Paralyzed Condition 5e: Mechanics & Full Guide for Players and DMs

Paralyzed is a temporary condition that players can be subjected to that limits their ability to interact with the environment or defend themselves.

This is one of many ways to challenge your players with new and interesting torture techniques other then simply lowering their HP until they die.

What Is the Paralyzed Condition in DnD 5e?

A Paralyzed creature cannot take actions, reactions, or movement, nor can they speak. They fail all DEX and STR saves. All attacks against them have advantage. Successful melee attacks are critical hits.

There are no rules for half or quarter paralysis. There is no option for “blink once for yes, twice for no” or any technical loopholes to exploit.

In this condition, you are simply immobile until you can pass whichever save you failed to make or until time runs out.

What Does the Paralyzed Condition Entail?

Paralyzed simply means you cannot move or take any action that depends on movement, including speech. Here is a list of things you CAN do:

Make INT Checks

So long as you can hear or see information, you can use your Arcana/History/Nature/Religion skills to analyze that information so that, hypothetically, you could tell your party members after they come and save you.

Make WIS Checks

You can’t move your eyes, but, provided no one puts a bag over your head, you can see what is in front of you and hear what is around you.

This means you can make Perception/Insight checks concerning that information.

Psionics

Oh, yeah. I bet you didn’t think about that one! Psionics are abilities gained from classes and feats that can be spell-like but do not require any verbal, somatic, or material components.

This means if you have the Telepathy or Telekinetic feats or any class abilities that give you psionic spells, you can still use those abilities despite being Paralyzed.

How Do I Recover From Being Paralyzed?

This depends on whether the source of your deafness is a spell, a monster, or an environmental effect.

  • Spell Effects typically require a WIS save. In general, you are only Paralyzed for 1 minute, but you may re-attempt the save at the end of every turn. While different spells may vary, in general, if a spell has you paralyzed, it is the Hold Person spell that is being used. Hold Person requires such a save.
  • Monsters that can paralyze will attempt to overcome your defenses using one of two means. A spell effect will require a WIS save. Poison or venom will require a CON save. You will be able to make a new save at the end of your turn until the duration ends, assuming, of course, you don’t become lunch in the meantime.
  • Environmental Effects that can cause Paralyze are typically poison gasses loose in the atmosphere, liquids you find yourself submerged in, or even magical traps you wander into.

Paralysis is no joke and is typically encountered in tier 2 adventures. Unlike other conditions that make you immobile, Paralysis comes with the frightening penalty of having all melee hits against you being counted as critical hits.

How Can I Help a Paralyzed Party Member?

If your strength is high enough, we recommend simply picking them up and moving them to a safer location until they can come back to themselves.

Alternatively, they can be put into a bag of holding where, as per the Rules as Written, they can breathe for 10 minutes.

Typically, this will allow them to wait out the paralysis without dying or going mad in the infinite void of a pocket dimension.

There are, however, magical abilities that will allow you to help a Paralyzed party member. They are:

  • Resistance Grant your buddy a plus 1d4 to their next saving throw.
  • Lesser Restoration Heal the Paralysis outright.
  • Power Word Heal Heal everything! Except maybe a broken heart…

How Can I Cause Paralysis?

The easiest way to Paralyze a target is with the Hold Person spell, and other than a Wand of Paralysis, there isn’t much equipment or gear available in the available DnD publications.

Our Gift to You

I raided – I mean, borrowed – some things from the forge downstairs that you can use in your game tonight – if you dare!

Grell Venom

Common

This alchemical mixture is not actually Grell Venom but does mimic its effects. When applied to any piercing weapon, the venom adds a paralysis effect to the weapon’s damage.

The target must make a CON save vs DC 11 or be paralyzed for one round. The venom remains on the weapon until a target fails a save.

Once a target is successfully paralyzed, the venom is no longer on the weapon and must be reapplied.

Nerve Gas

Uncommon

When this alchemical gas is frozen, it can be placed into a vial. Upon thawing, it returns to its gaseous state under pressure.

By cracking the seal on the vial, the gas bursts out in a 10-foot cone, causing all creatures affected to make a DC 13 CON save or be paralyzed for 1 minute.

Creatures may make new saving throws at the end of their turn to negate the effect.

Paralyzing Dart

Uncommon

These magical darts function like the ranged simple weapon. In addition to dealing 1d4 damage, targets must make a DC 13 STR save or be paralyzed until the needle is removed. Targets may re-attempt the save at the end of their turn.

Net of Holding

Rare

This magical net functions exactly like the weapon. In addition to its normal effects, you may speak a command word to Paralyze any target that has been Restrained.

The target may attempt a DC 14 STR save to overcome this effect at the end of each of their turns until the net has been removed. The net may be used this way only once per long rest.

Earbug

Very Rare

This wonderous item resembles a tiny clockwork insect with a fly speed of 20 feet, an AC of 14, and 2 HP. You may throw this target up to 30 feet.

Upon landing on a creature you designate, the Earbug will crawl behind the target’s ear (or similar appendage) and make a psychic attack. 

The target must make a WIS save vs DC 15 or become paralyzed for 1 hour. They may re-attempt this saving throw once every 10 minutes. 

Removing the Earbug forcibly will deal 10d6 psychic damage to the target but will end the Paralysis effect. A player can halve this damage by completing a Sleight of hand or Medicine check vs. DC 15 upon removing the Earbug.