The rules for an Aboleth's Enslaved feature relate largely to combat situations. What we are having a problem with are the limits of what a charmed person would do for an Aboleth.

The closest effect I can match this to is the spell Charm Person:

The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance.

I get the sense Enslaved is far more powerful then this charm effect. However, it is not distinctly explained what the non-combat effect of this is. Is this more like a dominate person/creature spell?

For instance, could an Aboleth convince an enslaved person to sacrifice themselves to raise a demon causing death to the individual, or to kill itself in order to hide a secret (for instance if captured or caught)?

I realise that causing damage results in a saving throw, but what about making the enslaved individual take an action that will probably be fatal before the victim can make its save?


2 Answers 2


Effects only end when they say they will end

Some abilities have lines such as "won't do anything suicidal" but enslave does not. The only reasonably applicable end condition is a save when they take damage, not before.

Conceivably this could result in a situation where the target does as they are told, gets on the altar, then makes the save and comes to their senses as the sacrificial dagger is being thrust into them, but they would certainly climb onto that altar willingly. They are under the aboleth's control quite unambiguously.

The lore on aboleths also states

seized control of the burgeoning life-forms of the mortal realm, making those creatures their slaves

Which pretty much confirms it in my eyes. Seized control and slaves are very strong terms. The victim does exactly what they are told, until they come to their senses.


The Aboleth has total control, but damage triggers a saving throw.

The Aboleth's Enslave ability states:

The charmed target is under the aboleth's control and can't take reactions, and the aboleth and the target can communicate telepathically with each other over any distance.

Whenever the charmed target takes damage, the target can repeat the saving throw.

"Under the Aboleth's control" seems pretty unambiguous, but with an intelligence of 18, the Aboleth would definitely know that causing harm to the target can end the effect. As usual, it is up to the DM to determine exactly what this looks like in practice.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I suppose I am trying to work out if there have been any RAW clarifications regarding how far the ability goes, I just want to make sure that when I start having NPCs doing crazy things my players can’t argue that enslaved can’t do that. The spells that have this kind of power, for instance Dominate Person give a lot more detail as to the control the caster has over the victim. Enslaved focuses on the in combat aspects but not on out of combat. If this is just open to my discretion great but I want to clarify if this has been cleared up anywhere officially. \$\endgroup\$
    – Richard C
    Jan 29, 2021 at 23:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RichardC That sounds like an out of game social contract problem. The DMG is quite clear - the DM is in charge. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 29, 2021 at 23:43

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