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Toll the Dead 5e Spell

The Cleric points his finger at the hulking hobgoblin clutching its side from the last attack. The ringing of a bell sounds as the hobgoblin looks around, frantically trying to find the source of the noise. Then, a searing pain as its life force drains from its already wounded body. The hobgoblin sinks to its knees and keels over, unconscious, as the party cheers in victory.

For whom does the bell toll? With this spell, it tolls for thee!

What is Toll the Dead Spell?

The spell’s text from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything reads: You point at one creature you can see within range, and the sound of a dolorous bell fills the air around it for a moment. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or take 1d8 necrotic damage. If the target is missing any of its hit points, it instead takes 1d12 necrotic damage.

The spell’s damage increases by one die when you reach 5th level (2d8 or 2d12), 11th level (3d8 or 3d12), and 17th level (4d8 or 4d12).

Toll the Dead 5e Stats

LevelCantrip
Casting Time1 Action
Range/Area60 ft
ClassesCleric, Warlock, Wizard
ComponentsVerbal, Somatic
Duration Instantaneous
SchoolNecromancy
Attack/SaveWisdom
Damage/EffectNecrotic

How Does Toll the Dead Work in 5e?

Under normal circumstances, Toll the Dead works like almost every other damage-dealing cantrip: you force an opponent to make a saving throw. If they succeed, they take no damage. If they fail, they take necrotic damage. It scales like a normal cantrip, too. Where things get a little weird is that foes missing hit points suffer more than healthy ones.

Your best bet with Toll the Dead is to target enemies that your friends have already taken a chunk out of. Compared to other damage-dealing cantrips, Toll the Dead doesn’t do anything special or extra for completely healthy enemies, so you should save it for people who have already lost some hit points.

With 1d8 of damage, it’s an average of 4 points of necrotic damage. With 1d12, that average increases to 6. That might seem negligible at first, but by the time you hit level 17, you’re looking at the difference between 16 and 24 points of damage on average, with maximum damages of 32 and 48, respectively.

Will that make all the difference with CR 17 foes? Maybe not, but you want to do as much damage as you possibly can.

Is Toll the Dead a Good Spell?

Toll the Dead can do more damage per use than any other cantrip in Dungeons & Dragons. That’s very appealing to most people, especially Clerics.

Clerics are essentially support players and have plenty of solid options for their bonus actions, like Spiritual Weapon, Healing Word, and Spirit Shroud. With a bit of managing, they could even use their bonus action to attack a foe, a la spiritual weapon, and then follow it up with Toll the Dead.


Game Cows Tip: Remember, you can’t cast a leveled spell as both your action and your bonus action. If your bonus action is a leveled spell, your action must be a cantrip.


Even Warlocks and Wizards can benefit from Toll the Dead. Warlocks might not want it if they choose something other than Pact of the Tome (which grants three extra cantrips) because they have so few known cantrips, but Wizards should have no problem fitting Toll the Dead into their spell load out.

Unlike almost every other spell, Toll the Dead becomes better when you have a lower initiative roll because the damage increases so much with injured enemies.

Fortunately, spellcasters aren’t exactly known for their high Dexterity scores, so if you want a solid staple to fall back on when you can’t afford to spend any more spell slots, it’s hard to go wrong with Toll the Dead.

Which Classes Can Use Toll the Dead?

Toll the Dead is available to Clerics, Warlocks, and Wizards. Divine Soul Sorcerers have access to the Cleric spell list, so they would also have access to the spell.

Toll the Dead Spell 5e DnD

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12/05/2022 06:12 am GMT