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Here is how this question came up to me :

I have a dog (IRL), and it's so cute that I'm pretty crazy about it (I guess like most dog owners). My players, which are also my friends, know that.

I wanted to introduce something like an easter egg referring to it. I want to find a way to make them face a dog that is so cute that they have to make a saving throw (I don't know what kind or what DC) or be forced to pet it.

I know that as I am the DM I can just hand wave it and make it happen, but I was wondering if this can be achieved by RAW (even if it's not only because of the dog's cuteness).

So, how could a dog force a PC to make a saving throw or be forced to pet it by RAW?

  • It can be the effect of an item, but you have to explain how a dog could carry this item to make it plausible.
  • It can be the effect of a spell, but the spell has to be cast on the dog, not on the PCs. The saving throw must happen only when the PCs see or are near the dog. The caster should be able to leave the area after the spell is cast and the saving throw should still happen (I want the "event" to possibly happen even in a forest or else, as if the dog lost itself).
  • It can also be any other effect, as long as it is RAW.
  • I only have access to basic rules for now (Starter Set), so if you mention something from another official source, please quote the relevant parts of the rules.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Obviously the appropriate spell here would be who's a good boy. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 13 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just a side tip: If you don't want something killed and defiled, don't put it in the path of your players. Your players will incinerate that dog the second the words "make a wisdom save" leave your lips. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Jun 13 at 17:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Power Word Pet...No save lol \$\endgroup\$ – Alk Jun 13 at 20:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Would this follow the tone of the game, or do you know your friends well enough (in terms of what they think of dogs and their sense of humour) to know how they'd react? Based on your question, it sounds like this might be motivated by the fact that you would appreciate it, without necessarily having considered what others might think. \$\endgroup\$ – NotThatGuy Jun 14 at 8:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NotThatGuy I know my friends well enough to say that. Of course I would appreciate it, but I guess that even if they don't appreciate it, it will at least not upset my players. If this event occurs in my game, I guess it's going to be to animate a travel or something like that, not an event of great importance and long in term of time. I also can't ask them directly if they'd like to have that event happen, has it is supposed to be like a minor insignificant surprise to occupy them for barely a few minutes, asking for it would ruin the unexpected effect. \$\endgroup\$ – Zoma Jun 14 at 9:07
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If you are OK with a potential TPK: Sympathy

Its permanent, forces creatures to approach and remain within reach and you could easily add a requirement to pet the creature without breaking the spirit of the spell.

The risk is, that you only get a saving throw every 24 hours and its possible for a party to starve to death petting the dog.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Because it's so cute that you could die for! \$\endgroup\$ – Aguinaldo Silvestre Jun 14 at 4:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think being at risk of starving to death is a bit much. Starvation causes exhaustion. (Soiling oneself causes embarrassment, which will be a problem long before starvation is.) I'd count either of those as "the target ... otherwise harms an affected creature". Eventually, pressure from a full bladder grants saving throws (say) once every few minutes. This is still hilarious - A dog so cute people will literally forget to eat, finally snap out of it a few hours later ... only to find that if they don't get away from the dog within a minute, they - ITS SO FLUFFY WHAT WAS I DOING AGAIN? \$\endgroup\$ – Dayton Williams Jun 14 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this keep them from killing the dog before they get in petting range? \$\endgroup\$ – lucasgcb Jun 14 at 8:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you want to go full-on ridiculous, Sympathy can be cast on either a creature or an object. It doesn't actually say that the target dying ends the spell, and a corpse is a valid target for the spell, so it's still targeting a valid target. Technically, I'm not even sure killing the dog would end the spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Dayton Williams Jun 14 at 8:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ In HyperRogue there's a plant species that emits a wave of pheromones once every eight turns, and those force every creature to move towards the plant even if that means stabbing their friends, throwing itself onto the plant and dying, or even attempting to walk through a wall or over a chasm. \$\endgroup\$ – John Dvorak Jun 14 at 12:50
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You could have a bard Awaken the dog and then teach it to cast Suggestion.

The Awaken spell description says:

After spending the casting time tracing magical pathways within a precious gemstone, you touch a Huge or smaller beast or plant. The target must have either no Intelligence score or an Intelligence of 3 or less. The target gains an Intelligence of 10. The target also gains the ability to speak one language you know. If the target is a plant, it gains the ability to move its limbs, roots, vines, creepers, and so forth, and it gains senses similar to a human’s. Your GM chooses statistics appropriate for the awakened plant, such as the statistics for the awakened shrub or the awakened tree.

The awakened beast or plant is charmed by you for 30 days or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it. When the charmed condition ends, the awakened creature chooses whether to remain friendly to you, based on how you treated it while it was charmed.

The description of the Suggestion spell says:

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.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have the dog be an 11th level spell caster and use Mass Suggestion for added effect. This starts going into really silly territory though. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Jun 13 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would a self-polymorph potentially work as well as or even better than an actual dog? \$\endgroup\$ – John Dvorak Jun 14 at 12:43
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Command

(1st level enchantment):

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. [...]

Glyph of Warding

(3rd level abjuration):

When you cast this spell, you inscribe a glyph that harms other creatures, either upon a surface (such as a table or a section of floor or wall) or within an object [...].

You decide what triggers the glyph when you cast the spell. [...] Once a glyph is triggered, this spell ends. [...]

You can further refine the trigger so the spell activates only under certain circumstances or according to physical characteristics [...]. You can also set conditions for creatures that don’t trigger the glyph, such as those who say a certain password.

Spell Glyph. You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph. The spell must target a single creature or an area. [...] When the glyph is triggered, the stored spell is cast. If the spell has a target, it targets the creature that triggered the glyph. [...]

Have your dog's owner inscribe a several Glyphs of Warding (at least as many as there are members of the party) on the ground in a clearing in the woods, surrounding the tree that the dog's leash is tied to. Set them to trigger when anyone who hasn't triggered this effect yet looks at the dog.

When creating the glyph, store the spell Command, using the command word "Pet".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to add, instead of placing them around the area, you could place the glyphs on the dogs collar for more of a thematic flavour. \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Jun 14 at 0:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LiamMorris True. The object has to be something that can be opened, but it never occurred to me that that's technically true of a collar. \$\endgroup\$ – Admiral Jota Jun 14 at 2:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AdmiralJota Just be aware that the glyph can't move more than a small amount so neither could the dog if it was attached. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 14 at 4:07
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This is a Dexterity save

The dog just wants human affection and will rush the PCs and force them to rub it's head. The Dexterity save is to remove your hands in time to not be the petter.

this is similar to a fireball, where the PCs don't have a lot of time and want to move out of the way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My dog does this. If you don't pet her, she will nudge your hands into a position to be petting her. X3 DC 2 to resist though. \$\endgroup\$ – Tezra Jun 14 at 18:32
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If you don't need it to be compulsory and just want it to be a fun easter egg, have the dog make a Persuasion check. 5e rules are a little ambiguous on how to do a Persuade against PCs as far as I know, but in the past it was an opposed check. You can either do it that way or set a DC. If the dog passes you can say something like:

A dog looks up at you with the sweetest eyes you have ever seen. He rolls over onto his back exposing his belly, quivering with joy and anticipation. You feel an overwhelming urge not to disappoint this dog.

As will all persuasion checks, the PCs still get final say on their character's actions, so it should make the reference clear without taking away player agency. You can also drop in some NPCs who fail the check and get lost in a world of belly rubs.

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Warning: Doing This Without Good Reason Can Tick Off Your Players

Character agency is one of the sacred tenets of RPG's. Anything that takes control of a character away from the player needs to be handled carefully, and different players have different tolerance levels for it. The reason for this is that you have an entire world and the mechanics of the game at your disposal, so the character is the player's only tool to engage with the game. Ideally any mechanic or scene that takes away that agency should have both an in universe reason, and an out of universe reason, and those reasons should be part of the expected game experience going in for everybody at the table.

Unless you have a story reason already planned out involving an enchanted dog, I would recommend against turning your players into a bunch of puppets that pet your dog. In my experience, players are pretty predictable: 9 times out of 10, they'll attack it, eat/drink it, talk at it, push random buttons, or look for the scene exit. If all you want is an Easter egg about a cute puppy, all you need to do is have a quiet scene where the "attack it" option is disabled, the eat/drink button is off to the side, the talk-at-shopkeeper-NPC button is on cooldown, and, lo and behold, here's a random widget that happens to be a puppy.

