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The Suggestion spell influences a creature by suggesting a course of action:

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 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 w as 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.

The description suggests the idea that this course of action sounds reasonable to the target, in such a way that it could be a decision that the target took on his own. Furthermore, contrary to other illusion spells (e.g. Friends), the target won't notice that he has been charmed.

However, I am not sure whether the ideas suggested by the spell persist after the spell ends. Consider the following example:

A creature owns a magical item connected to evil forces. He is using that item for his purposes. Another creature casts Suggestion by saying: You feel that this item is ruining your soul. You will get rid of it, and you will go praying for 2 hours in order to purify your soul.

Supposing that the target considers it reasonable, he gets rid of the item. Then, for some reason, the spell ends. Now, How will the target react? Will he keep considering that idea reasonable, or will he try to get the item back?

This leads to the title question: do the ideas that justify the Suggestion spell persist after the end of the spell?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your example Suggestion has 2 sentences and mandates 2 courses of action - both things that the spell doesn't permit. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 5 '16 at 10:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ The description says one sentence or two, so this is ok. As for the course of action, it is pretty borderline indeed, but can't it be considered as a single course of action? \$\endgroup\$ – firion Jul 5 '16 at 11:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Huh, I thought it was limited to one. In any case, reading closer, it could actually be considered 3 courses of action - feel this, get rid of this, and go pray. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jul 5 '16 at 11:44
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No, twice over.

Believing something is not a course of action and suggestion is incapable of implanting beliefs. Suggestion can't suggest mental conditions or states, only activities.

Even if it could, everything that suggestion made someone do ends when the duration ends. For beliefs what that looks like would be kind of strange (wouldn't even a temporary belief continue to have effects on your mind?), which is fine, because suggestion can't induce beliefs.

So no part of this, including probably the actions, would work:

You feel that this item is ruining your soul. You will get rid of it, and you will go praying for 2 hours in order to purify your soul.

The first sentence won't work because it's not an activity. The subject would hear you say “You feel that this item is ruining your soul,” and would react just like anyone would who were just told how they feel — disbelief and mistrust.

The second sentence would probably not work, because someone with an awesome magic item would not find “get rid of it” to be reasonable, and someone who doesn't feel like their soul is in danger wouldn't find “go pray for two hours to purify your soul” reasonable.

If you want to pull off suggestions that rely on beliefs that the target doesn't already have, you have to do it the old-fashioned way: persuade them to believe something first.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, the first sentence - You feel that this item is ruining your soul - was more an introduction/justification for the subsequent actions, rather than a suggested action. However, I understand that you cannot implant beliefs that easily. What if the caster induced some doubt by means of a convincing speech and a good Persuasion/Deception check, and then cast Suggestion? \$\endgroup\$ – firion Jul 5 '16 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @firion There are no other mental conditions in your question, so naturally I assumed you meant that one. Which mental conditions are you asking about then? As for your question: That's what my answers says at the end, yes. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 5 '16 at 14:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ "For example, you might suggest that a knight give her warhorse to the first beggar she meets." - Not much less reasonable than "get rid of that magic item" \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Jul 6 '16 at 2:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Adeptus “The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the course of action sound reasonable”. I don't personally think the example in the question qualifies, but I hedged that opinion by saying “probably”. Other GMs might disagree—this one would not let that one fly. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 6 '16 at 3:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I consider the introductory parts as "framing the suggestion in such a way as to make the action sound reasonable". Essentially it's fluff, as the action is the only part that is... acted upon, the rest is roleplaying. In any case, though, giving and praying are two distinct activities. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Nov 17 '16 at 14:36
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The spell may not, but psychology still applies.

First, let's deal with the poor wording of the question. The words "You feel that this item is ruining your soul." is just preamble. There is no magic in those words, but that does not mean that they are without effect. Given that it reinforces the fact that the item was "connected to evil forces", my opinion (I know, that's a dirty word on this board) is that it establishes the reasonableness of the following actions.

There is no problem with the next two actions - they are clearly a "course of activity". They seem reasonable, given the circumstances and preamble.

As for what happens after the two hours are up . . . the magic is over, but consider what the target perceives. He does not perceive that he was charmed - that's explicit in the spell description. Instead, he perceives that he made a decision - of his own free will - to get rid of the item and pray for his own soul. It is human nature to not like to change our minds - especially if we have made a public display of our belief. Self-justification is a powerful psychological force - our impulse is to justify our actions, not admit our error. Some characters may be so selfish and self-loathing that they care nothing for appearing two-faced and scramble to get that item back. But the default behavior of humankind has always favored inertia, and lacking a specific reason for doing otherwise, the character should let the action stand.

That is, of course, a character decision, not a DM decision. However, it is an opportunity for awarding Inspiration, if the DM feels that the character's actions are consistent with his personality.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for addressing the mechanical question and for giving additional insight. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Jul 5 '16 at 18:19
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No.

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 as asked to do.

If the condition isn’t met before the spell expires, the activity isn’t performed.

