Petrification 5e: Condition, Mechanics, Full Guide for DMs & Players

Are you ready to rock? 

Ahem. Right.

How Does the Petrified Condition Work in DnD 5e?

A petrified creature is turned into lifeless material along with all of their gear. They are immobile, unconscious, and unable to defend themselves. 

Basically, you are turned to stone or some other stone-like material. While there are some positive benefits of this transformation, overall it isn’t worth it because you are dead. 

Yes, death can be temporary in Dungeons and Dragons, but let’s not walk too close to that edge, shall we?

Here’s the detailed run-down from The Basic Rules:

Petrified

  • A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object it is wearing or carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone). Its weight increases by a factor of 10, and it ceases aging.
  • The creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings.
  • Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.
  • The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
  • The creature has resistance to all damage.
  • The creature is immune to poison and disease, although a poison or disease already in its system is suspended, not neutralized.

So, immediately we see the pros and cons, right? On the pro side, you have resistance to all damage and are immune to poison and disease. 

On the con side… you’re basically unconscious and totally vulnerable for a short period of time. 

So, first let’s talk about how one becomes petrified and how one gets out of being petrified, and then we’ll move into taking this condition into your own hands and exploiting it. 

How Do I Get Petrified?

You usually get petrified by failing a DEX or CON saving throw. There are a limited amount of spells and magic items that can affect you this way as well as a handful of monsters. 

The Flesh to Stone spell requires a CON save, as does the Wand of Wonder. The Death Tyrant, however, requires a DEX save. 

All of which is to say that if you are a Wizard or Sorcerer, you are more likely to be petrified than pretty much anyone else, so you should be avoiding DEX and CON saving throws at all costs anyway.

If you are a DM, make sure to target the Wizard with this effect. It should go something like this:

DM: Hey, Wizard. Do you want resistance to all damage like the Barbarian here gets?

POOR, UNFORTUNATE WIZARD: Heck, yes!

DM: Roll me a CON save, nerd.

PUW: *sad turning-to-stone noises*

There are also a whole host of monsters that can end you this way. Here they are sorted by tier:

Feel free to use these monsters and stone your players to death, dear DMs. You have the Citadel’s blessing to use these to your shriveled, blackened heart’s content. 

How Do I Get Un-Petrified?

In most situations, the petrification lasts only for a minute or 10. However, you are incredibly vulnerable during that time, and, like the description says, you could come out of it with all kinds of unfortunate disfigurements. 

So, in most cases, you only need to pray to the gods or the dice that you come out of it alright. 

However, there is only one way, in the Rules As Written, to get out of being petrified, and this is with the Greater Restoration spell.  

Greater Restoration is a 5th-level spell available to all of the support casters – that is, Bard, Cleric, Druid, and Artificer.

This spell does many things, but the most pertinent is its ability to end “one effect that charmed or petrified the target” (Basic Rules). 

To mitigate this disaster, one of Black Citadel’s artificers came up with these little gems:

How Can I Use Petrified To My (Player’s) Advantage?

So, petrified does have this nifty little effect where all damage against you is halved and you are immune to poison and disease, presumably because you are a rock and very dense. Well, denser than normal. 

Let’s say you are exposed to an environmental effect, like floating poisonous spores or a room shaped like a giant bowl steadily filling with acid. 

TO AVOID area effects lasting longer than 1 minute or more:

  • Use one of the magic items below, or cast Flesh to Stone on yourself or a party member. You can wait out the danger by taking half or no damage, or have the fastest person in the party stick you in a bag of holding and run through the room. 

TO AVOID the onset of poison or disease:

  • Use one of the magic items below or cast Flesh to Stone on yourself or a party member. You can then postpone the effects until a party member gathers what they need to heal you, or stick someone in a bag of holding until you can make it to the nearest temple of healing. 

And sometimes, like a scorned mistress of the gods, you just want to turn someone into stone. Sometimes they deserve it! 

I pillaged Black Citadel’s armory and found these to pass out to your table:

Cockatrice Claw

Uncommon Weapon

Effect

This can be either an arrowhead, crossbow bolt, sling bullet, or blowgun dart. Upon a successful hit, the target must make a CON saving throw of 12 or be petrified until your next turn. 

Medusa’s Gaze

Uncommon Tattoo

Effect

This tattoo is a stylized portrait of a medusa. Once per long rest, you can activate it as an action.

Any one creature of your choice who can see it must make a DC 12 CON saving throw or be petrified for 1 minute. A successful save leaves the creature restrained.

Wand of Petrify

Rare Wand

Effect

This wand is a dehydrated and hardened eye stalk of a beholder. It has 1d4 charges. During a long rest, if exposed to rock, stone, or other hard material, it regains 1 charge to a maximum of 4. 

This item works exactly like the beholder’s Petrification Ray. The targeted creature must make a DC 16 DEX save. On a failed save, the creature begins to turn to stone and is restrained.

It must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends. On a failure, the creature is petrified until freed by the Greater Restoration spell or other magic.

Death Tyrant Dust

Very Rare Wondrous Item

Effect

This dust is powdered from the desiccated eyeball of a Death Tyrant and then poured into its very fragile occipital orb.

As an action, you can throw this bomb 30 feet. Upon impact, the dust puffs out 15 feet, and every creature in that diameter must make a DC 16 DEX save.

On a failed save, the creature begins to turn to stone and is restrained. It must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn.

On a success, the effect ends. On a failure, the creature is petrified until freed by the Greater Restoration spell or other magic.
This is a one-use item.

That’s it! So have fun, roll well, and get petrified.