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Unconscious 5e

Unconscious 5e

Be more conscious of DnD 5e’s Unconscious condition.

Aftering suffering a massive blow, the Warlock became locked in her mind, speaking only to Kelemvor, the Judge of the Damned. The first time, she begged. The second time, she wept. The third time, she opened her eyes. She was not ready to be judged.

What are the Unconscious Conditions in 5e?

The DnD 5e Player’s Handbook (page 292) describes the Unconscious condition as:

  • An unconscious creature is Incapacitated, can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings
  • The creature drops whatever it’s holding and falls prone.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • Any attack that hits the creature is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.

You receive the Unconscious condition when you reach 0 HP in DnD 5e, but you can also go Unconscious from spells, poison, or monster abilities. If you go Unconscious from being reduced to 0 HP, gaining HP will make you conscious again. If you go Unconscious from other sources, you must follow the description of whatever made you Unconscious.

When reaching 0 HP, you are in danger of dying and need to be stabilized. Stabilization does not equal consciousness in DnD 5e, but rather not needing to make death saving throws any longer.

How does Unconscious work in DnD?

Being reduced to 0 HP makes you unconscious in 5e. You can be Unconscious and stable (knocked out), or Unconscious and unstable (in danger of dying). Unconscious and unstable is the default, unless whatever makes you Unconscious says differently. Passing a death saving throw stabilizes you.  You can go Unconscious from any source, such as melee attacks, ranged attacks, or falling. 

If you are unconscious and stable, taking damage will make you unstable.

If you are unconscious and unstable in 5e, on your turn: 

  • Roll a d20
  • Add any modifiers or bonuses
  • A roll of 10 or higher = your Death Saving Throw succeeds, and you are stabilized (but not Conscious)
  • A roll of 9 or lower =  your Death Saving Throw fails
  • A natural 20 = 1 HP regained, and you are Conscious again
  • 3 Death Saving Throw failures = Death

Attacks against you while Unconscious in 5e

Within 5 feet:

  • Melee attacks against you get advantage. On hit: Automatic crit, 2 death saves
  • Ranged attacks against are normal. On hit: Automatic crit, 2 death saves 

Outside of 5 feet:

  • Melee attacks against you get advantage. On hit: 1 death save, or 2 death saves if a natural 20 (crit)
  • Ranged attacks are normal. On hit: 1 death save, or 2 death saves if a natural 20 (crit)

Damage from saving throws:

  • 1 death save
  • Strength and Dexterity saving throws automatically fail

GameCows Tip: Melee attackers have the option to knock out a target when reducing them to 0 HP, which means they are unconscious but stable (no danger of dying). Sometimes it’s fun to knock out NPCs for story purposes, or fun, with melee spell attacks like Shocking Grasp, Thorn Whip, or Vampiric Touch.

How do you become Unconscious in 5e?

You can become Unconscious in DnD 5e from:

  • Being reduced to 0 hit points from any source
  • Being knocked out after reduction to 0 HP (Melee attacker’s choice, you are still stable afterward).
  • Catnap, Eyebite, Sleep, or Symbol spells
  • Poisons such as Drow poison, Essence of Ether, or Oil of Taggit
  • Potions
  • Getting short-term madness, and the DM rolls from 91-100 on the percentile dice when choosing from the Short Term Madness table (Dungeon Master’s Guide)
  • Monster abilities

Some Monster Abilities that can potentially make you unconscious in 5e:

  • Banshee’s Wail
  • Beholder, Gauth, or Death Tyrant’s Sleep Ray
  • Bodak’s Death Gaze
  • Brass Dragon’s Sleep Breath
  • Cloaker’s suffocation
  • Coutal’s Bite
  • Demi-Lich’s Howl
  • Drow or Drow Elite Warrior’s Hand Crossbow
  • Homunculus’s Bite
  • Jackalwere’s Sleep Gaze
  • Pseudodragon’s Stinger
  • Sea Hag’s Death Glare
  • Sprite’s Shortbow 
  • Satyr Pipes’s Gentle Lullaby

How do you Regain Consciousness in 5e?

According to the Player’s Handbook (pg. 197): “unconsciousness ends if you regain any hit points.” So, the easiest way to regain consciousness in 5e is getting healed by spells such as Aid, Cure Wounds, or Lay on Hands. Getting at least 1 HP makes you automatically conscious again.

