Dominate Monster: How "best" is best?

Stalker0

Legend
So in the Vecna simulation may character has been dominated. Since its been a while since I've been dominated, I looked up the spell. The key text to me: "issue commands to the creature while you are conscious (no Action required), which it does its best to obey"

So unlike in the 3e version, you don't exert precise control unless you consume your action, you just give a "general command". So the question is, how gung ho does a person have to be in fulfilling out the orders to "do their best"?

In my cases, I'm a high level sorceror tasked with killing one of my allies as the general task. Do I need to:
  • Burn every possible sorceror point to bump up my damage/saves? (including using quicken metamagic for more damage?)
  • Use my highest level spell slots to generate the most possible damage?
 

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SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
I would say that you attempt to kill the ally just as if it was an NPC that you wanted to kill.

A solid effort in an attempt to negate/kill a threat.

It would not be a nova, all out blitz, unless your character has already established that they approach threats that way.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
In my cases, I'm a high level sorceror tasked with killing one of my allies as the general task. Do I need to:
  • Burn every possible sorceror point to bump up my damage/saves? (including using quicken metamagic for more damage?)
  • Use my highest level spell slots to generate the most possible damage?
Yes and Yes, but only if upcasting would generate more damage than the higher level spells you have available.

For example, I just adjusted you to use your 7th level slot (you wanted 6th, but that was used by Sunbeam earlier), but really Reverse Gravity would have been better 6d6 "falling damage" up to the ceiling and another 6d6 falling damage at the bottom when you cancelled it.

7th level MM is 9d4+9, so the 12d6 would have been better. My bad on that one. 🤷‍♂️ Since you empowered it, the damage was comparable (39 for mm vs. avg 42 for double falling).
 

Voadam

Legend
I would say that you attempt to kill the ally just as if it was an NPC that you wanted to kill.

A solid effort in an attempt to negate/kill a threat.

It would not be a nova, all out blitz, unless your character has already established that they approach threats that way.
I agree.

Generally tasked with killing a person is a judgment call on appropriate ways to do so. No time pressure is given so resource management judgment calls on whether to nova can vary. "Kill them as quickly as possible" would add different factors to the judgment call.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Just my feeling, but I imagine Vecna would phrase it as 'Destroy them'.

Which still leaves room open for the bard to deliver a devastating Yo Mama joke.
 

I would say that you attempt to kill the ally just as if it was an NPC that you wanted to kill.

A solid effort in an attempt to negate/kill a threat.

It would not be a nova, all out blitz, unless your character has already established that they approach threats that way.
This would be my take as well.

@Stalker0 A dominated PC should view "kill your Fighter friend" (or whatever) in the same light that they would taking down any other dangerous threat. Do you regularly drop SP to get off both a spell and a cantrip (Quicken), perhaps paired with Twin Spell to beef up one of them? Then I think it reasonable that you would do so in this context. Likewise, if you tend to be economical--only spending your high-level slots when you think you REALLY need them, and instead mostly relying on cantrips or low-level spells--then I would expect you to behave similarly, unless something pressed you.

I don't think it should be expected that you blow literally ALL the resources you can ASAP, as most people wouldn't do that unless they were genuinely fearful for their life (or fearful that some similarly horrible problem would result if they failed to stop their opponent.) But nor should you be holding back as hard as you can, because that doesn't really sound like being mind-controlled. It all depends on how your character would normally approach "kill this enemy combatant" as an order.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I don't think it should be expected that you blow literally ALL the resources you can ASAP, as most people wouldn't do that unless they were genuinely fearful for their life (or fearful that some similarly horrible problem would result if they failed to stop their opponent.) But nor should you be holding back as hard as you can, because that doesn't really sound like being mind-controlled. It all depends on how your character would normally approach "kill this enemy combatant" as an order.
So one of the tricks is, if i'm still thinking like a PC I might still think, "well I might have 3-4 more encounters today", and so would conserve resources. However, if I'm in the "final boss" mindset, I might go for broke and nova.

I guess it should just stick with the plan for the original battle. if this was meant to be the first encounter in a possible multi-encoutner day, saving resources still makes sense. If its the last fight, it should be all out.
 

MarkB

Legend
I would say that you attempt to kill the ally just as if it was an NPC that you wanted to kill.

A solid effort in an attempt to negate/kill a threat.

It would not be a nova, all out blitz, unless your character has already established that they approach threats that way.
I'd go the other way. Normally you're holding back on resources because you're managing them with a view to being able to face the next threat, or get through the rest of the day.

