Toll the Dead is a fantastic expansion spell. 

It is included in multiple spell lists and is a great addition to any character who wants to be on the dark side. 

The ability to deal necrotic damage instead of radiant damage (dealt by spells like Sacred Flame) is an excellent flavoring element.

The guidelines for Toll the Dead can be found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, page 169.

The Dead toll 5e

Necromancy Cantrip

Time for casting: 1 action

Range: 60 feet

Components: V, S

Duration: Instantaneous

The target can point at a creature you can spot within of range and then the sound of an unsettling bell is heard for a short time. 

The target must make a Wisdom saving roll to not take 1d8 necrotic injury. If the target does not have all of its hit points it is instead of taking one of the 12 necrotic damages.

At higher levels, the spell’s damage is increased by 1 die each time you reach the fifth level (2d8 or 2d12) the 11th degree (3d8 or 3d12) as well as 17th (4d8 or 4d12).

Its guidelines for Toll the Dead reveal the increase in damage when compared to Sacred Flame if the target is not able to hit any points, and it increases to 1d12. 

Like all damage-related cantrips, the damage increase with each character’s level. This spell also requires wisdom save on the target, which separates it away from dexterity-based Sacred Flame.

Is Toll the Dead good?

What is the quality of Toll The Dead? It all depends on what you’re comparing it to.

If Toll the Dead is being compared with other alternatives, for example, Sacred Flame, for similar spellcasters, it’s just a waste of time.

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Toll the Dead against Sacred Flame:

  • 1d12 damage in comparison to 1d8 damage
  • Necrotic Damage Versus. Radiant Damage
  • Wisdom Save against. Dexterity Save

Toll the Dead causes more damage, however necrotic damage is often blocked in comparison to radiant damages. The majority of enemies are less wise than dexterity.

Therefore, it is more likely to strike more frequently. Both spells are of the same range of effects and grow in the same way per level. The main difference between the spell is their flavor.

When Toll the Dead is compared to a simple attack-cantrip similar to Firebolt, it appears underpowered in the majority of cases.

Toll The Dead against Fire Bolt:

  • 1d12 damage against 1d10 damage
  • Necrotic Damage against. Damage from Fire Damage
  • Wisdom Save against. A ranged spell attack (can be crit)
  • 60 feet range in comparison to. 120-foot range

The difference in damage in damage between Toll the Dead and Firebolt is very small on a typical hit. Both have damaging types which are frequently rejected.

The first major difference is the wisdom saving in Toll the Dead compared to the ranged attack spell in Fire Bolt.

Spells that do not have attack rolls can’t get critical hits so that d12 is the most damaging amount of damage to Toll the Dead possible. 

Fire Bolt, on the contrary, can be used to get critical hits, which means it’s possible to do two times the damage of d10. 

Additionally, the probability to be hit is increased with the player’s character who is employing Fire Bolt and it does not occur with Toll Dead.

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Another variation is in the power of the spells. 60 feet as opposed to 120 feet when playing is a distinction of a typical enemy being melee-ranged in one turn, versus 2 turns. 

This can be important for spellcasters who don’t want to get their hands dirty.

Hot Tip

Toll the Dead or Sacred Flame are the only spells that require you to be able to see the target, so they don’t take advantage of any cover. 

Spells that range must adhere to the rules of cover and provide an additional level of stability.

The Dead’s Toll is a great damage-cantrip for clerics. It’s almost more powerful than Sacred Flame. 

In general, Toll the Dead is still an all-or-nothing cast. If the target saves it, the spell does not do anything. This can be extremely frustrating for people who depend heavily on spells for different purposes.

The feeling of not being satisfied with having a 20 natural on an attack does not hinder it at all. 

It’s not as a level character, as do all cantrips, and could add great flavor to the role-playing in the event that radiant damage doesn’t match the concept of the character.

What exactly does Toll the Dead do?

If “Toll the Dead” is cast on an object, according to the description that the sound of dolorous bells fills the air surrounding them for a brief moment, forcing the target to decide to save themselves or suffer the damage. 

It’s a fairly straightforward description, but it doesn’t offer much in terms of specifics that the threat.

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If Toll the Dead or any cantrip is cast frequently enough, it’s not difficult to get stuck for the DM of telling the players, “it doesn’t save, roll damage.”

This is often boring, and although there are some castings that don’t require an elaborate description, it’s good to vary the cast for players. 

This is particularly the case when you have casters who use similar spells, for example, a necromancer or healer Clergy.

Hot Tip

Cantrips can get boring over time. The players as well as the DM must add variation to the casting and effects of the magic spell. 

For instance, if the target of Toll the Dead gets hit what do they do? Do they grab both sides of the heads and shake their heads violently? 

Do the ringing waves create ripples of energy throughout their body? Thinking about the effects of spells and writing about them will add the depth of spells that are otherwise simple.

Final Words

For Clergy, spells such as Sacred Flame and Toll the Dead are often a must-have. They generally are the mainstay of the ranged attacks available to this class. 

It’s great to witness Toll the Dead receive a damage boost and not sacrifice any other ability to get it.

In the end, compared to other simple cantrips Toll The Dead is slightly dull. 

A spell that is all-or-nothing can be an event that alters the course of your encounter in low levels, but not being able to strike with precision doesn’t create excitement. 

It might be more beneficial to smash them with mace.