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So I was looking through the Enchantment Wizard and am interested in how the spell Dominate Person interacts with the 14th level ability Alter Memories

Specifically this text from the class ability. "...When you cast an enchantment spell to charm one or more creatures, you can alter one creature's understanding so that it remains unaware of being charmed..."

So a creature being dominated is aware of their surroundings however with the Alter Memories would they be aware that they are being controlled? Or will they try to come up with a reason for why they were doing the things they did?

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There are two questions here, but the first one is easy, so I'll get that out of the way.

Would they be aware that they are being controlled?

No. The feature uses clear language saying that the are not aware that they are charmed.

you can alter one creature's understanding so that it remains unaware of being charmed.

Or will they try to come up with a reason for why they were doing the things they did?

TL;DR: It's up to the DM.

This part is harder. First I want to clarify that the creature will remember what it did while charmed. This is made clear by the second part of the "Alter Memory" feature, which allows to make the target forget part of the time spent charmed. That feature would be useless if the target would not remember that time.

Additionally, once before the spell expires, you can use your action to try to make the chosen creature forget some of the time it spent charmed. The creature must succeed on an Intelligence saving throw against your wizard spell save DC or lose a number of hours of its memories equal to 1 + your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1). You can make the creature forget less time, and the amount of time can't exceed the duration of your enchantment spell.

So now that it is clear that the creature remembers it's actions under charm, what does it do with that memory? I believe a good aid is the 5th level spell "Modify Memory" (PHB 261), as it goes a bit more into detail on what a creature does with strange memories.

A modified memory doesn't necessarily affect how a creature behaves, particularly if the memory contradicts the creature's natural inclinations, alignment, or beliefs. An illogical modified memory, such as implanting a memory of how much the creature enjoyed dousing itself in acid, is dismissed, perhaps as a bad dream. The DM might deem a modified memory too nonsensical to affect a creature in a significant manner.

So if only the creature remembers the actions it did, it might ignore it, dismiss it as a bad dream. Up to the DM. However there is a significant difference here, the memories of a charmed creature are real and they might have had real effects on the environment. Other people can remember them.

So what if the creature is confronted with its actions while it was charmed?

I haven't found any dnd official information on this, so it would be up to the DM.

Speculation: However if we want to look further, we could turn to the real world psychology. If they did something cruel while charmed, they could act similar to people in the real world after a traumatic event. I could very well imagine such a person to be in denial of what happened. You should be able to find more information on this on the internet, I'm not well versed in psychology.

Edit: @Dave in the comments shared a video where brains are shown to come up with reasons, why the body did something, even though they didn't want to do it. The video might be mildly unsettling, so beware youtu.be/wfYbgdo8e-8.

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As always... up to your DM.

You are correct that the wording means that the creature being dominated would be unaware of the spell. They may believe that they are making the decisions themselves. The spell makes no mention of changing their memory, so they would remember their actions, just not the reason they took them.

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During the charm they are not aware they are being charmed, and may or may not come up with a reason.

The enchanter feature specifically prevents the user believing they are being charmed. As such, they can't have the thought "I am being charmed" And believe it.

They could come up with a reason why, but they don't have to. Not all people are intellectual types who think of why they do things. Some could, and that's up to the DM.

After the spell is over, they can believe they are charmed or think up reasons.

Being charmed simply makes you not attack the person and be friendly to them. This may or not be an abnormal action for a person, and they may or not rationalize it. What they do is up to the DM, and you are welcome to discuss with them ways to minimize the chance they believe they are charmed after.

If you want to guarantee them not knowing they were charmed you can erase their memory with this class feature.

Additionally, once before the spell expires, you can use your action to try to make the chosen creature forget some of the time it spent charmed. The creature must succeed on an Intelligence saving throw against your wizard spell save DC or lose a number of hours of its memories equal to 1 + your Charisma modifier (minimum 1). You can make the creature forget less time, and the amount of time can't exceed the duration of your enchantment spell.

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Dominate Person does more than just charm.

Dominate Person does the following things:

  • It Charms the target. (Thus it cannot attack you or target you with harmful effects, and you have advantage on all checks to socially interact with it)
  • For as long as the Charm lasts, and you both remain on the same plane of existence, it gives you a telepathic Link to the target. Canonically, something like Hurl Through Hell would break the link but not the Charm.
  • The target does its best to obey commands given over the Telepathic Link.
  • You can spend your action to take "total and precise" control over the target for a round. If you want ti to use a reaction, you must also spend your own.

Alter Memories doesn't cover all of it.

Alter Memories does the following things:

  • It causes the target to not notice that they are Charmed.
  • It gives you the ability to attempt to wipe a significant chunk of memory from the target

So, if an Enchanter Wizard of appropriate level casts Dominate Person on someone, they won't notice that they are charmed. They probably will notice that they're receiving telepathic commands that they're strongly inclined to follow, and/or that their bodies occasionally ignore their intent and do something else entirely, but the fact that they are charmed will be ignored. If you don't want them to draw unfortunate conclusions from this, then the second aspect of Alter Memories may be in order.

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