Can You Attack Yourself in DND? (Explained for Beginners)

Over the years, a few of my player characters wanted to attack themselves during a DND adventure.

Can you attack yourself in DND?

Yes, you can attack yourself in DND. You can attack yourself without weapons, with weapons, with magical items, or with spells. To attack yourself, you roll against your AC. If you successfully hit yourself, you roll for damage. It is also possible to land a critical hit on yourself.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know to answer the question, “Can you attack yourself in D&D?”

Can You Attack Yourself in DND? (Official Answer)

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Warrior with bruised face—Can You Attack Yourself in D&D
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There is no official statement or ruling for attacking yourself in D&D (Although James Crawford comes close on Twitter).

Notably, there is also no official rule against it. In these cases, most Dungeon Masters (DMs) permit self-attacks.

Therefore, attacking yourself:

  • Is possible
  • Is allowable
  • Depends on your Dungeon Master’s discretion
  • Follows the same attack rules as fighting any other opponent

Your Dungeon Master may give you an advantage or disadvantage on your attack roll.

It really depends on your particular situation, your character, and your DM.

Here is a good video with a very interesting discussion about attacking yourself in DND:

YouTube video by Colonel Mustache – Can You Attack Yourself in DND?

Can You Attack Yourself With a Spell?

Yes, you can attack yourself with a spell in D&D.

Just like striking yourself with your hands or a weapon, attacking yourself with a spell follows the same rules as attacking another opponent with a spell.

The same magic attack guidelines apply.

On your turn, you cast a melee attack spell against yourself.

Your Dungeon Master will either give you an advantage or disadvantage for a successful hit.

Upon a successful attack throw, you roll damage dice.

It’s important for me to point out that there are some situations where you might not be able to attack yourself with a spell.

Here are several “no spell self-attack” situations:

  • You have not prepared the spell
  • You don’t have any available spell slots
  • The spell description clearly states that you can’t apply the spell to yourself
  • The spell requires physical materials that you do not possess
  • The spell requires somatic gestures and your hands are bound or in use
  • The spell requires verbal components and you are gagged
  • You are unconscious or paralyzed

However, If you have prepared a spell, have open spell slots, possess the material components you need, and are able to fulfill any somatic and verbal requirements, there is no reason that you cannot attack yourself with a spell.

We wrote a good article about 21 Spells You Can Cast on Yourself over here.

Can You Attack Yourself in DND With a Magical Item?

The answer is yes, you can attack yourself in DND, but there are some caveats.

First, the item must be attuned to you.

Second, you must be able to make a successful attack roll. And third, the item must not prevent you from hurting yourself.

If all of these conditions are met, then you can indeed use a magical item to attack yourself.

However, doing so is generally not advised, as it can lead to serious in-game consequences.

Attuning to an item is connecting with it on a deep level. This bond allows you to tap into the item’s power and use it more effectively.

However, it also means that the item becomes a part of you.

Attacking yourself with it can have serious repercussions. Not only will you take damage from the attack, but you could also damage the item itself or even lose your attunement.

Then there are some magical items imbued with a curse or dark magic.

For example, a sword that drains the life force of whoever wields it or half-plate armor that causes the wearer to go insane.

Can You Attack Yourself With an Unarmed Strike?

Yes, you can attack yourself with an unarmed strike in Dungeons and Dragons.

An unarmed strike is a melee attack that does not use a weapon. Instead, the character makes an attack with their hands, feet, or another body part.

To make an unarmed strike using the Attack action, simply choose a target within your reach and make a melee attack roll.

In this case, the target is yourself.

If you hit, you deal damage equal to your Strength modifier + 1.

Some classes, like Monks, may possess special features that allow them to deal even more damage from unarmed strikes.

For example, the Martial Arts feat.

This feat allows Monks to:

  • Inflict 1d4 damage
  • Add their Dexterity modifier (instead of their Strength modifier) to the damage

Can a Barbarian Attack Themselves To Keep Rage Going?

The rage feature for Barbarians is a great addition to the game.

It allows them to get extra strength and damage for a short period of time. However, many people have been wondering if they can keep the rage going by attacking themselves.

The answer is “no.”

The reason for this is that the rage feature only works when you attack a hostile enemy.

Jeremy Crawford, a D&D Game Architect, addressed this on Twitter:

“Barbarians can’t keep Rage going by simply attacking themselves (must be a hostile creature), but they can deal damage to themselves.”

If you try to attack yourself as a barbarian, it won’t work because you’re not considered a hostile enemy to yourself.

There is also another consideration.

The purpose of rage is to increase the damage output of the character, and attacking oneself ultimately doesn’t increase damage output to enemies.

In fact, I’d argue that it generally decreases it, as the character takes damage and has to spend time healing.

Therefore, the best way to keep rage mode going is to focus on attacking enemy targets.

Can You Critical Hit Yourself in D&D?

DND players can critically hit themselves in DND.

