What are the uses of suggestion?


Advice


This has been asked before but has anyone ever addressed it in a rough official way. I could see how this spell could cause headaches in PFS with people having different interpretations.

A 4th level version of the spell that's only addition is that it has a triggering mechanism gives the impression that you could get a guard to attack a king, does that mean you could suggest that one of bad guys minions attack him?


“The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the activity sound reasonable. Asking the creature to do some obviously harmful act automatically negates the effect of the spell.”

I would submit that getting a guard to attack his king would be one that would be at least somewhat difficult to make sound ‘reasonable’ at least unless the guard harbored some resentment toward him to begin with...


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RDM42 wrote:

“The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the activity sound reasonable. Asking the creature to do some obviously harmful act automatically negates the effect of the spell.”

I would submit that getting a guard to attack his king would be one that would be at least somewhat difficult to make sound ‘reasonable’ at least unless the guard harbored some resentment toward him to begin with...

That's your personnel interpretation. Neither the PC's or even the DM will have the life story of random guard number 25 or ratfolk rogue number 3.

Can threats be added in? "Kill the king or as a wizard I will make it my life's mission to end your family".

Is a magical suggestion that the King is an imposter reasonable?

These could sound be considered a reasonable request to some.

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"Let us move along. These are not the constructs you're looking for."


You're allowed to suggest a course of action.

My opinion is that you can't add additional information besides instructions. So you can't say, "I suggest you do X, or else I'm going to kill your family". You also can't say, "I suggest you kill the king, because it's really an imposter".

But, if serious accusations were already leveled at the king for being an imposter you could suggest to kill the king, as it might be a reasonable course of action. Of course so would merely tying them up to investigate.

Unfortunately this spell is largely gong to depend on your GM's interpretation. And they way they run it could be largely overpowered or completely neuter the usefulness of the spell.


Claxon wrote:
My opinion is that you can't add additional information besides instructions. So you can't say, "I suggest you do X, or else I'm going to kill your family".

Presumably you could still say, "I'll kill your family if you don't help me out," before you cast Suggestion.


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More like: "It's been a long night, the boss won't mind if I go home now." (abandoning his post)
"Yes, you're certainly the guys who the boss has been wanting to see. Right this way." (letting the PCs pass by without raising the alarm)
"I'll remember to be kind to that serving girl down at the pub, she's had a hard life." (performing spontaneous acts of generosity or kindness, although the guy is usually a sadistic bstd.

Whatever you suggest, you make it sound "reasonable" as in, there's a perfectly normal reason for the victim to want to do what you've suggested. You don't say "abandon your sentry post and leave". You say something like above.

Suggestions to kill someone the victim knows, or fears, or someone dangerous or important, that sounds like it falls under the automatic failure rule. Unless you can word it in such a reasonable way that it sounds like the victim is helping rather than helping someone to their death.

Like: "He's always been afraid of the water... just give him a little nudge over the edge, and he'll be grateful that you helped him overcome his fear." (in front of a vat of acid)

A suggestion shouldn't include threats, veiled or otherwise. That's not at all "reasonable".


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NoTongue wrote:
RDM42 wrote:

“The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the activity sound reasonable. Asking the creature to do some obviously harmful act automatically negates the effect of the spell.”

I would submit that getting a guard to attack his king would be one that would be at least somewhat difficult to make sound ‘reasonable’ at least unless the guard harbored some resentment toward him to begin with...

That's your personnel interpretation. Neither the PC's or even the DM will have the life story of random guard number 25 or ratfolk rogue number 3.

It is a completely reasonable interpretation.

It is far less reasonable to think that a lowly peon guard attacking his king would be something other than an "obviously harmful act" for the guard in question.

My favorite Suggestion I have used in the past:

"It appears you've forgotten something incredibly important; you should go home and find it."

Target is thereby removed from the situation for 7+ hours, unless their home is pretty darn close.


"There is a highly venomous spider crawling up your pants. It is important to remove your armor and get it off before it bites you somewhere embarassing and unpleasant."


Claxon wrote:

You're allowed to suggest a course of action.

My opinion is that you can't add additional information besides instructions. So you can't say, "I suggest you do X, or else I'm going to kill your family". You also can't say, "I suggest you kill the king, because it's really an imposter".

But, if serious accusations were already leveled at the king for being an imposter you could suggest to kill the king, as it might be a reasonable course of action. Of course so would merely tying them up to investigate.

Unfortunately this spell is largely gong to depend on your GM's interpretation. And they way they run it could be largely overpowered or completely neuter the usefulness of the spell.

