D&D 5E Concentration Check | The Complete Guide
If you are a DnD enthusiast, you’d be aware that numerous spells demand concentration to keep up the spell’s effects to their full extent. If the caster somehow casts a different concentration spell, finds himself incapacitated, or takes damage, the spell can end earlier than expected.
Here’s the interesting part: if the caster’s concentration gets interrupted, there goes all the ongoing effects of the spell. So, it is a good idea to know about concentration and 5E concentration checks if you want to cast spells that demand concentration.
D&D 5E Concentration Basics
Needless to say, spells that require concentration generally happen to be quite powerful. You put in some effort, and you reap the benefits of it. These spells can last up to 1 minute on average, which is no less than 10 whole rounds of combat right there! So, if you belong to classes with limited spell slots, you stand a chance to make a spell slot last a whole encounter.
If you are in the process of picking spells for your build, it is a good idea to balance it out with some 5E concentration spells if you want to get the most out of your spell slots. The catch is you can only cast one concentration spell at a time, so you would not want to stack up on too many of those either. The best way out is to have a melange of instantaneous spells that you can mix in while concentrating.
The bottom line is, do not lose concentration. Though you can cast it again on your turn, the better scenario is always not losing the spell, to begin with.
Ways You Can Lose/ Break Concentration
Imagine losing your train of thought due to an interruption. That is what losing your concentration feels like on DnD. Your focus breaks when you are distracted. So, what are the ways for your concentration to break? There are primarily three:
- Taking damage
- Casting another spell that demands concentration
- Being incapacitated or killed (Learn more about death saving throws)
A note from the Player’s Handbook (one book from a list of D&D Books) states that other miscellaneous environmental phenomena also hold the potential to disrupt your concentration. While that can hardly be predicted, the 5E concentration checks you make upon taking damage will remain unchanged. Now, let’s look at the 3 ways in which your concentration may break:
1. Casting Another Spell With Concentration
The directive here is quite straightforward: just do not! The very point of concentration is to pay extra attention to something, so the scenario of concentrating on two things simultaneously does not arise. The way to avoid this is simple: just go back and your list of spells to gauge which ones require concentration.
Does that mean you cannot pair 5E concentration spells with non-concentration ones? No, it does not. Here’s the good part: you can still cast non-concentration spells if you are casting one that requires concentration. This is where we remind you not to pick too many concentration spells and instead go for a mix and match of spells. You can only cast one such spell at a time.
2. Taking Damage
Since spells are usually used in combat scenarios, taking damage is one of the most common ways to break your concentration. You need to make a Constitution saving throw if you take damage while concentrating on a spell. Note that the DC for the 5E concentration checks is equal to 10 or half the amount of damage your character takes, whichever is higher.
Yet another way is to lessen the damage you take rather than avoid it altogether. Elements such as damage resistances, higher AC, buffs, and several other class features can help with that.
3. Getting Incapacitated Or Killed
If you are on one of your 5E concentration spells, and suddenly you are incapacitated, there goes your concentration out of the window. In other words, do not let your HP drop to 0. Spells such as Tasha’s Hideous Laughter can incapacitate you, so do have counterspells ready to go. While you can heal after you get incapacitated, your concentration will be long gone by then.
If you are using spells such as Eyebite or Banishment, having your focus broken makes a significant negative impact. The good news is, there are abilities that will let you climb back to 1 HP without being slain. Here are some:
- 1st level shadow sorcerer’s Strength of the Grave (XGE, page 51)
- Half-orcs Relentless Endurance (PHB, page 41)
- The Gift of the Protectors warlock invocation (TCE, page 71)
- The 4th level abjuration spell Death Ward (PHB, page 230)
- 15th level Oath of the Ancients paladin’s Undying Sentinel (PHB, page 87)
- The Lifewell Tattoo also grants resistance to necrotic damage (TCE, page 129)
- 20th level artificer’s Soul of Artifice (TCE, page 14)
- 18th level samurai’s Strength Before Death (XGE, page 31)
Note that you will still be required to make a Constitution saving throw.
4. While Resting (DM’s Choice)
Do 5E concentration spells break if your character decides to take a short rest? Well, the answer to that lies with your Dungeon Master. It is at the DM’s liberty to grant you rest during concentration spells.
You might be asking right about now, what about elves, then? Can you trance and concentrate on your Hex spell? That, too, depends on your DM. The DM holds the responsibility of distributing power to the group, so since 5E concentration spells are significant powers, they fall right under the periphery of the DM.
