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D&D 5E Synergy with Command spell

merwins

Explorer
A lot of the suggestions for the Command spell are meant to stand alone. In other words, there is value to the caster inherent in the action, but largely as a delaying tactic.

"Surrender" was one such option that intrigued me. If the target believed that the caster would take no prisoners, it might not work, of course. The GM could interpret surrender as death in that case.

But let me propose "Submit" as another, far more subtle option. It implies a subversion of will, and since Command requires a Wisdom saving throw, you could easily argue that failing the roll simply makes the target realize they've failed and just subject to your will... on their turn, since that's when the spell takes effect.

Unlike most other commands, submission doesn't take an Action, Move, or Bonus action. In fact, they can take whatever actions they want. You didn't make them actually do anything but lose their ability to resist. In other words, they become a willing subject for any spell that takes effect on their turn.

Obviously, this requires a coordinated sequence of party actions for full effect. If the Command fails, it's likely the contingent spells (most of which can only be cast by others) will also.

So, two questions:
Would you let it work this way in your game?
Any other ideas for synergistic command words?
 

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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Submit is passive, and I would just have them doing that - unacting as you exercise your will upon them. It's within line of the power and other outcomes of the spell, and fits the description.

"Submit" does not imply that they would act against their interests, or that anything you say outside the scope of the magic of the spell is taken as part of the command. For that, look to spells like suggestion.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The problem with trying to make command more effective is that it's a low level spell that only lasts one round. So "surrender" is not bad per se - the target would likely drop their weapon and raise their hands. Or tentacles. Whatever. But submit? There's not a lot there but I would rule that they just stand there doing nothing.

But after that one round, they can do whatever they want. It's not an ongoing condition. That's why things like "grovel" get used more often: not only does the target lose their turn, but they also drop prone giving anyone within 5 feet advantage and need to spend half their movement the next round standing. Other things may situationally be better or as good.

While there is some ... controversy ... over what command can do that was raised in a recent thread I rule that you can only command something simple that they can physically do. So "sleep" just means they do their best to fall asleep. I don't know about you, but I generally can't literally fall asleep in 6 seconds with a battle raging around me. The sleep spell works because it's magically induced sleep, but commanding someone to sleep would have about the same effect as grovel as they lie down and close their eyes for a few seconds.
 
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aco175

Legend
We used to use Die a lot in 2e, but do not use the spell that much in 5e. Die was used to make people believe that were being killed and caused them to pass out for a round or until someone shook them awake. It did put them prone, which may be similar to Grovel.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Flee is probably the best all-around option. It’ll take its target(s) out of the fight for two rounds. One spent running away and the other spent running back. The utility of other options will depend on the situation.
 

Horwath

Hero
Flee is probably the best all-around option. It’ll take its target(s) out of the fight for two rounds. One spent running away and the other spent running back. The utility of other options will depend on the situation.
This.

Surrender will rob them of object interaction next round and maybe an effective AoO reaction. Unless your party spends additional actions picking up their weapons or grappling the enemy. Unless the target is next in initiative.

Grovel is good if it's a tough opponent and you just given the rest of the party advantage on melee attack for a round. Unless the target is next in initiative again.
 

Command has some good uses, but it's not amazing. Upcasting is the best use of the spell, trying to hit multiple targets, since you lose 1 action to multiple enemies, gaining an overall advantage. My current cleric has issues against fliers, so I often use it for "approach" to get them to land near me (or at least get into melee). Flee is useful, unless you're worried about them calling for reinforcements. As a DM, my personal favorite is "defecate," just for the image :devilish:
 

merwins

Explorer
I was looking at this more from the angle of True Strike.
If they fail the Command saving throw, they don't get a save against the other "willing target" spells cast against them on their next turn. I haven't surveyed all the possible willing target spells. But there's gotta be a few doozies.
 

jgsugden

Legend
There are stated results for certain command words because this spell tends to be highly subject to DM interpretation, and their opinions on how effective the spell should be can highly impact the uses of this spell outside the stated items.

In my games, I put myself in the shoes of the creature that is the target of the spell and I try to figure out how they'd interpret the command word. I try not to metagame here - I go for the single most logical conclusion. If I come up with multiple that all seem as likely, I roll a die to choose between them.

However, I should note that a PC can establish context outside of the command word, and that I'll consider that context when the target determines how to interpret the command. If they explain whet they mean by the command, and the target understands it, and then they issue the command word, it generally works as intended. Example: "I want you to leap into that wagon. JUMP." This skirts the one word limitation in many ways, but I don't find it problematic at all.
 

