Inflict Wounds is a level one damage-dealing necromancy spell discovered on page 253 of The Player’s Handbook. This is a spell that has had a lot of discussion over it as some players are big fans while others are not. Which is strange considering you usually don’t get half a group saying the spell isn’t good while the other half says it’s actually overpowered.
Inflict Wounds is a spell you might not see too often at the table because there are actually very few ways to acquire it, and only one class that starts with it (although it is an option for some sub-classes).
How to Use Inflict Wounds
First, let’s review the full wording of the Inflict Wounds spell from the Player’s Handbook (PHB):
1st Level necromancy
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S
Make a melee spell attack against a creature you can reach. On a hit, the target takes 3d10 necrotic damage.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d10 for each slot level above 1st.The Player’s Handbook, p.253
Because it is a first-level spell, there are several prerequisites that must be met in order to cast it effectively.
These factors are detailed below.
- You need to be able to talk (e.g., your mouth must not be covered and you can’t be in a cone of silence)
- You will have to make contact with your opponent.
To use this spell, you must first have it in your spell list. The Inflict Wounds spell is only available to a select few, as discussed in the section “Who Has Access to Inflict Wounds?” Since Inflict Wounds is a level one spell, the caster must have at least one level one spell slot open.
Then, because the spell has the “vocal” component, you have to have the ability talk. Furthermore, because the spell contains a “somatic” component, you must be able to move your hands.
The last prerequisite for this spell is that you touch your opponent for it to operate because it has a “touch” range. When your objective is 5 feet away, touching your desired target in order to cause harm to them is doable. If your goal is too far away, you must be able to approach it. This is what distinguishes Inflict Wounds as a unique damage-dealing spell, as it is particularly effective at close quarters.
You must perform a melee spell attack when you cast this spell to touch your target. It is similar to a conventional melee attack in that you roll a d20 and apply your proficiency bonus, but you must also add your spellcasting ability modifier. When your attack roll hits your target’s Armor Class (or AC), it is a successful hit, and you deal damage.
How Does Inflict Wounds Work?
When you complete all of the prerequisites and successfully land a hit on your opponent with the Inflict Wounds spell, you roll for its damage. Since 3d10 necrotic damage is dealt by Inflict Wounds, it will deliver roughly 16 to 17 necrotic damage on average.
That’s a lot for a spell you can learn at level 1! Because many lower-level monsters have the same range of HP as a low level character, this spell might mean instant death for your opponent.
Necrotic damage, like radiant damage, has an effect on a creature’s life essence. The distinction is that necrotic damage affects negative energy, whereas radiant damage affects positive energy.
Many species, particularly the undead, are resistant and even immune to necrotic harm. However, it is still highly beneficial because the number of creatures with this resistance in the Monster Manual is quite small in relation to the total number of monsters.
At the Highest Levels
To use this spell, you must have at least one open level one spell slot that you can expend. However, you can also use higher-level spell slots, which increases the strength of the spell. When you use a level two spell slot or above to cast Inflict Wounds, an additional 1d10 damage is added for each slot level above the first.
For example, if you used a level two spell slot to cast Inflict Wounds, the damage would be 4d10 instead of 3d10. That dice roll will result in 22 necrotic damage on average, with a maximum of 40 and a minimum of 4. The damage would be 6d10 necrotic damage if cast with a level four spell slot.
Who Has Access to Inflict Wounds?
There are just a few possibilities for having this spell in your arsenal. The 5E Inflict Wounds spell is only available to one class: Cleric, whose description and details can be found on page 56 of The Player’s Handbook. If a cleric attacks an opponent with Inflict Wounds, their spell attack roll is 1d20 + their proficiency bonus + their Wisdom modifier.
There are also 2 sub-classes that may use Inflict Wounds.
- The Divine Soul Sorcerer (found on page 50 of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
- The Oathbreaker Paladin (homebrew options abound, RAW information on page 97 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide)
To obtain access to the Inflict Wounds spell, Divine Soul sorcerers must select the evil affinity in the Divine Magic class feature. Oathbreaker paladins acquire access to the spell at level three, when they first take the subclass. They also get access to an additional spell, Hellish Rebuke, in addition to Inflict Wounds.
Is the Inflict Wounds Spell Effective?
Overall, it’s a solid, well-rounded, and helpful spell for dealing damage to your enemies. Its main benefit is its large damage and range, which is ideal for close combat.
The following is a list of why you would want to pick up the Inflict Wounds spell.
- It is a level one spell, therefore it is available very early in the game, and it requires no ingredients to cast.
- It inflicts a significant amount of damage on an individual target (3d10 necrotic damage). The average amount of damage works out to be 16-17.
- Because Inflict Wounds only affects one creature, the caster can prevent superfluous casualties, unlike spells that cause damage in an area that are capable of harming allies.
- It is a melee spell attack, therefore you may only hit enemies within 5 feet of you. This can help you put enemies that rely on conventional ranged attacks and ranged spell attacks in a treacherous position, as being within 5 feet of an adversary imposes disadvantage on these attack rolls.
- Since stepping away from you without using an action to disengage will provoke an attack of opportunity, this creates quite the predicament, especially at low levels!
