Suggestion is a 2nd-level spell that charms creatures for 8 hours and RAW does not give them any subsequent saving throws. Can it be used to turn someone that is otherwise on good terms against one or more of their allies?

The Rise of Tiamat has the following use of suggestion:

The malisons also use suggestion spells to tell characters that a fellow party member has been replaced by a yuan-ti spy and should be attacked. (The Rise of Tiamat, p. 46)

If you suggest for instance, "Your friend the Warlock has been replaced by a Doppleganger that is going to destroy you. Kill it now, before it has the chance!" Would the character on a failed save be forced to fight their ally, thinking they have been replaced by a Doppleganger (or yuan-ti spy)?

For comparison, Crown of Madness is a 2nd-level spell that charms creatures for 1 minute, must spend your action maintaining each turn, and gives saving throws to resist each turn. It seems unreasonable that Suggestion could be used as a more powerful Crown of Madness, but the idea in The Rise of Tiamat seems to suggest it would be possible.


The description of Suggestion states:

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. Creatures that can't be Charmed are immune to this effect. The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the course of action sound reasonable. Asking the creature to stab itself, throw itself onto a spear, immolate itself, or do some other obviously harmful act ends the spell.

The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, it pursues the course of action you described to the best of its ability. The suggested course of action can continue for the entire Duration. If the suggested activity can be completed in a shorter time, the spell ends when the subject finishes what it was asked to do.

You can also specify conditions that will trigger a special activity during the Duration. For example, you might suggest that a knight give her warhorse to the first beggar she meets. If the condition isn't met before the spell expires, the activity isn't performed.

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

Sage Advice does address this kind of usage of Suggestion here. In response to a question asking whether Suggestion can cause a target to attack another creature, Mike Mearls suggests:

Only in specific situations - would have to play upon existing rivalry or anger. Ex - Guy you suspect is a traitor really is.

Chris Perkins says:

It can, but if the spell's target thinks the suggested action is likely to cause it harm, the spell could fail.

One could certainly argue that you attacking an ally is likely to result in you being harmed. The caster would need to word the Suggestion carefully if they actually want it to sound reasonable.

If the caster does manage to word the Suggestion convincingly enough in just the sentence or two specified, and the target fails its Wisdom save, then it would pursue the course of action to the best of its ability.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In the specific example, if you are in a battle, and the "spy" is clearly still fighting on your side, it doesn't make sense to attack them then and there. Although you might be convinced to not turn your back on them during the fight. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Mar 8 '18 at 8:55

Yes it can. Depends mainly on the personality of the target and the circumstances.

A Neutral or Chaotic Evil character is far more likely to turn against allies, especially if they have already did so once before. Chaotic characters, even Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Good could also have such tendencies.

A Lawful character is less likely to do that, unless they are in secret a double-agent or informer placed into its own group to begin with.

However, if the 'ally' the target is supposed to turn against is chaotic or somehow acted 'hostile' towards the target previously it becomes more plausible again, even for a lawful character (and if the character is Lawful but most of its allies Chaotic it also makes it more likely)

Consider the intelligence and knowledge of the target of the spell, as the "do some other obviously harmful act" might still stop it from turning against dangerous alies especially if its family lives nearby or inside the territory of that group and a betrayal would put them to risk.


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