What Is Crown of Madness in D&D 5th Edition and How to Use It?

What Is Crown of Madness in DND 5th Edition and How To Use It?

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The Crown of Madness is a spell of the enchanting variety in Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) that can have some interesting usages in niche situations. However, the spell’s limitations cause players to disregard it, so what is the Crown of Madness and how should you use it?

The Crown of Madness charms a humanoid enemy and forces them to melee attack a nearby enemy in range. The spell must be maintained every turn after that, or survive a Wisdom check, to stay active.

Let’s look at how this spell works, how to get the most out of it, and in what game situations really call for it. We’ll also look at when the spell is not the best choice so you don’t join the other legions of dead adventurers before you. So let’s get into it!

What Does Crown of Madness Do in D&D?

A spell that has some of the more interesting mechanics in D&D, allows you to charm a humanoid target, making them do your bidding every turn.

The charmed target must use its action first, before anything else, including moving. This action will always be a melee attack against a creature other than itself that the player can select mentally.

The flavor text from the Player’s Handbook also states that ‘[t]he charmed target must use its action before moving on each of its turns to make a melee attack against a creature other than itself that you mentally choose.

What Is Crown of Madness in DND 5th Edition and How To Use It?

The target can act normally on its turn if you choose no creature or if none are within its reach.

This charm effect will continue as long as the player continues to use an action to maintain control. However, the charmed target also gets a chance at the end of every turn to make a Wisdom saving throw, at which point the charm will end immediately.

It is important to remember that D&D always has many rules around certain game states of certain terms, and a charmed creature can’t attack the charmer or target the charmer.

The charmer also has an advantage on any ability check, for example, if they want to interact socially with the creature.

This means that creatures invulnerable to charms are also by default immune to this spell.


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It is available on the Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard spell lists. Further compounding this, is that the target gains a twisted crown and their eyes also change, meaning that this look can even warn allies that something is not quite right.

With intelligent enemies, this can result in them all moving out of range of the Crown of Madness spell by distancing themselves from the target.

However, this is not meant to be a very high-level, damage-dealing spell. Instead, generally Crown of Madness is perfect for dumb and strong enemies, as they are effectively taken out of the fight.

Another great use case for this spell is for creatures with a multi-attack, as this mechanic will stop them from doing it as they are forced into a single attack.

Common in trickier dungeons is the surprise attack by a group of monsters. Crown of Madness can really shine here as it makes the pack split up by causing some members to run away from the charmed target.

Does Crown of Madness Work on Undead?

Humanoids are different from Undead, so this spell is stated to not affect Undead creatures. This is common with many spells of the enchanting variety.

Humanoids are the living human inhabitants of a fantasy gaming world. Generally, they will have language and culture, lack demonic power or other types of innate magical abilities, and take the names of creatures such as humans, dwarves, elves, and halflings.

The ‘evil’ versions of humanoids include goblinoids (goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears), orcs, gnolls, lizardfolk, and kobolds among others.


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Can You Twin Spell Crown of Madness?

The issue is the usage of the caster’s actions on subsequent turns, making it very hard to cast the spell again without losing the first target.

The requirement for subsequent actions means that 100% of the spellcaster’s expected damage output is completely negated unless doing something like the Quickened Metamagic possibility is only available with Sorcerers, not so much for the other classes.

In order to twin spell the Crown of Madness, you could duplicate this spell as a 10th-level enchanter. Normally this is done using Split Enchantment, or you can just use Twinned Spell if you have chosen the Sorcerer class. 

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