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Prone in 5e – How Bad is it, and What Causes it?

The official description of Prone is as follows: (Source – Roll 20)

  • A prone creature’s only Movement option is to crawl, unless it stands up and thereby ends the condition.
  • The creature has disadvantage on Attack rolls.
  • An Attack roll against the creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature. Otherwise, the Attack roll has disadvantage.

Usually uses a Strength Saving throw. Sometimes Dexterity Saving Throws. Spends 15 feet of movement to get up from prone.

Additional Homebrew Rules

I’ve seen some people mention some additional rules for prone for Homebrew, particularly in regards to stealth checks. The thinking behind this is that you are lower to the ground, and move quieter. Here is a rule I designed based on that information.

  • A Prone creature has advantage on steath checks, unless wearing armor that grants disadvantage on stealth. Disadantage is removed for those armors that are under 50 pounds.
  • A prone creature can only move half their normal walking distance

These are not official rules though, I just thought you might find this interesting.

Causes of Prone

Lion in the Wilderness Can Knock targets prone in 5e DND
A Lion, and others in the cat family, can all pounce on a target, knocking them prone.

Aside from possible outcomes from success at a cost, there are quite a few causes of the prone condition. For example, there are intuitive causes, such as your players walking through the woods, and one of them stumbles over a root onto their face. That can be applied on the fly as a comical addition to spice up your group’s roleplay. And then there are specific designations that cause prone, as defined by monster abilities or spells.

Conditions and Effects that cause Prone

Monster Abilities

There are many more monsters that apply the prone condition, including variants of the above. The Monster Manual is a great resource to find them, but far from the only place.

Class Abilities

Items – Magical & Mundane

Actions

Spells

Terrain & Traps

Flying Creatures Special Prone Rule for 5e

Getting Prone while flying means you start falling out of the sky
Fall damage is just a prone condition away if you’re flying by non-magical means.

If your creature can fly, then you will want to be wary of things that cause prone, because if you are inflicted with prone, you begin to fall out of the sky, unless the flying is caused by magic. If you are high enough up, that means you risk taking 20d6 of bludgeoning damage, which, as you can imagine, can hurt quite a lot.

Counters to Prone

The main counter to prone is succeeding your skill check against whatever is attempting to apply the condition. Barring that, you can use Power Word Heal on a prone target, which allows them to use their reaction to get up, allowing them to stand up while not on their turn. This seems like an excessive solution, given that power word heal is a 9th level spell, but who am I to judge what people choose to do in D&D?

Looking for some handy unofficial rules for 5e DND?

The Best DND House Rules, in My Opinion

Otherwise, you can simply spend 15 feet of your total movement to get up on the turn of the inflicted. In a lot of cases, A DM will also rule that a party member or NPC can help a prone individual to their feet using a bonus action.

Additionally, If you take the Athlete Feat, you only need to spend 5 feet of your movement to get up from prone.

How Bad is the Prone Condition?

The worst part about prone is that it gives your attacker advantage to hit you in melee range. However, if the target is attempting to hit you from range, it has disadvantage. Depending on the situation, this can be quite deadly to contend with. With that said, it is a fairly easy condition to overcome, using only a part of your movement capability to get up. I’d say it is one of the least problematic conditions to deal with, compared to others like Petrification or Paralyzed.

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Devon Kubacki

Hi there, I'm Devon, nice to meet you! I am the founder of Notes of Yore, and I'm an avid fan of tabletop games, particularly Dungeons and Dragons. I've been playing for just under two years now, and can say that I am hooked...or rather grappled by it. I hope you find my work here on NoYo helpful, and thank you for reading!View Author posts

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