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Dominate monster affects monsters, obviously — but my question is, what exactly counts as a monster? 5e Creature types include Aberration, Beast, Celestial, Construct, Dragon, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, Giant, Humanoid, Monstrosity, Ooze, Plant, and Undead.

"Humanoid" is what gets me. Of course, dominate monster would work on abberations, beasts, fiends, monstrosities, and the like. But what about things like Giants? What exactly is the difference between a giant and a humanoid? Humanoid's definition is generally "having an appearance or character resembling that of a human." (Webster's), i.e., 2 arms, 2 legs, bipedal, etc. In that, a "giant" is technically a humanoid — so would it be effected by dominate person or dominate monster?

Alternatively, consider the Treant — it's classified as "plant". Would dominate monster work on it? I mean, you can't cast dominate monster on a normal tree — because it's a freaking tree, not a monster. In addition, treants have 2 arms and 2 legs and walk upright, so they would technically also fit the "humanoid" description.

One more example — celestials. Celestials are generally of good alignment, so would they be classified as monster? Take the unicorn — it's alignment is lawful good. Monsters are generally interpreted in most cultures as "evil". As such, would the unicorn be a monster, even if it only wanted to help people and spread joy and whatever? Aternatively, the Planetar — it's a humanoid, but it's classified as Celestial. I hate to sound like a broken record, but again, the planetar looks almost exactly like a human, apart from size and skin tone. Would dominate monster effect it, or dominate person?

This is probably an obvious question, but it's still confusing that a spell entitled "dominate monster" would also work on a potentially good-aligned humanoid creature.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that if you're going to talk about the defined creature types you list, you shouldn't be surprised when using Webster for "humanoid" rather than sticking to the corebooks' definition (MM p7) leads you astray. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Dec 10 '17 at 22:15
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All creature types

A monster is defined as any creature that can be interacted with and potentially fought and killed.

The monster manual defines monster as the above. And just from this you can get your answer: this spell works on basically everything.

You attempt to beguile a creature that you can see within range.

The spell works on any type of creature assuming it meets the other requirements in the spell description. But there are no types excluded.

See this question for an in depth discussion on what the word creature means in game terms.

To quote from the answer in that thread though:

Creature is basically every living breathing (or undead) thing big enough to be considered at least CR0 (give or take).

So the spell works essentially on any thing adventurers might come across.

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What creature types?

All of them.

A monster is defined as any creature that can be interacted with and potentially fought and killed. Even something as harmless as a frog or as benevolent as a unicorn is a monster by this definition. The term also applies to humans, elves, dwarves, and other civilized folk who might be friends or rivals to the player characters. (MM, p.4)

This comports exactly with the text of the spell:

You attempt to beguile a creature you can see within range. (PHB p.235)

The "monster" you dominate is just any creature you choose to impose your will on.

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When you read the spell description, it starts out by saying:

You attempt to beguile a creature that you can see within range.

So despite the name, it really just allows you to target any creature, including Plants, Humanoids, Celestials, etc.

Perhaps the name is poorly chosen, but then again perhaps "Dominate Creature" just doesn't sound as cool?

Either way; you can dominate whichever creature you want.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The name of the spell is unchanged from 1st edition which used "creature" and "monster" interchangeably. \$\endgroup\$ – r256 Jul 27 '18 at 17:00

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