If you happen to be the DM, make a choice depending on what your party is looking for. If you are looking for a semi-realistic and grueling experience, then you might consider keeping rest out of the question. However, keep it easygoing if you are in it for a one-shot fun game.
5. Spells With A Cast Time Of More Than 1 Action
Needless to say, a few spells will inevitably have a casting time of more than 1 action. The Player’s Handbook states that spells with a casting time of 1 minute or more would require concentration for the whole of their casting time. Breaking the focus will not use the spell slot allocated to the spell you attempted to cast.
Here’s the catch: want to finish casting it? Start over right from scratch. From the sound of it, starting over for a 1 minute casting time does not sound half as bad, but when the 8 hours taken to cast Awaken, or 12 if it is Simulacrum, and 24 for Hallow is considered, the stakes go up.
6. Choosing To End Concentration
Deciding to terminate your concentration prematurely cannot be deemed an action, so it means that it can be done at any time. With this, your spellcasters get a little more wiggle room to cast 5E concentration spells without harming their allies.
What Are DnD 5E Concentration Checks
If you take damage or are somehow surprised (thanks to your DM), you will need to make a concentration check to entirely let go of the spell. Primarily, there are 3 5E concentration checks:
- Shock-based: Here, a moving element of the environment has the power to shake you up, thereby impeding your ability to concentrate. This one carries a flat DC10.
- Damage-based: All this takes is rolling a Constitution Saving Throw, a d20 + Constitution modifier, against a DC 10, or half the damage taken (whichever is higher). Roll a check from each source if you take damage from multiple sources.
- Auto-fail: These do not quite qualify as checks per se, but more of things that lead to an automatic drop of concentration. These include your HP dropping to 0 or, well, dying.
So, make sure you have these 5E concentration checks in mind when you include concentration spells on your build’s list.
How To Calculate Concentration Saving Throws?
DMs must know the damage dealt to a player while concentrating on spells since it determines the DC of the saving throw. Take it this way, if the damage dealt is less than 22 per hit, the DC will be 10.
The saving throw should be employed as and when you take damage. This needs to be considered since numerous enemies will have multi-attack abilities, wherein they can either cast spells or attack as many as 5 times! Basically, if Tarrasque’s all 5 attacks hit a player, they will need to employ a saving throw dedicated to each hit.
The DC will go up if half the damage dealt is equal to more than 10. Therefore, if Damage/2 >10, then DC will be Damage/2. For example, if the damage is 22, the DC will be 11.
Features Of Classes And Subclasses That Require Concentration
To paint a more prominent picture, here are the features of the classes and subclasses that need to focus to cast 5E concentration spells:
- Spell-Storing Item: This can hold a level 1 or even level 2 spell. If it is a concentration spell, you need to concentrate on using it.
- Infusion- Mind Sharpener: This grants its wearer up to four charges that they might choose to spend on a failed concentration save.
- Wild Shape: Till level 20, if a Druid gains the Archdruid capstone feature, they cannot reactivate their concentration spells cast before transforming.
- Aura of Protection: This grants a bonus the same as the Paladin’s Charisma modifier to every saving throw. So, if you have 20 points in Charisma, there’s a +5 bonus right there! Throw in a Resilient, and bam- +11 to your concentration saves!
- Wild Magic- Wild Magic Surge: If you are a Wild Magic Sorcerer and you fail your Wild Magic Surge on a spell, you get a chance to cast random spells depending on your Wild Magic Table.
- Bladesinger- Bladesong: This offers a bonus like a caster’s Intelligence modifier to concentration-patching Constitution saves.
- School of Conjuration- Focused Conjuration: If you are a level 10 School of Conjuration wizard, you will have the ability to prevent your concentration from breaking while performing a Conjuration spell.
- War Magic- Durable Magic: If you are a level 10 War Magic Wizard, you will gain +2 to your AC and every saving throw while maintaining concentration on spells.
How Does A Character’s Status Affect Concentration
So, how does the status of your player affect the power of concentration? How prone are you to distractions currently? What are the obstacles waiting for you while you use 5E concentration spells?
Here’s a table to help you along the way:
That’s all about the basics of concentration and 5E concentration checks. If you are trying to stack up on some concentration spells, these should suffice. Being aware of your weaknesses is never a bad idea, so know what affects concentration, and have the checks ready to go.
I have been playing DND, Destiny 2 & other PC Games for ages now. In my free time, I recover old arcade machines and I believe that today we have the ability, the knowledge and technology to enhance the mystic around them. So, the name, ArcadeMan!