“A shrill howl echoes around you as you continue your trek up the steep mountainside. The bitter winds buffet against your skin and three straight days of travel have left you weary. You feel your knees wobble underneath you with each step forward, threatening to give out at any moment.“
In Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, getting tired is a very hard mechanic to get used to. But it has a few things that make it hard for new Game Masters and players to understand.
What is being tired? How does it work? Why does it happen? How can it be fixed?
This article tells new players everything they need to know about the Exhaustion rules in D&D 5e.
Let’s start things off by explaining what Exhaustion is in D&D 5e.
5e Exhaustion Explained
In D&D 5e, being tired is a special condition. It shows how much adventuring or magic has hurt your player’s character physically.
Basically, your character gets tired when they work too hard or when something strange and magical happens to them.
The Player’s Handbook talks about Exhaustion on page 291:
Some special abilities and environmental hazards, such as starvation and the long-term effects of freezing or scorching temperatures, can lead to a special condition called exhaustion.
DnD Beyond | Basic Rules – Appendix A: Conditions
The mechanic of being tired is fun. But because it is a bit complicated and sometimes hard to keep track of, it is often forgotten.
In D&D 5e, the rules for Exhaustion are broken down in to three parts that are easy to remember:
- Exhaustion Levels
- What Causes Exhaustion
- How to Fix Exhaustion
Let’s start with the part that is more mechanically sound: exhaust levels.
Levels of Exhaustion in 5e
In 5e, there are six levels of exhaustion, each of which is worse than the last. Each one makes a creature’s life harder in a different way than the last.
So, the more tired a character gets, the less they can do until they finally pass out from being too tired.
So, in D&D, being tired isn’t a one-time thing like the other conditions. Most other conditions in 5e are either good or bad. For example, the Grappled condition either affects you or it doesn’t.
If your character doesn’t do anything about being tired, it will get worse.
But in Dungeons & Dragons, what are the different levels of exhaustion?
As I said, there are six levels of exhaustion in D&D. Each one makes adventuring harder and harder until your character dies at the end of the last level.
Here is a handy table about exhaustion that you can use as a guide.
|D&D 5e Exhaustion Table|
|Exhaustion Level||Exhaustion Effect|
|1||Disadvantages of Ability Checks|
|2||Movement Speed is Halved|
|3||Disadvantages of Attack Rolls & Saving Throws|
|4||Hit Point Maximum is Halved|
|5||Movement Speed Reduced to Zero|
Let’s break each of these down so you see how it affects your character.
Exhaustion Level 1: Ability Checks
In D&D, the first level of Exhaustion makes all of your Ability Checks worse.
This level mostly affects rolls that have nothing to do with combat, since it doesn’t change your Attack rolls or saving throws. So, when you have Exhaustion level 1, you have a disadvantage on any skill check you make.
To climb a cliff, do you need to make a Strength (Athletics) check? Disadvantage. Using an Intelligence (Arcana) check to try to remember something about a strange book your group found. Also, disadvantages.
You agreed to keep watch even though you were tired, and now your Game Master wants you to do a Wisdom (Perception) check? The disadvantage, disadvantage, disadvantage.
Also, if you’re trying to Grapple or get out of a grappling effect and the ability doesn’t call out a saving throw, you make those rolls at a disadvantage. So, even at level one, Exhaustion can be useful in some situations.
Exhaustion Level 2: Halved Movement Speed
In 5e, the second level of exhaustion makes you move half as fast as before.
When you have two levels of Exhaustion, it slows you down. Even though this is likely to be the most annoying in battle. But it also affects how quickly your group travels.
If you’re going half as fast as everyone else, you’re slowing down the party. If you need to get somewhere quickly, you’re a bother.
Not trying to make it sound less fun. But, it presents a unique challenge to your group.
Most likely, second-level exhaustion hurts melee fighters the most. If they can’t move fast enough to catch up with their enemies, they aren’t as good.
Exhaustion Level 3: Attack Rolls & Saving Throws
At the third level of Exhaustion, both Attack rolls and Saving Throws are made harder.
Every roll your character makes is a lot harder when they are at this level of exhaustion.
At this point, your character is so worn out that they can’t fight or go on adventures as well as they used to.
