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The paralyzed condition notes

A paralyzed creature is incapacitated (see the condition) and can't move or speak.

Under incapacitated it says

An incapacitated creature can't take actions or reactions.

I mistakenly thought that my character could issue mental commands (to control a spiritual weapon perhaps) while under the influence of a hold person spell. However, as has been noted on the site already, paralyzed creatures are incapacitated, and therefore can't take actions, and therefore can't take bonus actions.

I'm wondering what issues could arise from allowing paralyzed creatures to take actions that do not require physical movement. I'm particularly concerned with in-game logic, game balance, and ease of play, but there may be other issues that pop up that I haven't considered. It might also be possible that such a change wouldn't cause any problems.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems ok. Minor note: the condition also states that the victim cannot speak, but I assume you would like to allow for telepathic speech. If so you could mention that too. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega May 28 '20 at 10:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a simple metric for "actions that do not require physical movement"? It feels like this is a potential disaster of DM rulings. \$\endgroup\$ – user-63873687 May 28 '20 at 11:26
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If you change paralyzed to not include mental actions this will decrease the impact / power / value of every spell / trait / etc. that can paralyze. This includes Hold Person and Hold Monster for example. It is important to make the house rule for paralyzation clear so that a player won't take such a spell (or anything else that can paralyze) and be disappointed if it does not work against spellcasters.

Of course it is also important to define what mental actions are. You would need a simple and consistent definition. E.g. spells requiring no components, as well as maintaining concentration, telepathy, and mental commands.

Changing the incapacitated condition is not a good idea since many rules refer to this so it is practically impossible to gauge the consequences. Some examples of references are maintaining concentration, being unconscious, and sneak attack. If you remove incapacitated from the paralyzed condition, similar problems occur, but only if a creature is incapacitated through being paralyzed.

Therefore, you need to first define mental actions (such as in the example above). To avoid unwanted interactions you should then houserule an exception like: Paralysis and the resulting incapacitation do not apply to mental actions such as [...].

This will probably not critically unbalance your game since paralysis is not something that comes up extremely frequently (like incapacitated does).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, "maintaining concentration" doesn't need an action so isn't affected by paralysis normally. \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast May 28 '20 at 13:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but the rules on concentration state that becoming incapacitated breaks concentration. That is an example of what I meant when I talked about references to the incapacitated condition. \$\endgroup\$ – Anagkai May 28 '20 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, touche. I had forgotten that. \$\endgroup\$ – BBeast May 28 '20 at 13:24

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