DnD 5e Conditions

Posted by Andrew E. on

Simple Explanations of Everything You Need to Know

5e DnD streamlined a lot of weird status effects and condensed a lot of complicated rules down to a few simple conditions. Some of which are very straight-forward, but some of them can use some clarification. So hopefully you haven’t been blinded, paralyzed or petrified as we go through everything you need to know about 5e conditions.

 

5e Condition Table

Condition

Effects

Blinded

  • Automatic failure on sight-based checks
  • You have disadvantage on Attack rolls
  • Attack rolls against you have advantage

Charmed

  • You cannot target the creature that charmed you with attacks or harmful effects.
  • The creature that charmed you has advantage on social interactions with you (Charisma based checks).

Frightened

  • You cannot willingly move closer to the source of your fear
  • You have disadvantage on Attack rolls while you can see the source of your fear
  • You have disadvantage on Ability checks while you can see the source of your fear

Grappled

  • Your speed is reduced to 0 and cannot be increased

Incapacitated

  • You cannot take actions, bonus actions, or reactions

Invisible

  • You cannot be seen except by special means
  • You count as heavily obscured for the purposes of hiding
  • You make Attack rolls at advantage
  • Attack rolls made against you have disadvantage

Paralyzed

  • You’re incapacitated (see incapacitated)
  • You cannot move
  • You cannot speak
  • You automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws
  • Attack rolls against you have advantage
  • Attacks against you automatically result in critical hits if the attacker is within 5 feet of you.

Petrified

  • You physically turn to stone, and your weight is multiplied by 10
  • You’re incapacitated (see incapacitated)
  • You cannot move
  • You cannot speak
  • You automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws
  • Attack rolls against you have advantage
  • You do not age while petrified
  • You have resistance to all damage
  • You are immune to poisons and diseases

Poisoned

  • You have disadvantage on Attack rolls
  • You have disadvantage on Ability checks

Prone

  • Your movement requires 1 additional foot of movement speed for each foot of movement (essentially half speed)
  • You can spend half of your movement speed to stand up and end this condition
  • Creatures within 5 feet of you have advantage on their Attack rolls against you
  • Creatures more than 5 feet from you have disadvantage on their Attack rolls against you

Restrained

  • Your speed is reduced to 0 and cannot be increased
  • You have disadvantage on Attack rolls
  • Attack rolls against you have advantage
  • You have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws

Stunned

  • You’re incapacitated (see incapacitated)
  • You cannot move
  • You cannot speak
  • You automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws
  • Attack rolls against you have advantage

Surprised

  • You cannot take actions, bonus actions, or reactions during the 1st round of combat
  • (not actually a condition but included for disambiguation)

Unconscious

  • You’re incapacitated (see incapacitated)
  • You cannot move
  • You cannot speak
  • You automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws
  • Attack rolls against you have advantage
  • Attacks against you automatically result in critical hits if the attacker is within 5 feet of you.
  • You are unaware of your surroundings
  • You fall prone (see prone)
  • You drop any items you were holding

Exhausted

  • Varies, see section for specifics

 

 

Blinded

When you’re blinded, you automatically fail checks that would require sight (makes sense) and you have disadvantage on attack rolls, while enemy attack rolls against you have advantage.

 

Note that you can still make those attacks! Blinded doesn’t suddenly mean you’re useless and can’t target your enemies, you can still hear the enemy as they dodge and weave, and possibly smell them depending on their hygiene. So, go ahead and make your attacks and make strategic plays, the blinded condition cripples you, but doesn’t pull you out of the fight. 

 

Charmed

When a creature charms you, you can’t attack them or target them with harmful stuff, and they get advantage on their social interactions with you.

Note that charming isn’t mind control, you’re not suddenly an idiot, and you don’t have to do what they say. Some people try to use charm like a mind-control ray, and it simply isn’t. Charm is great for any kind of roleplay situation where you need somebody to do something for you. In combat, charm is basically a “no touch shield” that can get a caster out of a tough spot by diverting a threat away from them. Remember though, if you charm a creature, your allies aren’t charming them, and the creature can wail on them to its heart’s content. 

Frightened

When a creature frightens you, you can’t choose to go any closer to it, and you have disadvantage on all your Ability Checks and Attack rolls while you can see it.

