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 List||Warlock, Cleric, Wizard|
|Casting Time||1 action|
|Attack/Save||WIS, Save, No DMG on successful save|
|Components||Verbal 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 1||Level 5||Level 11||Level 17|
|Damage Dice||1d8 (1d12)||2d8 (2d12)||3d8 (3d12)||4d8 (4d12)|
|Average Damage||4.5 (6.5)||8.5 (12.5)||12.5 (18.5)||16.5 (24.5)|
|Maximum Damage||8 (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.
Who Can Cast Toll The Dead Spell? How To Use it?
- Cleric – Clerics are divine spellcasters who channel the power of their deity to heal the sick, smite the wicked, and protect the innocent. They are the most versatile class in the game, and they can fill any role in a party. Clerics can use Toll the Dead to deal damage to their enemies and to frighten them. This can be a valuable tool in combat, as it can force enemies to flee or to make saving throws that they may not be able to succeed on.
- Druid – Druids are nature spellcasters who draw their power from the natural world. They are skilled in healing, shapeshifting, and controlling the elements. They are often protectors of the natural world, and they fight to preserve it from those who would harm it. Druids can use Toll the Dead to deal damage to their enemies and to weaken them. This can be a valuable tool in combat, as it can make enemies easier to hit and to kill.
- Paladin – Paladins are holy warriors who are bound to a sacred oath. They are skilled in combat and are able to channel divine power to smite their enemies. They are often protectors of the innocent and the weak, and they fight for justice and righteousness. Paladins can use Toll the Dead to deal damage to their enemies and to smite them. This can be a valuable tool in combat, as it can deal significant damage to enemies and can also knock them prone.
- Ranger – Rangers are wilderness experts who are skilled in combat, tracking, and survival. They are often called upon to protect the natural world from those who would exploit it. angers can use Toll the Dead to deal damage to their enemies and to track them. This can be a valuable tool in combat, as it can allow rangers to keep track of their enemies and to know where they are.
- Sorcerer – Sorcerers are born with innate magical power. They are often powerful and versatile spellcasters, but they can also be unpredictable and dangerous. Sorcerers can use Toll the Dead to deal damage to their enemies and to weaken them. This can be a valuable tool in combat, as it can make enemies easier to hit and to kill.
- Warlock – Warlocks are spellcasters who have made a pact with a powerful being, known as a patron. In exchange for their service, the patron grants the warlock magical power. Warlocks are often feared and mistrusted, but they can be powerful allies. Warlocks can use Toll the Dead to deal damage to their enemies and to frighten them. This can be a valuable tool in combat, as it can force enemies to flee or to make saving throws that they may not be able to succeed on.
- Wizard – Wizards are scholars who have dedicated their lives to the study of magic. They are the most powerful spellcasters in the game, but they are also the most vulnerable. Wizards must rely on their intelligence and their spellbooks to survive, and they can be easily defeated if they are caught unprepared. Wizards can use Toll the Dead to deal damage to their enemies and to weaken them. This can be a valuable tool in combat, as it can make enemies easier to hit and to kill.
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 Toll The Dead Spell Work on All Creatures?
|Creature Type||Toll the Dead Effectiveness|
|Swarm of Insects||Moderately effective|
Please note that the above table provides a general overview and assumes no specific resistances or immunities possessed by individual 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!