How conditions work in D&D 5e?

Learn about all 15 conditions in D&D 5e and how they work

In D&D, adventurers will often find themselves in dangerous situations but not every negative situation will result in lost health. Many enemies will attempt to impose a negative effect on a character that will incapacitate or reduce their effectiveness in some way. These effects are known as conditions.

Conditions can be used effectively to provide a tactical advantage, and it’s not just the DM with conditions available at their fingertips, player characters can also use conditions to enhance their combat prowess. But knowing how conditions work and how to to use them can be challenging; especially as there’s a whopping 15 of them! Fortunately, our detailed guides will help you understand exactly how each condition works and how to make use of them.

What are conditions in D&D 5e?

In short, conditions are temporary, effects that impact your effectiveness. Usually, these effects are negative but occasionally, they can be positive (such as the invisible condition). Often such effects will be imposed during combat but can also occur outside of combat too such as from the effects of triggering a trap or falling off a ledge.

Conditions tend not to be permanent afflictions and will state when the condition ends. This information can usually be found in the rules for a spell or ability that cause that condition. This period could be for 1 turn, 1 minute or longer, but usually, you’ll have opportunities to avoid the effects of the condition by taking a saving throw, and often, these can be taken at the end of each of your turns.

Some conditions can be ended through other means than just passing a saving throw. If you’re prone, you can simply stand up, if you’re grappled, you can choose to contest the grapple and some spells, potions and abilities can heal you from the effects of a condition.

Below we’ve listed all the conditions that can be imposed in D&D along with explanations of how they work:



If a creature is blinded, it can’t see or has severely impaired vision like if it’s exposed to a very bright light or extreme darkness. When blinded, a creature is subject to the following rules:

  • A blinded creature can’t see, and fails any ability check that requires sight.
  • Attack rolls against a blinded creature grant advantage, while the blinded creature’s attack rolls are made with disadvantage.
Player’s Handbook, p290

There are potential metagaming impacts here that aren’t necessarily demonstrated in the rules. As an example, a player may know where an enemy is and may move their character towards them to attack despite being blinded.

How these situations play out may be down to your DM. Blinded in certain instances might just mean impaired vision like when the sun is low and you’re driving, it makes it harder to see but you know where the other cars are. It is worth bearing in mind that other senses are not affected so these can also be used to aid you. A DM might want to rule on the severity of this condition and what might be possible behaviour.


Tasha and Graazt

If you are charmed, it means that someone has gained social dominance over you. You are enamored by this individual and would not see them harmed.

When charmed you adhere to the following rules:

  • 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.
Player’s Handbook, p290


If you are deafened, then it means that something has happened to seriously impair your ability to hear anything. Deafened creatures are subject to the following rules:

  • A deafened creature can’t hear and automatically fails any ability check that requires hearing.
Player’s Handbook, p290


If you are frightened, it means you are afraid of a particular creature or entity. This limits your capabilities while near the source of your fear. While affected by the frightened condition, you are subject to the following rules:

  • 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.
Player’s Handbook, p290


Grappling is where one creature attempts to restrict movement of another creature. The effects of grappling are often misunderstood as they are actually more limited in the rules than many think.

The grapple ends either when the grappler is incapacitated or when the creatures are moved out of grapple distance from one another (as can be the case with spells like thunder wave or misty step). A creature can also use its action to attempt to escape a grapple making either an athletics or an acrobatics check contested by the grappler’s athletics.

When grappled, a creature is subject to the following rules:

  • 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.
  • 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.
Player’s Handbook, p290


Tavern brawl

If you are incapacitated, it means that somehow your ability to do things has been nullified. It means that you’re unable to make any actions whether they be normal actions, reactions, bonus actions or even legendary actions.

You are not completely passive when incapacitated however; you can still move and talk, but this is basically it until you can overcome the effects of being incapacitated. Often, the incapacitated condition comes as part of another condition as a shorthand to state that you can’t take any actions. These conditions include:

  • Paralyzed
  • Petrified
  • Stunned
  • Unconscious

When incapacitated, you’re subjected to the following effects:

  • An incapacitated creature can’t take actions or reactions.
Player’s Handbook, p290


When you are invisible, it means you can’t be seen unless other creatures have special senses or magical abilities that allow them to see invisible creatures. Invisibility is different from hiding where a creature is heavily obscured rather than invisible.

