I'm playing D&D 5e. The description of the sleep spell says:

This spell sends creatures into a magical slumber. Roll 5d8; the total is how many hit points of creatures this spell can affect. Creatures within 20 feet of a point you choose within range are affected in ascending order of their current hit points (ignoring unconscious creatures).

Starting with the creature that has the lowest current hit points, each creature affected by this spell falls unconscious until the spell ends, the sleeper takes damage, or someone uses an action to shake or slap the sleeper awake. Subtract each creature's hit points from the total before moving on to the creature with the next lowest hit points. A creature's hit points must be equal to or less than the remaining total for that creature to be affected.

What happens if I cast the sleep spell and roll a total of 27, but there are two creatures with 15 hit points in the area of effect?

I did not roll high enough to put both creatures to sleep. Only one can fall asleep (27-15=12). How do you determine which of the two creatures falls asleep?

Caster's choice? Random chance? Higher Constitution modifier?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack! Please take our tour to learn more about how we operate here and you can also visit the help center for more info. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 14, 2020 at 18:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SamLacrumb Please don't answer in comments (even partially). We try not to do that here. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 14, 2020 at 18:19
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's a useful question for both DM and player, but this actually came up in a player vs player battle \$\endgroup\$
    – JJrodny
    Mar 14, 2020 at 18:24

2 Answers 2


Xanathar's Guide to Everything introduced a rule for simultaneous effects.

If two or more things happen at the same time on a character or monster's turn, the person at the game table—whether player or DM—who controls that creature decides the order in which those things happen. For example, if two effects occur at the end of a player character's turn, the player decides which of the two effects happens first.

Here, there are indeed two effects happening at the same time: "you try to put to sleep creature A" and "you try to put to sleep creature B". If you decide to first put creature A to sleep, the second effect (trying to put creature B to sleep) will happen, but won't work (since there is not enough HP left).

So it's the caster's choice if it happens during its turn.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Assuming the caster cast Sleep on his turn, and not as a readied spell :P \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueMoon93
    Mar 16, 2020 at 8:58
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @BlueMoon93 that's why I said "if it happens during its turn". But I got your point ^^ \$\endgroup\$
    – Ted Pwyll
    Mar 16, 2020 at 8:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @BlueMoon93 Based on this guidance, readied spells have interesting implications... \$\endgroup\$
    – Egor Hans
    Mar 16, 2020 at 11:07

There is no rule for covering this, so you adjudicate it however you like.

You can:

  • Start from the center of the AoE and make the creature closest fall asleep first
  • Leave it up to the caster to decide, their spell, their choice
  • Leave it up to the DM to decide, their creatures, their choice
  • Flip a coin
  • And any other way you want

The key thing will simply be setting a standard and then sticking with it so everybody knows what to expect.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There is guidance on when things happen at the same time on who/what decides the order, that could prove useful for consistency. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Mar 15, 2020 at 2:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ At my table, we always go with the "in order from the spells point of origin" option. Makes it simpler I think. Unless, of course, the targets are equidistant. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 10, 2020 at 19:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .