The Thunderous Glory of Inflict Wounds: An Exhaustive Guide

inflict wounds spell
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The cleric stared down the towering ogre, clutching her holy symbol. As the beast raised its club to crush her, she uttered a prayer to her deity. Suddenly, a crackling orb of necrotic energy engulfed her hand. She thrust her palm forward, impacting the ogre's chest. It howled in agony as its life essence drained away, wounds ripping open across its body. The cleric's inflict wounds had struck true.

Originating the Wounds that Wound

Inflict wounds has existed throughout D&D's history, with precedents like “cause light wounds” in the game's inaugural 1974 release. Thematically, this spell channels negative energy to rupture a creature's life force. Mechanically, inflict wounds provides clerics with that rare gem – a means for potent single-target damage. Unlike flashy area-of-effect spells, inflict wounds focuses divine punishment into a tactical precision strike. For clerics wanting to occasionally forgo the supportive role and unleash their deity's fury, inflict wounds satisfies.

And wrathful deities demand satisfaction. Evil gods like Bane, lawful gods like St. Cuthbert, even good gods like Lathander – all may compel their clerics to inflict wounds against heresy and corruption. And what cleric would deny their god's calling? Certainly not Brother Jorgun, who experienced a vision from the Morninglord imploring him to inflict wounds on the vampiric Baron Alain. This sent Jorgun on a redemptive crusade, casting inflict wounds in Lathander's name. Such character drama exemplifies how inflict wounds beckons clerics toward darker destinies.

Understanding the Wounds

Mechanically, inflict wounds is defined by four key attributes:

  • Range: Touch – The cleric must physically touch the target, requiring proximity.
  • Damage: 3d10 necrotic – This heavy damage distinguishes inflict wounds from other 1st-level spells.
  • Scaling: +1d10 per slot level above 1st – Upcasting boosts the damage considerably.
  • Attack Roll: Melee spell attack – Landing this attack roll is pivotal to inflicting damage.

Thus, inflict wounds demands the cleric get up close and personal to unleash harm through necromantic energy. While most clerics avoid melee combat, inflict wounds forces them into close quarters. And with 3d10 damage, the risk proves worthwhile.

Of course, higher level slots skyrocket the damage further. Even legendaries like dragons would shudder at the wounds caused by a 9th level inflict wounds. Lower level monsters practically vaporize under such immense power. Used judiciously, an upcast inflict wounds can single-handedly decimate formidable foes.

Wielding the Wounds

Executing inflict wounds effectively requires understanding its prerequisites:

  • The spell must be prepared/known by the cleric
  • An available spell slot is required to cast inflict wounds
  • Verbal and somatic components necessitate speech and gestures
  • The cleric's hands must touch the target creature

Thus, silencing effects or restrained hands will prevent casting. Once able to cast, the cleric makes a melee spell attack roll against their foe's AC, utilizing their spellcasting modifier. If the attack hits, the raw necrotic energy rips into the opponent, wounding their mortal shell.

Of course, reaching melee range elevates risk. Clever casters will enhance their odds of survival through spells like blink or mirror image before approaching. Eldritch knights could even wield inflict wounds with the War Caster feat, substituting it for an opportunity attack without approaching. Such inventive applications of inflict wounds reward crafty thinking.

While seemingly simple, proficient clerics can leverage inflict wounds to spectacular effect under the right circumstances. Combining inflict wounds with hold person against paralyzed enemies automatically crits thanks to melee attacks gaining advantage on the paralyzed. A paralyzing poison could duplicate this combo. One also cannot discount the value of subtle spell metamagic for a cleric/sorcerer wielding inflict wounds, delivering the touch silently and covertly. Savvy clerics understand that while inflict wounds appears basic, adapting it creatively multiplies its power exponentially.

Classes Wielding the Wounds

While most associate inflict wounds with clerics, multiple classes brandish this brutal spell:

  • Clerics: As expected, clerics are experts in inflict wounds. All clerical domains access it. Certain domains like War or Death amplify it further.
  • Paladins: Oathbreaker paladins learn inflict wounds by default, channeling its dark power against their foes. Other paladins could select it via oath spells.
  • Sorcerers: Divine soul sorcerers who choose inflict wounds with the evil alignment option add another element of chaos through metamagic.
  • Feats: Magic initiate feat provides inflict wounds for non-clerics. Spell sniper extends its range.

Multiclassing also unlocks inflict wounds through cleric or paladin dips. Overall, inflict wounds spreads beyond clerics, reaching those who embrace its destructive potential.

