Last updated on January 22, 2023
Exhaustion is a state inDungeons & Dragons 5ethat simulates the effects of extreme fatigue, freezing cold, or anything else that can wear a character down to the point where their physical and mental abilities are impaired. If taken too far, exhaustion can even be fatal.
If you're a new Dungeon Master or player (or even if you've been playing the game for a while) and are new to fatigue, you're not alone. It's a remarkably underused rule inD&D 5eand is often waved by hand - or forgotten - at the table.
I find that a shame, however, as fatigue is a useful tool for adding realism to a gameD&D, not to mention a powerful weapon in the hands of a DM (or player) who knows how to use it.
Table of contents
How does fatigue work in D&D 5e?
The rules of exhaustion can be found in Appendix A of theplayer manual, among other states such as terrified, petrified, and incapacitated.
A creature can be exhausted due to hunger, freezing or scorching temperatures, and other environmental hazards, as well as "some special abilities".
If a character goes too long without sleep or food, scales a frozen mountain without the right gear, or tries to cross an endless desert without enough water, they will start to exhaust themselves.
Although not specifically mentioned in the RAW, most DMs give their players the option to make a Constitution check to avoid a fatigue level.
This is backed up by the fact that the only spell that can inflict fatigue, nauseating aura, allows the afflicted to make a Constitution saving throw to avoid its effects.
Fatigue is divided into six levels, and certain effects can apply one or more levels of Fatigue at the same time.
Each level of fatigue combines with the effects of the previous levels and stacks their effects in a way that can feel very detrimental very quickly.
1 Disadvantage in skill checks
2 speed halved
3 Disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws
4 Maximum hit points halved
5 Speed reduced to 0
Disadvantage dice on all skill rolls. We've all been there: trying to memorize the answers to a test after a good night's sleep, or trying to do something as simple as unlocking a door when we're so tired we can barely remember our own names .
The first stage of exhaustion is undoubtedly uncomfortable; You become noticeably less effective at actively doing things. However, when the chips are down and the adrenaline kicks in, you can still function as normal when performing attacks and saving throws.
Your movement speed is halved. Your feet drag on the floor and your movements seem sluggish. Things are starting to get uncomfortable, especially when you're fighting a highly mobile opponent.
You now roll disadvantage on all attack rolls and saves. This is where it gets really nasty. The disadvantage on saving throws and attack rolls—combined with the disadvantage on level 1 rolls—means that you're consistently less likely to succeed at almost anything, including Constitution checks, to avoid suffering more levels of fatigue. And that puts us in death spiral territory.
Your maximum hit points are halved. You physically atrophy from sleep deprivation, dehydration, painful, nagging hunger, or the lingering effects of your environment.
I am sure if you have ever been so tired that you feel physically ill and medically there is a direct link between fatigue and decreased muscle strength. Mechanically, you're a lot easier to kill with one shot.
Your speed is reduced to 0. You can't move anymore. You could still stand with great effort, but going even one step further is out of the question. You are more or less helpless. If you want to continue, you must be carried.
You die. No death throws, no prolonged unconsciousness. Your body and mind give you up in the face of extreme fatigue or deprivation and you're gone forever.
What can cause exhaustion?
While there are some special abilities, circumstances, and one spell in the official rules that can cause fatigue, it's mostly up to the DM when, where, and how to trigger fatigue.
As with many of D&D's less common rules (who am I kidding? That goes for pretty much every rule) each DM likely has a different set of conditions they use to trigger fatigue.
How and when exhaustion is triggered — or whether you even bother to use it — can do a lot of work when it comes to setting the tone of your campaign.
Do you want to play a high fantasy game in a world where food is plentiful? You probably won't use Fatigue that often.
Do you want to play a dark fantasy game where your players have to fight tooth and nail for every lucky charm that gets in their way? Exhaustion will be the sword you hold over their heads from levels one through twenty.
As we think about these extremes and possible games in between, let's look at some of the metrics that determine when it's time to impose a fatigue level:
The first and easiest option is to set a maximum amount of time between long breaks that your party can go through before becoming exhausted.
If you're playing a "hardcore" campaign focused on survival and wilderness exploration, you can narrow it down to 24 or even 18 hours. As a general rule, if the party skips a long hiatus, you should inject some fatigue.
If you want to loosen this up a bit, keep the time the same, but allow a short pause to reset the clock, as well as a long one. Also, have your players make Constitution checks to assert themselves.
