Divine Smite 5e
See why Divine Smite 5e is like having your own private godly insurance.
The Mistress of Night watched over our clash with the Aboleth. The field was awash in her dark presence, her looming and laughing. As our hope was being pulled to the shadows, our Paladin made a strange gesture over his heart, and sliced the beast with his Sun Blade. The Aboleth shrieked as if struck with holy fire…and through a crack in the sky, I swear I saw the eye of the Moonmaiden…
What is Divine Smite 5e?
DnD 5e’s Divine Smite is a signature 2nd-level Paladin class ability that automatically inflicts extra radiant damage on top of successful melee weapon attacks. Radiant damage in DnD is associated with benevolent holy forces. The damage is 2d8, plus 1d8 for spell slots above 1, to a maximum 5d8. You also add an extra 1d8 to undead and fiends.
Divine Smite 5e costs a spell slot to use, though it is not a spell.
At the 11th level, Paladins unlock Improved Divine Smite, which adds another 1d8 of radiant damage to all successful melee weapon attacks automatically. Righteous!
Here is the current Divine Smite description from the Player’s Handbook:
Starting at 2nd level, when you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you can expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon’s damage. The extra damage is 2d8 for a 1st-level spell slot, plus 1d8 for each spell level higher than 1st, to a maximum of 5d8. The damage increases by 1d8 if the target is an undead or a fiend, to a maximum of 6d8.
And here is the current Improved Divine Smite description:
By 11th level, you are so suffused with righteous might that all your melee weapon strikes carry divine power with them. Whenever you hit a creature with a melee weapon, the creature takes an extra 1d8 radiant damage.
Why is Divine Smite so good?
The main reason why Divine Smite 5e rocks is it doesn’t take an action or bonus action, which frees up your action economy. You can save Divine Smite for when you really need it, or even twice in one turn if you have enough attacks, and spell slots! Hit on an action? Smite away. Score another hit on your bonus action? More Smite smackdown!
Don’t worry about wasting a move. All you have to do is choose your moment carefully. You can save it for when you’re in trouble and need to escape quickly, or when a particularly tough fight comes about.
Divine Smite is also not a spell, but a class feature. That means it can’t be counterspelled, blocked, or debuffed with anything that affects spells.
Here’s a list of why Divine Smite is so divine:
- Can’t miss
- Can be combined with critical hits, to do double damage
- Can be combined with other smites
- Doesn’t take an action
- Doesn’t need concentration
- Can’t be counterspelled
- Not affected by antimagic (dependent on DM ruling)
- Can take problematic foes down quickly
- Huge damage on undead and fiends
How does Divine Smite work?
When Paladins successfully strike an opponent with a melee weapon in 5e, they can choose to roll for Divine Smite damage as well. This expends a spell slot, but does not take a bonus action. It is simply added on top of the melee weapon damage.
Divine Smite 5e is not a spell, so it does not come from any of the DnD Schools of Magic. It is the holy fury of the gods and is not subject to any items or abilities in DnD 5e that affect spells. Similar to the Monk’s Flurry of Blows, it is a class feature that uses spell slots for mechanical reasons.
An example of how Divine Smite Works:
Piper Paladin has her trusty Yklwa by her side. She is wading into a forest of undead Aarakocra skeletons and knows she needs to bring her A-game. She made sure to load up all her spell slots with Divine Smites on her Long Rest. She is level 10, so she has 4 first-level spell slots, 3 second-level spell slots, and 2 third-level spell slots.
As she enters the forest, she steps on a twig: the snap reverberates thunderously through the night. Aarakocra eyes open all around her. She readies her Yklwa as the leader shambles forth, sniffing for blood. Piper crosses her heart and prays silently to Selune, her personal god.
She lunges with the Yklwa to pierce the gruesome fowl right in the feathers for 1d8 piercing damage. She is successful on her attack roll, so she decides to use one Divine Smite from her third-level spell slot, which is a 4d8. Selune shines a blinding light through the treetops that burns the just-made wound.
Piper rolls a 5 on her first Yklwa strike, and a total of 20 on her Divine Smite, for a gnarly 25 damage.
But Piper is a Polearm Master! So she flips the Yklwa around with a Bonus Action and tries to break a bony rib with the blunt end for another 1d8. She succeeds because she uses her Lucky Feat to get an extra roll. She really hates this particular avian adversary, so she throws in a Searing Smite for good measure, which is 1d6 fire damage.
Then she calls upon Selune to Divine Smite it again with her second-level spell slot, which is a 3d8. Selune blasts the bird with light that cracks its beak in two, sending an unearthly caw that makes the trees shiver.
Piper gets a 6 on her Bonus weapon attack and a 3 for the Smearing Smite. She gets a total of 14 on her second Divine Smite. The grand total is 23.
The Aarakocra leader is undead, so it gets an additional 1d8 damage for each Divine Smite. Piper decides to roll these at the end for fun, narrating that a beam of light erupts from the earth and sets the creature ablaze. She rolls the 2d8 for an extra 10. Combined with her first attack total of 25, and her second attack’s total of 23, the grand total is a whopping 58 damage!
It’s safe to say that the birdly bad guy is extra crispy, and all in one turn!
See why Divine Smite is so good now?
What is the max Divine Smite damage?
If you include Improved Smite, the maximum Divine Smite damage is 1d8 for a weapon attack + 5d8 for upcasting at 5th level + 1d8 if the enemy is undead or a fiend + 1d8 for Improved Smite. That equals 1d8 + 7d8 Radiant damage total.
Assuming perfect rolls and crits (which double your attack dice) you can get up to a max damage of 125 with Divine Smite. But you would really need to have lady luck smiling upon you!
How do you use Divine Smite 5e?
