-level spells, but can still be useful in some circumstances.
Aid is a good, mid-tier support spell that is unlikely to deliver any surprises, but offers your Cleric or Paladin the chance to do what many of them do best – back up their allies in a powerful but not-too-showy way.
Casting time: 1 Action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a tiny strip of white cloth)
Duration: 8 hours
Your spell bolsters your allies with toughness and resolve.
Choose up to three creatures within range. Each target’s hit point maximum and current hit points increase by 5 for the duration.
At higher levels
When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, a target’s hit points increase by an additional 5 for each slot level above 2nd.
A great way to combine combat-healing with a day-long buff. Cast it before setting out for the day to add some useful buffer that can help keep low-hitpoint magic users up if something goes wrong, or use it to top up three people in the middle of a fight. Can avert a TPK if you’re really lucky.