Every Condition and How to Use Them in D&D 5e

What are Conditions in 5e? 

5e’s Conditions are circumstances or effects that change the abilities of a creature, usually negatively. The most common Conditions include: Grappled, Prone, Paralyzed, Frightened, and Incapacitated.

Some are simple, like being Deafened, and some have multiple layers, like Exhaustion; but a good grasp on how they all work and how to use them brings an extra layer of richness to both combat and roleplay. Here’s your comprehensive guide to every condition in 5e!

Because this article is massive, I have create links to each section of the article below. Click the condition you are looking for to skip directly to that section, or just keep scrolling to browse all conditions in D&D 5e.


  • A blinded creature can’t see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s Attack rolls have disadvantage

Common Causes: Spells like Blindness/Deafness and Darkness, an area being Heavily Obscured (like dense fog or a pitch-black night), Mummy Lords, and Gibbering Mouthers

Why it matters to players: If you want to debilitate an enemy spellcaster quickly, this is a good blanket response. While a martial can still take attacks at disadvantage at things they might be able to hear, smell, or bump into; many spells have a line of sight requirement. Besides sight-based checks, your other ability checks are unaffected unless your DM rules otherwise. You can still Dodge to make attack rolls against you flat or try wrestling with your enemy with a Grapple check. 

Why it matters to DMs: This is a key condition to remember when building an environment. Many creatures have Blindsight, Tremorsense, or Dark vision to help them cope with dark areas. If you have remarkably effective PCs you’re trying to balance an encounter against, make sure your NPCs and monsters take advantage of the shadows and the dark of night to gain an edge in combat. 


  • A charmed creature can’t Attack the charmer or target the charmer with harmful Abilities or magical Effects.
  • The charmer has advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature.

Common Causes: Spells like Charm Person, Dryads, Lamias, Vampires, and Bards as a whole 

Why it matters to players: Being charmed is not the same as being dominated outright. The charmer does not have license to do whatever they want to the charmed and can’t expect total obedience. It is also worth noting, the Charmed condition does not mean they have to like you. Threats are also a social tactic. Many DMs might also rule that Insight is a social ability check, making Charm effects a viable option if Zone of Truth or Truth Serum are not available. 

Advantage on social ability checks and the inability of the charmed to attack means its best deployed before combat or when a party is attempting to stop a fight.

Many charm abilities build off the base of the Charmed effect and add additional riders and terms. For example, the Charm Person specifies that the spell fails if the Charmer or their friends attack the Charmed. Crafty players might hide their allegiances to one another and pretend to be strangers for an attack on a Charmed target without breaking the effect, assuming the DM agrees to the plan. 

Why it matters to DMs: Breaking up the party with a Charm effect is not only interesting on a combat level but deeply challenging on a social level. Particularly interesting is when it happens in a social situation and suddenly one of the characters seems smitten and confused then acts in a way they never would before.

How do the other players react? If the group leader is agreeing with the enemy, how does the party behave? If the Barbarian refuses to attack a target and its rage expires, it’s suddenly a much easier target. 

Creatures with the Fey Ancestry trait will have advantage against these saves. 


  • A deafened creature can’t hear and automatically fails any ability check that requires hearing.

Common Causes: the spell Blindness/Deafness and Silence, loud explosions, Horn of Blasting, and Androsphinxes 

Why it matters to players: This is the most situational of the Conditions. The two most obvious uses are using the spell Blindness/Deafness to walk past a guard dog or to ensure a sleeping target has no way of knowing an attack is coming. A lesser-known use for it would be for subterranean creatures that rely on echolocation to find their targets. This will blind them effectively, making them a much easier target. 

Why it matters to DMs: For direct combat application, deafening players can make it much harder for them to communicate and lead to a game of charades mid-combat.

If they are deafened coming into a room by a loud explosion, it may set them up for an ambush as well. If a player is deafened for a while, this could be a mystery plot hook where they observe a conversation but have no knowledge of its contents. 