Here are three ways to get a critical hit on yourself:

  • Roll a natural 20 on a 20-sided die.
  • Use a special class feature (such as the Champion subclass for fighters) to get a critical hit with a dice roll of 18-20.
  • Make yourself paralyzed or unconscious

The third option is a little tricky when applied literally but, to me, the mechanics of paralysis might apply to hitting yourself.

To stay with clear, official D&D rules, characters can certainly land critical hits by rolling dice.

Can a Creature Attack Itself in DND?

One of the stranger things that can happen in D&D is when a creature attacks itself.

This usually happens when the creature is confused, but it can also occur in other circumstances, such as if the creature is subject to a Dominate Creature spell.

When a creature attacks itself, it simply behaves as though the player character had attacked it instead.

The creature will make an attack roll and, if successful, deal damage to itself just as if it had been hit by another creature.

There are a few things to keep in mind when a creature attacks itself.

First, any damage dealt is real and can potentially kill the creature. Second, any bonuses or penalties that would normally apply to an attack against another creature may also apply to the self-attack.

The Dungeon Master will decide on the attack and saving throw advantages and disadvantages.

For example, if the creature is attacking themselves with a weapon that has the Disadvantage against creatures with armor, then the self-attack might also suffer a Disadvantage.

Finally, any effects that would normally get triggered by a normal attack will also be triggered by a self-attack.

If the creature possesses a special ability that deals extra damage when it hits with a certain attack, then the creature can activate the ability and bonus damage against itself.

How Can You Attack Yourself in DND?

There are several ways to attack yourself in DND.

Let’s look at each way and how you might make it happen during a game. Keep in mind that your DM can always overrule your character’s intended self-attack.

Roll the Dice (Or Not)

A Dungeon Master may ask the player to roll a successful attack roll against themselves.

In some cases, a Dungeon Master may permit the character to automatically hit themselves without making a roll.

This usually happens when:

  • The context or circumstances make sense
  • Your DM considers your self-attack a creative solution to an in-game problem
  • You are unlikely to kill off your character
  • Your DM interprets self-attacks as “hitting a paralyzed or unconscious enemy”

Ordering a Familiar to Attack You

In Dungeons and Dragons, players often order their familiars to attack other creatures.

However, they may not realize that they can also order their familiars to attack them. When a player orders their familiar to attack them, the familiar will make an attack throw.

If the familiar makes the hit, it will then roll damage dice.

Ordering a Mind-Controlled Creature to Attack You

When a player character mind controls another being, they are effectively taking control of that creature’s body and using it to attack themselves.

This can be done with a spell or ability, or it can be done through the use of psionic powers.

Traps and Hazards

A player character can also use traps and hazards to attack themselves.

This can be done by setting off traps or purposefully walking into hazardous areas. Your character might choose to stroll into hostile territory or through a pile of acidic goo.

A daring character with extreme willpower might jab their hand into a wall of fire or jump into freezing water.

This raises the related question, “Can you let someone hit you?”

Can You Choose to Get Hit in DND?

In Dungeons & Dragons, player characters can choose to get hit.

They can drop their shield, open their arms, and not defend themselves.

They can also lay prone on the ground or step away from protective cover to make themselves an easy target.

Why would a player character (PC) ever make such a choice?

There are a few understandable reasons. Firstly, there may be a friendly Non-Player Character (NPC) who needs help and the PC is trying to attract the enemy’s attention so that the NPC can escape.

Secondly, the PC may be trying to create an opening for another player character to attack.

Finally, the PC may be trying to goad the enemy into attacking them so that they can use their reaction to counter-attack. Whatever the reason, making oneself an easy target is a risky move that can pay off in big ways if executed correctly.

Can Vampires Bite Themselves in DND?

A vampire can bite themselves but they might receive no benefit from it.

They cannot drink their own blood.

There is some online debate about whether they derive any pleasure from biting themselves at all.

However, they might inflict self-damage for the other reasons mentioned in this article (see below).

Why Would a Character Want to Attack Themselves in DND? (5 Good Reasons)

I can think of at least five good reasons a character in DND might want to attack themselves.

Those reasons include:

  • To remove possession
  • To end an interrogation
  • To not get captured
  • To save another player
  • To trigger a reaction or effect

If your character is possessed by an evil spirit, attacking yourself may set you free.

Self-harm can be useful in some situations, such as when a character is trying to avoid capture or interrogation.

In some cases, attacking yourself can distract enemies so that the rest of your team escapes.

Another reason to attack yourself is to trigger a reaction or effect.

For example, if your fighter wants to make an opportunity attack or if your spellcaster has readied a powerful reaction spell.

By game rules, even a small self-attack can theoretically trigger a bigger and more damage-inflicting reaction on a hostile target.

Final Thoughts: Can You Attack Yourself in DND?

Attacking yourself in DND can also be dangerous, as it is often difficult to control the amount of damage taken.

I only suggest that you consider it in very rare and desperate circumstances.

Related posts:

Sources

Wizard of the Coast
Sage Advice

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