Last Updated on January 10, 2023
Another night on the late watch with a brand-new rookie. It was the rookie’s first day on guard duty. The moon peeked out from behind the clouds and the torches cast a glow across the gate. It should have just been a routine night guarding a southern entrance.
It was supposed to be an easy night.
“Did you hear that?” The rookie asked.
“There’s nothing out there. Just stay awake and don’t let your mind play tricks on you.” I replied.
“I swear I can hear someone.” He sounded panicked now.
“What are you…” I started to say, but then I could hear it too.
It was like a whisper, but it came from all around me. I could hear old friends, family, and acquaintances, but it was all wrong. They were speaking directly at me and through me at the same time.
I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but it if I listened closely I could almost make it out. I closed my eyes and focused and finally could make out the whispers, “Too late..” The voices shrieked in my head.
It took every ounce of willpower I had to not run screaming into the night. The rookie could hear it too. I could see the blood dripping out of his ears as he ran screaming into the night.
Before the pain made me pass out a cloaked figure stepped out of the shadows and calmly walked towards the gate. I attempted to reach the alarm bell, but the whispers in my head shrieked again and then I too went running into the dark.
What is Dissonant Whispers 5e?
Dissonant Whispers is a 1st level spell that allows the user to deal psychic damage to a target and force them to move.
It’s a simple spell but offers a ton of utility and damage at level 1. If used correctly it can be devastating on the battlefield.
Dissonant Whispers 5e Stats
Source: Player’s Handbook
|Casting Time||1 Action|
Dissonant Whispers 5e Description:
You whisper a discordant melody that only one creature of your choice within range can hear, wracking it with terrible pain. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, it takes 3d6 psychic damage and must immediately use its reaction, if available, to move as far as its speed allows away from you. The creature doesn’t move into obviously dangerous ground, such as a fire or a pit. On a successful save, the target takes half as much damage and doesn’t have to move away. A deafened creature automatically succeeds on the save.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 1st.
Damage Statistics of Dissonant Whispers
|Damage Dice||Average Damage||Min Damage||Max Damage|
Who can cast Dissonant Whispers in 5e?
Dissonant Whispers is typically only found in the Bard Spell list.
There are plenty of other abilities, feats, and class features that let players choose spells outside of their class spell lists. Wizards also can potentially learn any spell in the game with the right training as well.
Since it’s a level 1 spell, any 1st-level Bard will be able to use Dissonant Whispers. If you really want your character to use it the easiest way is to play a Bard or multiclass with at least 1 level in Bard.
Subclasses that use Dissonant Whispers
Two subclasses have Dissonant Whispers as part of their additional spells.
- Aberrant Mind Sorcerer
- Great Old One Warlock
Feats that use Dissonant Whispers
The Magic Initiate Feat grants two Cantrips and one 1st level Spell. This gives you the option to add Dissonant Whispers to any character, but Dissonant Whispers will be limited. You’ll only be able to cast it as a level 1 spell and won’t be able to empower it with any of your higher spell slots. The Magic Initiate Feat can be found in the Player’s Handbook.
The Fey Touched Feat is a bit more useful overall. It increases one of your primary casting Ability Scores and grants Misty Step and a Divination or Enchantment spell. Since Dissonant Whispers is an Enchantment spell you can choose it using the Fey Touched Feat. In addition, you’ll be able to cast Dissonant Whisper once per long rest without using a Spell Slot.
When & Why should I cast Dissonant Whispers?
Dissonant Whispers is one of the better spells at level 1. A level 1 character can deal 3d6 damage which is pretty impressive for a low-level character.
In addition, it scales with your spell level. At higher levels, there will be better damage-dealing spells, but it should be useful until mid-levels when looking solely at damage.
The real bonus of Dissonant Whispers is its ability to move players on the field.
Obviously Dangerous Terrain
One of the key terms in the writing of the rules is that when the target flees they’re still coherent enough to avoid obviously dangerous terrain.
This means that you won’t be sending them running in fear off a cliff. It takes a bit of creativity, but you can still one-shot enemies and cause some serious damage to your targets.
If you put up an illusion that tricks your target into thinking that there’s a bridge where one isn’t you can still cause them to run off a cliff. In addition, if you have time to prep your combat zone you can set traps for them to run into or if you don’t have time to set traps you can send them running into the weapons of your fighter’s range.
The term “kiting” refers to either pushing or pulling enemies away and then whittling them down with ranged attacks.
Dissonant Whispers is an excellent way to force enemies away from you to let your ranged attackers blast away from a distance. When the enemies get close enough, you can just send them running again for another wave of attacks.
The secondary effect of Dissonant Whispers relies on the target failing a Wisdom save. They’ll still take half damage on a successful save, but they won’t flee.
Dissonant Whispers works best when facing enemies with a low Wisdom score. Enemies like kobolds, slaads, and zombies all have low Wisdom scores and are susceptible to Dissonant Whispers.
Dissonant Whispers Optimization
Dissonant Whispers is an excellent spell that combines crowd control with damage. That is if you use the spell in a timely manner.
The main bonus to Dissonant Whispers is the ability to force an enemy to use their reaction to flee in the opposite direction of the user. There are a few keywords here that make this particular spell devastating to your enemies.
Keep in mind that Dissonant Whispers doesn’t allow enemies to run off cliffs or into fires. They won’t run into “obvious” dangers, but they will run into hidden or prepared dangers.
Setting traps on the battlefield beforehand or sending them fleeing into an open position is a great way to control the battlefield and deal psychic damage to a target.
Finally, there’s one more word that makes Dissonant Whispers such an excellent spell and that’s “Reaction”. The target is forced to use their reaction to flee. Unlike other spells that push or force an enemy’s movement having the target use their reaction as a movement opens them up to opportunity attacks.
If I force-pushed a target and they went flying past my allies, they wouldn’t get an opportunity attack. If I use Dissonant Whispers to send a target running through a gauntlet of attackers then they would eligible for opportunity attacks against the target.
The Bard has some of the best utility spells on their list and gives any class access to Dissonant Whispers. Sorcerers taking a single level in Bard get access to their first-level spells and the flexibility of Metamagic.
This would deal psychic damage and then force the target to run away. As they run away your allies can hit them with ranged attacks or opportunity attacks. When they stop running away they’ll be out of position and when they move again Booming Blade triggers dealing more damage.
Dissonant Whispers FAQ
There are always going to be odd rules and questions when playing DnD. We’ve compiled some of the most common questions that came up.
Does Dissonant Whispers trigger opportunity attacks?
Dissonant Whispers can trigger opportunity attacks if they fail the wisdom save and run into range.
What is Dissonant Whispers 5e?
Dissonant Whispers is a 1st Level Enchantment spell. It can be found in the Bard Spell List as well as Aberrant Mind and Great Old One subclasses.
Is Dissonant Whispers fear-based?
Dissonant Whispers is not fear-based. It doesn’t inflict Frightened or any fear effects when cast. The results can be similar but it does not inflict any status effects.
Can Dissonant Whispers be twinned?
Yes, Dissonant Whispers can be Twinned as a Sorcerer. Since it only has a single target and doesn’t have a range of self.
What is an alternative to Dissonant Whispers?
The Fear spell is a good alternative to Dissonant Whispers. It performs the same actions of forcing a target to run away. It doesn’t deal damage, but it hits multiple enemies in a cone.
Does Dissonant Whispers trigger Booming Blade?
No, Booming Blade is not triggered by the forced movement of Dissonant Whispers. The target must willingly move. Even though it doesn’t initially trigger Booming Blade when the target tries to move again on their turn they’ll inevitably trigger the effects of Booming Blade.