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Inflict Wounds 5e D&D Guide

Inflict Wounds 5e D&D Guide

Inflict Wounds is the powerhouse damage spell for the Cleric class. The damage scales up by level with no cap, and it is available at 1st level. Using it means risking getting involved in melee with the enemy, however.

The rules for Inflict Wounds can be found in the Players Handbook on page 253.

Inflict Wounds 5e

1st-level Necromancy

Casting Time: 1 Action

Range: Touch

Components: V, S

Duration: Instantaneous

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 rules for the Inflict Wounds outline the massive damage potential for this 1st level spell. A decent roll on 3d10 will bring almost any low-level enemy to their knees.

Getting close enough to unleash this potentially devastating attack could be tricky, though.

Is Inflict Wounds Overpowered?

Inflict Wounds can be a devastating 1st level spell in the hands of the party or the enemy. However, it is tough to determine if a spell is overpowered without looking at the other available options. The commonality of the spell is also a factor that should be considered.

First, Inflict Wounds is only available to the Cleric as a standard class. This means in the average party; there is only one individual capable of casting it.

At early levels, it can only be cast twice in one encounter. The spell is also a range of touch, meaning the caster needs to be within melee range to use it.

Second, the damage is significant for Inflict Wounds, but it is balanced by comparison to other Cleric spells of the same level.

Guiding Bolt has a range of 120 feet and deals 4d6 damage plus grants advantage to the next attack on the creature. Factoring averages, the comparison is as follows:

  • Inflict Wounds: 3d10 = 15 Average Damage
  • Guiding Bolt: 4d6= 12 Average damage + the next attack at advantage
Hot Tip
Inflict Wounds can give the impression of being overpowered with the damage dealt. This is especially true on a critical hit. 3d10 multiplied by 2 is a devastating amount of damage at low levels. This is true with most attack spells that can critically hit. It doesn’t impact Inflict Wounds disproportionally.

Is Inflict Wounds a Good Spell?

Inflict Wounds is a powerful spell and has the ability to be cast at higher levels, keeping it relevant. Determining if it is a good spell may simply depend on the type of Cleric you decide to play.

If you are playing a heavily armored character, who will be within melee range often, then it may be the best spell option you have.

The risk of dealing potentially lethal damage is missing the attack and losing the spell slot. This may not be significant if you are not depended upon to do the party’s healing.

If you are playing the supporting and healing-focused Cleric type, Inflict Wounds can probably be left unprepared. Guiding Bolt offers similar damage from range if you need to provide damage above Sacred Flame.

Bane and Bless are more beneficial spells for buffing allies. It is also unlikely that you will be able to trade a risky attack spell for a potential Cure Wounds.

Bottom Line
Inflict Wounds isn’t any different than any other spell. Its usefulness often directly depends on the character type. A touch spell doesn’t benefit a ranged character. That doesn’t mean the spell is bad, but more that it isn’t a good fit for that playstyle. Playstyle should always be considered when evaluating a spell’s usefulness.

How Does Inflict Wounds Work?

Inflict Wounds is incredibly simple, as all you have to do is touch the creature you want to damage, and on a hit, the target will take 3d10 Necrotic damage.

Note: Remember, you don’t need to see the creature; you just have to touch it.

Inflict Wounds 5e FAQs

Is Guiding Bolt or Inflict Wounds Better?

Since both spells are damaging spells, we should compare their maximum damage output. Guiding Bolt has a maximum damage output of 24 Radiant damage (from 4d6), while Inflict Wounds has a maximum damage output of 30 Necrotic damage. In this case, Inflict Wounds has higher potential damage than Guiding Bolt.

On the other hand, fewer creatures are resistant and immune to Radiant damage than Necrotic damage, and Inflict Wounds doesn’t grant advantage while Guiding Bolt does. 

We should also consider that Guiding Bolt is a ranged spell and can be cast from safety, behind the frontline, while Inflict Wounds puts a vulnerable spellcaster at least 5 feet from their target.

In that case, Guiding Bolt is, without a doubt, a better option than Inflict Wounds.

Can Inflict Wounds Be Twinned?

Inflict Wounds does qualify to be Twin Spelled via metamagic; it can only target one creature and has a range of touch. However, to accomplish this, the character would need to have multi-classed with a sorcerer in some way or be a Divine Soul Sorcerer of an evil affinity.

Necrotic damage could be used to heal undead in previous editions. This has been removed as a default effect in 5e. If a spell dealing necrotic damage could be used to heal undead, it would be explicitly stated in the spell description.

Is Inflict Wounds a Wizard Spell?

While Inflict Wounds is part of the Necromancy School of magic, it is not listed on the Wizard spell list even if that Wizard takes the Necromancy Arcane Tradition.

This can be frustrating and confusing; however, the spell Inflict Wounds is thought to have originated as a corruption of the Cure Wounds spell. Both are Cleric spells.

Hot Tip
The Oathbreaker Paladin and Divine Soul Sorcerer also have access to the Inflict Wounds spell. Obtaining it in this manner generally means following an evil path. Otherwise, the spell is exclusive to the Cleric class.

Final Thoughts

Inflict Wounds is a great spell both for damage and roleplay. It is well-balanced compared to other options in the Cleric list. It can be upcast and critically hit. The idea of manipulating the very essence of life is pretty interesting in the standard divine caster context.

The effectiveness and necessity depend on the type of character being played. As long as you can afford to trade healing for damage, it is a good chance to take.

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[…] 1st level necromancy spell might be the best melee spell in the game. Inflict wounds deals 3d10 damage at the base level cast and scales […]