• 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.

Player’s Handbook, page 292

Standing up [from prone] costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed.

Every foot of movement while crawling costs 1 extra foot.

Player’s Handbook, page 191

The Prone Condition 5e

Of the conditions in the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, prone is probably the least brutal (on its own). It’s simple to resolve, and being prone can even tip the scales in your favor when used proactively.

This article will cover:

  • How the prone condition works

  • All the ways you can cause it as a player

  • Tips for using it to your advantage

  • Rules clarifications on common questions about the prone condition

What Is Prone in 5e?

Prone is a condition that can be afflicted on a creature by knocking them down, or voluntarily chosen as the creature throws itself on the ground. When a creature is prone:

  • It must crawl. Every foot of movement while crawling costs 1 extra foot (PHB 191).

  • It has disadvantage on attack rolls (roll 2d20; use the lower result).

  • Attack rolls against the creature made within 5 feet of it have advantage (roll 2d20; use the higher result). Other attack rolls have disadvantage.

Dropping prone requires no movement speed, but standing from prone costs movement equal to half of a creature’s speed. A prone creature cannot stand if they don’t have sufficient movement or if their speed is 0.

How to Cause the Prone Condition

There are several ways to cause the prone condition — regular actions, spells, and feats. Additionally, there are several ways your character may find themselves prone, from falling, jumping unsuccessfully, or suffering environmental effects.

How Any Character Can Cause the Prone Condition

  • The Shove action. Any creature can shove by making an Athletics check contested by the target’s Athletics or Acrobatics check. If the attacker wins, they can choose to knock the target prone. The target can’t be more than one size larger than the attacker (PHB 195).

  • Ball bearings. Standard adventuring gear that you can spell on the ground as an action (PHB 151). They cover a 10-square-foot patch of ground, and any creature who moves across it must pass a DC 10 Dexterity save or fall prone.

Spells That Cause the Prone Condition

  • Spells. 13 spells in 5e can inflict the prone condition. 6 of them require Dexterity saving throws, 4 Strength saves, 2 Wisdom saves, and 1 Constitution save.

    Spell Level Saving Throw Other Effects Available To
    Command 1st Wisdom Target grovels before the caster Cleric, Paladin, The Fiend Warlock, Knowledge Domain Cleric, Order Domain Cleric, Oath of the Crown Paladin, Oath of Conquest Paladin
    Earth Tremor 1st Dexterity 3.5 average bludgeoning damage and creates difficult terrain Bard, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard
    Grease 1st Dexterity 1-minute area effect that can cause multile enemies to fall prone multiple times Wizard, Artificer
    Tasha’s Hideous Laughter 1st Wisdom Also incapacitates the target, making them unable to stand from prone; lasts up to 1 minute Bard, Wizard, The Great Old One Warlock
    Thunderous Smite 1st Strength 7 average thunder damage and pushes target 10 feet away; audible within 300 feet Paladin
    Sleet Storm 3rd Dexterity Massive area of effect, heavily obscured area, chance to break caster concentration Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard, Circle of the Land (Arctic) Druid, Temptest Domain Cleric, The Genie Warlock, The Fathomless Warlock
    Tidal Wave 3rd Dexterity 18 average bludgeoning damage, extinguishes flames Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard
    Watery Sphere 4th Strength Restrains, then spits out creatures prone Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard
    Control Winds 5th Strength Affects a 100-cubic foot space and knocks flying creatures prone Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard
    Destructive Wave 5th Constitution 17.5 average radiant or necrotic damage (caster’s choice) Paladin, Tempest Domain Cleric,
    Wrath of Nature 5th Strength 13.5 average bludgoning damage (bonus action “Rocks”) Druid, Ranger,
    Investiture of Stone 6th Dexterity Resistance to nonmagical attacks and the ability to move through solid stone or earth Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
    Earthquake 8th Dexterity 17.5 average bludgeonong damage (effect from structures collapsing) Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer

Class and Subclass Features That Cause the Prone Condition

  • Totemic Attunement: 14th-level Wolf Totem Barbarian subclass feature. Allows the Barbarian to spend a bonus action while raging to knock a creature prone when they hit it with a melee weapon.

  • Trip Attack Maneuver: 3rd-level Battlemaster Fighter subclass feature. Allows the Fighter to expend a superiority die to attempt knocking a creature prone after hitting it with a weapon.

