The question is pretty straightforward. I'm looking for an sources regarding suggestion targeting a sleeping target. To me, the pertinent bit of the spell is

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.

I suppose the followup question is can a PC who is asleep hear and understand the caster? It's pretty obvious they can hear you. As DMs how would you handle whether you can be understood by a sleeping target?

For background, I'm planning to have the party be ambushed by a Yuan-ti pureblood. However, if the party does not post a rotating guard at night, I want her to use suggestion to kidnap a party member, and I'm trying to decide if she can do that without first waking the target.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I retrospect, I'm missing the obvious here. Suggestion only requires the party to be within 30 feet. If the Yuan-ti pureblood can successfully sneak up on the party while they're camped, she can just cast suggestion on their guard if they do post one. \$\endgroup\$
    – mklauber
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ That sounds like an inception plot... \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 1:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heh not trying to be that outrageous, just want to kidnap a party member without waking the rest of the party \$\endgroup\$
    – mklauber
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 2:28

2 Answers 2


No, a sleeping target can't hear you unless you wake them up first. A sleeping creature has the unconscious condition:

You can also apply conditions on the fly. They're meant to be intuitive for you to do so. For example, if a character is in a state, such as sleep, that lacks consciousness, you can say that the character is unconscious.

And a creature with the unconscious condition is unaware of their surroundings:

An unconscious creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Pretty sure a sleeping target can hear you, otherwise how would you wake up to the sounds of combat in your camp at night? But even of you targeted one with Suggestion they couldn't act on it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth That sounds like most of an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth: you could suggest him to wake up... Well, you could just yell at him but maybe he is really tired. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the pertinent part of this is as was bolded above, being "unaware of its surroundings". Which even if we don't stay strictly to the unconscious condition, is still true of sleeping. \$\endgroup\$
    – mklauber
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 15:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slagmoth: You're right that a sleeping target can hear. What they can't do is understand: they can process that there was a loud noise nearby, but not what it is. This is why you can't say "I want to wake up if I hear combat, but not if I hear dogs barking": either one will wake you up, because the process of thinking about the noise to determine what it was would itself wake you up. Suggestion requires both hearing and understanding, so the spell still fails. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 17:28

I would use the rules that we have. If the person is asleep, allow the Yuan Ti to sneak up with advantage. Roll initiative. Assuming they are successful sneaks, they should have surprise, so the first action automatically goes to them. They use this to awaken the character.

With initiative, they can cast Suggestion before the waking character can react.

Alternatively, if there are two attackers, one can wake the sleeper while the other readies the Suggedtion spell with the trigger, "when the target awakes". Quicker and less risky, but requires two attackers.

I would lean toward giving this tactic a high probability of success. One of the tropes of D&D is posting watched while sleeping, and this sort of situation is the reason.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Surprise rounds are a good suggestion, I hadn't thought about that. Take your upvote. \$\endgroup\$
    – mklauber
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 18:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that puts me over 3,000 rep, unlocking unlimited vistas of newfound power and influence! Muwahahaha. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 19:51

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