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The fear spell reads:

Each creature in a 30-foot cone must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or drop whatever it is holding and become frightened for the duration.

While frightened by this spell, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from you by the safest available route on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move. If the creature ends its turn in a location where it doesn't have line of sight to you, the creature can make a Wisdom saving throw. On a successful save, the spell ends for that creature.

What happens if it has space to move, but its movement speed is reduced to zero?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi @user40146! Welcome to rpg.se. You might be interested in the tour. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Sep 1 '18 at 14:51
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Empty Handed, Frightened, and down an action

Fear (Basic Rules, 239) states:

You project a phantasmal image of a creature's worst fears. Each creature in a 30-foot cone must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or drop whatever it is holding and become frightened for the duration.

While frightened by this spell, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from you by the safest available route on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move. If the creature ends its turn in a location where it doesn't have line of sight to you, the creature can make a Wisdom saving throw. On a successful save, the spell ends for that creature

With a speed of zero, you're not going anywhere (note: this can be a good thing, it keeps the target within line of sight to maintain the line of sight with the caster), but the following still happen:

  • They must use their Action to Dash. Even though the speed is zero, the action is still taken.

  • They must drop whatever they are holding. Weapons, foci, or anything else being held drop to the ground.

  • They have the frightened condition

Nowhere to go or no way to get there?

This is the most difficult aspect to assess; I could see it going either way.

There is a difference between having nowhere to go and no way to get there. In this scenario there is a place to move to, there is just no movement to get there. It's a fine line, but if you've created a condition that sets this up, I say reward that setup. Let the Rule of Cool shine :)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How do you take into account "unless there is nowhere to move"? I would say having 0 speed would satisfy that condition. Otherwise a creature with 0 speed and not going anywhere will behave differently in an open area and in a corner. It would seem strange to me. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Sep 1 '18 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Szega I could see it going either way. But there is a difference between having nowhere to go and no way to get there. In this scenario there is a place to move to, there is just no movement to get there. It's a fine line, but if you've created a condition a condition that sets this up, I say reward that setup. I added that to my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 1 '18 at 15:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Slight upgrade to the prose. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 1 '18 at 15:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells You couldn't try to break away because Fear forces you to take the Dash action. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 2 '18 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Vylix Fear doesn't give you an opportunity to use Dodge - the only action available to you while under it's effect is Dash. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 2 '18 at 14:45
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They can use their action normally

This is answered by Jeremy Crawford in this Sageadvice article:

Q: if a creature is under the fear spell (must use action to dash) but in the aura of conquest (reduces speed to 0) do they waste there action to dash with 0 speed or at that point can they use there action as normal? Thank you for any advice

A: If you're under the effect of the fear spell yet have nowhere to move, you can use your action as you like. (That's what "unless there is nowhere to move" is getting at in the spell's text.)

Although seems counterintuitive, Crawford states the intent behind "nowhere to move" also includes having 0 speed. The spell description states that:

While frightened by this spell, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from you by the safest available route on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move.

Since "they have nowhere to move", the part that forces them to take Dash action and move away from you is also negated, thus they can take their action normally.

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They do whatever they still can.

So, a monster grabs you with its horrible pincer (reducing your speed to zero), and at the same time supernaturally fills you with terror such that the only thing you can think to do is run away. But it still has a hold on you.

The rules-first interpretation of this would imply that you can't pull out of its grip (that is, use your action to escape) because you are too busy whirling your feet in place like Scooby-Doo and going nowhere.

This is absurd. If you try to run away, you will try to pull out of its grip, so your action is to try to escape, and you should get your Athletics or Acrobatics check to do that.

It also leads to the paradox shown in this question: if we treat the grapple as limiting the space you have available to move (which is how a grapple actually works, after all), then Fear's limitation on your action wouldn't even apply, and you'd be free to do any action.

What if you have zero speed because you're chained to a wall? Does that count as having no space to run?

The solution is to recognize that taking the Dash action with zero speed doesn't represent your character doing anything, so it's not an action. It's like taking the Cast a Spell action when you don't know any spells.

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