  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
  • If an already exhausted creature suffers another Effect that causes exhaustion, its current level of exhaustion increases by the amount specified in the effect’s description.
  • A creature suffers the Effect of its current level of exhaustion as well as all lower levels. For example, a creature suffering level 2 exhaustion has its speed halved and has disadvantage on Ability Checks.
  • An Effect that removes exhaustion reduces its level as specified in the effect’s description, with all exhaustion Effects ending if a creature’s exhaustion level is reduced below 1.
  • Finishing a Long Rest reduces a creature’s exhaustion level by 1, provided that the creature has also ingested some food and drink.

We will provide an at a glance overview, but for a full breakdown of this layered condition check out this article or this video.

Common Causes: Non-stop adventure, horrible weather effects, Frenzy Barbarians, 

Why it matters to players: Being exhausted is bad. There are no two ways about it. This is bad, gets worse in a hurry, and is a slow recovery. If you are suffering from three points of Exhaustion, your player character needs to go to the hospital. The only thing besides a Long Rest that can help with this is the spell Greater Restoration. 

Frenzy Barbarians can enter a Frenzied Rage and gain a point of exhaustion at the end of their Rage in exchange for an additional attack as a bonus action. This is akin to something like a super form or emergency option. It’s your trump card, but you can only play it once a day safely or TWICE in absolutely dire circumstances and function in a fight. Use wisely, but swing hard. Three greatsword attacks at level 5 are so satisfying. 

Why it matters to DMs: Deploy with caution and make sure all your players know what they’re getting into. This is one of the most roleplay heavy conditions so make sure to encourage them to describe why they have disadvantage on their ability checks or in how you flavor their struggle. “Your arms are sore and you can’t hold your opponent down.” “You have a delayed reaction to the noise behind you and don’t see anything.” “Despite the pain you carry in your back and how bad your fingers hurt, you manage to succeed and the lock clicks open.” 


  • A frightened creature has disadvantage on Ability Checks and Attack rolls while the source of its fear is within line of sight.
  • The creature can’t willingly move closer to the source of its fear.

Common Causes: the spell Fear, Dragons, Pit Fiends, Scarecrows, Bheur Hags, and Conquest Paladins

Why it matters to players: Frightened, far more than Charmed, is a battlefield control mechanism. The inability to attack effectively or even get close to a target is a fantastic way to bottleneck enemies and ensure you don’t get overwhelmed. Most abilities that cause the fear effect are area-of-effect so always be sure to maximize how many targets you can get within your range. 

Spellcasters will have an advantage here that most martials won’t: many spells do not require attack rolls. Saving throws are 100% unaffected by the frightened condition so even if your Wizard is wetting himself, he can still cast Fireball. 

Why it matters to DMs: There are a few implications to this effect, but the most mechanical is that it limits the action economy for a lot of creatures. In the case of Dragons and Pit Fiends, it ensures players can’t spend all their time dealing damage at 100% capacity. The early rounds are generally spent overpowering the effect or outsmarting it, like a Cleric casting the Heroism spell or Calm Emotions. 

The ability to frighten adds a little bit of mystique to a creature. While players always assume their characters are brave, they are still people and people have moments of weakness. It takes a roleplay element, like a creature being so horrible and so reviled that its name inspires fear across the land, and brings it into a mechanic. 

As a word of advice, I don’t not recommend using the Frightened effect on players too often. As previously mentioned, every player wants to believe their character is brave when it matters and challenging that idea is good in doses. However, you don’t want them to feel ineffective in combat too often or they might not get to enjoy the fantasy of themselves as heroes. 

Gith and some Halflings will have advantage on all fear saves. 


  • A grappled creature’s speed becomes 0, and it can’t benefit from any bonus to its speed.
  • The condition ends if the Grappler is incapacitated (see the condition).
  • The condition also ends if an Effect removes the grappled creature from the reach of the Grappler or Grappling Effect, such as when a creature is hurled away by the Thunderwave spell.

