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This may be a duplicate based on "Do you know when you are under the effects of a charm/domination spell?".

In a recent session our group were fighting Mind Flayers and were repeatedly subject to domination spells. As a Paladin I opted to use Cleansing Touch to end the effect of the spell on myself.

Cleansing Touch from the PHB:

You can use your action to end one spell on yourself or on one willing creature that you touch.

Our DM allowed it, based on the fact that the description for Dominate Monster doesn't explicitly state that I couldn't end the effect in such a way, but RAW should I have been able to?

Dominate Monster from the PHB:

You can use this telepathic link to issue commands to the creature while you are conscious (no action required), which it does its best to obey. You can specify a simple and general course of action, such as “Attack that creature,” “Run over there,” or “Fetch that object.” If the creature completes the order and doesn’t receive further direction from you, it defends and preserves itself to the best of its ability.

For clarification, I failed the Saving Throw and the Mind Flayer issued a general command of "Kill this PC", never assuming direct control of my character.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I was considering to post an answer where I suggested to have your party members trick you into cast Cleansing Touch on yourself by giving you a good reason why it would help you to kill that PC. But it explicitly removes one spell you have to pick consciously. That makes this difficult. \$\endgroup\$ – Philipp Mar 9 '18 at 13:21
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No, RAW you could not have done that

You failed your save and you got an order to kill a specific PC. Instead, you used your action doing something to break free from the dominate effect, failing to follow the command you were given.

A DM is free to allow this, but if a DM allows you to do that, dominate monster becomes essentially useless, as it sets a precedent for ignoring the order and just doing something else; expect dominated monsters to simply drop prone or drop their weapons to avoid following orders.

In fact, as pointed out in comments by Lino Frank Ciaralli, your character isn't even aware that they are being dominated. Any attempt to 'break free' would be using meta knowledge that your character has no knowledge of.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer, as an extension, what about the secondary phase of the spell? "Defend and preserve itself...". Say I do kill the intended PC and am issued no further orders. Would I be able to use Cleansing Touch then? \$\endgroup\$ – David the Paladin Mar 8 '18 at 13:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think so, as that doesn't in any way 'defend yourself'. Heal yourself, sure, cleanse poison out of your system, sure, break free from dominate, unlikely. If you allow it, then punching yourself to break free through the damage clause should be equally valid. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Mar 8 '18 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth it to point out that you don't know you're dominated, so using cleansing touch to end an effect you don't know is affecting you is pure meta-knowledge, and thus wouldn't be your character defending and preserving him/herself. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Mar 8 '18 at 16:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just as importantly, that clause wasn't even active at the time, as you hadn't yet completed the order. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Mar 8 '18 at 17:42
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Using cleansing touch to end the effect doesn't really fall in line with the command you were given.

Moving to the targetted PC and smitting him would feel like the right thing to do in this situation.

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It depends. You could but then you would be breaking your orders but if you moved to attack but you didn't have enough movement to actually reach the person you could then use your action to do something else, such as cleansing touch. But if you were able to attack then you should attack.

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