Learn how the stunned condition works and how you can take advantage of it and protect yourself from it
Stunned is a powerful tool in your arsenal, allowing you to incapacitate your enemies and making them easier to damage. It is one of the most powerful conditions in D&D 5e. Unfortunately, the condition is far more common among high level enemies than among playable characters meaning you’re more likely to be protecting against the stunned condition than doling it out to your enemies.
Our guide is here to help you know how stunned works, what abilities and spells impose this condition and how to best deal with enemies that can impose this condition.
The Player’s Handbook explains the rules for the stunned condition, explaining that it causes the following effects:
Player’s Handbook, p292
- 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.
How does the stunned condition work?
Being stunned is one of the more debilitating conditions in D&D 5e. It renders you almost completely useless basically preventing you from moving or taking actions. Stunned creatures are afflicted with the following rules:
- A stunned creature is incapacitated (meaning it can’t make any actions) and can’t move either. If a stunned creature attempts to speak, it can do so only falteringly.
- Stunned creatures automatically fail strength and dexterity saving throws.
- Attack rolls against stunned creatures have advantage.
As you can see, there is very little a stunned creature can do but there are a couple of things you can still do.
Stunned creatures can still speak, although can only do so falteringly. They can also continue to make saving throws though will automatically fail any strength or dexterity throws. Your natural hardiness and mental fortitude remain intact however so you can continue to make other saving throws.
What can cause you to be stunned?
The stunned condition isn’t very common in D&D 5e, perhaps because its effects are quite devastating. It’s more common among monster abilities but there are a handful of spells and class features that can cause enemies to be stunned and typically, these only come at higher levels.
Spells that can stun
As mentioned, stunned is reserved for the higher echelons of spellcasters meaning spellcasters first get access to this spell with the level 5 spell contagion, with all other spells needing to be level 7 before they can stun an enemy. Below are the spells that can cause the stunned condition:
|Spell||Level||Casting Time||Range||Saving Throw||Duration||Classes||Description|
|Contagion||5th||1 action||touch||Constitution||7 days||Cleric, Druid||Various including being stunned|
|Divine Word||7th||1 bonus action||30ft||Charisma||Instantaneous||Cleric||Various including being stunned|
|Symbol||7th||1 minute||Touch||Various||Until dispelled or triggered||Bard, Cleric, Wizard||Various including being stunned|
|Power Word Stun||8th||1 action||60ft||Constitution||Instantaneous||Bard, Sorceror, Warlock, Wizard||Stunned if below 150 hit points|
|Psychic Scream||9th||1 action||90ft||Intelligence||Instantaneous||Bard, Sorceror, Warlock, Wizard||14d6 psychic damage and stunned|
Abilities that can stun
There are only 2 class abilities that can cause you to be stunned. A monk gains access to this at level 5 (which is very early for the stunned condition) but it does only last a single turn. The soulknife rogue will only access stunned at level 17, but the effects are more profound, lasting for a minute:
- Monk – Stunning Strike
- Soulknife Rogue – Rend Mind
How do you prevent stunned?
Not much can be used to counteract the stunned condition. Typically, a stunned condition will have its own duration and/or opportunities to retake a saving throw at the end of each turn. This means getting out of stunned is usually just a case of waiting it out or retaking saves. Abilities that can give you advantage on saving throws or that increase your a relevant ability score will help here. Unfortunately, there’s no universal saving throw from being stunned which makes it difficult to prepare against in this regard.
The only spell that specifies it stops you being stunned is power word heal, though this is a 9th level spell that’s only available to bards and clerics so not a likely one to have available.
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:
Can you take bonus actions or reactions while stunned?
Can you cast spells while stunned?
No as casting spells requires some kind of an action and you’re unable to take any kind of action while stunned. You also lose concentration on any spells requiring concentration that you might have cast prior to being stunned.
Can you speak telepathically while stunned?
Even if you have an ability that allows you to do this without having to take an action to activate it, you are still unable to communicate telepathically when incapacitated which is an effect of being stunned.