The description of the spell states that the suggestion is limited to a sentence or two. Since a sentence is designed to express a complete thought it seems you can actually add additional information.

The person who looks like the king is an assassin who is going to kill the actual king. You need to kill the assassin before he kills the king.

That seems like a reasonable suggestion and fits into two sentences.

I seem to remember suggesting the pool of acid was water and a dip in the water would be refreshing being used as an example of a suggestion. It may have been from a previous edition.


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So you can't say "jump off that cliff." But maybe you could say "Turn and look at me. Now, when I practice swinging this sword, back up carefully so you don't get hit."


I'm asking because I've had what I consider a particularly bad example of what I consider a really bad interpretation.

The fight was almost over, only one guy left, I use suggestion, they fail the save. My suggestion "you should surrender" The DM's interpretation is that the guys thinks they may die if they surrender. Never mind that there was a near 100% certainty that they would die by not surrendering and what do you know, he doesn't surrender and dies.


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Maybe you should have said: "It's a lost cause, and there's no honor in dying. These guys are honorable and will respect you if you surrender."

IMHO the spellcaster is supposed to put at least a little effort into making his suggestion seem "reasonable".

Even Obi Wan said "these aren't the droids you're looking for, move along" rather than just "let us pass".


As a player I avoid most enchantments that have open-ended interpretations for this reason.

Short of more explicit examples of what should and shouldn't work it's just too variable.

It also requires players to have cunning word play if you subscribe to the whole "reasonable request based on different wording" theory like Wheeldrake suggests above.

The cunning player says, "These aren't the droids you're looking for". The inexperienced player that doesn't have a tongue of gold says "Let us pass". The ability is the same, the intent is ultimately the same but player (not character) cleverness affects the effectiveness of the action. Which shouldn't be the case in my opinion.


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Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Claxon wrote:

You're allowed to suggest a course of action.

My opinion is that you can't add additional information besides instructions. So you can't say, "I suggest you do X, or else I'm going to kill your family". You also can't say, "I suggest you kill the king, because it's really an imposter".

But, if serious accusations were already leveled at the king for being an imposter you could suggest to kill the king, as it might be a reasonable course of action. Of course so would merely tying them up to investigate.

Unfortunately this spell is largely gong to depend on your GM's interpretation. And they way they run it could be largely overpowered or completely neuter the usefulness of the spell.

The description of the spell states that the suggestion is limited to a sentence or two. Since a sentence is designed to express a complete thought it seems you can actually add additional information.

The person who looks like the king is an assassin who is going to kill the actual king. You need to kill the assassin before he kills the king.

That seems like a reasonable suggestion and fits into two sentences.

I seem to remember suggesting the pool of acid was water and a dip in the water would be refreshing being used as an example of a suggestion. It may have been from a previous edition.

That was a previous edition. The Pathfinder version doesn’t have text to let you alter their perception or understanding of the situation. “Take a dip in that pool of water” would only work if they already thought it was water. The spell also won’t convince them that the king is a king-disguised assassin.

If you’re going to use threats, it really should be clearly lopsided. “Your money or your life” with proof of the ability to follow through can be followed up with Suggestion. “Kill the king or we kill your family” doesn’t actually make killing the king a reasonable course of action, though. It’ll get the person killed, possibly kill his family, certainly cause them tons of trouble.

Suggestion is very useful, but it’s subtle. If you want somebody to kill the king, use Dominate Person. Suggestion could force someone to focus on a particular and threatening person in combat- allowing the Paladin to actually tank. It’s good for keeping people occupied with something reasonable so that they never find out why it wasn’t reasonable. It can force people to act sensibly and responsibly on good judgement. Fleeing combat is generally reasonable (as long as there’s nobody with too obvious of a ranged focus).

My rule of thumb is that Suggestion is good for making somebody pick an option they were considering or would seriously consider, and and it’s good for making people commit to things they want to do.


Wheldrake wrote:

Maybe you should have said: "It's a lost cause, and there's no honor in dying. These guys are honorable and will respect you if you surrender."

IMHO the spellcaster is supposed to put at least a little effort into making his suggestion seem "reasonable".

Even Obi Wan said "these aren't the droids you're looking for, move along" rather than just "let us pass".

How about no. When a simple "surrender" actually makes sense without the aid of magical compulsions I shouldn't need full embellished speeches.

The first level spell command would have had more impact.

Also with your interpretation the DM could just turn around and say there is honor in dying, the compulsion fails.

Edit: I may have even embellished it at the time, the end result was the same.