You get a good case of the spooks and you’re not going to be much use until you shake it off. Most fear effects will give you another chance to end the condition when you end your turn out of either line of sight or a set distance from the source of your fear. So, there are some situations where you can just duck around a corner for a breather, get yourself together, then come around swinging on the next turn.

Also, note that the penalties don’t do anything to stop you blasting away with spells that don’t use an attack roll. If you’re a caster and get spooked, often the best option is to hurl a fireball at it.

Grappled

A grappled creature’s speed is reduced to 0, and you can’t use anything cheeky to improve it. 

If whatever grappled you gets incapacitated (more on that later) or, for sake of argument dies, you’re not grappled anymore.

Or, if something moves whatever was grappling you away (thunderwave, shove attacks and similar) you’ll also get freed.

A ton of systems and editions make grappling extremely complicated, 5e does a really good job of simplifying all that but there is a “technique” to grappling that’s basically obligatory and not terribly obvious.

Grappling in 5e doesn’t have a built-in pinning mechanic (unless you grab the grappling feat) but you can still “pin” pretty effectively anyway. It’s all about the Shove Attack, while you’re grappling another creature, you can still replace one of your attacks to try and shove your opponent prone (and thus gain all the advantages of fighting a prone enemy). And since their movement is reduced to 0 by the grapple, they can’t get up until the grapple ends.

This goes the other way as well, if you find yourself grappled, often the best answer is to try and shove the grappler away. If you manage to shove, they get pushed back, which automatically breaks the grapple. And since a shove only uses one of your attacks, you’ll still get to smash away with the rest if the shove doesn’t land.

Incapacitated

If you’re incapacitated, you can’t take actions (that includes bonus actions), or reactions.

If you’re incapacitated, you’re NOT having a good time. You’re largely useless BUT you can still move and try to get out of whatever terrible situation you’ve found yourself in. However, practically all of the effects that incapacitate you also stop you from moving, so keep on the lookout and just double check when you’re incapacitated if you can actually run away. 

Invisible

While you’re invisible, nobody can see you! For hiding, you count as heavily obscured. Attacks against you have disadvantage, while your attacks have advantage.

Invisibility is the one that gets confused the most, mainly due to what “heavily obscured” actually means and confusion about how “hiding” works in 5e.

If you’re invisible, you can always choose to take the Hide Action to start hiding. Normally if somebody can see you hiding isn’t an option. With invisibility, you can try and hide while standing right in front of them.

What “heavily obscured” does, is it treats your would-be observers as if they had the blinded condition when they try to spot you.

So, when we put that all together, here’s what being invisible actually does:

If you’re sneaking past people: You can attempt to sneak past people while in their direct line of sight, which normally fails pretty darn quickly. Fundamentally, being invisible is not really any different for sneaking than if you just had convenient cover that blocked line of sight to the guards.

If you’re in combat: You can use the hide action to try and hide while in direct line of sight, which is normally impossible. All your attacks get advantage, and attacks against you have disadvantage. Note that your enemies can STILL ATTACK you even if you’re invisible, they just do so at disadvantage. If you’re goal is to lose them, you’ll need to use the hide action and hope that they can’t roll a high enough Wisdom (Perception) check to spot you again.

Paralyzed

When you’re paralyzed, you’re incapacitated (so you can’t take any actions) and you can’t move or speak. You automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws, attack rolls against you have advantage and they AUTOMATICALLY CRIT if the attacker is within 5 feet of you.

Paralyzed is a lot worse than stunned but not quite as bad as petrified. Think of paralyzed as not only “skip a turn” but you’re also extremely vulnerable during it. Once you’re paralyzed there’s really nothing you can do but hope you don’t get smacked while you’re down.

Petrified

You’ve turned to stone, your weight gets multiplied by 10 and you essentially aren’t alive for a while. You’re incapacitated (so you can’t take actions), you can’t move or talk, and you’re not even aware of your surroundings. Attacks against you have advantage, and you automatically fail any Strength or Dexterity saves.

You do get a couple perks from being a statue though, you have resistance to all damage and you’re immune to poisons and diseases.