Evaluating the Wounds

Inflict wounds boasts advantages and disadvantages clerics should weigh:


  • Potent damage for a 1st level spell, competitive until higher tiers
  • Upcasting increases damage considerably, remaining threatening
  • Melee range bypasses resistance to ranged attacks
  • Necrotic damage is useful against certain foes


  • Melee range endangers the cleric
  • Single target limits its scope
  • Many undead and monsters resist necrotic damage
  • Concentration often better spent on buffs/control spells

In summary, inflict wounds delivers burst damage clerics struggle achieving otherwise. It also retains relevance via upcasting. But positioning perils and limited scope hinder it. Inflict wounds shines when strategically used against the right enemies in short, brutal fights. Otherwise, concentration offers superior options. Used sparingly and tactically, inflict wounds will reward crafty clerics.

Guidance on Wielding the Wounds

When wielded well, inflict wounds will shock your foes and exhilarate your allies. Here are tips for mastering this iconic spell:

  • Target enemies resistant to other damage types. Necrotic damage bypasses many resistances.
  • Ambush solo monsters from hiding using stealth and subtle spell to guarantee a devastating critical hit.
  • Use mirror image and blink for protection when moving into melee range.
  • Upcast inflict wounds against bosses/legendaries to chunk huge damage on them.
  • Follow up inflict wounds by grappling the wounded foe, preventing their escape while afflicted.
  • Complement inflict wounds with spells like bane that debuff saving throws to further your chances of landing the attack.

Equally important is knowing when not to use inflict wounds. Avoid it against swarms of weak enemies where area damage spells would be superior. Also refrain against high AC/HP foes where your attack will likely miss; focus on control instead. But when facing a terrifying enemy your team is struggling to dent through conventional means, an upcast inflict wounds may just save the day in glorious fashion.

Answering the Burning Questions

Despite its prevalence, inflict wounds still evokes many questions from inquiring minds:

Can I knock someone out with inflict wounds?
Yes, just like a regular melee attack. Declare nonlethal damage upon casting.

Does inflict wounds work on constructs?
Yes, constructs take full damage as they are not immune to necrotic by default.

What is the maximum damage possible?
On a critical hit using a 9th level slot, inflict wounds can deal a staggering 220 damage to obliterate even demon lords!

Does resistance or immunity negate all damage?
Resistance halves damage, while immunity negates damage entirely.

In summary, know your enemy's strengths and weaknesses before unleashing inflict wounds!

Mastering the Wounds as a DM

Wielding inflict wounds as a DM against players demands special care. Here are tips for DMs using this notorious spell:

  • Telegraph enemies capable of inflict wounds so players can plan accordingly. Surprising players with it can feel unfair.
  • Limit inflict wounds usage to heighten dramatic story moments rather than allowing it to become spammed.
  • Consider reducing its damage dice (2d10) if you feel its damage is consistently too high for your campaign's power level.

Overall, ensure inflict wounds enhances the story instead of detracting from player agency and fun. Describing gruesome necrotic wounds can elevate your villain but don't overdo it. Ultimately, inflict wounds used judiciously will make battles more dynamic and memorable at your table.

The Final Wounds

In summary, inflict wounds remains one of D&D's most iconic cleric spells, channeling the awesome fury of the divine into concentrated annihilation. This guide has explored every facet of this notorious spell, from its mythic origins to optimal casting strategies. While newer clerics may overlook inflict wounds amidst flashy conjurations, veterans know its potential for decimating formidable foes.

Inflict wounds rewards clever casters who carefully weigh its advantages and limitations, using it surgically against priority threats. When combined with buffs and debuffs, inflict wounds becomes exponentially more devastating. DMs should wield this spell carefully, telegraphing its users and regulating its frequency. Ultimately, inflict wounds is a storied incantation embroidered into the tapestry of D&D's history, invoking awe and terror alike.

For devoted clerics seeking to occasionally unleash their deity's wrath, inflict wounds is essential. It epitomizes the cleric's incredible capacity for destruction, defying stereotypes of them as mundane healers. Embrace inflict wounds, and unlock your cleric's true potential as an angel of vengeance. The next time your party battles evil, consider visiting divine punishment upon malignant souls with inflict wounds rather than coddling them with mercy. Bring the thunderous glory of inflict wounds down upon the unjust, and usher forth a new era where all will learn to fear the wounds that wound most.


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