D20 RPG BETA
This work includes material taken from the System Reference
Document 5.1 (“SRD 5.1”) by Wizards of
the Coast LLC and available at https://dnd.wizards.com/resources/systems-reference-document. The
SRD 5.1 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
THE QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN ARROWS
Ability Scores & Combat
Using Ability Scores
Six abilities provide a quick description of every
creature’s physical and mental characteristics:
• Strength, measuring physical power
• Dexterity, measuring agility
• Constitution, measuring endurance
• Intelligence, measuring reasoning and memory
• Wisdom, measuring perception and insight
• Charisma, measuring force of personality
Is a character muscle-‐‑bound and insightful? Brilliant
and charming? Nimble and hardy? Ability scores
define these qualities—a creature’s assets as well as
The three main rolls of the game—the ability
check, the saving throw, and the attack roll—rely on
the six ability scores. The book’s introduction
describes the basic rule behind these rolls: roll a d20,
add an ability modifier derived from one of the six
ability scores, and compare the total to a target
Ability Scores and Modifiers
Each of a creature’s abilities has a score, a number
that defines the magnitude of that ability. An ability
score is not just a measure of innate capabilities, but
also encompasses a creature’s training and
competence in activities related to that ability.
A score of 10 or 11 is the normal human average,
but adventurers and many monsters are a cut above
average in most abilities. A score of 18 is the highest
that a person usually reaches. Adventurers can have
scores as high as 20, and monsters and divine beings
can have scores as high as 30.
Each ability also has a modifier, derived from the
score and ranging from −5 (for an ability score of 1)
to +10 (for a score of 30). The Ability Scores and
Modifiers table notes the ability modifiers for the
range of possible ability scores, from 1 to 30.
Ability Scores and Modifiers
To determine an ability modifier without
consulting the table, subtract 10 from the ability
score and then divide the total by 2 (round down).
Because ability modifiers affect almost every
attack roll, ability check, and saving throw, ability
modifiers come up in play more often than their
Sometimes a special ability or spell tells you that you
have advantage or disadvantage on an ability check,
a saving throw, or an attack roll. When that happens,
you roll a second d20 when you make the roll. Use
the higher of the two rolls if you have advantage, and
use the lower roll if you have disadvantage. For
example, if you have disadvantage and roll a 17 and
a 5, you use the 5. If you instead have advantage and
roll those numbers, you use the 17.
If multiple situations affect a roll and each one
grants advantage or imposes disadvantage on it, you
don’t roll more than one additional d20. If two
favorable situations grant advantage, for example,
you still roll only one additional d20.
If circumstances cause a roll to have both
advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to
have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is
true even if multiple circumstances impose
disadvantage and only one grants advantage or vice
versa. In such a situation, you have neither
advantage nor disadvantage.
When you have advantage or disadvantage and
something in the game, such as the halfling’s Lucky
trait, lets you reroll the d20, you can reroll only one
of the dice. You choose which one. For example, if a
halfling has advantage or disadvantage on an ability
check and rolls a 1 and a 13, the halfling could use
the Lucky trait to reroll the 1.
You usually gain advantage or disadvantage
through the use of special abilities, actions, or spells.
Inspiration can also give a character advantage. The
System Reference Document 5.1 77
GM can also decide that circumstances influence a
roll in one direction or the other and grant
advantage or impose disadvantage as a result.
Characters have a proficiency bonus determined by
level. Monsters also have this bonus, which is
incorporated in their stat blocks. The bonus is used
in the rules on ability checks, saving throws, and
Your proficiency bonus can’t be added to a single
die roll or other number more than once. For
example, if two different rules say you can add your
proficiency bonus to a Wisdom saving throw, you
nevertheless add the bonus only once when you
make the save.
Occasionally, your proficiency bonus might be
multiplied or divided (doubled or halved, for
example) before you apply it. For example, the
rogue’s Expertise feature doubles the proficiency
bonus for certain ability checks. If a circumstance
suggests that your proficiency bonus applies more
than once to the same roll, you still add it only once
and multiply or divide it only once.
By the same token, if a feature or effect allows you
to multiply your proficiency bonus when making an
ability check that wouldn’t normally benefit from
your proficiency bonus, you still don’t add the bonus
to the check. For that check your proficiency bonus
is 0, given the fact that multiplying 0 by any number
is still 0. For instance, if you lack proficiency in the
History skill, you gain no benefit from a feature that
lets you double your proficiency bonus when you
make Intelligence (History) checks.
In general, you don’t multiply your proficiency
bonus for attack rolls or saving throws. If a feature
or effect allows you to do so, these same rules apply.
An ability check tests a character’s or monster’s
innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a
challenge. The GM calls for an ability check when a
character or monster attempts an action (other than
an attack) that has a chance of failure. When the
outcome is uncertain, the dice determine the results.
For every ability check, the GM decides which of the
six abilities is relevant to the task at hand and the
difficulty of the task, represented by a Difficulty Class.
The more difficult a task, the higher its DC. The
Typical Difficulty Classes table shows the most
Typical Difficulty Classes
Task Difficulty DC
Very easy 5
Very hard 25
Nearly impossible 30
To make an ability check, roll a d20 and add the
relevant ability modifier. As with other d20 rolls,
apply bonuses and penalties, and compare the total
to the DC. If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the
ability check is a success—the creature overcomes
the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it’s a failure, which
means the character or monster makes no progress
toward the objective or makes progress combined
with a setback determined by the GM.
Sometimes one character’s or monster’s efforts are
directly opposed to another’s. This can occur when
both of them are trying to do the same thing and
only one can succeed, such as attempting to snatch
up a magic ring that has fallen on the floor. This
situation also applies when one of them is trying to
prevent the other one from accomplishing a goal—
for example, when a monster tries to force open a
door that an adventurer is holding closed. In
situations like these, the outcome is determined by a
special form of ability check, called a contest.
Both participants in a contest make ability checks
appropriate to their efforts. They apply all
appropriate bonuses and penalties, but instead of
comparing the total to a DC, they compare the totals
of their two checks. The participant with the higher
check total wins the contest. That character or
monster either succeeds at the action or prevents
the other one from succeeding.
If the contest results in a tie, the situation remains
the same as it was before the contest. Thus, one
contestant might win the contest by default. If two
characters tie in a contest to snatch a ring off the
floor, neither character grabs it. In a contest between
a monster trying to open a door and an adventurer
trying to keep the door closed, a tie means that the
door remains shut.
Each ability covers a broad range of capabilities,
including skills that a character or a monster can be
proficient in. A skill represents a specific aspect of an
System Reference Document 5.1 78
ability score, and an individual’s proficiency in a skill
demonstrates a focus on that aspect. (A character’s
starting skill proficiencies are determined at
character creation, and a monster’s skill
proficiencies appear in the monster’s stat block.)
For example, a Dexterity check might reflect a
character’s attempt to pull off an acrobatic stunt, to
palm an object, or to stay hidden. Each of these
aspects of Dexterity has an associated skill:
Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth, respectively.
So a character who has proficiency in the Stealth
skill is particularly good at Dexterity checks related
to sneaking and hiding.
The skills related to each ability score are shown
in the following list. (No skills are related to
Constitution.) See an ability’s description in the later
sections of this section for examples of how to use a
skill associated with an ability.
• Sleight of Hand
• Animal Handling
Sometimes, the GM might ask for an ability check
using a specific skill—for example, “Make a Wisdom
(Perception) check.” At other times, a player might
ask the GM if proficiency in a particular skill applies
to a check. In either case, proficiency in a skill means
an individual can add his or her proficiency bonus to
ability checks that involve that skill. Without
proficiency in the skill, the individual makes a
normal ability check.
For example, if a character attempts to climb up a
dangerous cliff, the GM might ask for a Strength
(Athletics) check. If the character is proficient in
Athletics, the character’s proficiency bonus is added
to the Strength check. If the character lacks that
proficiency, he or she just makes a Strength check.
Variant: Skills with Different Abilities
Normally, your proficiency in a skill applies only to a
specific kind of ability check. Proficiency in Athletics,
for example, usually applies to Strength checks. In
some situations, though, your proficiency might
reasonably apply to a different kind of check. In such
cases, the GM might ask for a check using an unusual
combination of ability and skill, or you might ask
your GM if you can apply a proficiency to a different
check. For example, if you have to swim from an
offshore island to the mainland, your GM might call
for a Constitution check to see if you have the
stamina to make it that far. In this case, your GM
might allow you to apply your proficiency in
Athletics and ask for a Constitution (Athletics) check.
So if you’re proficient in Athletics, you apply your
proficiency bonus to the Constitution check just as
you would normally do for a Strength (Athletics)
check. Similarly, when your half-‐‑orc barbarian uses a
display of raw strength to intimidate an enemy, your
GM might ask for a Strength (Intimidation) check,
even though Intimidation is normally associated
A passive check is a special kind of ability check that
doesn’t involve any die rolls. Such a check can
represent the average result for a task done
repeatedly, such as searching for secret doors over
and over again, or can be used when the GM wants
to secretly determine whether the characters
succeed at something without rolling dice, such as
noticing a hidden monster.
