5e Spell Damage Types & Conditions, Woman casting a spell in one hand

D&D 5e Spells’ Most Common Conditions & Damage Types

This article was written by DnD Lounge

The 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons has plenty of spells that afflict enemies with negative conditions or damage them outright with elemental powers. Each type of spell plays a vital role in D&D combat, and every spellcaster needs a healthy mix of both.

This article covers some of the most common conditions and damage types among D&D’s many spells, so that you can arm yourself with extra arcane knowledge before your next battle. Or at least learn a few fun facts about the magical system of Dungeons & Dragons.

Note that all numbers in this article are taken from spells in the Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The latter are a couple of the more “core” or common extra sourcebooks along with the PHB which is why we’ll only look at these for now.

If you’re interested in poring over more D&D statistics or learning more about spells, check out D&D Lounge’s spell guides for useful in-game tips and more useless (but fun!) spell statistics.

The Most Common Conditions Caused by Spells in D&D 5e

From knocking creatures off their feet to scaring them out of their wits, D&D’s spells can induce a whole spectrum of harmful conditions in their targets. And as any veteran spellcaster will tell you, a well-timed control spell can be much more game-changing than a straight-up damage spell.

With that in mind, it pays to know which conditions are caused by the most number of spells, and a little more about what each of those conditions does. 

But first, here are the most common conditions caused by spells in D&D 5e:

Condition # of Spells
Restrained 16
Blinded 16
Prone 13
Charmed 11
Frightened 9
Incapacitated 7
Stunned 6
Unconscious 5
Deafened 4
Invisibility 3
Paralyzed 2
Petrified 2
Poisoned 2

Let’s take a closer look at the top three most common conditions — Restrained, Blinded, and Prone — and the spells that cause them.

The Restrained Condition

The restrained condition brings a creature’s movement speed to 0 and causes them to have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against restrained creatures have advantage, and attack rolls from a restrained creature are made with disadvantage.

16 spells cause the Restrained condition, from the humble Entangle spell at 1st-level, all the way to the hyper security 9th-level Imprisonment spell. 

Some of these spells, like the ever-useful Web, don’t do any damage but still provide excellent battlefield control, along with offensive and defensive benefits. Others pack a considerable punch, like the Whirlwind spell, which crushes enemies with an average of 35 bludgeoning damage.

Here are all 16 spells that cause the restrained condition in DnD 5e:

  • Bones of Earth
  • Ensnaring Strike
  • Entangle
  • Evard’s Black Tentacles
  • Flesh to Stone
  • Imprisonment
  • Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp
  • Mental Prison
  • Prismatic Spray
  • Snare
  • Telekinesis
  • Transmute Rock
  • Watery Sphere
  • Web
  • Whirlwind
  • Wrath of Nature

The Blinded Condition

The blinded condition is the most intuitive to understand — a blinded creature can’t see and automatically fails any ability check that requires sight. Attacks against a blinded creature have advantage, and the creature’s attacks have disadvantage.

It’s no surprise that such an easily-inflicted condition is the second-most common one caused by spells in D&D. Many of the spells that blind creatures cause radiant damage, like Blinding Smite and Sunbeam, and/or have light-producing effects, like Color Spray and Pyrotechnics.

Wizards have access to the most blinding spells (9), but Clerics are a close second with 8 blinding spells in their arsenal.

Here are all the spells that cause the blinded condition in the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons:

  • Blinding Smite
  • Blindness/Deafness
  • Color Spray
  • Contagion
  • Divine Word
  • Feign Death
  • Holy Aura
  • Holy Weapon
  • Hunger of Hadar
  • Prismatic Spray
  • Prismatic Wall
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Sunbeam
  • Sunburst
  • Wall of Light
  • Wall of Sand

The Prone Condition

The prone condition forces a creature to crawl, which costs one extra foot of movement per foot moved. A prone creature also has disadvantage on attack rolls.

An attack roll against a prone creature made from melee range (within 5 feet) has advantage, but an attack roll made from more than 5 feet away has disadvantage against a prone creature. A prone creature can spend half its movement speed to stand up.

