"Dominate Person" doubt.

Rules Questions


my first post here.

In our latest session I had one of my NPCs cast "Dominate Person" on one of the players, ordering the to go and kill a bunch of NPC orcs that sent them there to investigate the surroundings.


The dominated PC does not have a particular sympathy for those orcs (he does not trust them anyway), and he's not particularly lawful or orc-loving. He often used the group's orc NPC guide as meat shield.

I believe that the order issued is reasonable.

The spell description says:

"Once you have given a dominated creature a command, it continues to attempt to carry out that command to the exclusion of all other activities except those necessary for day-to-day survival (such as sleeping, eating, and so forth)."

I interpret this as "the subject does EVERYTHING that he can do to carry out the task received". The victim PC, however, believes that the subject turns in a robot-like mannequin that has no mind of his own, and for this reason cannot "convince" his companions to follow him to the orcs because the spell negates all his mental faculties.
Going alone would be suicidal, and for this reason the order should not be carried out.

However in the Spell description I don't find anything that clearly states that the victim stops thinking.

In short - does Dominate Person control the thoughts of someone, or only the actions?
Does an order like "Attack those guys, and do whatever is necessary to kill them" include the "convincing of other people to join you because alone it would be impossible", or not?

Thanks a lot for your help!

The dominated PC's player is wrong.

A way that your player might be able to think about this is as follows: When many people play video games they zone into the video game completely. They forget things such as food, sleep, etc. However, they are still fully thinking beings with respect to the video game.

Dominate Person is very similar. It gives the person a singular task to the exclusion of other tasks. But they still have all their faculties. Only the decision-making process regarding other events is short circuited.

With that said, if the command does not include bringing the friends along then he might not do so (depends on the type of character really). Remember, this all occurs telepathically and the creature giving the commands can see and listen in, thus giving new commands to evolving situations. But that sort of thing will have a delay, hence the Sense Motive check.

Summary: if commanded to convince the group to come along he will do so. If simply commanded to go kill the orcs then he will probably not try to bring the group along. It all depends on the commands given.

- Gauss

Silver Crusade

Keep in mind that his companions are probably going to notice something is off with their friend. I do not have the spell description in front of me and cannot look it up at the moment, but it is very specific about how the indavidual is not acting "themselves" and a rather low sense motive check can tell that something is wrong.

Thanks for your answers.

Yes, of course his companions are able to notice his odd behavior.

To be honest, some of them even heard the NPC cast the spell and succeeded in recognizing it.

It's not an issue whether they KNOW or not, the issue is whether the victim should try to convince them to follow him with sound and rational reasoning or if he just turns into an orc-killing zombie.

Tempestorm: The DC is 15.

- Gauss

Liberty's Edge

I would allow him to convince his friends to come, if it would directly improve his odds of completing his task more efficiently and caused no additional delays, and would not allow it if the PC's character knows doing so might NOT help him, or if I felt the other PCs would try to stop him if they knew what he was up to.

His new focus is to get the job done. If i felt he was trying to twist that in some way I wouldn't allow it. As a DM you can just rule that he is compelled to either via the spells effect, or the caster of the spell intervening mentally, to direct his actions to his liking.

It tries to carry out the command, just wandering there blindly would not be carrying out the command if the creature knows, it's going to die on the way.
And you are right the spell does not shut off independent thought, so of course the creature will try to find a way in which its goal is most feasible.

This is like dominating somebody who is standign at the opposite side of a small spike pit, and telling them to come to you. The dominated person will not just wander straight toward you until they fall into the pit, they will walk around the pit.

The DM is right. The spellcaster is not required to dictate the victim's every action (which they would need to if the victim had no will of their own). As the spell does not say so, the PC shouldn't be trying to extract extra "benefits" from the spell.

Different systems handle this in different ways. Mutants & Masterminds 2e makes Dominate the "meat puppet" power by default, but there's a "conscious" build that allows for a more autonomous victim.

The 4e dominate powers also do the meat puppet thing, for a very limited time. Longer-term effects are more like Charm Monster.

One example of the concious (ie: not meat puppet) concept in Paizo's APs is in Council of Thieves.

In the adventure, Infernal Syndrome, there are a couple dominated city guards that have to (socially) direct the players away from the vampire that has Dominated them. The behavior they are written as exhibiting is clearly not of the 'meat puppet' type.

- Gauss

Thank you guys for your answers, sorry for the late reply.

I will continue as I did up until now, then.

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