Learn how the prone condition works and how you can take advantage of it
The prone condition in D&D 5e is all about getting knocked down. It’s one of the less problematic conditions in D&D 5e as you can always just stand back up on your next turn, but that time prone does come with some drawbacks (and some advantages depending on your circumstances).
Our guide on the prone condition will teach you everything you need to know about being prone from the rules around it to how you can make it happen to your enemies. We’ll also explain how you can take advantage of the condition in certain situations too.
The Player’s Handbook explains the rules for the prone condition, explaining that it causes the following effects:
Player’s Handbook, p292
- 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.
How does the prone condition work?
Being made prone is one of the more common conditions in D&D 5e and thankfully, one of the less debilitating too. It’s not always forced on you by an enemy, you can choose to become prone and that can be advantageous (or at least necessary) in certain instances.
While moving slower can be a bit of a problem, the fact you can stand up and end the condition makes it easy to solve and isn’t too debilitating. The main issue with prone is the disadvantage you get to attack rolls and the advantage your enemies get against you (in close range). This means that normally, you’ll want to end the condition as soon as possible.
While most of the above may seem fairly straightforward, there’s actually quite a lot to consider with prone and how it can affect various things.
- Advantage/disadvantage when attacking a prone creature is based purely on distance, not whether the attack is ranged or melee. This means that a melee attack made from 10ft away receives disadvantage while a ranged attack made from 5ft away is made with advantage (likely cancelling out the disadvantage imposed by shooting a ranged weapon at a creature 5ft away).
- Spells can be cast while prone but spell attacks still incur a disadvantage.
- Being knocked prone while flying can be quite dangerous as you’ll fall to the ground and depending on your height, could take considerable damage. You fall at a rate of 500ft per turn so if you happen to be falling more than 500ft, you might still be falling by your turn, in which case you can “stand up” and move from prone to upright using half your speed as movement.
- If you’re riding a mount and the mount is knocked prone, you can use a reaction to dismount and land normally. If you don’t do this, then you’re forced off the mount and land prone.
- If your mount is moved against its will (like with the thunderwave spell) then you need to take a DC10 dexterity saving throw or be knocked prone.
- You can choose to drop prone (say if you want to incur disadvantage on enemy archers or hide in some undergrowth). This doesn’t cost an action or any movement, though getting up from being prone does cost half your movement speed.
- Because grapple and shove attempts are ability checks, not attack rolls, you don’t gain advantage on these checks against a prone target.
- Prone creatures can still make opportunity attacks using the normal rules
- You can continue to make all other actions while prone such as dodge and dash. Dash just means you crawl faster while dodge just negates the advantage of being prone (presumably you’re rolling around on the floor a bit).
What can cause you to be prone?
Quite a lot can cause you to be prone. The most common ways are:
- Dropping prone – This is where you choose to go prone by dropping to the ground, perhaps to sneak around or avoid ranged attacks.
- The shove action – You can choose to shove someone as an action. If you do this, you can either attempt to push them 5ft away or shove them down to fall prone. Either way, it’s contested by an athletics check against the target’s athletics or acrobatics.
- Falling – If you fall from 10ft or more, you will take damage and fall prone
- Natural effects – Basically anything that can naturally cause you to fall prone such as traps, slippery surfaces and crumbling ruins could cause you to fall prone at the DM’s discretion.
- Jumping – Long jumping into difficult terrain could cause you to fall prone. You’ll have to pass a DC 10 athletics check to avoid falling prone.
- Ball bearings – Yep, you can buy ball bearings, spread them on the ground and potentially cause an enemy to fall prone
- Spells – A bunch of spells can cause the prone condition. More on that a bit further down.
