When a Spellcaster takes damage, for most of the classes categorized as spellcasters, the damage received can take a big chunk of their health away. This is mainly prevalent during combat when the spellcaster needs to make every bit of damage count.
Even more so if they rely mostly on Cantrips as the Warlock can. However, there is a spell that the Warlock can utilize to give themselves more chances to attack and damage an enemy; Hellish Rebuke.
What is Hellish Rebuke 5e: mechanics and requirements
- Casting time: 1 Reaction
- Level: 1st Level
- Range/Area: 60 ft
- Target: Creature who damaged the caster within range
- Components: Vocal and Somatic
- Duration: Instantaneous
- Classes: Paladin (Oath Breaker) and Warlock
Hellish Rebuke 5e description
You point your finger, and the creature that damaged you is momentarily surrounded by hellish flames. The creature must make a Dexterity saving throw. It takes 2d10 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
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.Official Player Handbook
Advantages and drawbacks
- Double the attacks, Double the Damage
This attack, which is only triggered as a reaction, does allow a Warlock to cast this against an enemy that had attacked them during the round. This effectively allows the Warlock to deal damage against a group of enemies attacking them twice in a single round, so long as they’re attacked during that round.
Paired with other spells, or upcast to a higher spell slot level can maximize a Warlock’s damage output against an enemy or pair of enemies (if attacked by a different enemy than when the Warlock’s turn came and went during the round).
- Upcasting increases damage
When upcasting the spell to a level higher than 1st level, the normal 2d10 Fire Damage done by the spell upon a failed Dex Saving Throw from the enemy target is increased by 1d10 for each level above the usual level the spell is used at. This gives the Warlock a chance to do a maximum of 7d10 Fire Damage (5th Level Spell Slot).
- No Physical Material is required for casting
Like many spells in the 1st Level Spell Slot, this damage spell does not require physical material to cast during combat. The restriction being removed allows the Warlock to use this spell more often, given they have the spell slots.
- Level 1 Spell Slot is required for usage.
Normally, this would be an advantage, as having a useful spell at a lower-leveled spell slot means that a spellcaster with this spell could use it more often. However, with the way that Warlocks function within Dungeons and Dragons, such spell slots are very. limited.
There is a maximum of 4 spell slots overall, to a maximum level of 5th level. This means that having a spell such as this requires a spell slot to be able to use it means that the Warlock would be wasting a slot to use this spell for a little bit of extra damage.
- Can only be used as a reaction.
As written for the spell, Hellish Rebuke can only be utilized as a Reaction, as opposed to most spells using an Action for their casting time. This not only limits the number of times it can be used.
It also means that a Warlock Player could very easily forget that the spell exists, as many players tend to not think of Reactions all that often. Unless their combat build is relying heavily on reactions. Combined with the very limited spell slots the Warlock makes, this spell is easily ignored or forgotten on one’s spell list.
- Only the Warlock can take this spell (sort of).
Many of those reading this article would have noticed the multiple times and overall central coverage of the Warlock Class over other Spellcasters. This is not an oversight of the other classes capable of casting spells, but rather a downside; Warlocks are the only spellcasters that can use this spell.
The only exception to this reality is if a Paladin follows the Oath Breaker Archetype, which has more use there than with the Warlock, thanks to the more straightforward functionality of spellcasting with a Paladin. This is unfortunate, as other spellcasters could utilize Hellish Rebuke more often and in a less punishing manner than the way that Warlocks have to use it.
Best uses for Hellish Rebuke 5e
A reaction to an attack
As the only thing that can be done with Hellish Rebuke, the spell’s only real use is in response to an attack against the Warlock. The use of the spell in this manner gives the caster extra attacks against the enemy group that is attacking the group, or the single enemy, depending on the combat encounter thrown at the party.
Advice and final thoughts
Although a Warlock could use this spell to help a party in the middle of combat, I believe this spell should be skipped over due to the multiple disadvantages of the spell.
The small number of benefits to the spell, as opposed to the heavy downsides that the spell holds for the player to experience, does not give it a good enough purpose in a character’s spell list.
The only thing that makes this slightly more useful is if more classes that do not have the spell-casting limitations of the Warlock were able to use the spell as a part of their spell selection.
Overall, it’s best to choose a different 1st-level Warlock spell instead of this one, as it wastes a spell slot that could go to something more useful.
Hellish Rebuke Spell FAQ
If a Player casts Shield and the attack gets through, could they use Hellish Rebuke against them?
No, there can be only one Reaction made per turn. So, if the Warlock casts Shield, and the attack goes anyways, then the Warlock cannot use Hellish Rebuke in the same round.
Can a Caster use the spell if they willingly walk into an enemy’s spell and take damage to cast Hellish Rebuke?
Although this is technically possible, whether these works is strictly up to the Dungeon Master of the campaign. If it does, this can be seen as just a different way of having the spell trigger as opposed to the normal way.
Is Hellish Rebuke supposed to be utilized by Blood Hunters?
No. This spell is only made for either Warlock or Paladins who have taken the Oath Breaker Archetype.