In the heat of battle, few spells carry the visceral impact and immediate satisfaction of Hellish Rebuke.
I’ve seen this spell turn the tides of combat with its fiery retribution. It’s not just a spell—it’s a statement, a declaration that any attack against you carries a vengeful price.
Let’s ignite the details of this evocative spell, a favorite in my decades of gameplay.
Hellish Rebuke Stats
|Casting Time||1 reaction (which you take in response to being damaged by a creature within 60 feet of you that you can see)|
|Race||Tiefling (Infernal Legacy)|
What Is Hellish Rebuke?
Hellish Rebuke is that spell you cast when an enemy lands a hit, and you want to hit back with the fury of the Nine Hells.
Picture this: an orc scores a lucky strike on your character, and in that split second, you lock eyes with your foe and unleash a searing comeback—literally.
Flames, the color of a deep and angry red, erupt from your outstretched hand.
The flames engulf the attacker in a fiery explosion that screams, “bad move.”
It’s a first-level evocation spell that packs a punch, a favorite trick up the sleeve of any Warlock, especially those with a flair for the dramatic.
And if you’re a Tiefling, it’s like your heritage is calling.
You naturally tap into that innate infernal power.
The spell doesn’t just deal damage — it’s a spectacle, a show of force that says you’re not to be trifled with.
It’s the embodiment of “if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the fight.”
In gameplay, casting Hellish Rebuke is a moment of empowerment.
It’s reactive, a direct response to aggression, turning pain into power. When you invoke Hellish Rebuke, you’re more than a player moving a piece on the board—you’re a force of vengeance, and the battlefield is your stage.
Here is a short but really good video I made of what it might look like:
How Does Hellish Rebuke in DND Work?
Hellish Rebuke operates on the principle of retaliation.
It’s a unique spell that you cast as a reaction to being wounded by a nearby adversary.
Here’s how it unfolds in the heat of combat:
- Activation: Suffer harm from a visible enemy not further than 60 feet away.
- Counteraction: You unleash Hellish Rebuke using your reaction.
- Defense: The attacker is compelled to attempt a Dexterity saving throw.
- Result: The assailant suffers 2d10 fire damage if they fail the Dexterity saving throw, or half that damage if they succeed.
- Enhancement: Utilizing a spell slot higher than 1st level boosts the damage by 1d10 for each level above the first.
It’s important to note that Hellish Rebuke is not a preventative measure.
It won’t stop the initial attack or reduce the damage you take.
Think of it as a magical “eye for an eye.” You can’t cast it just because you’re angry or as a preemptive strike; it’s strictly a response to harm.
This spell is about making your enemies think twice before they decide to pick on you again.
It’s not a shield but a fiery retort, a way to make your mark with flames as your signature.
Who Can Cast Hellish Rebuke?
Hellish Rebuke is not a spell you’ll find in every spellcaster’s arsenal.
It’s a bit more selective, with a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for fiery retribution.
- Warlocks: These are your go-to spellcasters for Hellish Rebuke. It’s part of their spell list, and they can cast it using their spell slots. Warlocks often channel their inner fiend or otherworldly patron to unleash this spell.
- Sorcerers: While not standard, sorcerers can obtain this spell through certain bloodlines or features that expand their spell repertoire.
- Wizards: Typically, wizards can’t cast Hellish Rebuke unless they’ve dipped into a class that grants them access or through very specific magical items or feats.
- Tieflings: Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Tieflings, thanks to their Infernal Legacy trait, can cast Hellish Rebuke as a racial ability. They get to use it once per long rest, without expending a spell slot, at the spell’s lowest level. It’s like a little piece of their infernal heritage manifesting to remind everyone that there’s more to them than meets the eye.
So, if you’re a Tiefling Warlock, you’re in luck.
You get to double down on this spell, casting it with your slots or using your racial trait.
It’s a spell that resonates with those who have a touch of the infernal or chaotic about them, a tool for the cunning combatant who likes to keep an ace up their sleeve.
When Can You Use Hellish Rebuke?
Hellish Rebuke in DND is your fiery retort to being harmed by a visible foe within range.
It’s not just a spell but a declaration of defiance, reserved for those moments when an enemy lands a blow.
