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Are there any well-known, proprietary RP games in which a powerful wizard can compel suicide or murder?

I'm not a player but I sometimes read questions and answers here.

Out of curiosity I wondered just how powerful a wizard might become and whether they could compel a fellow PC to commit murder or even suicide. Could the GM intervene?

I'm thinking mainly of D&D but I'm open to hearing about other systems if suitable. For clarification: the character doesn't have to be a wizard if another characters could force it to happen.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Not necessarily. I just assumed that would be necessary. I'll edit the question. \$\endgroup\$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 30 '20 at 20:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's still not clear what do you ask about. Do you want a complete list of all the TRPGs where such a mind control is possible? Or do you want a list of D&D-only spells and/or magic items which can do such a thing? Are you interested in killing a player's character specifically or this is not important? Is the GM (not) being able to intervene important for the question? What are you trying to achieve? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Aug 30 '20 at 21:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure this is the question you mean to ask? It feels irrelevant to most actual play, because if one player tries to do this to another PC, in any system, what happens will be entirely up to the social contract and playstyle expectations of the group \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Aug 30 '20 at 21:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question as currently framed fall foul of unbounded list/shopping which don't work with the site and/or are off-topic. However, I suspect because of the line "I'm thinking mainly of D&D", the question that got answered was "Can a wizard/spellcaster in D&D compel a fellow PC to...?" which should be workable. You should reframe your question to ask that (for your chosen edition of the game). Otherwise (or either way) I'd like more detail on why you are looking for this, or why you need cross game info (which might not be workable). \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Aug 30 '20 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ And re close reason; the votes where 3/2 Needs details and shopping. The exact close reason isn't that important as long as the used one is applicable. Let's say that the problem is muddied and masks (and thus the question needs clarity) this that it looks like a shopping question. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Aug 30 '20 at 23:48
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Yes, magic to compel suicide or homicide are available in D&D.

Homicide isn’t even particularly rare—since most creatures in D&D are at least circumstantially willing to use violence to solve problems, getting one to choose a new target they wouldn’t otherwise consider an enemy often isn’t very difficult. Many forms of mind-control allow targets to resist orders that go against their very nature, but killing isn’t, as a general rule, against the nature of most characters in the world of D&D (though it is, of course, possible that a given situation will be one that the Dungeon Master rules resistable, either because the character actually does oppose killing or because of something about this killing).

As for suicide, most forms of mind control do not allow “Obviously self-destructive orders” as D&D 3.5e’s dominate person puts it, but more powerful and/or more specific options exist that can, in fact, compel suicide. For example, death urge causes a fairly powerful—albeit brief—suicidal urge that can certainly cause death. (Note that death urge isn’t available to the “wizard” class, per se, but the distinction between a wizard and a psion gets into semantic details about how the supernatural works under D&D’s particular rules, which doesn’t seem relevant to the question.)

Out of curiosity I wondered just how powerful a wizard might become and whether they could compel a fellow PC to commit murder or even suicide. Could the GM intervene?

Under the rules, yes and yes. Many—if not most—editions of D&D don’t make any firm distinction between player characters and non-player characters, so anything PCs can do to enemies, they can also do to each other, or have done to them by enemies. As for GM intervention, “Rule 0” of the game is that the DM can always intervene, including by changing the actual rules, in the name of improving the game—which is easily plausible for a case like this, if most of the group isn’t comfortable with this action, as seems likely to be true at most tables. However, absent an invocation of that Rule 0 authority, the GM may or may not really have a chance to intervene with this: dominate person, for example, calls for the DM to make a ruling on whether or not the particular kill order goes against the subject’s nature (in which case they could attempt to resist). For death urge, it’s automatically assumed that the subject is going to resist. But in both cases, if they fail to resist, then per the rules, the subject is going to perform those actions. Anything the DM does at that point to prevent it is changing the rules—which means they’re using Rule 0.

I make the distinction on whether or not the DM uses Rule 0 not because using Rule 0 is in any way illegitimate or inappropriate—it’s precisely the tool the DM is supposed to use to avoid uncomfortable-for-the-players situations like this. I do it merely to indicate, in a sense, the “default” expectation of the game is, which is that dominate person and death urge are things that can happen to people and can cause involuntary homicidal or suicidal behavior.

Finally, I would offer a commentary here: many, many tables, probably most, ban “player-vs-player” behavior, either explicitly, or implicitly as part of a “gentlemen’s contract.” It simply isn’t a part of what many people expect or are looking for when playing Dungeons & Dragons, nor is it what the game is really about (in other systems, that may well not be true). Furthermore, death urge is a fairly obscure, little-known power, and dominate person is something that a lot of tables are kind of uncomfortable with to begin with. So I would say that it would be fairly rare for this kind of thing to actually come up at most D&D tables. For instance, I don’t believe death urge has ever been used at a table I’ve been at, and while dominate person has been, it’s been quite rare and the usages have generally been far more mundane.

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Well, in DnD dominate person is one of the most powerful enchantment spells, as it allows the Wizard (in your scenario) to assume direct control of the victim. This would allow the Wizard to force the victim to commit any act of suicide desired. However, each time the victim takes damage they have a chance of breaking free from the spell.

As for whether a GM would intervene, generally speaking death is a known risk whenever your character is on its own. And many GMs play with a gentleman's agreement to not go for the kill straight away. However, this is entirely dependent on the table and GM. Personally, I would assume the players may encounter this Wizard after investigating a series of suspicious suicides. So if one went in alone, they knew there were risks. And if they are together, the others can attempt to save the dominated victim.

Dominate Person is available to many classes in DnD 5th Edition.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Would this wizard necessarily be an NPC or could another PC be the wizard (and probably be very unpopular as a result!) \$\endgroup\$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 30 '20 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mechanically, nothing would prevent one player from affecting another with this ability. Again, table etiquette and norms would be the primary restriction. \$\endgroup\$ – Daveman Aug 30 '20 at 20:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ In a player vs player situation the GM would likely intervene if the table had not obviously each consented to openly hostile acts against each other. It takes a very mature table to not take offense to attempted player character murder from another player. \$\endgroup\$ – Daveman Aug 30 '20 at 20:25
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Does forcing someone's body to kill itself even if their mind is not on board count as suicide?

If so, then consider magic jar which AFAIK has been a staple of every edition of D&D since at least first and possibly before.

The 5e version states:

You can attempt to possess any humanoid within 100 feet of you that you can see...your soul moves into the target’s body, and the target’s soul becomes trapped in the container...Once you possess a creature’s body, you control it...Meanwhile, the possessed creature’s soul...can’t move or take actions at all.

Once you are in control of the target's host body, you can easily cause it to kill itself. However, that does carry the risk of killing yourself as well.

If the host body dies while you’re in it, the creature dies, and you must make a Charisma saving throw against your own spellcasting DC. On a success, you return to the container if it is within 100 feet of you. Otherwise, you die.

As far as whether a DM would allow this, directly attacking another player's PC is considered 'PvP' play. Whether or not this would be allowed would typically be decided in a Session 0 when the aspects of the game like genre, expectations, level of metagaming allowed, and social contract are discussed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Forcing the body to self-destruct would count as suicide in my opinion. However even if it didn't, it satisfies the other part of my question which was about murder. \$\endgroup\$ – chasly - supports Monica Aug 30 '20 at 21:23

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