In General

Players handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide does not provide any answers on situations where a target get affected by the domination condition from two conflicting sources at the same time. (A player and an enemy trying to dominate the same target)

Who gets the advantage of dominating the creature?

In this situation, is there a hierarchy in the rules, that determine if it is the power or the feature that applies to the target, regardless of what source that caused the condition to the target in the first place?

If not, then what factors decide who gets control over the target?


As a player you can choose the epic destiny Darklord. The level 30 feature of that destiny gives you the power to bring back any enemy you killed on your last turn. The former enemy have 1 hit point and are dominated, when brought back to life by the player, until the end of the encounter, or until it dies again.

Is it possible for the dungeon master to interrupt the domination condition shot-termed or until the end of the encounter by another dominated condition? -when the destiny feature states, that the target is dominated by the player until the end of the encounter?

The example with the epic destiny is just one specific of many. The same questions appear when the condition comes from items, and domination from different classes as well.


3 Answers 3


There are two rules in the RC that inform this particular situation. The first is the rule about overlapping durations (227):

When a creature is subject to identical effects that end at different times, it ignores all but the effect that has the most time remaining....Effects that a save can end (labeled “save ends”) work differently, since it’s not possible to know when they’re going to end. Therefore, effects that a save can end are tracked separately from those that end at specific times.

And the rule about identical conditions a save can end (228):

If a character is subject to identical effects that a save can end, ignore all but one of those effects. For instance, if the character is dazed (save ends) and then is attacked and again becomes dazed (save ends), ignore the second effect, since it is identical to the first one. Identical effects never require multiple saving throws. A creature does make separate saving throws against effects that aren’t identical, even if they contain the same condition. For instance, “dazed (save ends)” and “dazed and immobilized (save ends both)” are not identical effects, so separate saving throws are made against each of them.

There are 5 possible scenarios here:

  1. Both conditions are ended on a save. In this case the first dominator has priority as when identical conditions a save can end are applied, the second is ignored. The caveat here is that if one of the dominates also has damage or some other effect paired with it (IE something that causes the language "Save ends both" to appear), both conditions are in force. Who has precedence is left to DM discretion here.

  2. Both conditions are non-save-ends durations. In this case, the condition that is set to end later is applied.

  3. One condition is save ends, and one condition is non-save-ends. In this case who has precedence is undetermined and is up to DM discretion.

  4. One condition is labeled end of encounter and there is any other length dominate condition. End of the Encounter always has precedence, the EOE dominate wins other instances are ignored. (the exception here is dominate + something else save ends both, both are in force, though likely the EOE should get precedence DM discretion is still in effect).

  5. Both conditions are end of encounter. Precedence is undetermined and is at DM discretion.

So no, nothing shorter than another End of the Encounter dominate is going to get precedence over your dominate from you ED feature.

4e does not discriminate between conditions applied by items or powers, so the rules don't change here.

The last bit of guidance I'd like to give is from page 229 and is on Conditions in general:

No Degrees of Effect: Conditions don’t have degrees of effect; either a creature has a condition, or it doesn’t. Putting the same condition on a creature more than once doesn’t change the condition’s effect on that creature. For instance, if a weakened creature is subjected to the weakened condition again, the creature still deals half damage, not one-quarter damage.

I would argue that in questions of precedence, the first actor has control, there are no degrees of dominate, and I'm not convinced that more than one character can have control at a time. But again, this is mostly up to the discretion of the DM because there is no clear guidance on how to handle dominate when there are multiple valid versions of the condition in force.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Anna the only clear distinction is the last part of each of our answers Think about the ruling you as the DM would make there and accept that one. The guidance for accepted answers isn't actually the "Right" one, it's the "Most useful" one \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is a dominate by one party "identical" to a dominate by another party? I would argue not. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk yes. it's a status effect, as such it's identical. See the degrees of effect passage I quoted. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:15
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle I understand you believe that. But I doubt you can find a citation. Most named status effects do not have "free parameters", like "who is doing the dominating", so two instances are indeed identical to each other. Dominating, however, has a free parameter (who did the dominating) that changes what the effect means and does in the rules-text for dominating itself. Dominate twice by the same source is clearly identical: dominate by two different foes, not clearly identical. "Weakened on attacks against bob" is not "Weakened on attacks against charlie". \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:18
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk you'd have to show that this is a clear exception (feel free to write up an answer yourself). But it's listed with the rest of the conditions, you'd have to prove that it behaves differently. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:21

It varies depending on the duration of the two Dominated effects being applied. The book divides effect durations up into conditional or sustained durations, but for this purpose, we need to divide them differently:

  1. The creature is Dominated until the start/end of someone's next turn, or until the end of the encounter. This generally includes sustain effects. I will call this kind of duration time-based.
  2. The creature is Dominated (save ends). I'll call these save-based durations.

