A protective magical force surrounds you, manifesting as a spectral frost that covers you and your gear. You gain 5 temporary hit points for the duration. If a creature hits you with a melee attack while you’ve got these hit points, the creature takes 5 cold damage.
Armor of Agathys 5e
- Casting Time: 1 action
- Range: Self
- Components: V, S, M (a cup of water)
- Duration: 1 hour
At Higher Levels.
Once you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, both the temporary hit points and therefore the cold damage increase by 5 for every slot level above 1st.
One of the most rules of D&D combat is to never let your arcane spellcasters get trapped in melee combat. Which makes it somewhat odd that Armor of Agathys isn’t just designed for exactly that situation, but entirely depends on that.
The spell is exclusive to the Warlock list, and therefore the basic gist is that it coats the caster during a thick layer of ice. This has the twin good thing about providing temporary hit points and damaging anybody who lands a melee hit for as long as at least some of the hit points remain.
Both the damage and hit points total at five per spell level, which looks utterly pathetic on paper but is roughly the equivalent of a d8. early during a campaign, it’ll be laughably easy to interrupt and is unlikely to use its damage quite once, but it’s not too hard to imagine a situation where a 20 hit point Armor of Agathys may last for 2 or three hits.
Dealing 40-60 damage isn’t that bad for a fourth-level slot, especially because it applies automatically and comes with a good pool of temporary hit points, but this doesn’t actually make it an honest spell.
The fact that Armor of Agathys takes a full action to cast means it’s not exactly something you’re getting to be falling back on once you’ve already been engaged in melee. At an equivalent time, because it only lasts one hour you can’t really cast it beforehand unless you’re very sure of what’s within the next room and are supremely confident that it’s something you don’t mind running up to together with your icy torso offered up for the stabbing.
There are many good defensive spells out there, but they have an inclination to fall under one among two categories. The primary of those is reactive abilities like Shield and Expeditious Retreat, which you’ll prepare as insurance and use when things turn sour. The second is that the long-term buffs like Mage Armor and Barkskin, which you’ll cast at the beginning of the day and happily leave ticking away within the background while you adventure.
However, in both these cases, there are probably more efficient ways to use a valuable spell slot. While it’s going to lack the comedic effect a Fireball is perhaps better at cleaning out hordes of Goblins, while Blade-locks could make use of Hex and other more utility-focused abilities. Armor of Agathys may be a fairly cool spell, but unfortunately, it isn’t a very effective one.