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I'm not a bad guy, really I'm not. It's just that, once in a while I need a spy and I don't really have time to ask nicely. On the evil scale of "doesn't write his mother" to "actively tries to destroy national healthcare initiatives", I'm wrestling with my True Neutral alignment and doing bad-ish things because I'm pretty sure there isn't another way to do this one thing, and it's worth doing.

The question - supposing I had an active Dominate effect on a person, and I didn't really want to, y'know, mentally enslave them just right that second, could I passively allow them to NOT be dominated by me, and simply act upon their own wishes?

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You can do so even without a shared language

Without a shared language you can only give simple orders like “Come here,” “Go there,” “Fight,” and “Stand still”. "Do Whatever" is a reasonable addition to this list, with no real complexity beyond what's expected of the "Fight" command.

With a shared language your ability to do this is without question: "you can generally force the subject to perform as you desire, within the limits of its abilities" Doing whatever they want is generally within that limit.

However, leaving your mind-slave uncontrolled will probably result in them trying to find ways not to be controlled should you change your mind, and there are a number of very simple and easily accessible ways to do that should their companions become aware that they are dominated.

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Sure, just give the dominated character a command like “behave exactly as you would if you weren’t under anyone’s control right now,” maybe with something extra like “other than warning others about me,” though presumably if the person was being true to acting like they weren’t under anyone’s control, that would include not claiming that they were under anyone’s control (unless the person is exceptionally paranoid, I guess).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You should probably ask your GM about this, just in case your GM is one of the ones that rules that a creature subject to dominate person finds themself trapped, unable even to scream, in a body which acts on its own regardless of their will for the duration of the spell. If this is the case, telling them to act like they're not dominated might simply be another layer of torture as they become a prisoner forced to watch their own life as a stranger lives it in their place. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jun 7 '17 at 9:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe That is a massive change to the nature of the spell. Said GM should be telling you that they are changing the spell ahead of time, not springing it on you when you go to use it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 7 '17 at 12:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh? "You can control the actions of any humanoid creature" and "Subjects resist this control, and any subject forced to take actions against its nature receives a new saving throw" implies that dominated creatures are conscious and aware of their surroundings and dominated state while dominated, but that they have no control over their own actions and have very limited ability to resist. Interpreting that as their being a prisoner in their own body isn't the only possibility, of course, but it's not an unreasonable one. Or is there something I've missed? \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jun 7 '17 at 22:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe It's a stretch to say act normally ever goes against anyone’s nature, to say that it is actually impossible completely contradicts the spell’s stated rules. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 7 '17 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think I said acting normally is impossible? I certainly didn't mean to. I guess I must've said something that gives you that impression, though. My apologies for the misunderstanding; That's not what I meant at all. What I was trying to say is that a creature's actions are under the control of the caster (as per the first line of the spell), and that the creature is aware of their surroundings and able to resist, but only by attempting to shake off the spell (as per the other line I quoted) - which sounds to me as if they're conscious but unable to control their own body. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jun 8 '17 at 12:20

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