The dragon, which is hundreds of years old, comes out of the mucky bog. Thick, black slime falls off its torn wings, and the smell of the long-dead fills the beast’s home.

The monster’s skeletal head is the last thing you see as it turns towards your group. Its look is chilling, like that of an animal that has long since lost its sense of mercy.

Fear is a pretty common theme in TTRPGs, and Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is no different.

Adventurers often find themselves in scary situations, whether you’re running a horror-themed game or just using fear as a way to add tension to your game.

All of this being said, D&D 5e has a condition called “Frightened,” which can mean either a deep, natural fear or a reaction caused by magic.

This article talks about what the D&D 5e ability Frightened does, how to use it in a game, what causes it, and how to fix it.

So, let’s get started by talking about what Frightened does in 5e.

What Does the Frightened Condition Do in D&D 5e?

Frightened is a condition in D&D 5e that makes it harder for a creature to fight or go on an adventure by making it scared.

It makes it harder to attack and pass Ability Checks, and it limits how a creature can move.

An effect, like a spell or a natural ability, can cause the frightened condition by making a creature feel scared.

This 5e condition has a couple of bad effects on a creature that has it.

On page 290 of the Player’s Handbook, it says that the Frightened Condition has two effects:

  1. When the thing that scares it is in its line of sight, it has a disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls.
  2. The creature can’t move toward what scares it on its own.

In D&D 5e, that’s all Fear does.

How to Get Scared in D&D 5e:

  1. When you can see the source of your fear, you have a disadvantage on all attack rolls and skill checks.
  2. This stops you from moving closer to the thing you’re afraid of.

It’s important to pay attention to the words “line-of-sight” and “willingly.”

If the source of a creature’s fear leaves a line of sight, like when you use the Wall of Stone spell, your attack rolls, and ability checks are no longer at a disadvantage.

That is, as long as the thing that made the creature scared stays out of its line of sight.

Now, a creature that moves “willingly” is usually just moving at its normal speed. Spells and effects like failing the save for the thunder wave spell or the Pushing Attack maneuver for Battle Master Fighters make a creature move.

This means that a creature that is Frightened can still move closer to what is making it scared as long as it has to.

Players often ask if they can have an advantage over creatures that are scared or how they can do more. This is not what the Frightened Condition does.

When you’re scared, creatures don’t have the upper hand when they attack you, and it doesn’t stop you from moving.

You can still go as fast as you want when you turn, but not in the direction of what scares you.

Also Read:  15 Best D&D 5e Adventure Books

Using Fear in Your 5e Game

Most of the time, you use the Frightened Condition in 5e during combat to hurt either monsters or player characters. Still, Game Masters can use Frightened as a powerful tool outside of battle as well.

Most of the time, the 5e Frightened Condition works best in combat. Stopping a creature from getting closer is a great way to take control of the battlefield.

Being at a disadvantage on attacks and ability checks makes it harder to do damage and stay alive.

Both monsters and player characters are affected by this.

Remember that as a player, you might have traits, abilities, or spells that make other creatures scared. It’s not just something GMs use. So you can help your party by making your enemies scared.
So, as a Game Master, you might want to use the Frightened Condition outside of combat as well.

Most players focus on the “disadvantage on attack rolls” part of Frightened but giving your players a disadvantage on Ability Checks is a different kind of threat.

Suddenly, it’s much harder to get through a dungeon or get past an obstacle.

For example, a big hole might only be passable by jumping from a platform to a platform that is just far enough apart to require a Strength (Athletics) check.

But on the other side of the pit is a scary statue that fills the room with magic that makes people scared.

If the player characters can’t fly (through spells or other means), being in the Frightened Condition makes it much more likely that they will miss a platform and take damage from falling.

That’s just one example, but you get the point. In D&D 5e, fear isn’t only useful in battle.

How to Cause Frightened in 5e?

In 5e, Frightened can be caused by several effects and skills. Creatures will be scared by effects that come from their race, class, spells, or monster abilities.

In 5e, making someone scared is a great way for both players and GMs to control combat or make obstacles harder. You can make a creature scared in 5e in a lot of different ways.

There are many ways to cause Frightened in 5e, such as:

  1. Racial Traits
  2. Class Features
  3. Spell Effects
  4. Monster Abilities

Now, let’s talk about what causes the Frightened Condition. Let’s start with racial characteristics.

Fear Causing Racial Traits

Some of the playable races in D&D 5e have a trait that, when activated, gives them the Frightened Condition.

I mean that. Only two races in the whole of D&D 5e have a natural ability to make another creature scared.

Better yet, they are in different books. So, if you want to make the best fear build possible, you’ll need more than just the Player’s Handbook.

