Toll the Dead in DND (Stats, Mechanics, and Ultimate Guide)

From the gloomy chambers of necromancy to the thrilling chime on the battlefield, the Toll the Dead spell exudes a chilling charm.

This guide offers a comprehensive look at Toll the Dead.

We’ll examining the spell’s stats, mechanics, comparisons with other spells, and an array of imaginative applications for both players and dungeon masters (DMs).

Toll the Dead Stat Block

Before we go any further, here is the spell stat block:

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RangeComponentsClassesCasting TimeDurationDamage
60 feetV, SCleric, Warlock, Wizard1 actionInstantaneous1d8 or 1d12 necrotic

What Is Toll the Dead? (Answered & Explained)

Digital image of a warlock casting a spell - Toll the Dead
I made this image

Toll the Dead (TTD), a cantrip that’s as ominous as its name suggests, is an instrument that channels the dark art of necromancy.

It conjures a resonating bell sound.

The noise is audible only to its target, bestowing necrotic damage upon them.

As the death knell reverberates through the battlefield, it tolls not just for the waning life of its victim, but also a grim reminder of the fleeting nature of mortality to those who hear it.

This psychological aspect of the spell adds a layer of depth in gameplay.

What makes this spell unique among DND spells is its intriguing mechanic.

Particularly, the capacity to deal increased damage to adversaries that are already wounded, providing an additional strategic edge during combat.

How Does Toll the Dead Work?

Casting Toll the Dead involves choosing a creature within your line of sight and within range.

The target is then subject to a Wisdom saving throw.

Failure to make the save results in the creature taking 1d8 necrotic damage.

However, if the target is already wounded, the dice changes, and the damage escalates to 1d12.

This damage continues to rise as you reach higher levels, signifying the spell’s increasingly potent potency as your character progresses.

The spell’s necrotic energy has an uncanny knack for detecting life forces already diminishe.

Gnawing at the victims’ injuries and making the toll even more lethal.

Such a mechanic truly highlights the spell’s roots in necromancy, making it a manifestation of the inevitable entropy that governs all existence.

Check out this short and sweet video about the TTD spell in DND:

YouTube Video by Chance’s D&D Spellbook

How Does Toll the Dead Sound?

The TTD spell emulates the sound of a spectral cathedral bell tolling in the distance.

The tolling reverberates across a desolate graveyard’s misty expanse, imbuing an unsettling dread.

It is an ominous, heartrending chime designed to instill terror and despair in those who hear it.

Example of Toll of the Dead in DND Gameplay

Picture this.

You’re huddled in a shadowy forest clearing, surrounded by a mob of vicious goblins.

The baying of these monstrous little foes echoes through the underbrush.

Their crude weaponry glinted in the flickering firelight.

Your heart is pounding in your chest, adrenaline surging through your veins as you and your party brace for the impending battle.

Then enters your comrade, Elara, a devout cleric with a striking presence.

Her robes are worn but majestic, flowing around her as she strides forward, an aura of divine authority glowing around her.

She’s faced foes far worse than these goblins.

And she isn’t about to back down now.

As the rest of you gear up to engage in close combat, she has a different approach.

Elara draws a deep breath, her fingers tracing the holy symbol at her chest, her voice a low, reverberating murmur of an ancient incantation.

You’ve seen her do this a thousand times.

But each time, the eerie spellcasting sends a shiver down your spine.

Suddenly, the chaotic noise of the goblin mob dies down to a whisper. An ethereal, mournful bell rings out, echoing throughout the clearing.

Only the goblin chieftain seems to hear it.

His beady eyes widen in terror as he clutches his ears, the ominous tolling of the bell penetrating his very soul.

Elara’s spell, the ominous Toll the Dead, is now in play.

As the haunting chime fades, you see the wounded chieftain stagger, his face contorted in pain.

He attempts a saving throw, a desperate roll of the dice against the spell’s necrotic damage, but his luck runs out.

He fails.

Elara, with an unwavering gaze on her target, rolls a d12 for damage, capitalizing on the goblin chieftain’s weakened state.

The result is devastating.

