The Command spell states:

You speak a one-word command to a creature you can see within range. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or follow the command on its next turn.

If there were two doors and you pointed at one and gave the Command, "exit" - are there any guidelines as to whether the gesture part of the Command clarifies the command or does the creature get to choose how to interpret the command?


While gestures aren't part of the spell's magic, they might still be interpreted.

Before I start, the spell does explicitly say that the DM determines how the target behaves, so it's ultimately the DM's call. As I read it, gestures are not part of the magic of the spell, but they might be part of the mundane context of the command.

First, spells only do exactly what they say they do, and no more. If gestures were part of the magical command, they would have been included in the text of the spell. Specifically, the one-word limit reduces the spell's versatility--adding gestures basically bypasses that limitation.

Second, the spell only requires that you can see the target, not that the target can see you. If you try to use gestures to Command a creature that can't see you, does it still work? Nothing in the spell text says that the creature can somehow understand a gesture it can't see, because gestures are not part of the spell.

However, creatures have to use mundane, nonmagical context to interpret the command that they're given. For example, "approach" means that the creature has to locate you and figure out how they're going to move closer to you, and "drop" means the creature has to identify whatever they're holding and drop it.

If you issue the command "exit," and point, the creature may use the information you give it in order to carry out its command. However, they are not magically compelled to do anything other than strictly follow the single word command, so they might exit via other means, like teleporting away.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like this answer because it uses good logic around how the command is interpreted, rather than just how it is issued. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Apr 19 '18 at 8:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ And here I thought 'drop' was telling them to go prone. \$\endgroup\$ – LastStar007 Apr 19 '18 at 9:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gnudiff: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/117612/… \$\endgroup\$ – Ilmari Karonen Apr 19 '18 at 12:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin The distinction that I'm drawing is between the magical compulsion and the mundane surrounding context that the creature uses to carry out the command. I've edited the question to hopefully make it more clear. \$\endgroup\$ – Icyfire Apr 19 '18 at 15:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does anyone know how this rule is implemented in translations?-- in some languages, such as Turkish, the whole notion of a "word" doesn't really work: In Turkish, one "word" could be used to translate "exit through the door on my left". \$\endgroup\$ – errantlinguist Apr 19 '18 at 18:03

The DM chooses how to interpret the command should you use any command other than the ones written within the spells description.

You might issue a command other than one described here. If you do so, the DM determines how the target behaves.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It clearly says "you speak a one word command" Issuing other commands does not equate to "issuing a command a different way". \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Apr 19 '18 at 1:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand what you are trying to say. The description of spell clearly states that there are several commands that have descriptions of their own such as Approach,Drop and exit is not one of those commands and according to the description of the spell if the effect of the command is not described then the DM decides what happens. \$\endgroup\$ – Maiko Chikyu Apr 19 '18 at 1:28


The command spell cannot be clarified with any cues. It gives a single word command, that will be carried out in the next turn, if possible. If you need more nuance, then the right spell is Suggestion. That both allows clarification and has a longer duration.

The "exit" command, you suggested would make the creature to move towards the nearest exit. In a situation with two doors, it would exit the room through the nearest door, assuming the door was reacheable in a single turn.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why nearest exit? Why not safest or most useful or most reasonable? What’s the source of the logic for making the decision? \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Apr 26 '18 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @praxiteles: the creature will attempt to execute the command to the best of its ability. If the command is "EXIT" of course it will go to the nearest. Picture yourself in panic inside a building on fire. where will you go? The nearest exit? \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Apr 27 '18 at 12:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm...If at dinner, a PC dining receives the Command to "Exit", and one nearby door leads upstairs to a guarded area where the PC might be attacked, and one farther door leads outside to safety - would the PC still take the nearest door because they "panic"? Would they be unable to take the safest door ? Where is panic clarified as a mindset part of the spell and the choice on how to execute the Command removed? \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Apr 27 '18 at 18:03

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