Many of the spells that cause the prone condition are elemental in nature – Control Winds, Watery Sphere, Earth Tremor, Sleet Storm, etc. Which is why it makes sense that Druids tie Wizards for the most prone-inducing spells in the game, with each having access to 8 of the 13.

Here are all of the spells in D&D 5e that will sweep creatures off their feet:

  • Command
  • Control Winds
  • Destructive Wave
  • Earth Tremor
  • Earthquake
  • Grease
  • Investiture of Stone
  • Sleet Storm
  • Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
  • Thunderous Smite
  • Tidal Wave
  • Watery Sphere
  • Wrath of Nature

The Most Common Spell Damage Types in D&D 5e

It’s all well and good to know which spells can trap, trip, or blind your foes, but what’s the use of all that trickery if you never actually damage anyone? Elemental blasting spells that burn enemies to a crisp or freeze them in their tracks are the real appeal for many of D&D’s spell-slinging players.

And if you’re thinking of building a character around a common damage type, like fire or radiant, it’s important to know what sort of enemy defenses you’re up against. Creature immunities and resistances can completely negate some of your favorite spells. 

With that in mind, here are the most common damage types for spells in D&D 5e:

Damage Type # of Spells
Fire 34
Cold 24
Bludgeoning 23
Necrotic 21
Radiant 21
Lightning 19
Psychic 17
Thunder 14
Force 12
Poison 10
Acid 9
Piercing 9
Slashing 4
Physical 2

Fire is the clear winner of the most common damage type among D&D 5e spells. After that comes cold, bludgeoning, necrotic, and radiant damage. Let’s dig a bit deeper into each of these.

Fire Damage

The fantasy genre is filled with mages wielding fire as a weapon. It’s cool, it’s relatable (e.g., flamethrowers), and it just feels so satisfying to use. So it makes sense that fire spells are the most common in the ultimate source material for the fantasy genre, D&D.

On the meta-game side of things, players often discuss how fire damage is one of the most common immunities of monsters in the game, as well as one of the most common resistances. 

However, this is mostly due to the wide variety of dragons, demons, and devils in the game’s monster compendiums who uniformly share a disregard for fire damage. In other words, it shouldn’t be a major deterrent to picking up fire spells, unless your whole campaign takes place exclusively in the Nine Hells.

Here are the 34 spells with the ability or option to cause fire damage:

  • Absorb Elements
  • Aganazzar’s Scorcher
  • Burning Hands
  • Chaos Bolt
  • Chromatic Orb
  • Create Bonfire
  • Delayed Blast Fireball
  • Dragon’s Breath
  • Elemental Bane
  • Elemental Weapon
  • Firebolt
  • Fire Shield
  • Fire Storm
  • Fireball
  • Flame Arrows
  • Flame Blade
  • Flame Strike
  • Flaming Sphere
  • Glyph of Warding
  • Green-Flame Blade
  • Heat Metal
  • Hellish Rebuke
  • Illusory Dragon
  • Immolation
  • Incendiary Cloud
  • Investiture of Flame
  • Melf’s Minute Meteors
  • Meteor Swarm
  • Prismatic Spray
  • Prismatic Wall
  • Produce Flame
  • Scorching Ray
  • Searing Smite
  • Wall of Fire

Fun fact: the fire spell Meteor Swarm has the distinction of dealing the most damage of any spell in D&D 5e, but only half of it is fire damage. The other half is bludgeoning, which is another very common damage type among 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons spells.

We’ll get to bludgeoning spells a bit later. Before that, let’s take a look at the antithesis of fire; cold.

Cold Damage

While fire is an actual thing (despite applying to any source of extreme heat in 5e), cold damage is a bit more nebulous and stands in for harm done by any source of extreme…cold.

Now, cold damage is actually the most resisted damage type in 5e. Roughly 12.6% of D&D’s over 2,400 creatures (so around 309 monsters) resist this damage type. So, building a frost mage is a bit sub-optimal. But, you still have plenty of opportunities to considering 5e’s catalog of baddies to freeze.

