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Unconscious in 5E – Beautiful, Blissful Sleep

The official description of Unconscious in 5e is as follows: (Source – Roll20)

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

What Happens When You Go Unconscious While Underwater?

Unconscious underwater in 5e DND

If a player is reduced to 0 hit points while holding their breath, they begin suffocating. Even if they succeed their death-saving throws and become stabilized, and the party is still unable to heal them somehow. The downed players’ constitution modifier will determine how many rounds they can last until needing to make more death-saving throws.

Some game masters also apply a bit of drowning damage, which will tick away every turn and act as a countdown towards death. Once the player’s hit points are the negative value of their maximum hit points, the character will be well and truly dead.

Example: -40/40 = Death, regardless if they are stabilized or not.

What Causes Unconscious in 5E?

There are a fair amount of monsters that can inflict unconsciousness on unsuspecting players. Many of these effects are applied via poison. Typically, this poison is located within the monster’s fangs, stinger, or on weapons dipped into poison from those same creatures.

With that said, there is also nothing stopping you from granting any capable humanoid the ability to poison their weapons with one of the listed poisons. Even “regular old bandits” can be deadly dangerous to your players if you employ the use of these poisons.

Technically, every monster and NPC are capable of inflicting the unconscious condition if they reduce the hit points of a player to 0. I don’t need to tell you how dire that particular situation is, though, so good luck with that!

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Typical Cause

  • Reaching 0 Hit Points, unless you receive more damage than you have total after reaching 0, in which you die outright.
  • Certain Poisons
  • Falling asleep for a long or short rest

Monster Abilities


Special Sources

Environment Hazards


Counters to Unconscious in 5e

To counter unconscious, you need to address the actual cause of unconsciousness –

Caused by a Spell or Magical Effect?

  • Dispel Magic
  • Wish
  • DM Says so

Caused by a Poison?

Caused by Reduced to 0 HP?

  • Heal them in any way you can

Caused by Naturally Falling Asleep?

  • Use a perception roll to see if you can try to “hear something” and wake up before your body naturally wakes up from a long/short rest.
  • Get woken up by a party member
Unconscious in 5e - Sleeping Dog on a pillow

This is a pretty useful condition as far as the story’s narrative goes. It can easily be moulded into many forms.

For example, sneaking past a sleeping dog to avoid it alerting guards to your party’s nefarious activities or to allow them to sneak up on a target to capture for questioning. It’s up to you how you want to use this particular condition.

Devon Kubacki

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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