If You Do the Thing Anyway

Other answers have already covered the possible mechanical implementations for what you're asking; charmed statuses, sympathy spells, hexes, whatever you choose to use needs to have a specific effect that you have written down just like any magic spell. You need to write it down so you can be fair and consistent. The other two things you need are an in-universe explanation for this phenomenon and a way for the players to dispel the effect, because otherwise, they are going to get frustrated. This is starting to sound suspiciously like a quest. From there, you just plan it out like any other adventure, starting with what you have already (a magical dog is making me pet it), and filling in details to give you a path from the first call to adventure to the climax where the players appease the fey spirit that has cursed the dog-druid.

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Sphinx Variant

I'd suggest making up a monster, a giant (Dire?!) canine, that's still adorable. Like the Sphinx, if those that encounter it fail to succeed at it's challenge it eats them (or tries). Fortunately for the PCs the challenge is merely petting the beast. If they try to leave without at least one (or maybe the majority?) of the party petting it, it attacks.

Aura of Adorableness: When first spotted a humanoid must make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw or Pet the doggie. In addition as a bonus action the Huge Pupper may force one humanoid it can see to make such a check. If a character fails the check, they must spend their entire next action moving as close as possible to the Huge Pupper and petting it if adjacent. The Huge Pupper will not attack anyone who is currently petting it.

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I like StarHawks answer about a Bard (College of Glamour) casting awaken on the dog. If the Bard treated the dog well for the 30 days, they may have become good friends. The goal would be to give the Dog the College of Glamour’s 3rd level ability

Enthralling Performance Starting at 3rd level, you can charge your performance with seductive, fey magic. If you perform for at least 1 minute, you can attempt to inspire wonder in your audience by singing, reciting a poem, or dancing. At the end of the performance, choose a number of humanoids within 60 feet of you who watched and listened to all of it, up to a number equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one). Each target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC or be charmed by you. While charmed in this way, the target idolizes you, it speaks glowingly of you to anyone who speaks to it, and it hinders anyone who opposes you, avoiding violence unless it was already inclined to fight on your behalf. This effect ends on a target after 1 hour, if it takes any damage, if you attack it, or if it witnesses you attacking or damaging any of its allies. If a target succeeds on its saving throw, the target has no hint that you tried to charm it. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Ideally the Dog would have a Charisma modifier equal to the number of party members, and approach the party before a long rest. The benefit of waiting until a long rest is the Dog may be able to get two petting sessions before leaving.

An advantage to this approach would be the Dog would not be casting a spell against the party. The Dog may not even be aware of his ability.

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There are no rules that would do exactly what you want.

Here are some rules that do something similar.

The wizard spell antipathy/sympathy says:

The Enchantment causes the specified creatures to feel an intense urge to approach the target while within 60 feet of it or able to see it. When such a creature can see the target or comes within 60 feet of it, the creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or use its Movement on each of its turns to enter the area or move within reach of the target. When the creature has done so, it can't willingly move away from the target. If the target damages or otherwise harms an affected creature, the affected creature can make a Wisdom saving throw to end the effect, as described below.

You would have to explain why someone cast this spell on a dog, and you'd have to house rule "forced to stand near" to "forced to pet".

The creature "nymph" says:

Blinding Beauty. If a humanoid starts its turn within 30 feet of the nymph and can see it, she can force the creature to make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is magically blinded. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. A humanoid that isn’t surprised can avert their eyes.

You'd have to explain why this nymph had taken the form of a dog, and you'd have to house rule the effect of the failed save.

The creature "vampire" can turn into a bat, and it has an ability that says:

Charm: The vampire targets one humanoid it can see within 30 ft. of it. If the target can see the vampire, the target must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or be Charmed by the vampire. The Charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn't under the vampire's control, it takes the vampire's requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and it is a willing target for the vampire's bite Attack.

You'd have to houserule that this vampire turns into a dog instead of a bat.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While it is a pretty good answer with points that are not already said in other answers, why is there downvoters ? Don't forget that if you think a question could be improved, leave a comment to explain how. \$\endgroup\$ – Zoma Jun 14 at 6:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the downvoters are because I said: "There are no rules that would do exactly what you want." and other answers have shown this to be false. I probably should edit that. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Jun 14 at 15:20

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