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My friend gave me the following scenario. A Fighter has the Suggestion spell cast on them with the following phrase: "You look tired. Why don't you take a seat over there." If the rest of the fighter's party is suddenly ambushed immediately after, I argued that the fighter would be able to get up and help, since the suggestion is no longer reasonable. My friend said that whether the suggestion is reasonable or not only matters when the spell is first cast.

Which of us is right? Does the Suggestion spell provide 8 hours of mind-control, provided the suggestion is reasonable at first? Or does it have to continue to be reasonable?

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In this particular case, I'd argue that the Fighter is able to get up during the battle and help the party. The text of Suggestion has the following:

...The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the course of action sound reasonable. Asking the creature to stab itself, throw itself onto a spear, immolate itself, or do some other obviously harmful act ends the spell.

The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, it pursues the course of action you described to the best of its ability. The suggested course of action can continue for the entire duration. If the suggested activity can be completed in a shorter time, the spell ends when the subject finishes what it was asked to do.

When it was cast, it was a reasonable suggestion, and the Fighter sat down like he was told. When combat begins, the Fighter has already completed the tast (have a seat), meaning the spell has ended. Whether or not the suggestion is still reasonable doesn't matter, I'd say.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That still begs the question of whether a better-worded suggestion could force him to stay seated. \$\endgroup\$ – Strill Mar 3 '15 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Strill have a nap, take a long rest, take a short rest, all would be adequately worded to avoid that (provided that the combat takes place prior to the event ending) \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Mar 3 '15 at 15:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like there's some specific text in the spell that suggests it would call for another will save if the activity becomes unreasonable. But I don't have the ability to look it up right now. \$\endgroup\$ – Zibbobz Mar 3 '15 at 17:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say that this is covered - "the course of action" has to sound reasonable. "Sit over there for an hour" sounds reasonable. "Sit over there and don't react as your friends are attacked" does not sound reasonable. The caster may not have worded it like that, but when the "friends getting attacked" part becomes obvious, I'd say that the course of action no longer sounds reasonable unless the caster added something to cover it - like perhaps they said "Your friends are skilled, I'm sure they can handle anything that happens while you're resting over there". \$\endgroup\$ – anaximander Mar 4 '15 at 12:44
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This is up to the DM, but I'd give a good bit of leeway on what works and what doesn't with the spell, with one caveat.

The way suggestion is worded, it's not outlandish for the suggestion to be pretty extreme. I mean given that the example in the spell is a Knight giving his warhorse away, it doesn't seem weird that you'd ask a fighter to take a long rest and have that continue right through an ambush.

However, it does not detail what constitutes a reasonable suggestion (beyond, at least, the knight and beggar scenario), and it also doesn't indicate how long that suggestion must stay reasonable. Since there is no indicator, this is squarely in the court of the DM.

Here's where we get to my caveat. Remember that the story is about the players. Spells like suggestion rob a lot of agency from the players, and should be used sparingly. It's probably not the best spell for an NPC to be using, and is much better suited to PCs. Be very wary about using spells like suggestion on PCs.

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