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5E Command

brehobit

Explorer
Had someone use command on a ship to order an (armored) captain to "swim". Save was missed and I had him jump in the water. How would you have ruled it. In that situation it was a very powerful application of the spell. And we are expecting a lot of boat-based stuff, so...
 

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Green1

First Post
Well..

1. It's 60 feet range so you can not really do it ship to ship unless you are docked to it or are aboard.

2. Does not work if you ask creature to do something harmful. Man overboard in the middle of the sea can be deadly. Particularly if the crew is too busy to fish someone out.
 


Wik

First Post
2. Does not work if you ask creature to do something harmful. Man overboard in the middle of the sea can be deadly. Particularly if the crew is too busy to fish someone out.
You don't even need to be in the middle of the sea. A MOB is always dangerous, and most drowning deaths occur within sight of land.

Even if you wear normal clothes, you'll be in trouble of drowning. And good luck swimming - even many "strong" swimmers can't make it ashore in a MOB situation. Having done a few drills myself, wearing full survival gear, swimming even a hundred feet in any sort of ocean current is surprisingly difficult.

So yeah, I'd assume that this sort of command would be "Directly Harmful". Possibly even "Suicidal".
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
My first question is: how badly did the target fail?

"Jump overboard" when obviously you'd going to die if you do so should be run the same as if the player had just commanded the target to "kill yourself". It isn't "stay right here" while the caster ties the person to the mast, or "you drink first" when the player suspects of bring given a poisoned drink.

Generally speaking, it's not impossible to Command a person to kill themselves, such commands are just easier to fight since they are so against what you want to do.

So I'll go back to my original question: How badly did the target fail? By a couple of points? I would have made him move towards the edge of the boat, perhaps close enough to be pushed in with his guard down, but it would have been an agonizing step every inch closer. Did the target roll a natural 1? Then I wouldn't fret about the outcome since the possibility of an adjusted DC allowing him to win would be out of the question.

Sailors tend to be stupid about everything except the ocean. So the person issuing the Command is basically issuing their order against the NPCs best skill (Sailing) in which the NPC is proficient. I would give such a target a higher bonus to succeed due to their knowledge and experience on the seas.
 

Green1

First Post
My first question is: how badly did the target fail?

"Jump overboard" when obviously you'd going to die if you do so should be run the same as if the player had just commanded the target to "kill yourself". It isn't "stay right here" while the caster ties the person to the mast, or "you drink first" when the player suspects of bring given a poisoned drink.

Generally speaking, it's not impossible to Command a person to kill themselves, such commands are just easier to fight since they are so against what you want to do.

So I'll go back to my original question: How badly did the target fail? By a couple of points? I would have made him move towards the edge of the boat, perhaps close enough to be pushed in with his guard down, but it would have been an agonizing step every inch closer. Did the target roll a natural 1? Then I wouldn't fret about the outcome since the possibility of an adjusted DC allowing him to win would be out of the question.

Sailors tend to be stupid about everything except the ocean. So the person issuing the Command is basically issuing their order against the NPCs best skill (Sailing) in which the NPC is proficient. I would give such a target a higher bonus to succeed due to their knowledge and experience on the seas.
Maybe if the DM uses botch rules. :D

But yeah, you are right. Even the sailor mooks would know it's not wise to be overboard. Fatigue levels and constant checks suck even if you do have pluses. And, the ship could move away.

As DM I would rule it fails. But that is not to say it could not be useful. You could command the captain to flee the quarterdeck and the ship would be unpiloted till someone else stepped up.

Maybe there could be a higher level "Walk the Plank" spell that is a future water/ sailing domain spell one day.
 

KarinsDad

First Post
My first question is: how badly did the target fail?

"Jump overboard" when obviously you'd going to die if you do so should be run the same as if the player had just commanded the target to "kill yourself". It isn't "stay right here" while the caster ties the person to the mast, or "you drink first" when the player suspects of bring given a poisoned drink.

Generally speaking, it's not impossible to Command a person to kill themselves, such commands are just easier to fight since they are so against what you want to do.

So I'll go back to my original question: How badly did the target fail? By a couple of points? I would have made him move towards the edge of the boat, perhaps close enough to be pushed in with his guard down, but it would have been an agonizing step every inch closer. Did the target roll a natural 1? Then I wouldn't fret about the outcome since the possibility of an adjusted DC allowing him to win would be out of the question.
What does it matter? In 5E, a failure is a failure on a save. Why throw in "how much someone missed the save by" house rules?

That way leads to madness for a lot of other spells.


I'm not sure why there is debate on this. Swimming in armor is generally considered deadly, so unless the target was an expert swimmer in armor (or could breathe underwater), this would be an action directly harmful to the target and he would auto-save.
 

Coredump

First Post
What does it matter? In 5E, a failure is a failure on a save. Why throw in "how much someone missed the save by" house rules?

That way leads to madness for a lot of other spells.
Can you provide a rule for that assertion?
There is nothing in the rules that dictates that every failure is just like every other failure, nor every success just like every other success.
In fact, there are examples where rolling particularly high or low *does* have different effects. There are more examples in the WotC adventures where they do this.
 

KarinsDad

First Post
Can you provide a rule for that assertion?
Ok.

3. Compare the total to a target number. If the total equals or exceeds the target number, the ability check, attack roll, or saving throw is a success. Otherwise, it’s a failure.
Nothing in the rules about partial failures TMK.

There is nothing in the rules that dictates that every failure is just like every other failure, nor every success just like every other success.
In fact, there are examples where rolling particularly high or low *does* have different effects. There are more examples in the WotC adventures where they do this.
Feel free to quote these examples of yours.

While it is true that the effects of saves can vary, the effect itself indicates what happens on success or failure. Since the effect indicates this, yes, it is possible that a given effect could have a partial success or a partial failure. The Command spell does not have that.

The result of a successful or failed saving throw is also detailed in the effect that allows the save.
 

Why is the captain wearing armour while on board? Never mind the "Swim" command - that by itself is pretty suicidal. :)
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
What does it matter? In 5E, a failure is a failure on a save. Why throw in "how much someone missed the save by" house rules?

That way leads to madness for a lot of other spells.
Because the question was really: If you had adjusted the save based on the sailor's knowledge of the seas and the certainty of death, would they have then passed?

I'm not sure why there is debate on this. Swimming in armor is generally considered deadly, so unless the target was an expert swimmer in armor (or could breathe underwater), this would be an action directly harmful to the target and he would auto-save.
I believe Coredump's question was in regards to this, not that failing a save means failing a save. I'm not sure if there is a rule in 5E adjudicating how often a target gets to attempt a re-save when the risk of death is high. In older editions you got more saves more often with lower DCs.

Command isn't supposed to be run like Dominate Person.

Generally speaking, 5E lacks granularity. The system is very black and white. Save/fail. Advantage/disadvantage, etc... This situation calls for more than that because the precedent it sets is for a supremely buffed Command and supremely nerfed scenarios where NPCs are incapable of fighting back.
 

KarinsDad

First Post
Because the question was really: If you had adjusted the save based on the sailor's knowledge of the seas and the certainty of death, would they have then passed?
I'm not really understanding your question. From my perspective, everyone trained in armor (presumably this captain is) would know that swimming in armor is life threatening (i.e. "or if your command is directly harmful to it"). Now, the OP did not tell us whether this was at dock, out on the ocean, or in the middle of a river. So we do not know how threatening this is. And yes, I understand that some DMs might read that phrase as "hit point damage".

But from my POV, there is no need to adjust the save. There is no need for a save unless we are talking certain specific conditions (like docked in shallow water where a person could more easily just go to shore). In most circumstances, this should be an auto-save because it is directly harmful.

I believe Coredump's question was in regards to this, not that failing a save means failing a save. I'm not sure if there is a rule in 5E adjudicating how often a target gets to attempt a re-save when the risk of death is high. In older editions you got more saves more often with lower DCs.

Command isn't supposed to be run like Dominate Person.
I agree, but I don't think that the OP's example is a good example of how Command might need to be adjusted. Command is fairly explicit. No need for rerolls for undead. No need for rerolls for a creature that does not understand the caster. No need for rerolls for directly harmful commands. The target just auto-saves in these cases.

Generally speaking, 5E lacks granularity. The system is very black and white. Save/fail. Advantage/disadvantage, etc... This situation calls for more than that because the precedent it sets is for a supremely buffed Command and supremely nerfed scenarios where NPCs are incapable of fighting back.
This situation doesn't call for more granularity. This situation requires an autosave.

Now, I'm sure that people can come up with a lot of situations that might require granularity and it's fine for a DM to give a +2 bonus or penalty or even advantage or disadvantage against Command in those cases. Personally, I'm not that type of DM that does that and I don't think this example comes even close to being one for which granularity should be considered. But, I could see other DMs doing it.
 

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