Common Causes: Players wrestling with their enemies, claws and jaws of certain creatures like Giant Crabs and Grell, 

Why it matters to players: If you have a high Athletics score, you absolutely must make use of it here. It may not sound like a lot if your only concern is pummeling an enemy to death, but there are some creatures where simply swinging a greatsword is not the most helpful thing you can do. 

By making an Athletics check, which can replace one attack action if you have the Extra Attack feature, contested by the target’s Athletics or Acrobatics you can Grapple a creature one size larger than you or smaller.

It will require you to have one hand on the creature and you will have half movement, but the creature comes with you. It takes an action on their part to break loose or the truly bold might try to shove you away, but if a creature is massively out-damaging you, this is a great way to tie up their turn. This is particularly brutal when combined with the Shove Prone (more on the prone condition later). 

You can drag enemies into the spell caster’s area of effect, ground flying enemies, or even drag a target away from their allies where you can introduce them to the business end of your longsword. If they’re not strong or slippery, teleporting out or blasting you away is their only good option. 

PS: You can only dodge if you have movement. The Grappled condition negates the Dodge action. 

Why it matters to DMs: Grappled is another effect that is usually augmented by other effects or is a rider on an attack. While your creatures can benefit from all the same effects the players can, I would also advise the usage of this to bring players into a tense 1-on-1 conflict with a villain that can make them feel targeted and singled out for being so dangerous. Infamy is a good feeling as a player. 

Word of advice about flying creatures, they do not have a penalty beyond the standard half movement for flying while Grappling a target. This means villains can use flying creatures for extraction or abducting heroes a lot easier. 


  • An incapacitated creature can’t take Actions or Reactions.

Common Causes: the spell Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Harpies, Yolchols, Corpse Flowers, 

Why it matters to players: This is as close as you’ll get to a battlefield pause button. Its benefits are simple and straightforward: the target stops doing anything. Barring rider effects, all they can do is run for cover. This is particularly good for enemies with devastating attacks or have Reactions that protect them. When a target cannot take its action, it cannot take bonus actions either. You cannot Misty Step as a bonus action while Incapacitated. 

This one often comes with additional rider effects. Tasha’s Hideous Laughter actually specifies that they fall prone and Hypnotic Pattern inflicts this condition on a whole slew of targets while also Charming them and reducing their movement to 0. 

Why it matters to DMs: Read the terms on the abilities that Incapacitate carefully and communicate that in-game exceptionally well. A big part of good game design is counterplay, especially in D&D.

Understanding how a creature inflicts this condition and the ability of players to respond to it, either through the creative use of their abilities or preparation, makes these Incapacitating abilities a lot more exciting than “you have to sit there and wait till it wears off.”


  • An invisible creature is impossible to see without the aid of magic or a Special sense. For the purpose of Hiding, the creature is heavily obscured. The creature’s location can be detected by any noise it makes or any tracks it leaves.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have disadvantage, and the creature’s Attack rolls have advantage.

Common Causes: the spell Invisibility, Green Hags, Firbolgs, Poltergeists, Orthons, very rarely some potions and items

Why it matters to players: This is the only Condition that is unequivocally good to be under. It makes you hard to hit, hard to find, and aids you in launching attacks. Scouting? Escaping? Ambushing? This condition does it all.

For many full casters, the Invisibility spell becomes available at level 3 and the ridiculously more powerful version Greater Invisibility becomes available at level 7. 

I suggest familiarizing yourself with the pg. 48 of the Player’s Handbook to deploy this accurately and effectively. Read the terms of each spell, item, or circumstance that makes you Invisible so you can keep it as long as possible.  

Why it matters to DMs: As frustrating as it can be to work with Invisible players, it can be even more frustrating to go against Invisible monsters. Monster abilities, like the Green Hag’s, do not have restrictions about how many times it can be used and leaves no tracks or disturbed earth. Orthons have a field of Invisibility they can use it AS A BONUS ACTION. 

This is one of those things in 5e you have to balance letting players exercise their abilities and play their fantasy character, as an unperceivable Assassin for instance, with the right amount of challenge. You want them to know the same trick won’t work every time, even if it works a lot of the time. 

