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5E Suggestion spell, AKA: the importance of session zero(ish) discussions with your DM


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ccs

40th lv DM
I agree. The spell would make the cultist believe the leader would want the players to be allowed to pass. The plot point could still have been saved less clumsily and without completely penalising the players by having another cultist realise what had happened and stab the suggested cultist in the back.

"These aren't the droids you are looking for".

You think Vader gave those troopers a medal when they reported in?

I imagine that shortly after Luke drove off the squads conversation went something like this:
"Sgt, why'd you let those two go without seeing their IDs?"
"Yeah boss, that one droid even had blue trim. Aren't we looking for a droid with blue trim?"
(Sgt realizing what's going to happen when they get back to the Star Destroyer) "Oh Sh***!"

And inspires a starting point for a future SW game.
Character creation = Everyone roll up a Storm Trooper. You're all part of the same squad.
Play begins shortly after you realize that you've allowed Luke & Obi-Wan to drive through your check point.
What do you do?
 

I imagine that shortly after Luke drove off the squads conversation went something like this:
"Sgt, why'd you let those two go without seeing their IDs?"
"Yeah boss, that one droid even had blue trim. Aren't we looking for a droid with blue trim?"
(Sgt realizing what's going to happen when they get back to the Star Destroyer) "Oh Sh***!"

And inspires a starting point for a future SW game.
Character creation = Everyone roll up a Storm Trooper. You're all part of the same squad.
Play begins shortly after you realize that you've allowed Luke & Obi-Wan to drive through your check point.
What do you do?

Go AWOL join the Rebellion, of course.
 


Mistwell

Legend
Session zero would not have helped with this one. Any DM who allows a roll, and imposes disadvantage to adjust for the difficulty, and you still succeed on the roll but after the fact the DM declares it was an impossible task which should have had no roll to begin with...was not going to clarify something like that in a session zero.

It was a bad call. The leader should have let you pass, and then decided if the remaining followers would have stopped you and caused a conflict between the leader and followers, or they would have pursued you right after you passed, or whatever. But they failed their save on a legit save roll the DM called for, and I really don't think a session zero could have addressed the DM making decisions like that on the fly.

DMs make mistakes of course. If I made that kind of mistake, I would have made you whole. You'd have your spell slot back, and the option to swap your spell known to something else if you felt like it was too uncertain a spell to have. I'd probably even give you inspiration.
 



I think the DM's ruling was correct. Your character didn't know, and had no way of knowing, that allowing you to get away was an explicitly deadly action for the cultist. However, that doesn't change the fact that that was an unreasonable request. That's just how reality works. That is to say, this was unfair in the same way that real life is unfair. That's a feature, not a bug! Sometimes you get tripped up by things you don't know.

You had no way to know that sword was cursed. You had no way to know that floor was an illusion. You had no way to know the sheriff was a Doppelganger. You had no way to know that the cultists were instructed to return with the treasure or face execution.

So why allow the save in the first place?

Most likely just because the DM didn't think beyond, "a spell was cast that grants a save; let's roll the save before thinking beyond that." However, if you think deeper, it was actually most correct to do it that way! Since the casting character has no idea that their suggestion was unreasonable or why, telling the PC that the NPC doesn't need to roll is giving out metagame information. It's better to just roll.

Indeed, this is a perfect example of when the DM should be rolling behind a screen. Then the DM can say, "The spell doesn't appear to have had any effect." It doesn't matter why there was no effect. The PC doesn't get to know that. They might be immune to charm, or they might be illusory creatures, or they might not understand the language the PC spoke, or they might not have been able to hear the PCs, or they might've made their save, or it might be unreasonable, etc. There are lots of ways for the spell to do nothing. Why should the DM tell the PCs which one it was?
 

I had one spell left, so I cast suggestion on him to tell his squad to step aside and let us pass unaccosted.
That is no reasonable request. It is an order without any reason given.
I would expect more from a player, but I would make it clear at the time of casting.
A resonable request might be: we have beaten the dragon who guarded the treasure... so step aside and we will leave you and your subordinates unharmed.

Only problem: the rest of the squad might see you casting a spell if you didn't cast it with subtle metamagic.

That might also work with a very good intimidation check, but with the threat of death over the cultist's head, a sughestion spell should be the easier way.
 


