Sickening Radiance 5e Dnd: how it works and best uses

Sometimes, a Dungeon Master will have the Exhaustion system as an active part of their campaign, especially with things such as Rage for Barbarians inflicting Exhaustion after it’s over.

Likewise, some spells – like Sickening Radiance 5e – exist that include Exhaustion levels along with doing Damage to the members of the party who are affected by the spell. Sickening Radiance, an exciting spell, to say the least, is not only one such spell capable of this but is the topic for this article.

What is Sickening Radiance 5e: mechanics and requirements


  • Casting time: 1 Action (6 Seconds)
  • Level: 4th Level
  • Range/Area: 120 ft (30 ft Sphere)
  • Target: Creatures in the 30 ft sphere
  • Components: Vocal and Somatic
  • Duration: 10 Minutes (With Concentration)
  • Classes: Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard

Sickening radiance 5e description

Dim, greenish light spreads within a 30-foot-radius sphere centered on a point you choose within range. The light spreads around corners, and it lasts until the spell ends.

When a creature moves into the spell’s area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, that creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 4d10 radiant damage, and it suffers one level of exhaustion and emits a dim, greenish light in a 5-foot radius.

This light makes it impossible for the creature to benefit from being invisible. The light and any levels of exhaustion caused by this spell go away when the spell ends.

Sickening radiance 5e

Advantages and drawbacks


  • Applies Levels of Exhaustion to creatures.

Any creature that fails the Constitution Saving Throw made when they are within the 30 ft radius of the light is given a level of Exhaustion that does not go away until the effect of the Sickening Radiance 5e is over.

A single level of Exhaustion can cause those affected by it to have a disadvantage on all ability checks until they have recovered from the Exhaustion, which can be incredibly debilitating during a combat encounter, especially to other spell casters.

Whether the levels of Exhaustion stack and add more to the same target per round in the sphere depends on how the Dungeon Master decides Sickening Radiance and the levels function. Still, if permitted, a Player would wind up dead from Exhaustion within 6 rounds of combat, making the character’s status worse and worse as they are caught in it for more extended periods.

  • A dim green light emanates from affected creatures

While suffering from the single level of Exhaustion brought upon any affected creature, along with the 4d10 Radiant Damage done to the creature, they also emanate a dim green light that extends to a 5 ft radius.

This light makes a character unable to benefit from being invisible and also gives the enemies a more leisurely time tracking down and finding the surface, should they begin to hide from the monsters.

With all three effects stacked together on a singular creature, the spell can cause players problems should they find themselves caught within the spell’s light.

  • The light of the sphere can go around corners.

While the sphere is active on the battlefield, the light emitted from it will be able to go around corners in specific environments where they are able. This reduces the number of people who could hide around the nearby corners to avoid the spell.

It also increases the chances of a Player Character getting caught within the sphere and, like this, affected by the spell’s Damage and different conditions.

  • Lack of Physical Component Cost for casting the spell

A feature that by this point could be considered a routine point to be made throughout these articles, Sickening radiance lacks any physical component requirement that would be needed for some spells to be able to be cast.

This gives the spellcaster with sickening Radiance within their spell list extra opportunities to use it during a combat encounter. You don’t have to worry about running out of physical materials and just enjoy casting an attack on their opponents.


  • Does typically not stack effects

Unless a Dungeon Master decides to rule the opposite of this disadvantage, then the Sickening radiance spell, as written, does not normally allow the effects of the spell to stack.

This is most prevalent with the Level of Exhaustion, which could completely kill an enemy within six rounds of combat if they remain within the sphere’s radius or walk into it at multiple points during the combat encounter.

The only part about the spell that really “stacks” to a certain degree is the Damage, but that isn’t a true situation of stacking Damage, but rather just repeated Damage in the form of 4d10 Radiant Damage.

  • Damage cannot be improved via upcasting

Speaking of the Damage of sickening Radiance, unlike many spells that exist within the spell lists of the classes listed above, this spell cannot be upcast in any way to be able to improve anything about it.

This is mostly on both the Damage and the Levels of Exhaustion, as a possible idea of upcasting for the spell not only adds 1d10 for each level past the 4th level it is upcast by but also a level of Exhaustion per level past the 4th level.

This could be easily seen as broken, however, since by upcasting it to the 9th level, someone could be able to inflict six levels of Exhaustion and be able to kill someone almost instantly, should they fail the required Constitution Check.

So, suppose a Dungeon Master reading this decides to go along with this idea. In that case, it is best to stop the increase of the added exhaustion levels at 3 Levels per round from giving the player caught in the sphere a chance to be able to escape. That while also giving the caster a purpose to upcasting the spell in other combat encounters in the future.

5e Sickening radiance

Best uses for Sickening Radiance 5e

1. Damaging enemies via Radiant Damage

The most obvious use for Sickening radiance is the decent amount of radiant Damage caused by the sphere created by this spell, which can knock many enemies down.

This can get even better if the party is facing down against monsters that are vulnerable to Radiant Damage, which would turn the Damage into an equivalent total of 8d10 by doubling the result of whatever was rolled with the standard 4d10. 

2. Tagging enemies for easier hunting

Ignoring the Damage done to the monster affected by sickening Radiance and the level of Exhaustion caused by it, the light placed on the enemy can make finding it much easier if it runs off.

This is especially true if the area in which the monster ran off is a darker area like a cave or a poorly lit portion of a house, where the monster would have been able to avoid detection by the caster, and their party had the light not been there.

This light also prevents monsters capable of turning invisible from gaining any real benefit of said invisibility, making them even easier to find than before.

3. Wearing down the enemy with Exhaustion

Once again, ignoring the spell’s other effects, the Level of Exhaustion added to whatever creature is within the sphere can make fighting the monster easier.

Suppose the Dungeon Master allows the status effects of the sphere to stack on monsters for whatever reason they deem fit. In that case, these constant exhaustion levels being added could be used as a means of corralling the monster into a dangerous and easily exploitable position or just killing them off outright.

Even without the stacking effects, the single level of Exhaustion that remains there is more than capable of making any action a creature has to take with their ability scores and saving throws all the more difficult.

This holds up the most when using this on spells that require saving throws to pass a check to either reduce Damage or cause other effects to occur on the same creature.

Advice and final thoughts

Although there are better spells that can either do an equal amount of better Radiant Damage to an enemy or the debuff effects of the spell that could affect them as well.

Sickening Radiance can be utilized in a multitude of ways, even if those ways all seem to ignore the capabilities of the spell as a whole. Whether it is used to tag a Player Character’s next target or to deal high amounts of radiant Damage. Sickening Radiance is one that I would recommend, so long as the player has the spell slots to constantly utilize it to their desired amount.

 Sickening Radiance 5e FAQ

If the target failed six saving throws in a turn would it immediately die from 6 levels of Exhaustion?

Although the chances of all six characters, Player or Dungeon Master controlled, using the same spell on the same target would be rather low, it is possible for the creature to instantly die from Exhaustion so long as it remains in the spheres for a round of combat, or at least starts their turn in the spheres.

Sickening radiance: does a creature that starts its turn in the area for each of its turns need to reroll Damage that stacks?

 Yes and No. Although the Damage doesn’t exactly stack in the way one could think of it stacking, it occurs every time the creature remains within the 30 ft sphere.