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The Sanctuary spell states:

Until the spell ends, any creature who targets the warded creature with an attack or a harmful spell must first make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature must choose a new target or lose the attack or spell.

Meanwhile, the Dominate Person/Beast/Monster spells all state a similar options:

While the creature is charmed, you have a telepathic link with it as long as the two of you are on the same plane of existence. You can use this telepathic link to issue commands to the creature while you are conscious (no action required), which it does its best to obey. You can specify a simple and general course of action, such as "Attack that creature,"...

and

You can use your action to take total and precise control of the target. Until the end of your next turn, the creature takes only the actions you choose, and doesn't do anything that you don't allow it to do.

Meaning there are two ways this can go down: the caster uses their charm to have the dominated creature attack, or the caster can take complete control of the creature and have them attack.

If using the first option, telepathically communicating the instruction to attack against a Sanctuary warded creature, since the phrase is, "does its best to obey," it would stand to reason that the dominated creature would need to make the Wisdom saving throw. They still have some control, and are trying their best.

But the second option, complete control, leaves some wiggle room. Who, if anyone, makes the Wisdom saving throw to attack?

  1. The spellcaster, as they are the one with the control and declaring the target.
  2. The dominated creature, because they are performing the attack.
  3. No one. The dominated creature has no choice but to obey, and the spellcaster is not directly targeting the warded creature. They are merely controlling a creature.
  4. Some other answer.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure I follow the scenario form the description. Are you asking "If I command a dominated creature to attack a Sanctuary warded creature, what happens?" or is it "If I command a dominated creature which also has Sanctuary on itself to attack someone, what happens"? I think the first, right? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 15, 2022 at 19:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin, If Bob the spell caster, casts dominate monster on a gnoll, and I control the gnoll to attack Chuck, and Chuck has been warded with sanctuary, who rolls the Wisdom saving throw, if any one: Bob, the gnoll, or no one? \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Jun 15, 2022 at 19:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott And you are Bob \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jun 15, 2022 at 21:11

2 Answers 2

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The dominated creature has to make the saving throw

I think it is pretty straightforward. The description of the Sanctuary spell says:

any creature who targets the warded creature with an attack or a harmful spell must first make a Wisdom saving throw

What creature is targeting the warded creature with the attack? The dominated creature. Ergo, it must make the Wisdom saving throw.

Just because you can fully control what it is supposed to do does not give it any supernatural powers. If you command it to walk over water, it will sink. If you command it to attack Sanctuary, it will be forced to make a Wis save.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this. Even when taking full control, the wording is "the creature takes only the actions you choose". The dominated creature is still taking the attack action. \$\endgroup\$
    – Grooke
    Jun 16, 2022 at 8:07
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I might make both do the wisdom save

Dominate person is a bit of a corner case. But, based on how Sanctuary works in my head, it makes people unwilling to attack the protected creature.

In the case of Dominate person with full control, the controller is willing the attack, and the dominated person is trying their best to do it.

In the case of Dominate person without full control, I might require a wisdom save to pick the target initially, and might have the Dominated creature make the wisdom save with disadvantage to complete the attack (representing the extra layer of magical compulsion).

5e intentionally doesn't cover corner cases

There is more than one kind of game. In one game, you might get a game token called a "sword" that "adds +2 to your damage". If you have the "sword" game token, you don't have to justify how you swing the sword; unless the rules specify, if you have 13 weapons all of which add damage, you can use them all.

In 5e D&D, the fact that we are talking about a "sword" is important. Unless you can explain how in-fiction you can use the sword in an effective manner, its bonuses or effects on it are not relevant; this is true regardless of any rules in 5e about how many weapons you can hold or swing.

Using another creature to proxy attacks on a creature protected by a mind controlling shield that makes you not be willing to attack it is an example of a corner case. There is no intention, in 5e, to cover what happens in that kind of situation with codified game rules. Rather, the intention is that the DM will look at the situation and decide in the moment what happens.

And the DM is empowered and encouraged to add advantage or disadvantage in any situation based on ad-hoc criteria that make it harder or easier.

Hence, disadvantage on the wisdom save without direct control (as the dominated creature's will is suppressed), and having both the creature physically attacking and the direct controller of that creature make a wisdom save when the control is complete. It matches the in game fiction; and what more, failures on these saving throws make for an interesting story based off concrete facts about the game world interacting in interesting ways.

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