Toll The Dead: 5e Mechanics and Guide to Using the Spell

Casting Time

1 action






60 feet


Cleric, Warlock, Wizard


Save, WIS, No DMG on Successful Save






Verbal, Somatic

Spell Description:

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.

At Higher Levels. 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).

1st Level5th Level11th Level17th Level
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)

Cantrip, Necromancy, Necrotic, Damage

Level: Cleric (1), Warlock (1), Wizard (1), Divine Soul (1), Eldritch Knight (8), Arcane Trickster (8) Bard (10, Magical Secrets)

Materials Required: None

Number of Targets: 1, 2 if playing Death Cleric

Die Type: d8 (d12 if the target is not at max HP)

Number of Dice: 1 (increased by 1 at 5th, 11th, and 17th level. Max 4)

Damage Type: Necrotic

Save: Wisdom

Damage On Successful Save: None

Statuses Inflicted: None

Status Duration: None

Affected By Cover: No

Advantage: None

Disadvantage: None

Who can cast Toll The Dead?

Toll The Dead is a staple cantrip present on the Cleric, Warlock, and Wizard spell lists. Divine Soul Sorcerers also gain access to Toll the Dead since they have access to the entire Cleric spell list. 

Outside of these classes, players will need to take the Magic Initiate feat and choose one of the above classes if they want to cast Toll the Dead. 

Bards can also choose Toll The Dead as a spell they learn through the Magical Secrets feature of their class.

What is Toll The Dead?

Toll The Dead is a damaging cantrip from the Necromancy school of magic. It boasts a big d12 damage die for creature who are not at max HP, making it one of the most powerful damaging cantrips in Fifth Edition.

When and Where should I cast Toll The Dead?

Toll The Dead is a fantastic damaging cantrip, especially early game. Its high damage potential is excellent for picking off early level mobs. Though its initial damage is less than Fire Bolt, it’s increased damage as you move down the initiative order gives it higher burst potential than Fire Bolt.

Essentially, anywhere that you could cast Fire Bolt, you could also cast Toll The Dead. 

The biggest thing is to remember that casting Toll The Dead on zombies is like casting Fire Bolt on a Fire Elemental. Even if you were to manage to deal damage, why are you throwing that at them?

Why should I take Toll The Dead?

Toll The Dead’s damage output is incredibly high for a cantrip-level spell. Upwards of 4d12 damage is pretty beefy for a spell that costs literally nothing but some words and fancy hand motions.

Any character who can take Toll The Dead should take Toll The Dead. Its damage output is comparable to Fire Bolt and offers strong damage type coverage to the team.

Common Questions About Toll The Dead