Prone in DnD 5e can be used offensively to ground enemies, or defensively to make yourself harder to hit.
“A single elven archer has us pinned. He is laying down on the roof. As he stands, he whips off a golden arrow, and then is down again before the arrow strikes home. Only two of us are left, down from twelve. I must break for it, before the sun glimmers on that ancient bow once more.”
Table of Contents
What are the rules for Prone 5e?
According to page 292 of the Player’s Handbook, the Prone condition rules in 5e are:
- A prone creature’s only movement option 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.
On page 190 of the Player’s Handbook, the rules for falling Prone are:
- You can drop prone without using any of your speed.
- Standing up takes more effort; doing so costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed.
- You can’t stand up if you don’t have enough movement left or if your speed is 0.
Dropping prone is free in 5e, but getting up costs half your original movement. If you don’t have movement to spare, or 0 movement, you stay prone. For example, if you use more than half your movement to crawl while prone, you’re stuck prone until the beginning of your next turn. Knocking enemies prone gives you advantage within 5 ft.
How do you use Prone in 5e?
Prone is best used in 5e by coordinating with your party’s initiative order after knocking an enemy Prone. Pairing Prone with Area-of-Effect (AOE) spells such as Entangle or Web can help keep enemies down. And if other party members can close in, they can get attack with advantage. Ranged party members can also attack efficiently if they cancel out disadvantage somehow.
Defensively, if you’re fighting ranged targets or a meleeing target that can’t reach you, going prone is a good way for any class to make it harder for enemies to hit you. On your turn, you can get up to move a bit closer or retaliate.
Offensively, prone is great if you want to stick to one spot and snipe from afar. You can go prone and crawl to a safe, and sneaky, position. Then, on your turn, you can:
- Spend half your movement to stand up
- Fire your ranged weapon at an enemy
- Drop prone again for free, giving disadvantage to any ranged attacks made against you
- Repeat next turn
Ranged Rogues are especially good when attacking with Prone. If the enemy you’re targeting is within 5 ft. of a party member, you can trigger Sneak Attack for an extra 1d6 damage. And if you use Cunning Action with Steady Aim (from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything), you get advantage.
How does prone work in 5e?
Offensively, Prone in 5e works best as a combo of Shove (the enemy hopefully falls prone) + Grapple (as a 2nd attack). A grappled creature’s speed becomes 0, which means they are sitting ducks until their next turn. Anyone who can attack twice in a round can do a shove and a grapple. So, level 5 Barbarians, Fighters, Monks, Paladins, and Rangers or above, and level 6 Bards or above.
Keep an eye on the combat’s initiative order (the battle participants’ turns in sequence) when knocking someone prone. It’s not much good to knock an enemy prone if they can just get back up the next turn. But if members of your party have turns before the prone enemy, they can get in some serious licks—and with advantage if within 5 ft.
GameCows Tip: Ranged weapon attacks within 5 feet usually have disadvantage, but if the target is prone, all attacks within 5 feet get advantage. When making ranged attacks against prone targets within 5 feet, the disadvantage and advantage cancel each other out to give you a normal roll. It’s like shooting zombie fish in a barrel!
How do you knock someone prone in 5e?
Using Shove as an Action is the simplest way to knock someone prone in 5e, which means rolling a d20 and adding your Strength (Athletics) modifier. The target also rolls a d20, adding either their Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) modifier. If you roll higher, you can choose to knock the target prone (or push them 5 ft/1 square).
Spells that can knock enemies prone in 5e:
- Command. (Clerics and Paladins) The “Grovel” command causes the target to fall prone, and then ends its turn.
- Druid: Wild Shape + A Dire Wolf’s Bite. (Druids) At levels 1-6, Druids can Wild Shape into a Dire Wolf. A successful Dire Wolf “Bite” action makes the target “succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.”
- Earth Tremor. (Bards, Druids, Sorcerers, Wizards) Cause a tremor within 10 ft. Targets must pass a Dexterity save, or take 1d6 bludgeoning damage and fall prone.
- Eldritch Smite. (Warlocks) (Prerequisite: 5th level + Pact of the Blade) Once per turn, when you hit a creature with your pact weapon, you can expend a warlock spell slot to deal an extra 1d8 force damage to the target, plus another 1d8 per level of the spell slot, and you can knock the target prone if it is Huge or smaller.
- Grease. (Wizards) Slick grease covers a ten-foot square for a minute. Each creature standing, entering, or ending a turn in the grease must pass a Dexterity saving throw, or fall prone.
- Sapping Sting. (Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount) You sap the vitality of a target within 30 ft. Target must pass a Constitution saving throw, or take 1d4 necrotic damage and fall prone.
