Ready to get unseasonably spooky? In this guide, we’ll look at the Frightened 5e condition, an absolute pain in the back end, even when it’s not Halloween season! By the end of this guide, you’ll have a good grasp of the basics of what the condition does, what can cause it, and even have some commonly asked questions answered!
What is Frightened 5e?
In D&D, the Frightened condition is a state where a character becomes frightened to the point of being unable to move or take an action. This condition can be inflicted by many sources, though the main things to look out for are certain spells, items, and abilities. This condition can have an astounding effect on a player’s ability to fight or interact with the world around them.
When a creature is Frightened, they gain disadvantage on all ability checks and attack rolls while the source of its fear is within its line of sight (or they remain within the sphere of influence of the source.) They also can’t willingly move closer to the source of their fear and if they end their turn in a location where they can’t see the source of their fear, they make a Wisdom save to end the condition.
How to use Frightened 5e strategically
A savvy DM can make effective use of the Frightened condition against careless players. By inflicting this condition on one or more characters, a DM can control the flow of the battle and can easily split groups for side sessions or plot development. From the players’ perspective, the creative application of the Frightened condition can add depth and excitement to an encounter.
To use the Frightened condition well, it’s important to understand how it works and how it can be countered. For example, if a creature is Frightened of another creature that is too powerful for them to defeat, you can create a situation where they need to find a way to flee or hide, rather than taking the BBEG on face-first.
Alternatively, if a player is Frightened of a specific type of damage, say a character whose traumatic past includes being trapped in a burning house, a witty DM can use that knowledge to create a trap or obstacle that they need to navigate, and in turn, give the players a chance to develop their character with a little character growth.
Best spells to cause Frightened 5e
Here is a quick and dirty list of spells that can cause the Frightened condition in 5e:
Cause Fear (1st Level) – This spell can be used to frighten a single target, causing them to flee in terror for up to one minute.
Fear (3rd Level) – This spell can cause a group of creatures to become Frightened, potentially causing them to flee or become ineffective in combat.
Phantasmal Killer (4th Level) – This spell can create an illusion of a creature that attacks the target, potentially causing them to become Frightened and unable to fight back.
Items and feats that cause Frightened 5e
Staff of Terror – This magical staff can be used to cause the Frightened condition in a group of creatures (like Fear).
Dragon Fear feat – This feat allows a character to cause the Frightened condition in nearby creatures by using their breath weapon. (Dragonborn Fear, breath-style).
Dread Helm – This magical helmet is so ferocious and terrifying that it can cause the Frightened condition in creatures up to 30ft away. (Short range Fear)
Some creatures in D&D are immune to being Frightened, including constructs, the undead, and creatures that are immune to being charmed or frightened.
Frightened 5e FAQs
Here are some commonly asked questions about the Frightened condition:
Does Frightened break concentration?
No, being Frightened does not break concentration. Reviewing the handbook, the Frightened condition is not one of the ways that a caster loses concentration (those include: casting another spell that requires concentration, taking damage, or becoming incapacitated.)
How do you stop Frightened in 5e?
To stop the Frightened condition in D&D 5e, the character needs to move to a location where they can’t see the source of their fear or they make a Wisdom saving throw at the end of their turn to try to overcome their fear.
Does Rage remove Frightened?
Does Charm remove Frightened?
No, Charm does not remove the Frightened condition. Both conditions can be present on the same creature at one time.
Does Frightened affect spell casting?
Yes. Being Frightened does not stop a character from casting spells, but it does give them disadvantage on any attack rolls or ability checks related to the spell. So while it doesn’t prevent them from casting, it does make it much more difficult.
Does Frightened break Grapple?
No, being Frightened does not break a Grapple. You can continue to Grapple a creature that has inflicted Frightened on you as the continuous Grapple does not move you closer to the target. As such, you can even drag the source of your condition with you during Grapple as long as you are within range to Grapple them (you cannot move closer to them).