I think this is a rules rather than an interpretation question, but an incident came up at our game last night which illustrated that we hadn't (I think) being playing this right.
Dominate Person is very much geared on the concept of a "command". The dominated person is only controlled by the dominator to the degree that they obey that command to the exclusion of all else save their survival needs, and it takes a move action to change that command so this is nothing like a puppetteer subconsciously controlling his puppets.
So what happened:
An NPC bard dominated a PC fighter and told him, trying to be clever, to go and subdue one of his friends (2nd PC) because he's sure that 2nd PC has been possessed. The NPC was trying to make the request sound reasonable because someone had already been possessed earlier in the combat and suggesting subdual is in keeping with what the PC would do - so no need for another saving throw.
All fine and well.
Then the 2nd PC disappeared and the first PC did not know where, although in the light of what happens next one might even consider that this event is not actually necessary.
The first PC still saw the NPC bard that had dominated him as an enemy. There's no "charm" component in dominate. So the PC argued that his survival needs required that he defeat the enemy, which he promptly did before the NPC bard got a chance to use a move action to change his command.
So if all of this was reasonable, which I guess is my question, then any time you dominate someone your command to them has got to include "don't attack me and my friends but do this and that instead" or you could find your command ignored.
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)
In the GM's place, I would have ruled the player can't turn back on the NPC, because barring any open danger, the PC will pursue the other one by any means needed, disappearance or not at the best of abilities. Extra caution shouldn't be needed.
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Dominate Person is full override. There might be some ambiguity before the first command is given, but once the command is given, that’s what you’re doing until the next command. He would try to find that missing PC until a new command was issued or the spell wore off, with exceptions made day-to-day survival. That means eating, drinking, sleeping, breathing, etc. Attacking someone who isn’t actively trying to kill you is right out, and attacking someone who is actively trying to kill you (instead of just escaping to carry out your task) is “ask the GM” and mostly depends on which will help accomplish the latest order better.
I think the first PC massively misread that "necessary for survival" clause. "Killing my enemies" does not belong in the same category as "sleeping, eating and so forth".
Also, the command "don't attack me" would be in fact superfluous. The target can take exactly two kinds of actions:
- those they are directed to take via the commands
- those that are necessary for day-to-day survival (those take precedence)
I would assume that if the second PC disappears and the first receives no further instructions, the primary instruction still stands, so they now have to search for PC 2 in order to subdue them.