[RPG] Can a paralyzed creature targeted by an Evocation Wizard’s Sculpt Spells feature actually succeed a Dex save


Say a friendly barbarian is currently paralyzed. Part of the description of the paralyzed condition says:

The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.

Its friend, the School of Evocation wizard, casts a fireball in the room, using its Sculpt Spells feature to protect the Barbarian:

When you cast an evocation spell that affects other creatures that you can see, you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell’s level. The chosen creatures automatically succeed on their saving throws against the spell, and they take no damage if they would normally take half damage on a successful save.

Fireball requires a Dex save, but paralyzed creatures normally fail Dex saves; you can easily see the conundrum.

Does the Barbarian fail its Dex save?

Best Answer

While these are two contrary rules exceptions, and therefore ambiguous, from a story perspective, Sculpt Spell is intended to represent the evoker guiding their damaging spell to avoid the target, so it doesn't matter if they actively dodge the attack or not; it just doesn't hit them (or at least has the minimum possible effect). So I would say Sculpt Spell overrides the condition -- the paralyzed character takes no damage, because the fireball just isn't intruding into their space.

The argument could also be made that these are 'simultaneous effects' as discussed on page 77 of Xanathar's Guide to Everything, in which case the character whose turn it is -- the caster -- chooses which effect happens first, so the 'sculpt spell' effect can be the last one, overriding all previous effects.

But I think the conceptual storytelling aspect should be enough to make a decision in this case.