Here are scenarios when this spell comes into play:
- When you take damage from a visible attacker within 60 feet.
- During a surprise attack, as long as you’re not incapacitated.
- If hit by a ranged attack, like an arrow or spell, and you can see the attacker.
- In response to a melee strike, as a fiery counter.
- When an enemy’s area of effect spell hits you, and you can pinpoint their location.
The Power of Hellish Rebuke
Hellish Rebuke is more than just a fiery spectacle.
It’s a potent weapon in your magical arsenal. Its damage potential is significant right from the start and only grows as you ascend in power.
- Base Damage: At its base level, Hellish Rebuke in DND deals a scorching 2d10 fire damage. That’s an average of 11 points of damage, not a small number for a spell you can cast as a reaction.
- Scaling Up: For each spell slot above the first, Hellish Rebuke adds another 1d10 to its damage roll. This means a 2nd-level slot deals 3d10, a 3rd-level slot deals 4d10, and so on.
Here’s a quick table to visualize the spell’s scaling:
|Spell Slot Level||Damage Dice||Average Damage|
In combat, Hellish Rebuke serves as a powerful deterrent.
It’s a spell that makes opponents think twice about targeting you, knowing they might get burned—literally.
Here’s how you can use it strategically:
- Retaliation: Use it to retaliate against melee attackers who’ve managed to close the distance, reminding them of your dangerous proximity.
- Deterrence: Cast it on key enemy figures to dissuade further attacks against you or your allies.
- Psychological Warfare: Employ it to instill fear in your enemies. The sight of their comrade engulfed in hellfire can shake their resolve.
Hellish Rebuke isn’t just about the damage; it’s about control.
It’s a spell that says, “Your actions have consequences,” and those consequences are a blaze of vengeful fire.
Let’s get tactical. There are ways to synergize Hellish Rebuke with other spells, features, and combat strategies.
Synergies with Other Spells and Class Features
Hellish Rebuke shines brightest when woven into the fabric of a well-thought-out combat strategy.
It pairs well with spells and features that provoke enemies to attack you, ensuring you get the chance to unleash its fiery response.
- Armor of Agathys: A Warlock favorite, this spell gives you temporary hit points and damages any creature that hits you with a melee attack. Cast it before combat, and when you’re hit, respond with Hellish Rebuke for a one-two punch of ice and fire.
- Mirror Image: This spell creates duplicates of yourself, causing attacks to potentially miss you. When an enemy does land a hit, Hellish Rebuke serves as a fiery surprise, punishing them for their accuracy.
- Taunting Abilities: Any ability that goads enemies into attacking you, like a Paladin’s Compelled Duel or a Fighter’s Goading Attack, sets the stage for a Hellish Rebuke.
Creative Uses in Combat and Roleplay
Hellish Rebuke is a versatile spell that can be used creatively in both combat and roleplay situations.
Here are 30 inventive ways to use Hellish Rebuke in DND:
- Ambush Signal: Use the spell’s flash as a signal to allies that an ambush has begun.
- Interrogation Tool: Cast it on a small object the target is holding to intimidate during questioning.
- Magic Trick Gone Wrong: Pretend to mess up a harmless trick, then ‘accidentally’ cast Hellish Rebuke.
- Forge Lighting: Mimic the look of forging a weapon with celestial fire.
- Distraction: Create a sudden flare to distract guards or enemies.
- Escape Mechanism: Use the spell to break free from restraints by burning them.
- Signal Flare: Send a fiery signal into the sky for long-distance communication.
- Trap Trigger: Set off traps from a distance with a burst of flame.
- Light Source: Illuminate a dark area momentarily with the spell’s flash.
- Demonstration of Power: Show off your might to gain respect or fear.
- Ritual Component: Use the spell as part of a ritual, simulating hellfire.
- Cooking Show: Add a dramatic flair to cooking by ‘grilling’ with Hellish Rebuke.
- Threat Display: Warn potential attackers by casting it on an inanimate object.
- Mock Battle: Use it in a staged fight to impress an audience.
- Magic Duel: Respond with it during a friendly duel to up the ante.
- Initiation Rite: Cast it as part of a guild or group’s initiation ceremony.