Here’s how to determine a character’s total for a
10 + all modifiers that normally
apply to the check
If the character has advantage on the check, add 5.
For disadvantage, subtract 5. The game refers to a
passive check total as a score.
System Reference Document 5.1 79
For example, if a 1st-‐‑level character has a Wisdom
of 15 and proficiency in Perception, he or she has a
passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 14.
The rules on hiding in the “Dexterity” section
below rely on passive checks, as do the exploration
Sometimes two or more characters team up to
attempt a task. The character who’s leading the
effort—or the one with the highest ability
modifier—can make an ability check with advantage,
reflecting the help provided by the other characters.
In combat, this requires the Help action.
A character can only provide help if the task is one
that he or she could attempt alone. For example,
trying to open a lock requires proficiency with
thieves’ tools, so a character who lacks that
proficiency can’t help another character in that task.
Moreover, a character can help only when two or
more individuals working together would actually
be productive. Some tasks, such as threading a
needle, are no easier with help.
When a number of individuals are trying to
accomplish something as a group, the GM might ask
for a group ability check. In such a situation, the
characters who are skilled at a particular task help
cover those who aren’t.
To make a group ability check, everyone in the
group makes the ability check. If at least half the
group succeeds, the whole group succeeds.
Otherwise, the group fails.
Group checks don’t come up very often, and
they’re most useful when all the characters succeed
or fail as a group. For example, when adventurers
are navigating a swamp, the GM might call for a
group Wisdom (Survival) check to see if the
characters can avoid the quicksand, sinkholes, and
other natural hazards of the environment. If at least
half the group succeeds, the successful characters
are able to guide their companions out of danger.
Otherwise, the group stumbles into one of these
Using Each Ability
Every task that a character or monster might
attempt in the game is covered by one of the six
abilities. This section explains in more detail what
those abilities mean and the ways they are used in
Strength measures bodily power, athletic training,
and the extent to which you can exert raw physical
A Strength check can model any attempt to lift, push,
pull, or break something, to force your body through
a space, or to otherwise apply brute force to a
situation. The Athletics skill reflects aptitude in
certain kinds of Strength checks.
Athletics. Your Strength (Athletics) check covers
difficult situations you encounter while climbing,
jumping, or swimming. Examples include the
• You attempt to climb a sheer or slippery cliff,
avoid hazards while scaling a wall, or cling to a
surface while something is trying to knock you off.
• You try to jump an unusually long distance or pull
off a stunt midjump.
• You struggle to swim or stay afloat in treacherous
currents, storm-‐‑tossed waves, or areas of thick
seaweed. Or another creature tries to push or pull
you underwater or otherwise interfere with your
Other Strength Checks. The GM might also call for
a Strength check when you try to accomplish tasks
like the following:
• Force open a stuck, locked, or barred door
• Break free of bonds
• Push through a tunnel that is too small
• Hang on to a wagon while being dragged behind it
• Tip over a statue
• Keep a boulder from rolling
Attack Rolls and Damage
You add your Strength modifier to your attack roll
and your damage roll when attacking with a melee
weapon such as a mace, a battleaxe, or a javelin. You
use melee weapons to make melee attacks in hand-‐‑
to-‐‑hand combat, and some of them can be thrown to
make a ranged attack.
Lifting and Carrying
Your Strength score determines the amount of
weight you can bear. The following terms define
what you can lift or carry.
Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your
Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight
(in pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough
System Reference Document 5.1 80
that most characters don’t usually have to worry
Push, Drag, or Lift. You can push, drag, or lift a
weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity
(or 30 times your Strength score). While pushing or
dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity,
your speed drops to 5 feet.
Size and Strength. Larger creatures can bear
more weight, whereas Tiny creatures can carry less.
For each size category above Medium, double the
creature’s carrying capacity and the amount it can
push, drag, or lift. For a Tiny creature, halve these
The rules for lifting and carrying are intentionally
simple. Here is a variant if you are looking for more
detailed rules for determining how a character is
hindered by the weight of equipment. When you use
this variant, ignore the Strength column of the
If you carry weight in excess of 5 times your
Strength score, you are encumbered, which means
your speed drops by 10 feet.
If you carry weight in excess of 10 times your
Strength score, up to your maximum carrying
capacity, you are instead heavily encumbered,
which means your speed drops by 20 feet and you
have disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and
saving throws that use Strength, Dexterity, or
Dexterity measures agility, reflexes, and balance.
A Dexterity check can model any attempt to move
nimbly, quickly, or quietly, or to keep from falling on
tricky footing. The Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, and
Stealth skills reflect aptitude in certain kinds of
Acrobatics. Your Dexterity (Acrobatics) check
covers your attempt to stay on your feet in a tricky
situation, such as when you’re trying to run across a
sheet of ice, balance on a tightrope, or stay upright
on a rocking ship’s deck. The GM might also call for a
Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to see if you can
perform acrobatic stunts, including dives, rolls,
somersaults, and flips.
Sleight of Hand. Whenever you attempt an act of
legerdemain or manual trickery, such as planting
something on someone else or concealing an object
on your person, make a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand)
check. The GM might also call for a Dexterity (Sleight
of Hand) check to determine whether you can lift a
coin purse off another person or slip something out
of another person’s pocket.
Stealth. Make a Dexterity (Stealth) check when
you attempt to conceal yourself from enemies, slink
past guards, slip away without being noticed, or
sneak up on someone without being seen or heard.
Other Dexterity Checks. The GM might call for a
Dexterity check when you try to accomplish tasks
like the following:
• Control a heavily laden cart on a steep descent
• Steer a chariot around a tight turn
• Pick a lock
• Disable a trap
• Securely tie up a prisoner
• Wriggle free of bonds
• Play a stringed instrument
• Craft a small or detailed object
Attack Rolls and Damage
You add your Dexterity modifier to your attack roll
and your damage roll when attacking with a ranged
weapon, such as a sling or a longbow. You can also
add your Dexterity modifier to your attack roll and
your damage roll when attacking with a melee
weapon that has the finesse property, such as a
dagger or a rapier.
Depending on the armor you wear, you might add
some or all of your Dexterity modifier to your Armor
At the beginning of every combat, you roll initiative
by making a Dexterity check. Initiative determines
the order of creatures’ turns in combat.
The GM decides when circumstances are appropriate for
hiding. When you try to hide, make a Dexterity (Stealth)
check. Until you are discovered or you stop hiding, that
check’s total is contested by the Wisdom (Perception) check
of any creature that actively searches for signs of your
You can’t hide from a creature that can see you clearly,
and you give away your position if you make noise, such as
shouting a warning or knocking over a vase.
An invisible creature can always try to hide. Signs of its
passage might still be noticed, and it does have to stay quiet.
In combat, most creatures stay alert for signs of danger all
around, so if you come out of hiding and approach a
System Reference Document 5.1 81
creature, it usually sees you. However, under certain
circumstances, the GM might allow you to stay hidden as you
approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain
advantage on an attack roll before you are seen.
Passive Perception. When you hide, there’s a chance
someone will notice you even if they aren’t searching. To
determine whether such a creature notices you, the GM
compares your Dexterity (Stealth) check with that creature’s
passive Wisdom (Perception) score, which equals 10 + the
creature’s Wisdom modifier, as well as any other bonuses or
penalties. If the creature has advantage, add 5. For
disadvantage, subtract 5. For example, if a 1st-‐level character
(with a proficiency bonus of +2) has a Wisdom of 15 (a +2
modifier) and proficiency in Perception, he or she has a
passive Wisdom (Perception) of 14.
What Can You See? One of the main factors in
determining whether you can find a hidden creature or
object is how well you can see in an area, which might be
lightly or heavily obscured, as explained in "The
Constitution measures health, stamina, and vital
Constitution checks are uncommon, and no skills
apply to Constitution checks, because the endurance
this ability represents is largely passive rather than
involving a specific effort on the part of a character
or monster. A Constitution check can model your
attempt to push beyond normal limits, however.
The GM might call for a Constitution check when
you try to accomplish tasks like the following:
• Hold your breath
• March or labor for hours without rest
• Go without sleep
• Survive without food or water
• Quaff an entire stein of ale in one go
Your Constitution modifier contributes to your hit
points. Typically, you add your Constitution modifier
to each Hit Die you roll for your hit points.
If your Constitution modifier changes, your hit
point maximum changes as well, as though you had
the new modifier from 1st level. For example, if you
raise your Constitution score when you reach 4th
level and your Constitution modifier increases from
+1 to +2, you adjust your hit point maximum as
though the modifier had always been +2. So you add
3 hit points for your first three levels, and then roll
your hit points for 4th level using your new modifier.
Or if you’re 7th level and some effect lowers your
Constitution score so as to reduce your Constitution
modifier by 1, your hit point maximum is reduced by
Intelligence measures mental acuity, accuracy of
recall, and the ability to reason.
An Intelligence check comes into play when you
need to draw on logic, education, memory, or
deductive reasoning. The Arcana, History,
Investigation, Nature, and Religion skills reflect
aptitude in certain kinds of Intelligence checks.
