Some spells like enlarge/reduce and polymorph specify that only an unwilling creature makes a saving throw:

If the target is unwilling, it can make a Constitution saving throw.


An unwilling creature must make a Wisdom saving throw to avoid the effect.

... but is an unconscious character able to make this judgment (and therefore be eligible to make a saving throw)?

Mind you, I've seen this related question on opting in to certain spells, but I'm specifically asking about opting out so as to be eligible for the saving throws.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch The default position is neither unwilling nor willing. Selecting either is its own choice. It is not overwhelmingly clear that being (un)able to choose one is equivalent to being (un)able to choose another \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 14 '19 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure this is a duplicate because after reading the other question I can get 2 answers for this one 1: "An unconscious character can't make the decision to be willing so an unconscious character can't make the decision to be unwilling either". or 2: "An unconscious character can't be willing so that must mean that it is always unwilling". By the definition of a duplicate the answer should be obvious \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Mar 14 '19 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro I care in no way about willing. "Unwilling" is a completely different term. They are not a direct dichotomy and proving something about willingness says nothing about unwillingness. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 14 '19 at 17:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Seems like a dupe to me. you can be willing or unwilling, there's no support for some third state in the rules or in English. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Mar 15 '19 at 4:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ A discussion about whether this is a duplicate of a couple related questions can be found on the Meta site for RPG.SE \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 15 '19 at 14:05

It is up to the DM

"Willing" and "unwilling" are not game terms and are not defined anywhere in the rules and thus we are stuck with generic definitions.


  1. not willing; reluctant; loath; averse:
  2. opposed; offering resistance; stubborn or obstinate; refractory:

"Willing" at least is pretty clearly a choice, you are mentally choosing to consent to something. "Unwilling" is much less clear.

Unwilling has at least two opposed ways to interpret it

As per the above definition, "unwilling" can mean, in broad strokes, "the absence of willingness" (thus an unconscious person would be by default unwilling) or it can mean "opposed" (which requires a conscious decision and thus an unconscious creature would not be considered unwilling).

Depending on what definition you are using either

  1. you must choose to be (un)willing and thus you can be in a neutral state where you are neither.


  2. you are always one or the other thus not choosing to be willing means you are automatically unwilling.

Both are valid definitions.

DM decides ambiguities

The term is ambiguous, in other words, and the person who decides that at your table will be the DM. There is simply no way to magic away the ambiguity of the English language in this case.

At my table

For what it is worth, in my games, I treat all characters as being unwilling unless they are explicitly willing and have had no issues, confusion, or complaints.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd agree with your interpretation/ruling. Anyone that's not actually willing is unwilling. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 14 '19 at 19:18

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