I have a problem about the spell Suggestion. One of my players wants to use it on an NPC and the NPC fails the save, does the 'thing' he is told to do and now ____. Does the NPC 'magically' forget about the spell? Or in other words, can someone remember that a spell was cast on them (specifically Suggestion)?

Here is something I thought about with regards to the Friends spell (PHB P.244):

...When the spell ends, the creature realizes that you used magic to influence its mood and becomes hostile toward you...

So, Suggestion doesn't have that in its description, neither does it have something similar. Does that mean this is just not the case with Suggestion? And if so, with every other spell, where said sentence or a similar are not stated?

Or did they just attached this sentence to the spell Friends to clarify 'If he wasn't your enemy before, he is now'.

So, here again the question is: Are you able to recognize that a spell is being cast on you after you've fulfilled your 'suggested' task via the spell Suggestion (or a similar Spell)?


5 Answers 5


From PHB p. 204


Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise.

(emphasis added)

Given that, I'd say that the target of a Suggestion spell is generally never aware of the spell. Of course, there might be specific circumstances that deviate from this general rule. ^_^


I would say the creature would not be aware of your magical influence for one primary reason:

The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the course of action sound reasonable.

If the suggestion sounds reasonable, the target would have no way to suspect you influenced them or not. If it failed, they would simply say no and think "Hah, who do they think they are, asking me to do something like that?"

Bottom line: It sounds more like it would be the DM's ruling as to what the NPC determines is a "reasonable" request, and what requests would end up inciting them afterward or just leaving them confused. I'd imagine the feeling of being suggested would be close to when you go to a restaurant, get your food, the waiter says "Enjoy your food." and then you inadvertently reply "You too." without thinking. The confused feeling from Suggestion is probably the same thing.

The "reasonability" of a suggestion most likely relies on the alignment and outlook of the target. That rule can be twisted and fit however you like into your campaign as far as I'm concerned. An evil character/NPC would more likely find "Steal his wallet" or "Punch that man" a more reasonable request than a good character/NPC would, and vise versa. If the request is worded well and goes against a character's alignment, you could rule that after it is completed the target would become angered by their having performed that action in the first place, and then engage the caster or their group since he hypothetically couldn't tell who really cast the spell. Of course, you are more than welcome to disregard this. This is just the "What would I do?" in this circumstance.


It may notice the spellcasting; beyond that, maybe not.

An official ruling in the Sage Advice Compendium actually uses suggestion as an example when it discusses whether you know when you're under the effect of a spell:

Do you always know when you’re under the effect of a spell?

You’re aware that a spell is affecting you if it has a perceptible effect or if its text says you’re aware of it (see PH, 204, under “Targets”). Most spells are obvious. For example, fireball burns you, cure wounds heals you, and command forces you to suddenly do something you didn’t intend. Certain spells are more subtle, yet you become aware of the spell at a time specified in the spell’s description. Charm person and detect thoughts are examples of such spells.

Some spells are so subtle that you might not know you were ever under their effects. A prime example of that sort of spell is suggestion. Assuming you failed to notice the spellcaster casting the spell, you might simply remember the caster saying, “The treasure you’re looking for isn’t here. Go look for it in the room at the top of the next tower.” You failed your saving throw, and off you went to the other tower, thinking it was your idea to go there. You and your companions might deduce that you were beguiled if evidence of the spell is found. It’s ultimately up to the DM whether you discover the presence of inconspicuous spells. Discovery usually comes through the use of skills like Arcana, Investigation, Insight, and Perception or through spells like detect magic.

The second paragraph of this official ruling points out that if a creature fails to notice the casting of the spell, it becomes much harder to figure out that suggestion was cast on it; in that case, all it knows is that the caster told it to do something, and it did. Situationally, it might suspect nothing if the suggested course of action was fairly normal for it; the more questionable or unusual the suggested action, the more likely it may be to question or investigate why it would have done such a thing.

If the creature does notice the spell being cast, of course, then it's far more likely to pinpoint the caster as the source of its strange behavior.

The PHB and basic rules include just a few sentences about whether a creature knows it was targeted by a spell:

Unless a spell has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a spell at all. An effect like crackling lightning is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature's thoughts, typically goes unnoticed, unless a spell says otherwise.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything provides a clarification on how one can perceive a caster in the process of spellcasting (p. 85):

Many spells create obvious effects: explosions of fire, walls of ice, teleportation, and the like. Other spells, such as charm person, display no visible, audible, or otherwise perceptible sign of their effects, and could easily go unnoticed by someone unaffected by them. As noted in the Player’s Handbook, you normally don’t know that a spell has been cast unless the spell produces a noticeable effect.

But what about the act of casting a spell? Is it possible for someone to perceive that a spell is being cast in their presence? To be perceptible, the casting of a spell must involve a verbal, somatic, or material component. The form of a material component doesn’t matter for the purposes of perception, whether it’s an object specified in the spell’s description, a component pouch, or a spellcasting focus.

