[RPG] Can a petrified wizard communicate telepathically with their familiar


The wizard in my campaign has just been petrified after his first encounter with a cockatrice. He had his familiar 'out' at the time of his petrification.

I'm sure that the intent of the rules is that this wizard can not communicate with his familiar whilst petrified (although I welcome suggestions to the contrary). However, I can't find anything in the rules which explicitly forbids it. The petrified condition imposes the following limitations (ignoring those with no bearing on this ruling):

  • A petrified creature is transformed, along with any nonmagical object it is wearing or carrying, into a solid inanimate substance (usually stone).
  • The creature is incapacitated
  • The creature can’t move or speak
  • The creature is unaware of its surroundings.

The incapacitated condition means only that the target can't take actions or reactions.

Communicating telepathically with the familiar conjured by the Find Familiar only requires that the familiar is within 100 feet of you. It does not:

  • Require an action
  • (Explicitly) require awareness of surroundings
  • Require movement or speech

Is it therefore possible (according to RAW) for a wizard to communicate telepathically with their familiar whilst petrified?

Best Answer

This question is really two questions. The direct question is whether a petrified creature is capable of using telepathy; but the implied question is whether a petrified creature is conscious. If the creature is not able to think, then there are no thoughts to transmit.

The implied question has been asked before:

Does a petrified creature stay conscious (and mentally sane)?

To quote a bit of my answer from that question:

Other than the actual name of the condition, the "incapacitated, can't move or speak, and unaware of surroundings" bullet point is as close as the Unconscious condition ever gets to specifying that your mind is shut off, and that text is present in Petrified as well.

So, for whatever it's worth, it seems like Petrified includes the mental component of unconsciousness, in so far as that state is represented in rules text at all.

A DM could decide to rule the other way, but I think there's a point where we're all just supposed to understand from the simple word "petrified" that we're talking about turning a person to stone, and at that point they are a rock, only capable of doing what rocks do (to wit: be heavy and fall on things).