Chill Touch 5e

You create a ghostly, skeletal hand in the space of a creature within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the creature to assail it with the chill of the grave. On a hit, the target takes 1d8 necrotic damage, and it can’t regain hit points until the start of your next turn. Until then, the hand clings to the target.

If you hit an undead target, it also has disadvantage on attack rolls against you until the end of your next turn.

This spell’s damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 5th level (2d8), 11th level (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous
School: Necromancy cantrip

Player’s Handbook, pg. 221

Chill Touch 5e

Chill Touch, the worst-named spell in all of DnD 5e, is actually a really solid cantrip. Luckily, Reddit is chock full of good ideas to rename the spell into something more accurate. Crowd favorites include Lich Slap, Wight Hook, Vamp Stamp, or Spooky Hand. Talk to your table today about your Chill Touch rename options.

By whatever name you choose, we’ll be covering what exactly this cantrip does, why it’s appealing, and how to use it optimally.

Who Can Cast Chill Touch in 5e?

The following classes have Chill Touch on their spell list:

The following subclasses get Chill Touch for free:

  • Druid (Circle of Spores) (TCoE 36)

What Does Chill Touch Do?

Chill Touch is a straightforward ranged spell attack cantrip that deals 1d8 necrotic damage on a hit. Targets also can’t regain hit points for a full round of combat, during which time a ghostly hand clings to the creature.

Lastly, Undead targets have disadvantage on attack rolls against you (not everyone) until the end of your next turn.

Like most damaging cantrips, Chill Touch’s damage increases at levels 5, 11, and 17 (+1d8 damage per upgrade).

This works out to 4.5, 9, 13.5, and 18 average damage at the spells four ranks, respectively.

What Are the Rules for Chill Touch in 5e?

The rules for Chill Touch in DnD 5e are as follows:

  • Chill Touch works on Trolls. Creatures with the Regeneration ability (like Trolls) gain 10 hit points at the start of their turn, as long as certain conditions aren’t met (fire or acid damage for trolls, sunlight or radiant damage for Vampires, etc.).

    Chill Touch works to deactivate these passive healing effects, regardless of whether those conditions are met. The target simply cannot regain hit points by any means (unless the effect is dispelled) until the start of your next turn.

    Additionally, Trolls that drop to 0 hit points will normally return to life with Regeneration. Chill Touch prevents this because if they don’t restore at least 1 hit point, they don’t regenerate.

  • Chill Touch does not prevent a creature from gaining temporary hit points. This is because hit points and temporary hit points are separate things (PHB 198). This has been confirmed specifically for Chill Touch on Sage Advice.

  • Chill Touch does not ignore cover. Because of the hand floating down flavor the spell, some players think of it sort of like Sacred Flame where the attack is descending rather than flying across the room like a projectile.

    While that can certainly be the flavor you apply to your character’s Chill Touch, the rules for ranged spell attacks are clear — cover boosts AC, ranged spell attacks have to beat AC, therefore cover works on Chill Touch.

  • If a creature goes invisible while under the effects of Chill Touch, the hand remains visible. I haven’t found confirmation on this, but it seems to be the way it should work. After all, going invisible doesn’t automatically dispel magic effects (which is what Chill Touch is), so why would the hand go invisible?

    While invisibility does make a point of describing that things you’re wearing and holding also become invisible, the Chill Touch hand is neither worn nor held — it is a ghostly, skeletal hand that is clinging to their body.

  • Chill Touch is a ranged spell that deals necrotic damage. Had to throw this in here — although the name might suggest a TOUCH spell that deals COLD damage, Chill Touch has a 120-foot range and deals necrotic damage. Someone at WoTC needs a dictionary.

chill touch 5e

How Do I Use Chill Touch in 5e?

Chill Touch is a solid damaging cantrip that you can almost always use in combat. That being said, there are some situations where the spell really shines:

  1. Preventing healing. The most powerful utility you get from Chill Touch is that it prevents the target from gaining hit points. Any hit points, in any way. That can be extremely useful against monsters like Vampires or against healers of any kind. It’s even good against magical health drain effects and alchemists who may have a health potion handy.

    Dealing slightly less direct damage is fine if you’re stopping even more healing from happening during that following round.

  2. Giving yourself breathing room with Undead. While most Undead won’t take full damage from Chill Touch’s necrotic damage, it will still give them disadvantage on attacks against you for a full round of combat. That can be extremely handy if you find yourself cornered by a tough Undead baddie and your allies are far away.