To get the best out of Divine Smite 5e, be patient and choose your moment. Divine Smite can’t miss since it only goes on top of successful attacks. That makes it a great “get out of jail free” card for sticky situations.
Here are some ways to use Divine Smite in 5e effectively:
- Be a Polearm Master
Polearm Master lets Paladins make a bonus attack with the reverse side of certain weapons. That means a potential Divine Smiting for both attacks if they hit!
Here’s Polearm Master’s description:
When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon. This attack uses the same ability modifier as the primary attack. The weapon’s damage die for this attack is a d4, and it deals bludgeoning damage.
- Go Crit Fishing
Any damage dice rolled as part of your weapon attack are doubled on a critical hit, including Divine Smite. So if you get lucky and roll a 20 with a melee weapon attack on your Main Action or Bonus Action, you can double your attack dice damage AND Divine Smite dice damage to lay down some legendary hurt. Blessed rolls!
- Pray away the Pain
If you’re low on health and your crew’s in danger of going down, you can start whipping out the Divine Smites to get your edge back. This is also nice for narrative purposes, as it’s like the deities are answering your Paladin prayers.
GameCows Tip: Try throwing an object as an “improvised weapon” to get an extra Divine Smite out of it! Improvised weapons are a real category in DnD 5e, and woefully underused. Plus, what could be funnier than vanquishing a fearsome foe with a sacred frying pan?
How many times can you use Divine Smite?
Divine Smite usage is only limited by how many spells slots you have available. Can you do two divine smites in a turn? Absolutely! You can use Divine Smite every time you are successful on a melee weapon attack, whether that attack is an Action or a Bonus Action, as long as you have the slots.
Many players like to hoard their Divine Smites for particularly epic battles of good and evil, such as against a Mind Flayer or Beholder.
Can Divine Smite really not be counterspelled?
No, Divine Smite can’t be counterspelled! Divine Smite is exempt from counterspelling, as is the Warlock’s Eldritch Smite (the evil version of Divine Smite, basically).
The gods don’t care about your puny magic, and their smites are not “spells” but holy energy. Smites that use the Weave, such as Banishing Smite, can be counterspelled, but Divine or Eldritch Smites can’t.
Counterspell is triggered “when you see a creature within 60 feet of you casting a spell,” and Divine Smite is not a spell, so can’t be counterspelled.
Is Divine Smite affected by Antimagic?
Though Divine Smite is not a spell, there is dispute as to whether it is magic. Some DMs allow debuffs such as Antimagic Field or Antimagic Cone against Divine Smite, as well as items that affect magic.
DnD designer Jeremy Crawford once ruled:
“Divine Smite & Improved Divine Smite are definitely in a gray area relative to antimagic field. IDS definitely works there. DS—DM’s call.”
So whether Antimagic works on your Divine Smite might depend on if your DM is a merciful or vindictive god. Try paying them tribute to earn their favor. Hint: The gods love snacks!
Divine Smite 5e FAQs
Can you Divine Smite a punch?
No, you can’t Divine Smite someone after an unarmed strike…officially. The language of Divine Strike specifies that it is added to a “melee weapon attack,” and body parts are not seen as weapons in DnD 5e. It would be amazing to infuse your fists with godly fury, but alas it is not to be. Ask your DM though!
Can you Divine Smite with natural weapons?
Yes: claws, horns, and other natural weapons are perfectly fine to channel Divine Smite. Natural Weapons still count as melee weapons for the purposes of Divine Striking, while Unarmed Strikes don’t.
Can you Divine Smite while silenced?
Normal smites have a verbal component, so if you have your lips zipped by a Silence condition you can’t smite anyone. But Divine Smite is divine! It doesn’t have a verbal component and works like normal when Silenced. The gods take mercy on your silenced soul and do all the heavy lifting.
Is Divine Smite doubled on a critical?
Yes, Divine Smite is doubled on a critical! If you play your cards right, you can one-shot bad guys with this deadly combination. Trying adding another Smite on top to really seal the deal!
Can Divine Smite do necrotic damage?
Since radiant damage is “good god energy,” some Paladins might not find it appropriate for a darker character, such as a Fallen Aasimar. Switching your Divine Smite’s damage from radiant to necrotic can help with flavor and appropriateness. But you should be aware that switching the damage type might make your Smite weaker across your campaign.
Across all the creatures in DnD’s sourcebooks: 9 are resistant to Radiant Damage, 1 is Immune, and 9 are Vulnerable. For necrotic damage: 46 are resistant, 38 are Immune, and none are Vulnerable. So you will encounter a lot more creatures resistant or immune to your Divine Smite, and none that are vulnerable to it.
Can you Divine Smite with a shield?
No dice. Paladin’s Shield Master feat lets them bash opponents with their shield as a bonus attack, but Divine Smite 5e’s description specifies weapon attacks, and shields are officially not weapons in DnD 5e. Be honest—it would be lame to harness ancient powers into a shield shove anyways.
Can you twin spell Divine Smite?
No, you can’t twin spell Divine Smite because Divine Smite is not a spell, mechanically, but a class feature.
Can you use Divine Smite on both attacks?
Yes, indeed. Not only can you Divine Smite on both attacks, but you can also add Divine Smite to other Smites like Searing Smite and Wrathful Smite.
Is Divine Smite an action or bonus action?
Divine Smite is neither an action OR a bonus action. It is simply added to a melee weapon attack that hits, without expending an action. This makes it quite valuable for your action economy, as you can unleash Divine Smite whenever the situation suits you (as long as you have a spell slot available).
What are Nova Paladins 5e?
Going Nova is a term in DnD 5e for trying to do as much damage as possible in one turn with Paladins. Some players even call such builds Nova Paladins. Divine Smite 5e is crucial for such builds since you can unleash it whenever you please.