Some monsters or effects can cause a character's ability scores to be decreased.

The Greater Restoration spell can end "any reduction to one of the target's ability scores".

Is there any other way to reduce or remove ability score damage in 5e?


2 Answers 2


There are no generalised rules for ability score decreases, reductions, penalties, or damage. Every effect that reduces an ability score is highly specific, and sets its own rules and conditions. It might be worth mentioning that (as far as I'm aware), no such effect uses the term "ability score damage".

For examples, the Shadow can reduce Strength, and said reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest.

On the other hand, the Intellect Devourer can reduce Intelligence to 0, and does not specify a way to regain Intelligence, so only effects like Greater Restoration that specifically remove reductions to ability scores would be effective here.

And for something completely different, the Feeblemind spell reduces Intelligence and Charisma to 1, specifying that the target can be fixed by making a saving throw, or any of Greater Restoration, Heal, or Wish.

So the short answer is that it depends entirely on the source of the ability score reduction. However, the only general solutions appear to be Greater Restoration and Wish.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You're right about it not being referred to as "ability score damage" anywhere I can see in 5e either. I was going to edit the question to correct that, but figured it may be easier for others with prior-edition experience to find as-is. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2015 at 1:05

Xanathar's Guide to Everything (p. 131) includes "Relaxation" as an option for a downtime activity, which lets a character recover reduced ability scores by spending a week of downtime:

Resources. Relaxation requires one week. A character needs to maintain at least a modest lifestyle while relaxing to gain the benefit of the activity.

Resolution. Characters who maintain at least a modest lifestyle while relaxing gain several benefits. While relaxing, a character gains advantage on saving throws to recover from long-acting diseases and poisons. In addition, at the end of the week, a character can end one effect that keeps the character from regaining hit points, or can restore one ability score that has been reduced to less than its normal value. This benefit cannot be used if the harmful effect was caused by a spell or some other magical effect with an ongoing duration.

This is an optional rule, and isn't allowed in the Adventurer’s League.

  • \$\begingroup\$ May be good to highlight that downtime activities are optional rules and not just an optional activity. Not all tables will allow it. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 12, 2019 at 12:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch That's a good point, it looks like some XgtE downtime is AL legal, not all of it is. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick
    Mar 12, 2019 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Coolio - it was an AL question, but so it's even more up to the DM as to whether or not it's a possibility. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 12, 2019 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a good rule, but what is an example of something that naturally reduces a creature's ability score? All examples I can think of involve magical creatures using magical abilities. \$\endgroup\$
    – noisebelt
    May 21, 2019 at 15:38
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @noisebelt it works for magical creatures with magical abilities, as long as they don't have an ongoing duration. Most of them don't. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick
    May 21, 2019 at 16:16

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