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Claxon wrote:
The cunning player says, "These aren't the droids you're looking for". The inexperienced player that doesn't have a tongue of gold says "Let us pass". The ability is the same, the intent is ultimately the same but player (not character) cleverness affects the effectiveness of the action. Which shouldn't be the case in my opinion.

I hear what you're saying, Clax. But every roleplaying bone in my body rebels against the idea that players shouldn't try to be clever, or shouldn't be rewarded for being clever or even that they should need to be clever (and perhaps slightly penalized if they aren't clever enough) when in actual game situations.

Sure, there are many degrees of cleverness, and we don't require rogues to describe exactly how they are disarming or placing a trap, nor do we require fighters to say exactly how they are trying to damage their target. But some spells like Suggestion explicitly call for a "clever-o-meter" in order simply to work. So in the above example, I'm not entirely sure that the inexperienced player saying "Let us pass" should get what he wants. A helpful DM would tell him to make a DC15 INT roll and then suggest a more "reasonable-sounding" wording for his suggestion spell, if the player were really not up to RP cleverness enough.


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NoTongue wrote:
Also with your interpretation the DM could just turn around and say there is honor in dying, the compulsion fails.

I feel your pain. Sadly, there is no cut and dried RAW answer to the question of what constitutes a "reasonable" suggestion. It's always goint ot be subject to DM veto, however you word it.

Best thing is to have a long talk with your DM to help determine what *he* considers to be reasonable, and how he plans to adjudicate it, so that you can get at least some mileage out of the spell.

But there is no rule you can point at to tell your DM that is ruling was wrong.


Wheldrake wrote:
NoTongue wrote:
Also with your interpretation the DM could just turn around and say there is honor in dying, the compulsion fails.

I feel your pain. Sadly, there is no cut and dried RAW answer to the question of what constitutes a "reasonable" suggestion. It's always goint ot be subject to DM veto, however you word it.

Best thing is to have a long talk with your DM to help determine what *he* considers to be reasonable, and how he plans to adjudicate it, so that you can get at least some mileage out of the spell.

But there is no rule you can point at to tell your DM that is ruling was wrong.

Would have been nice to use but for me and this is may be true for most people, it's not worth it to complicate a game over one spell. Best just leaving the spell to the sidelines rather than make things harder than they need to be.


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Even if your Suggestion is reasonable, your GM may not be.


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Your suggestion to surrender may not have been reasonable in that situation , a short list of why surrendering could be unreasonable as I don't know the circumstances none of these could be valid
-- Religous fanatics Heave if they die, Hell if they surrender
--Samurai/Huscarls Other honour bound cultures again death is better than dishonour
-- Minions of a really evil person, if they fight they die if they surrender and get caught they and their families die horribly
-- Your group has a reputation fair or not for not taking prisoners so if he surrenders he dies anyway, may as well go down fighting and try to take one of you with him
-- Mental compulsions stronger than your suggestion spell


JohnHawkins wrote:

Your suggestion to surrender may not have been reasonable in that situation , a short list of why surrendering could be unreasonable as I don't know the circumstances none of these could be valid

-- Religous fanatics Heave if they die, Hell if they surrender
--Samurai/Huscarls Other honour bound cultures again death is better than dishonour
-- Minions of a really evil person, if they fight they die if they surrender and get caught they and their families die horribly
-- Your group has a reputation fair or not for not taking prisoners so if he surrenders he dies anyway, may as well go down fighting and try to take one of you with him
-- Mental compulsions stronger than your suggestion spell

Your making a list of reasons as to why it should fail and I would consider that the issue, if you are set on the spell failing as a DM you can always "find" some reason.

From my example a generic minion was magically compelled to surrender, the DM "found" a reason in that he may die if he surrenders, as I pointed out he didn't surrender, he died a few seconds later to no one's surprise, the people he didn't surrender to.


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No . That is a list of why it COULD fail as a GM I would know if any of those applied in any situation and it would be determinable by appropriate means. As I specifically said I did not know the situation in your game so I could not say if any applied.

There should be no such thing as a generic minion , all of them are defined by the group, organisation and society in which they exist within the game. So this minion may have had good reason not to surrender possibly not know to you, or of course you could have a bad GM.
(Another possible reason is GM convenience. We have pointless minion A if he surrenders my players will mess around for an hour arguing about Killing him/taking him with them/letting him go/taking him back to town, or waste more time interrogating him about things he does not know, possibly this arguement will cause ill feelings among the players certainly it will waste the rest of my gaming time. Not a great reason but sometimes making things convenient saves a lot of effort)


Hrm. After hearing your situation, I have to say that your GM was being unreasonable unless there was a distinct, previously established in-game reason for that character to not surrender and fight to the death under any circumstances. That previously established reason would have to be so strong that surrendering in the face of overwhelming odds would be completely unreasonable.