  • Open Hand Technique: 3rd-level Open Hand Monk subclass feature. Allows the Monk to attempt knocking a creature prone after hitting it with a Flurry of Blows attack.

  • Fist of the Unbroken Air: 11th-level Four Elements Monk subclass feature. A powerful attack that deals damage, pushes enemies away, and knocks them prone.

  • Water Whip: 11th-level Four Elements Monk subclass feature. A powerful attack that deals damage and knocks the target prone.

  • Ferocious Charger: 15th-level Cavalier Fighter subclass feature. If the Fighter moves straight at the target before hitting it with an attack, they may attempt to knock the target prone.

  • Eldritch Smite: Eldritch Invocation that Pact of the Blade Warlocks can acquire, allowing them to expend a spell slot to knock a creature prone and deal additional damage with their pact weapon.

  • Telekinetic Adept: Thrust: 7th-level Psi Warrior Fighter subclass feature that knocks a target prone and moves them 10 feet in any direction horizontally on a failed Strength save.

  • Mighty Swarm: 11th-level Swarmkeeper Ranger subclass feature that allows a Ranger’s swarm to knock creatures prone who fail their saving throw against it.

Feats That Cause the Prone Condition

  • Shield Master. After you Attack, you can use a bonus action to shove a creature within 5 feet.

  • Martial Adept. Gives access to Battle Master Fighter maneuvers. If you choose Trip Attack, you now have an extra way to cause the prone condition.

  • Charger. After you Dash, you can use a bonus action to shove a creature.

Other Ways to Fall Prone in 5e

  • Jumping. When a character makes a long jump and lands in difficult terrain, they must pass a DC 10 Acrobatics check or fall prone (PHB 182).

  • Falling. Falling from 10 or more feet high deals damage and causes the creature to fall prone (PHB 183).

  • Environmental effects. Pitfall traps, slippery surfaces, falling nets, crumbling structures, etc. — really, any time that your character risks falling down, they risk becoming prone.

  • Creature abilities. Many creatures in 5e’s sourcebooks have abilities that can knock characters prone, usually when they fail a Strength or Dexterity check.

    Incidentally, many creatures, especially those that hover, are immune to the prone condition.

Additionally, there are a couple of features that help with the prone condition:

  • Tipsy Sway. 6th-level Way of the Drunken Master Monk subclass feature that allows a player to spend 5 feet, instead of half their movement, to stand from being prone.

  • Armor of Magic Strength. Artificer Infusion that can expend a charge and the wearer’s reaction to avoid being knocked prone.

D&D 5e minis

How to Use the Prone Condition

Here are a few tips for using the prone condition to your advantage in Dungeons and Dragons:

  • Take advantage of feats and features. Knocking enemies prone can be helpful, but it’s usually not worth your entire action (i.e., shoving).

    Feats and features that allow you to attempt knocking an enemy prone for the cost of a bonus action, like the Shield Master feat, or a resource, like a Battlemaster’s Trip Attack maneuver or a Monk’s Open Hand Technique, allow you to get much more bang for your buck.

  • Pair with the grappled condition. One of the effects of the grappled condition is dropping an afflicted creature’s movement speed to 0. When a prone creature has 0 speed, they cannot stand up, effectively rooting them in place (and maintaining the prone condition) until they break free of the grapple.

    This can be a very potent combination, and some character builds revolve around utilizing this tactic.

  • Protect yourself from ranged attacks. Choosing to drop prone can be a great option if you’re being targeted by archers or spell casters. Giving disadvantage on all attack rolls from 5+ feet away is essentially like using the Dodge action for free (although it will cost you extra movement to stand up again).

    This is an especially good tip for spell casters, who can still cast saving-throw-based spells while prone without suffering any disadvantage.

    Additionally, if there’s low cover around, you can also get some AC and Dexterity saving throw bonuses by dropping prone behind it.

  • Stand up, a take ranged shot, drop prone. If you’re attacking with ranged weapons or spell attacks and have no reason to move (e.g., you’ve got the high ground, you’ve got good cover, difficult terrain is between you and the enemy, etc.), there’s really no point in not dropping prone at the end of every turn.

    Sure, you’ll have to stand back up again if you want to attack on your next turn, but if you’re not using your movement for anything else, who cares? This is essentially getting all the advantages of the prone condition without suffering the disadvantages.