Arcana. Your Intelligence (Arcana) check
measures your ability to recall lore about spells,
magic items, eldritch symbols, magical traditions,
the planes of existence, and the inhabitants of those
History. Your Intelligence (History) check
measures your ability to recall lore about historical
events, legendary people, ancient kingdoms, past
disputes, recent wars, and lost civilizations.
Investigation. When you look around for clues
and make deductions based on those clues, you
make an Intelligence (Investigation) check. You
might deduce the location of a hidden object, discern
from the appearance of a wound what kind of
weapon dealt it, or determine the weakest point in a
tunnel that could cause it to collapse. Poring through
ancient scrolls in search of a hidden fragment of
knowledge might also call for an Intelligence
Nature. Your Intelligence (Nature) check
measures your ability to recall lore about terrain,
plants and animals, the weather, and natural cycles.
Religion. Your Intelligence (Religion) check
measures your ability to recall lore about deities,
rites and prayers, religious hierarchies, holy symbols,
and the practices of secret cults.
Other Intelligence Checks. The GM might call for
an Intelligence check when you try to accomplish
tasks like the following:
• Communicate with a creature without using words
• Estimate the value of a precious item
• Pull together a disguise to pass as a city guard
• Forge a document
• Recall lore about a craft or trade
• Win a game of skill
System Reference Document 5.1 82
Wizards use Intelligence as their spellcasting ability,
which helps determine the saving throw DCs of
spells they cast.
Wisdom reflects how attuned you are to the world
around you and represents perceptiveness and
A Wisdom check might reflect an effort to read body
language, understand someone’s feelings, notice
things about the environment, or care for an injured
person. The Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine,
Perception, and Survival skills reflect aptitude in
certain kinds of Wisdom checks.
Animal Handling. When there is any question
whether you can calm down a domesticated animal,
keep a mount from getting spooked, or intuit an
animal’s intentions, the GM might call for a Wisdom
(Animal Handling) check. You also make a Wisdom
(Animal Handling) check to control your mount
when you attempt a risky maneuver.
Insight. Your Wisdom (Insight) check decides
whether you can determine the true intentions of a
creature, such as when searching out a lie or
predicting someone’s next move. Doing so involves
gleaning clues from body language, speech habits,
and changes in mannerisms.
Medicine. A Wisdom (Medicine) check lets you try
to stabilize a dying companion or diagnose an illness.
Perception. Your Wisdom (Perception) check lets
you spot, hear, or otherwise detect the presence of
something. It measures your general awareness of
your surroundings and the keenness of your senses.
For example, you might try to hear a conversation
through a closed door, eavesdrop under an open
window, or hear monsters moving stealthily in the
forest. Or you might try to spot things that are
obscured or easy to miss, whether they are orcs
lying in ambush on a road, thugs hiding in the
shadows of an alley, or candlelight under a closed
Survival. The GM might ask you to make a
Wisdom (Survival) check to follow tracks, hunt wild
game, guide your group through frozen wastelands,
identify signs that owlbears live nearby, predict the
weather, or avoid quicksand and other natural
Other Wisdom Checks. The GM might call for a
Wisdom check when you try to accomplish tasks like
• Get a gut feeling about what course of action to
• Discern whether a seemingly dead or living
creature is undead
Clerics, druids, and rangers use Wisdom as their
spellcasting ability, which helps determine the
saving throw DCs of spells they cast.
Charisma measures your ability to interact
effectively with others. It includes such factors as
confidence and eloquence, and it can represent a
charming or commanding personality.
A Charisma check might arise when you try to
influence or entertain others, when you try to make
an impression or tell a convincing lie, or when you
are navigating a tricky social situation. The
Deception, Intimidation, Performance, and
Persuasion skills reflect aptitude in certain kinds of
Deception. Your Charisma (Deception) check
determines whether you can convincingly hide the
truth, either verbally or through your actions. This
deception can encompass everything from
misleading others through ambiguity to telling
outright lies. Typical situations include trying to fast-‐‑
talk a guard, con a merchant, earn money through
gambling, pass yourself off in a disguise, dull
someone’s suspicions with false assurances, or
maintain a straight face while telling a blatant lie.
Intimidation. When you attempt to influence
someone through overt threats, hostile actions, and
physical violence, the GM might ask you to make a
Charisma (Intimidation) check. Examples include
trying to pry information out of a prisoner,
convincing street thugs to back down from a
confrontation, or using the edge of a broken bottle to
convince a sneering vizier to reconsider a decision.
Performance. Your Charisma (Performance)
check determines how well you can delight an
audience with music, dance, acting, storytelling, or
some other form of entertainment.
Persuasion. When you attempt to influence
someone or a group of people with tact, social graces,
or good nature, the GM might ask you to make a
Charisma (Persuasion) check. Typically, you use
persuasion when acting in good faith, to foster
friendships, make cordial requests, or exhibit proper
etiquette. Examples of persuading others include
System Reference Document 5.1 83
convincing a chamberlain to let your party see the
king, negotiating peace between warring tribes, or
inspiring a crowd of townsfolk.
Other Charisma Checks. The GM might call for a
Charisma check when you try to accomplish tasks
like the following:
• Find the best person to talk to for news, rumors,
• Blend into a crowd to get the sense of key topics of
Bards, paladins, sorcerers, and warlocks use
Charisma as their spellcasting ability, which helps
determine the saving throw DCs of spells they cast.
A saving throw—also called a save—represents an
attempt to resist a spell, a trap, a poison, a disease,
or a similar threat. You don’t normally decide to
make a saving throw; you are forced to make one
because your character or monster is at risk of harm.
To make a saving throw, roll a d20 and add the
appropriate ability modifier. For example, you use
your Dexterity modifier for a Dexterity saving throw.
A saving throw can be modified by a situational
bonus or penalty and can be affected by advantage
and disadvantage, as determined by the GM.
Each class gives proficiency in at least two saving
throws. The wizard, for example, is proficient in
Intelligence saves. As with skill proficiencies,
proficiency in a saving throw lets a character add his
or her proficiency bonus to saving throws made using
a particular ability score. Some monsters have saving
throw proficiencies as well.
The Difficulty Class for a saving throw is
determined by the effect that causes it. For example,
the DC for a saving throw allowed by a spell is
determined by the caster’s spellcasting ability and
The result of a successful or failed saving throw is
also detailed in the effect that allows the save.
Usually, a successful save means that a creature
suffers no harm, or reduced harm, from an effect.
System Reference Document 5.1 84
In situations where keeping track of the passage of
time is important, the GM determines the time a task
requires. The GM might use a different time scale
depending on the context of the situation at hand. In
a dungeon environment, the adventurers’ movement
happens on a scale of minutes. It takes them about a
minute to creep down a long hallway, another
minute to check for traps on the door at the end of
the hall, and a good ten minutes to search the
chamber beyond for anything interesting or valuable.
In a city or wilderness, a scale of hours is often
more appropriate. Adventurers eager to reach the
lonely tower at the heart of the forest hurry across
those fifteen miles in just under four hours’ time.
For long journeys, a scale of days works best.
Following the road from Baldur’s Gate to Waterdeep,
the adventurers spend four uneventful days before a
goblin ambush interrupts their journey.
In combat and other fast-‐‑paced situations, the
game relies on rounds, a 6-‐‑second span of time.
Swimming across a rushing river, sneaking down a
dungeon corridor, scaling a treacherous mountain
slope—all sorts of movement play a key role in
fantasy gaming adventures.
The GM can summarize the adventurers’
movement without calculating exact distances or
travel times: “You travel through the forest and find
the dungeon entrance late in the evening of the third
day.” Even in a dungeon, particularly a large
dungeon or a cave network, the GM can summarize
movement between encounters: “After killing the
guardian at the entrance to the ancient dwarven
stronghold, you consult your map, which leads you
through miles of echoing corridors to a chasm
bridged by a narrow stone arch.”
Sometimes it’s important, though, to know how
long it takes to get from one spot to another,
whether the answer is in days, hours, or minutes.
The rules for determining travel time depend on two
factors: the speed and travel pace of the creatures
moving and the terrain they’re moving over.
Every character and monster has a speed, which is
the distance in feet that the character or monster can
walk in 1 round. This number assumes short bursts
of energetic movement in the midst of a life-‐‑
The following rules determine how far a character
or monster can move in a minute, an hour, or a day.
While traveling, a group of adventurers can move at
a normal, fast, or slow pace, as shown on the Travel
Pace table. The table states how far the party can
move in a period of time and whether the pace has
any effect. A fast pace makes characters less
perceptive, while a slow pace makes it possible to
sneak around and to search an area more carefully.
Forced March. The Travel Pace table assumes that
characters travel for 8 hours in day. They can push
on beyond that limit, at the risk of exhaustion.
For each additional hour of travel beyond 8 hours,
the characters cover the distance shown in the Hour
column for their pace, and each character must make
a Constitution saving throw at the end of the hour.
The DC is 10 + 1 for each hour past 8 hours. On a
failed saving throw, a character suffers one level of
exhaustion (see appendix PH-‐‑A).
