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I'm playing a Shadow sorcerer/Hexblade warlock and I am rather confused about the Hexblade's Curse feature (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p. 55). It says, on the first bullet point of the curse details:

You gain a bonus to damage rolls against the cursed target. The bonus equals your proficiency bonus.

What exactly is a damage roll? Is it the cumulative rolling of all dice, is it a roll of one or more of the same die type, or is it a single roll of a damage die?

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The damage roll is all the dice together. Add the bonus after.

When you deal damage with a single* distinct attack or other effect, you roll all the indicated damage dice, including any dice added by critical hits or special effects you benefit from like a curse, hex, or sneak attack. That counts as making the damage roll. If you have a feature that lets you add a bonus to the damage roll, that happens after totaling all the dice rolled.

The rules you seek are on page 196 of the Player's Handbook under the Damage Rolls heading. Here is the most relevant passage for this instance:

Each weapon, spell, and harmful monster ability specifies the damage it deals. You roll the damage die or dice, add any modifiers, and apply the damage to your target.

In your example, you will roll two d8's and one d6, add the numbers on those three dice, then add your proficiency bonus (such as +2, for example). The result is the damage you deal.

If you have multiple bonuses due to some combination of effects, they are all processed after the dice are rolled collectively, unless the text for the effect indicates that you add the bonus to each die individually or some other exceptional process.


(*If you're actually making multiple distinct attacks or dealing multiple separate instances of damage such as with a spell with multiple targets damaged separately and not simultaneously, each has its own distinct damage roll. The rules for the attack, spell, or other effect will explain how and when damage is dealt. Basically, whenever the text tells you to deal damage involving dice to a particular target, that's a damage roll for that target. Read the rules under Making an Attack and Casting a Spell in chapters 9 and 10 of the PHB for how to deal with other cases.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Here's a set of tweets from Crawford supporting the idea that there's only one big damage roll: "When something in the game (Sneak Attack, Divine Smite, hex, etc.) causes your attack/spell/etc. to deal extra dice of damage, those dice are added to the damage the effect is already dealing, if any. It's one big damage roll, extra damage included." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 22 '18 at 18:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't consider that relevant to add. The RAW is clear. Thank you for the suggestion, though. I don't want to bloat the answer with unnecessary context. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Aug 22 '18 at 18:31

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