If the need for a spell’s components has been removed by a special ability, such as the sorcerer’s Subtle Spell feature or the Innate Spellcasting trait possessed by many creatures, the casting of the spell is imperceptible. If an imperceptible casting produces a perceptible effect, it’s normally impossible to determine who cast the spell in the absence of other evidence.

Suggestion has both verbal and material components. The sorcerer's Metamagic option Subtle Spell can remove verbal and somatic components, but not material components; thus, if the target creature can see you when you cast the spell, it will perceive your spellcasting (though whether it recognizes it as spellcasting might depend on its familiarity with magic/spellcasting).

One way to avoid your spellcasting being perceived is to Ready the spell from behind cover/obscuration, so that the creature does not see you cast it, then step out so you can see the creature and release the spell's energy. You only need to meet the targeting requirements when the spell's energy is released. (This tactic can also be used to prevent counterspelling.) Since the spell's range is only 30 feet, however, you will likely need to use Subtle Spell (or cast in an area of the silence spell or similar) to avoid the verbal component being heard.


There's nothing to say that they'd automatically know, you're right. I'd say it's a situational thing.

Casting suggestion involves touching an arcane focus or a snake's tongue and sweet oil/honeycomb, while saying spell words. Some people have interpreted the verbal component as the suggestion you're giving them, but the Sage Advice column from September 2016 has clarified that they're separate things (the same ruling is duplicated in the Sage Advice Compendium):

Is the sentence of suggestion in the suggestion spell the verbal component, or is the verbal component separate?

Verbal components are mystic words (PH, 203), not normal speech. The spell’s suggestion is an intelligible utterance that is separate from the verbal component.

So, if you lived in a world where magic was common, and you saw someone muttering arcane words while messing around with an arcane focus or spell components, and then they gave you an order and you obeyed it without thinking, it's reasonable to think that you might realize they cast a spell that made you do that. And certainly anyone who is capable of casting suggestion themselves should immediately recognize what happened.

But if you can think of a situation where it wouldn't be obvious that you are casting a spell, or if you have a class ability that helps prevent them from figuring it out, like sorcerer metamagic or enchantment wizard's "forget I cast a spell on you" ability, then they wouldn't automatically know.

Note that the spell friends involves only a material component, applying makeup to your face, which could be very easily overlooked as spellcasting. But unlike suggestion, friends explicitly states that they know you cast a spell on them as soon as it wears off. (Although others witnessing the interaction might not know.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ That Sage Advice link is an excellent one, because it also uses suggestion as an example under the answer to "Do you always know when you’re under the effect of a spell?" \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 3:57

The target of the spell does not know it was influenced by Suggestion, but connecting the dots is quite easy.


As discussed in this question, it is not hard to notice someone is casting a spell, depending on the situation. If you stand in guard, it is hard to miss, if you are in combat, and swords are banging on breastplates, it is less obvious.
However noone would use Suggestion in a battle to have an enemy drop a key. Much more likely to force someone to change sides.

So either the process, or the result is quite easy to notice.


In most DnD worlds, magic is known enough, so you have heard about charming people with spells.

Discover the connection

You stand in guard with Joe, than some random guy comes to you, starts waving his hands, mumble strange words, and you suddenly feel the urge to kill Joe. Normally I would put the Intelligence DC to 5 fo realilze you were under a spell. If you always wanted to do it, because you discovered he is sleeping with your wife, the DC should probably be 10. There are simply better times and places for it.
Less obviously wrong things than murder should have a bit higher DC, depending on how uncharacteristic it was for you.

Which spell

Knowing the exact spell you were under would be much harder, like an Arcana DC 20 check, with some bonuses if the spell is on your spell list.

In my opininon the hardest part is noticing that someone cast a spell, everything else is quite obvious

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Can you provide an example indicating that the suggestion spell requires some obvious signs? Spell from the book indicates Verbal and Material Components alone. This suggests (pun intended) that suggestion is very subtle and difficult to detect, hence the name Suggestion and not Command (which is a separate spell). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Doing something you would not usually do is quite obvious. In a world where everyone knows of magic, nothing esle is really necessary. Out of combat even mumbling is quite easy to detect, and in combat the suggested action (change sides) is quite ovbious too. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are absolutely no somatic components of any kind. The spell just says "You suggest a course of activity and then magically influence a creature you can see." The suggestion doesn't have to be secretive. It can be something as simple as you going up to someone and saying "Why don't you take a seat over there." and if the suggestion works, they do it. Suggesting a course of activity has nothing to do with verbally chanting your suggested activity in a manner that makes it obvious that it's a spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – D. Sorrim
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 15:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Andras im looking for you to provide something concrete that supports your answer. Since the spell doesnt have a somatic component, nothing in it supports obvious action at all. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ In our world people who engage in an action because of direct brain stimulation usually rationalize the action to themselves. Simply telling them that they haven't made the decision themselves is usually not enough to get them to conclude that they haven't taken the action because of their free will. Similar things are true for posthypnotic suggestions for individuals with high hypnotic susceptibility. \$\endgroup\$
    – Christian
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 17:38

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