Certainly, there are examples of cases where this would be true, but those would be edge cases.

As a GM, after the combat, I would remove the veil a little bit and explain the reasoning behind why this particular creature was resistant to such an apparently reasonable suggestion. To me, "He figures he'll be killed, anyway" isn't a good enough justification. The enemy faced certain death in combat; if he surrendered, he might be able to plead or trick his way to an escape.

Now, if he had witnessed the party killing some of his allies who tried to surrender, or if your party had a reputation for killing prisoners, then the NPC's perception that your suggestion was completely unreasonable makes more sense.


JohnHawkins wrote:

No . That is a list of why it COULD fail as a GM I would know if any of those applied in any situation and it would be determinable by appropriate means. As I specifically said I did not know the situation in your game so I could not say if any applied.

There should be no such thing as a generic minion , all of them are defined by the group, organisation and society in which they exist within the game. So this minion may have had good reason not to surrender possibly not know to you, or of course you could have a bad GM.
(Another possible reason is GM convenience. We have pointless minion A if he surrenders my players will mess around for an hour arguing about Killing him/taking him with them/letting him go/taking him back to town, or waste more time interrogating him about things he does not know, possibly this arguement will cause ill feelings among the players certainly it will waste the rest of my gaming time. Not a great reason but sometimes making things convenient saves a lot of effort)

You contradict yourself with the second paragraph where you justify "finding" a reason. Which again falls under the problem that if the DM can just drum up some reason for a character not to be suggested when they require. If they had been pinned, put to sleep or something with less vague limitations the DM couldn't turn around and say no.

If wasting time is an issue the DM can just flat out say you won't learn anything worth while.

Generic minions, random encounter tables.


RealAlchemy wrote:
"There is a highly venomous spider crawling up your pants. It is important to remove your armor and get it off before it bites you somewhere embarassing and unpleasant."

I've used a variation of this with [i]mass suggestion]/i]. My character said "I've just coated your underclothes with poison. You must get them off immediately or you'll die." That was before combat started with the BBEG and his bodyguards in full plate, and it was followed by a call to "ignore the bodyguards, only attack the <BBEG>". After defeating the BBEG we helped the bodyguards out of their armor, then accepted their surrender. That wouldn't have worked against monks.

"Go home, your family desperately needs you" works well, as does "You can't defeat us, surrender and you won't be harmed because we honor weregild."


Man, many of these suggestion should involve a bluff check.

"I've coated your underclothes in poison" is definitely a bluff that shouldn't automatically be believed just because you're using suggestion. Again, suggestion allows you to suggest a course of action.

You would need to first convince them they've got poison in underwear. Once you done that you could use suggestion to convince them to remove their clothes. Or "Surrender and I'll give you the antidote".


Scott Romanowski wrote:
"Go home, your family desperately needs you" works well, as does "You can't defeat us, surrender and you won't be harmed because we honor weregild."

Off topic, but "weregild" isn't related to taking prisoners. It was the price paid by one person or group when another person or group is killed or injured, or that other group/person experiences a loss of property. Weregild and ransom are totally different things; one might argue that if you took someone prisoner after combat, you owe them weregild, depending on the circumstances that led to that combat.

Ransom, in the medieval use of the word, is pretty much what it is in modern terms. Important knights or nobles would often be captured rather than killed, because the captors could get more from the families or related nobles to secure the captive's release than they could get from producing a corpse. Also, it was also used to refer to prize negotiation in tournaments. The winner of a joust might be awarded the armor and/or weaponry of the loser, but the loser could pay a ransom to have those good released to them.


Unfortunately, there's no spell to overcome bad DMing.

Doug M.


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You seem to object to any reason a GM could cause one of your spells to fail and also seem to assume anyone who suggests a reason is a bad GM, I am moderately offended by your attitude towards my comments but as you are a random person on the internet it's not worth getting bothered about it.

But to be clear I obviously do not know the situation in a game I not involved in and which it sounds like I would not want to be involved in. It is entirely possible that your use of the suggestion spell was reasonable however seeing as the only information we have is your POV it is entirely possible it was not as there are as I indicated many situations were it was not.
If the spell was used in such a bland and unsubtle way by one of the players in a game I run (unlikely they prefer complicated schemes to make my head hurt) then I would know based on the situation if the spell would work with that suggestion or not as this would not be an arbitrary attempt to mess with my players they would also probably know as they tend to find out about their enemies rather than not caring enough to find out more than generic minion description . Of course I haven't used purely random encounters in a game this century.

