I have watched a few games where the Tasha's hideous laughter spell has been used before and the DMs there didn't count the creature completely out of the fight. For example: A player next to affected creature ran away after casting successfully, DM gave the Bandit an attack of opportunity with disadvantage due to the spell saying the creature goes prone.

We basically had the same scenario and I ran with that idea but the bard argued that the target was incapacitated as in the description.

What do the rules say is the correct way to handle this?

TLDR: If a creature is prone, e.g. due to Tasha's hideous laughter, can it still make opportunity attacks if an adjacent foe moves away from it?


3 Answers 3


Incapacitated will prevent opportunity attacks

Your player is correct. The opportunity attack requires a Reaction. And Tasha's Hideous Laughter's description states (PHB, p. 280, bold added):

The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or fall prone, becoming incapacitated and unable to stand up for the duration.

And the "incapacitated" status states (PHB, p. 290)

An incapacitated creature can’t take actions or reactions.

So if someone is under the effect of Tasha's Hideous Laughter, they can't take the Reaction necessary to make an opportunity attack. They'd be able to crawl and do things that don't require actions or reactions (or bonus actions) such as speak, but can't do much else. They'll get a chance to break this spell with a Wisdom Saving Throw at the end of their turn, and any time they take damage.

NOTE: The "prone" condition doesn't prevent a character from making opportunity attacks (they will just make them with disadvantage). It's the "incapacitated" part that stops them.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It may be helpful to walk OP through the spell and what it does/doesn't do and how/when the target can recover. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jul 3, 2018 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ It also might help to explain the difference between prone and incapacitated and why the creature in this scenario is both. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2018 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yup, question solved, so the target is prone AND incapacitated resulting in the creature not having a reaction. Thanks alot :D \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2018 at 17:03

Responding to OP's comment:

... the question is, If a target is prone, do they get an attack of opportunity against an enemy leaving their combat range.

Prone creatures can make opportunity attacks, but at disadvantage

If a creature is Prone, then "the creature has disadvantage on attack rolls", so if they were to make an opportunity attack, they would do so with disadvantage. There's nothing about the Prone condition that prevents reactions, so the opportunity attack can be attempted by the prone creature.

However, if they have fallen prone due to Tasha's hideous laughter, then for as long as the spell is active, they are Incapacitated, which means they cannot make opportunity attacks as Gandalfmeansme's answer explains.


Incapacitated prevents Actions and Reactions

The PHB is very clear on what the status effect does and the player is correct.

I would like to note that as a new DM, it would behoove you to ensure you've at least a fair understanding of the rules for the game you will be running. This doesn't mean you need to know all the rules, but at least be aware of where to look for the information. All status effects in 5e are listed in the same spot of the PHB.

Personally, I tab my books with key topics. So status effects, the start of the spells list, combat rules, perception ranges, etc. are all things detailed within the PHB and DMG. Alternately, you can buy a DM's screen which tends to group many of these most commonly need DM tools together on a single panel for you.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth mentioning the DM screen, the official screen(s) have the status effects on the inside for DM's quick reference. \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Jul 3, 2018 at 17:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point, If I could upload a picture I now have my DMG PHB and MM filled with torn bits of A4 stating what each piece is reference to for quick looks. I do have a fair understanding but I just missread the spell, In my mind it was prone and incapacitated was just flavor text. I will be sure to not dismiss such things in the future. Thanks for the help. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2018 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, 5e does a much better job at being very careful with its language to avoid confusion like you had. In general, official books do not use game terms and other key words as flavor text since doing so does create confusion. I think 3.X books were way more casual with their language, which had led to endless arguments on whether a spell's flavor text also suggested an in-game effect. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2018 at 19:39

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