A DM has a lot of tools to counter Invisibility: Echolocation, Tremorsense, Truesight, and Blindsight just to name a few. Player options to counter Invisible creatures are limited to their abilities and their creativity. Make sure to give them ample opportunity to flex some mental muscles to problem-solve creatively. 


  • A paralyzed creature is incapacitated (see the condition) and can’t move or speak.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity Saving Throws.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • Any Attack that hits the creature is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.

Common Causes: spells like Hold Person, Ghouls, Ghasts, Yetis, and Mages

Why it matters to players: Automatic melee criticals with advantage while your opponent stares at you in frozen horror is, without exaggeration, an ideal situation. Watching them auto-fail Fireball saves is a close second though.

Except in rare cases, a caster will almost always set up one of their allies with this condition. You cast Hold Person on the guy that needs to die the most and seems like he’ll fail a Wisdom save, then let your teammates do the work. For higher-level Warlocks, being able to upcast this to level 3-5 on a Short Rest so you paralyze multiple targets just keeps the gravy train rolling. 

Why it matters to DMs: Many of the monsters that use it are smarter than animals, but not exactly master tacticians. They are unlikely to be able to take full advantage of the effect as players will, but they are still smart enough to attack a creature while it’s on the back foot. Even with only that thinking, being paralyzed could still easily put a character into death saves or in the ground in a worst-case scenario. 

Spellcasters like Liches, Archmages, and Aracanaloths are a whole different ball game. They are smart enough to exploit every advantage. Use it with them to your full creative potential. 

If players need to understand this enemy is a serious threat, put this condition to work and they will never forget the encounter. This is a “put the fear of God in your players” kind of condition. 


  • A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object it is wearing or carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone). Its weight increases by a factor of ten, and it ceases aging.
  • The creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity Saving Throws.
  • The creature has Resistance to all damage.
  • The creature is immune to poison and disease, although a poison or disease already in its system is suspended, not neutralized.

Common Causes: Cockatrices, Medusas, Basilisks, Beholders, and Gorgons 

Why it matters to players: So, you’ve been petrified. Unless it was a cockatrice, I guess your teammates are going on a quest to get you unstuck. Your options for getting unstuck are the spell Greater Restoration and whatever else the DM thinks is a viable option. This condition is that bad. Avoid it like the Black Plague. 

Most Petrifying effects have two saves because the designers of the game are fully aware that this is a bad position to be in. The first save often Restrains you, so you are unable to move or fight as effectively. This is when your muscles start to calcify and your legs turn into marble.

Then the second save is where your life is on the line. Put your Bardic Inspiration, Luck Point, Aura of Protection, or whatever benefit you can on this save. This one is for all the money. 

Why it matters to DMs: This is honestly less of a condition than it is a story hook and you should prepare for that. More so than any other condition, being Petrified could lead to some drama at your table because it feels like character death. 

We know, as DMs, there’s an infinite number of solutions to every problem with a little sleight of hand and research on our part. So calm your players, have them take a deep breath, and tell them this is not the end of the world.

All the work they put into their character isn’t for naught. The party can work together, do a job, possibly hire a guest character played by the same player who got petrified to help them and find a high-level Cleric or Bard to get them out of this. 


  • A poisoned creature has disadvantage on Attack rolls and Ability Checks.

Common Causes: Poisonous spiders, Thri-Kreen, Poisoner’s Kits, horrid stenches, Drow, Demons, and Devils

Why it matters to players: This is the most basic de-buff of the conditions. You are only worse at attacking and trying anything with your skills. Your options for coping with this include spells like Protection from Poison and Lesser Restoration, being a Dwarf or a Yuan-Ti, a Paladin’s Lay on Hands, the often overlooked anti-toxin, or being a high-level Monk. There are many ways to counter-play, but not having any of them means you are out of luck.