Any and all attacks (even spell attack rolls) get rolled at disadvantage. And if an ability, spell, or trap forces them to make a saving throw, that roll is also made with a disadvantage.
Also, guess what happens if your character gets knocked out and starts making death saves? When you have level 3 Exhaustion, you also make death-saving throws at a disadvantage.
Exhaustion Level 4: Halved Maximum Hit Points
When you reach level 4, your maximum Hit Points are cut in half.
This level of Exhaustion doesn’t just take away half of your hit points. No, it’s much worse than that.
If you cut your maximum hit points in half, you can only heal up to half of them at any time. This makes it very hard for any character to stay alive. When you only have half of your maximum health, every hit is that much worse.
Let’s look at a specific case. Even if you had a 4th-level Barbarian with a Constitution score of 18 and rolled max hit points by some miracle, your Hit Point Maximum would still be 63.
When there are four levels of Exhaustion, that number drops to 31. For a 4th-level combat-focused front-line class, that’s a huge disadvantage. Even with the damage resistance of the Barbarian’s Rage ability.
Exhaustion Level 5: Zero Movement Speed
At the fifth level of Exhaustion, your character can no longer move at all.
If you’re so tired that you haven’t been able to get better for so long, you can’t even move. Your character gets so tired and worn out that they can’t move on their own anymore.
It’s clear that this is a big problem for any character. No matter what class you are in. And the last level of Exhaustion is the end, so this is the make-or-break moment.
Exhaustion Level 6: Death
When a creature gets to the sixth level of Exhaustion, it dies.
There’s no more to say.
There is no way to stop it. Death doesn’t help. No recovery.
When your character has six levels of Exhaustion, they just die. At this point, the only way to get better is through resurrection magic.
Now, remember that each level of Exhaustion builds on the ones that came before it. If you have two levels of Exhaustion, you have a disadvantage on all Ability Checks and can only move at half speed.
With all of this in mind, you might be wondering how you even get levels of Exhaustion in D&D 5e. So, let’s take a look at some of the ways your character could be tired.
What Causes Exhaustion in D&D 5e?
In 5e, spells and features rarely cause someone to be tired. Most of the time, a creature gets tired because it works harder than it should.
Unlike some other conditions, Exhaustion doesn’t usually happen when a creature is directly attacked. Yes, there are spells and traits that give a creature a level of Exhaustion.
But exploring or traveling is the most common thing that makes people tired.
So, there are three main types of situations that add to the level of exhaustion:
- Monster Abilities
Let’s start with the most common thing that makes people tired: going on adventures.
Exhaustion Causes: Adventuring
Monsters and traps are not the only dangers in a D&D world. Exploration and travel are also dangerous.
Extreme weather, not having enough food or water, and not getting enough rest all lead to exhaustion.
Most people get tired in D&D 5e when they are adventuring or traveling and not in combat.
The funny thing about this mechanic is that what causes Exhaustion is really up to your Game Master.
If they think that making a certain choice or going into a certain area will make them tired or at least force them to make a saving throw, that’s up to them.
Still, the different D&D sourcebooks list several things that can cause Exhaustion.
If your character doesn’t take a long rest, they must make a Constitution saving throw or take a level of Exhaustion.
Not enough food and/or water
If your character doesn’t eat for 3 + their Constitution modifier minutes, they get a level of Exhaustion. Your character also needs to drink a gallon of water every day (two gallons while in hot weather). If they only drink half, you must make a Constitution save. If they drink less than half a gallon, they automatically take a level of Exhaustion.
More than eight hours without stopping
If your character doesn’t stop for eight hours and keeps traveling, they must make a Constitution saving throw for each hour after the first eight. If they fail, they gain a level of Exhaustion.
During a chase, your character gets a level of Exhaustion if they work harder than they usually can. On page 252 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, it says that during a chase, a creature can use the Dash action up to 3 times plus their Constitution modifier.
But every time they do this, they have to pass a Constitution save or take one level of Exhaustion.
Creatures that aren’t used to living in places with extreme weather (like frozen tundras, hot deserts, tall mountains, etc.) could get Exhaustion if they stayed in these places for too long.
But if your character has a special way of dealing with the weather, this wouldn’t affect them. For example, tie flings wouldn’t be as affected by the heat of a desert (unless the heat is very oppressive) because they are resistant to fire damage, and goliaths wouldn’t be affected by the high altitudes of the tower mountains because they are Mountain Born.
