I was reading the description of sickening radiance and was wondering if there were any other ways to give another creature levels of exhaustion in combat? It seems like it could be very DM dependent.

  • \$\begingroup\$ To clarify: are you looking for ways to do this in combat / in a timely manner? So locking someone up without food or water is not an option? \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 27 '17 at 20:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Any and all. Combat would be neat, but I just want to know my options \$\endgroup\$ – Whichwitch'switch Dec 27 '17 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is not a really well defined question and is practically "how can someone gain exhaustion?". There are too many creative ways to visit misery upon someone for us to list it for you. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 27 '17 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's fair, let me narrow the question to combat and see if that helps. \$\endgroup\$ – Whichwitch'switch Dec 27 '17 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ This earlier question about the appropriate level for a homebrew exhaustion-causing spell might be relevant. The take-home message seems to be that the higher levels of exhaustion (3+) have really nasty and rapidly escalating effects, and anything that would let you apply them to another creature without serious effort is potentially game-breaking. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen Dec 27 '17 at 21:52

At the time of writing this I can find no character or monster ability (in the PHB, DMG, MM or XGtE) besides the spell you mention that directly causes exhaustion. There are two indirect, but canonical ways that could work in the timescale of a combat:

Chase them

The fastest way to gain exhaustion listed in the DMG is to sprint:

During the chase, a participant can freely use the Dash action a number of times equal to 3 + its Constitution modifier. Each additional Dash action it takes during the chase requires the creature to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution check at the end of its turn or gain one level of exhaustion. (p.252)

So if you give them reason to run and then chase them, you can indirectly cause them to gain exhaustion.


There is at least one feature that causes the user to gain exhaustion, the frenzied rage of the barbarian. If you dominate such a creature (eg. with the spell dominate person), you can cause them to use the feature and thus force exhaustion upon them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Chase them....clever...a successful Command spell “Dash” three times or Fear could also cause Dash actions - though if someone pulled it off successfully - it would be great to hear how. \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Aug 13 '18 at 8:04

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