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The first level Cleric spell "Command" allows a single word verb command to be issued which will be obeyed by the target.

What commands would you recommend / have you had success with? It feels like it's potentially a pretty potent spell for a low level with a bit of imagination.

Possible best not to get too clever though; DMs tend not to let you get away with too much...

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Wibbs, Oblivious Sage, Thomas Jacobs, nitsua60 Dec 23 '17 at 15:25

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13 Answers 13

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Adjusting to the situation is important. Many good ideas have been mentioned already; here's some suggestions on when to use them:

  • Fall! or Trip!

Golden in precarious terrain or situations. I once had particular success with "Fall" against a charging guard captain... as he was mounted on a warhorse at the time. Leading the charge.

Also, instant death threat against anyone who's climbing something...

  • Undress!

As Jeff pointed out, golden against anyone in heavy armour. Will keep them occupied most of the duration, and they'll be easier to hit afterwards.

  • Surrender!

Seeing as most people won't feel bound by a mind-controlled oath, "Surrender!" is useful primarily if you'll have opportunity to take their weapons or tie them up before it wears off. (Note: If you use it against honourable people who were already feeling intimidated, they might never realise you used magic! Against a commander of knights or the like, you can take out a whole unit this way...)

  • Sleep! (or, equivalently, Die!)

Buys you one free round. But there are better alternatives.

  • Vomit!

As disabling as "Sleep", and lasts the full duration. Messy, though.

  • Flee!

Effectively doubles the duration - if they spend the entire time running away, it'll take them just as long to come back. Best used against key members of attacking groups. One key character leaving lets you deal with the rest while they're gone.

(Panic! can be just as disabling, but it's very unpredictable. Some people are actually quite dangerous to all present when they're panicking...)

  • Talk!, Lecture!, Sing!, Silence!, or for bonus points, Monologue!

As they might fail the save, golden against low-level mages. (High-level ones are too likely to save; don't risk it.) A skilled villain can talk and fight at the same time... but a mage really can't.

  • Dance!

Disrupts activity better than "Sleep!", tiring, and disrupts mages nearly as well as the above (Somatic components!), plus very funny. (For bonus laughs, name a specific dance instead. Waltzes are good. Two clerics together can really mess up your opponent's morale with a well-aimed "Tango!".)

  • Help! or Cooperate!

Very risky here; use only if it's utterly unambiguous what they should help with. Never use with more than one enemy present... they can just choose to help each other.

  • Swim!

Great in the presence of pools or rivers of any liquid. Takes them out of the fight and leaves them in a bad position when it wears off. And against opponents in metal armour, implies "undress" for free, since they won't commit suicide.

And beware the GM looking for excuses to disallow commands: The book is explicit that "Suicide!" doesn't work because it's a noun. Of course, "sleep" is a noun, so the rulebook contradicts itself a bit here. Depending on how mean your GM is, so is almost everything else on this list. (This is why "undress" is better than "strip".)

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I don't think it really gets any better than "Autodefenestrate!"

A cruel DM will make the NPC perform a language check to know what the hell you're trying to tell it to do, unfortunately. But you can argue that in the event of a failed check, the NPC should be forced to perform its best guess as to your meaning; hilarity may be expected to ensue.

Does have a certain dependence on appropriate terrain, though.

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KISS (keep it simple stupid!) is the best advice, while some Command words are funny and can lead to interesting reactions, old standbys like "Sleep", "Die", "Fall" or "Surrender" are the best, as they are unambiguous and lead to predictable results. I would add "Undress" which can help out against almost any character class (a mage might drop his cloak or robe, a fighter or cleric their armor, a thief a cloak or armor) and leave them in a precarious position when the spell wears off.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Die" is predictable in 2e (AD&D) in that the spell's description explicitly states: "A command to 'Die!' causes the creature to fall in a faint or cataleptic state for one round, but thereafter the creature revives and is alive and well.'" \$\endgroup\$ – Raj Feb 5 at 15:37
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One that's very situational: Copulate. Target the fighter type that's next to an opposite-sex caster type.

Not only have you taken the fighter type out for a round but while they're attempting to copulate with the caster the caster won't be in a position to do anything nasty to you, either. Two for the price of one.