While an invisible creature cannot be seen, their location can be determined through sounds it makes or effects it makes on the environment such as tracks in the mud.

The invisible condition is unique in that it’s usually the only condition with favourable effects. When invisible, you’re subject to the following effects:

  • 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.
Player’s Handbook, p290


The Xanathar

When someone is paralyzed their body is unable to move. When paralyzed, you are subject to the following rules:

  • A paralyzed creature is incapacitated 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.
Player’s Handbook, p291


Becoming petrified means that you have been transformed into an inanimate substance (usually stone) along with anything non-magical that you are wearing. When you are petrified, you are subjected to the following rules:

  • 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, 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 neutralised.
Player’s Handbook, p291



Poison is a substance that can be used to not only harm a creature, but also weaken them. The poisoned condition doesn’t do damage (though using poison may do that anyway as part of an attack) but it does cause the following effects to be applied (along with any individual effects caused by the specific poison used):

  • A poisoned creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
Player’s Handbook, p292


Halfling Artificer

The prone condition occurs when a creature is lying on the ground rather than being stood up as they usually would. Unlike most other conditions, it can be self imposed simply by lying down as you might when taking cover or sneaking around, though more typically, it is imposed when being knocked over.

It’s one of the less debilitating conditions as it can be ended simply by standing up but could mean a turn of being at a disadvantage in a couple of ways. The effects of the prone condition are:

  • A prone creature’s only movement 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.
Player’s Handbook, p292

Interestingly, the prone condition can have some benefits if you’re not in melee range of others and don’t need to make attack rolls (maybe you just need to cast spells or hide behind some cover).


A restrained creature is prevented from moving by being held in some way which also makes it harder for the creature to perform certain actions. A restrained creature is subject to the following rules:

  • 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.
Player’s Handbook, p292


tashas cauldron of everything monk

Being stunned may occur in different ways but means that your ability to act has been temporarily impaired. Stunned creatures are subject to the following rules:

  • A stunned creature is incapacitated, can’t move, and can speak only falteringly.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
Player’s Handbook, p292


The Ghost Dancer of the Nightmare Lands

An unconscious creature is one that is not aware of its surroundings. This might be the case if a creature is asleep or if they have fainted because they’ve been dropped to 0 hit points. Unconscious creatures are subject to the following rules:

  • An unconscious creature is incapacitated, 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.
Player’s Handbook, p292


There are some special abilities and environmental hazards that can cause exhaustion such as starvation and prolonged exposure to freezing or extremely hot temperatures. The effects of exhaustion increase as you become increasingly exposed to exhaustive effects. The rules relating to exhaustion are:

Exhaustion is measured in six levels. An effect can give a creature one or more levels of exhaustion, as specified in the effect’s description.

  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
Player’s Handbook, p291

Levels of exhaustion can increase by more than 1 at a time and reducing exhaustion doesn’t remove it entirely, it just removes the number of levels of effects stated. For example, taking a long rest (as long as you consume food and drink) will reduce exhaustion levels by 1.


Do conditions always work the same?

No, some abilities and spells will outline additional rules that apply in this instance of a condition. For example, the frightened condition does not state that characters must run away from a creature they are frightened of, but some spells such as fear, do state that characters will use the dash action to run away from the source of their fear.

If someone is afflicted with the same condition twice, does that condition become more powerful?

No. If you are affected by the same condition twice at the same time, the condition doesn’t become worse, but it may last longer if the duration of the 2nd condition is longer than the 1st.

Can you be afflicted with two conditions at the same time?

Yes, in fact some conditions cause an additional condition to affect you at the same time like the paralyzed condition which also causes you to become incapacitated. Some players like to combine a grapple with a shove so that their victim becomes both grappled and prone.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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