More than an hour of swimming
If your character swims for more than an hour, they must make a Constitution save. If they fail, they gain a level of exhaustion.
Having a swim speed makes the time go up to eight hours. Also, it takes four hours to swim at a depth of 200 feet.
Taking more than eight hours to row a boat
If your character rows a boat for more than eight hours straight, they need to pass a Constitution save or take one level of Exhaustion, just like when they travel nonstop.
Your character could get Exhaustion from falling into cold water. The catch is that this would only hurt things that aren’t immune or resistant to cold damage.
Some environments have strange effects that can make your character lose strength. There are a lot of supernatural effects on the environment in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
For example, there are haunted areas that literally drain the energy from creatures and incomplete demi-planes that cause psychic dissonance. Both of these effects on the environment can make a creature feel tired.
Trapped Under Debris
Avalanches became a new environmental hazard because of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If a creature gets buried by an avalanche and can’t get out, it will eventually run out of oxygen and suffer from Exhaustion. This idea could be used if you were stuck under any kind of trash for a long enough time.
Exhaustion Causes: Spells
In 5e, there aren’t that many spells that make you tired. But there are a few ways you can use magic to make a creature tired.
You might think there are spells that can make a target tired. But that’s not what’s going on at all. In 5e, there are only four spells that make someone tired.
Even so, only three spells directly say that Exhaustion is one of their effects or side effects. The last one is more of a guess.
I think it’s because of two things.
First of all, being tired isn’t always helpful. It really only helps you if your enemy has a lot of Exhaustion.
If you only force the first level, you won’t get much out of it. So, you’d have to cast a spell over and over again for it to be worth your time.
Second, if you were able to use Exhaustion multiple times in a short amount of time, it would be way too strong.
Once a creature has three levels of Exhaustion, it has a disadvantage on all rolls and can only move at half its normal speed.
That’s a very bad thing. So, it can’t be too easy to use a spell to make someone tired. If not, the mechanic would be way too strong.
Keeping this in mind, you can see why there aren’t that many spells that cause Exhaustion. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t real.
In D&D 5e, there are four spells that can cause Exhaustion. They are:
- Sickening Radiance (XGtE)
- Tenser’s Transformation (XGtE)
Now, two of these come from D&D’s Basic Rules and the other two come from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. So, let’s talk about each one as thoroughly as I can.
One of the most direct ways to make another creature tired is to use the dream spell. Basically, the spell lets you change a creature’s dreams while it sleeps.
It can cause Exhaustion by preventing the creature it’s aimed at from getting a full night’s sleep by making their dream into a terrible nightmare.
Since a creature must take a long rest every 24 hours or start rolling Constitution saves against Exhaustion, the dream spell is one of the easiest ways to cause Exhaustion outside of combat.
The book Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is the source of Sickening Radiance. In general, this spell has an effect area.
A creature in the area of effect must make a Constitution saving throw if it doesn’t want to take damage from the light and gain a level of exhaustion. This spell is one of the few ways players can make themselves tired while in combat.
This spell doesn’t cause Exhaustion as much as it gives the caster a level. The book Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is where Tenser’s change comes from. The person who casts this spell can pretty much improve their fighting skills.
It gives them more hit points, lets them use a wider range of weapons and armor, and makes their weapon attacks stronger. The downside is that when the spell is over, you have to pass a Constitution save or get a level of Exhaustion.
The wish spell doesn’t say directly that you can make another creature tired. But since the way the spell is written is meant to be open-ended and encourages creative uses, it’s not out of the question that you could use it to make someone tired.
Exhaustion Causes: Monster Abilities
In D&D 5e, some monsters have skills that make other creatures tired.
Like spells, there aren’t that many Exhaustion-effect monsters in D&D. Also, none of these creatures come from the Basic Rules or the Monster Manual. If you want to use them, you’ll have to look for other sourcebooks.
Even though these creatures can cause Exhaustion, they work a lot like the few spells that can do the same thing.
They usually involve some kind of roll, and you can only use them a certain number of times. So, running these creatures as a way for player characters to gain levels of Exhaustion is still a bit hard.
