The wizard squints, focused on a spell she cast the previous round. Out of nowhere, an enemy zombie manages to sneak up and take a bite! Will the wizard be able to keep her Concentration and continue the spell, or will it fail?
That all depends on a roll of the dice.
Let’s talk about Concentration 5e and what it means in Dungeons & Dragons.
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Some spells have a capitalized C in their description, indicating that the spell requires Concentration. Essentially, the spell is ongoing and requires the spellcaster to continuously focus on channeling their magic appropriately. Spellcasters cannot have more than one spell that requires Concentration running because their focus needs to remain on the initial spell.
However, taking other actions, moving, attacking, or casting non-Concentration spells do not affect a spellcaster’s Concentration. When a spellcaster loses Concentration, if it happens before the spell’s duration expires, the spell ends prematurely. There are a few things that can cause a spellcaster to lose Concentration, as we detail below.
The most common reason for losing Concentration is taking damage during an encounter. Spellcasters don’t automatically lose Concentration on an ongoing spell, but they must roll a Constitution saving throw (we describe those later on). To maintain Concentration, you need to roll at least 10 or half of the damage you took.
Casting a Second Concentration 5e Spell
As noted above, a spellcaster cannot have two Concentration spells running simultaneously. If you are already concentrating on a spell and cast a second spell that requires Concentration, your initial spell automatically ends, and your character is now entirely focused on the new Concentration spell for its duration.
Incapacitation or Death
Death is a pretty definitive end to anything you might be concentrating on, but becoming Incapacitated is equally as final. Incapacitated creatures cannot take actions or reactions, and any spell they’re concentrating on automatically ends. [See also: Death Saving Throws]
A Matter of Constitution
When Concentration isn’t automatically lost, a spellcaster must roll a Constitution saving throw to determine whether or not they can maintain Concentration. Sorcerers are at an advantage because that class has proficiency in Constitution saving throws. Other classes need to invest more resources into boosting their Constitution scores, or they can take the War Caster feat.
GameCows Tip: Feats are an optional rule and may not be allowed at every table. Check with your Dungeon Master before taking a feat.
The War Caster feat, among other things, gives spellcasters advantage on Constitution saving throws made to maintain Concentration on a spell when they take damage. Advantage on a saving throw provides a player with a better chance of meeting the target because you can roll two dice and take the higher number.
Alexa spends the majority of her days explaining the ins and outs of DnD to her two cats, much to their dismay.