Learn how the petrified condition works, how you can take advantage of it and protect yourself from it
Petrification is a terrifying ability and has been used for centuries in myths of horrific monsters like the medusa who could turn her enemies to stone with her gaze. Being petrified is the process of being turned into stone. You remain alive however, in this petrified state and it’s unclear whether you’re conscious of your horrible state or simply in a state of suspended animation (hopefully the latter).
Petrification is a condition that can be imposed in D&D 5e, and as you’d expect, it’s horrific to face but a huge tool if you’re the one imposing it. Our guide will explain exactly how this powerful condition works, how you can use it and how you can protect yourself from its effects.
The Player’s Handbook explains the rules for the petrified condition, explaining that it causes the following effects:
Player’s Handbook, p291
- 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.
How does the petrified condition work?
When you are petrified, you are turned to stone (or some other substance) and end up in some kind of suspended animation as the usual effects of time don’t seem to affect your body. For example, when petrified, a person will stop aging and poison and disease will stop ravaging their body (though transforming back to flesh will continue these processes).
When petrified, you don’t simply become a stone person capable of acting as normal. Your body becomes rigid and you are unable to move, speak or sense anything around you. Because you are also incapacitated, you are also unable to take any actions. This includes bonus actions and reactions. Essentially, you can do nothing and sense nothing.
Because you can’t move, you are also unable to make strength and dexterity saving throws, you simply fail these.
It’s not all bad though, and there could be some reasons to be petrified that might work in your favour. For instance, if you need to wait a really long time but don’t want to age, then being petrified could work out really well. If you were ill and didn’t have time to find a miracle cure, you could become petrified until someone else does so for you. If you were suffering from exhaustion and on the cusp of dying, petrification could preserve you until you can be transported somewhere to rest. Of course, all these instances rely on someone else being trustworthy enough to transform you back to flesh, so you’d better hope you have good friends.
What can cause you to be petrified?
Considering how terrible petrified is in D&D 5e, it’s fortunate that it’s a very uncommon condition. Only a handful of spells can cause petrified and very few magic items. There are a few more monsters that can cause this condition though so DMs have a few more options to choose from.
Spells that cause petrified
There are only 3 spells that directly cause the petrified condition. They are:
|Spell||Level||Casting Time||Range||Saving Throw||Duration||Classes||Description|
|Flesh to Stone||6th||1 action||60ft||Constitution||1 minute concentration||Warlock, Wizard||Creature is restrained and must continue making constitution saving throws until they have either failed 3 or succeeded on 3. 3 failures results in petrification.|
|Prismatic Spray||7th||1 action||Self, 60ft cone||Dexterity||Instantaneous||Sorceror, Wizard||Various including being petrified.|
|Prismatic Wall||9th||1 action||60ft, line 90ft long, 30ft high and 1 inch thick||Dexterity||10 minutes||Wizard||Various including being petrified.|
Magic items that cause the petrified condition
With petrified being such a powerful condition, there are very few magic items capable of causing this condition. In fact, we only came across one, and even that item is very unreliable for causing this effect, essentiallycausing one of many random effects, with petrification being one of those effects.
- Wand of wonder
Creatures that cause the petrified condition
When it comes to monsters that can cause petrified, DMs do have a few more options to choose from, though the list is not huge. This is good though, as a party that is constantly being petrified will quickly become frustrated so the condition should still be used sparingly. The following creatures are able to cause the petrified condition on their hapless victims.
|Monster||Source Book||Challenge Rating||Monster Type||Experience||Saving Throw|
|Death’s Head||Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, p232||1/2||Undead||100xp||Constitution (DC10)|
|Cockatrice||Monster Manual, p42||1/2||Monstrosity||100xp||Constitution (DC11)|
|Stone Cursed||Monsters of the Multiverse, p233||1||Construct||200xp||Constitution (DC12)|
|Basilisk||Monster Manual, p24||3||Monstrosity||700xp||Constitution (DC12)|
|Gorgon||Monster Manual, p171||5||Monstrosity||1,800xp||Constitution (DC13)|
|Medusa||Monster Manual, p214||6||Monstrosity||2,300xp||Constitution (DC14)|
|Stone Giant Dreamwalker||Monsters of the Multiverse, p234||10||Giant||5,900xp||Constitution (DC17)|
|Beholder||Monster Manual, p28||13||Aberration||10,000xp||Dexterity (DC16)|
|Death Tyrant||Monster Manual, p29||14||Undead||11,500xp||Dexterity (DC17)|
How do you protect against petrification?
If you’ve been petrified or know you’ll be up against a creature that can cause the condition, you don’t have many options to prevent it. There are some things you can do though to either end the condition or protect against it. These include:
- High dexterity and constitution – Before you’re made to be petrified, you normally have a saving throw to make. Typically, this saving throw will be against your dexterity or constitution. Increasing these abilities will help your chances of surviving a petrifying attack.
- Abilities that buff your saving throws – Some abilities can be used to boost your saving throws such as bardic inspiration or the spell heroes’ feast. While they don’t prevent the petrified condition outright, they can make you more likely to succeed on a saving throw against the condition.
- Spells – There is only 1 spell that will end the petrified condition; greater restoration. Technically, you could use a wish spell to end it too, but this feels like a bit of a waste for a condition that typically won’t last longer than 10 minutes, though might be useful against a more permanent version of petrification.
All condition guides
Conditions are powerful tools or problematic obstacles in D&D 5e. You can learn more about all the conditions of D&D 5e in our guides below: