Would you be able to use Wild Shape while paralyzed in d&d 3.5?


You cannot use Wild Shape while paralyzed

The paralyzed condition has the following text (emphasis mine):

A paralyzed character is frozen in place and unable to move or act. A paralyzed character has effective Dexterity and Strength scores of 0 and is helpless , but can take purely mental actions. A winged creature flying in the air at the time that it becomes paralyzed cannot flap its wings and falls. A paralyzed swimmer can't swim and may drown . A creature can move through a space occupied by a paralyzed creature — ally or not. Each square occupied by a paralyzed creature, however, counts as 2 squares.

The Wild Shape supernatural ability from the druid class reads (emphasis mine):

At 5th level, a druid gains the ability to turn herself into any Small or Medium animal and back again once per day. Her options for new forms include all creatures with the animal type. This ability functions like the alternate form special ability, except as noted here. The effect lasts for 1 hour per druid level, or until she changes back. Changing form (to animal or back) is a standard action and doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity . Each time you use wild shape, you regain lost hit points as if you had rested for a night .

While paralyzed, the character is unable to take actions, unless they are purely mental. "Purely mental action" is not a defined term in 3.5e, but it would seem to me that physically changing your body is more than a mental action. Wild Shape requires a standard action to use, so I would rule that a character is unable to use Wild Shape while paralyzed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A paralyzed character is able to take actions if they are „purely mental“. Spell-like abilities, for instance, can be activated mentally. So the cruxial question would be whether using the SU ability Wild Shape is a „purely mental“ action or not. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 18 '20 at 17:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeregrinTook Yeah, I've been searching around for the last 45 minutes looking for anything that would classify Wild Shape as "purely mental" or not, but there doesn't seem to be any consensus. If you have something that would classify it as a mental ability that would change my answer, but it seems to me like physically changing your body is a physical ability. I have edited my answer to include this. \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Aug 18 '20 at 17:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree, SU abilities in general probably are not activated mentally. - Also, Wild Shape has quite a lot to do with your body and not so much with your mind :) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 18 '20 at 17:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan As far as I know, bound characters are not prevented from taking actions, so what they are able to accomplish while bound would be up to the DM. I think there is a lot more freedom with your body while bound than while paralyzed, I would have no problem with Wild Shape while bound. \$\endgroup\$
    – smbailey
    Aug 18 '20 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ I respectfully feel that's another (broader) question to answer. The OP specifically says paralyzed not helpless. +1 from me. \$\endgroup\$
    – joedragons
    Aug 18 '20 at 21:01

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