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My character was affected by the dominate person spell (and failed the will save) and was given some orders. Does he have any recollection or memory of the orders after the duration of the effect expired?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 20 down vote accepted

Yes, He Does

The creature, in fact, remembers the entire experience, and, actually, the creature can't just forget it. The spell dominate person [ench] (PH 224) reads, "You control the actions... through a telepathic link," and that victims "resist this control, and any subject forced to take actions against its nature" makes a new saving throw." Emphasis mine.

There's no action for forgetting. So while a dominator can totally command the creature controlled by the spell to forget something, doing so won't have any more effect than commanding the creature to fall in love with the dominator, experience pain spontaneously, catch a disease immediately, remember its own birth, see something ethereal, or poop out a squirrel. Such actions are beyond the scope of dominate spells unless the creature's abilities permit them.

A very careful dominator could make it difficult for the creature to understand the actions the creature undertook while under the influence of a domainate spell, such as commanding the creature to close its eyes or cover its ears, but those are actions which can be performed.

The game must assume a baseline of human understanding of the universe lest game designers be forced to rewrite the cosmos as a legal document. Memory is a function of baseline human understanding, and memory editing just isn't an assumed ability of creatures, so unless the creature possesses an ability to do that--and he's commanded to--, he ain't forgetting his stint as a magic puppet.

While actually under the influence of the dominate spell proper, the creature's memory remains as functional as his mental abilities, experiences (personal and perhaps game-mechanical), and abilities allow. Properly speaking, recall isn't governed by any particular ability score (although Intelligence appears the most likely candidate, arguments for Wisdom and even Charisma ("My sense of self is so vast that anything I experience matters deeply to me" or whatever) can be made), so determining the extent of typical memory is in the DM's hands. However, unless steps are taken to make the creature's behavior while influenced by a dominate spell fuzzy (e.g. the enchanter commands, "I order you to consume booze until your memories of my commanding you are a blur," and then lets the spell run out), a creature should be able to recount anything he's done as an enchanter's puppet as accurately as anything else he's done as could be expected of a typical being of his scores, experiences, and abilities.

This also helps explain why vampires are frequently depicted as throwing the best parties.

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It is a "mind-affecting" spell... –  mxyzplk Nov 29 '13 at 17:39
That impacts targeting and doesn't grant effects beyond what's stated: "A mind-affecting spell works only against creatures with an Intelligence score of 1 or higher" (PH 174). –  Hey I Can Chan Nov 29 '13 at 17:48
Eh. A valid opinion; that way I see a lengthy debate over which exact parts of the brain must be affected and the difference between actions and mental actions and is forgetting a physical act or not... Seems unnecessarily complex. –  mxyzplk Nov 29 '13 at 17:55
Well, you made your point :). However I'm talking about the events that occur during the mind control phase. How does the controlled one operate, mindwise. For instance the one who is controlled might enter a state of mind like when you get really drunk - you might not remember anything once you sober up. Not sure of the state of consciousness of the subject while being controlled. –  Shahal Nov 29 '13 at 18:04
@Shahal It’s worth noting that dominate is the unwieldy bludgeon of enchantments. It’s obvious to others that the target is dominated, you have to give very particular commands, etc. For subtlety, you have to be cleverer, and use a less heavy-handed effect: charm is better, but suggestion is better still. These don’t make the target forget, but may make it less obvious that they were enchanted in the first place. –  KRyan Nov 29 '13 at 19:42

By RAW the target remembers, unless something else happens to make the target forget. But I would argue that the caster can safely order the subject to submit to modify memory spells or similar effects, as this isn't obviously self-destructive.

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That's not the only thing that modify memory can do, though. You can actually use it to enhance true memories, not just to erase or fabricate them, so as long as the caster doesn't tell you what the spell is for (or lies about what it's for) it's not obvious that the caster intends to do something so destructive. –  The Spooniest Nov 29 '13 at 20:21
I think the PC would see it as destructive, as they are aware they are being dominated. I would rule that being ordered to alter your own memories (by any means) would definitely allow another will save against the Dominate effect before it occurred. And, if the order succeeded, I would allow the PC a will save against the effect of Modify Memory as well (since the PC would be fully aware of what is happening and perceive it as harmful, even though it originates from them-self.) –  Jason_c_o Mar 4 '14 at 11:29

RAW, nothing about Dominate Person says that the subject forgets about their dominated activities by default.

Mind-affecting spells are often a place where effects are subtle and ill-defined however, if the dominator explicitly orders the victim to forget everything they've done, I'd probably allow it to persist past the duration. If for no other reason than you want a vampire's dominated victims to be pleasingly unclear on what happened...

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No matter how willing I may be to follow your orders, I cannot forget things on command. Being dominated doesn’t suddenly give me that ability, either. –  KRyan Nov 29 '13 at 19:46
No. I would rule that the vampire would have to utilize some other effect to alter memory if he truly wanted his dominated victims to forget. –  Jason_c_o Mar 4 '14 at 11:31

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