Mounts and Vehicles. For short spans of time (up
to an hour), many animals move much faster than
humanoids. A mounted character can ride at a gallop
for about an hour, covering twice the usual distance
for a fast pace. If fresh mounts are available every 8
to 10 miles, characters can cover larger distances at
this pace, but this is very rare except in densely
Characters in wagons, carriages, or other land
vehicles choose a pace as normal. Characters in a
waterborne vessel are limited to the speed of the
vessel, and they don’t suffer penalties for a fast pace
or gain benefits from a slow pace. Depending on the
vessel and the size of the crew, ships might be able
to travel for up to 24 hours per day.
Certain special mounts, such as a pegasus or
griffon, or special vehicles, such as a carpet of flying,
allow you to travel more swiftly.
Pace Distance Traveled per . . .
Minute Hour Day Effect
−5 penalty to passive
Able to use stealth
System Reference Document 5.1 85
The travel speeds given in the Travel Pace table
assume relatively simple terrain: roads, open plains,
or clear dungeon corridors. But adventurers often
face dense forests, deep swamps, rubble-‐‑filled ruins,
steep mountains, and ice-‐‑covered ground—all
considered difficult terrain.
You move at half speed in difficult terrain—
moving 1 foot in difficult terrain costs 2 feet of
speed—so you can cover only half the normal
distance in a minute, an hour, or a day.
Special Types of Movement
Movement through dangerous dungeons or
wilderness areas often involves more than simply
walking. Adventurers might have to climb, crawl,
swim, or jump to get where they need to go.
Climbing, Swimming, and Crawling
While climbing or swimming, each foot of movement
costs 1 extra foot (2 extra feet in difficult terrain),
unless a creature has a climbing or swimming speed.
At the GM’s option, climbing a slippery vertical
surface or one with few handholds requires a
successful Strength (Athletics) check. Similarly,
gaining any distance in rough water might require a
successful Strength (Athletics) check.
Your Strength determines how far you can jump.
Long Jump. When you make a long jump, you
cover a number of feet up to your Strength score if
you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before
the jump. When you make a standing long jump, you
can leap only half that distance. Either way, each foot
you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.
This rule assumes that the height of your jump
doesn’t matter, such as a jump across a stream or
chasm. At your GM’s option, you must succeed on a
DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to clear a low
obstacle (no taller than a quarter of the jump’s
distance), such as a hedge or low wall. Otherwise,
you hit it.
When you land in difficult terrain, you must
succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to
land on your feet. Otherwise, you land prone.
High Jump. When you make a high jump, you leap
into the air a number of feet equal to 3 + your
Strength modifier if you move at least 10 feet on foot
immediately before the jump. When you make a
standing high jump, you can jump only half that
distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump
costs a foot of movement. In some circumstances,
your GM might allow you to make a Strength
(Athletics) check to jump higher than you normally
You can extend your arms half your height above
yourself during the jump. Thus, you can reach above
you a distance equal to the height of the jump plus
1˝ times your height.
System Reference Document 5.1 86
By its nature, adventuring involves delving into
places that are dark, dangerous, and full of mysteries
to be explored. The rules in this section cover some
of the most important ways in which adventurers
interact with the environment in such places.
A fall from a great height is one of the most common
hazards facing an adventurer. At the end of a fall, a
creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10
feet it fell, to a maximum of 20d6. The creature lands
prone, unless it avoids taking damage from the fall.
A creature can hold its breath for a number of
minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier
(minimum of 30 seconds).
When a creature runs out of breath or is choking,
it can survive for a number of rounds equal to its
Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round). At the
start of its next turn, it drops to 0 hit points and is
dying, and it can’t regain hit points or be stabilized
until it can breathe again.
For example, a creature with a Constitution of 14
can hold its breath for 3 minutes. If it starts
suffocating, it has 2 rounds to reach air before it
drops to 0 hit points.
Vision and Light
The most fundamental tasks of adventuring—
noticing danger, finding hidden objects, hitting an
enemy in combat, and targeting a spell, to name just
a few—rely heavily on a character’s ability to see.
Darkness and other effects that obscure vision can
prove a significant hindrance.
A given area might be lightly or heavily obscured.
In a lightly obscured area, such as dim light, patchy
fog, or moderate foliage, creatures have
disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that
rely on sight.
A heavily obscured area—such as darkness,
opaque fog, or dense foliage—blocks vision entirely.
A creature effectively suffers from the blinded
condition (see appendix PH-‐‑A) when trying to see
something in that area.
The presence or absence of light in an
environment creates three categories of
illumination: bright light, dim light, and darkness.
Bright light lets most creatures see normally.
Even gloomy days provide bright light, as do torches,
lanterns, fires, and other sources of illumination
within a specific radius.
Dim light, also called shadows, creates a lightly
obscured area. An area of dim light is usually a
boundary between a source of bright light, such as a
torch, and surrounding darkness. The soft light of
twilight and dawn also counts as dim light. A
particularly brilliant full moon might bathe the land
in dim light.
Darkness creates a heavily obscured area.
Characters face darkness outdoors at night (even
most moonlit nights), within the confines of an unlit
dungeon or a subterranean vault, or in an area of
A creature with blindsight can perceive its
surroundings without relying on sight, within a
specific radius. Creatures without eyes, such as
oozes, and creatures with echolocation or
heightened senses, such as bats and true dragons,
have this sense.
Many creatures in fantasy gaming worlds, especially
those that dwell underground, have darkvision.
Within a specified range, a creature with darkvision
can see in darkness as if the darkness were dim light,
so areas of darkness are only lightly obscured as far
as that creature is concerned. However, the creature
can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
A creature with truesight can, out to a specific range,
see in normal and magical darkness, see invisible
creatures and objects, automatically detect visual
illusions and succeed on saving throws against them,
and perceives the original form of a shapechanger or
a creature that is transformed by magic.
Furthermore, the creature can see into the Ethereal
Food and Water
Characters who don’t eat or drink suffer the effects
of exhaustion (see appendix PH-‐‑A). Exhaustion
caused by lack of food or water can’t be removed
until the character eats and drinks the full required
A character needs one pound of food per day and can
make food last longer by subsisting on half rations.
System Reference Document 5.1 87
Eating half a pound of food in a day counts as half a
day without food.
A character can go without food for a number of
days equal to 3 + his or her Constitution modifier
(minimum 1). At the end of each day beyond that
limit, a character automatically suffers one level of
A normal day of eating resets the count of days
without food to zero.
A character needs one gallon of water per day, or
two gallons per day if the weather is hot. A character
who drinks only half that much water must succeed
on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or suffer one
level of exhaustion at the end of the day. A character
with access to even less water automatically suffers
one level of exhaustion at the end of the day.
If the character already has one or more levels of
exhaustion, the character takes two levels in either
Interacting with Objects
A character’s interaction with objects in an
environment is often simple to resolve in the game.
The player tells the GM that his or her character is
doing something, such as moving a lever, and the GM
describes what, if anything, happens.
For example, a character might decide to pull a
lever, which might, in turn, raise a portcullis, cause a
room to flood with water, or open a secret door in a
nearby wall. If the lever is rusted in position, though,
a character might need to force it. In such a situation,
the GM might call for a Strength check to see
whether the character can wrench the lever into
place. The GM sets the DC for any such check based
on the difficulty of the task.
Characters can also damage objects with their
weapons and spells. Objects are immune to poison
and psychic damage, but otherwise they can be
affected by physical and magical attacks much like
creatures can. The GM determines an object’s Armor
Class and hit points, and might decide that certain
objects have resistance or immunity to certain kinds
of attacks. (It’s hard to cut a rope with a club, for
example.) Objects always fail Strength and Dexterity
saving throws, and they are immune to effects that
require other saves. When an object drops to 0 hit
points, it breaks.
A character can also attempt a Strength check to
break an object. The GM sets the DC for any such
Heroic though they might be, adventurers can’t
spend every hour of the day in the thick of
exploration, social interaction, and combat. They
need rest—time to sleep and eat, tend their wounds,
refresh their minds and spirits for spellcasting, and
brace themselves for further adventure.
Adventurers can take short rests in the midst of an
adventuring day and a long rest to end the day.
A short rest is a period of downtime, at least 1 hour
long, during which a character does nothing more
strenuous than eating, drinking, reading, and
tending to wounds.
A character can spend one or more Hit Dice at the
end of a short rest, up to the character’s maximum
number of Hit Dice, which is equal to the character’s
level. For each Hit Die spent in this way, the player
rolls the die and adds the character’s Constitution
modifier to it. The character regains hit points equal
to the total. The player can decide to spend an
additional Hit Die after each roll. A character regains
some spent Hit Dice upon finishing a long rest, as
A long rest is a period of extended downtime, at least
8 hours long, during which a character sleeps or
performs light activity: reading, talking, eating, or
standing watch for no more than 2 hours. If the rest
is interrupted by a period of strenuous activity—at
least 1 hour of walking, fighting, casting spells, or
similar adventuring activity—the characters must
begin the rest again to gain any benefit from it.
At the end of a long rest, a character regains all
lost hit points. The character also regains spent Hit
Dice, up to a number of dice equal to half of the
character’s total number of them (minimum of one
die). For example, if a character has eight Hit Dice, he
or she can regain four spent Hit Dice upon finishing a
A character can’t benefit from more than one long
rest in a 24-‐‑hour period, and a character must have
at least 1 hit point at the start of the rest to gain its
System Reference Document 5.1 88
Between trips to dungeons and battles against
ancient evils, adventurers need time to rest,
recuperate, and prepare for their next adventure.
