Hold Person 5E — DnD spell explained 2024

Seize control with our guide to the Hold Person 5E spell in DnD. Paralyze foes in their tracks with this potent enchantment.

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What is Hold Person 5E?

Hold Person 5E (PHB, p. 251) is a 2nd level enchantment spell, which is only natively available to Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards. It requires a vocal, somatic, and material component, with the latter being a straight, small piece of iron. It takes an action to cast and has a range of 60 ft, affecting one humanoid you can see. The target makes a Wisdom saving throw, becoming paralyzed if they fail, they can make the saving throw again at the end of their turns whilst paralyzed. This spell lasts for one minute, until the caster loses concentration, or the target succeeds on the saving throw.

If you cast this spell with a 3rd level or higher spell slot, you can target an additional target per spell level, as long as they are within 30 feet of each other. For example, a 5th level casting of  Hold Person can target four separate humanoids.

Is Hold Person 5E a good spell?

Hold Person can be a fantastic spell, the main downfall of it is that many, if not most, of the creatures you may end up fighting won’t be the humanoid creature type, but this does depend on the campaign. What makes Hold Person so good is a combination of taking an enemy out of the fight and making any attacks made within 5 ft. of the target are treated as critical hits if the attack hits, made more likely as the attack will also have advantage. This makes it a great setup for Rogues and Paladins in particular, but it can end any target quickly if they find themselves paralyzed with melee PCs nearby. This spell is only recommended if you have an inkling that humanoids will be a common enemy type, such as in an urban campaign setting.

If you want to get even more out of this spell then consider anything that would make it even harder for the target to make the saving throw, such as Lore Bard’s Cutting Words, Divination Wizard’s Portent, or a Sorcerer’s Heightened Spell Metamagic. The latter can even use Twinned Spell to attempt to paralyze two humanoids at once, with only a 2nd level spell slot.

How can you get Hold Person 5E spell?

If the idea of stopping a villain in their tracks interests you, then don’t worry! There’s a surprisingly long list of ways you can grab this spell:

  • Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard – All of these classes get Hold Person on their spell lists natively.
  • Arcane Trickster (Rogue Subclass) – This Rogue can choose spells from the Wizard spell list, and can choose Hold Person from 7th level as it matches their enchantment restriction.
  • Eldritch Knight (Fighter Subclass) – Similar to above, this Fighter subclass can choose spells from the Wizard list and can choose Hold Person as one of their unrestricted spells from 8th level.
  • Circle of the Land (Druid Subclass) – By choosing the Arctic option, these Druids get Hold Person as an always-prepared spell from 3rd level.
  • Oath of Conquest (Paladin Subclass) – These domineering Paladins get Hold Person as an Oath Spell at 5th level.
  • Oath of Redemption (Paladin Subclass) – These mostly pacifist Paladins always have Sleep prepared thanks to their Oath Spells.
  • Oath of Vengeance (Paladin Subclass) – Just like above, these avengers get it as an Oath spell at 5th level.
  • Order Domain (Cleric Subclass) – Order Clerics always have Hold Person prepared as it is one of their Domain Spells.
  • Four Elements (Monk Subclass) – From 6th level these Monks can cast Hold Person using the Clench of the North Wind Elemental Discipline.
  • Adept of the Black Robes (Feat) – If you qualify for this feat, then you can grab Hold Person as the 2nd level spell, in addition to the Life Channel ability that may work with your other spells.

How to roleplay the Hold Person 5E spell

Need some help roleplaying the Hold Person spell? Here are some examples to help you out:

  • As the enemy knight charges towards the party, his sword raised high and ready to strike, the sorceress raises a hand and speaks the incantation of the Hold Person spell. A shimmering, translucent web of arcane energy surrounds the knight, freezing him in place. His eyes widen with a mix of fear and disbelief as he finds himself unable to move, his muscles locked in place, and his sword now hanging motionless in the air.
  • The Rogue spy attempts to slip away, disappearing into the shadows of the crowded marketplace. But just as she’s about to vanish from sight, the Cleric clasps his holy symbol and utters a prayer to his deity. The power of the spell takes effect, the air around the spy turning into an invisible, solid mass. She struggles against her magical restraints, her steps halted as if she were wading through thick mud, and the party quickly closes the distance to apprehend her.
  • In the heat of battle, a berserker warrior, overcome by bloodlust, turns his attention to the group’s fragile mage. With a roar, he raises his massive axe, poised for a devastating strike. But as he brings the weapon down, the Bard plucks a haunting, eerie melody on her lyre. The notes of the Hold Person spell wash over the berserker, and his muscles seize up, locking him in place. His axe trembles in the air, halted mid-swing, and the mage breathes a sigh of relief as the bard’s magic saves the day.

Congratulations on wiping that smirk off the archmage’s face! For those interested in getting the most out of this spell, our DnD 5E Sorcere guide is an excellent resource. And for those looking to explore other spells, our DnD 5E spells section has a lot to offer. Best of luck on your future adventures, and don’t forget to savor those free crits!

Expert Editor-in-Chief