When searching for a useful cantrip, what do you think of? What damage it can do? What bonus it might confer to friends, or what penalty it can inflict on enemies? Or maybe you think about whether it could fix that nasty rip the troll made in your new cloak?
That last one is probably not the first question that would pop to mind, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth asking. And fortunately, there is a cantrip made for exactly such a situation and one you might want to consider for your next adventure – D&D 5E’s Mending.
What is Mending?
First off, let’s look at the basic stats of this utilitarian spell:
Casting Time: 1 minute
Components: V, S, M
Classes: Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard
When cast, the spell repairs a single break or tear in an object that is up to 1 foot in any dimension. The repair is seamless, with no sign of the original damage. It can also be cast on magic items or constructs, but it will not restore magical abilities that have been lost. The material components of the spell are a pair of lodestones.
This cantrip is available to almost everyone, being on the spell lists of every caster except Warlock, making them also available to the casting subclasses Eldritch Knight and Divine Trickster. Even then warlocks who choose the Pact of the Tome could acquire them when they get their Pact Boon at 3rd level, though other warlocks will just have to repair things with tools like a chump.
What’s Good About Mending?
With a 1-minute casting time, Mending is obviously not a spell for combat. More to the point, it has no combat uses even if the casting time were shorter. It deals no damage, has no negative effects on enemies or supportive effects on allies. It doesn’t affect saves, attack rolls, AC, or anything else related to actual game mechanics. So, what good is it?
It’s true that, in general, damage to equipment is sort of glossed over in actual play. Not a lot of DMs want to spend a whole lot of time on whether the wizard needs to sew up a tear on their robe, or the fighter’s attempts to repair the leather straps holding his pauldrons in place.
In this sense, Mending acts as a flavor spell, something the players can bring up when they’re camping for the night, or when they’re tending to the villagers they just rescued from the orc band (I cast Mending to repair their broken cartwheel, etc.).
But outside of these drive-by bits of roleplaying, there can be genuinely relevant uses for Mending. Imagine fighting your way though a dungeon only to find a chasm with a drawbridge you can’t lower because the mechanism has been long broken.
Or suppose solving some key puzzle hinges on deciphering an ancient tablet that’s currently in shards.
Those are just a few of the in-game uses that could make Mending an indispensable cantrip. Not to mention the simple ability of the party to ingratiate themselves with the locals by fixing a broken statue, gate, or what have you. A little helpful repair can go a long way when you’re trying to charm NPC’s.
And depending on your DM, Mending could become an even more practical spell. While 5E doesn’t have any official rules on wear and tear as applied to armor and weapons, a DM is certainly free to home-brew their own – and declare that found items in loot have some degree of damage. In these cases, Mending obviously becomes a useful cantrip to have.
It’s even possible that Mending could help archers recover more arrows than normal. While the official rules in the Player’s Handbook note that half of spent ammunition can be recovered after a battle by spending a minute searching the battlefield, there’s an argument to be made that Mending could at least slightly increase that number by allowing broken arrows to be repaired. Exactly what that increase would be, or if it would happen at all, is a question to sort out with your DM.
Is Mending Worth Casting?
Since it mostly deals with things the game system deliberately glosses over – equipment damage – Mending often seems like a spell that exists purely for flavor with no practical use. And while such uses are generally rare and may involve a debate with the DM, it can’t be said that the spell doesn’t have the potential to be useful.
And for that matter, what’s wrong with flavor? A whole lot of the RPG experience depends on flavor, and without it D&D would largely be just rolling dice and doing math.
There’s always room for a bard to spend time at camp magically removing the tear from his cloak, or for a cleric to repair the nicks in a fighter’s armor even as he’s healing the wounds in his body.
So, while it might not be anyone’s first choice for a cantrip to pack along for a dungeon crawl, Mending can have both flavor and practical uses. And depending on your DM, Mending can have applications that can make it very much worth having.
Mending 5e FAQ’S
While it’s seen often as more of a flavor spell, taking care of minor maintenance that would otherwise be handwaved by most DMs, Mending can in fact have practical uses. It could, for instance, repair long-broken mechanisms in old dungeons making it easier to raise portcullises or lower drawbridges. Likewise, it could reassemble ancient tablets or torn maps or pages for easier reading. Perhaps more crucially, it can repair damage to weapons and armor (though the official rules don’t generally bother with such damage, some DM’s might). Depending on the DM’s discretion, it could also mend broken arrows, increasing how many a character could recover after combat.
While a number of injuries could in fact be described as breaks or tears, the spell description for Mending also notes that it only works on objects. Living things are unaffected by the spell – though ironically corpses, being objects, could be subject to Mending. That wouldn’t restore life, of course, but it could theoretically reattach limbs and so forth for a more presentable funeral.
Though they are not organic living things, Warforged are considered creatures, not objects, and thus would not be subject to Mending.
Unfortunately, no. The spell description specifically notes that Mending can fix a break or tear. Corrosion, aka rust, is neither of those things, and is unaffected by Mending. Likewise, the effects of creatures such as a Black Pudding would fall under the category of corrosion and be outside the reach of Mending.