- Weapon Enchantment Simulation: Make a weapon appear temporarily enchanted with fire.
- Criminal Branding: Use it as a means to mark a criminal with a burn.
- Tattooing: Roleplay using the spell’s heat to create a permanent mark or tattoo.
- Fireworks: Celebrate an event with your own magical fireworks.
- Alchemy: Pretend to use the spell in alchemical concoctions.
- Disposal: Burn evidence or items you want to quickly dispose of.
- Landmark: Leave a scorched mark to denote a place of interest.
- Intimidation: Cast it on your own weapon to intimidate foes before a fight.
- Magic Experiment: Roleplay a magical mishap during an experiment.
- Storytelling: Enhance a tale or performance with live fire effects.
- Training: Use the spell as a controlled way to train others to dodge or resist fire.
- Mercy Kill: End the suffering of a mortally wounded creature with a quick burst of flame.
- Magic Contest: Compete in a contest of magical prowess using the spell.
- Seance: Cast it to simulate a spirit’s angry response during a seance.
Note: To use many of these strategies, you’ll need to trigger the spell by absorbing some kind of attack.
Hellish Rebuke vs. Other Spells
When it comes to choosing your spells, especially at lower levels, each slot is precious.
Hellish Rebuke often competes with other spells for these slots. Let’s compare it with some similar level spells to see where it stands.
Hellish Rebuke vs. Shield
Shield is a go-to reaction spell that boosts your Armor Class by +5 until your next turn, potentially causing incoming attacks to miss.
Unlike Hellish Rebuke, Shield is a preventative measure.
It’s about avoiding damage, while Hellish Rebuke is about payback.
The advantage of Hellish Rebuke lies in its offensive capability.
Shield won’t deter enemies from attacking you again, but Hellish Rebuke can make them regret their decision by dealing substantial damage.
Hellish Rebuke vs. Magic Missile
Magic Missile is a reliable damage dealer that hits its target without a need for an attack roll.
It’s a spell of precision and consistency.
Hellish Rebuke, on the other hand, can potentially deal more damage to a single target.
Plus, it doesn’t use up your action since it’s a reaction.
The choice here depends on whether you prefer the guaranteed hit of Magic Missile or the higher damage and reactionary nature of Hellish Rebuke.
Hellish Rebuke vs. Burning Hands
Burning Hands offers an area of effect, dealing fire damage to all creatures in a 15-foot cone.
It’s excellent for crowd control.
Hellish Rebuke is single-target, but it’s also not limited to your turn and can be used in response to an attack, which Burning Hands cannot.
The advantage of Hellish Rebuke is its reactionary use.
As you might imagine, this allows you to save your action for other spells or attacks.
Hellish Rebuke vs. Witch Bolt
Witch Bolt creates a sustained arc of lightning that deals damage over time.
While Witch Bolt can potentially deal damage over several rounds, it requires concentration and uses your action each turn to deal damage after the initial casting.
Hellish Rebuke is a one-and-done spell.
It frees you up to cast other spells or take other actions on subsequent turns.
Plus, Hellish Rebuke’s damage is instantaneous, making it a better choice for a quick, decisive strike.
Rules and Rulings
Navigating the rules of DND can sometimes feel as treacherous as traversing the layers of the Nine Hells.
Hellish Rebuke, while straightforward, often comes with questions regarding its use. Let’s clarify some common queries and misconceptions to ensure this spell is cast with confidence.
Is Hellish Rebuke Just a Reaction?
Indeed, Hellish Rebuke is uniquely designed to be used as a reaction.
This spell is your character’s immediate magical counterattack when they suffer harm from an adversary within their sight.
You can’t use it on your turn as a standard action.
It’s designed to be a swift response to taking damage, a magical reflex if you will.
This is what makes it unique—it’s your character’s instinctive retaliation against harm.
Can Hellish Rebuke be Cast as an Action?
No, Hellish Rebuke cannot be cast as an action.
The spell’s description is clear that it’s intended to be used as a reaction to being damaged.
This is a common point of confusion, but the rules are explicit in this regard.
Can Hellish Rebuke be Used as a Bonus Action?
Hellish Rebuke also cannot be used as a bonus action.