Many adventurers also use this time to perform
other tasks, such as crafting arms and armor,
performing research, or spending their hard-‐‑earned
In some cases, the passage of time is something
that occurs with little fanfare or description. When
starting a new adventure, the GM might simply
declare that a certain amount of time has passed and
allow you to describe in general terms what your
character has been doing. At other times, the GM
might want to keep track of just how much time is
passing as events beyond your perception stay in
Between adventures, you choose a particular quality
of life and pay the cost of maintaining that lifestyle.
Living a particular lifestyle doesn’t have a huge
effect on your character, but your lifestyle can affect
the way other individuals and groups react to you.
For example, when you lead an aristocratic lifestyle,
it might be easier for you to influence the nobles of
the city than if you live in poverty.
Between adventures, the GM might ask you what
your character is doing during his or her downtime.
Periods of downtime can vary in duration, but each
downtime activity requires a certain number of days
to complete before you gain any benefit, and at least
8 hours of each day must be spent on the downtime
activity for the day to count. The days do not need to
be consecutive. If you have more than the minimum
amount of days to spend, you can keep doing the
same thing for a longer period of time, or switch to a
new downtime activity.
Downtime activities other than the ones presented
below are possible. If you want your character to
spend his or her downtime performing an activity
not covered here, discuss it with your GM.
You can craft nonmagical objects, including
adventuring equipment and works of art. You must
be proficient with tools related to the object you are
trying to create (typically artisan’s tools). You might
also need access to special materials or locations
necessary to create it. For example, someone
proficient with smith’s tools needs a forge in order
to craft a sword or suit of armor.
For every day of downtime you spend crafting, you
can craft one or more items with a total market
value not exceeding 5 gp, and you must expend raw
materials worth half the total market value. If
something you want to craft has a market value
greater than 5 gp, you make progress every day in 5-‐‑
gp increments until you reach the market value of
the item. For example, a suit of plate armor (market
value 1,500 gp) takes 300 days to craft by yourself.
Multiple characters can combine their efforts
toward the crafting of a single item, provided that
the characters all have proficiency with the requisite
tools and are working together in the same place.
Each character contributes 5 gp worth of effort for
every day spent helping to craft the item. For
example, three characters with the requisite tool
proficiency and the proper facilities can craft a suit
of plate armor in 100 days, at a total cost of 750 gp.
While crafting, you can maintain a modest lifestyle
without having to pay 1 gp per day, or a comfortable
lifestyle at half the normal cost.
Practicing a Profession
You can work between adventures, allowing you to
maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 1
gp per day. This benefit lasts as long you continue to
practice your profession.
If you are a member of an organization that can
provide gainful employment, such as a temple or a
thieves’ guild, you earn enough to support a
comfortable lifestyle instead.
If you have proficiency in the Performance skill
and put your performance skill to use during your
downtime, you earn enough to support a wealthy
You can use downtime between adventures to
recover from a debilitating injury, disease, or poison.
After three days of downtime spent recuperating,
you can make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On
a successful save, you can choose one of the
• End one effect on you that prevents you from
regaining hit points.
• For the next 24 hours, gain advantage on saving
throws against one disease or poison currently
System Reference Document 5.1 89
The time between adventures is a great chance to
perform research, gaining insight into mysteries that
have unfurled over the course of the campaign.
Research can include poring over dusty tomes and
crumbling scrolls in a library or buying drinks for
the locals to pry rumors and gossip from their lips.
When you begin your research, the GM determines
whether the information is available, how many days
of downtime it will take to find it, and whether there
are any restrictions on your research (such as
needing to seek out a specific individual, tome, or
location). The GM might also require you to make
one or more ability checks, such as an Intelligence
(Investigation) check to find clues pointing toward
the information you seek, or a Charisma
(Persuasion) check to secure someone’s aid. Once
those conditions are met, you learn the information
if it is available.
For each day of research, you must spend 1 gp to
cover your expenses. This cost is in addition to your
normal lifestyle expenses.
You can spend time between adventures learning a
new language or training with a set of tools. Your GM
might allow additional training options.
First, you must find an instructor willing to teach
you. The GM determines how long it takes, and
whether one or more ability checks are required.
The training lasts for 250 days and costs 1 gp per
day. After you spend the requisite amount of time
and money, you learn the new language or gain
proficiency with the new tool.
System Reference Document 5.1 90
The Order of Combat
A typical combat encounter is a clash between two
sides, a flurry of weapon swings, feints, parries,
footwork, and spellcasting. The game organizes the
chaos of combat into a cycle of rounds and turns. A
round represents about 6 seconds in the game
world. During a round, each participant in a battle
takes a turn. The order of turns is determined at the
beginning of a combat encounter, when everyone
rolls initiative. Once everyone has taken a turn, the
fight continues to the next round if neither side has
defeated the other.
Combat Step by Step
1. Determine surprise. The GM determines whether anyone
involved in the combat encounter is surprised.
2. Establish positions. The GM decides where all the
characters and monsters are located. Given the
adventurers’ marching order or their stated positions in
the room or other location, the GM figures out where the
adversaries are̶how far away and in what direction.
3. Roll initiative. Everyone involved in the combat encounter
rolls initiative, determining the order of combatants’ turns.
4. Take turns. Each participant in the battle takes a turn in
5. Begin the next round. When everyone involved in the
combat has had a turn, the round ends. Repeat step 4 until
the fighting stops.
A band of adventurers sneaks up on a bandit camp,
springing from the trees to attack them. A gelatinous
cube glides down a dungeon passage, unnoticed by
the adventurers until the cube engulfs one of them.
In these situations, one side of the battle gains
surprise over the other.
The GM determines who might be surprised. If
neither side tries to be stealthy, they automatically
notice each other. Otherwise, the GM compares the
Dexterity (Stealth) checks of anyone hiding with the
passive Wisdom (Perception) score of each creature
on the opposing side. Any character or monster that
doesn’t notice a threat is surprised at the start of the
If you’re surprised, you can’t move or take an
action on your first turn of the combat, and you can’t
take a reaction until that turn ends. A member of a
group can be surprised even if the other members
Initiative determines the order of turns during
combat. When combat starts, every participant
makes a Dexterity check to determine their place in
the initiative order. The GM makes one roll for an
entire group of identical creatures, so each member of
the group acts at the same time.
The GM ranks the combatants in order from the
one with the highest Dexterity check total to the one
with the lowest. This is the order (called the
initiative order) in which they act during each round.
The initiative order remains the same from round to
If a tie occurs, the GM decides the order among
tied GM-‐‑controlled creatures, and the players decide
the order among their tied characters. The GM can
decide the order if the tie is between a monster and
a player character. Optionally, the GM can have the
tied characters and monsters each roll a d20 to
determine the order, highest roll going first.
On your turn, you can move a distance up to your
speed and take one action. You decide whether to
move first or take your action first. Your speed—
sometimes called your walking speed—is noted on
your character sheet.
The most common actions you can take are
described in the “Actions in Combat” section. Many
class features and other abilities provide additional
options for your action.
The “Movement and Position” section gives the
rules for your move.
You can forgo moving, taking an action, or doing
anything at all on your turn. If you can’t decide what
to do on your turn, consider taking the Dodge or
Ready action, as described in “Actions in Combat.”
Various class features, spells, and other abilities let
you take an additional action on your turn called a
bonus action. The Cunning Action feature, for
example, allows a rogue to take a bonus action. You
can take a bonus action only when a special ability,
spell, or other feature of the game states that you can
do something as a bonus action. You otherwise don’t
have a bonus action to take.
You can take only one bonus action on your turn,
so you must choose which bonus action to use when
you have more than one available.
You choose when to take a bonus action during
your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is
System Reference Document 5.1 91
specified, and anything that deprives you of your
ability to take actions also prevents you from taking
a bonus action.
Other Activity on Your Turn
Your turn can include a variety of flourishes that
require neither your action nor your move.
You can communicate however you are able,
through brief utterances and gestures, as you take
You can also interact with one object or feature of
the environment for free, during either your move or
your action. For example, you could open a door
during your move as you stride toward a foe, or you
could draw your weapon as part of the same action
you use to attack.
If you want to interact with a second object, you
need to use your action. Some magic items and other
special objects always require an action to use, as
stated in their descriptions.
The GM might require you to use an action for any
of these activities when it needs special care or when
it presents an unusual obstacle. For instance, the GM
could reasonably expect you to use an action to open
a stuck door or turn a crank to lower a drawbridge.
Certain special abilities, spells, and situations allow
you to take a special action called a reaction. A
reaction is an instant response to a trigger of some
kind, which can occur on your turn or on someone
else’s. The opportunity attack is the most common
type of reaction.
When you take a reaction, you can’t take another
one until the start of your next turn. If the reaction
interrupts another creature’s turn, that creature can
continue its turn right after the reaction.
Movement and Position
In combat, characters and monsters are in constant
motion, often using movement and position to gain
the upper hand.
