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A helpless character or creature is held, bound, sleeping, has any of its abilities reduced to zero, or otherwise completely at an opponent's mercy.

Being helpless[edit]

A helpless character or creature cannot attack, cast spells or SLAs, drink potions, activate items or class abilities. Depending on the source of helplessness, you might be able to move. You can (and should) block to reduce incoming damage.

A helpless target is treated as having a Dexterity of 0 (-5 modifier). Melee attacks against a helpless target get a +4 bonus (equivalent to attacking a prone target). Ranged attacks gets the same bonus. Rogues and characters with Backstabbing items can always sneak attack helpless targets if they are subject to sneak attacks regardless of aggro.

Extra damage[edit]

Not all sources of helplessness are equal. Some particularly nasty effects can cause the target to take extra damage.

Players that have been rendered helpless take additional damage. The value varies depending on dungeon difficulty:

  • Solo/Casual: +5% damage
  • Normal: +10% damage
  • Hard: +15% damage
  • Elite: +20% damage
  • Epic: +25% damage

Helpless monsters take an extra 50% damage from all sources - including sneak attack damage, spells, etc. (except glancing blows).

Sources of helplessness that do or don't make target take extra damage
Target takes extra damage Extra damage does not apply

Increasing extra damage vs helpless opponents[edit]

Few rare abilities exist that increase your helpless damage:

Heroic abilities
  • Brutality: +20% with melee attacks
  • Bully: up to +15%
  • No Mercy (Acrobat / Ninja Spy): up to +30% (Note: taking "No Mercy" from one of these trees locks out the enhancement in the other.)
  • No Mercy (Falconry): up to +30% (Note: this bonus stacks with the bonus from Thief Acrobat/Ninja Spy.)
  • Prey on the Weak (Nature's Warrior): up to +15%
Epic abilities
Epic Destiny Feats

Overcoming helplessness[edit]

For abilities lowered to 0, some will, over time (a minute or more?) start to recover, +1 at a time. However, this depends on the cause, and some do not recover. A rest at a shrine, or 60 seconds in a Tavern (outside a quest) will fully recover any such damage.

Few rare effects exist that can help you "instantly" overcome some of the sources of helplessness.

Miscellaneous information[edit]

Note that paralysis from a paralyzing weapon will prevent action but not cause this condition, contrary to one of the loading screens.

Helplessness is often caused by a spell such as Hold Person or Sleep. In the case of a Hold Person spell, casting Freedom of Movement will NOT end this condition, but will prevent future Hold Person spells while it lasts. To remove hold spells, use the spell Remove Paralysis. In the case of Sleep - you'll only get a single hit with the +25% damage, as attacking a sleeping target will wake it up.

If helplessness is caused by ability score attribute damage, it can be cured by any Restoration spell or Heal. Attribute damage also recovers with time.


Before Update 9, helpless opponents did not take extra damage. Instead, every hit was a crit.

Coup De Grace[edit]

Coup De Grace is a related Pen and Paper DnD feature that does not directly exist in DDO. Instead for things which would qualify for a Coup De Grace in Pen and Paper, qualify for helpless +50% damage bonus in DDO. Devpost on reasoning for this:

Originally Posted by (former developer) Eladrin Source on July 4, 2008

Auto-criticals when struck while helpless are intended to simulate the coup de grace rule, without requiring a one round wind-up or a forced death check. We also don't do the "make a DC 15 Fort Save or die" for massive damage. Adding a death check in either circumstance would greatly increase the amount of random player deaths - getting held is often bad enough.

Note: Auto-crits were later replaced with the +50% damage bonus.