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The Suggestion spell reads as follows:

Suggestion (PHB, p. 279)

You suggest a course of activity (limited to a sentence or two) and magically influence a creature you can see within range that can hear and understand you. Creatures that can't be charmed are immune to this effect. 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 makea Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, it pursues the coruse of action youd escribed 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.

You can also specify conditions that will trigger a special activity during the duration. For example, you might suggest that a knight give her warhorse to the first beggar she meets. If the condition isn't met before the spell expires, the activity isn't performed.

If you or any of your companions damage the target, the spell ends.

What restrictions do the words "obviously harmful" imply? For instance, my wizard is talking to a Lord who is bound to his word by the old laws. Can my wizard use suggestion to make the Lord shake on a deal that isn't physically or mentally harmful, but is definitely economically ruinous? Deals that would cause the Lord to lose a lot of power, or subjects, a magical item, or a kingdom, to no gain of his own. Would suggestion work?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by nitsua60, Oblivious Sage, Maurycy, KorvinStarmast, DuckTapeAl Feb 17 '16 at 17:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, bruh. I think it's the policy of this Stack to be clear rather than clever. But, im no mod, so maybe they think different. Titles are helpful in finding answers and questions, so it behooves one to use one that is descriptive. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Feb 17 '16 at 16:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure how anyone not at your table could answer this. To me your question reads as: "will the Fey Lord at my table view this as 'obviously harmful'?" \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Feb 17 '16 at 16:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik I think the point is that there's no way for Fae Lord bound by the old laws to undo a deal once done. An adventurer can always go “#$#&er! Give it back! Okay you die now!” while the Fae Lord would be bound by the deal, which makes the harm involved materially greater. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 17 '16 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 thats the problem though. It's not harmful, directly. Just to his resources? It's a gray area I'm not sure on \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Feb 17 '16 at 16:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Grey areas of interpretation, which are subject to DM judgement and by-design require a DM ruling, aren't really going to get more than opinion or "ask your DM" at RPG.se. Do you hope for an answer that isn't like that? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 17 '16 at 16:10
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Given the text of the spell (referenced at the end), I think

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

    is more important than

  • "obviously harmful."

Ultimately it's the DM's call, especially after putting the homebrew rule there in the first place. Were I the DM with that rule in place, I'd say that a few things would need to be in place in order for you to succeed in a ham-fisted approach to Suggestion:

  1. The lord would have to gain something out of it (involving you selling the notion so that it's in keeping with the lord's alignment or inclinations) or at least have a chance for it to work for him (perhaps a wager)
  2. You would need to be able to cast the spell undetected (getting a Lord by himself isn't easy without him trusting you a lot to begin with, especially an entire party alone with just him)
  3. Every other restriction of the spell must be met (limited to one or two sentences, the trigger would have to happen within 8 hours, etc.)

My suggestion: The way I would try it in your shoes would be to set it up in a way that is neither too direct nor obviously harmful:

  • "Challenge anyone who questions your [ability] (i.e. intellect, charm) to a battle of [matching ability] (i.e. wits, wenching). The winner of the challenge will dictate the terms and rewards of victory." -- which basically only makes him act... brashly.
  • Then turn it into a bet: Fighter/Barbarian, call him a wimp, then armwrestle for his magical items, kingdom, what-have-you.
  • Added bonus: this gives you 8 hours of challenges to try and win everything from him in a 1 on 1 match of your devising.

For reference: The first portion of the Suggestion spell text is as follows:

  • You suggest a course of activity (limited to a sentence or two) and magically influence a creature you can see within range that can hear and understand you. Creatures that can't be charmed are immune to this effect. 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.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is pretty good actually, but I need context on the spell, not advice on how to pull it off. Since you offered this, does that mean you believe the straight up method would fail? \$\endgroup\$ – Nemenia Feb 17 '16 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Short answer: Yes. I edited my answer to address the question more directly, with my personal suggestion as an afterthought. \$\endgroup\$ – Doug Feb 18 '16 at 23:44
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Some context might help answer the question. The spell text says:

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.

If you're convincing him in such a way that makes the economic decision sound reasonable then you're within the rules of the spell, but in any case you're going to need to discuss this with your GM.

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