Food, water, but also torches, ammo, rope and other adventurous necessities are often all that stands between your players' characters and an agonizing, ignominious death in the frozen ass of nowhere.
When you play D&D in Survival mode, force your players to drink water and food at every short breakAndWater every long break, or it's exhaustion time. If you want to be less brutal, any long pause without food or water results in a Constitution saving throw.
As mentioned above, the worse the environment, the faster players' characters will deplete. Well, extreme cold and searing heat are all well and good, but there are plenty of other uncomfortable climates players can venture through.
Sweltering humidity and clouds of biting gnats can wear down even the toughest warrior; steep hills or rolling sand dunes make walking incredibly difficult, as do sprawling ruins punctuated by piles of rubble and rotting beams.
I've even seen one party suffer from exhaustion trying to navigate a twisting, labyrinthine administration building, becoming less and less functional as they find themselves in an endless loop of going to see Marge in Bills and being asked to issue Form 31C-R4J to fill, trying to get Form 31C-R4J, told to get it from Marge in statements, etc.
By assessing the tone and challenge you want to offer your players, you can pretty quickly come up with your own rules and guidelines for invoking Fatigue -- or at least when to call for a Constitution save.
However, there are some instances where the rules explicitly mention imposed fatigue that are not related to harsh environments, starvation, and fatigue.
Morbid charismais a 4th level conjuration spell available to the wizard, sorcerer, and wizard classes. They emit an aura of low-level, greenish light in a 30-foot radius for 10 minutes - or as long as your concentration lasts. The light can spread around corners for added creepiness.
Any creature that moves into or begins its turn in the spell's area for the first time each turn must make a Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 radiation damage and gain a level of fatigue. It also prevents sufferers from becoming invisible. The exhaustion disappears when the spell ends.
Now, while it's definitely not great that you can't permanently apply Fatigue, I would argue that this is a grossly underrated boss fight spell. If you can surprise your enemy, use your Frontliners to tie them down (or some use ofthe magic hold person, or something similar) for three or four turns, you can effectively halve a huge monster with hundreds of life points.
The Path of the Berserker Barbarian
All barbarians can go into a murderous rage, but the Berserker subclass goes further. When a berserk barbarian is raging, it may choose to double up and enrage itself.
Choosing to Frenzy grants you the ability to perform a single melee weapon attack as a bonus actioneach of your turnsafter when you rage The effect lasts for the duration of your rage, and when your rage ends you suffer one level of fatigue.
Chases and other use cases
One of the only other ways you can explicitly hit a fatigue level is by sprinting too many times during a chase. As stated in theDungeon Master's Guide (p. 252) anyone can use the during a chasedash actionas many times as it is 3 + your Constitution modifier.
If you want to sprint more than that, you must make a DC 10 Constitution ability check or gain a level of fatigue each time you attempt to sprint.
Spells can restore your hit points, abilities can buff you with temporary HP, but when it comes to removing fatigue, there really is no substitute for a good night's sleep.
There are some spells that remove fatigue, like the 5th-level spell, major restoration, available to bards, clerics, and druids, which removes one level of fatigue, although this can get expensive:
Also the Potion of Vitality listed in theDungeon Master's Guidecan remove all levels of fatigue you suffer from.
However, drinking ultra-rare potions and burning high-level spell slots is not a sustainable way to deal with fatigue. The best you can do is camp somewhere safe and get some good old fashioned eyes shut.
If you suffer from fatigue, your fatigue level will decrease by 1 each time you take a long rest. This is the main reason fatigue is to be feared and respected.
If you're unlucky (or stupid) to hit three or even four levels of fatigue, you'll be knocked out for almost a week just trying to get fit again.
If you want or need to keep adventuring, you better prepare for some bad reels over the next few days.
frequently asked Questions
What causes exhaustion in DnD 5e?
Anything from lack of sleep, food or water to a hostile climate can lead to exhaustion in D&D 5e. Essentially, it is up to the DM to set their own rules for when to trigger fatigue.
Is exhaustion saved?
Normally yes. But sometimes the situation is so dire that the GM simply decides that you'll accumulate some amount of fatigue without a saving throw. More often than not, however, the DM calls for a Constitution save.
Can exhaustion kill you in DnD 5e?
Yes. If you accumulate 6 levels of fatigue, you will die without making onedeadly throws.