Anyway. Here are the five creatures in D&D 5e that can cause Exhaustion without further ado:
- Gingwatzim (Candlekeep Mysteries (CKM))
- Jade Tigress (CKM)
- Soul Monger (Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes (MToF))
- Sibriex (MToF)
- Kalaraq Quori (Eberron: Rising from the Last War)
Each of these creatures has a skill that either directly adds a level of Exhaustion or has a long-term effect that adds more levels over time.
How to Remove Exhaustion in 5e?
Alright. Now you know what D&D’s “Exhaustion” means and what makes it occur. However how can Exhaustion be mounted?
Despite the fact that there are plenty of methods to get Exhaustion, there aren’t that some ways to eliminate it. Typically, your character must take a break and relaxation earlier than they’ll really feel like themselves once more. However there are just a few methods to repair Exhaustion extra rapidly.
In 5e, there are three foremost methods to eliminate Exhaustion:
- Magic Gadgets
Even so, these 3 ways to repair being exhausted are fairly restricted.
So, let’s have a look at every of those ones by one, beginning with the oldest: taking an extended nap.
Eradicating Exhaustion: Resting
In D&D 5e, you may eliminate one stage of exhaustion by taking an extended relaxation, so long as you’ve gotten sufficient meals and water.
It’s that easy.
All it’s a must to do to lose one stage of exhaustion is have a pleasant dinner, drink a little bit water, and sleep for at the least six hours.
The least resource-intensive method to repair Exhaustion is to complete an extended relaxation. Nevertheless it does take a little bit longer if in case you have multiple stage of exhaustion.
As you may see, the principles say you may solely end one lengthy relaxation each 24 hours. This implies that you may’t take a number of lengthy breaks in in the future. It’s a must to separate them.
So, in case your character has three or 4 ranges of Exhaustion, you’ll have to attend just a few days earlier than they’re again to regular.
All of that is primarily based on the concept that you play by the conventional guidelines for lengthy rests. For those who select the Epic Heroism variant, an extended relaxation solely takes an hour. This implies that you may take a number of lengthy rests in in the future, and each will make you much less drained.
Eradicating Exhaustion: Spells
There are just a few spells that may assist somebody who’s drained. However that’s extra than simply “a couple” of spells. While you forged Higher Restoration or Want, you may heal one stage of Exhaustion.
Sure, these are the one spells you should use to eliminate Exhaustion.
The better restoration spell says, “You can lower the target’s level of exhaustion by one…”, so it’s fairly clear what it does. However, similar to an extended break, there is just one stage.
The want spell is one other one. Probably the most highly effective spell in D&D 5e goes a bit additional. It says, “You let up to twenty creatures you can see get back all of their hit points, and you stop all of the effects that the greater restoration spell had on them.
” Now, that seems like “You can lower the exhaustion levels of up to twenty creatures you can see by one,” plus all the opposite stuff.
Which is fairly highly effective when you consider it. However on this case, it’s as much as your GM to determine how that works.
However that’s the tip.
You want both the better restoration spell, which is a Fifth-level spell that Seventeenth-level Artificers or Ninth-level Bards, Clerics, Druids, and Celestial Warlocks can use, or the want spell, which Seventeenth-level Sorcerers, Genie Warlocks, and Wizards can use.
Eradicating Exhaustion: Magic Gadgets
The Potion of Vitality is the one magic merchandise that may make you’re feeling higher if you find yourself drained.
Yep. You could have one alternative if you wish to use a magic merchandise to eliminate Exhaustion. And one which may be very uncommon.
In D&D 5e, nonetheless, the Potion of Vitality is one of the best ways to repair Exhaustion.
That is how the Potion of Vitality is written:
While you drink this potion, it removes any exhaustion you might be struggling and cures any illness or poison affecting you. For the subsequent 24 hours, you regain the utmost variety of hit factors for any Hit Die you spend. The potion’s crimson liquid recurrently pulses with uninteresting gentle, calling to thoughts a heartbeat.
While you drink the Potion of Vitality, ALL ranges of exhaustion go away. One stage at a time received’t work.
So, if in case you have multiple stage of Exhaustion and a Potion of Vitality available, you need to drink it immediately.
Exhaustion Immunity in 5e
There aren’t actually any basic methods for a participant character to develop into proof against the Exhaustion situation. However some monsters and creature varieties in 5e can’t be harm by it… Which means that a personality might get that immunity, even when it was just for a short while.
