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There´s a first-level spell on the Witch's spell list avaliable for Changellings, Sow Thought, that says:

You plant an idea, concept, or suspicion in the mind of the subject. The target genuinely believes that the idea is his own, but is not required to act upon it.

I could use this spell to make someone my servant, using something like "You are my loyal servant" as the "concept" implanted?


I am aware that this spell can't directly force someone on doing something - it justs inserts a statement on the target's mind that the target will consider "true".

"I should serve that mage the best as I can" is not really different from "I should drink water" or "I prefer red-haired women", as far as I can see. The target creature will see that idea as "true" and will believe that this ideia is his own.

However, can this spell make someone believes that he/she is a servant of another person? I know that it is an unexpected use of this spell, but it seens - to me at least - fair game, considering how that spell "works".

As far as I can see, it would appears that the target will be "willing" to be a servant, but I really want some insight on how other GM's would handle this situation.

EDIT 2: Now, thanks to some awnsers, I can see that my original interpretation of this spell was kinda... off. At the moment, my interpretation changed to a "brief, passing thought". I will wait a bit before accepting an awnser.

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That seems a little too heavy-handed for a 1st level spell. You're probably much more likely to get away with "I really owe him a favor" or "She looks so weak and defenseless... I should volunteer my services at a discount". Either way, it's a minor push, not a compulsion. –  Sean Duggan Apr 7 '14 at 17:40
@SeanDuggan Make your comment an answer. –  Hey I Can Chan Apr 7 '14 at 18:32
@HeyICanChan: It didn't seem substantive enough for an answer. –  Sean Duggan Apr 7 '14 at 19:05

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Imagine if the thought "I am lisardggY's servant" popped up in your head, entirely naturally. At first it's natural, but then it starts to conflict with other thoughts, like "hey, I already have a job!", and maybe "Wait, when do I get paid? How much am I paid?". Then, maybe, "When did I get this job? Why would I go be a servant when I'm a trained adventurer?".

The bigger the thought you're putting in someone's head, the more it conflicts with other thoughts and memories that are already in there. Something like "I want a drink of water" doesn't conflict as much - it's short, self-contained and non-contradictory. "My name is Joe" has a whole weight of personality against it.

Note that the spell's caveat uses a rather extreme example, but the text of the exception is more general:

If the idea is contrary to the target's normal thoughts (such as making a paladin think, “I should murder my friends”) the target may suspect mind-altering magic is at play.

Which I would interpret that any thought that doesn't mesh in with normal thoughts will arouse suspicion.

An equivalent spell from a different system would be Ars Magica's Memory of the Distant Dream:

Inserts a full and complete memory into a person's mind. If the target gives the memory some thought and concentration, and makes an Intelligence roll of 9+, the memory is revealed as false. When the duration expires, the memory vanishes, although the subject may remember remembering it.

This seems equivalent, and addresses the issue of conflicting memories directly.

So yes, planting "I am Thales' loyal servant" would work... for all of five seconds, after which the guy will shake his head, say "wait a minute, no I'm not" and move on.

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+1, and about to accept it. This one cleared lot's of thoughts. Thanks! –  Thales Sarczuk Apr 7 '14 at 19:31

In short, no.

There's a line in the spell description that states:

If the idea is contrary to the target's normal thoughts (such as making a paladin think, “I should murder my friends”) the target may suspect mind-altering magic is at play.

Of course, this is an extreme example, but this kind of thing goes for anything that the person wouldn't ordinarily do. Sow Thought doesn't compel action, and people can notice if the thought is not something that they'd normally think. It's more like making someone consciously think a particular sentence, rather than actually telling them to do something.

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Well... that line don't contradict the original proposal of making someone your servant. I am not asking a paladin to murder, I am asking someone to serve. Sure, the spell can't FORCE the target to obey, but it can make it think that it should obey, no? –  Thales Sarczuk Apr 7 '14 at 18:52
It can't make someone think that they should obey. Think of it like this: if you suddenly had the thought "I should upvote all of DuckTapeAl's answers", you probably wouldn't do that unless you already were predisposed to doing that. You'd more likely think "why would I want to do that?". Sow Thought is more useful for things like "Business is slow today, I should close the shop early" or "I need to pee, I should stop stop guarding this corridor for a minute to go to the privy". 1st level enchantments aren't supposed to be that directly powerful. –  DuckTapeAl Apr 7 '14 at 19:02
Actually, the spells states the target wouldn't suspect mind-altering magic except on extreme cases: "The target genuinely believes that the idea is his own, but is not required to act upon it." - but i see your point, and I will think a bit upon it. –  Thales Sarczuk Apr 7 '14 at 19:05
You're right that they might not suspect mind-altering magic, but they're still more likely to think "man, that was a weird thought" than "I should act upon this thought" if it's not something that they'd be predisposed to doing anyway. –  DuckTapeAl Apr 7 '14 at 19:12
Yeah, I see your point. You are right on this. +1 –  Thales Sarczuk Apr 7 '14 at 19:41

The spell can plant ideas, but not beliefs. It can't "just insert a statement on the target's mind that the target will consider true", it can create an idea that the person will consider, even if they wouldn't originally thought of that.

In short, it can make someone think "hey, maybe I should apply to be that mage's servant, he could be a better employer than my current one" - as long as it would be reasonable for that person to look for work as someone's personal servant. It can't plant a false memory (i.e., that he already is serving that mage), and can't force him to take an action against his will - i.e., you can't expect a shopkeeper to agree to that, and you can't expect that servant to work for free.

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+1. The difference between Ideas and Beliefs is really important. I will keep that in mind while I think about this. –  Thales Sarczuk Apr 7 '14 at 19:09

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