Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

D&D 5E – Advantage/Disadvantage


When to use Advantage/Disadvantage

Essentially, an advantage allows you to roll 2d20, taking the higher roll result, whilst a disadvantage requires you to roll 2d20, taking the lower result. You never roll more than two dice because multiple advantage/disadvantage conditions don’t stack. If you have conditions that give you both advantage and disadvantage, they cancel each other out and you get neither.

It is up to the DM do decide if you get advantage or disadvantage on a roll. When trying to determine if a situation warrants an advantage or disadvantage, it may be helpful to review the specific situation listed in the PHB. This list does not include special abilities or magic spells or magic items.


  • If you have inspiration, you can expend it when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. Spending your inspiration gives you advantage on that roll.
  • Using a crowbar grants advantage to Strength checks where the crow bar’s leverage can be applied.
  • A magnifying glass grants advantage on any ability check made to appraise or inspect an item that is small or highly detailed.
  • A military saddle gives you advantage on any check you make to remain mounted.
  • When mounted – You have advantage on melee attack rolls against any unmounted creature that is smaller than your mount.
  • Helping another with a task (where your assistance could actually be of help) adds advantage to their check.
  • If you are hiding – “the Dungeon Master might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack before you are seen.”
  • When a creature can’t see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it.
  • Attack rolls against a blinded creature have advantage.
  • Invisible creature’s attack rolls have advantage.
  • Attack rolls against paralyzed and petrified creatures have advantage.
  • An attack roll against a prone creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.
  • Attack rolls against restrained or stunned or unconscious creatures have advantage.


  • If you wear armor that you lack proficiency with, you have disadvantage on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll that involves Strength or Dexterity.
  • If the Armor table shows “Disadvantage” in the Stealth column, the wearer has disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
  • Small creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls with heavy weapons.
  • In lightly obscured areas – creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
  • When attacking a target beyond normal range, you have disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • You have disadvantage when you use a lance to attack a target within 5 feet of you.
  • When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • You have disadvantage on a ranged attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature that can see you and that isn’t incapacitated
  • Blinded creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.
  • Attack rolls against Invisible creatures have disadvantage.
  • Any level of exhaustion gives you a disadvantage on ability checks
  • A poisoned creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
  • A prone creature has disadvantage on attack rolls.
  • An attack roll against a prone creature has disadvantage if the attacker is more than 5 feet from the creature.
  • Restrained creatures have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws and attack rolls.

4 responses to “D&D 5E – Advantage/Disadvantage

  1. sonworshiper August 30, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Great recap. I love the idea of this system and thought it was one of the finer parts of the 5E revamp. I just haven’t been able to get a group together to try it… maybe I can convince my wife and teenage kids to play…

    • Ronny August 31, 2015 at 8:12 am

      I am in a similar boat. Fortunately, my wife loves to play. Unfortunately, I don’t have a regular group to play with., My daughter is grown and lives 1000 miles away.

  2. hyprocurefix July 1, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Last night the PCs were going through a tunnel that they basically had to crawl through. I decided that any attacks they made in the tunnel would be at a disadvantage, unless they were small in size. It is an elegant mechanic, and does not require wondering / arguing about whether it is a -2 or a -4, etc. Players just accept it and go with it when you say, “You will be at a disadvantage when attacking while in that tunnel..”

    • Ronny July 1, 2016 at 9:35 am

      Thanks for this excellent example of how you are using this is actual game play. I completely agree that this mechanic makes this version of the game run much smoother than earlier versions.
      If anyone else has an example they would like to share I am sure everyone would like to hear about it. You never know when a snippet like this is just what someone may need to help them with their game tonight.

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