The spell has a specific trigger—taking damage from an attacker within 60 feet that you can see—and it’s only in response to this trigger that you can cast the spell.
How Many Times Can You Use Hellish Rebuke in DND?
The number of times you can cast Hellish Rebuke depends on the number of spell slots you have available for it.
For Warlocks and other classes with access to this spell, each casting uses a spell slot.
However, Tieflings with the Infernal Legacy trait have the innate ability to cast Hellish Rebuke once per long rest without expending a spell slot, invoking it at its base level.
Beyond this racial trait, if you have spell slots to spare, you can cast it multiple times.
But only if you have the reactions to do so.
Gameplay Impacts Dungeon Masters (DMs) Need to Know
In terms of gameplay impact, Dungeon Masters (DMs) need to be aware of the spell’s specifics to adjudicate its use correctly.
It’s not a spell to be used lightly or without cost.
DMs might also rule on the visibility of the attacker or other situational factors that could affect the spell’s use.
Understanding these nuances ensures that Hellish Rebuke remains a powerful tool in the game, one that’s used within the framework of the rules for maximum effect and fairness.
FAQs About DND Hellish Rebuke
Diving into the fiery depths of Hellish Rebuke often sparks a blaze of questions from players.
This FAQ section aims to extinguish doubts and shed light on common inquiries.
Here, we provide succinct answers to help you wield this spell with expertise and confidence.
Is Hellish Rebuke Good for Warlock?
Absolutely, Hellish Rebuke is a staple for Warlocks.
It synergizes well with their often limited spell slots due to its high damage potential as a reaction.
This spell fits perfectly with the Warlock’s combat style, allowing them to deal significant damage while focusing their actions on other potent spells or eldritch invocations.
Can All Tieflings Use Hellish Rebuke?
Yes, all Tieflings have access to Hellish Rebuke through their Infernal Legacy racial trait.
It’s a nod to their fiendish heritage, granting them the ability to cast the spell a single time every extended rest without eating up a spell slot, at its lowest level.
This racial ability allows Tieflings to tap into their innate fiery nature.
Can Hellish Rebuke Set Things on Fire?
Hellish Rebuke can indeed set things on fire.
The spell deals fire damage, and the Dungeon Master may rule that flammable objects in the environment ignite if they are not being worn or carried.
This can add a dynamic layer to combat, potentially altering the battlefield with flames.
Can You Use Hellish Rebuke While Raging?
A Barbarian’s rage focuses on physical prowess and does not inhibit the ability to cast spells.
However, if the Barbarian has multiclassed to gain access to Hellish Rebuke, they must not be a Path of the Berserker, as their Frenzy feature prevents spellcasting during rage.
Otherwise, a raging multiclass Barbarian could indeed cast Hellish Rebuke.
Does Hellish Rebuke Require Line of Sight?
Hellish Rebuke requires you to see the creature that damaged you.
This means you need an unobstructed line of sight to the attacker. If an enemy strikes from the shadows or you’re blinded, you cannot target them with this spell.
Can Hellish Rebuke Be Counterspelled?
Yes, like any other spell, Hellish Rebuke can be the target of Counterspell.
Since it’s cast as a reaction, an opponent with a ready action to cast Counterspell could potentially negate it, if they are within 60 feet and can see the caster.
Can Hellish Rebuke Be Twinned?
According to the rules for the Twinned Spell metamagic option, Hellish Rebuke cannot be twinned.
The spell targets only one creature as a reaction to being damaged.
The Twinned Spell metamagic feature is activated when you cast a spell that singles out only one target and is not self-directed.
Thus, allowing you to affect an additional creature with the same spell.
Does Hellish Rebuke Work with Sneak Attack?
Hellish Rebuke does not work with Sneak Attack.
Sneak Attack is a feature that rogues use to deal extra damage when they hit with an attack that has advantage or when another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it.
Hellish Rebuke is a spell, not an attack, so it doesn’t qualify for Sneak Attack bonuses.
Wrapping Up: Hellish Rebuke in DND
The spell’s visceral impact and strategic depth offer a satisfying way to turn the tables on your foes.
Embrace the spell’s fiery essence in your next session and revel in the power it brings to your character’s arsenal.
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