Does Greater Recovery Eliminate Fatigue?
Yes. Type of. The 5th level Greater Restoration spell reduces the target's fatigue level by 1.
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I played my first tabletop roleplaying game (Boy Scouts 1e, specifically) in college. With an unread rulebook and a human bard named Nick Jugger, I rocked late to the first session. It was a rocky start, but I had a blast and now, almost a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a livingwild.
|1||Disadvantage on Ability Checks|
|3||Disadvantage on Attack rolls and Saving Throws|
|4||Hit point maximum halved|
The player or creature simply needs to take one long rest to recover one point of exhaustion. This means that if a player has five levels of exhaustion, then they will need five long rests before they are fully recovered. In addition, the long rest must also include the consumption of food and water.How do I get rid of fatigue 5e? ›
The only way for characters to remove a level of exhaustion is by finishing a long rest (if they have plenty of food and clean water available). Notice that it only removes a single level of exhaustion! So if a character has multiple levels of exhaustion, it can take quite a while, in-game, to get back to normal.Can you rage while exhausted? ›
no, you can become fatigued and still stay in rage, fatigue doesn't stop you from maintaining your current rage, you just can't start a new rage if you're fatigued.How does exhaustion work? ›
Exhaustion can leave you tired and without energy to set goals and stick with them. You might be able to make goals, but you'll set them aside and be unsure of when you'll return to them. Lack of concentration happens when you're exhausted and can't focus on a task you had started.How much does fatigue affect performance? ›
Fatigue can affect a person's performance in a variety of ways. People who are fatigued are more easily distracted, are less able to concentrate, tend to forget things more easily, take longer to solve problems, make more mistakes, have slower reaction times, and take more risks than they might otherwise.How is fatigue level measured? ›
There are no medical tests to measure fatigue. But a good way to describe fatigue is on a scale of 1 to 10. Where 1 means you don't feel tired at all and 10 means the worst tiredness you can imagine. Some may use a questionnaire to help them work out how it's affecting you.Is there a spell to remove exhaustion 5e? ›
The 5th level spell Greater Restoration is available to Bards, Clerics, and Druids, and removes one level of exhaustion. The DMG includes the Potion of Vitality, a very rare potion that among other benefits removes exhaustion. Outside of that, resting is the only answer.Can you double dash in 5e? ›
A rogue using Cunning Action and a monk using Step of the Wind can use Dash twice on a turn (action + bonus action).How do I fix game fatigue fast? ›
Take breaks during streaming or gaming
To aid in preventing gaming fatigue, you'll need to step away from your stream or your video game of choice and do something else—anything else. Find something you enjoy, and schedule time away from the grind. Even more importantly, schedule time away from the place you work.
Try to eat regularly to maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Eat a healthy diet – increase the amount of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain foods, low fat dairy products and lean meats in your diet. Reduce the amount of high fat, high sugar and high salt foods. Don't overeat – large meals can drain your energy.How do you adjust fatigue? ›
- Regular, light exercise such as walking has been shown to reduce fatigue as well as nausea and vomiting, and can help some people to sleep better.
- Plan some activity or light exercise into your day.
- If exercise is impossible, try to stay active in your daily routine.
Each round takes 6 seconds of time in the game world. So a combat that lasts 10 rounds occurs for the characters in the game over the course of a minute.Does polymorph remove exhaustion? ›
Yes, an exhausted creature that is polymorphed is still exhausted.Can warforged suffer from exhaustion? ›
A Warforged is indeed a sturdy soldier. But while they may not need to sleep, they can get fatigued. In particular, none of their abilities say they are immune to exhaustion due to a forced march. You can consider it as wear on their joints or overheating for explanation.What are the 3 types of fatigue? ›
There are three types of fatigue: transient, cumulative, and circadian: Transient fatigue is acute fatigue brought on by extreme sleep restriction or extended hours awake within 1 or 2 days.What are the two forms of exhaustion? ›
- Number 1:Physical exhaustion. ...
- Number 2: Mental exhaustion. ...
- Number 3: Emotional exhaustion. ...
- Number 4: Values disconnect exhaustion. ...
- Number 5: (Lack of) Purpose exhaustion.