    It’s also good for getting past Undead. They’ll have disadvantage on opportunity attacks as well, so if you cast Chill Touch before running pats them, you’ll be that much safer.

  3. Watching where invisible creatures go. This is kind of a niche use, but since the spell does make a point of describing the visual hand on the target, it stands to reason that a creature who goes invisible would still have a visible hand clinging to them. Note that this would only last until the start of your next turn.

    Still, you might argue to your DM that since you just saw the hand fade, you shouldn’t have disadvantage attacking the invisible creature. You know exactly where it is, after all. If you could keep landing successive Chill Touches this way, you’d effectively nullify the creature’s invisibility.

    DM discretion definitely required for all of this, but the first part seems rule-safe enough to fly at most tables.

Who Can I Target With Chill Touch 5e?

You can target any creature in the game with Chill Touch. Even if it’s immune to necrotic damage, the rest of the spell’s effects will work just fine.

You’ll get the most bang for your buck targeting creatures that regenerate or are likely to receive heals with Chill Touch.

The annoying thing is that it’s unlikely you’ll get both full damage and full utility out of Chill Touch when targeting Undead creatures. Most Undead are resistant or immune to necrotic damage, so while you’ll be giving them disadvantage on attack rolls against you, you won’t be dealing full damage.

Is Chill Touch 5e a Good Spell?

Yes, Chill Touch is a good spell that’s worth picking up as a cantrip. While it’s not the most damaging cantrip, it offers great utility that will serve your party well.

Plus, besides Undead creatures, necrotic damage isn’t a very common resistance or immunity. That means you’ll always get 1-2 of the following three: A) Cheap, decent damage B) Defensive utility C) Offensive utility.

Chill Touch 5e Compared to Other Cantrips

The big question for Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards is where Chill Touch ranks in comparison to other damaging cantrip options. For starters, Sorcerers and Wizards have the choice between Fire Bolt and Chill Touch.

Fire Bolt has the same range (120 feet) and deals 1d10 fire damage instead of 1d8 necrotic. Fire Bolt can also set flammable objects aflame. The thing many people point out is that fire is one of the most resisted damage types in the damage. What other people rightly point out is that fire resistances are bundled up into a few key categories of monsters (e.g., Fiends), so that it’s overhyped as a concept.

Depending on your campaign world, necrotic resistance may very well be more common. In any case, the difference between 4.5 average damage (Chill Touch) and 5.5 average damage (Fire Bolt) is small enough to not be earth-shattering either way. An Evocation Wizard definitely wants to choose Fire Bolt, as it offers much better damage scaling.

Chill Touch offers great utility for those handful of encounters that involve baddies who heal; Fire Bolt will deal more damage over the lifetime of a campaign.

Wizards might also consider Toll the Dead, another necrotic damage spell. It’s a Wisdom saving throw instead of a ranged spell attack, though. Most spellcasters agree that you want to have one ranged spell attack and one saving throw cantrip, so you could pick up both. However, since both have necrotic damage, that also seems unwise.

For Warlocks, it’s really hard to beat Eldritch Blast for scaling and utility, what with all the crazy Eldritch Invocation possibilities. However, if you’re not planning on building your Warlock around that cantrip, then Chill Touch does offer good utility for a party that’s missing healing prevention.

Overall, you don’t really need more than one person with Chill Touch in your party — the other spell casters can focus on maximizing their cantrips damage or picking up other utility cantrips to help the party out.

Chill Touch 5e DM Tips

Chill Touch’s interaction with invisibility isn’t 100% clear, so that’s up to you as a DM.

Everything about the spell and rules seems to suggest the hand would stay visible if a creature turns invisible while it’s clinging to them. Whether the player can chain Chill Touch casts (without disadvantage against an unseen target) to permanently keep a skeletal hand clinging to the invisible guy is less clear cut.

Since the spell ends at the start of their turn, they definitely won’t have the hand to aim at. But if they were able to see where the hand was before it vanished, it’s up to you to determine whether that’s good enough to wipe out their attack disadvantage.

Simple Chill Touch Spell Text

Chill Touch: (cantrip, 120 feet, 1 round, V/S) Make a ranged spell attack against a creature in range. On a hit, deal 1d8 necrotic damage. The creature cannot regain hit points and a ghostly, skeletal hand clings to them until the start of your next turn. Undead targets also have disadvantage on attack rolls against you until the end of your next turn.

+1d8 at 5th (2d8), 11th (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).