Holy word was an evocation or conjuration spell that could incapacitate or even kill nongood creatures and banish those of extraplanar origin.[1][3][4][7] The reverse of this spell, which applied to nonevil creatures, was called unholy word[3][4][7] and became better known as blasphemy.[9]


There were at least two versions of this spell with slightly different interpretations on who or what could be affected and to what extent. Note especially the alignment differences between the two versions as described below. The evocation version of holy word compared the target's toughness or experience level with the experience level of the caster and had no effect on creatures that were superior to the caster, but the effects were increasingly severe and cumulative for those equal to or inferior.[1] The conjuration/summoning version of this spell based its effectiveness on the toughness or experience level of the targets, regardless of the caster's level, which means that even creatures superior to the caster could be effected somewhat.[3][4][7] The only way to avoid these effects was to not hear the holy word, either by virtue of already being deaf, or some form of magical silence.[1][3][4][7]

Both versions of the spell, in addition to the effects described below, could send extraplanar creatures back to their home plane, as long as the holy word was spoken on the caster's home plane. The older conjuration worked unconditionally on all evil creatures,[3][4][7] whereas the newer evocation affected all weak-willed nongood creatures, thus allowing it to banish those of a neutral alignment as well.[1] This dismissal happened even if the creatures in the area of effect could not hear the holy word, and any banished creatures were blocked from returning to the caster's home plane for at least 24 hours.[1][3][4][7]


The area of effect was a circle of 40 ft (12.2 m) radius centered on the caster. Upon uttering the holy word, all nongood creatures equal to or inferior to the caster suffered one or more of the following cumulatively:[1]

Relation to Caster Effect
Equal to deafened briefly
Strictly inferior and blinded for a few minutes
Greatly inferior and paralyzed for up to 10 minutes
Completely dominated and killed (destroyed if undead)


The area of effect was a circle of 30 ft (9.1 m) radius centered on the caster. Upon uttering the holy word, all creatures of an alignment different than the priest suffered one of the following effects, based on their toughness or experience level:[3][4][7]

Toughness or Level Effect
Extremely large or tough deafened briefly
Considerably large or tough slowed, as the wizard spell for a few minutes
Fairly large or tough paralyzed for 10 to 40 minutes
Not large or tough killed (destroyed if undead)


This spell only required a verbal component to cast.[1][3][4][7]


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