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In 5e D&D, the Suggestion-style spells can suggest a path of action via charm-like forces. This suggests (ha ha) that it alters the thought and feeling process of the target. Obviously the ramifications for life-coaching are astounding, but let us put that aside for the moment.

Much of society &/or culture spends a vast amount on chemicals that do little more than alter state of being (alcohol, cigarettes, coffee are only the socially-expected 'tip of the iceberg'). Indeed, 5e D&D has spells that change the minds of people - but it does not explicitly explain how this changes the impacted person's feelings. For example, a depressed person experiencing Charm is still depressed, but they feel a bit more friendly towards a specific person should they fail their saving throw.

If there is a RAW explanation or example for how (Mass) Suggestion spells &/or effects change feelings beyond thought-action mechanics it changes how the spell impacts the game. Imagine marketing this suggestion-magic as a drug, a valuable resource with NO withdrawal - and minimal risk of addiction. An entire industry would logically exist for any bard, wizard or sorcerer with access to this second level spell.

What would be even more interesting is if this feeling-manipulation could be used to solve psychological barriers. Imagine telling a target 'You will figure out the inner-dialogue on how to be confident... and free of anxiety... in the next two to eight hours.' If psychological states can be over-suggested (meta-suggested?) then this suggestion-impact could even allow a fresh saving throw for all mind-impacting spells.

  • Fear &/ or frightened condition: 'You are NOT afraid! Your course of action is to stop trembling and function normally.'

  • Charmed &/or effects: 'You do not find that vampire charming.'

  • Possession: 'You will cast out that ghost - they are not you! Resist!'

  • Song of Harpies: 'This is not your kind of music, you prefer violin concertos. Do not listen to her!'

At higher levels of Mass Suggestion this would function without concentration. If this mental suggestion-force were allowed it would provide resistance or even immunity to specific magic &/or spells pending the wording of the original (suggest) spell.

In short: Can Suggestion-style magic create specific states of being whilst suggesting an action? Is feeling a state of being considered an action? If so, does this extend into saving throws and resistances against other mind-controlling magic?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you, @Akixkisu. Though i also wonder if it alters thoughts. The spell description points out it alters actions, meaning that one could comply with the entire spell (up to a YEAR with Mass Suggestion) without understanding what is going on... which is weird. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim of Time Feb 10 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Possibly related? rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/83605/… \$\endgroup\$ – Tim of Time Feb 10 at 23:42
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Suggestion can't beat condition mechanics

In a general sense if someone is frightened of heights or charmed by a handsome man, you could use Suggestion to prevent that from happening. Would they still feel just as afraid but magically have the strength to face their fear? Good question, I don't have an answer for that, but they may certainly be able to "stop trembling and function normally".

However neither of those things would actually apply the Frightened or Charmed conditions. There is a distinction between being frightened in the normal sense, and being under the effect of the mechanical Frightened condition.

Saving throws represent the target's ability to resist an effect

Remember that usually there is some effect in the game world causing the condition, such as Fear or Charm Person. Your ability to "snap out of it" is the saving throw. The target of Suggestion performs the task "to the best of its ability". If the target fails the saving throw then that is the best of their ability.

DM rulings

In 5e the DM is given a lot of latitude and power when deciding what happens in specific circumstances. It would be entirely reasonable to rule that the target which was suggested "You are NOT afraid!" has Advantage on checks against fear.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ many thanks! Though i still wonder if Suggestion can be used as a drug (as a stimulant or depressant... probably not as an hallucinogen). This may well be a DM fiat - though if it can remove fear of heights and feelings of charm, it stands to reason it could just as well remove or add other feelings as well. There may be hope for this magical-intoxication industry yet. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim of Time Feb 11 at 4:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TimofTime It probably can be, moreover I would say realistically there are likely to be spells specifically to get you high in the D&D world. \$\endgroup\$ – pwi Feb 11 at 4:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's one of the running inconsistencies in D&D. If magic can do the things the rules say it can there should be a lot more magic-related commerce than there is, especially since using magic can be a learned skill. Either there are unmentioned constraints on how magic works, or the details of the various D&D settings simply haven't factored in logical applications of magic in their worldbuilding. \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Feb 11 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Upper_Case I suspect at least part of the issue is the assumption that PCs are "normal" and so "if they can learn magic, everyone can". Unfortunately normal people aren't PCs. Magic is out of reach of 99.whatever% of the population in most settings. \$\endgroup\$ – pwi Feb 12 at 1:45
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Suggestion deals with courses of activity, not states of being

Suggestion and mass suggestion both state:

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. [...] The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the course of action sound reasonable. [...] it pursues the course of action you described to the best of its ability.

In short, if the course of activity is reasonable, the target will do it's best to pursue it.

A lot of your ideas are not worded as courses of activity

For example, "you will figure out the inner-dialogue on how to be confident... and free of anxiety... in the next two to eight hours" is not a course of action, it is a prediction. "You do not find that vampire charming" is also not a course of action, it's an (inaccurate) description of the present.

Suggestion does not make a difficult activity easier

If you want to use suggestion to instill confidence in your target, then you could say something like "think of your successes so far and engage in an inner-monologue to pursue confidence". The target will do its best, but might fail. A depressed target might even find it unreasonable causing suggestion to fail outright.

It's really no different from a physical task, like saying "lift that stone". The target will do its best, but might fail. A bed-ridden target might even find it unreasonable causing the suggestion to fail outright.

Hence, for the purpose of coaching (of any kind, including life-coaching), suggestion can enforce reasonable effort, but does not guarantee immediate results.

Suggestion does not make an impossible activity possible

If you want to use suggestion to get rid of a Vampire's Charm you could say something like "clear your mind of charms". However, for most targets this activity is impossible, because the Vampire's Charm gives no way for the target to escape by their own efforts. To successfully pursue this activity, the target needs some kind of ability, such as the ability to cast calm emotions or greater restoration.

For similar reasons suggestion cannot replace drugs. A target that can't become high by its own efforts, will not acquire the ability to become high just because you target them with suggestion. If you say "become drunk" then the target's only way to purse that activity is to find alcohol and drink it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a brilliant analysis of how suggestions work psychologically, including New Age stuff such as self-affirmations and Tony Robbins-style pep talks. That said: this is a powerful form of magic, at least as powerful as Calm Emotions or Zone of Truth. This must re-map the intention, attention, interest and valuation process objectively - just as the other spells do. Your interpretation suggests it cannot even get a person out of bed if they aren't feeling that well that morning. Concern? \$\endgroup\$ – Tim of Time Feb 13 at 0:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TimofTime when I say bedridden, I mean worse than merely not feeling well. Don't confuse unreasonable with unwilling.There is certainly some leeway in what counts as reasonable, because it can depend on DM fiat, context, wording, and target's personality. But even with a strict reading of what is reasonable, suggestion is plenty strong and versatile. You can get a healthy enemy to surrender when they are outnumbered, or get a witness to answer questions honestly (similar to zone of truth). Just those two examples are worth a 2nd level spellslot. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Feb 13 at 2:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Getting real answers means powerful divination - yes, good & valid point! For game-play (and role-playing) what is a brain like whilst under the influence or intoxicated by this magic? That is the question. See? To have FUN role-playing this intoxication in a role-playing game. It would be most fine if this was RAW, RAI and RAF. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim of Time Feb 14 at 18:45

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