The chieftain crumples to the ground, writhing under the onslaught of the tolling death knell.

His agonized cries ring out across the clearing, sending the other goblins into a panicked frenzy.

The tolling of the bell has rung a powerful blow indeed.

As the rest of your party leaps into action, you can’t help but appreciate the twisted elegance of Toll the Dead.

How to Deal Extra Damage With Toll the Dead

Ever wondered how to crank up the heat with TTD?

Well, it’s all about picking the right time and the right enemy. It’s like waiting for your moment to swoop in and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

This nifty little cantrip does a base necrotic damage with a d8.

But hold onto your hats, because that’s not where the fun ends.

If the enemy you’re targeting is already injured, that damage skyrockets up to a d12.

Yep, you heard it right, a d12.

You can almost see the fear in the enemy’s eyes as they hear that terrifying toll ringing out.

My suggestion? Play it smart.

You don’t always want to be the first to dive into battle. Wait for your buddy to get a hit in, make sure that monster isn’t at full health, then unleash your magic.

You’ll be dishing out the hurt in no time.

Which Classes Can Use Toll the Dead?

Good news, my friend. If you’re rolling with a cleric or a wizard, you’re golden.

Both these classes have TTD in their spell books, and they know just how to ring that bell.

Clerics, being the divine vessels they are, make excellent casters for this cantrip.

It’s all about balance, right?

Healing your allies one moment, tolling the death knell for your enemies the next.

Meanwhile, wizards, with their vast array of arcane knowledge, can also make great use of this spell, adding a touch of necromancy to their otherwise elemental-based repertoire.

And let’s not forget about our Warlock pals.

With the right kind of pact and the Spell Sniper feat, they too can get in on the TTD action.

Is Toll the Dead Good?

Heck yes, TTD is good.

Sure, there are flashier spells out there, with bright lights and big booms.

But don’t let TTD’s subtle, eerie nature fool you. This cantrip packs a punch and comes with a lot of perks.

First off, it scales with your level.

So the stronger you get, the harder it hits. Starting with a d8 or a d12 (depending on the target’s health), it moves up to a whopping 4d8 or 4d12 at higher levels.

That’s not just a ding-dong, that’s a full-on cathedral bell tolling.

Also, it targets Wisdom saving throw, which isn’t the strong suit for many monsters.

So, chances are, you’re gonna land this more often than not.

And let’s not forget the psychological advantage. I mean, nothing ruins a monster’s day like hearing their own death knell.

So, yeah.

TTD is more than just good.

It’s a tried and tested staple for anyone looking to keep their enemies on their toes (or off their feet).

Toll the Dead vs. Other Spells

The TTD spell stands tall among its cantrip brethren owing to its damage mechanic,

This scales with the loss of enemy health.

This unique feature arms it with a distinct edge over other cantrips, particularly when compared to the likes of Sacred Flame, Eldritch Blast, and Chill Touch.

Toll the Dead vs. Sacred Flame

Sacred Flame is a cantrip known for its steady damage-dealing capabilities, dealing radiant damage and bypassing cover.

Yet, it lacks TTD’s damage scaling mechanic.

This often results in TTD outperforming Sacred Flame in damage output.

Particularly in skirmishes where enemies have taken significant damage.

Toll the Dead vs. Eldritch Blast

Eldritch Blast enjoys a position of popularity among Warlocks, courtesy of its high damage output and impressive range.

However, it is missing TTD’s unique mechanic of dealing increased damage to wounded foes.

This makes TTD a more efficient choice in drawn-out fights.

Especially where enemies have already been injured.

Toll the Dead vs. Chill Touch

Chill Touch possesses the ability to hinder creatures from regaining hit points.

It imposes disadvantage against undead targets.

Despite these benefits, it doesn’t possess TTD’s feature to exploit weakened enemies for extra damage, making it less favorable when drawn into prolonged fights.

Best Builds With Toll the Dead

We’re about to dive into the best character builds that take this cantrip from just another spell to an absolute powerhouse.

Let’s get the show on the road.

1. Necromancer Wizard

First up is the classic necromancer wizard.

