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Power Word: Kill 5e D&D Guide

Power Word: Kill 5e D&D Guide

Power Word: Kill is a 9th-level damage spell available to the Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard spell lists.

Great spellcasters are said to unleash death with their tongues. Those spellcasters can take one’s life in seconds by simply speaking a word.

Tread carefully. You never know who might be listening.

The Player’s Handbook says the following:

Power Word: Kill 5e

9th-level Enchantment

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 60 feet

Components: V

Duration: Instantaneous

You articulate a word of power that compels one creature you see within range to die instantly.

If your chosen creature has 100 hit points or fewer, it dies. Otherwise, the spell has no effect.

Which Classes Can Pick Power Word: Kill?

Traditional classes that can unlock Power Word: Kill are the Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard.

All the classes can unlock and use this spell at level 17.

No subclasses can freely unlock this spell.

Is Power Word: Kill Good in 5e?

Power Word: Kill is a decent choice, given the right circumstances. However, players shouldn’t see it as a must-have spell, as there are many other great 9th-level spells.

Advantages – Power Word: Kill

One Component

PWK only uses a Verbal component to be cast. The caster must speak loudly and clearly for the spell to be cast.

Another addition is that it doesn’t have a Material component. This saves the caster from spending GP on materials and saves them time in the long run.

No Concentration

PWK doesn’t make use of Concentration to cast or hold the spell. When cast, its effects are instantaneous and deadly.

It also means enemies cannot cancel the spell from taking damage or losing focus.

Disadvantages – Power Word: Kill


At higher levels, creatures tend to have higher HP pools. With this in mind, you can cast this spell and have nothing happen.

Even though it can be seen as a gamble, it all depends on your knowledge of D&D. Seasoned players will know which enemies can and can’t be killed with PWK.

Spells Similar to Power Word: Kill

A spell that has some similarities to PWK is Disintegrate. The only problem is that you still have to roll for damage, meaning it won’t be a guaranteed instakill like with PWK.

Note: A magic item named the Vorpal Sword can instantly kill a creature by cutting off its head (if it can’t live without one). The only problem is that you must roll a 20 on your attack roll.

When or How Should I Use Power Word: Kill?

DM’s Description

A DM’s job is to be creative and compelling with their actions and story. Creating mystery, fear, and intrigue is needed for a campaign to be exciting.

The best time to do this is when a party is about to enter a battle.

Remember, the DM doesn’t have to tell you what creature you’ll be fighting before the battle starts.

They can keep it a secret, describing only the creature’s body features, size, color, age, and power.

You’ll need to figure out what you’re fighting.


Before even trying to attack the creature, you should listen to the DM’s description of the creature.

If there is at least one experienced player in the group, there’s a significant chance you’ll be able to figure out what you’re fighting.

Only then can you make choices and know whether PWK or any other spell you have will be effective on it.

You will also understand whether the threat is too great for your party to handle.

Finishing Enemies

Pay attention to the HP pool of an enemy after identifying it. Tracking its HP each time it takes damage will eventually give you an opening where PWK will instantly kill it.

If you don’t want to be so technical, you can target creatures troubling your party.

Most of these higher CR lackeys will have less than 100 HP, meaning you should be able to make quick work of them.

Avoid Legendary Resistant Creatures

Creatures with legendary resistances are extremely powerful and boast high resistance to magic.

Note: Some creatures with legendary resistances are dragons, dracolichs, some vampires, an aboleth, and the tarrasque.

These creatures aren’t immune to PWK because of their resistance. The problem is that their resistance will make it difficult for a party to get them low enough for PWK to be effective.

Players should instead use another 9th-level spell like Wish to duplicate the damage of other high-level spells.

Not only will this be more effective, but it’ll also be quicker than using lower-level spells to try and kill powerful creatures.


You can use this spell to showcase your power if you don’t mind burning a 9th-level spell slot.

It will tell anyone around you that you cannot only harm them but instantly wipe them off the face of the mortal realm.

If someone is bothering you, using PWK can intimidate them. Simply kill their buddy and show them what will happen to them if they don’t leave you alone.

I’m sure nobody will try and challenge you if you do that!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Power Word: Kill, Kill a Tarrasque?

In theory, yes, this spell can kill a Tarrasque.

The only problem would be that it has an advantage on saving throws, 3 legendary resistances, and over 600 HP.

So after you find out how to deal with those, you can kill it with Power Word: Kill.

What Stops Power Word: Kill?

By upscaling Counterspell with a 9th-level spell slot, enemies can cancel the spell.

Note: A DM might have a Lich or another spellcasting creature cast Counterspell like this to cancel your high-level spells.

Can You Twin Power Word: Kill?

Since the spell only targets one creature and doesn’t have a range of self. It enables players to twin it.

Final Thoughts

PWK might seem like an extremely powerful spell at first. But then you are met with bosses with HP pools reaching far beyond 300. When this happens, you need to think technically.

Even if PWK is straightforward, having to be so focused on when you can cast it can lead to the game being less fun and more analytical.

So if you don’t mind burning a 9th-level spell slot, just cast it on annoying enemies!

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