    This isn’t even cheesy meta-game mechanics — it’s a sound tactic employed by warriors since the dawn of time. There’s no reason to expose yourself to attack unnecessarily.

  • Get the Athlete feat. It allows you to stand from being prone by only using 5 feet of your movement, as opposed to half your speed’s worth. It also comes with a +1 Strength or Dexterity ASI, a climbing speed boost, and the ability to jump after only moving 5 feet.

Prone Condition Rules Clarifications

Here are some rules clarifications on some of the most common questions around how the prone condition works in 5e:

  • The attack roll disadvantage/advantage prone grants only relates to distance from the prone creature. If you are within 5 feet of the target, you have advantage on your attack roll. If you are more than 5 feet away from the prone target, you have disadvantage on your attack roll. No other effects modify this, as this Sage Advice thread makes clear.

    Note that this means a ranged attack made within 5 feet of attacking a prone target would be made with neither advantage (from being within 5 feet) nor disadvantage (from making a ranged attack within 5 feet). The two cancel out, and the attack roll is made normally (PHB 173).

  • It does not cost an action to stand from being prone. It only costs movement equal to half your speed.

  • You can cast spells while prone. Nothing about the prone condition affects your ability to cast spells. However, spell attacks are made with disadvantage while prone.

  • When a flying creature is knocked prone, they fall (PHB 191). However, Xanathar’s optional rules introduced the option for falling to be non-instantaneous (XGtE 77), but rather at a rate of 500 feet per round. If a flying creature falls more than 500 feet, it can use half its flying speed to “stand up” midair, and begin flying again rather than falling.

  • When a mount is knocked prone, the rider can use a reaction to dismount and land on their feet. Otherwise, they’re dismounted and fall prone (PHB 198). Additionally, if your mount is moved against its will, you must pass a DC 10 Dexterity save or fall off the mount and land prone.

  • It does not cost an action or movement to voluntarily drop prone. “You can drop prone without using any of your speed” (PHB 190).

  • The cost of standing from prone is based on your “speed,” not your “movement.” This mostly matters for something like the Dash action or having your movement slowed by an effect.

    For example, if your Speed is 30 feet, and use the Dash action, your Speed is still 30 feet. Dash just gives you extra movement equal to the value of your Speed; it doesn’t change your character’s Speed. Standing from being prone will still cost 15 feet in this scenario.

    However, if a character has a feature or item that increases their Speed to 40 feet, standing from prone will cost 20 feet of movement.

  • Prone gives disadvantage on all attacks rolls. Melee, ranged, and spells.

  • You do not have advantage on grapple or shove attempts against a prone target. They are ability checks, not attack rolls, confirmed in the Sage Advice Compendium (SAC 10). However, many DMs give disadvantage to prone creatures who make these special attacks.

  • The prone condition doesn’t change the rules for moving through occupied space. This was verified by the game’s developers, which simply refers to the game’s base rules (SAC 12, PHB 191).

  • Dropping prone while grappling doesn’t force the grappled creature prone. You’d just be “holding onto the creature from a prone position (SAC 13).

  • The prone condition applies whenever you’re prone. Unconscious, sleeping, etc. all count. The DMG even makes mention of how if a character “stumble[s] onto the ground,” they are “now prone.”

    In other words, the game won’t always explicitly say that you’re prone, but the condition nonetheless applies whenever a creature enters a position that meets the common-sense understanding of what being “prone” is.

  • You can become prone while swimming. The mechanics are identical, even if the description has to change. Confirmed on Sage Advice.

  • You cannot stand from prone while stunned. The phrase “can’t move” in the stunned condition means “can’t use movement.” Standing from the prone condition uses half your movement, so you cannot do it while stunned and unable to move.

  • Moving away from a prone creature provokes an opportunity attack. Being prone has no interaction with the rules for opportunity attacks (PHB 195). However, opportunity attacks have disadvantage while prone, like all attacks.

  • Standing from prone does not provoke an opportunity attack. Unless a prone creature moves away from an enemy’s melee reach. Standing up does not provoke the OA on its own.

  • You can take all actions while prone. Dodge, Dash, etc. If you dodge, you’ll counteract the melee attack advantage, so attackers will make a flat roll.

  • A prone creature who is grappled cannot stand from being prone. Because their movement speed is 0, and you cannot stand from being prone while your speed is 0.