If both Dominated effects are time-based...

Whichever Dominated effect has the longest duration wins. From Overlapping Durations, from the Rules Compendium p227:

When a creature is subject to identical effects that end at different times, it ignores all but the effect that has the most time remaining.

So, all shorter Dominated effects are ignored. The effects are still there, technically, but doing nothing.

If there are multiple Dominated effects tied for the longest duration, they're probably all active (it's not clear). Proceed to the section about stacking.

If both effects are save-based...

Whichever effect came first wins. Or the character can choose which one wins. I'm not sure. From Identical Effects that a Save Can End, RC p228:

If a character is subject to identical effects that a save can end, ignore all but one of those effects. For instance, if the character is dazed (save ends) and then is attacked and again becomes dazed (save ends), ignore the second effect, since it is identical to the first one.

However, this may be just talking about making saving throws to end those effects. Either way, again, both effects are still there, technically. If you interpret this to only refer to saving throws, continue to the section about stacking.

However, there's a special case here:

If either is a multi-part effect...

Multi-part effects are those which say, for instance: "target is Blinded and Deafened (save ends both)." Normally, two blinded (save ends) effects will not overlap, and you can save from either to save from both, as we just covered. But a Blinded (save ends) effect will overlap with a Blinded and Deafened (save ends), meaning you'll have to save from both individually to be free of them.

If you have a Dominated (save ends) effect and Dominated and Something Else (save ends both) effect, both are active and neither can be ignored. See the section about stacking.

If there's a mix...

They stack. Continue.

If they're stacking...

You have a time-based and save-based effect, or two different save-based effects, or two time-based ones tying. In this case, they're both present and active. There's nothing to say which one wins. Neither gets removed. Two people are dominating you simultaneously. Both should be able to pick an action for you to take on your own turn.

As long as only one of your dominators wants you to take a standard action, things are OK, and both can make you take actions normally. If one makes you take a standard action and the other makes you take a move or minor action, you have enough action economy for that. Same for minor actions, or two move actions.

However... you only ever have one standard action, so the two dominators might have to mentally battle it out for control. Work out how this should work with your GM.

Note: Dominated no longer includes being Dazed.

The above wouldn't work by the version of Dominated in the first Player's Handbook, which states the Dominated person is Dazed, and thus would only ever get one action per turn. Under that version, the dominators would always have to battle it out over a single action.

However, somewhere along the way, Dominated got changed. I'm not sure when, but it was released with its new description in Player's Handbook 3, and then in the Rules Compendium. Unfortunately, it's not in PHB1's errata. Nowadays, Dominated doesn't mean you're dazed. It just means:

  • You can't take actions voluntarily, you grant combat advantage, and you can't flank.
  • Your dominator chooses an action for you on your turn.

This is basically the same as being Dazed whilst Dominated if you only have one dominator, but when multiple dominators come along, it makes all the difference in the world.


The rules are unclear. The term "identical" is not well defined in the rules as written.

If "Domianted by Bob" is treated as a non-identical condition to "Dominated by Charlie", then both effects occur. In that case, the target is unable to choose their own actions, and each of Charlie and Bob may pick an action for the target to take on the target's turn.

If they are treated as identical, then duration based stacking applies. If the effects have a fixed duration, the longest one occurs. If they have the same duration, the rules are ambiguous (as would be expected if identical means "it does not matter which is occurring").

If one is (save ends) and the other has a fixed duration, then both effects occur.

Naturally if the other dominate has a second tied rider of any kind, it is non-identical. It is unclear if "The creature is dominated until the end of the encounter, at which it is destroyed" should be treated as "dominated until the end of the encounter: aftereffect destroyed", or "dominated until the end of the encounter. At the end of the encounter, the creature is destroyed.", nor is it clear if aftereffects make effects non-identical or not, nor is it clear if aftereffects kick in if an effect is replaced.

The 4e rules do not explicitly state what makes one condition 'identical' to another: we must rely on English, and interpretation, and examples.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What specific elements from the game does Charlie and Bob represent in your example? \$\endgroup\$
    – user11176
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Anna Charlie and Bob are the thing that dictates the actions of the dominated creature in the dominate rules text: usually (always?) the creature who dominated them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 16:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk is there a power that inflicts conditional weakened? (or any other status effect that's conditional?) How does this jive with the degrees of condition language? What actual rules support this conclusion? \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 16:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle point taken. Rewritten to focus mainly on the lack of clear RAW, rather than an interpretation of said RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 17:52

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