In one of the games I was in, a creature was able to Dominate my friend and he was getting angry that the DM forced his character to attack and knock prone an NPC that we were trying to protect. They got into a long argument trying to figure out if the DM can do that or not. We finally resolved the problem by deciding that the DM can only choose the action the dominated character can do, but not force him to move off a cliff or attack with an at-will attack of the DM's choice on an NPC.

So I ask: how does Dominated really work, can a DM force a player's character go walk off a cliff or attack an NPC?


2 Answers 2


Under the PHB's version of Dominated, yes, since there's pretty much no restrictions.

Some extra restrictions were added in PHB3, and the Rules Compendium fleshed out the Dominated condition quite completely. If you don't have the Rules Compendium, you should probably pick it up, since it has the final versions of the game's rules like this one.

Under the Rules Compendium's version of Dominated, the DM could force your player to attack someone or walk off a cliff, but within bounds:

  • Being able to attack allies is part of the threat and usefulness of the Dominated condition! However, allies are still counted as allies, so the DM can't use something that targets only enemies, and they can only use at-wills to do it.
  • Walking off a cliff requires a saving throw, and probably so should most effectively suicidal actions. It might also involve the player frowning at the DM, since there's not much fun value in dying.

If your DM's interested in using effects like Dominated, things like attacking allies are probably going to happen to increase some tension in the scene. But it's also probably worth talking with them and setting some ground rules, like: don't stab kids in the face, ever, or don't attack someone if it might kill them. If the DM does something you're totally uncomfortable with, tell them. Because some of that stuff, whilst dramatic, can have very un-fun consequences. This is kind of a lines and veils thing, where the line is you don't want your character killing their friends when they're dominated, even if can be a dramatic plot device and an amazing way to complicate scenes.

The DM can do other stuff instead, like have your character just sabotage the defence efforts.

They probably won't and shouldn't walk your character off a cliff to their death, either, because dying is boring, even if you get a saving throw.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say that the examples you give are not particular to the Dominated effect as such - the question is about the expected threat/viciousness of the game. Would a random goblin attack a PC that has 1 HP left? Would enemies that can push you attempt to push you off a cliff for a save-or-die situation? If yes, then the dominating caster would do the same, if no, then they wouldn't - and not because limitations of the spell or rules, but for narrative reasons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peteris
    Aug 10, 2014 at 14:20

From Rules Compendium, page 230:


  • The creature can't take actions voluntarily. Instead, the dominator chooses a single action for the creature to take on the creature's turn: a standard, a move, a minor, or a free action. the only powers and other game features that the dominator can make the creature use are ones that can be used at will, such as at-will powers. For example, anything that is limited to being used only once per encounter or once per day does not qualify.

  • The creature grants combat advantage.

  • The creature can't flank.

In spite of this condition, the creature's allies remain its allies, and its enemies remain its enemies. If the dominator tries to force the creature to throw itself into a pit or into some other form of hindering terrain, the creature gets a saving throw to resist entering the terrain.

In short, the DM was well within his rights to attack an ally just like any PC could if they so choose, that's half the point of the dominated condition. As for walking them off a cliff, they can do that too but the dominated character gets a saving throw like normal.


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