On your turn, you can move a distance up to your
speed. You can use as much or as little of your speed
as you like on your turn, following the rules here.
Your movement can include jumping, climbing,
and swimming. These different modes of movement
can be combined with walking, or they can
constitute your entire move. However you’re moving,
you deduct the distance of each part of your move
from your speed until it is used up or until you are
Breaking Up Your Move
You can break up your movement on your turn,
using some of your speed before and after your
action. For example, if you have a speed of 30 feet,
you can move 10 feet, take your action, and then
move 20 feet.
Moving between Attacks
If you take an action that includes more than one
weapon attack, you can break up your movement
even further by moving between those attacks. For
example, a fighter who can make two attacks with
the Extra Attack feature and who has a speed of 25
feet could move 10 feet, make an attack, move 15
feet, and then attack again.
Using Different Speeds
If you have more than one speed, such as your
walking speed and a flying speed, you can switch
back and forth between your speeds during your
move. Whenever you switch, subtract the distance
you’ve already moved from the new speed. The
result determines how much farther you can move.
If the result is 0 or less, you can’t use the new speed
during the current move.
For example, if you have a speed of 30 and a flying
speed of 60 because a wizard cast the fly spell on you,
you could fly 20 feet, then walk 10 feet, and then
leap into the air to fly 30 feet more.
Combat rarely takes place in bare rooms or on
featureless plains. Boulder-‐‑strewn caverns, briar-‐‑
choked forests, treacherous staircases—the setting
of a typical fight contains difficult terrain.
Every foot of movement in difficult terrain costs 1
extra foot. This rule is true even if multiple things in
a space count as difficult terrain.
Low furniture, rubble, undergrowth, steep stairs,
snow, and shallow bogs are examples of difficult
terrain. The space of another creature, whether
hostile or not, also counts as difficult terrain.
Combatants often find themselves lying on the
ground, either because they are knocked down or
because they throw themselves down. In the game,
they are prone, a condition described in appendix
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.
System Reference Document 5.1 92
For example, if your speed is 30 feet, you must spend
15 feet of movement to stand up. You can’t stand up
if you don’t have enough movement left or if your
speed is 0.
To move while prone, you must crawl or use
magic such as teleportation. Every foot of movement
while crawling costs 1 extra foot. Crawling 1 foot in
difficult terrain, therefore, costs 3 feet of movement.
Interacting with Objects Around You
Here are a few examples of the sorts of thing you can do in
tandem with your movement and action:
• draw or sheathe a sword
• open or close a door
• withdraw a potion from your backpack
• pick up a dropped axe
• take a bauble from a table
• remove a ring from your finger
• stuff some food into your mouth
• plant a banner in the ground
• fish a few coins from your belt pouch
• drink all the ale in a flagon
• throw a lever or a switch
• pull a torch from a sconce
• take a book from a shelf you can reach
• extinguish a small flame
• don a mask
• pull the hood of your cloak up and over your head
• put your ear to a door
• kick a small stone
• turn a key in a lock
• tap the floor with a 10-‐foot pole
• hand an item to another character
Moving Around Other Creatures
You can move through a nonhostile creature’s space.
In contrast, you can move through a hostile
creature’s space only if the creature is at least two
sizes larger or smaller than you. Remember that
another creature’s space is difficult terrain for you.
Whether a creature is a friend or an enemy, you
can’t willingly end your move in its space.
If you leave a hostile creature’s reach during your
move, you provoke an opportunity attack.
Flying creatures enjoy many benefits of mobility, but
they must also deal with the danger of falling. If a
flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed
reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability
to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to
hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by
the fly spell.
Each creature takes up a different amount of space.
The Size Categories table shows how much space a
creature of a particular size controls in combat.
Objects sometimes use the same size categories.
Tiny 2˝ by 2˝ ft.
Small 5 by 5 ft.
Medium 5 by 5 ft.
Large 10 by 10 ft.
Huge 15 by 15 ft.
Gargantuan 20 by 20 ft. or larger
A creature’s space is the area in feet that it
effectively controls in combat, not an expression of
its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature
isn’t 5 feet wide, for example, but it does control a
space that wide. If a Medium hobgoblin stands in a 5-‐‑
foot-‐‑wide doorway, other creatures can’t get
through unless the hobgoblin lets them.
A creature’s space also reflects the area it needs to
fight effectively. For that reason, there’s a limit to the
number of creatures that can surround another
creature in combat. Assuming Medium combatants,
eight creatures can fit in a 5-‐‑foot radius around
Because larger creatures take up more space,
fewer of them can surround a creature. If five Large
creatures crowd around a Medium or smaller one,
there’s little room for anyone else. In contrast, as
many as twenty Medium creatures can surround a
Squeezing into a Smaller Space
A creature can squeeze through a space that is large
enough for a creature one size smaller than it. Thus,
a Large creature can squeeze through a passage
that’s only 5 feet wide. While squeezing through a
space, a creature must spend 1 extra foot for every
foot it moves there, and it has disadvantage on
attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls
against the creature have advantage while it’s in the
System Reference Document 5.1 93
Actions in Combat
When you take your action on your turn, you can
take one of the actions presented here, an action you
gained from your class or a special feature, or an
action that you improvise. Many monsters have
action options of their own in their stat blocks.
When you describe an action not detailed
elsewhere in the rules, the GM tells you whether that
action is possible and what kind of roll you need to
make, if any, to determine success or failure.
The most common action to take in combat is the
Attack action, whether you are swinging a sword,
firing an arrow from a bow, or brawling with your
With this action, you make one melee or ranged
attack. See the “Making an Attack” section for the
rules that govern attacks.
Certain features, such as the Extra Attack feature
of the fighter, allow you to make more than one
attack with this action.
Cast a Spell
Spellcasters such as wizards and clerics, as well as
many monsters, have access to spells and can use
them to great effect in combat. Each spell has a
casting time, which specifies whether the caster
must use an action, a reaction, minutes, or even
hours to cast the spell. Casting a spell is, therefore,
not necessarily an action. Most spells do have a
casting time of 1 action, so a spellcaster often uses
his or her action in combat to cast such a spell.
When you take the Dash action, you gain extra
movement for the current turn. The increase equals
your speed, after applying any modifiers. With a
speed of 30 feet, for example, you can move up to 60
feet on your turn if you dash.
Any increase or decrease to your speed changes
this additional movement by the same amount. If
your speed of 30 feet is reduced to 15 feet, for
instance, you can move up to 30 feet this turn if you
If you take the Disengage action, your movement
doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of
When you take the Dodge action, you focus entirely
on avoiding attacks. Until the start of your next turn,
any attack roll made against you has disadvantage if
you can see the attacker, and you make Dexterity
saving throws with advantage. You lose this benefit
if you are incapacitated (as explained in appendix
PH-‐‑A) or if your speed drops to 0.
You can lend your aid to another creature in the
completion of a task. When you take the Help action,
the creature you aid gains advantage on the next
ability check it makes to perform the task you are
helping with, provided that it makes the check
before the start of your next turn.
Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in
attacking a creature within 5 feet of you. You feint,
distract the target, or in some other way team up to
make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally
attacks the target before your next turn, the first
attack roll is made with advantage.
When you take the Hide action, you make a Dexterity
(Stealth) check in an attempt to hide, following the
rules for hiding. If you succeed, you gain certain
benefits, as described in the “Unseen Attackers and
Sometimes you want to get the jump on a foe or wait
for a particular circumstance before you act. To do
so, you can take the Ready action on your turn,
which lets you act using your reaction before the
start of your next turn.
First, you decide what perceivable circumstance
will trigger your reaction. Then, you choose the
action you will take in response to that trigger, or
you choose to move up to your speed in response to
it. Examples include “If the cultist steps on the
trapdoor, I’ll pull the lever that opens it,” and “If the
goblin steps next to me, I move away.”
When the trigger occurs, you can either take your
reaction right after the trigger finishes or ignore the
trigger. Remember that you can take only one
reaction per round.
When you ready a spell, you cast it as normal but
hold its energy, which you release with your
reaction when the trigger occurs. To be readied, a
spell must have a casting time of 1 action, and
System Reference Document 5.1 94
holding onto the spell’s magic requires
concentration. If your concentration is broken, the
spell dissipates without taking effect. For example, if
you are concentrating on the web spell and ready
magic missile, your web spell ends, and if you take
damage before you release magic missile with your
reaction, your concentration might be broken.
When you take the Search action, you devote your
attention to finding something. Depending on the
nature of your search, the GM might have you make
a Wisdom (Perception) check or an Intelligence
Use an Object
You normally interact with an object while doing
something else, such as when you draw a sword as
part of an attack. When an object requires your
action for its use, you take the Use an Object action.
This action is also useful when you want to interact
with more than one object on your turn.
Making an Attack
Whether you’re striking with a melee weapon, firing
a weapon at range, or making an attack roll as part
of a spell, an attack has a simple structure.
1. Choose a target. Pick a target within your attack’s
range: a creature, an object, or a location.
2. Determine modifiers. The GM determines
whether the target has cover and whether you
have advantage or disadvantage against the target.