This is a category where spellcasters have an advantage as being poisoned does not change their saving throw spells in any way. Most if not all Poisoned effects target Constitution, so spellcasters are more likely to suffer from the effect than Martial classes anyway. 

Using rules found in the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything players can harvest poisons from fallen enemies or even purchase some. Against powerful enemies, this can help turn the tide and soften them up for Grappling. Be cautioned though: undead, fiends, and a variety of other monsters are immune to the Poisoned condition outright. 

Why it matters to DMs: Odds are you’ll come across this one a lot. It is a favorite of Wizards of the Coast and for good reason: it is easy and wreaks a lot of havoc. Not only is it often a rider effect, but the rules on how to deal with the poison also vary wildly. Some give the player a save at the end of every turn, some are one save before a long duration, some if you fail by 5 or more you gain an additional rider effect, and those are just the most frequent. Read each individual ability carefully and think about what they imply. Poison implies either an advanced mutation in a creature’s evolution or the intelligence of a creature to utilize it. 


  • A prone creature’s only Movement option is to crawl, unless it stands up and thereby ends the condition.
  • The creature has disadvantage on Attack rolls.
  • An Attack roll against the creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature. Otherwise, the Attack roll has disadvantage.

Common Causes: the spell Grease and Command, Dragons, Wolves, Minotaurs, and Stone Giants

Why it matters to players: Prone is the easiest condition to counter. Standing up only takes half of your turn’s movement and requires no additional actions. However, that still has to happen on the Prone creature’s turn and they cannot stand up if their movement speed is 0. This means you can Grapple someone while Prone, benefitting from both conditions until they break free or the Grappler is removed from play. 

It is also worth noting that going Prone on purpose can occasionally be a good thing. In the rare circumstance that a sniper is attacking the party from a long distance, the party can crawl to give the sniper disadvantage on hitting them. It might sound a little silly, but it does work by the rules!

Why it matters to DMs: This effect is often a rider on a creature’s main attack actions and only increases your chances of hitting the party with a melee attack for free. We’d recommend this for use against player characters that seem impossible to hit or that skirmish a lot. Limiting mobility in 5e matters a lot due to Attacks of Opportunity. 


  • A restrained creature’s speed becomes 0, and it can’t benefit from any bonus to its speed.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s Attack rolls have disadvantage.
  • The creature has disadvantage on Dexterity Saving Throws.

Common Causes: the spell Entangle, traps, the Grappler Feat, Nets, Constrictor Snakes, Water Elementals, Ropers, and claws of large enemies

Why it matters to players: Restrained has almost all the benefits of Prone and Grappled in one package and then some more. This is fantastic for setting up spell casters, snipers, and melee fighters alike with no specific preference. Just like targets that are Grappled or Restrained, they can choose to fight instead of escape but at a significant disadvantage and only saving throw based abilities will be unimpeded. 

A Druid can cast Entangle to tie up a whole swath of enemies for the Wizard to follow up with a Fireball that they must save against at disadvantage. 

As to countering the effect, normally an Athletics or Acrobatics check will do the job, but teleporting works just as well. 

Why it matters to DMs: Often a rider on another ability or attack, most creatures will know weakness when they see it and attack a restrained target relentlessly. Even creatures with bestial intelligence will know they have a chance to swing the fight in their favor if they all attack a target struggling to fight back. 

Saving throws against restrained often are strength based. Most players will usually have a decent strength or dexterity, but almost never both. If you have a troublesome Rogue who passes every Dexterity saving throw, maybe try catching them while they’re Restrained. 


  • A stunned creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can’t move, and can speak only falteringly.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity Saving Throws.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.

Common Causes: the spell Power Word: Stun, Monks, Vrocks, Mindflayers, Ultroloths, and Myconoids, 

Why it matters to players: This is the direct upgrade from Restrained and Incapacitated: Stunned targets can’t fight back and automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saves. It doesn’t matter if their Dexterity is a 28, they fail against a Fireball with no dice rolls. 

Why it matters to DMs: See our advice on Incapacitated. 


