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DnD Hold Person 5e spell explained

Looking to paralyse D&D enemies with your awesome TTRPG powers? The Hold Person 5e spell has the conditions you’re after, and you can learn to cast it here

DnD hold person 5e - an old man with greyed hair tied back in a bun and blue robes lifts a hand to the air while looking away.

If there’s one thing we hate about those pesky monsters in D&D, it’s all the running around they do. Whether they’re slashing with a sword, dodging out of range, or nipping at your heels with a nasty opportunity attack, a nimble enemy is a real nuisance. Luckily for us, there’s a surprisingly strong second-level spell that can solve this problem – Hold Person.

Hold Person is all about stopping your opponent in their tracks. If they roll badly enough, you can keep them in place for an entire minute – which is more than enough time to hurl blow after blow their way. Level up enough, and you can freeze an entire party of baddies, leaving your fellow party members to take out the TTRPG trash.

We’ve put together a guide to the DnD Hold Person 5e spell. Here you’ll find all the key components of the spell, who can learn and cast Hold Person, and the strengths and weaknesses you should take into account on the battlefield. So, what’s the hold-up? Let’s get casting.

Here’s everything you need to know about the DnD Hold Person 5e spell:

DnD hold person 5e - three fanatsy adventurers; the top of a ginger dwarf's head, a white human male in armour, and a ginger female wizard holding a staff and casting a magical blue flame

Hold Person 5e features

Level Second
Casting time One action
Duration One minute (with concentration)
Range / Area 60ft
Attack / Save Wisdom save
School Enchantment

DnD hold person 5e - an old man with greyed hair tied back in a bun and blue robes lifts a hand to the air while looking away.

How to cast Hold Person 5e

First, let’s talk components. Hold Person requires verbal, somatic, and material components to cast. Verbal means you’ll need to chant some appropriate magic words, while somatic means this also requires some enchanting gestures. Finally, you’re going to need a small, straight piece of iron handy as your material component.

This is one of the 5e spells that also requires concentration. If you cast a new spell that requires concentration, fail a Constitution saving throw and take damage, die or fall unconscious, or become distracted by something in the environment (as ruled by your DM), you lose concentration and the Hold Person spell will end.

Once you have your component and concentration sorted, choose a humanoid you can see within range. Your target must roll a Wisdom saving throw, and they’re paralysed until the spell ends if the roll fails. However, they can make the saving throw again at the end of each of their turns – ending the spell as soon as they make a successful save.

There are some extra bonuses to casting this spell with a higher spell slot, once you have them. Casting Hold Person at third level or higher allows you to target an extra humanoid for each slot above second level you’ve used (as long as all your targets are within 30ft of each other). For example, a fifth-level Hold Person spell can paralyse four enemies at once – not too shabby.

DnD hold person 5e - a white, male, halfling bard wearing a blue jacket and tan suit dances on a table while playing a lute

Who can cast Hold Person 5e

Hold Person is a spell that’s available to plenty of classes. If you choose to play a Bard, a Cleric, a Druid, a Sorcerer, a Warlock, or a Wizard, you’ll have the option to choose this spell once you unlock second-level spell slots.

Other DnD classes can get in on the paralysis action too thanks to subclasses. Arcane Trickster Rogues can learn Hold Person at seventh level, and Eldritch Knight Fighters can do the same at eighth level. Paladins also have several Oath options that get them access to this spell – those who take the Oath of Vengeance, Oath of Redemption, or the Oath of Conquest can all learn Hold Person at fifth level.

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Pros and cons of Hold Person 5e

Paralysing a creature does far more than stopping it from moving or speaking. The targeted creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws, making a well-placed fireball before their next turn pretty devastating. Additionally, attack rolls against the paralysed creature have advantage, and any successful attacks from within five feet of the target automatically become critical hits. Sending in your heavy hitters after a successful Hold Person spell can absolutely demolish your opponent.

What could the downsides to such a powerful spell possibly be? Well, you can only use it on humanoids. If your DM has set up a dungeon of diverse baddies, you’ll likely only be able to target some of them.

The repeated Wisdom saving throws also throw a spanner in the works. There’s every chance your spell will fail right out the gate, and then you’ve wasted a spell slot. When other spells guarantee half damage on a failed saving throw, you’ll need to assess whether Hold Person’s benefits are worth the risk of doing nothing at all.

Plus, the new saving throws on every turn mean you’re not likely to keep the spell going for a full minute anyway – especially if your target is after you in the initiative order, as they’ll have an extra stab at escaping the spell.