Another situational one: Swim. Targeted against the guy high over a large amount of liquid.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably best to make sure there's no rape survivors who'll be triggered by that in your play group if you're going to use the first suggestion, though. Could turn pretty dark if they succeed their grapple check... \$\endgroup\$ – Ettina Kitten Oct 14 at 2:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EttinaKitten It only lasts one round. Unless both of them are already naked there's no way it would become an actual rape. \$\endgroup\$ – Loren Pechtel Oct 18 at 10:35
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Drink can be good if you have something handy for the victim to imbibe (poison, a potion, whatever). Note that if you suspect the target of already being under the influence of a potion (e.g. speed), a second potion (even of delusion) will immediately require a miscibility check, which might produce even more fun.

Surrender! can be very useful, especially against a leader-type, as it can result in a morale check for its minions.

Commands of a sexual nature are also viable, whether they involve two participants or a solo activity. I'll leave the specific terminology to the imagination and creativity of the player.

otoh I'd caution against words that could be nouns: fall (what about winter?), strip ("disrobe" is much better), and others. Don't try to make it last more than 60 seconds; the magic will only apply for that round, and a DM may be tempted to retaliate for your overreaching.

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Some of my players have become effective low-level sleuths with "Confess!", after a half-minute recitation of the crimes of which the NPC stands accused. They haven't tried "aver!" yet, as a more-general truth spell, so I haven't yet had to decide if I'll allow it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Taken literally though they might start confessing everything they have ever done, which could take a very very long time. Also you are commanding them to confess they will just say they did it even if they didn't... That's how torturers get forced confessions out of people. \$\endgroup\$ – Omar Kooheji Feb 11 '11 at 18:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, you'll get false confessions even if you don't run into the problem that Omar points out. \$\endgroup\$ – Loren Pechtel May 31 '12 at 16:55
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My favorites are:

  • Surrender!
  • Leave!
  • Sleep!
  • pontificate!
  • Blather!
  • Cower!

Surrender does obligate one... and they're gonna get an extra save, but it can stop a fight.

Leave, well, they'll likely be back.

Sleep: slow. Just back off, and let them nap. Then suffocate them.

Pontficate: the act of speaking authoritatively at length.

Blather: the act of speaking inauthoritatively at length.

Cower: If they are acting all afraid of you, you attacking them is what they expect. ;)

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Duffadash Oh, but imagine the awesomeness of using "Pontificate!" on a final villain who's smart! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 10 '11 at 19:07
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"Strip" against a heavily armored opponent.

By the rules, it takes at least 5 or so rounds to get most heavy armors off (less for the lighter stuff), and longer to put it back on. Just don't use it if their charisma is too low - you might have to make a save versus fear.

Ergo, they are useless for rounds, end up 'debuffed', and you don't put holes in their nifty magical armor when you magic missile them.

This is also useful in other situations, but I'll leave those to your imagination.

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"hyperventilate" is a good one. Anyone (humanoid) hyperventilating for a minute is going to pass out, taking them out for at least a couple of rounds. The downside is that you can only use it on someone who knows that word.

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From the SRD: Approach, Drop, Fall, Flee, Halt. I would not limit the spell to these however. Suggestions from this thread: Spin, Strip, Hug, Clap, Puke, Dive, Cooperate. The usual cautions apply to Die, Sleep, Drown, Suicide, or Bleed: the target must be able to understand the command unambiguously and carry it out within one round (i.e., one "basic action"), or the spell is wasted.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The PHB specifically says suicide won't work (it's a noun) but other good suggestions. \$\endgroup\$ – Jon Hopkins Feb 9 '11 at 10:47
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My favorite use of this was as a player in a coliseum match.

The rules where that the group had to stay within the grounds (easy enough with stadium seating) and you could fly but had to stay within 60 feet of the ground.

Here I am, little healer with a guy flying at me with a greataxe, so I just command him "up!" His round he goes 120' above the ground and is disqualified! Of course now he's pissed and tries to murder me, but hey, it's all good.

Disclaimer: this was a 3.5 game with different rules/limitations than AD&D but I still think it shows a good situational use.

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The most interesting ones, for me, are situationally advantageous, for example: punch, cringe, laugh, tickle, duck, wink, jump, kick, dance, throw, chew/chomp, spit, swallow/drink/eat, yell/sing.

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Obey. If there are no other enemies this is devastating, because it allows you to make longer commands, such as "commit suicide".

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    \$\begingroup\$ This wouldn't pass muster is most games. The spell still won't force the target to injure themselves, so any attempt to sneak direct self-harm in there doesn't fly. Additionally, the command can easily be considered unactionable by the DM: if there are no commands to obey right when the spell takes effect, then they try and fail to obey and then the spell is done. Talking after isn't going to work. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 31 '12 at 17:16

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