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D&D 5E Command and spike growth

Pickaxe

Explorer
Command cannot cause a creature to do something “directly harmful” to itself. If I cast command on a creature standing in the area of a spike growth spell and tell it to flee, will it run through the area, taking 2d4 damage per five feet? Or is fleeing in this case considered to be something directly harmful?
 

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toucanbuzz

Legend
"Directly harmful" would mean the target is aware of an existing danger. They may not be aware of Spike Growth, which takes a Perception check to notice if you weren't there when the spell was cast. So, if they saw the ground change or make the Perception check, Command wouldn't trigger.

Otherwise, the spell would be granting supernatural abilities to creatures to sense dangers previously unknown.
 



Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
While of different magnitude, it seems as direct as... running off a cliff would be.
I disagree. Taking damage from spike growth is incidental to running away. Falling off a cliff is not incidental to running off a cliff - it’s pretty much the direct result of running off a cliff.
 


ECMO3

Hero
Command cannot cause a creature to do something “directly harmful” to itself. If I cast command on a creature standing in the area of a spike growth spell and tell it to flee, will it run through the area, taking 2d4 damage per five feet? Or is fleeing in this case considered to be something directly harmful?
I would say it is directly harmful.
 

MarkB

Legend
I disagree. Taking damage from spike growth is incidental to running away. Falling off a cliff is not incidental to running off a cliff - it’s pretty much the direct result of running off a cliff.
How is running onto a spike less direct than running off a cliff?
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Let me put it this way: ignore the spells and think about what a person would actually do to get away from something they’re fleeing from. Run off a cliff? No. Run directly into a spike? No. Run through a patch of spiky brambles? Maybe, if it’s the most direct path away from whatever they’re fleeing from. Hold still because they were already in a patch of spiky brambles when the thing started chasing them? Not a chance.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
I would give the Command'ed NPC a saving throw for every square that hurt them. They ought to stop or recognize the danger.
 

Let me put it this way: ignore the spells and think about what a person would actually do to get away from something they’re fleeing from. Run off a cliff? No. Run directly into a spike? No. Run through a patch of spiky brambles? Maybe, if it’s the most direct path away from whatever they’re fleeing from. Hold still because they were already in a patch of spiky brambles when the thing started chasing them? Not a chance.
This get pretty damn subjective. What level of damage there needs to be before it no longer reasonable for them to run through it? How about it was wall of fire? Lava? Do we care about how tough the target is? For a commoner running trough spike growth can easily be lethal.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
This get pretty damn subjective.
Well, yeah, that’s why you have a DM to adjudicate.
What level of damage there needs to be before it no longer reasonable for them to run through it? How about it was wall of fire? Lava? Do we care about how tough the target is? For a commoner running trough spike growth can easily be lethal.
Again, keep in mind that the target in the example starts out already in the area of Spike Growth. It’s not like running into fire or lava, it’s running out of hazardous terrain. A better comparison would be like if you’re surrounded by broken glass or caltrops or something, would you run through them to escape something you were fleeing from or just stay there?
 

Well, yeah, that’s why you have a DM to adjudicate.

Again, keep in mind that the target in the example starts out already in the area of Spike Growth. It’s not like running into fire or lava, it’s running out of hazardous terrain. A better comparison would be like if you’re surrounded by broken glass or caltrops or something, would you run through them to escape something you were fleeing from or just stay there?
If you stay put, you're fine, so it's no different than lava of wall of fire. I think this is pretty unambiguous. Running through the spikes will hurt the target, thus they cannot commanded to do so, assuming they know the spikes are there.
 

MarkB

Legend
Let me put it this way: ignore the spells and think about what a person would actually do to get away from something they’re fleeing from. Run off a cliff? No. Run directly into a spike? No. Run through a patch of spiky brambles? Maybe, if it’s the most direct path away from whatever they’re fleeing from. Hold still because they were already in a patch of spiky brambles when the thing started chasing them? Not a chance.
If someone is scared enough they'll do pretty much anything. People trapped in a burning building have leapt out of windows even though the fall was certain to kill them.

But that's utterly irrelevant to the spell in question. Command doesn't tell them to be afraid, and it doesn't make them afraid. It simply forces them to obey the command. Unless it would be directly harmful to them. Which running across sharpened spikes very clearly would be.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
If someone is scared enough they'll do pretty much anything. People trapped in a burning building have leapt out of windows even though the fall was certain to kill them.

But that's utterly irrelevant to the spell in question. Command doesn't tell them to be afraid, and it doesn't make them afraid. It simply forces them to obey the command. Unless it would be directly harmful to them. Which running across sharpened spikes very clearly would be.
But the command is to flee, so the affected creature should behave as someone who is fleeing would do.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
If you stay put, you're fine, so it's no different than lava of wall of fire.
Except if you’re fleeing, presumably you will not be fine if you stay put, otherwise you would have no reason to flee.
I think this is pretty unambiguous. Running through the spikes will hurt the target, thus they cannot commanded to do so, assuming they know the spikes are there.
That’s a reasonable ruling.
 

MarkB

Legend
But the command is to flee, so the affected creature should behave as someone who is fleeing would do.
And they'll give it their very best shot, to the limit of their acting ability. But they won't actually be afraid, and they won't lose the capacity for rational thought. If they know they're going to get hurt, the spell will fail.
 


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