These arcane masters of death make fantastic use of TTD.

It’s all about flavor here.

You’re a necromancer, and nothing says “necromancy” quite like a bell tolling your enemies’ doom.

But beyond the aesthetics, it’s a potent spell in a necromancer’s arsenal.

Particularly given its high damage output and the scaling potential.

2. Death Domain Cleric

Next on the list is the death domain cleric.

Not only does TTD fit the theme perfectly, but it also synergizes well with the class’s features.

The Reaper class feature allows you to target two creatures with a necromancy cantrip if they’re within 5 feet of each other.

Now, imagine casting the spell on two injured enemies at once.

That’s a bell toll worth hearing.

3. Eldritch Knight Fighter

Want to mix some swordplay with your spellcasting?

Eldritch Knight fighters make great use of this cantrip.

You can soften up your enemies from a distance with TTD, then swoop in for the kill with your melee weapons.

Plus, the spell adds a nice touch of necromantic flavor to your otherwise martial character.

4. Hexblade Warlock

Last but not least, we have the Hexblade Warlock.

With the Spell Sniper feat, you can snatch up TTD and use it alongside Hex to dish out a ton of damage.

Cast Hex to place a curse on an enemy.

Deal extra damage every time you hit them with a spell, then follow up with TTD for a sweet one-two punch.

The flavor combination of a cursed enemy hearing the toll of their impending doom? Chef’s kiss.

How Can Players Use Toll the Dead?

Here are seven creative ways that players can use the spell:

  1. Finish Off Wounded Foes – Use the spell to deliver a lethal blow to injured enemies, capitalizing on the increased damage.
  2. Wear Down Tough Enemies – In long fights against high HP enemies, TTD becomes progressively effective as the enemy loses hit points.
  3. Exploit Fear – Utilize the terrifying tolling to unnerve and intimidate opponents, possibly causing them to falter or make impulsive decisions.
  4. Signal for Attack – In a covert mission, use the bell’s toll as a coded signal for your allies to initiate a coordinated attack.
  5. Warning Signal – The toll could also function as an alarm, signaling impending danger to allies.
  6. Distract Enemies – The sudden, eerie tolling can serve as an effective distraction, allowing allies an opportunity to escape or launch a surprise attack.
  7. Confirm Kills – The bell tolls exclusively for the living. Use it as a verification tool to confirm if an enemy is genuinely deceased or merely feigning death.

DM Ideas for Toll the Dead

But what if you are the Dungeon Master (DM), looking for some juicy adventure ideas?

Check out this list of 43 ideas for you.

