Vicious Mockery is a cantrip spell belonging to the Bard spell list.
Vicious Mockery is a unique supportive spell that can be extremely useful in the attack phases of the early game.
The Player’s Handbook states the following:
Vicious Mockery 5e
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
The caster spits out a string of insults containing subtle enchantments at a target they can see within range.
If the target can hear the caster (though it doesn’t need to see or understand it), it is forced to make a Wisdom saving roll.
If the saving roll fails, the target takes 1d4 psychic damage and has a disadvantage on the next attack roll it will make before the end of its next turn.
At Higher Levels: Vicious Mockery’s damage increases by 1d4 when reaching the 5th level (2d4), 11th level (3d4), and 17th level (4d4).
Classes Able To Use Vicious Mockery
Traditionally the Bard class is the only one who can access the Vicious Mockery spell.
Subclasses like the Arcane Trickster (Rogue), Divine Soul (Sorcerer), Eldritch Knight (Fighter), etc., can access the Vicious Mockery spell.
Is Vicious Mockery Good?
Vicious Mockery is a great Cantrip expressing the role of the Bard in a party. Its simple nature and ease of use make it great for Bards to tweak and play around with.
Advantages of Vicious Mockery
Ease of Use
Like many Cantrips available at the start of the game, Vicious Mockery is extremely easy to understand and cast.
Its short description leaves little to the imagination and provides the player with everything they wish to know about this brief spell.
In the early game, it’s understood that being near an enemy is extremely dangerous.
Therefore, spells with at least 30 feet of casting range are used more commonly in battles due to players not needing to face their enemies head-on.
Note: Many players use this strategy, not because they are scared of the creatures but because some characters might have extremely low hit points (6 HP) in the early game.
Spells requiring one component are always more convenient to cast than spells containing 2 or 3 components, all needing to be used together.
Vicious Mockery uses only a Verbal component, meaning the caster needs only chant the incantation clearly and loudly to cast the spell successfully.
Vicious Mockery is available as a Cantrip, meaning players choose it as their first spell when creating their character (in this instance, only the Bard gets this Cantrip).
When Vicious Mockery is cast on a target, on a hit, they will take 1d4 Psychic damage.
However, its most debilitating effect isn’t the damage; it’s the disadvantage it gives the targeted creature on its next attack roll.
Reliable Damage Type
Psychic damage is effective because many creatures are not resistant or immune to it. Psychic damage is good in the early game and scales well into the late game.
Drawbacks of Vicious Mockery
Vicious Mockery has a base damage of 1d4, which is extremely low, even for a Cantrip. It means that it’s less of a damaging spell and more of a supportive spell in its own right.
Note: Use Vicious Mockery for the disadvantage it gives opponents, not the damage it deals.
Horrible Scaling (Damage)
When solely looking at the damage output of Vicious Mockery, most players are better off taking Firebolt.
However, when taking a deeper look, the roleplay potential and satisfaction of Vicious Mockery are just too good to write off.
Who wouldn’t want to deal damage to an enemy by merely insulting them?
Only Bards can traditionally use Vicious Mockery, meaning if another class wants to use it, they must either multiclass or use their subclass’s abilities to incorporate Vicious Mockery into their spell list.
Note: Many subclasses don’t even have abilities to incorporate different spells.
Optimizing Vicious Mockery
Vicious Mockery is one of the best satisfying spells to use in D&D, merely because of its simple way of dealing with enemies.
It also fits with the Bard class so well that it just wants to be used while roleplaying.
Twinning Vicious Mockery
Vicious Mockery meets all the requirements needed for a spell to be twinned.
Not only will this make the spell scale better, but it will increase its overall worth. Being able to disadvantage two enemies with one spell is extremely powerful in the early and late games.
Attack Focused Enemies
When facing enemies like Goblins, Wolves, or Grimlocks, having their attacks disadvantaged can render them useless. The Psychic damage will also do some almost always unblockable damage due to its damage type.
Early Game Spam
Vicious Mockery requires only one action to be cast every round, making it possible to use a bonus action and then cast Vicious Mockery.
The Bard spams out disadvantages at any enemy trying to attack their party while the frontline and damage dealers clean up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Vicious Mockery Work on Undead?
Yes, Vicious Mockery can disadvantage even undead creatures. Just make sure they aren’t immune to Psychic damage or deafened.
Can Animals Be Affected by Vicious Mockery?
Yes, since Vicious Mockery only requires the target to hear you, not understand you, most creatures will be affected by Vicious Mockery.
Does Vicious Mockery Count as a Bonus Action?
No, Vicious Mockery is casting using one action, meaning the caster can still use their bonus action.
Is Vicious Mockery a Charm?
No, Vicious Mockery merely disadvantages a targeted creature. It has no charming effect or description that has a target fall under the Charmed condition.
Vicious Mockery is a go-to Bard Cantrip for players wishing to be a little extra. Its playstyle of mocking a target with your words and then having it deal damage is excellent for roleplay.
Wouldn’t it be funny to see your Bard mocking some big barbarian, causing him to attack with a disadvantage, then beating him to a pulp because his attack roll failed?