Rabulias

Hero
However, I should note that a PC can establish context outside of the command word, and that I'll consider that context when the target determines how to interpret the command. If they explain whet they mean by the command, and the target understands it, and then they issue the command word, it generally works as intended. Example: "I want you to leap into that wagon. JUMP." This skirts the one word limitation in many ways, but I don't find it problematic at all.
Years back in an AD&D 1st edition game I was running, the players had beaten a wizard's warriors and thought they had him cornered. He popped out his potion of gaseous form and drank it down and began to move toward the door. The PCs were only 3rd level so there was not much they could do to stop him... or so I believed. The cleric pulled an empty flask from his belt and opened it, stepped toward the gaseous wizard, and cast command, saying "Enter," while thrusting the open container into the cloud. The wizard failed his saving throw, and obediently went into the flask.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Years back in an AD&D 1st edition game I was running, the players had beaten a wizard's warriors and thought they had him cornered. He popped out his potion of gaseous form and drank it down and began to move toward the door. The PCs were only 3rd level so there was not much they could do to stop him... or so I believed. The cleric pulled an empty flask from his belt and opened it, stepped toward the gaseous wizard, and cast command, saying "Enter," while thrusting the open container into the cloud. The wizard failed his saving throw, and obediently went into the flask.
And the fact that you remember it, clearly, as a fond memory, decades later, says you nailed it. A lot of people miss out on so many of these opportunities.
 

toucanbuzz

Legend
I feel it's simpler if the DM adjudicates the spell forces an involuntary physical action, given the examples are all physical ones, to avoid subjective "how would the target perceive this order" arguments. In the original AD&D version, the word had to be "clear and unequivocal" or it would fail, though surrender was in the example list. At the very least, the target would stop fighting.

Regardless of the word, as a DM I wouldn't want it having multiple effects or duplicating the effect of a higher level spell. That's abusive. It also cannot be qualified (e.g. "bash" that door).

Synergy: Ages ago I DM'd a 2E game where the command spell killed a 15th level character. The synergy came with the terrain. Barbarian player got in fight with other players and split the party by scaling an 800' cliff with his bare hands. At the top of that cliff was a red dragon that knew the command spell (back when dragons knew spells). Rather than blast him with fire, the dragon sadistically uttered the command "Jump!" Player failed the save and jumped, falling 800' to his death.

Now, that wouldn't work in today's game because the text was changed to avoid anything "directly harmful" to the creature. So, it'd have to be an unknown hazard.

So, I think the spell shines best when there's synergy with terrain. On a ship? Tell the target to "disembark" (shouldn't be directly harmful unless the target doesn't know how to swim). Know there's a trap in the back hall? Command them to "flee" and clear the way.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
I feel it's simpler if the DM adjudicates the spell forces an involuntary physical action, given the examples are all physical ones, to avoid subjective "how would the target perceive this order" arguments. In the original AD&D version, the word had to be "clear and unequivocal" or it would fail, though surrender was in the example list. At the very least, the target would stop fighting.

Regardless of the word, as a DM I wouldn't want it having multiple effects or duplicating the effect of a higher level spell. That's abusive. It also cannot be qualified (e.g. "bash" that door).

Synergy: Ages ago I DM'd a 2E game where the command spell killed a 15th level character. The synergy came with the terrain. Barbarian player got in fight with other players and split the party by scaling an 800' cliff with his bare hands. At the top of that cliff was a red dragon that knew the command spell (back when dragons knew spells). Rather than blast him with fire, the dragon sadistically uttered the command "Jump!" Player failed the save and jumped, falling 800' to his death.

Now, that wouldn't work in today's game because the text was changed to avoid anything "directly harmful" to the creature. So, it'd have to be an unknown hazard.

So, I think the spell shines best when there's synergy with terrain. On a ship? Tell the target to "disembark" (shouldn't be directly harmful unless the target doesn't know how to swim). Know there's a trap in the back hall? Command them to "flee" and clear the way.

Yes.

Basically have fun with the environment.

The spell gives examples of all the standard combat uses but allows for creative uses depending on circumstance.

"Raise" might get the guard to raise the portcullis or "unlock" to unlock a door. Even something like "block" to have the target block a passageway against their comrades would be a fun use that is in the spirit of the spell.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Unlike most other commands, submission doesn't take an Action, Move, or Bonus action. In fact, they can take whatever actions they want. You didn't make them actually do anything but lose their ability to resist. In other words, they become a willing subject for any spell that takes effect on their turn.

Obviously, this requires a coordinated sequence of party actions for full effect. If the Command fails, it's likely the contingent spells (most of which can only be cast by others) will also.

So, two questions:
Would you let it work this way in your game?
Hell no. Anything that lets you meddle with the enemy's saving throws is a danger flag. Offhand I can see a couple of ways this could be abused, albeit with drawbacks. Perhaps, in practice, the drawbacks would balance it out. Perhaps not.

But there is no reason to venture into such "playing with fire" territory with command. It's the DM, not the player, who decides how any nonstandard command is interpreted; I would rule that "submit" gets the same response as "grovel."
 
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