  1. Daunting Roar – Leonin (MOoT)
  2. Necrotic Shroud – Fallen Aasimar (VGtM)

Class Features that Cause Fear

In 5e, there are a few classes that have abilities that let them make other creatures scared.

In 5e, you have a lot of options for how to use a class feature to make people scared.

  1. Intimidating Presence – Barbarian: Path of the Berserker (PHB)
  2. Maneuvers: Menacing Attack – Fighter: Battle Master (PHB)
  3. Channel Divinity: Abjure Enemy & Avenging Angel – Paladin: Oath of Vengeance (PHB)
  4. Draconic Presence – Sorcerer: Draconic Bloodline Origin (PHB)
  5. Wild Magic Surge effect – Sorcerer: Wild Magic Origin (PHB)
  6. Fey Presence & Dark Delirium – Warlock: Archfey Patron (PHB)
  7. Hour of Reaping – Monk: Way of the Long Death (SCAG)
  8. Words of Terror – Bard: College of Whispers (XGtE)
  9. Channel Divinity: Conquering Presence – Paladin: Oath of Conquest (XGtE)
Also Read:  Shadow Blade: D&D 5e Spell Guide

Spells that Cause Fear

Casting spells might be the easiest and most reliable way to make player characters feel scared.

Still, this way of putting someone in a Frightened state requires you to play a certain spellcasting class.

But, except for the Artificer, every class that can cast spells has at least one spell that makes people afraid. Some spells might just be more powerful than others.

  1. Cause Fear – 1st-level Warlock & Wizard spell (XGtE)
  2. Wrathful Smite – 1st-level Paladin spell (PHB)
  3. Fear – 3rd-level Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard, & Paladin: Oath of Conquest spell (PHB)
  4. Summon Shadowspawn—3rd-level Warlock & Wizard spell (TCoE)
  5. Summon Undead – 3rd-level Warlock & Wizard spell (TCoE)
  6. Phantasmal Killer – 4th-level Wizard, Warlock: Hexblade Patron, & Warlock: Genie Patron spell (PHB)
  7. Eyebite – 6th-level Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, & Wizard spell (PHB)
  8. Symbol – 7th-level Bard, Cleric & Wizard spell (PHB)
  9. Antipathy/Sympathy – 8th-level Druid & Wizard spell (PHB)
  10. Illusory Dragon – 8th-level Wizard spell (XGtE)
  11. Weird – 9th-level Wizard spell (PHB)

Monsters that Cause Fear

Some monsters have abilities that can make player characters scared. This is called the Frightened Condition.

Monsters that can make a player’s character scared are plenty for Game Masters to choose from. Even better, they have a lot of different levels. So, in 5e, you can choose to use a monster in combat at almost any level.

Now that that’s out of the way, this list only has monsters from the Monster Manual because I think the list would be too long if it had more.

  1. Adult & Ancient Black Dragon
  2. Adult & Ancient Blue Dragon
  3. Adult & Ancient Brass Dragon
  4. Adult & Ancient Bronze Dragon
  5. Adult & Ancient Copper Dragon
  6. Adult & Ancient Gold Dragon
  7. Adult & Ancient Green Dragon
  8. Adult & Ancient Red Dragon
  9. Adult & Ancient Silver Dragon
  10. Adult & Ancient White Dragon
  11. Banshee
  12. Beholder Zombie
  13. Beholder
  14. Cloaker
  15. Death Tyrant
  16. Dracolich Template
  17. Ghost
  18. Lich
  19. Mummy Lord
  20. Mummy
  21. Nalfeshnee
  22. Pit Fiend
  23. Quasit
  24. Scarecrow
  25. Shadow Dragon Template
  26. Spectator
  27. Tarrasque
  28. Unnerving Mask

Resisting the Frightened Condition

Having the ability to keep from getting Frightened Condition is useful at times.

In 5e, there are many ways to avoid getting scared, such as being immune to fear or having an advantage on saving throws against fear.

Most of the time, abilities that give the frightened condition require the creature to make a Wisdom Saving Throw.

So, I counted the traits, features, and spells that give these saves a bonus, usually by giving the character advantage on the roll.

Fear Resisting Racial Traits

Some player races in D&D 5e have traits that make it harder for them to get scared.