We all go through periods of low energy. Even a week of feeling more tired than usual is not uncommon. Yet most people can tell when their fatigue feels like something more serious. If that's the case, or your fatigue gets worse or lasts longer than a week or two, it's time to see your doctor.Does fatigue include weakness? ›
Fatigue is a feeling of constant tiredness or weakness and can be physical, mental or a combination of both. It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life.Does fatigue affect response time? ›
Studies have shown that even a low level of fatigue can impair reaction times as much or more than being legally drunk. Sleep deprivation has an impact comparable to intoxication by alcohol, which for athletes can have a major impact on their game.
All the studied relationships were statistically significant. Fatigue was positively associated with the results of physical disability and physical and psychological impact of MS and negatively with the results of self-efficacy and acceptance of illness.Is there a scale for fatigue? ›
The Fatigue Scale, developed by Chalder et al. (1993), is an 11 item scale intended to measure the severity of fatigue-related symptoms experienced by individuals with ME/CFS.What is fatigue formula? ›
The fatigue ( S – N ) curve of the material (cf. Fig. 1) is N f = Aσ a– m , with the constants m = 4.0 and A = 5.0 × 1013 (for σ a given in MPa).What is fatigue Impact scale? ›
Purpose The FIS was developed to assess the symptom of fatigue as part of an underlying chronic disease or condition. Consisting of 40 items, the instrument evaluates the effect of fatigue on three domains of daily life: cognitive functioning, physical functioning, and psychoso- cial functioning [ 1] .Can Paladins cure exhaustion? ›
paladin lay on hand mercies can remove fatigue. cleric with the restoration domain can remove fatigue.How do I remove Tarrasque 5e? ›
With only two Simulacrums you can deal 280 damage per round; even with Regeneration, Tarrasque will go down after only four rounds. (You won't even have to Wish him dead! Just set a Simulacrum to stand over him and keep beating him down.What is the most damaging spell in DND 5e? ›
With a whopping 40d6 damage meteor swarm is the single most damaging spell in the game. It deals 20d6 each of fire and bludgeoning damage. With a save for half you're still looking at an easy 60 to 120 damage with a middling roll.Can rogues triple dash? ›
Yes a rogue can move three times their movement in one round
Use their full normal movement speed. Use 'Cunning Action' to Dash for a Bonus Action, moving your full movement speed again.
Yes, characters can move more than 20 feet in a round and still hide.Can you dash with flight 5e? ›
Yes. So to clarify you can not dash while on a flying broom? The flying broom doesn't give you a speed or increase your speed. You can always dash off the flying mount and use the "dash" action as the "plummet" action.
- Hone in on Your App's Core Purpose.
- Listen to Your Users and Iterate on What You Learn.
- Make Your Push Notifications Count.
- Onboard New Users Well.
- Don't forget to sleep. Get some good rest the night before a game. ...
- Start with a good breakfast and lunch. ...
- H20 is your friend, so drink lots of it. ...
- Sports drinks to the rescue. ...
- Beware of energy drinks. ...
- Keep snacks on deck. ...
- Halftime = break time. ...
- Practice makes perfect.
Pick up a sport, or start a new exercise routine. Try to spend more time in nature – go for a hike or a run. You can even try to start meditating and cultivating more internal awareness. If you can come to terms with the reason you play video games in the first place, it will be easier to find ways to avoid gaming.How do you break the cycle of fatigue? ›
- If you have persistent fatigue, see your doctor. ...
- Stop blaming fatigue exclusively on sleep. ...
- Change the way you think about fatigue. ...
- Gradually increase your level of physical activity.
- Watch what you eat. ...
- Reduce caffeine. ...
- Stay hydrated—dehydration causes fatigue.
- Manage your stress.
Canes, walkers, rollators, wheelchairs, scooters, motorized shopping carts, and disabled parking access may all help you manage symptoms of pain, fatigue, low energy, dizziness, and/or difficulty breathing.What 6 strategies could be used to manage fatigue? ›
- IDENTIFY THE CAUSE. ...
- TWEAK DOSES. ...
- GET REGULAR EXERCISE. ...
- SCHEDULE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY. ...
- iSTOCK/VGAJIC USE ASSISTIVE DEVICES. ...
- ADDRESS SLEEP PROBLEMS.