In addition, spells, special abilities, and other
effects can apply penalties or bonuses to your
3. Resolve the attack. You make the attack roll. On a
hit, you roll damage, unless the particular attack
has rules that specify otherwise. Some attacks
cause special effects in addition to or instead of
If there’s ever any question whether something
you’re doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if
you’re making an attack roll, you’re making an attack.
When you make an attack, your attack roll
determines whether the attack hits or misses. To
make an attack roll, roll a d20 and add the
appropriate modifiers. If the total of the roll plus
modifiers equals or exceeds the target’s Armor Class
(AC), the attack hits. The AC of a character is
determined at character creation, whereas the AC of
a monster is in its stat block.
Modifiers to the Roll
When a character makes an attack roll, the two most
common modifiers to the roll are an ability modifier
and the character’s proficiency bonus. When a
monster makes an attack roll, it uses whatever
modifier is provided in its stat block.
Ability Modifier. The ability modifier used for a
melee weapon attack is Strength, and the ability
modifier used for a ranged weapon attack is
Dexterity. Weapons that have the finesse or thrown
property break this rule.
Some spells also require an attack roll. The ability
modifier used for a spell attack depends on the
spellcasting ability of the spellcaster.
Proficiency Bonus. You add your proficiency
bonus to your attack roll when you attack using a
weapon with which you have proficiency, as well as
when you attack with a spell.
Rolling 1 or 20
Sometimes fate blesses or curses a combatant,
causing the novice to hit and the veteran to miss.
If the d20 roll for an attack is a 20, the attack hits
regardless of any modifiers or the target’s AC. This is
called a critical hit.
If the d20 roll for an attack is a 1, the attack misses
regardless of any modifiers or the target’s AC.
Unseen Attackers and Targets
Combatants often try to escape their foes’ notice by
hiding, casting the invisibility spell, or lurking in
When you attack a target that you can’t see, you
have disadvantage on the attack roll. This is true
whether you’re guessing the target’s location or
you’re targeting a creature you can hear but not see.
If the target isn’t in the location you targeted, you
automatically miss, but the GM typically just says
that the attack missed, not whether you guessed the
target’s location correctly.
When a creature can’t see you, you have
advantage on attack rolls against it. If you are
hidden—both unseen and unheard—when you
make an attack, you give away your location when
the attack hits or misses.
System Reference Document 5.1 95
When you make a ranged attack, you fire a bow or a
crossbow, hurl a handaxe, or otherwise send
projectiles to strike a foe at a distance. A monster
might shoot spines from its tail. Many spells also
involve making a ranged attack.
You can make ranged attacks only against targets
within a specified range.
If a ranged attack, such as one made with a spell,
has a single range, you can’t attack a target beyond
Some ranged attacks, such as those made with a
longbow or a shortbow, have two ranges. The
smaller number is the normal range, and the larger
number is the long range. Your attack roll has
disadvantage when your target is beyond normal
range, and you can’t attack a target beyond the long
Ranged Attacks in Close Combat
Aiming a ranged attack is more difficult when a foe is
next to you. When you make a ranged attack with a
weapon, a spell, or some other means, you have
disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5
feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who
Used in hand-‐‑to-‐‑hand combat, a melee attack allows
you to attack a foe within your reach. A melee attack
typically uses a handheld weapon such as a sword, a
warhammer, or an axe. A typical monster makes a
melee attack when it strikes with its claws, horns,
teeth, tentacles, or other body part. A few spells also
involve making a melee attack.
Most creatures have a 5-‐‑foot reach and can thus
attack targets within 5 feet of them when making a
melee attack. Certain creatures (typically those
larger than Medium) have melee attacks with a
greater reach than 5 feet, as noted in their
Instead of using a weapon to make a melee
weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a
punch, kick, head-‐‑butt, or similar forceful blow
(none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an
unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1
+ your Strength modifier. You are proficient with
your unarmed strikes.
In a fight, everyone is constantly watching for a
chance to strike an enemy who is fleeing or passing
by. Such a strike is called an opportunity attack.
You can make an opportunity attack when a
hostile creature that you can see moves out of your
reach. To make the opportunity attack, you use your
reaction to make one melee attack against the
provoking creature. The attack occurs right before
the creature leaves your reach.
You can avoid provoking an opportunity attack by
taking the Disengage action. You also don’t provoke
an opportunity attack when you teleport or when
someone or something moves you without using
your movement, action, or reaction. For example,
you don’t provoke an opportunity attack if an
explosion hurls you out of a foe’s reach or if gravity
causes you to fall past an enemy.
When you take the Attack action and attack with a
light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand,
you can use a bonus action to attack with a different
light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other
hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the
damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is
If either weapon has the thrown property, you can
throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack
When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it,
you can use the Attack action to make a special
melee attack, a grapple. If you’re able to make
multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack
replaces one of them.
The target of your grapple must be no more than
one size larger than you and must be within your
reach. Using at least one free hand, you try to seize
the target by making a grapple check instead of an
attack roll: a Strength (Athletics) check contested by
the target’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity
(Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to
use). If you succeed, you subject the target to the
grappled condition (see appendix PH-‐‑A). The
condition specifies the things that end it, and you can
release the target whenever you like (no action
Escaping a Grapple. A grappled creature can use
its action to escape. To do so, it must succeed on a
Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check
contested by your Strength (Athletics) check.
System Reference Document 5.1 96
Moving a Grappled Creature. When you move,
you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you,
but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two
or more sizes smaller than you.
Contests in Combat
Battle often involves pitting your prowess against that of
your foe. Such a challenge is represented by a contest. This
section includes the most common contests that require an
action in combat: grappling and shoving a creature. The GM
can use these contests as models for improvising others.
Shoving a Creature
Using the Attack action, you can make a special
melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it
prone or push it away from you. If you’re able to
make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this
attack replaces one of them.
The target must be no more than one size larger
than you and must be within your reach. Instead of
making an attack roll, you make a Strength
(Athletics) check contested by the target’s Strength
(Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the
target chooses the ability to use). If you win the
contest, you either knock the target prone or push it
5 feet away from you.
Walls, trees, creatures, and other obstacles can
provide cover during combat, making a target more
difficult to harm. A target can benefit from cover
only when an attack or other effect originates on the
opposite side of the cover.
There are three degrees of cover. If a target is
behind multiple sources of cover, only the most
protective degree of cover applies; the degrees
aren’t added together. For example, if a target is
behind a creature that gives half cover and a tree
trunk that gives three-‐‑quarters cover, the target has
A target with half cover has a +2 bonus to AC and
Dexterity saving throws. A target has half cover if an
obstacle blocks at least half of its body. The obstacle
might be a low wall, a large piece of furniture, a
narrow tree trunk, or a creature, whether that
creature is an enemy or a friend.
A target with three-‐‑quarters cover has a +5
bonus to AC and Dexterity saving throws. A target
has three-‐‑quarters cover if about three-‐‑quarters of it
is covered by an obstacle. The obstacle might be a
portcullis, an arrow slit, or a thick tree trunk.
A target with total cover can’t be targeted directly
by an attack or a spell, although some spells can
reach such a target by including it in an area of effect.
A target has total cover if it is completely concealed
by an obstacle.
Damage and Healing
Injury and the risk of death are constant companions
of those who explore fantasy gaming worlds. The
thrust of a sword, a well-‐‑placed arrow, or a blast of
flame from a fireball spell all have the potential to
damage, or even kill, the hardiest of creatures.
Hit points represent a combination of physical and
mental durability, the will to live, and luck. Creatures
with more hit points are more difficult to kill. Those
with fewer hit points are more fragile.
A creature’s current hit points (usually just called
hit points) can be any number from the creature’s hit
point maximum down to 0. This number changes
frequently as a creature takes damage or receives
Whenever a creature takes damage, that damage is
subtracted from its hit points. The loss of hit points
has no effect on a creature’s capabilities until the
creature drops to 0 hit points.
Each weapon, spell, and harmful monster ability
specifies the damage it deals. You roll the damage
die or dice, add any modifiers, and apply the damage
to your target. Magic weapons, special abilities, and
other factors can grant a bonus to damage. With a
penalty, it is possible to deal 0 damage, but never
When attacking with a weapon, you add your
ability modifier—the same modifier used for the
attack roll—to the damage. A spell tells you which
dice to roll for damage and whether to add any
If a spell or other effect deals damage to more
than one target at the same time, roll the damage
once for all of them. For example, when a wizard
casts fireball or a cleric casts flame strike, the spell’s
damage is rolled once for all creatures caught in the
When you score a critical hit, you get to roll extra
dice for the attack’s damage against the target. Roll
all of the attack’s damage dice twice and add them
System Reference Document 5.1 97
together. Then add any relevant modifiers as normal.
To speed up play, you can roll all the damage dice at
For example, if you score a critical hit with a
dagger, roll 2d4 for the damage, rather than 1d4, and
then add your relevant ability modifier. If the attack
involves other damage dice, such as from the rogue’s
Sneak Attack feature, you roll those dice twice as
Different attacks, damaging spells, and other harmful
effects deal different types of damage. Damage types
have no rules of their own, but other rules, such as
damage resistance, rely on the types.