With only some exceptions, participant characters received’t be capable to develop into proof against Exhaustion more often than not. However there are just a few monsters that may’t get Exhausted.
More often than not, elementals, undead, and constructs can’t get ranges of Exhaustion. This is smart since many of those creatures aren’t actually “alive” or aren’t anymore. So, they don’t get drained as a result of their our bodies don’t work as ours do.
So, these creatures can’t even achieve ranges of Exhaustion, not to mention really feel its results. However what about these uncommon circumstances the place a participant character doesn’t get drained?
So, it’s not easy.
More often than not, the one approach a participant character can cease getting drained is by turning into a creature that doesn’t get drained.
So, the Druid’s Wild Form capacity (however just for Circle of the Moon and at a really excessive stage) and spells like polymorphism could make you proof against the Exhausted situation by altering you into an appropriate creature.
Moon Druids with a excessive stage can use their Wild Form ability to vary into elementals. Since elementals can’t get drained, the Druid doesn’t get drained whereas she or he is reworked.
The necessary half is the final bit. If a personality adjustments right into a creature that may’t get drained, that immunity solely lasts whereas the character is in that kind. This additionally works for spells that allow you to grow to be different creatures, like polymorphism and form change.
See, the issue is that none of those spells or skills say something about eliminating circumstances. When your Wild Form or spell adjustments your ends, you return to your authentic kind with all the degrees of Exhaustion you’ve gotten gained.
In D&D 5e, because of this many monsters can’t get the Exhausted situation. However participant characters have a tough time getting the identical profit.
D&D 5e Exhaustion FAQ
Does Exhaustion Carry Over to Polymorph?
Sure, exhaustion stays with creatures that the polymorph spell adjustments. Polymorph doesn’t say straight that it eliminates circumstances, so guidelines as written, Exhaustion stays with the creature even after it has been modified.
Now, if a creature polymorphs right into a creature that’s proof against the Exhausted situation, it received’t get drained whereas it’s modified. Since polymorph doesn’t say it cures circumstances, after they return to their authentic kind, they nonetheless have the identical stage of Exhaustion as earlier than.
Nonetheless, this can be a rule that relies upon loads on the GM. So, if the state of affairs comes up, ask your Recreation Grasp what the principles are.
Do Brief Rests Stop Exhaustion?
In a approach, sure, as a result of brief breaks hold you from getting drained. Since it’s a must to make a Structure saving throw in case you journey for greater than eight hours straight, stopping for an hour to get some relaxation means you received’t should make a saving throw towards Exhaustion whereas touring. Nonetheless, brief rests don’t eliminate Exhaustion, so that they don’t cease it straight.
Does the Haste Spell Trigger Exhaustion?
In D&D 5e, the haste spell doesn’t make you drained.
Lots of people on-line say that haste offers the goal a stage of exhaustion when the spell ends. However that’s not even near being true. The spell doesn’t say something in any respect about Exhaustion, so it doesn’t trigger it when it’s over.
That’s it for 5e’s Exhaustion.
Exhaustion is a singular situation that will get worse as your character beneficial properties an increasing number of ranges.
Because the situation will get worse, you lose on rolls, your motion velocity slows down, your most hit factors go down, and ultimately, your character dies.
Exhaustion will be brought on by plenty of issues, from touring for too lengthy with out stopping to not consuming or ingesting sufficient to being affected by a spell or a monster’s energy.
And there aren’t some ways to eliminate Exhaustion, and most of them are gradual.
I strongly counsel that Recreation Masters use the “Exhaustion” mechanic of their video games.
Often, the Exhausted situation is only a facet thought that doesn’t have a big effect on a marketing campaign. However take into consideration how onerous it’s for individuals who prefer to take dangers.
When gamers see that their characters have these sorts of widespread issues, they’ve to consider how onerous they’re pushing ahead.
Additionally, I’ve seen a extremely enjoyable and type of brutal homebrew round just a few instances. When a personality wakes up from being knocked out, give them a stage of exhaustion for every time they had been knocked out.
When a participant will get to zero hit factors, it may be scary. However in D&D, if the Healer function is crammed by a Cleric or one other class, it’s typically not necessary. If there are penalties aside from falling unconscious, gamers should assume extra fastidiously about what they’re doing and why.