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Hold Person 5e D&D Guide

Hold Person 5e D&D Guide

Hold Person is the ultimate power flex spell. It can be used to tee up an enemy for the finishing blow or to keep a person of interest still for interrogation.

The spell has elements of use in and out of combat, and versatility is always a plus when dealing with spell slots.

The rules for Hold Person can be found in the Players Handbook on page 251.

Hold Person 5e

2nd-level Enchantment

Casting Time: 1 Action

Range: 60 Feet

Components: V, S, M (A small straight piece of iron)

Duration: Concentration (1 minute)

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 one additional humanoid for each slot level above 2nd. The humanoids must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them.

Hold Person can be a great spell. The rules outline the pros and cons effectively. It can only be cast on a humanoid, and the target gets a save at the end of each of its turns.

It doesn’t state that the effect is broken when the target takes damage which is important to note. It does provide the opportunity to be upcast. Hold Person is an all-or-nothing spell in its purest form.

What Does Hold Person Work On?

Hold Person can specifically target humanoids only. This is intentional to limit the power of the spell.

It has a similar higher-level spell version in Hold Monster that targets creatures and will work on basically anything.

This does not mean the spell is useless by any means. It just indicates that you should follow the guidelines. There are numerous humanoid, monstrous races, such as goblins, gnolls, lizardfolk, and kobolds, that could be targeted by Hold Person.

The book descriptions should be followed firmly in their descriptions of the monsters. If it doesn’t say humanoid, it will not be affected by Hold Person.

Is Hold Person a Good Spell?

Hold Person, like many enchantment and illusion spells, is based on a saving throw for the spell to be effective.

This creates an all-or-nothing scenario for the caster. Wisdom saves are hard to pass for most monsters and NPCs, so the odds are good for the spell to work.

The spell becomes increasingly powerful as it gets cast at higher levels.

Considering it can affect a group of enemies within 30 feet of each other, it allows the caster to manipulate the battlefield quite well. If you take into consideration the generally weak wisdom saves by enemies, the spell is powerful.

Generally, the saves do not get better for enemies as you level. They rely on abilities more.

Sure, a humanoid enemy with legendary resistance is going to auto-save, but his minions may not. This can significantly decrease the difficulty of an encounter.

Bottom Line
Hold Person is an incredibly powerful spell if used in the right circumstance. It can prevent an enemy from fleeing a fight or outright shut them down in combat. As it has the opportunity to be cast at higher levels, it becomes more powerful, enabling a caster to shut down entire parts of the battlefield completely.

What Does Hold Person Do?

When the target of Hold Person fails the save and is affected by the spell, they are subject to the paralyzed condition. The paralyzed condition has the following effects:

  • A paralyzed creature is incapacitated (an incapacitated creature can’t take actions or reactions) and can’t move or speak.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • Any attack that hits the creature is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.

Limiting actions and reactions is great. Automatically failing strength and dexterity saving throws is also really good.

The big hitter with the paralyzed condition is that last line: Any attack that hits the creature is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet.

This is a huge opportunity to set up a kill shot on a particularly tough enemy. Allowing a paladin, rogue, or barbarian to have a go at an automatic critical is spectacular.

Hot Tip
There are two general methods for applying spells like Hold Person. One is to use it right away to get massive damage up front. The other is to save it in case things don’t go according to plan. Either way, the idea is to have a plan going in and communicate with your party.

Clarification for Hold Person

  • Hold Person does not work on any creature that is not specifically listed as a humanoid.
  • Being immune to charm spells does not provide any immunity or resistance to Hold Person.
  • Hold Person will cause a flying humanoid to fall out of the air if they do not have the ability to hover.
  • Hold Person can be removed using dispel magic.
  • Hold Person cannot be removed by dealing damage to the target. The target makes a save at the end of each of their turns.
Hot Tip
Hold Person does not break concentration when held. A caster that is held can maintain concentration on a spell but can do nothing else. That being said, taking damage while held would still force a concentration check, and being incapacitated, stunned, paralyzed, petrified, or unconscious will still break concentration.

Hold Person 5e FAQs

What Is the Use of Hold Person in 5e?

Hold Person is, put simply, just a paralysis spell that gives the target a chance to escape at the end of each of their turns.

While they can’t physically move, there is nothing that stops them from being moved, so keep that in mind.

You can do a whole lot to them while they’re paralyzed, like move them to a different location, knock them prone, or just throw them off a cliff. Hold Person’s biggest weakness is probably its casters, as there are so many different things to use it for that you can get overwhelmed.

If you are planning to fully use Hold Person, just be sure you take its Duration and Concentration requirements into consideration, or else you’ll lose your chance to do something.

What Is the Difference Between Hold Person and Hold Monster in 5e?

The difference between Hold Person and Hold Monster can actually be discovered just by reading their names and putting two and two together.

Hold Person only affects humanoids, while Hold Monster affects any monster/creature except for undead. It’s quite easy to understand, but it can be forgotten since the spells are so similar to each other.

Final Thoughts

Hold Person is a useful and potentially powerful spell. The spell has the ability to shut down one big enemy or multiple enemies if cast at a higher level, so it would not be a waste to have it in the spell book. It is important to note that it only works on humanoids.

If your adventure takes place on the material plane, it will probably be of use at lower levels at least.

If your adventure takes place on another plane or in an incredibly uncivilized area, it might be worth passing over.


Tuesday 10th of October 2023

Hi, I think your hot tip about concentration is wrong. In PHB Chapter ten about Spell casting it is specifically said that:"Being incapacitated or killed. You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or if you die."

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