  • An unconscious creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings
  • The creature drops whatever it’s holding and falls prone.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity Saving Throws.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • Any Attack that hits the creature is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.

Common Causes: getting tired, the spell Sleep, Brass Dragons, Jackalwares, Homunculus, Drow, and Vrocks

Why it matters to players: Possibly the most overlooked condition, Unconscious makes night ambushes deadly and assassin work a lot easier. If your character is Evil aligned or just has dark tendencies, this will come up. This is the only condition more deadly than Paralyzed, and even then only by a slim margin. 

Most, if not all, Unconscious effects end upon taking damage so it has more nuance than Paralyzed which often doesn’t care how much damage you are taking. When you get lucky enough to attack an Unconscious target, put as much damage as you can into that first hit. Poison your blade, Smite with your highest slot, cast Hunter’s Mark, use Savage attacker, cast Fireball at a high level, or use whatever other tricks you have to play because this is the time to play them. 

Being Unconscious yourself is not very fun since it effectively skips your turn, but thinking of solutions your fellow players can use to wake you up can be. Taking damage or being shaken awake are the most common ways to cancel this effect, but these can come from a lot of places. Familiars or friendly NPCs can use their action to shake a player character awake thereby keeping the other players focused on combat. If you are Unconcious but have a sizable amount of health back, then you can start to consider how to get the smallest amount of damage dealt to you. These can be anywhere from the Cleric casting the spell Spirit Guardians and allowing you to take damage from it (you don’t automatically fail Wisdom saves while Unconcious) to the simple, effective method of throwing a dart at the downed character outside 5 feet. 

Why it matters to DMs: Unconscious isn’t generally game-breaking since its easier to counter than other effects and is fairly rare in terms of monster abilities (excluding Drow which is almost a guarantee to knock out some of your players), but it will become a factor if a player suggests a night-time ambush. 

Unconscious is more “give and take” than some of the other status effects. Namely, your players should be able to attack sleeping targets in proportion to the number of times it is used against them. The exception to this is that we haven’t known a DM savage enough to kill players in their sleep without any warning or back and forth, but we are sure they are out there. Being killed without any work to balance it against player choice isn’t going to be received well. The DM is supposed to put barriers in their campaign for the players to overcome, not be actively looking for a chink in their armor to ruin them with. 

Special note, creatures with the Fey Ancestry trait will be immune to being put to sleep magically. 

Tips and Tricks for Using Conditions

Advantage and Disadvantage cancel each other no matter the number of each

Player’s Handbook Page 173: “If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose disadvantage and only one grants advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage.” 

This matters since almost every condition gives one of the two to someone. If you are Poisoned and Blinded then melee attack a Prone person, you make a flat roll regardless. Don’t be surprised and use to your full advantage. Evening the odds isn’t so hard when you know the rules. 

Conditions stack and are absolutely brutal when used in conjunction

Do not be afraid to Poison a Stunned target. Do not be afraid to Blind a Restrained target. Do not be afraid to Grapple a Frightened Target. The descriptions and flavor of combat is incredible when conditions come into play like this. 

You can find all the Conditions for 5e on PHB. 290. 

Don’t be afraid to double-check these. It’s easy to forget the difference between Incapacitated, Stunned, and Paralyzed. 

Determine if you will use the Unconcious Condition for naturally sleeping targets

For this instance particularly, Halfling Hobbies advises you to consider if natural sleep and induced sleep will be considered the same for this status effect. As a Homebrew rule, many DMs hybridize stealth mechanics with the Unconscious condition for natural sleep.

The idea is as follows: if a player succeeds a stealth check against a naturally Unconscious creature’s Passive Perception, they receive the benefits of the Unconscious condition against the target. On a failed check, the unconscious creature wakes up but is not immediately aware of what awakened it. 

Set each other up for success

Remember that D&D is a game to be played in a group. Figure out how you can use conditions give your friends a leg up in the fight and you’ll find yourself stronger than ever before!

Until next time,

May your game, have advantage my friends!

-Halfling Hannah

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