Unconscious 5e recovery

Remember that being stable in 5e is not the same as being conscious. Stability means you are still at 0 HP, but are not on death’s door any longer. Only gaining HP makes you conscious again.

How do you stabilize an unconscious character in 5e?:

  • A successful DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) check by another creature
  • One use of a healer’s kit 
  • Pass a death saving throw
  • Spare the Dying cantrip

How do you recover from unconsciousness in 5e?:

  • Healing spells = consciousness + that amount of HP 
  • Healing potions = consciousness + that amount of HP
  • A natural 20 on a death saving throw = consciousness + 1 HP
  • Wait 1d4 hours =  consciousness + 1 HP (if stable)
  • Healer feat + a Healer’s Kit = consciousness + 1d6 + 4 + that creature’s maximum hit point dice
  • A short rest (1 hour) + hit dice = consciousness + HP of hit point dice roll

Unconscious 5e FAQ

What is the difference between death and UUnconscious in 5e?

Unconsciousness in 5e is like being on death’s door in 5e. If someone attacks you within 5 feet,  if you are reduced to 0 HP. If someone attacks you within 5 feet, you have to pass 2 death saving throws.

What is the difference between Unconscious and Incapacitated 5e?

Incapacitated is nested within the Unconscious condition in 5e. So if you are Unconscious, you are Incapacitated, but not vice versa. The Incapacitated cannot act or react but have no other detriments. In addition to not being able to act or react, the Unconscious can’t move, speak, be aware of surroundings, hold anything, or pass Strength or Dexterity saves. 

Attack rolls against Unconscious also get advantage, and attacks within 5 feet get automatic crits on success.

What counts as Unconscious in 5e?

You always go Unconscious in 5e when you reach 0 HP. You are also Unconscious when naturally sleeping, except you can still hear and will wake up if attacked. 

How long is someone Unconscious for 5e?

If an Unconscious creature is healed in 5e, it becomes conscious again immediately. If an Unconscious creature is stabilized, but not healed, they regain 1 hit point after 1d4 hours. Outside of combat, if an Unconscious creature does a short rest (one hour) and has hit dice, they can spend the dice to get HP, and thus regain consciousness.

If someone is made Unconscious for reasons other than reaching 0 HP or below, they regain consciousness according to the description of the effect that made them Unconscious.

Can an Unconscious person hear 5e?

No, an Unconscious person is “unaware of their surroundings” in 5e, which means they can’t hear. This means that a Bard’s Bardic Inspiration or Song of Rest won’t help an Unconscious person. But, according to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, if you are Unconscious just from sleeping naturally, loud sounds can wake you up.

Can an Unconscious creature be willing?

No, Unconscious creatures are not aware of their surroundings, and thus cannot consent for any spells that require a “willing creature.” Spells that require a willing creature use that willing creature itself as a component of the spell. So if a creature cannot will, the spell won’t work.

Is Unconscious the same as sleep 5e?

Not exactly. If you are Unconscious from reaching 0 HP, taking damage will trigger a death saving throw, or 2 death saving throws if it’s within 5 feet. If you are simply asleep (naturally), you wake up after taking damage. Also, Unconscious creatures are unaware of their surroundings, while naturally asleep creatures can be awakened by sudden noises.

Can an Unconscious creature be willing?

No, Unconscious creatures are not aware of their surroundings, and thus cannot consent for any spells that require a “willing creature.” Spells that require a willing creature use that willing creature itself as a component of the spell. So if a creature cannot will, the spell won’t work.

Can an Unconscious person drink a potion 5e?

Yes, an Unconscious person can drink a potion in 5e if another creature uses an action to administer the potion to them (Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 139). You are basically opening the Unconscious creature’s gullet and pouring the liquid down its throat.

Can Unconscious creatures make saves?

Yes, you can still make saves while unconscious, but Strength and Dexterity saves fail automatically.

Unconscious 5e spells

The spells that can make someone unconscious in 5e are Catnap, Eyebite, Sleep, or Symbol.

Get more DnD skills into your unconscious by checking out Prone 5e, Deflect Missiles 5e, and Cunning Action 5e.