Here’s a list of the 24 spells which can deal cold damage in 5e:

  • Absorb Elements
  • Armor of Agathys
  • Chaos Bolt
  • Chromatic Orb
  • Cone of Cold
  • Dragon’s Breath
  • Elemental Bane
  • Elemental Weapon
  • Fire Shield
  • Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere
  • Frostbite
  • Glyph of Warding
  • Hunger of Hadar
  • Ice Knife
  • Ice Storm
  • Illusory Dragon
  • Investiture of Ice
  • Prismatic Spray
  • Prismatic Wall
  • Ray of Frost
  • Snilloc’s Snowball Swarm
  • Spirit Shroud
  • Storm of Vengeance
  • Wall of Ice

Bludgeoning Damage

Warhammers aren’t the only ways to smack bad guys around — there are also magical Wind Walls, Whirlwinds, Tsunamis, and Earth Tremors to contend with.

Basically, if you’re pelting someone with magical powers that don’t strictly fit into an elemental damage group, you’re usually using bludgeoning damage.

Here are all of the spells in D&D 5e that cause bludgeoning damage:

  • Bigby’s Hand
  • Bones of the Earth
  • Catapult
  • Control Water
  • Dust Devil
  • Earth Tremor
  • Earthquake
  • Erupting Earth
  • Evard’s Black Tentacles
  • Ice Storm
  • Investiture of Wind
  • Maelstrom
  • Magic Stone
  • Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp
  • Meteor Swarm
  • Storm of Vengeance
  • Storm Sphere
  • Tidal Wave
  • Transmute Rock
  • Tsunami
  • Whirlwind
  • Windwall
  • Wrath of Nature

Interestingly, 13 of the 23 bludgeoning spells come from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Necrotic Damage

If you’re the type of spellcaster who’d rather rot your opponent’s insides than pummel them with snowballs, spells that deal necrotic damage are sure to put a smile on your face.

With names like Blight and Circle of Death, necrotic spells are akin to the heavy metal genre of D&D’s spell catalog.

Here are the spells that cause necrotic damage in D&D 5e: 

  • Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting
  • Arms of Hadar
  • Blight
  • Chill Touch
  • Circle of Death
  • Destructive Wave
  • Enervation
  • Finger of Death
  • Forbiddance
  • Harm
  • Hex
  • Illusory Dragon
  • Inflict Wounds
  • Life Transference
  • Negative Energy Flood
  • Shadow of Moil
  • Spirit Guardians
  • Spirit Shroud
  • Symbol
  • Toll the Dead
  • Vampiric Touch

Naturally, many necrotic spells fall into the Necromancy school of magic. 

Radiant Damage

Radiant damage is on the total opposite end of the light/dark spectrum as necrotic, but it’s equally common in D&D’s magical compendium. This is the sort of magic that’s usually associated with Clerics, Paladins, and Gandalf when he rode out of Minas Tirith to fend off the Nazgul.

Here are all the dazzling radiant spells available in the main sourcebooks of Dungeons & Dragons’ 5th edition:

  • Blinding Smite
  • Branding Smite
  • Crown of Stars
  • Crusader’s Mantle
  • Dawn
  • Destructive Wave
  • Divine Favor
  • Flame Strike
  • Guardian of Faith
  • Guiding Bolt
  • Holy Weapon
  • Moonbeam
  • Sacred Flame
  • Sickening Radiance
  • Spirit Guardians
  • Spirit Shroud
  • Sunbeam
  • Sunburst
  • Wall of Light
  • Word of Radiance

Summary of Common Spell Damage Types & Conditions in 5e

If your favorite things to do as a spellcaster are tie enemies down and light them aflame, you’re in luck — Restrained is the most common condition and Fire is the most common damage type. 

Of course, it’s more nuanced than that, as certain classes have greater access to certain types of spells than others. 

That said, if you play enough D&D, you’ll notice that the Blinded, Restrained, and Prone conditions happen a lot more frequently than others. And you’ll definitely notice that Fire, Cold, Bludgeoning, Necrotic, and Radiant damage are the most common types.

What’s your favorite condition-inflicting spell in D&D? Which elemental damage type do you favor in your spell-slinging combat? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

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