On a d% roll of 01-25, a confused creature "Acts normally." During this time, does the creature recognize that it's confused, allowing it to take actions to remove the condition, or does it act as if it were it not confused? For example, would a confused cleric have the presence of mind to cast on himself the spell calm emotions?

To put this another way, I imagine the condition confused as causing the creature to experience a hazy, dreamlike state in which the creature isn't sure what they're seeing and sometimes acts in a way that its lucid self wouldn't. Using this interpretation, rolling "Acts normally" could mean that the creature is still suffering from the condition confused, but the creature's perceptions line up just closely enough with what is actually happening that the creature does the same thing it would have otherwise done without the condition.

Alternatively, rolling 01-25 could mean that the creature briefly shakes off the condition, giving it the opportunity to cure itself. (By the way, a different mental picture that explains the confused condition better is acceptable.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Relephant \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    May 10, 2017 at 0:40

2 Answers 2


Err in favor of the PCs

I've neither played in nor run a campaign wherein a result of Act normally for the condition confused meant anything else besides The player can have his PC take actions the player wants the PC to take, and those actions include the PC taking actions that attempt to remove the condition confused.1,2

That is, using the reading Acts normally above, a PC possessing the condition confused already has a 75% chance of not being in control of his actions and but a 25% chance doing what his player wants him to do. By reading Acts normally as The PC will do what he would have done absent the condition confused, the PC is limited to a specific set of GM-defined actions rather than to actions the player would've picked for his PC to take! The player must now confer with the GM during what would otherwise be his PC's moments of lucidity as to what are and aren't appropriate actions. A result of Act normally becomes a result of Act normally within the limits prescribed by the GM, making a confused PC's chance of being in control of his actions 0%.

This GM's opinion is that the condition confused is difficult enough for a PC without making Acts normally into GM May I. And were I a player in a campaign that implemented Acts normally as Act normally within the limits prescribed by the GM, I wouldn't flip the table and walk away, but I would politely decline to participate in the GM May I minigame and just have the GM control my PC for the duration of the condition confused so I could go play video games or read a book instead.

1 In this GM's campaigns the condition confused—when the creature doesn't get the Act normally result—is as recognizable to onlookers as many other conditions are. Just because such a condition doesn't exist in the real world doesn't mean the folks in a high-magic fantasy world are equally unfamiliar with the condition! Sometimes, after being affected by the right spell or effect, a buddy gets that confused look in his eye and babbles incoherently, somehow deals itself damage with the scroll in his hand ("Paper cut! Ow!"), or lashes out at the nearest creature. However, the only mundane indication that the condition's finally abated is a contiguous period of lucidity, which may just be the result of a long series of awesome die rolls. Caution is advised.
2 While this answer addresses things from a player's perspective, this reading is also easier on the GM who can have the NPCs take actions normally instead of trying to determine what actions the NPCs would take absent the condition confused. In other words, this reading speeds play, which is usually a good thing.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I see your point; in my own adventures I try to limit how I often I use spells that take control away from the players, but most of my GMing is in Pathfinder Society now where that isn't an option. Following this thread, do you interpret "attack nearest creature" as being always a physical attack, or do you have wizards cast attack spells instead? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben S.
    May 10, 2017 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenS. Me, too. Removing player agency sucks. That second part's actually a different question, but fortunately one already asked and answered here. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2017 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm a little confused by that response, because it seems to go against what you were saying earlier. I interpreted your answer as being that, in your opinion, Player Choice > No Player Choice > DM May I, but it seems like DM May I is what would happen if the player is given options on how to attack their ally (i.e., PC says "I cast Command on him", DM responds "You're a 15th level caster, I think you'd use something stronger.") Thoughts? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben S.
    May 10, 2017 at 21:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenS. In the linked answer, I take a compromise position. I'm trusting the player to limit his choices, but I won't intervene. My tendency is not to hold private conversations, so at the table, I'd describe in front of everyone a reason the PC should attack. If the player opts to role-play badly by throwing pebbles while prone, that's A) not my fault, B) not my concern, and C) something everybody knows. I've provided an avenue for what I thought was a better role-playing experience, and the player's opted out. I don't think my responsibility goes much further. \$\endgroup\$ May 10, 2017 at 23:32

Oustide of RAW/RAI, from real world experience, it depends on the severity of the "confusion".

As an example, I have a minor case of epilepsy (not overly relevant, but hear me out). During a "seizure", my brain effectively re-boots. my vision goes out, I can't hear, and then when that comes back, it still takes a few moments to get back to working order. In that time - speech is a real issue.

This is my example. I might say something, and to me it sounds like "I'm just having a bit of trouble at the moment, give me a moment", but what comes out might as well be "I own 3 pretty pink elephants", for all I know; and the only way I know is because people take second to try and comprehend my speech, then give up and tell me that I make no sense.

Now, applying this to confusion: When you try and do something, you end up doing something else. It might take a moment for you to realise what you have/haven't done, but you will eventually realise, in whatever mind-haze you're in. It can be anywhere between "No, I quite clearly intended to do something else, I got confused there", to "I think I was meant to go buy oranges... so why did I stab myself instead? I'll have to ponder this for a while."

Eventually you will realise something is up, and you can take the steps to right the situation. Applying this to the game however, is up to the DM.


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