Toll Of The Dead 5E | DnD 5E Toll The Dead Guide

Toll Of The Dead 5E

Remember the famous ‘bring out your dead’ scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Dungeons and Dragons offer something quite similar, and it goes by the name of ‘Toll the Dead .’If you are all about the essence and feel of the game, rather than actual damage dealt, the Toll the Dead 5E might catch your fancy. It’s for those who like treading the darker side of the DnD world.

This article will answer your questions about when you would want to cast the D&D Toll the Dead spell, why it is a valuable spell to begin with, and how to use it effectively. 

D&D 5E Toll the Dead Explained 

The Toll The Dead spell is a damaging cantrip from DnD’s Necromancy School of Magic. It deals a hefty d12 damage die for creatures who aren’t at maximum HP. It is undoubtedly one of the most powerful damaging cantrips in D&D 5E. One of the spells from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, the Toll the Dead, boasts of the following stats:

Spell ListWarlock, Cleric, Wizard
Casting Time1 action
Range60 feet
Attack/SaveWIS, Save, No DMG on successful save
ComponentsVerbal and Somatic

Here’s how the Toll the Dead 5E spell works:

Your character points at a creature visible within the range, and the ominous sound of a dolorous bell can be heard for a while. Your target will take 1d8 necrotic damage upon failure to succeed on a Wisdom saving throw. What is a dolorous bell? It is essentially a despondent sounding bell, and it is entirely up to the Dungeon Master to decide whether the macabre sound of the bell is heard solely by the target or everyone else, too.

The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or take 1d8 necrotic damage. If your target misses any of the hit points, it will take 1d12 necrotic damage instead. Remember, at higher levels, the damage dealt by the Toll the Dead spell scales up by 1 die: 2d8 or 2d12 at level 5, 3d8 or 3d12 at level 11, and 4d8 or 4d12 at level 17.

Level 1Level 5Level 11Level 17
Damage Dice1d8 (1d12)2d8 (2d12)3d8 (3d12)4d8 (4d12)
Minimum Damage1234
Average Damage4.5 (6.5)8.5 (12.5)12.5 (18.5)16.5 (24.5)
Maximum Damage8 (12)16 (24)24 (36)32 (48)

While many spells can have higher damage output, the 5E Toll the Dead does a commendable job, especially for a cantrip-level spell. For a spell that costs your character nothing more than a few hand motions and words, a 4d12 damage is exceptionally good. 

It is safe to assert, if your character can take Toll the Dead, it should! The damage output of this cantrip far outweighs Fire Bolt while also offering decent damage type coverage to your entire team. Moreover, being a cantrip spell, bid adieu to keeping track of spell slots or burning slots if you miss the spell.

When to Cast Toll the Dead Spell?

The 5E Toll the Dead is an excellent damaging cantrip choice for early-level mobs. Sure, Fire Bolt has a higher initial damage output; the Toll the Dead will offer terrific damage stats as you keep progressing down the initiative order. Therefore, its burst potential far outweighs that of Fire Bolt.

Basically, if you are confused about where to use the 5E Toll the Dead spell, here’s a simple way to understand it: if a situation calls for the Fire Bolt, go for the Toll the Dead instead. There’s only one thing your character ought to be mindful of: do not go about casting the Toll the Dead spell on zombies, because… well, because you know why! It is akin to casting the Fire Bolt at a Fire Elemental. 

Will This Spell Work on All Creatures? 

You need to be mindful of a few creatures if you want to cast the 5E Toll the Dead spell. While radiant damage can do a lot of harm to the Undead, we can’t say the same about the Toll the Dead spell. Often, you will find yourself in situations where the Undead are the ones casting necrotic damage at you. It’s safe to say most of the Undead and zombies are immune to the Toll the Dead spell.

As for Skeletons, they will take the damage dealt and have the forces keeping them alive eaten away. The bottom line is, if you are fighting the dead, it might not be a great idea to employ necrotic damage for obvious reasons. The Toll the Dead spell will work exceptionally well against other creatures, especially mortals.


It all boils down to who your intended target is. If you are fighting against mortals or other creatures who are susceptible to necrotic damage, go right ahead and use it. But, do not waste your Toll the Dead on the Undead and zombies, who would recover in a heartbeat.

Be smart about when you use this interesting, albeit ominous, cantrip spell, and you will be rewarded. Happy questing!


Yes, it will affect the Undead since they will mostly fail the WIS save. However, they generally boast a strong resistance to necrotic damage, sometimes being completely immune to it, as well. So, it is not recommended to use Toll the Dead for these creatures.

Here’s how to tell the difference: the necrotic damage will differ depending on whether your target is wounded. If they are, the necrotic damage could intensify their wounds and cause more pain. If the target is unharmed, the necrotic damage will just blister the skin or drain their life out of them.

No, that is an entirely different effect. While it can be present in several Undead creatures’ skill sets, necrotic damage does not feature it. 

Not necessarily. Supposedly ‘good’ characters, such as Clerics, can also employ necrotic damage to their advantage. Just because it is a dark spell does not necessitate an evil caster. 

You can use other spells alongside the Toll the Dead. Clerics can cast the ‘Inflict Wounds’ or melee combat spell if they close in on enemies. Similarly, the Blight spell can be used by warlocks and wizards.

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