Have fun in your own way.


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Claxon wrote:

Man, many of these suggestion should involve a bluff check.

"I've coated your underclothes in poison" is definitely a bluff that shouldn't automatically be believed just because you're using suggestion. Again, suggestion allows you to suggest a course of action.

Claxon, I couldn't disagree more.

The spell suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion) effect. That's already the magical version of bluff:

CRB wrote:
Enchantment spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior.(...) A compulsion spell forces the subject to act in some manner or changes the way its mind works. Some compulsion spells determine the subject’s actions or the effects on the subject, others allow you to determine the subject’s actions when you cast the spell, and still others give you ongoing control over the subject.

So it should be like bluff on steroids. What's more, the spell description says explicitly:

CRB wrote:
The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the activity sound reasonable.

Not only is that a RAW mandate for creative wording and bluff-worthy material, it comes right out and states why "surrender" doesn't necessarily work, but some clever banter which amounts to the same result *will* work. The "must be worded in such a manner" part requires the player to use clever wording, up to and including bald-faced lies and other statements which would require a Bluff check if they weren't already part of a 3rd-level mind-affecting enchantment (compulsion) effect.

This spell isn't nearly as vague as the OP wanted to make it appear. It's concisely worded and says exactly what it means. There is little ambiguity in the RAW interpretation of this spell, with one exception: what is considered "reasonable" is extremely subjective.

Any problems with this spell ultimately come down to a debate over what is or isn't considered "reasonable".


Wheldrake wrote:


This spell isn't nearly as vague as the OP wanted to make it appear. It's concisely worded and says exactly what it means. There is little ambiguity in the RAW interpretation of this spell, with one exception: what is considered "reasonable" is extremely subjective.

Any problems with this spell ultimately come down to a debate over what is or isn't considered "reasonable".

^ This.

Suggestion is an excellent spell in pretty much every regard: uaeful, flexible, interesting, encouraging RP and creativity without being completely loosey-goosey, often fun in its effects, but also limited in its scope and not OP for its level. It's also IME one of the rare enchantment / compulsion spells that you as a DM can use against PCs without (usually) annoying the player or derailing the game.

The insertion of "reasonable" means that, yes, you will sometimes have disagreements. But *reasonable* players and GMs can usually sort these out, and it's a small price to pay for having a cool spell that adds a lot to gameplay.

Doug M.


I still greatly disagree Wheeldrake. It allows you to suggest a course of action, it doesn't make a target believe anything you tell them and then suggest how to act on it. It's giving the spell more power than it should have in my opinion.

However, I get the sense that we can't resolve the discrepency between our opinion (I'll admit I'm not really opening to changing mine) so rather than argue about it a whole bunch I will merely stress to anyone reading that you should always talk to your GM about using these sorts of spell well before attempting to use them in game so that neither of you are particularly surprised about what happens or have vastly different expectations on how things work.


Claxon wrote:

I still greatly disagree Wheeldrake. It allows you to suggest a course of action, it doesn't make a target believe anything you tell them and then suggest how to act on it. It's giving the spell more power than it should have in my opinion.

However, I get the sense that we can't resolve the discrepency between our opinion (I'll admit I'm not really opening to changing mine) so rather than argue about it a whole bunch I will merely stress to anyone reading that you should always talk to your GM about using these sorts of spell well before attempting to use them in game so that neither of you are particularly surprised about what happens or have vastly different expectations on how things work.

Actually one of the main reasons I'm asking is the current DM is lenient so I'm worried about pushing the envelope.

When I first started playing the DM was awful and would regularly use suggestion on the party fighter to "kill their allies" in our ignorance we didn't realize that was beyond the limits of the spell.


"If some people in armor are running around the castle late at night, they probably work here. Let them through".

This should be reasonable for a guard, since he is an armored person running around the castle himself.


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Claxon wrote:
However, I get the sense that we can't resolve the discrepency between our opinion (I'll admit I'm not really opening to changing mine) so rather than argue about it a whole bunch I will merely stress to anyone reading that you should always talk to your GM about using these sorts of spell well before attempting to use them in game so that neither of you are particularly surprised about what happens or have vastly different expectations on how things work.

I agree completely. Both enchantment and illusion spells often engender different sets of expectations between DMs and players, as well as from one player to the next. It's always best to discuss such issues openly with your group to find out where people's opinions fall.

I really liked the parts of Ultimate Intrigue which hashed out some of these issues. These comments still don't really settle things, but they do give us food for thought on how to adjudicate them.

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