Getting petrified usually means you’re out of action for the rest of a combat, or potentially quite a bit longer if you’re low level as the rest of the party spends a mini adventure to find a cure for you. Getting petrified is ROUGH, but the abilities that inflict it usually give you multiple chances to save out of it.

Poisoned

You’ve got disadvantage on your Attack rolls and your Ability checks.

Poisoning is pretty simple, you’ve caught some nasty funk and now you’re terrible at everything for a while. Many martial classes get extra resistances or even immunities to this, and if you’re a caster you can just focus on spells that use saving throws instead of attacks and bypass the problem entirely.

Prone

Your only movement option is crawling (half speed) but you can end the condition by spending half of your movement to stand up. While you’re prone attacks against you have advantage if they’re standing right next to you, and they have disadvantage if they’re shooting from range.

The prone condition is pretty straightforward, you don’t want to be prone. If you’re prone just pay the movement tax at the start of your turn and stand up.  

If you’re getting sniped though, it might be a good idea to drop prone and make yourself more difficult to shoot.

Restrained

Your movement is dropped to 0 and can’t get cheekily improved, attacks against you have advantage, your attacks have disadvantage, and you’ve got disadvantage on Dexterity saves.

Restrained is a sort of twin that often comes alongside incapacitated, where restrained stops you from moving and incapacitated stops you from doing anything else. If you find yourself restrained but not incapacitated, you’ve essentially got all your actions available to you to try and get out of your restraints. Quite a few spells will get you out, as will a handy hidden knife or just a good Strength (Athletics) check for ropes or a good Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check for locks. 

Stunned

You’re incapacitated (can’t take actions), can’t move, and can’t say anything more than cartoony gibberish. You automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saves, and Attack rolls against you have advantage.

Out of the 3 “miss a turn” abilities, stunned is the one that hurts the least. Stunned is usually only for a turn, and it’s fundamentally just “you skip your next turn” most of the time. Be wary of getting piled on though, as one of the nastiest tactics is to stun and then gang up on the stunned character once they can’t defend themselves.

Surprised

If you’re surprised, you can’t take any actions (including bonus actions or reactions) during the 1st round of combat.

Surprised isn’t a condition! Surprisingly enough, you won’t find it anywhere near the conditions in any 5e books, but rather it’s tucked away in the combat rules. This is often a point of confusion, as some earlier editions use surprised as a condition, where in 5e they’ve relegated to what is essentially a surprise round. But as it’s so often confused, we’re including it here anyway. As it is though, nothing interacts with “surprise” as any sort of effect, it just serves as a handy label for what creatures got caught with their pants down and won’t get to do anything for their first turn.

Unconscious

You are incapacitated (can’t take actions), can’t move or speak, and you’re unaware of your surroundings. You fall prone, and if you were holding something you drop it. You automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saves, Attack rolls against you have advantage, and they AUTOMATICALLY CRIT if they’re standing right next to you.

Unless the sleep spell is getting thrown around, most of the time unconsciousness is going to come up when somebody gets dropped to 0. If you’re on death saving throws, you’ve got other things to worry about, but unconsciousness in general is going to get you killed if you can’t get woken up.

Exhaustion

Exhaustion gets a special little section all its own because it has a TON of effects. Exhaustion is essentially the game’s way of telling you to go to bed. It’ll build up in levels slowly if you don’t get any rest, run out in a blizzard, go without food or water, or do anything else that might wear your body out. There’s a few really nasty effects that can inflict it as well, and it’s by far the hardest condition to remove in the game. Only getting some sleep with a long rest or a couple fairly high-level spells (greater restoration) can put a dent in it by only removing 1 level. 

Generally speaking, you want to do everything within your power to not get any levels of exhaustion, but if you do find yourself exhausted, this is a chart showing exhaustion and it’s many terrifying levels:

 

Exhaustion Effects

Level

Effects

1

Disadvantage on Ability Checks

2

Speed halved

3

Disadvantage on Attack rolls and Saving Throws

4

Hit point maximum halved

5

Speed reduced to 0

6

Death

 

Yes, that is in fact death at the end there, and these effects are cumulative. So, if you have 2 levels of exhaustion, your speed is halved AND you have disadvantage on Ability Checks.

The short answer is, remember to eat, drink some water, prepare for really hot or really cold environments, and get some sleep before going from one adventure to the next.

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