A Guide to Stunned in 5e, Knight recovering from getting stunned

A Beginner Player & GM Guide to the Stunned Condition in 5e

Among Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition many conditions, Stunned has a reputation of being a thorn in both players’ and Game Masters’ sides. It’s a powerful condition which essentially leaves a creature helpless for as long as they’re affected.
What does Stunned mean in 5e? How does it work? How can players cause it? And, how do you get out of it?
This article covers everything new players and Game Masters need to know about the Stunned condition in 5e.

Let’s start things off by looking at the rules explicitly state for the Stunned condition.

What is Stunned in 5e?

Stunned 5e, Knight on the ground recovering from getting stunned

Stunned is a condition in D&D 5e which essentially temporarily prevents a creature from acting. It represents a creature getting struck in such a way they lose the ability to take actions during combat.

Overall, the Stunned condition is another way for removing a creature’s ability to act during battle.

A stunned creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can’t move, and can speak only falteringly.
The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Appendix A: Conditions

To summarize; a Stunned creature can’t take any sort of action (a result of becoming Incapacitated), can’t move or speak clearly (meaning they can’t cast spells), automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saves, and are easier to hit.

What Can You Do While Stunned?

Medieval battle

A Stunned creature loses the ability to do pretty much anything. They can’t move or speak clearly and since they become Incapacitated, they can’t take any sort of actions. However, becoming Stunned doesn’t remove the ability to make Saving Throws or maintaining Concentration.

Becoming Stunned deprives a creature from taking any sort of actions, the ability to move, and the ability to speak clearly. So, an affected creature can’t really do much while Stunned.

That said, with the exception of Strength and Dexterity saves, becoming Stunned doesn’t remove a creature’s ability to making saving throws. Also, it doesn’t prevent a creature from making concentration saves.

Interestingly, the Stunned condition doesn’t deprive a creature from making skill checks while affected. That said and technically speaking, making any sort of Ability Check takes an action. But, it doesn’t prevent skill contests like those forced by an opposing creature initiating a Grapple check against a Stunned creature.

Can You Take Actions / Bonus Actions / Reactions While Stunned?

No. A Stunned creature can not take actions, bonus actions, or reactions. This is due to becoming Incapacitated as the result of getting Stunned.

A creature loses the ability to take any kind of action when Stunned because this condition also inflicts Incapacitated which specifically only removes the ability to take actions and reactions.

The Incapacitated condition states; "An incapacitated creature can’t take actions or reactions." (Source: DnD Beyond)

Now, I’ve seen some confusion on whether Incapacitated affects bonus actions as the condition doesn’t explicitly mention them. But, the Player’s Handbook mentions how losing the ability to take actions also means a creature can’t take bonus actions.

You choose when to take a bonus action during your turn, unless the bonus action’s timing is specified, and anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action.

Source: DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Chapter 9: Combat

Bolded by me for emphasis.

So, since the Incapacitated deprives a creature from taking actions, it also means they can’t take bonus actions. Paired with the condition explicitly mentioning how an affected creature also can’t take reactions, becoming Stunned in 5e means a creature can’t take an action of any kind.

What Causes the Stunned Condition?

Two knights fighting, one ducking under a shield

D&D 5e has a few options for inflicting the Stunned condition including class features and spells.

Now, inflicting the Stunned condition is fairly difficult for player characters. Game Masters have a few options in monsters which can cause it, but players have only a handful of methods between their spells and class features.

Worse yet; these options are all fairly high-level, often only becoming available starting at 7th-level with the exception of the Monk’s Stunning Strike feature.

This makes relying on stunning creatures less viable as a combat tactic for player characters. But, you do have these options available to you.

Spells Which Cause the Stunned Condition in 5e:

  • Contagion – 5th-Level
  • Divine Word – 7th-Level
  • Symbol – 7th-Level
  • Power Word Stun – 8th-Level
  • Psychic Scream – 9th-Level

Class Features Which Cause the Stunned Condition:

  • Monk: Stunning Strike – 5th-Level
  • Rogue (Soulknife): Rend Mind – 17th-Level

How to Get Out of Stunned

Two knights grappling

Oftentimes, the only way of getting out of Stunned in 5e is to either wait out the duration or save out of it. Few abilities directly counteract the condition.