When Inflict Wounds is cast from a higher-level spell slot, the spell gains power and causes more damage. While it can do some serious work as a damage dealer, there are several drawbacks to the spell that you should be aware of.
They are detailed below.
- To throw it, your hands and mouth must be free of restriction.
- Because it is a melee spell attack (you must be within 5 feet of your target to attack), it may not be suitable for long-distance targets.
- It is not a suitable spell for dealing damage to a large number of creatures in an area since it only does damage to one target each time it is invoked.
Only 13 monsters in the Monster Manual have resistance to necrotic damage, while 12 have immunity. When it comes to radiant damage, only four creatures have resistance and none have immunity.
However, the majority of the 13 creatures with necrotic damage resistance are Undead, therefore it is still a fine spell to use unless you are fighting with the Undead. Fortunately, since clerics also have the ability to Turn Undead, they’ll still have plenty to contribute should your party stumble across a group of low level undead like ghasts or wights.
There are no monsters in the Monster Manual that are susceptible to necrotic damage. Two animals are susceptible when compared to radiant harm.
Is Inflict Wounds an Overpowered Spell?
In the hands of the party or the opponent, Inflict Wounds may be a devastating 1st level spell. However, determining whether a spell is powerful without considering the other choices is difficult. The commonality of the spell should also be evaluated.
For starters, Inflict Wounds is only accessible as a normal class spell for Clerics. This means that in the usual party, only one person is capable of casting it. It can only be thrown twice in a single encounter at the beginning levels. The spell has also range of touch, which means that the caster must be within melee range to use it.
Second, the damage for Inflict Wounds is high, but it is balanced in contrast to other Cleric spells of the same level. Guiding Bolt has a range of 120 feet, delivers 4d6 damage, and provides advantage to the creature’s next attack. When averages are taken into account, the comparison is as follows:
Inflict Wounds Damage: 3d10 = 15 Average
Guiding Bolt Damage: 4d6 = 12 Average damage + advantage for the following attack
With the amount of damage it deals, Inflict Wounds might appear to be overpowering. This is especially true in the case of a critical strike. At low levels, 3d10 multiplied by 2 deals severe damage. This is true for the majority of critical hit assault spells. It has no disproportionate effect on Inflict Wounds.
Is Inflict Wounds a Good Spell?
Inflict Wounds is a strong spell that may be performed at higher levels, keeping it relevant. The sort of Cleric you choose to play may simply determine whether or not it is a decent spell.
If you’re playing a fully armored character that will frequently be in melee range, this could be the strongest spell choice you have. Missing the attack and losing the spell slot increases the probability of causing potentially deadly damage. This may not be relevant if you are not expected to heal the party.
If you’re playing a supporting and healing-focused Cleric, Inflict Wounds is likely to come as a surprise. If you need to give damage above Sacred Flame, Guiding Bolt provides equivalent damage from a distance. Bane and Bless are better spells for bolstering allies. It is also doubtful that you will be able to exchange a potentially dangerous attack spell for a possible Cure Wounds.
FAQs for Inflict Wounds
How much damage does Inflict Wounds inflict?
It inflicts 3d10 necrotic damage. When the spell is cast from a higher-level spell slot, the damage increases by 1d10 for each level beyond level one (e.g. if you cast this spell with a third-level spell slot, the damage would be 5d10).
What is the damage range of Inflict Wounds?
Inflict Wounds is classified as a melee spell attack. By touching your target, you do them harm. As a result, you must be within 5 feet of your target.
Is Inflict Wounds a viable option?
According to several sources, Inflict Wounds is not always OP. While it deals a lot of damage when compared to other first-level spells, it only affects one creature at a time.
Is it true that Inflict Wounds heal Undead?
Answer: No, Inflict Wounds does not heal Undead unless specifically indicated in the creature’s powers and description.
Can Inflict Wounds be critted?
Yes, it is possible. Spells that deal melee or ranged damage have a chance of landing a critical hit on their attack roll.
What is the distinction between Guiding Bolt and Inflict Wounds?
Guiding Bolt as well as Inflict Wounds are both first-level spells available only to the Cleric class. Guiding Bolt, on the other hand, is an evocation spell that does 4d6 radiant damage in a distant assault, whereas Inflict Wounds is a necromancy spell that deals 3d10 necrotic damage in a melee attack.
So What’s the Verdict on 5E Inflict Wounds?
Inflict Wounds is the same as any other spell. Its use is frequently determined by the character type. A touch spell has no application for a ranged character. That isn’t to say the spell is awful; rather, it isn’t a good fit for that playstyle. When assessing the utility of a spell, playstyle should always be taken into account.
As you can see, there is nothing that is going to really make the Inflict Wounds spell stand out throughout the adventure. In the end the usefulness of the spell is going to be dependent upon the type of character and overall abilities. If you are going to be playing as a ranged character, the Inflict Wounds spell will offer very little benefit and should be left behind for the ultimate in play.
Our final thought is that this is obviously not the best spell in the game, but by no means can it be considered one of the worst. What will ultimately determine the viability of this spell is going to be your specific playstyle. Our advice would be to give it a go and see how it works out for you and your character.
Other D&D Spell Guides of Note
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