Mistwell

Legend
I think the DM's ruling was correct. Your character didn't know, and had no way of knowing, that allowing you to get away was an explicitly deadly action for the cultist. However, that doesn't change the fact that that was an unreasonable request. That's just how reality works. That is to say, this was unfair in the same way that real life is unfair. That's a feature, not a bug! Sometimes you get tripped up by things you don't know.

You had no way to know that sword was cursed. You had no way to know that floor was an illusion. You had no way to know the sheriff was a Doppelganger. You had no way to know that the cultists were instructed to return with the treasure or face execution.



Most likely just because the DM didn't think beyond, "a spell was cast that grants a save; let's roll the save before thinking beyond that." However, if you think deeper, it was actually most correct to do it that way! Since the casting character has no idea that their suggestion was unreasonable or why, telling the PC that the NPC doesn't need to roll is giving out metagame information. It's better to just roll.

Indeed, this is a perfect example of when the DM should be rolling behind a screen. Then the DM can say, "The spell doesn't appear to have had any effect." It doesn't matter why there was no effect. The PC doesn't get to know that. They might be immune to charm, or they might be illusory creatures, or they might not understand the language the PC spoke, or they might not have been able to hear the PCs, or they might've made their save, or it might be unreasonable, etc. There are lots of ways for the spell to do nothing. Why should the DM tell the PCs which one it was?

The decision concerning the reasonableness of the request was made when the DM said the save would be with advantage, explained the reason for that and that they were not immune to suggestion and by implication that they were in fact susceptible to suggestion but with advantage, and then rolled in front of the players. The DM had ALREADY told the players before he even made the roll.

There are things the DM doesn't know. That's just how reality works. That is to say, this was unfair to the DM that the DM fixed their decision before the roll in the same way that real life is unfair. That's a feature, not a bug! Sometimes you get tripped up by things you don't think of beyond "a spell was cast that grants a save."

Had the DM thought more about it before saying that and giving advantage and making the roll and doing it in front of the players, they would likely have made a different decision. But they did not. So, them's the breaks! You live and learn and hopefully become a better DM for it.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Well, I've always viewed the "reasonable" part of the spell as the caster having to not only refrain from immediate harm to the target, but as an invitation for the caster to give the target a, well, reason for doing so. In a sense, it allows the caster to become the ultimate Iago/wormtongue. So just directly ordering the target to do something, especially something completely contrary to their intentions/desires, is more along the lines of domination rather than suggestion.

Where it differs from a persuasion check is that A) the target has to listen to the suggestion, and B) the suggestion has much greater magical weight added to it than would otherwise be the case. If the suggestion is given some form of plausibility/reason, then the target must role a Saving Throw and follow the suggested course if failed. There is still some wiggle room for interpretation, but when adjudicating the spell it is also a good idea to take into account what the caster is trying to accomplish: A total encounter by-passing "I win button" vs weakening the encounter/putting the opposition in a bad position or disadvantage. Say if the Cult Leader was convinced to send half his force to defend against an 'ambush' over there, or something.

That said, I agree it was bad form for the DM to agree to the Saving Throw with advantage and than ignore the results. There should have been more of negotiation phase between the player and DM upon attempting to cast the spell.
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
Coincidentally now that this thread was necro'd, last weekend a situation came up when we tried to convince some devil's to release a captured demon, and the DM IM'd saying "I'm surprised you haven't used suggestion on them."

To which I replied, "After the last experience, I swapped that spell out for a different one when I leveled to one I thought might be more useful."

Hmmmm....
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The spell is missing a critical feature. It should say "if they were your friend" and they would clear up an enormous amount
That's basically the baseline I give for it being a spell - they are basically evaluating it just for itself, not including at all that they don't know you for anything or that the context is sketchy.

Now, it still needs to be reasonable. "This isn't a dragon, let it pass" will still not be reasonable with a dragon in their face. "These refugees are not the well-equipped adventurers you are looking for, let them pass" seems reasonable for group keeping warm with rough cloaks. Stop them from getting stopped and searched and seeing all the arms and armor under those cloaks.
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I was transported back (ahead?) in time! >.<
Sheldon would be so jealous!

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His time machine was just a prop. ;)
 

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