The damage types follow, with examples to help a
GM assign a damage type to a new effect.
Acid. The corrosive spray of a black dragon’s
breath and the dissolving enzymes secreted by a
black pudding deal acid damage.
Bludgeoning. Blunt force attacks—hammers,
falling, constriction, and the like—deal bludgeoning
Cold. The infernal chill radiating from an ice
devil’s spear and the frigid blast of a white dragon’s
breath deal cold damage.
Fire. Red dragons breathe fire, and many spells
conjure flames to deal fire damage.
Force. Force is pure magical energy focused into a
damaging form. Most effects that deal force damage
are spells, including magic missile and spiritual
Lightning. A lightning bolt spell and a blue
dragon’s breath deal lightning damage.
Necrotic. Necrotic damage, dealt by certain
undead and a spell such as chill touch, withers
matter and even the soul.
Piercing. Puncturing and impaling attacks,
including spears and monsters’ bites, deal piercing
Poison. Venomous stings and the toxic gas of a
green dragon’s breath deal poison damage.
Psychic. Mental abilities such as a mind flayer’s
psionic blast deal psychic damage.
Radiant. Radiant damage, dealt by a cleric’s flame
strike spell or an angel’s smiting weapon, sears the
flesh like fire and overloads the spirit with power.
Slashing. Swords, axes, and monsters’ claws deal
Thunder. A concussive burst of sound, such as the
effect of the thunderwave spell, deals thunder
Damage Resistance and
Some creatures and objects are exceedingly difficult
or unusually easy to hurt with certain types of
If a creature or an object has resistance to a
damage type, damage of that type is halved against it.
If a creature or an object has vulnerability to a
damage type, damage of that type is doubled against
Resistance and then vulnerability are applied after
all other modifiers to damage. For example, a
creature has resistance to bludgeoning damage and
is hit by an attack that deals 25 bludgeoning damage.
The creature is also within a magical aura that
reduces all damage by 5. The 25 damage is first
reduced by 5 and then halved, so the creature takes
Multiple instances of resistance or vulnerability
that affect the same damage type count as only one
instance. For example, if a creature has resistance to
fire damage as well as resistance to all nonmagical
damage, the damage of a nonmagical fire is reduced
by half against the creature, not reduced by three-‐‑
Unless it results in death, damage isn’t permanent.
Even death is reversible through powerful magic.
Rest can restore a creature’s hit points, and magical
methods such as a cure wounds spell or a potion of
healing can remove damage in an instant.
When a creature receives healing of any kind, hit
points regained are added to its current hit points. A
creature’s hit points can’t exceed its hit point
maximum, so any hit points regained in excess of
this number are lost. For example, a druid grants a
ranger 8 hit points of healing. If the ranger has 14
current hit points and has a hit point maximum of 20,
the ranger regains 6 hit points from the druid, not 8.
A creature that has died can’t regain hit points
until magic such as the revivify spell has restored it
Dropping to 0 Hit Points
When you drop to 0 hit points, you either die
outright or fall unconscious, as explained in the
System Reference Document 5.1 98
Massive damage can kill you instantly. When damage
reduces you to 0 hit points and there is damage
remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals
or exceeds your hit point maximum.
For example, a cleric with a maximum of 12 hit
points currently has 6 hit points. If she takes 18
damage from an attack, she is reduced to 0 hit points,
but 12 damage remains. Because the remaining
damage equals her hit point maximum, the cleric
If damage reduces you to 0 hit points and fails to kill
you, you fall unconscious (see appendix PH-‐‑A). This
unconsciousness ends if you regain any hit points.
Death Saving Throws
Whenever you start your turn with 0 hit points, you
must make a special saving throw, called a death
saving throw, to determine whether you creep closer
to death or hang onto life. Unlike other saving
throws, this one isn’t tied to any ability score. You
are in the hands of fate now, aided only by spells and
features that improve your chances of succeeding on
a saving throw.
Roll a d20. If the roll is 10 or higher, you succeed.
Otherwise, you fail. A success or failure has no effect
by itself. On your third success, you become stable
(see below). On your third failure, you die. The
successes and failures don’t need to be consecutive;
keep track of both until you collect three of a kind.
The number of both is reset to zero when you regain
any hit points or become stable.
Rolling 1 or 20. When you make a death saving
throw and roll a 1 on the d20, it counts as two
failures. If you roll a 20 on the d20, you regain 1 hit
Damage at 0 Hit Points. If you take any damage
while you have 0 hit points, you suffer a death saving
throw failure. If the damage is from a critical hit, you
suffer two failures instead. If the damage equals or
exceeds your hit point maximum, you suffer instant
Stabilizing a Creature
The best way to save a creature with 0 hit points is
to heal it. If healing is unavailable, the creature can
at least be stabilized so that it isn’t killed by a failed
death saving throw.
You can use your action to administer first aid to
an unconscious creature and attempt to stabilize it,
which requires a successful DC 10 Wisdom
A stable creature doesn’t make death saving
throws, even though it has 0 hit points, but it does
remain unconscious. The creature stops being stable,
and must start making death saving throws again, if
it takes any damage. A stable creature that isn’t
healed regains 1 hit point after 1d4 hours.
Monsters and Death
Most GMs have a monster die the instant it drops to
0 hit points, rather than having it fall unconscious
and make death saving throws.
Mighty villains and special nonplayer characters
are common exceptions; the GM might have them
fall unconscious and follow the same rules as player
Knocking a Creature Out
Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe,
rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker
reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack,
the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker
can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt.
The creature falls unconscious and is stable.
Temporary Hit Points
Some spells and special abilities confer temporary
hit points to a creature. Temporary hit points aren’t
actual hit points; they are a buffer against damage, a
pool of hit points that protect you from injury.
When you have temporary hit points and take
damage, the temporary hit points are lost first, and
any leftover damage carries over to your normal hit
points. For example, if you have 5 temporary hit
points and take 7 damage, you lose the temporary
hit points and then take 2 damage.
Because temporary hit points are separate from
your actual hit points, they can exceed your hit point
maximum. A character can, therefore, be at full hit
points and receive temporary hit points.
Healing can’t restore temporary hit points, and
they can’t be added together. If you have temporary
hit points and receive more of them, you decide
whether to keep the ones you have or to gain the
new ones. For example, if a spell grants you 12
temporary hit points when you already have 10, you
can have 12 or 10, not 22.
If you have 0 hit points, receiving temporary hit
points doesn’t restore you to consciousness or
stabilize you. They can still absorb damage directed
System Reference Document 5.1 99
at you while you’re in that state, but only true
healing can save you.
Unless a feature that grants you temporary hit
points has a duration, they last until they’re depleted
or you finish a long rest.
A knight charging into battle on a warhorse, a wizard
casting spells from the back of a griffon, or a cleric
soaring through the sky on a pegasus all enjoy the
benefits of speed and mobility that a mount can
A willing creature that is at least one size larger
than you and that has an appropriate anatomy can
serve as a mount, using the following rules.
Mounting and Dismounting
Once during your move, you can mount a creature
that is within 5 feet of you or dismount. Doing so
costs an amount of movement equal to half your
speed. For example, if your speed is 30 feet, you
must spend 15 feet of movement to mount a horse.
Therefore, you can’t mount it if you don’t have 15
feet of movement left or if your speed is 0.
If an effect moves your mount against its will
while you’re on it, you must succeed on a DC 10
Dexterity saving throw or fall off the mount, landing
prone in a space within 5 feet of it. If you’re knocked
prone while mounted, you must make the same
If your mount is knocked prone, you can use your
reaction to dismount it as it falls and land on your
feet. Otherwise, you are dismounted and fall prone
in a space within 5 feet it.
Controlling a Mount
While you’re mounted, you have two options. You
can either control the mount or allow it to act
independently. Intelligent creatures, such as dragons,
You can control a mount only if it has been trained
to accept a rider. Domesticated horses, donkeys, and
similar creatures are assumed to have such training.
The initiative of a controlled mount changes to
match yours when you mount it. It moves as you
direct it, and it has only three action options: Dash,
Disengage, and Dodge. A controlled mount can move
and act even on the turn that you mount it.
An independent mount retains its place in the
initiative order. Bearing a rider puts no restrictions
on the actions the mount can take, and it moves and
acts as it wishes. It might flee from combat, rush to
attack and devour a badly injured foe, or otherwise
act against your wishes.
In either case, if the mount provokes an
opportunity attack while you’re on it, the attacker
can target you or the mount.
When adventurers pursue sahuagin back to their
undersea homes, fight off sharks in an ancient
shipwreck, or find themselves in a flooded dungeon
room, they must fight in a challenging environment.
Underwater the following rules apply.
When making a melee weapon attack, a creature
that doesn’t have a swimming speed (either natural
or granted by magic) has disadvantage on the attack
roll unless the weapon is a dagger, javelin,
shortsword, spear, or trident.
A ranged weapon attack automatically misses a
target beyond the weapon’s normal range. Even
against a target within normal range, the attack roll
has disadvantage unless the weapon is a crossbow, a
net, or a weapon that is thrown like a javelin
(including a spear, trident, or dart).
Creatures and objects that are fully immersed in
water have resistance to fire damage.