The incapacitated condition states that

An incapacitated creature can’t take actions or reactions.

Does that effect allow you to move though? Moving is not an action (at least not in 5e).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Something that takes away your actions (which includes bonus actions), reactions, and Concentration, is already huge. Last night the BBEG opened his ambush on the PCs with a Symbol of Pain. Granted this is a 7h level spell, but 2 of 5 players failed their initial save - with just one more it could easily have been a TPK since they had no actions for one minute. Had the PC's been unable to leave the area of the symbol as well (no movement) it would effectively change it from no actions for one minute to no actions for ten minutes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 17:30

2 Answers 2



The condition states everything you're not allowed to do:

  • Actions (which also prevents Bonus Actions, per PHB p. 189: "anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action")

  • Reactions

Moving is none of those, so you can do it.

Keep in mind, though, that most effects that incapacitate also cause other conditions, such as movement restrictions. For example, hypnotic pattern says

While charmed by this spell, the creature is incapacitated and has a speed of 0.


The thing about 5e and other gaming systems is that they don't always make sense or a rule requires further clarification.

Yes, if going strictly by the book, then all that is affected are Actions, Reactions, and Bonus Actions.

But, if a person is incapacitated, then how does it make sense that they can move their normal distance?

If we look to the definition of the verb form of "incapacitate", we find that it states it is "to make (someone or something) unable to work, move, or function in the usual way"

The key to that definition is "in the usual way". It doesn't say stop moving. It just means that their movement is severely restricted.

So, if we applied the definition to 5e rules, then you could say that an incapacitated PC is still able to move BUT not in their usual way or even distance. Instead, their movement would be very restricted (i.e. 5' per turn by inch-worming, hopping, or rolling their way across the floor).

Technically, you are still following the rule of not allowing them to take actions, reactions, or bonus actions but allowing them to move. You're just adding an adjustment or restriction to their movement rate that makes sense to you as the DM for an incapacitated person.

Remember, the rules are there for guidelines and it is okay if something doesn't make sense to adjust them so they make sense to you and your campaign.

  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ There definitely rules that don't make sense, but I really don't feel this is one of them. Conditions are very well-defined mechanical terms that come with very specific penalties. There are conditions that restrict movement and those say that. Anything that doesn't clearly doesn't restrict movement. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 12:45
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ You're describing Paralyzed condition, which is actually includes Incapacitated — "A paralyzed creature is incapacitated and can't move or speak". A "clear" Incapacitated condition is something a pepper spray (or, in this case, Dust of Sneezing and Choking) does to you. See the example in the Basic Rules , pg. 166, or here. And yes, you can move while sneezing. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 14:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor that might be a good answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrHiTech
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 15:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To both: Answered per a definition & PHB 5e pg 290 which only says "An incapacitated creature can't take actions or reactions". No other references in PHB or DMG exist. Don't have Basic Rules. Based on above, it doesn't make sense to allow full movement. People sneezing, choking, sprayed with pepper spray & etc definitely will not move at their normal pace. The body will not allow it. They will be slowed to some degree. Thus, my statements on still allowing them to move but adding "an adjustment or restriction to their movement rate." But, as a DM, can rule how one desires in their game. \$\endgroup\$
    – dndtomball
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 2:36
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ re: restricted movement. It's already in 'incapacitated', by making it impossible to do a full dash: you cannot use your action to move your full movement in addition to your Move part of the turn. So, if you want to run, incapacitated effectively halvs your possible movement rate... \$\endgroup\$
    – Roach
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 8:43

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