- Sleet Storm. (Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards) Cover a 40-ft. radius with slick ice. A target entering the area for the first time, or starting turn there, must pass a Dexterity saving throw, or fall prone.
- Tasha’s Hideous Laughter. (Bards, Wizards) Target within 30 feet starts laughing uncontrollably; Must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or fall prone.
- Thunderous Smite. (Paladins) When you hit for the first time, your weapon rings with thunder. The target must pass a Strength saving throw, or be pushed 10 feet away and knocked prone.
- Tidal Wave. (Druids, Wizards) Conjure a wave up to 30 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 10 feet tall. Each creature in the area must pass Dexterity saving throw, or take 4d8 bludgeoning damage and fall prone.
Weapons and items that can knock enemies prone in 5e:
- Ball bearings. As an action, you can spill these tiny metal balls from their pouch to cover a flat 10×10 foot square. A creature moving across the covered area must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone.”
- Hooked shortspear. (Out of the Abyss adventure module) The hooked Shortspear lets the wielder “force the target to make a Strength saving throw (DC = 8 + Strength modifier + proficiency bonus), falling prone on a failure.
- Walloping Ammunition. (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything). A creature hit by walloping ammunition (such as walloping arrows) must succeed on a DC 10 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
Feats that can knock enemies prone in 5e:
- Barbarian: Path of the Totem Warrior’s Totemic Attunement to Wolf. Attuning to a wolf totem at level 14 lets Totem Warrior Barbarians use a bonus action on their turn to knock Large or smaller creatures prone, if successful with melee weapon attack while raging (a voluntary state Barbarians can enter a number of times per long rest, depending on level).
- Charger feat. When you use your action to Dash, you can use a bonus action to make one melee weapon attack or to shove a creature.
- Fighter: Battlemaster’s Trip attack maneuver. Whenever a “Trip attack” on a Large size or smaller target succeeds, you can add a superiority die to the attack’s damage roll to attempt to knock the target prone. If the target fails a Strength saving throw, you knock the target prone. This works with ranged weapons too (shoot out their legs)!
- Shield Master feat. “If you take the Attack action on your turn, you can use a bonus action to try to shove a creature within 5 feet of you with your shield.”
Knocking enemies prone as a Monk in 5e:
- Starting at 3rd level, Way of the Open Hand Monks can use the Open Hand Technique to force a Dexterity saving throw upon a successful hit with one of their Flurry of Blows. Failure means being knocked prone.
- Way of the Four Elements Monks can spend 2 ki points as an action to send a Fist of Unbroken Air at a creature within 30 feet. If the creature fails a Strength saving throw, along with the damage, they can push the creature up to 20 feet away from them and knock it prone.
- Way of the Four Elements Monks can spend 2 ki points as an action to send Water Whip at a creature they can see within 30 feet. If the creature fails a Dexterity saving throw, along with the damage, the Monk can either knock the creature prone or pull it up to 25 feet closer.
Prone 5e FAQs
How do you recover from prone 5e?
Prone is countered in 5e by simply standing up, but many forces keep you from standing up, such as being Grappled. To recover from prone in 5e you have to spend half your original movement speed. If you don’t have half your original speed left to spend, you can’t stand up.
Can you help someone up from prone in 5e?
Technically, the Help action is irrelevant to a Prone condition in 5e, since Help is used to get advantage on an ability check or an attack roll. But many DMs rule that a party member using the Help action allows the prone player to attempt an ability check, such as Dexterity, to try and get up from the Prone condition.
Can you attack while prone?
Yes, you can attack while prone in 5e, with disadvantage. This includes spell attacks.
Do you get advantage on prone creatures?
Yes, but only if you are within 5 feet. A Rogue two-weapon fighting with light weapons can attack prone enemies twice, with advantage, by using their bonus action.
What counts as prone in 5e?
Prone is applied in 5e by meeting the conditions of falling prone. You can fall prone at any time. An enemy can also knock you prone, by fulfilling certain conditions. The position your body is in doesn’t matter while you’re prone in 5e.
How much movement does it take to become prone 5e?
Dropping prone is free in 5e! No movement is required. But you can’t be paralyzed, petrified, or any other status effect that keeps you from dropping down prone.
What happens if you fall prone while flying 5e?
If your speed is reduced to 0 in 5e while flying, you will fall. If you are put asleep, incapacitated, or grappled, etc., you will be knocked prone when you hit the ground. If you are still in the air while knocked prone, you can think of being prone as floundering in the air, similar to floundering in water.
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages. She is also a professional content writer at SlashGear.com