- Abilities – There are a bunch of creature and character abilities that can also cause the prone condition
Spells that can cause prone
Below are the spells that can cause the prone condition:
|Spell||Level||Casting Time||Range||Saving Throw||Duration||Classes||Description|
|Command||1st||1 action||60ft||Wisdom||1 round||Cleric, Paladin||Various including falling prone|
|Control Winds||5th||1 action||300ft (100ft cube)||Strength||1 hour concentration||Druid, Sorceror, Wizard||Various. Flying creatures may be knocked prone|
|Destructive Wave||5th||1 action||Self (30ft radius)||Constitution||Instantaneous||Paladin||5d6 thunder damage, 5d6 radiant or necrotic damage and knocked prone|
|Earth Tremor||1st||1 action||10ft||Dexterity||Instantaneous||Bard, Druid, Wizard||1d6 bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone|
|Earthquake||8th||1 action||500ft||Constitution and/or dexterity||1 minute concentration||Cleric, Druid, Sorceror||Various including being knocked prone|
|Grease||1st||1 action||60ft (10ft square)||Dexterity||1 minute||Wizard||Fall prone|
|Investiture of Stone||6th||1 action (15ft radius)||Self||Dexterity||10 minutes concentration||Druid, Sorceror, Warlock, Wizard||Various including knocking nearby creatures prone|
|Sleet Storm||3rd||1 action||150ft (20ft tall, 40ft radius cylinder)||Dexterity and/or constitution||1 minute||Druid, Sorceror, Wizard||Area is difficult terrain and creatures there may fall prone and/or lose concentration|
|Tasha’s Hideous Laughter||1st||1 action||30ft||Wisdom||1 minute concentration||Bard, Wizard||Target falls prone, is incapacitated and can’t get up|
|Thunderous Smite||1st||1 bonus action||Self||Strength||1 minute concentration||Paladin||Next melee attack causes an extra 2d6 thunder damage and may push the target 10ft away and knock them prone|
|Tidal Wave||3rd||1 action||120ft (30ft long, 10ft wide and 10ft tall)||Dexterity||Instananeous||Druid, Sorceror, Wizard||4d8 bludgeoning damage and knocked prone|
|Watery Sphere||4th||1 action||90ft||Strength||1 minute concentration||Druid, Sorceror, Wizard||Restrains creatures but can eject them knocking them prone|
|Wrath of Nature||5th||1 action||120ft||Dexterity and/or Strength||1 minute concentration||Druid, Ranger||Various including knocking targets prone|
Abilities that can cause prone
There are 10 abilities (so far) that can cause your target to be knocked prone (and the greedy four elements monk gets 2 of them). They are:
- Wolf Totem Barbarian – Totemic Attunement
- College of Spirits Bard – Tales from Beyond
- Battlemaster Fighter – Trip Attack Maneuver
- Psi Warrior Fighter – Telekinetic Adept: Thrust
- Cavalier Fighter – Ferocious Charger
- Open Hand Monk – Open Hand Technique
- Four Elements Monk – Fist of Unbroken Air and Water Whip
- Swarmkeeper Ranger – Mighty Swarm
- Pact of the Blade Warlock – Eldritch Smite
There are also 3 feats that allow you to knock others prone. These are:
- Charger – After you make the dash action, you can use a bonus action to shove a creature
- Martial Adept – This feat allows you to use maneuvers used by the battlemaster fighter meaning you can use trip attack to knock enemies prone
- Shield Master – After you attack, you can use a bonus action to shove your opponent, knocking them prone
Battle tactics for prone
While prone may not be the most debilitating of conditions, it is still useful to get your enemies prone, especially if you’ve got a lot of melee combatants attacking a target. Below are some ideas for how to best make use of the prone condition.
- Take advantage of feats, abilities and spells – Using the shove action is usually a waste of a turn as it’s not an attack so characters with 2 attacks can’t shove someone down and then hitting them with advantage. However, many abilities can cause prone as part of other effects like the battlemaster’s trip attack (which you can get with the martial adept feat) which will do damage and can knock prone as part of the attack, then allowing you and your allies to hit the enemy with advantage (if you’re close).
- Grapple and Prone – A really effective way of keeping an enemy prone and extending that handy advantage is to use a grapple alongside making an enemy prone. When grappled, an enemy can’t stand up so advantage on close range attack rolls is kept for multiple turns. Grappling only takes 1 attack, not a whole action but escaping a grapple does take a whole action so you waste little while your opponent wastes more trying to escape. And even if your enemy chooses to hit you instead of escaping, they do so with disadvantage because they’re prone.
- Choose to drop yourself prone – If you’re a ranged specialist or spellcaster, you can take shots, drop prone and incur disadvantage on ranged attacks against you. You can then stand up again the next turn to shoot or cast spells then drop down again. Depending on what spells you’re casting, you can even cast the spells while prone without any negative effects. It gets even better if there’s cover nearby. The only thing to be wary of is any enemies getting into melee range while you’re prone.
Of course, while the above tactics are great for you, they’re a pain if your opponent is using them. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from prone:
- Stand up – If you do get knocked prone, getting out of it is as simple (often) as using half your movement to stand up. This does get a little more tricky if your opponent is grappling you or another condition is being imposed on you, but is usually the way out of being prone.
- Increase your strength and dexterity – A lot of prone conditions are checked against strength or dexterity so improving these ability scores can protect you a bit from being knocked prone.
- Athlete Feat – If you’re bothered by the movement loss when getting up from being prone this feat takes that cost down to just 5ft. You get other bonuses too like +1 strength or dexterity, a faster climb speed and the ability to jump after just 5ft of movement.
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:
How do I stop being prone?
To stop being prone, all you need to do is stand up. You can do this on your turn as part of your movement. It costs half your movement speed so a creature with a movement speed of 30 would use 15ft of movement to stand up from being prone.
This becomes a little trickier if you are prone and have another condition imposed on you that prevents your movement. This is the case when grappled or when you’ve been affected by Tasha’s Hideous Laughter. In these instances, you’ll need to end the condition preventing your movement either escaping from the grapple or ending the effects of the spell.
Do you get an attack of opportunity when prone?
Yes you do. Attacks of opportunity are a reaction and nothing states that you lose your reaction when you’re prone. You do make the attack of opportunity with disadvantage while prone though, just as you do with other attacks.
Do enemies get an attack of opportunity when you stand up from being prone?
No. If you’re standing up from being prone, you don’t provoke an attack of opportunity as you’re not leaving the melee range of an adjacent enemy.