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Another PC, a Bard, casts Suggestion on my Barbarian. I failed the Wisdom Saving Throw and was given a specific task to fulfil, for example "go back to the boat".

When the Barbarian fulfils the specified task will it:

A) end the Suggestion spell right there, and allow me to move freely again?

or

B) will the Bard get to maintain Concentration on the spell for 8 more hours and only then end the spell?

And on the off chance that it continues, if I were to stab myself will the spell end? Can I stab myself for it to end, because companions stabbing me would end it right away?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are for requesting clarification and suggesting improvement; they're not for answering the question (or frame challenging, or trying to solve the issue, or saying how we'd handle the issue). Answer in answers please. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jun 2 '17 at 10:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ This really should be split into two questions. 1, all but last paragraph. 2, last paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Jun 2 '17 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ The title is incomprehensible. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Mortensen Jun 3 '17 at 4:20
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You can't actively resist a spell you are not aware of

If you failed the Wisdom saving throw, that means you don't know you are under the spell effect.

Can I stab myself for it to end

What "it" do you want to end? The bard has merely suggested you to go to the boat, and you are pretty sure it is what you really should do. There is no single reason for doing stupid things like, you know, stabbing yourself.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sure there are. You could inflict damage upon yourself as part of a routine anti-mind control check. You could do it whenever your 'am I being mind controlled?' magic item said 'yes'. You could do it whenever your insight skill told you any of your friends found your behavior a little of in that way that means something might be wrong. Etc. And that's assuming that Radical Freedom has been disallowed, which it really shouldn't have been, but hey. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 2 '17 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggestion is already limited to a reasonable course of action. If the barbarian would not have reasonably gone back to the boat when asked, and has also not demonstrated prior that they would occasionally stab themselves for no apparent reason, then a failed save results in them going back to the boat. Fyi: removing player agency is a great way to generate a lot of anger at a table. Especially in pvp like this. Expect the barbarian to meta get you back. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Jun 5 '17 at 11:01
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Word your orders carefully...

If the suggested activity can be completed in a shorter time, the spell ends when the subject finishes what it was asked to do. - Suggestion, PHB, p279

The key element here is defining your task appropriately. If you tell somebody to do something that has a finite end, they stop doing it as soon as the task is complete.

In your example, the spell ends automatically as soon as the Barbarian reaches the boat. If you want to keep him there, rather than just slow him down with a bit of travel, the appropriate command is "Stay on the boat." As long as the caster maintains concentration, the target will stay there until the spell ends. Even better would be "Guard the boat," because once the spell wore off, the target is less likely to wonder "Why the heck have I been here for eight hours?"

Anecdotally, I've used suggestion to correct the course of a corrupt investigation. In one of the DDAL modules, the characters are framed for a murder. I got close enough to the lead investigator to use suggestion to tell him "We're innocent until proven guilty; do your job the right way." By studiously avoiding situations where she might lose concentration, my bard was able to keep the city guard at bay while the party conducted their own investigation.

Hit me baby, one more time...

If you or any of your companions damage the target, the spell ends. - ibid

The intention of this passage is to block suggestions like "stand still and do nothing" to prevent targets from defending themselves. The entire point of the spell is to make the target do things that seem reasonable.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise. - Targets, PHB, p204

The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the course of action sound reasonable. - Suggestion, PHB, p279

There's no reason for the barbarian to want to stab himself, because he has no way to realize he's under the effects of a subtle magic like suggestion. If he failed to save, he believes he's taking a reasonable course of action.

Attempting to stab himself to get out of the spell is metagaming, pure and simple - using out-of-character information ("the character is under suggestion") to drive in-character action ("the character stabs himself").

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Suggestion includes this clause:

If the suggested activity can be completed in a shorter time, the spell ends when the subject finishes what it was asked to do.

So yes, if the Barbarian completes his task, the spell will end immediately. As for your second question:

If you or any of your companions damage the target, the spell ends.

So the real question here is whether the Barbarian still counts as a "companion" of the Bard when the Bard is using magic to enslave him. That, unfortunately, you're going to have to ask your DM. There are no rules for what causes someone to count as a companion, so your DM will have to make a ruling based on the situation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "So the real question here is whether the Barbarian still counts as a "companion" of the Bard when the Bard is using magic to enslave him" Enslave sounds like a very strong word without context. For all we know, the barbarian could have said "I charge the enemy horde" and the bard said "No, you don't. (Axii sign/Jedi handwave) You think that seems dangerous". Actually, as a veteran GM, I see that as a very likely scenario, haha. \$\endgroup\$ – xDaizu Jun 2 '17 at 10:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Before that: does the Suggestion spell allow the Barbarian to actively and consciously do actions that will prevent to complete the assigned task, like stabbing himself to scape from the Suggestion spell? \$\endgroup\$ – Abby Jun 2 '17 at 12:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Timi that's 1) not what the rules say and 2) a ridiculous house rule for what happens when a PC tries to inflict minimal damage upon themselves, so I don't think that's really relevant unless the PC is subjected to nilbogism or something. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 2 '17 at 18:23
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Suggestion:

You suggest a course of activity (limited to a sentence or two) and magically influence a creature you can see within range that can hear and understand you... If the suggested activity can be completed in a shorter time, the spell ends when the subject finishes what it was asked to do.

As for stabbing yourself:

If you or any of your companions damage the target, the spell ends.

Either doing damage to yourself or completing the suggested task will finish the spell early, assuming the bard is your companion. So the effectiveness of stabbing yourself boils down to if you deem that the Bard is your companion at that point in time, which is not concrete.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How does this differ from @Miniman's answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jun 2 '17 at 3:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer they were submitted at practically the same time so it's not exactly like this answer is copying Miniman's. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Jun 2 '17 at 9:28

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