My character was affected by the dominate person spell (and failed the will save) and was given some orders. Does he have any recollection or memory of the orders after the duration of the effect expired?


3 Answers 3


A creature that's been the victim of a dominate spell usually remembers the events that occurred unless steps are taken to make the creature forget

In Pathfinder, if the creature couldn't otherwise choose to forget, the dominated creature can't be ordered to forget.1

The spell dominate person et al. says that

You can control the actions of any humanoid creature through a telepathic link that you establish with the subject's mind.

Emphasis mine. Among typical creatures, there's no action for forgetting. So while a dominator can totally command the dominated creature to forget something, doing so won't have any more effect than commanding the creature to experience love for the dominator, suffer pain, catch a disease, remember its own birth, see something ethereal, or poop out a squirrel. Having the dominated creature perform such (presumably) impossible actions are beyond the scope of dominate spells. (If the creature does have special abilities that enable it take one or more of these actions, however, all bets are off and the dominator can command away.)

So the creature, in fact, remembers the entire dominated experience, and, actually, the creature can't just forget it. Further, as memory is so closely intertwined with the fundamentals of personality, dominators may know that even commanding a creature to perform such an act is "against its nature [and the creature] receives a new saving throw with a +2 bonus," but that's probably a bit extreme.

A very careful dominator could make it difficult for the creature to understand the actions the creature undertook while under the influence of a domainate spell, such as commanding the creature to close its eyes or cover its ears, but those are actions which can be performed.

So while under the influence of the dominate spell, the creature's memory remains as functional as his mental abilities, experiences (personal and perhaps game-mechanical), and abilities allow. Properly speaking, recall isn't governed by any particular ability score (although Intelligence appears the most likely candidate, arguments can be made for Wisdom and even Charisma—My sense of self is so vast that anything I experience matters deeply to me or whatever), so determining the extent of typical memory is up to the GM. However, unless steps are taken to make the dominated creature's memory of its dominated experience fuzzy (e.g. the enchanter commands, "I order you to consume booze until your memories of my commanding you are a blur," and then lets the spell run out), a creature should be able to recount anything it's done as the enchanter's puppet, and such memories should be as accurate as anything else its done in its life, limited only by the GM's judgment of the creature's ability scores, special abilities, and experiences.

This, by the way, may help explain why vampires are frequently depicted as throwing the best parties.

1 Dragonmarked for Pathfinder's antecedent Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 on Mnemonic Training says

Just as Autohypnosis can be used to memorize text or phrases, it can be used to forget them. Each successful DC 15 Autohypnosis check allows a character to expunge a message he has read or heard (up to 800 words) from his memory. Multiple checks allow a character to forget longer conversations or documents. [...] If you do not use the Expanded Psionics Handbook in your game, characters can accomplish this task using the Concentration skill but with +2 to all DCs. (75)

Whether such techniques can be used by anyone or only those of House Sivis in the Eberron campaign setting is the GM's call, as is whether such techniques can be used to forget events as well as conversations, phrases, messages, and text. The skill Autohypnosis is available from 3rd-party publishers in Pathfinder.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It is a "mind-affecting" spell... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Nov 29, 2013 at 17:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ That impacts targeting and doesn't grant effects beyond what's stated: "A mind-affecting spell works only against creatures with an Intelligence score of 1 or higher" (PH 174). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2013 at 17:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Eh. A valid opinion; that way I see a lengthy debate over which exact parts of the brain must be affected and the difference between actions and mental actions and is forgetting a physical act or not... Seems unnecessarily complex. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Nov 29, 2013 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, you made your point :). However I'm talking about the events that occur during the mind control phase. How does the controlled one operate, mindwise. For instance the one who is controlled might enter a state of mind like when you get really drunk - you might not remember anything once you sober up. Not sure of the state of consciousness of the subject while being controlled. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shahal
    Nov 29, 2013 at 18:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Shahal It’s worth noting that dominate is the unwieldy bludgeon of enchantments. It’s obvious to others that the target is dominated, you have to give very particular commands, etc. For subtlety, you have to be cleverer, and use a less heavy-handed effect: charm is better, but suggestion is better still. These don’t make the target forget, but may make it less obvious that they were enchanted in the first place. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 29, 2013 at 19:42

By RAW the target remembers, unless something else happens to make the target forget. But I would argue that the caster can safely order the subject to submit to modify memory spells or similar effects, as this isn't obviously self-destructive.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's not the only thing that modify memory can do, though. You can actually use it to enhance true memories, not just to erase or fabricate them, so as long as the caster doesn't tell you what the spell is for (or lies about what it's for) it's not obvious that the caster intends to do something so destructive. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2013 at 20:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the PC would see it as destructive, as they are aware they are being dominated. I would rule that being ordered to alter your own memories (by any means) would definitely allow another will save against the Dominate effect before it occurred. And, if the order succeeded, I would allow the PC a will save against the effect of Modify Memory as well (since the PC would be fully aware of what is happening and perceive it as harmful, even though it originates from them-self.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Mar 4, 2014 at 11:29

RAW, nothing about Dominate Person says that the subject forgets about their dominated activities by default.

Mind-affecting spells are often a place where effects are subtle and ill-defined however, if the dominator explicitly orders the victim to forget everything they've done, I'd probably allow it to persist past the duration. If for no other reason than you want a vampire's dominated victims to be pleasingly unclear on what happened...

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ No matter how willing I may be to follow your orders, I cannot forget things on command. Being dominated doesn’t suddenly give me that ability, either. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 29, 2013 at 19:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ No. I would rule that the vampire would have to utilize some other effect to alter memory if he truly wanted his dominated victims to forget. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Mar 4, 2014 at 11:31

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