The following D&D 5e racial traits may help a character resist the Frightened Condition, either directly or through related saving throws:

  1. Brave – Halfling (PHB)
  2. Dual Mind – Kalashtar (E:RftLW)
  3. Gnome Cunning – Gnome (PHB)
  4. Leviathan Will – Locathah (LR)
  5. Loxodon Serenity – Loxodon (GGtR)
  6. Saving Face – Hobgoblin (VGtM, E:RftLW)
  7. Magic Resistance – Satyr (MOoT)
  8. Magic Resistance – Yuan-ti Pureblood (VGtM)
  9. Mental Discipline – Githzerai (MToF)
  10. Telepathic Insight – Verdan (AcInc)
  11. Vedalken Dispassion – Vedalken (GGtR)
  1. Mindless Rage – Barbarian: Path of the Berserker (PHB)
  2. Bardic Inspiration & Countercharm – Bard (PHB)
  3. Nature’s Ward – Druid: Circle of the Land (PHB)
  4. Indomitable – Fighter (PHB)
  5. Stillness of Mind – Monk (PHB)
  6. Aura of Courage – Paladin (PHB)
  7. Slippery Mind – Rogue (PHB)
  8. Dark One’s Own Luck – Warlock: Fiend Patron (PHB)
  9. Portent & Greater Portent – Wizard: School of Divination (PHB)
  10. Bulwark – Fighter: Purple Dragon Knight (SCAG)
  11. Exalted Champion – Paladin: Oath of the Crown (SCAG)
  12. Fanatical Focus & Zealous Presence – Barbarian: Path of the Zealot (XGtE)
  13. Experimental Elixir option – Artificer: Alchemist Specialist (TCoE)
  14. Emboldening Bond – Cleric: Peace Domain (TCoE)
  15. Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary – Cleric: Twilight Domain (TCoE)
  16. Fungal Body – Druid: Circle of Spores (TCoE)
  17. Guarded Mind – Fighter: Psi Warrior (TCoE)
  18. Living Legend – Paladin: Oath of Glory (TCoE)
  19. Beguiling Twist – Ranger: Fey Wanderer Archetype (TCoE)
  20. Psychic Defenses – Sorcerer: Aberrant Mind Origin (TCoE)
  21. Eldritch Invocation: Protection of the Talisman – Warlock (TCoE)
Also Read:  Booming Blade 5e D&D Guide

Class Features that Resist Fear

A few of the classes in D&D 5e have features that make it harder for characters to get scared.

Spells to Resist Fear

Spellcasters have a few ways to stop a creature from being Frightened.

  1. Calm Emotions – 2nd-level Bard, Cleric, Paladin: Oath of Redemption, & Warlock: Archfey Patron spell (PHB)
  2. Dispel Evil and Good – 5th-level Cleric & Paladin spell (PHB)
  3. Power Word Heal – 9th-level Bard & Cleric spell (PHB)

Creatures with Immunity to Fear

Many monsters in D&D 5e are immune to the frightened condition, which means that they can’t normally get this condition.

Here is a list of D&D monsters that can’t get scared, according to the Basic Rules:

  1. Androsphinx
  2. Animated Armor
  3. Banshee
  4. Black Pudding
  5. Clay Golem
  6. Deva
  7. Flameskull
  8. Flesh Golem
  9. Flying Sword
  10. Gelatinous Cube
  11. Ghost
  12. Gray Ooze
  13. Gynosphinx
  14. Iron Golem
  15. Kraken
  16. Lemure
  17. Lich
  18. Mummy
  19. Mummy Lord
  20. Ochre Jelly
  21. Planetar
  22. Rug of Smothering
  23. Shadow
  24. Shield Guardian
  25. Shrieker
  26. Solar
  27. Stone Golem
  28. Swarm of Rats
  29. Swarm of Bats
  30. Swarm of Poisonous Snakes
  31. Swarm of Quippers
  32. Swarm of Ravens
  33. Swarm or Insects
  34. Tarrasque
  35. Violet Fungus
  36. Vox Seeker

Frightened FAQs

How Long Does the Frightened Condition Last?

In 5e, the Frightened Condition lasts as long as the spell, trait, or feature says it does, either for a set amount of time or until the creature makes a saving throw against the effect.

In 5e, every effect that makes a creature scared has a set length of time. This is usually measured in minutes, but it could also say something like “until the start of your next turn.”

Does Frightened Break Concentration?

As written, No. 5e’s Frightened Condition does not break Concentration.

To break concentration, you must cast another spell that needs concentration, take damage, or become unable to move or die.

But the PHB also says that GMs may decide that certain effects not listed in the book, like clinging to the back of a dragon as it dives, could force a creature to make a concentration check.

So, you could say that a creature might have to make a concentration check if it has a strong enough fear, like from something that isn’t natural like magic or abilities.

Just remember that a creature doesn’t lose concentration just because it’s scared in 5e. This is how the rules are written.

Final Words

That’s all you need to know about the Frightened Condition to start using it in your 5e game.

Frightened is a condition in 5e that makes a creature’s attack rolls and ability checks worse and makes it unable to move toward the thing that’s making it scared.

Usually, it’s used in combat to slow down both player characters and monsters.

However, it can also be used while the party is exploring an area to make obstacles harder and add to the tension.

Lastly, there are many ways to get the Frightened Condition in 5e, and there are just as many ways to get rid of it.


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