Dungeons & Dragons: Concentration Explained

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  • Maintaining Concentration Spell
  • Concentration Checks
  • Concentration And Distance
  • Dealing With A Foe's Concentration Spells

Magic is a key element of Dungeons & Dragons, being available to various playable classes as well as many monsters that adventurers may encounter in their travels. Magic comes in a wide variety of forms that can be used to assist one's allies or harm their foes.

While some spells such as Fireball offer an instantaneous effect, there are countless spells that can be maintained for longer periods of time. These spells are known as Concentration spells, requiring a caster to maintain Concentration on a given spell in order to maintain its effect. To help newcomers to D&D, we'll be explaining the ins and outs of Concentration in Dungeons & Dragons!

Maintaining Concentration Spell

Upon casting a Concentration spell, its caster is capable of concentrating on that spell for an amount of time denoted by the spell. For example, while the spell Moonbeam can be maintained for up to one minute (ten rounds in combat), the spell Protection from Evil and Good has a potential duration of ten minutes. If for any reason a caster wants to stop concentrating on a given spell, they can do so with no action or reaction required, immediately ending that Concentration spell's effects.

It's important to note that a character is incapable of maintaining Concentration on more than one spell at once, meaning that if you want to cast a second Concentration spell when you're already maintaining Concentration of another spell, the effects of the first spell would end.

Though a caster is incapable of concentrating on more than one spell at once, they are still capable of performing other actions such as attacking or even casting other spells under the condition that the spell has a casting time of one action. This means that even if a Druid were concentrating on a Moonbeam spell, they would still be able to move across the battlefield to heal a wounded ally with Cure Wounds.

Concentration Checks

When maintaining a Concentration spell, if a caster sustains damage, they must make a Concentration check to avoid losing Concentration, ending the spell prematurely. Concentration checks are Constitution ability checks, incentivizing some Concentration-heavy spellcasters such as Druids to invest in their Constitution score. By default, the DC of a Concentration check is ten.

However, if a source deals more than 20 damage to a caster Concentration on a spell, the DC equals half the amount of damage the caster sustained by a single source. For example, of a Cleric concentrating on a Shield of Faith spell were to sustain 32 damage from a Fireball, they'd need to succeed a DC 16 Constitution check. As a separate Concentration check must be made for each individual instance that a caster sustains damage, spells such as Magic Missile that provide several damage sources can be great for trying to break an enemy spellcaster's Concentration.

For those looking to make their ability to pass Concentration checks more reliable, both the War Caster feat and the Eldritch Mind Eldritch Invocation available to Warlocks.

Concentration And Distance

A unique element of Concentration spells is that a caster is able to maintain Concentration of a spell even if they were to leave the spell's range. For example, the Moonbeam spell has a range of 120 feet, meaning the beam the spell creates must be created within 120 feet of the caster. However, if a Druid were to cast this spell at a foe positioned 120 feet away, then using their movement to move an additional 30 feet from the target, the Moonbeam would remain. This allows some Concentration spells to maintain beneficial effects even when fleeing, hiding, or fighting from afar.

Dealing With A Foe's Concentration Spells

While a player's Concentration spells can provide great value over the course of a combat encounter, an opposing Concentration spell can often be a headache to deal with. As many opposing spellcasters tend to have lackluster Constitution, ensuring that a party is regularly pelting that caster with several sources of damage each turn to cause them to repeatedly make Concentration checks increases the odds they'll fail due to the sheer quantity of checks. Even if an enemy caster has a positive constitution modifier, they can only succeed in their barrage of Concentration checks for so long.

Alternatively, if a party is lacking a means of targeting an enemy spellcaster with a sizable number of attacks per turn, the effects of a spell can be prematurely ended through the casting of Dispel Magic.

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