Can an unconscious person drink a potion?

PHB 153 reads:

Potion of Healing. A character who drinks the magical red fluid in this vial regains 2d4 + 2 hit points. Drinking or administering a potion takes an action.

By my interpretation, this means that while the rules are flexible in regards to who has to spend the action, they are inflexible in that a character must still actually drink the potion. In other words, any character can administer a potion to save someone else’s action, but their target must be conscious and able to drink.

I know part of a DM’s job is to apply common sense to my rulings, and common sense tells me that an unconscious person is more likely to choke to death than to swallow 4oz of liquid.

A few of my players disagree. Who’s right in this situation?

Does an unconscious creature still use its dexterity to avoid attacks?

Related – How does one dispatch a helpless opponent?

Here’s the unconscious condition description:


An unconscious creature is Incapacitated, can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings The creature drops whatever it’s holding and falls Prone. 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.

So attacks against the creature have advantage, and any attack that hits is a critical – but you still can miss because of the creature’s AC. Armor Class includes dexterity bonus. The description doesn’t say the creature’s AC changes somehow.

Does it mean the creature still benefits from its dexterity, both in terms of mechanics and in-game world?

An example situation

A low-level party of Barbarian and Bard fights a sneaky thief, who has AC of 15 due to his +4 dexterity bonus. The Barbarian attacks, so does the Bard, but their results are 12 and 13. DM described that the thief was twisty enough to dodge both attacks.

Next round, the Bard puts the thief to sleep (hence, unconscious) with the Sleep spell. The barbarian makes a melee attack with advantage, but his best result is 14. It is still a miss, isn’t it? As a DM, how can I plausibly describe such an outcome?

What happens when an unconscious creature fails their saving throw against a Banshee’s Wail?

A Banshee (MM, p. 23) has the Wail action:

Wail (1/Day). The banshee releases a mournful wail, provided that she isn’t in sunlight. This wail has no effect on constructs and undead. All other creatures within 30 feet of her that can hear her must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, a creature drops to 0 hit points. On a success, a creature takes 10 (3d6) psychic damage.

If someone was already at 0 hit points (for example, having failed their saving throw against a different Banshee’s Wail), what would happen if they fail their saving throw against this Banshee’s Wail (assuming they still need to make a saving throw)?

  • The unconscious creature takes one step towards death, as though they took damage (thus making the saving throw meaningless, since they’d take a step towards death either way);
  • The unconscious creature just dies (unlikely, but in case there’s something written that would imply this hidden in the rules somewhere);
  • Nothing, since this isn’t damage, its just an effect (meaning the unconscious creature would be better off failing this save than passing in this case!)
  • Something else…

Does Disguise Self end if the caster falls unconscious?

In one of my groups, I play a squishy sorcerer focused on deception, including having a number of false identities. Last week, we were infiltrating an enemy’s base and my sorcerer used disguise self to look like she belonged.

The session had to end in the middle of the infiltration, but afterwards we were discussing what could already be going wrong. One possibility that was tossed around was the possibility of the sorcerer getting knocked unconscious, either through spells or through simply having very few hit points.

This led to us trying to figure out whether disguise self ends when the caster is unconscious. I know alter self would end, because it is a concentration spell, but would disguise self?

(I asked about this in chat a while ago but went looking for a q&a on this site about it and found none, so I wrote one.)

If you’re unconscious and making death saving throws, and an attack from within 5 feet of you hits you, does it cause 2 failed death saves?

In the PHB, it says that three death saving throw failures means you die; taking any damage causes 1 failure, and a critical hit causes 2 failures. But the unconscious condition says that attacks against an unconscious character have advantage and auto-crit if they’re within 5 feet.

That seems really tough — it almost guarantees that you’ll die if hit twice if one is melee, and on top of that if you’re hit once and not stabilized on your next turn you have a 45% chance of getting your third failure from the saving throw.

Am I correctly reading the rules? If you’re unconscious and making death saving throws, and an attack from within 5 feet of you hits you, does it cause 2 failed death saves?

Does Evasion allow half damage even when unconscious?

Evasion is a class feature gained by Rogues and Monks at level 7:

At 7th level, your instinctive agility lets you dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as a blue dragon’s lightning breath or a Fireball spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.

Does this feature allow a character to “dodge” area effects, taking half damage, even if they are unconscious?

Do the effects of a Potion of Speed or Potion of Heroism disappear if the character becomes unconscious?

Pretty much as the title states.

If a player is under the effect of a potion of speed

When you drink this potion, you gain the Effect of the haste spell for 1 minute (no Concentration required). The potion’s yellow fluid is streaked with black and swirls on its own.

or a Potion of Heroism

For 1 hour after drinking it, you gain 10 Temporary Hit Points that last for 1 hour. For the same Duration, you are under the Effect of the bless spell (no Concentration required). This blue potion bubbles and steams as if boiling.

Do those effects wear off if the play is reduced to 0 hit points and becomes unconscious before the 1 hour duration?

Does hp fall to 0 if a creature is knocked unconscious from failing a save, and if not, how does the unconscious condition end?

I was looking at the Prismatic Beetle Swarm, and it says that "In bright light, a creature within 30 feet that looks at the prismatic beetle swarm must make a successful DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or be blinded until the end of its next turn. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also knocked unconscious."

If a creature in range falls unconscious from the dazzling light of the swarm, do their hitpoints automatically drop to 0? It doesn’t say so specifically, like it does for drowning rules and other things, nor does it say so in the actual unconscious condition. And spells like Catnap and Sleep don’t make hp drop to 0, although I feel like unconsciousness from falling asleep is different from falling unconscious in this manner.

If their hp does not drop to 0, how does the unconscious condition end? Does the unconscious creature still need healing?

Is there advantage on a non-adjacent attack against an unconscious creature?

The unconscious condition states the following two effects (PHB 292):

  • The creature drops whatever it’s holding and falls prone.

  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage

Under the prone condition it says (ibid):

  • An attack roll against the creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature. Otherwise, the attack roll has disadvantage.

The rules of advantage/disadvantage include the following paragraph (PHB 171):

  • If circumstances cause a roll to have both advantage and disadvantage, you are considered to have neither of them, and you roll one d20. This is true even if multiple circumstances impose disadvantage and only one grants advantage or vice versa. In such a situation, you have neither advantage nor disadvantage.

The question then is, does one receive advantage for a non-adjacent attack against an unconscious foe?

Are the effects of unconsciousness written to define the condition as it is, or are we meant to “calculate” the full truth by recognizing that the unconscious advantage and prone disadvantage (of non-adjacent attacks) should cancel out?