Most abilities which inflict the Stunned condition either specify a Saving Throw a creature needs to make to stop it or a duration for which it lasts. Oftentimes, abilities include both as failing the save usually means becoming Stunned for a specified length of time. What’s more, many of these abilities also allow more saves over the course of the duration to end the condition early.

For example, the Myconid Adult has an action which can stun a creature for up to 1 minute. But, at the end of an afflicted creature’s turn, they may repeat the Saving Throw. If they succeed, the Stun ends early.

On the other hand, the power word stun spell doesn’t specify a length of time. Technically, a creature could be Stunned indefinitely if they keep failing the Constitution saving throws every 6 seconds. That’s pretty unlikely, but it’s not impossible.

About the only thing which directly ends the Stunned condition is the power word heal spell. Even then, it’s a 9th-level spell and only available to Bards and Clerics, which means player characters don’t get access to it until 17th-level at the earliest.

Stunned in 5e FAQ

Two knights dueling

Can You Cast Spells While Stunned?

No. A creature can not cast spells while Stunned in 5e. Casting a spell requires the use of the Cast a Spell action and a Stunned creature is unable to take actions of any kind. Also, a Stunned creature loses the ability to move and speak clearly meaning they can not perform either Verbal or Somatic components required for spells nor can they interact with the required Material components or foci.

It’s honestly as simple as that. Casting a spell takes the Cast a Spell action (or bonus action…or reaction), and the Stunned condition removes a creature’s ability from using all action types as a result of also becoming Incapacitated.

Also, the Stunned condition removes a creature’s ability to move and speak clearly. This affects Verbal, Somatic, and Material component required for spellcasting. Losing the ability to speak clearly means spellcasters can’t fulfill Verbal components, and becoming unable to move means they can fulfill neither Somatic nor Material components as they can’t interact with the latter.

This all simply means you can’t cast spells while Stunned in 5e.

Can You Make Saving Throws While Stunned?

For the most part, yes; a creature can make Saving Throws while Stunned in 5e. The only exceptions are Strength and Dexterity saves which a Stunned creature automatically fails.

The Stunned condition only outlines how an affected creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws. It doesn’t mention Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saves. So, a Stunned creature can still make those 4 saves.

Does Stun Make You Lose Concentration in 5e?

Yes, becoming Stunned in 5e causes a creature to lose concentration. Nothing in the condition’s description states this, but the rules for concentration state a creature cannot maintain concentration should they become Incapacitated as the Stunned condition does.

The rules for the Stunned and Incapacitated conditions don’t make mention of losing concentration. However, the rules for concentration specifically state; "You lose Concentration on a spell if you are Incapacitated or if you die."


Summary of 5e’s Stunned Condition

That about covers everything you should know about the Stunned condition in 5e.

It’s a condition which essentially prevents a creature from doing anything as they lose the ability to move, take actions, and speak clearly. Since it’s a pretty powerful condition, there aren’t a lot of options for player characters to Stun other creatures and the few methods that are available aren’t accessible until higher levels. Getting out of stunned often comes down to either a Saving Throw, waiting out the duration, or both.

Game Masters; have you had a Monk player character and how did you deal with Stunning Strike? Players; do you go for the stunning spells when you have the chance? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!

Make sure to follow Role Player’s Respite for more mechanics breakdowns, rules clarifications, and inspiration for your game!

2 thoughts on “A Beginner Player & GM Guide to the Stunned Condition in 5e”

  1. The article states:
    “Does Stun Make You Lose Concentration in 5e? No. Becoming Stunned in 5e does not make a creature lose concentration by default. Nothing in the condition’s description mentions as such.”

    This FAQ answer is clearly wrong. Being stunned make you incapacitated. And as covered under the rules for concentration, as ways to lose concentration, bullet point #3 includes: Being incapacitated or killed. You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or if you die.


    1. Ah, yep. I checked the Stunned and Incapacitated rules but neglected to double-check the rules for concentration wrongly assuming they’d be included in the condition descriptions. Thanks for catching that!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.