Escape the Curse: The Definitive Greater Restoration 5E Guide

greater restoration spell
Table of Contents

The weary adventurer collapses to the cold stone floor, the wicked hag's cackling still echoing through the chamber. Her body hardens and stiffens, skin calcifying into solid stone as the petrification curse rapidly overwhelms her. The cleric rushes to his companion's side, divine energy glowing from his palms. With a gentle touch, the positive radiance flows into the stony rogue, slowly returning soft flesh and supple skin. The cleric smiles as his ally takes a sharp breath, flexing revived limbs. His greater restoration spell has erased the petrifying hex before it became permanent.

Such is the immense restorative power unlocked at higher levels of the bard, cleric, and druid classes in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. Greater restoration acts as a cure-all for many of the most debilitating and sinister conditions that can plague even seasoned adventurers. With a single application, the spell cleanses curses, regenerates abilities, and eliminates banes beyond the reach of basic healing magic.

Yet understanding when and how to leverage greater restoration can be challenging. Many parties will go entire campaigns without encountering some of the dire effects it can relieve. New players may not even realize the spell exists, or understand its potential to swiftly restore an ally or free them from supernatural affliction.

This comprehensive guide will explore everything players and dungeon masters need to know about greater restoration. You'll learn what punishing conditions it eliminates, which classes gain access to it, and how to optimize it in your sessions. With this knowledge in hand, your party will have the tools to escape even the most sinister curses and eliminate exhaustion.

Deciphering Greater Restoration's Restorative Powers

The description of greater restoration in the Player's Handbook outlines its broad restorative abilities:

“You imbue a creature you touch with positive energy to undo a debilitating effect. You can reduce the target’s exhaustion level by one, or end one of the following effects on the target:

  • One effect that charmed or petrified the target
  • One curse, including the target’s attunement to a cursed magic item
  • Any reduction to one of the target’s ability scores
  • One effect reducing the target’s hit point maximum”

Just from this brief overview, we can already see the impressive scope of greater restoration's healing capacity. It provides five potential options for relief, targeting some of the most impactful and sinister conditions in the game. Let's break down each effect the spell can counteract:

Reducing Exhaustion

Exhaustion hampers adventurers through escalating penalties as it accumulates in six increasing levels. Greater restoration can reduce this condition one level, providing a welcome reprieve.

This can be invaluable when exhausted characters risk becoming completely incapacitated. A raging barbarian utilizing Frenzy or warrior suffering from Berserker axe penalties receives a needed buffer from debilitation.

Of course, greater restoration still only reduces exhaustion by one level. Severely depleted characters will require multiple castings or long rests to fully recover. But a single level elimination may get them back in the fight when it matters most.

Curing Petrification

A failed saving throw against the lethal gaze of a basilisk or medusa results in the petrified condition, converting flesh to inert stone. The target is completely paralyzed in this state.

Only greater restoration or similar magic can reverse petrification before it becomes permanent. This makes the spell a vital countermeasure against monsters that wield such powers. A party otherwise lacks recourse when a member succumbs to this stony fate.

Ending Charms

Many fey and enchantment spells can place creatures under obedient charms, sapping their free will. Greater restoration liberates a charmed soul from bondage, restoring liberty of action and mind.

Since charm effects often turn allies against each other, greater restoration provides an efficient salvation. The spell enables charmed individuals to quickly rejoin the fight against their compulsory controller.

Breaking Curses

Greater restoration also neutralizes curses plaguing recipients and cursed objects attuned to them. Short of wish, only divine intervention can accomplish this feat.

This can eliminate curses causing misery and misfortune. But more importantly, it severs attunement between a cursed magic item and its bearer. This allows the party to safely utilize powerful relics with malicious hexes.

Restoring Reduced Ability Scores

Certain undead and creatures can temporarily sap targets’ Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma through nefarious means. Greater restoration wholly restores any diminished ability scores.

For example, an intellect devourer can reduce Intelligence to 0 with its Devour Intellect attack. Greater restoration will rejuvenate this damage so the feebleminded character regains their mental faculties.

Removing Hit Point Reduction

Greater restoration also eliminates any reduction applied to a creature's hit point maximum. Left unchecked, HP reduction can quickly lead to frailty and death.

This aspect of the spell makes it uniquely suited to counter evil undead who achieve grizzly feats like permanently destroying Constitution through HP loss. What would otherwise amount to a death sentence is completely reversed.

Now we've covered all the debilitating effects greater restoration can eliminate with a single 5th level spell slot. While potent, remember that each casting only removes one condition afflicting the target. Parties must carefully evaluate which effect is most crucial to relieve when selecting greater restoration's application.

Classes Capable of Calling Upon Greater Restoration

Only four classes innately gain access to greater restoration as they attain higher levels:

  • Bard – Starting at level 10, bards can add this restorative incantation to their spell list.
  • Cleric – One of the most versatile healing classes, clerics gain greater restoration at level 9.
  • Druid – Like clerics, druids become able to cast greater restoration starting at level 9.
  • Artificer – Artificers must reach level 17 before greater restoration enters their toolbox.

