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The following scenario happened in an old game; The DM already made a ruling on the issue, which is fine - but I was curious how the "willing creature" aspect of the protection from evil and good spell works if the creature is already possessed.

In that game, we encountered a possessed child. I tried to cast protection from evil and good on the child so that they could fight the possession by having advantage on any new saving throw against that effect. However, the spell says it must be cast on a "willing creature".

If they are already possessed, obviously the spirit won't agree to the protection from evil and good spell being cast on them. So how can an already possessed individual get advantage on saves against possession?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you the DM or the player? Are you asking if a possessed creature would be willing or about making a unwilling creature willing? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 28 '20 at 23:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil May 29 '20 at 0:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can you make an unwilling creature willing? In other words, what defines “willing”? \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M May 29 '20 at 3:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome AJ! I noticed your title question is very specific to the Protection from Evil and Good spell, and the question you ask in the last sentence is much broader. Judging by the rest of your question, what you're really asking is if the victim of possession is considered a "willing" target. I'd suggest changing your question title to better reflect that- it will help future visitors looking for answers to similar questions find your question. \$\endgroup\$ – The Grumbleputty May 29 '20 at 5:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've made a substantial edit to the question to try and clarify what you're asking. Please check to make sure it matches your intent. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 29 '20 at 23:58
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The child in your example could be considered "willing"

While "possessed" isn't a clearly defined condition in 5e, the Ghost statblock does include the Possession action, part of which says (Monster Manual, page 147; emphasis mine):

The ghost now controls the body but doesn't deprive the target of awareness. The ghost can't be targeted by any attack, spell, or other effect, except ones that turn undead, and it retains its alignment, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, and immunity to being charmed and frightened. It otherwise uses the possessed target's statistics, but doesn't gain access to the target's knowledge, class features, or proficiencies.

This description states two key things:

  1. That the target is not deprived of awareness
  2. That the ghost cannot be the target of a spell

At least in the example of a ghost possessing a victim, the victim remains aware, and it is the victim who is the target of a spell, not the ghost. Thus, if the child is willing to have the possessing spirit cast out, they would be the target of the protection from evil and good spell, and would gain advantage on any subsequent saving throws against the possession.

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The "target" of the spell is the child, not the spirit. The description of the Protection from Evil and Good spell states:

If the target is already charmed, frightened, or possessed by such a creature, the target has advantage on any new saving throw against the relevant effect.

...which would make no sense if the ghost/entity possessing the child were the target. If the spell grants advantage to those who are already possessed, it proves that it can be cast on already possessed creatures.

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