Dissonant Whispers 5e: Mechanics and Guide To Using the Spell

Casting Time

1 action

















Spell 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.

1st level5th level7th level9th level
Damage Dice3d67d69d611d6
Minimum Damage37911
Average Damage9.521.527.533.5
Maximum Damage18425466

1st Level, Enchantment, Damage, Control, Psychic

Level: Bard (1). Great Old One (1)

Materials Required: None

Number of Targets: One

Die Type: d6

Number of Dice: 3 (increased by 1 for each spell slot level above 1st)

Damage Type: Psychic

Save: Wisdom

Damage On Successful Save: Half

Statuses Inflicted: Target must their use reaction to move as far away from the caster as movement will allow

Status Duration: Instantaneous

Affected By Cover: No

Advantage: None

Disadvantage: None

Who Can Cast Dissonant Whispers?

Bards are the only ones who have Dissonant Whispers on their spell list. Warlocks of the Great Old One have Dissonant Whispers as part of their expanded spell list.

Any other characters looking to cast Dissonant Whispers will need to take the Magic Initiate feat and choose Bard as their class.

What Is Dissonant Whispers?

Dissonant Whispers is a 1st-level Enchantment spell that is unique to the Bard class. It packs a relatively significant amount of damage, especially at low levels, and a potent ability to cause an afflicted target to move as far away from the caster as possible using their reaction. 

When and Where Should I Cast Dissonant Whispers?

Dissonant Whispers is a great low-level damage spell. It packs strong damage for a 1st-level spell and a robust control effect.

Dissonant Whispers is a fantastic low-level nuke. 3d6 damage is pretty beefy damage, and it scales up with level, making it a powerful spell. 

It’s best used against a target with low wisdom like a goblin or a kobold. Targets with high Wisdom will be more likely to succeed the saving throw, and targets who are deaf will automatically succeed the saving throw.

Since the control effect doesn’t happen when a target succeeds the saving throw, it’s critical to choose your targets wisely as Dissonant Whispers’ real power is in the control effect.

Dissonant Whispers has the power to force an enemy to use their reaction to move, which can be an incredibly potent way to keep the burst coming.

Why Should I Take Dissonant Whispers?

Dissonant Whispers is a very powerful Bard spell that can’t be overlooked. Its lack of class versatility is covered by its high firepower and strong control ability.

It’s especially strong in the early levels when players first get it, making it fantastic early-level pickup and its scaling isn’t bad either. 

In the late-game when enemies have higher Wisdom scores and first-level spell slots are not a particularly scarce resource, players can use Dissonant Whispers to help take down low-level additional enemies that might be present around a boss monster.

Alternatives to Dissonant Whispers

  • Fear

Common Questions About Dissonant Whispers

Is Dissonant Whispers a Fear?

No. Dissonant Whispers is not a fear. Dissonant Whispers does not inflict a named status at all. The compulsory movement is a unique effect.

Does Dissonant Whispers Fail If the Enemy Is Immune to Charm?

No. Dissonant Whispers does not fail if the enemy has immunity to the Charmed condition. Dissonant Whispers does not inflict the Charmed condition and is unaffected by it.

Does Dissonant Whispers Affect Constructs?

Yes. Constructs are considered creatures when it comes to spell rules. If the spell can affect creatures, as Dissonant Whispers does, the spell can affect constructs and the undead.

Does Dissonant Whispers Use Up Movement?

No. Dissonant Whispers uses up a Reaction, not a primary movement action. A creature can still move on their turn if it comes after the caster’s turn.