Two additional classes can also leverage greater restoration through special class features:

  • Celestial Warlock – The Celestial lets a warlock expand their spells known from the cleric list, including greater restoration.
  • Paladin – Though no longer a class spell, paladins can take the Spell Sniper feat to learn greater restoration from the druid or bard list.

In most campaigns, druids and clerics serve as the earliest conduits to greater restoration, unlocking it starting at 9th level. Bards follow at 10th level, with artificers trailing at 17th, and Celestial warlocks falling somewhere in between.

These classes all utilize spell preparation, giving them flexibility in preparing greater restoration when it proves useful after encountering debilitating effects that require its restorative strength. Druids and clerics tend to make the best casters given their early access and spell versatility.

Of course, dungeon masters are free to introduce greater restoration however they wish into their campaigns, whether through Non-Player Characters, magic items, or other inventive means if players lack access. But innate class spell lists provide the surest path to harnessing the spell.

Determining When to Unleash Greater Restoration

Greater restoration offers an immediate and potent solution for eliminating some of the worst plights that can befall characters. But because it handles multiple conditions, determining the right time to cast it may not always be obvious.

Here are some cases that call for swift application of greater restoration to protect your party:

  • Friend turned to Stone – Petrification leaves the target entirely paralyzed in a frail stone form. Restore them before they shatter!
  • Cursed Attachment – Free a friend attuned to a cursed relic before its hex twists them into a villain.
  • Abilities Vanished – Restore sapped Strength or Intelligence before the feeble party member becomes a liability.
  • Strength Fading Fast – Eliminate any reduction in hit points before an ally slips into death's grasp.
  • Charmed Companion Turned Enemy – The charmed mind is not their own; restore their free will before they are forced to turn against the party against their will.
  • Exhaustion Mounting – Reduce levels for exhausted allies before they become completely spent.

Greater restoration fills an important niche between lower-level healing spells like lesser restoration and the more potent resurrection magic accessible at higher character levels. Whereas lesser restoration handles minor conditions like poison and blindness, greater restoration tackles far more debilitating effects that can permanently incapacitate or diminish a character when left unchecked.

And unlike true resurrection spells, greater restoration can rapidly restore an ally still standing to full strength rather than just bringing them back from the brink of death. This gives it a unique role in immediately curing malign detriments rather than just pulling characters back from the abyss.

Maximizing Greater Restoration's Restorative Impact

With greater restoration's immense restorative powers unlocked, it pays to optimize leveraging its potential in your sessions:

  • When confronting petrification or abilities draining foes, protect your party by averting gaze or avoiding attacks on vulnerable allies so you can cure them after the fact if needed.
  • If cursed items are involved, greater restoration offers insurance to experiment with relics too risky to attune otherwise.
  • Custom Lineage characters can select the Fey Touched feat to gain access to greater restoration without multiclassing. This provides early access without sacrificing core class progression.
  • Carefully evaluate if greater restoration is needed to cleanse curses or charm effects. Lesser restoration and remove curse may resolve those afflictions, so conserve 5th level slots when lower spells suffice.
  • The Material component cost of 100gp of diamond dust per greater restoration casting is negligible at higher tiers of play. But in early levels, expending such wealth represents a financial sacrifice.
  • Greater restoration combos effectively with healing word to revive and restore an ally in the same turn. Combine it with mass cure wounds after combat to quickly reinvigorate the entire party.
  • When confronting creatures with innately higher charisma, wisdom, and mental saves, focus greater restoration's benefits on improving their weaknesses rather than targeting improbable saves.
  • Greater restoration cannot outright negate some of D&D's most notorious supernatural afflictions. It does not cure lycanthropy, vampirism, feeblemindedness, or insanity. But it still offers critical relief in many cases.
  • Work with your DM to introduce potential quest opportunities for gaining access to greater restoration if your party lacks the spell innately. Seeking the ritual from an ancient tome or remote temple provides engaging plot hooks.
  • Greater restoration permanently eliminates its restored effects, unlike lesser restoration which only temporarily pauses them. In this way, the spell represents a total cure rather than stopgap treatment.
  • Understand that greater restoration requires direct touch, unlike other spells deliverable via familiar or distance. This mandates creative positioning to apply the spell mid-combat.
  • When using greater restoration, describe the otherworldly dissolution of curses and supernatural afflictions in vivid detail to capture the drama of reversing these formidable banes.
  • By preemptively removing cursed relics or items before a short rest, greater restoration's blessing lasts until your next long rest, prolonging its protection.

With its extensive restorative powers, greater restoration can instantly revitalize characters drained by the most punishing D&D monsters. But it must be applied judiciously and strategically to maximize benefit. This guide illuminates effective applications, combos, and optimizations for your parties to gain an advantage against nefarious curses, control, and damage through masterful use of one of D&D 5th edition's most versatile healing spells.


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