Hold Person

Choose a humanoid that you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or be paralyzed for the duration. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make another Wisdom saving throw. On a success, the spell ends on the target.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd Level or higher, you can target an additional humanoid for each slot level above 2nd. The humanoids must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them.

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a small, straight piece of iron)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
School: 2nd-level enchantment

Player’s Handbook, pg. 251

Hold Person 5e

Hold Person is a straightforward control spell that’s been around since the early days of DND. It’s a classic “save-or-suck” spell that can offer tremendous utility or fizzle out uselessly. With the right applications of the spell and a good understanding of the rules, we can make the most of Hold Person.

Who Can Cast Hold Person in 5e?

The following classes have Hold Person on their class spell lists:

The following subclasses get Hold Person for free:

  • Druid (Circle of the Land: Arctic)

  • Paladin (Oath of Vengeance)

  • Paladin (Oath of Conquest) (XGtE 38)

  • Paladin (Oath of Redemption) (XGtE 39)

  • Cleric (Order Domain) (TCoE 31)

Way of the Four Elements Monks can also spend 3 ki points to cast Hold Person starting at 6th level (PHB 81).

What Does Hold Person Do in 5e?

When you cast Hold Person, the target(s) must make a Wisdom saving throw with a DC equal to your spell save DC. If they fail, they are paralyzed for up to 1 minute. If they succeed, nothing happens.

At the end of their turns, they can try the same Wisdom saving throw. If they succeed, you stop concentrating, or 1 minute elapses, Hold Person ends.

If Hold Person lands on the target(s), they are paralyzed. While paralyzed, the creature:

  • Can’t take actions or reactions

  • Can’t move or speak

  • Automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws)

Additionally, other players and creatures who attack a paralyzed target:

  • Have advantage on attack rolls

  • Automatically score a critical hit if within 5 feet of the target

hold person 5e

What Are the Rules for Hold Person in 5e?

The rules for Hold Person in DnD 5e are as follows:

  • Hold Person breaks concentration. Since a Paralyzed creature is incapacitated (PHB 291), and being incapacitated breaks concentration (PHB 203), Hold Person will immediately break a creature’s concentration on a spell if it lands. Yes, this includes Fly.

  • Charm immunity or resistance does not work on Hold Person. While some effects that are similar to Hold Person, like Sleep, can be blocked by Charm immunity, Hold Person is not a Charm effect. It is a Paralysis effect.

  • You can move a Paralyzed creature as you like. As long as you’re strong enough to carry them, a Paralyzed creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws. That means you can manipulate them as you like, as long as the spell lasts.

    You can also probably take anything that they’re holding onto, since they’re paralyzed and all, however, the rules don’t specifically say anything on the subject.

  • Hold Person can last if you move out of range. Since Hold Person’s spell description doesn’t say otherwise, you can move a target more than 60 feet away from the caster, or the caster can move more than 60 feet away from the target without breaking the spell’s effect (PHB 203).

  • You can only target humanoids with Hold Person. Hold Person does not work on Undead. It should work on shapeshifters who are currently in Humanoid form. If they somehow change form while paralyzed, or someone else changes their form for them, Hold Person breaks immediately.

  • Damage does not break the effect of Hold Person. Saving throw repeats only happen at the end of the affected creature’s turns, not when it takes damage like some similar spells.

  • Dispel Magic will remove Hold Person. It’s a magic effect, after all.

How Do I Use Hold Person in 5e?

To use Hold Person most effectively, follow these strategies:

  1. Maximize ally damage output. If you see one baddie within range of loads of your party members, casting Hold Person can all but guarantee some massive damage coming through.

    This is especially true if your allies come before the target in the initiative order, as damage won’t break the Paralyze effect.

  2. Interrogation. Sometimes an enemy has information, but they might not see much point in talking to you while they’re surrounded by allies of their own.

    Using Hold Person to hold a boss still while you take care of their compatriots can be just the thing to put them in the conciliatory, talking mood.

  3. Interesting finishing blows. There are certain locations and situations that present unique applications for Hold Person.

    For instance, high places where a moment’s paralysis followed by a push should take care of your problem. Or a mechanical device is plowing forward with unstoppable momentum. You get the idea.

    You can also drown someone who’s swimming, or use Hold Person, tie weights to them, and then throw them into a body of water. Let your psycho imagination run wild.

  4. Stop a caster. Is an enemy caster concentrating on a nasty spell that’s affecting your party? Hold Person puts a stop to concentration by incapacitating the target. (PHB 203).

  5. Disarm a foe. If a baddie has a particularly nasty weapon, why not press pause, take the weapon out of their hand, and start things fresh. Or, maybe you just need to grab the MacGuffin and get out of there as quickly as possible. Hold Person allows for a quick robbery and get away, without all the hassle of combat.

Who Can I Target With Hold Person 5e?

You can target all humanoids with Hold Person. This includes:

  • Orcs

  • Goblins

  • Hobgoblins

  • Bugbears

  • Kobold

and plenty of other creatures.

Look for the “Humanoid” tag on a monster’s stat block. For higher-level monsters, you’ll need to use the Hold Monster spell.

Is Hold Person 5e a Good Spell?

Hold Person is a good spell with many applications. Any time you’re able to limit your opponents’ actions and reactions while boosting your party’s damage potential, you’re making good use of a spell slot.

That being said, it is an all-or-nothing spell, meaning an unfortunate roll could waste a spell slot and your action.

When you’re able to cast this spell on multiple targets, you increase your chances of Hold Person landing on at least one. And that’s the sort of thing Barbarians, Fighters, and Rogues in close range love to see.

Also, note that the “humanoid” limitation means that Hold Person’s effectiveness scales down if your campaign doesn’t involve many humanoid enemies.

Hold Person 5e DM Tips

There aren’t too many rules to keep track of with Hold Person. Remind players that it doesn’t work on non-humanoids (the name implies it) and make sure they understand they’ll need to maintain concentration to keep the spell up.

On the positive side of rules, some players might mistakenly think that damage has a chance of breaking the paralyze effect. In reality, only time, the caster’s broken concentration, or the creature’s successful Wisdom saving throw can break Hold Person’s effect.