These lines suggest that the suggested action cannot go over the duration limit, as it specifies that it may be a continuous action that lasts for the duration, and if it isn't completed, the spell has no hold any longer. After the duration, the course of action cannot continue, therefore the creature will revert to its previous or next condition(s). Moreover, in your specific case, the spell will end as soon as it has gotten rid of the item. I am however unsure of its next course of actions; my personal ruling would be that yes, it attempts to take its item back if it finds doing so reasonable (no longer under the effects of the spell). It has already been pointed out that the specific suggestion given here does not meet the criteria of the spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that the course of action does not continue after the spell ends, but my concern was the mental conditions of the target: are you sure that it reverts to the original condition? As for my example, I acknowledge that it is not allowed by the spell description. However, it was just to explain the problem \$\endgroup\$ – firion Jul 5 '16 at 11:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ What I meant by 'reverts to original' or next condition' is that the spell is no longer on it. This all depends, as the target creature retains the memories of what it did. If it becomes aware of the fact that it was under a spell, it may try to revert its actions given that it deems said reversal worth the effort. However, given that it would find the actions it took under the spell reasonable anyway, it may just continue to go on with its day, even if it is aware a spell was cast on it. If it isn't, it may continue on with it's day, or it may think 'why did I do that?' and revert actions. \$\endgroup\$ – Ilya Donskikh Jul 5 '16 at 11:57
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Yes

Any suggestion that results in a positive outcome for the target is unlikely to be rejected after the spell ends, unless other factors are involved. There is nothing in the spell description that says otherwise, so common sense must rule the day.

Examples:

  • Suggesting a terrified peasant trust the party, and then delivering the peasant to safety.

  • "It's called 'ice cream.' Try it, it's good."

Don't punish social spells

After the spell expires, things should play out the same as if there were no magic involved. Burning a spell slot to make a suggestion, instead of making a Persuasion check, should not be a disadvantageous.

Melf's Acid Arrow is better than a regular arrow. Suggestion should be better than a regular suggestion. Because spell slots are limited.

Thus, if the target would admit it was good idea to follow the suggestion, the fact that a spell was used would not negate that.

That Evil Magic Item

However, in the question's example, a character wreaking havoc his soul with an evil magic item sound a bit like an addict. Even if they toss the evil magic item into the lake, and feel better for it, they might go diving after it in a moment of weakness.

Would it be reasonable (allowable) for the target to get rid of the evil magic item?

Absolutely. Giving away a prized possession is specifically provided as an example of what Suggestion can do:

You might suggest that a knight give her warhorse to the first beggar she meets.

(Suggestion, PH, p. 279)

The fact that the magic item has deleterious effects only makes a suggestion to dispose of it more reasonable. (Just ask Bilbo!)

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Your question do the ideas that justify the Suggestion spell persist after the end of the spell?

When the spell ends the suggestion ends, clearly, including the clauses/beliefs that made the course of action seem reasonable. There is no magical reason for them to keep doing what they were doing, but they may decide to if they still have good reason.

  • The spell ending does not mean they know they were under the effect of a spell, unlike the Friends cantrip which states it explicitly
  • When the suggestion ends they will question their actions only as much as they would normally do
  • If the actions were out of character or questionable etc. they will wonder what on earth they were doing and may suspect magic depending on their skills and experience
  • If the suggestion included wording to make the course of action seem reasonable, there is no ongoing magical reason for the target to believe those ideas

Say a suggestion spell was cast with the following wording "The peasants are so hungry you should work tirelessly to pick the apples from all the trees in the orchard for them". The target would then pick apples until the spell duration ended or there were no apples left to pick. It is possible you could argue that if all the available peasants proved themselves not to be hungry the spell would end too.

When the spell ends there is no reason for the target to continue believing that the peasants are hungry or that they need apples picked for them. However a character that was already concerned for the peasant's welfare may not question their actions too deeply and may even go on to help pick the other fruit, seeing the benefit to the peasants the work has produced, particularly if the peasants were actually hungry. They may never suspect that magic was involved. A scumbag anti-paladin with skill in Arcana however will immediately suspect foul play and may be able to guess the kind of thing that had happened "What the $%£$% was I doing? Who cast a suggestion on me?". And there is a spectrum of responses between.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Writing this makes me think altruistic characters are far more vulnerable to suggestions after the spell has ended than self-interested characters. An interesting consequence of good and evil alignments. \$\endgroup\$ – Protonflux Nov 17 '16 at 13:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ But only in one direction. Conversely, you could suggest a selfish action to an egoist that would be noticed afterwards by an altruist. E.g. "Steal the merchants wares" might cause an egoist to continue with that behaviour long after the suggestion ended, right? \$\endgroup\$ – lucidbrot Mar 17 '18 at 9:11
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No. The suggestion spell causes the recipient do something you want them to do. Once they do that, the spell is over. At that point they have their free will back so choose carefully what you want them to do.

I probably would have a house rule that prevents them from reverse course immediately. For example, in the case where the knight gives his warhorse to a beggar I probably would give the beggar a minute or few minutes to depart. But if they decide to hang around, it's fair game if the knight wants to try to get his horse back.

The beauty of the suggestion is that they will think they did it of their own accord and simply made a bad decision.

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