“Natural” means that you rolled exactly whatever the number is on the die. A natural one is (typically) a critical failure whereas a natural 20 is typically a critical success. As an example, my rogue might roll a natural one on a stealth roll.Do you have to roll a d20 for spells? ›
Rule of thumb - any spell that deals damage to an enemy requires SOME kind of roll. The spell description tells you if it's an attack roll (player rolls the d20) or a save (DM rolls the d20). Rule of thumb - any spell that deals damage to an enemy requires SOME kind of roll.How long should a one-shot last DnD? ›
You can also think of a One-Shot as a self-contained 'episode'. In general I think a One-Shot should take a little over 2 hours to complete (but it's your table, make it whatever you want).What is the strongest creature you can polymorph into? ›
Once you understand how the spell works the most important decision you make is what form to select. While True Polymorph allows any creature, Polymorph only allows beasts, so this section will analyze available beast forms. Unfortunately, the highest CR beast is currently the Tyrannosaurus Rex at CR 8.
The Transformation lasts for the Duration, or until the target drops to 0 Hit Points or dies. If you concentrate on this spell for the full Duration, The Transformation becomes permanent. Shapechangers aren't affected by this spell.Does Moonbeam undo polymorph? ›
Players often assume or hope a Polymorph spell will end when the transformed creature fails its Moonbeam saving throw. By the rules, Moonbeam only has this effect on creatures who are classified in their statblock as shapechangers. You can house-rule otherwise, of course.What class goes best with warforged? ›
- Artificer. An obvious choice. ...
- Barbarian. Increase your Strength, grab some medium armor, and you're borderline unstoppable. ...
- Bard. ...
- Cleric. ...
- Druid. ...
- Fighter. ...
- Monk. ...
Age: A typical warforged is between two and thirty years old. The maximum warforged lifespan remains a mystery; so far, warforged have shown no signs of deterioration due to age. You are immune to magical aging effects. Alignment: Most warforged take comfort in order and discipline, tending toward law and neutrality.Can lycanthropy affect warforged? ›
By the rules of 5e, lycanthropy is a curse, not a disease, so sure, warforged can become wereforged.Does exhaustion affect saves? ›
Does 3 points of exhaustion give disadvantage on death saving throws? Yes.Does exhaustion affect death saves? ›
That condition doesn't impose disadvantage on saves.Does exhaustion give disadvantage on saving throws? ›
As long as a character has three or more levels of Exhaustion, not only do they make attack rolls at disadvantage, but they also make saving throws at disadvantage.Does anything cure exhaustion 5e? ›
You can only heal exhaustion after a long rest (at a rate of one level per rest) or with Greater Restoration. That's it. 8 hours of sleep or a fifth-level spell, all to remove one level of exhaustion.
The only spell that can reduce exhaustion is Greater Restoration. This can be cast by your party's Bard, Cleric, or Druid – but using a fifth-level abjuration spell to reduce exhaustion by one level isn't the greatest trade-off. Some items might also be able to help with exhaustion.
Most of the time fatigue can be traced to one or more lifestyle issues, such as poor sleep habits or lack of exercise. Fatigue can be caused by a medicine or linked to depression. Sometimes fatigue is a symptom of an illness that needs treatment.How do you survive exhaustion? ›
- Eat often to beat tiredness. ...
- Get moving. ...
- Lose weight to gain energy. ...
- Sleep well. ...
- Reduce stress to boost energy. ...
- Talking therapy beats fatigue. ...
- Cut out caffeine. ...
- Drink less alcohol.
Whenever you start your turn with 0 hit points, you must make a special saving throw, called a death saving throw, to determine whether you creep closer to death or hang onto life. Unlike other saving throws, this one isn't tied to any ability score.What does exhaustion do to the brain? ›
When your brain feels exhausted and unable to function properly, it leaves you mentally and emotionally drained. This is commonly known as brain fog or mental fatigue. According to recent research, an overstimulated brain impairs your cognitive abilities.Can you purposefully fail a saving throw? ›
Most definitely! Normally there is no provision in the rules for voluntarily failing a saving throws unless the spell has "(harmless)" listed under Saving Throw. You can absolutely voluntarily fail a saving throw.Can you use lesser restoration on exhaustion? ›
A Lesser Restoration spell would immediately remove the fatigued condition imposed by lack of sleep or sleeping in armor but would not reset the time that you have gone without sleep, in the event that the latter time matters in any way.Can you fight fatigue? ›
Fatigue may also be brought on by a sedentary lifestyle, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough physical activity. While it can be a challenge to get moving if you are tired all the time, exercise can help you feel better if you give it a chance.