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What would happen if the command spell were cast twice (i.e. by 2 different characters) on the same person before their turn happened? Which command would the person obey?

For example, if the first command told the person to "Approach", and then the second command told them to "Drop", what would happen?

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The most recent command applies.

The rules for combining magical effects state (PHB p. 205; note errata):

The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap. The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don't combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect — such as the highest bonus — from those castings applies while their durations overlap, or the most recent effect applies if the castings are equally potent and their durations overlap.

A creature cannot be affected by two command spells at the same time. Since the spells are equally potent (subject to DM ruling), only the most recent command applies.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ And if the first Command used a 2nd level spell slot? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Feb 11 at 5:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM Casting command with a higher level slot does not empower the given command: it only allows to command more targets. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but is it the “most potent”? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Feb 11 at 11:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM With respect to the effect it has on the target creature, a 1st level command and a 9th level command are entirely indistinguishable. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 11:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I appreciate your gut feel on that, but the 'casting at higher level' text leaves some of that muddy due to the "expands to fill the slot" text. I'd tend to rule per your comment for that spell, however. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11 at 15:03
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There is a rule for magical effects overlapping in the PHB (p. 205):

The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap. The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don't combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect - such as the highest bonus - from those castings applies while their durations overlap.

For example, if two clerics cast bless on the same target, that character gains the spell’s benefit only once; he or she doesn’t get to roll two bonus dice.

The Command spell has a duration of 1 round, so the rule applies to it.

In this case, the "most potent effect" takes place, and the other is ignored. In your example, the "most potent effect" would be the most recent casting, although Command can be upcast at a higher level (but you didn't specify that in your question), which would mean the higher casting would be the effective one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You can obviously rule what 'potent' means in your games but, to me, "having great power, influence, or effect" seems evident with an upcast spell compared to the base version. More creatures being effected by the spell seems more potent I would have thought. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Feb 11 at 2:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ The only effect of upcasting Command is to target more creatures. If using an higer spell slot had a more powerful effect (as overriding lower level casting), it would have specified it in the description. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Feb 11 at 9:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ So a spell cast at a higher level isn't considered more 'potent' by some of you, fine, I respectfully disagree. I honestly can't see how upcast Command, affecting more creatures, isn't having greater power, influence or effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Feb 11 at 9:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is indeed more potent, but per description, the effect of upcasting are explicitly stated. In this case, most potent means that you can affect more creatures, nothing else, the strength of the command is the same. But remember that, as DM, you can always add/modify rules as you want, per Rule 0. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Feb 11 at 9:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ The rule for combining magical effects does not specify whether it means the spell with the most potent total effect or the one with the most potent effect per creature with overlap. As such, arguing that one interpretation of this is possible is reasonable, arguing that one interpretation of this is correct is not. Also, "the highest bonus" is given as one example of effect potency ("such as"). What other potential measures of potency are, are left frustratingly unspecified. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 11 at 14:59

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