  1. Unsettling Omen: Make the bell’s toll heard throughout a haunted town as an omen of impending doom.
  2. Ghostly Monks: Haunted monastery where spectral monks continually cast the spell, causing psychological torment.
  3. Mass Mourning: In a large cemetery, the sound of TTD comes with each new burial, causing a chilling atmosphere.
  4. Echoing Caverns: An underground labyrinth echoes with the bell’s toll whenever a creature dies within.
  5. Cursed Artifact: A cursed artifact that causes the user to hear the spell whenever they kill a creature.
  6. Bell Tower Horror: A horror-themed adventure in a bell tower where the bell tolls whenever someone dies in the town.
  7. Twisted Bard: A bard villain uses TTD as part of their haunting performance.
  8. Silent Town: A town where sound has been sucked away, but the eerie toll can still be heard.
  9. Psychic Invasion: An enemy mage uses TTD to torment a victim from within their mind.
  10. Spiritual Guide: A spirit guide communicates with your party via the tolling of a distant bell.
  11. Monstrous Adaptation: A monster has evolved to use the spell as a hunting mechanism.
  12. Creepy Clockwork: A clockwork construct tolls the spell on the hour, every hour.
  13. Necromancer’s Signature: A powerful necromancer uses TTD as their chilling calling card.
  14. Graveyard Keeper: An old graveyard keeper uses the cantrip as a tool to maintain peace among restless spirits.
  15. Mourning Ritual: A culture that uses the cantrip as a mourning ritual.
  16. Haunted Forest: A forest where the trees seem to toll the spell when someone dies.
  17. Echoes of Battle: On a historic battlefield, the sounds of battle, including TTD, can still be heard.
  18. Dragon’s Roar: A dragon uses a roar version of the spell.
  19. Astral Terror: In the Astral Plane, the spell is a sign of a psychic predator nearby.
  20. Mimic Bell: A large mimic disguised as a bell uses TTD as a lure.
  21. Necrotic Nature: A necrotic-infused plant or animal that can cast the spell.
  22. Underdark Warning: The toll is a warning sign of danger in the Underdark.
  23. Undead Ringer: An undead that rings a spectral bell to cast the spell.
  24. Ethereal Echo: The bell can be heard from the Ethereal Plane.
  25. Curse of the Bell: A PC is cursed to hear TTD every time they kill.
  26. Torture Method: The spell is used as a form of psychological torture.
  27. Ghastly Orchestra: An orchestra of ghosts who all play spectral instruments, the music of which resembles TTD.
  28. Funeral Rites: The spell is woven into the funeral rites of a particular culture, serving as the deceased’s last rites.
  29. Banshee’s Cry: A banshee that has incorporated the spell into its deadly wail.
  30. Lich’s Alarm: A lich uses the spell as an alarm system, the tolling bell indicating intruders.
  31. Death’s Herald: A being representing death or a deity of death uses TTD to announce its arrival.
  32. Grim Reaper’s Toll: The Grim Reaper uses this spell to signal that someone’s time has come.
  33. Fey Prank: A mischievous fey creature uses Toll the Dead to scare travelers in the forest.
  34. Eerie Lighthouse: A lighthouse that emits a sound similar to TTD, causing despair instead of hope.
  35. Tomb Guardian: A guardian of a sacred tomb uses the spell to intimidate intruders.
  36. Magic Circle: A magical trap that triggers TTD when stepped on.
  37. Wraith’s Warning: A wraith uses the spell as a warning to those entering its haunted domain.
  38. Divine Test: A test from a deity or celestial being that involves enduring the continuous tolling of the bell.
  39. Spectral Minstrel: A ghostly minstrel whose instrument mimics the tolling of the spell.
  40. Cursed Choir: A cursed choir whose song is a haunting rendition of TTD.
  41. Haunted Helm: A helm that causes its wearer to hear the constant tolling of the death knell.
  42. Psychic Haunting: A location is psychically imbued with the last moments of a powerful caster’s life, replaying their casting of the spell.
  43. Unending Funeral: A ghostly procession that’s stuck in a loop, with a spectral bell continually tolling the dead.

Toll the Dead FAQ

It’s time to bust some myths and answer your burning questions about the TTD spell.

Let’s get this ball rolling.

Does Toll the Dead Work on the Undead?

This is a common question, and the answer is, “Absolutely!”

Just because they’re undead doesn’t mean they can’t hear the bell toll.

Zombies, skeletons, vampires, all are fair game for this cantrip.

They might be walking around like they own the place, but a nice toll will remind them they’re supposed to be six feet under.

What Magic Items Pair Well With Toll of the Dead?

Okay, you’re looking for the perfect accessory to your tolling prowess.

Here’s the deal.

Anything that enhances your spellcasting is a winner.

Items like the “Rod of the Pact Keeper” for warlocks or the “Wand of the War Mage” for wizards and clerics can amp up your spellcasting abilities.

TTD is a spell attack.

Any bonus to your spell attacks is gonna make this bell toll louder and prouder.

What DND Book Contains Toll the Dead?

The TTD spell is found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

It’s a tome filled to the brim with all sorts of magic goodies, including this neat cantrip.

It’s one of the ultimate DND spell books.

Definitely worth picking up if you don’t have it already.

Final Thoughts: TTD in DND

And that, my friend, brings us to the end of our epic journey through the eerie, bone-chilling, yet undeniably intriguing world of Toll the Dead.

Now you know how to to squeeze every last drop of awesomeness out of it.

But at the end of the day, what matters most is how YOU choose to weave it into your story.

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Xanathar’s Guide to Everything