But when you're dominated, such considerations go out the window. Your sole objective is the command you've just been given.

So what lengths would your character go to if the rest of the day didn't matter, if you had no reason to hold anything back? That's doing your best.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If the caster is issuing a general command, then it's up to the player what the character does within the bounds of that command. "Attack that creature," for example, could mean throwing a punch or chucking a rock at them for all I care. (After all, it means my NPC or monster isn't being attacked by this PC and that's good enough.)

If I want them to do something more than that, I need to have the NPC or monster use its action to take precise control.

Thus, the optimal tactic from the player here is to do just enough that the DM won't take precise control to have the PC nova. Unless they actually need to tempt the DM to have the NPC or monster to use its action on that for some reason (perhaps because other action options are nastier).
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
If the caster is issuing a general command, then it's up to the player what the character does within the bounds of that command. "Attack that creature," for example, could mean throwing a punch or chucking a rock at them for all I care. (After all, it means my NPC or monster isn't being attacked by this PC and that's good enough.)
Throwing a punch or chucking a rock is not doing your "best to obey" IMO, it is a half-baked attempt. If you're an expert at throwing punches or rocks, maybe those are your "best" attacks then fine, but in this case you're a spell caster.

And the order in this particular case is to "kill," not attack. Killing involves using your most lethal measure, if you are doing your "best".

Finally, it is an 8th-level spell, after all, not like charm person or something... 🤷‍♂️
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Throwing a punch or chucking a rock is not doing your "best to obey" IMO, it is a half-baked attempt. If you're an expert at throwing punches or rocks, maybe those are your "best" attacks then fine, but in this case you're a spell caster.

And the order in this particular case is to "kill," not attack. Killing involves using your most lethal measure, if you are doing your "best".

Finally, it is an 8th-level spell, after all, not like charm person or something... 🤷‍♂️
I'm not going to tell a player how to play their character. If I as DM want direct, precise control, then I need to spend an action to do so. That's the trade-off the DM must make. If the player wants to nova on their fellow PCs without me doing that, then great, I don't need to spend the action. But that's not for me to decide.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I'm not going to tell a player how to play their character.
If the player is not playing in the spirit of the game, such as when their character is under the control of an NPC, I will take over the character and act it out as it should (according to the playing history/style done by the player).

Because, when the PCs take control of a creature/NPC, I play that creature accordingly, not "half way". I expect the same from my players, and if they don't deliver as DM I will tell them, taking control of the PC if need be.

If I as DM want direct, precise control, then I need to spend an action to do so.
That the thing, though, you aren't doing it as the "DM", but as the NPC...

So, if the NPC wants the PC to do something NOT according to the PC's history/style, then yes, I will have the NPC use its action to take direct control.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If the player is not playing in the spirit of the game, such as when their character is under the control of an NPC, I will take over the character and act it out as it should (according to the playing history/style done by the player).

Because, when the PCs take control of a creature/NPC, I play that creature accordingly, not "half way". I expect the same from my players, and if they don't deliver as DM I will tell them, taking control of the PC if need be.
What is or isn't an action the player can take in the "spirit of the game" isn't spelled out in the spell description. That exists at the level of table rules and your table rules appear to allow the DM to unilaterally take control of the player's character if they don't agree with what the player is doing. Fair enough, that's your table. That's not a table rule I would entertain at mine, nor would I play under a table that has one like that.

That the thing, though, you aren't doing it as the "DM", but as the NPC...

So, if the NPC wants the PC to do something NOT according to the PC's history/style, then yes, I will have the NPC use its action to take direct control.
As DM, I would hate to be the one deciding what is or isn't a reasonable decision for a player to make for their own character or hold them to some standard based on my interpretation of their "history" or "style." I'd just spend the action, like the spell says I can do. It doesn't say I can sit in judgment of the player and take over their character without spending that action if they aren't acting in a way I think they should.

I would think it's better to just change the spell and require that character at least use cantrips or highest level spells or their full suite of melee or ranged attacks or something specific when commanded to attack another creature. As it's written, it leaves it wide open as to what attacks the character might use.
 

jgsugden

Legend
My instruction to the player is that they suddenly believe what the dominating creature tells them and they should act accordingly as if the PC believes it.

A good role player will get into the challenge and enjoy it. This is when these abilities really shine.

A player that would rather cheat the system and pretend their best is to do essentially nothing is a disappointment, but I usually let it go and talk to the player about it privately later. The discussion usually focuses on my disappointment in not seeing them really try to role play the situation out, and my belief that everyone would have had more fun had they really embraced the opportunity.
 

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