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I noticed when reading Raulothim's psychic lance spell that it inflicts the incapacitated condition but nothing else. As far as I can remember, the incapacitated condition is usually seen as a "rider" to other effects/conditions and not usually seen by itself.

In order to make a flying creature fall, one of only a few specific things are needed:

If a flying creature is knocked prone, has its speed reduced to 0, or is otherwise deprived of the ability to move, the creature falls, unless it has the ability to hover or it is being held aloft by magic, such as by the fly spell.

The incapacitated condition doesn't mention anything that would meet those prerequisites and movement is separated from actions.

An incapacitated creature can't take actions or reactions.

Assuming the creature is not being held aloft by magic, would it still be able to move and not fall since the incapacitated condition, by itself, doesn't meet any of the qualifiers needed to stop the creature from flying?

I want to make sure that I'm not overlooking something because while this seems to be the case rules as written, it goes against my gut instinct based on what "incapacitated" means.

As an adjective:

Deprived of strength or power; debilitated.

As a verb

Prevent from functioning in a normal way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: If you are incapacitated, can you move? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ray
    Jul 12, 2022 at 3:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ray Oh hey, there is a related question! I must've skipped over it since I was looking specifically for flying. \$\endgroup\$
    – Codex
    Jul 12, 2022 at 13:20

2 Answers 2

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A flying creature that is only Incapacitated may continue to fly, unless it is flying via a feature requiring concentration.

You've quoted the relevant rules. The things that make you stop flying are:

  • "knocked prone"
  • "has its speed reduced to 0"
  • "is otherwise deprived of the ability to move"

However, Incapacitated only states:

An incapacitated creature can't take actions or reactions.

Being unable to take actions or reactions is not on the list of things that make you stop flying, nor is it implied by or an implication of any of those things, so a creature that is only Incapacitated may continue to fly.

I've emphasized that this applies when the creature is only Incapacitated because some other conditions, such as Paralyzed and Stunned, also come with Incapacitated, but would cause a flying creature to fall.

Now, there is an exception to the above ruling. If the creature is flying via a feature requiring concentration, becoming Incapacitated would cause the creature to fall. This is because the rules for concentration state:

The following factors can break concentration:

  • [...]

  • Being incapacitated or killed. You lose concentration on a spell if you are incapacitated or if you die.

For example, the spell fly states:

You touch a willing creature. The target gains a flying speed of 60 feet for the duration. When the spell ends, the target falls if it is still aloft, unless it can stop the fall.

If you cast fly on yourself, started flying, and were then Incapacitated, your concentration would be broken, the spell would end, and you would fall.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll say it every chance I get, losing concentration when you're incapacitated should be listed under the condition's effects. \$\endgroup\$
    – RallozarX
    Jul 11, 2022 at 19:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Somewhat off-topic, but is it strange that you can still take bonus actions if you're incapacitated? It somehow seems weird to me that you could still cast bonus action spells. A Sorcerer with Quickened Spell would even be able to cast any spell they want, provided they have the Sorcerer Points. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2022 at 10:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JordiVermeulen The rules for bonus actions state: “anything that deprives you of your ability to take actions also prevents you from taking a bonus action.” \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2022 at 10:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ tl;dr 'Incapacitated' is a misleading name for the condition \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2022 at 11:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JordiVermeulen The more interesting aspect is that it does not prevent movement, which the exact same wording would have done in previous editions, and is also inconsistent with most usage of the term 'incapacitated' in real life. This reinforces what AncientSwordofRage said above about the name being misleading, especially since most things that incapacitate a creature also restrict movement in some way. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2022 at 18:28
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Thomas Markov's answer is pretty much correct, but I'd like to clarify something that I feel is missing in their answer.

The the rules for Incapacitated state:

An incapacitated creature can't take actions or reactions.

Flying is a type of movement, and moving is not an action in D&D 5e. As the rules for a turn state:

On your turn, you can move a distance up to your speed and take one action.

As said by BlueMoon93 in this answer, effects that incapacitate tend to restrict movement as well. His excellent example: Hypnotic pattern says:

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

The emphasis is mine on the last quote.

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    \$\begingroup\$ As it's currently written, it's unclear what your further clarification is. Is it the part about the move speed reduction usually being an additional effect? If so consider adding this to the leading sentence. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cassie
    Jul 12, 2022 at 11:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ My answer mentions effects that incapacitate that also prevent movement, so it isn't clear what you think I'm missing. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2022 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov It seems just making it explicit that normal movement is not an action. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jul 12, 2022 at 17:43

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