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I have already asked some questions that concern the Suggestion spell (here and here). However, there are still some aspects of this spell that are not clear to me. In particular, the fact that the course of action must sound reasonable can be ambiguous. According to the manual, you cannot ask a target to stab himself, but you can ask him to give his horse to a random person. Now, consider for example the following situations:

  • A halfling is carrying a magical ring that could be extremely dangerous if it was in wrong hands. A wizard suggests him to give it to the first person he meets.
  • A young seaman has just been given a giant vessel and he is going to set sail, the dream of his life. A wizard suggests him to sell him the vessel for a few money.

can the Suggestion spell be used in these situations? Can these courses of action be considered as reasonable? In general, how to quickly determine if the course of action is reasonable?

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Ask your DM" is an acceptable answer; this question may be DM-judgment-based but it's not an opinion question worthy of closure. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Sep 8 '16 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ In your second case, have you matched the duration of Suggestion with the amount of time it takes to arrange the sale of a ship? A little amplification on how you see the effects of Suggestion sustaining would help frame that example better, even though this question has a strong chance to get closed as "opinion based" as written. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 8 '16 at 12:55
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This is ultimately subjective and up to DM ruling, but if you want a quick way to judge it, imagine that "Suggestion" is the name of a bottle of strong spirits, you just drank the whole thing, and now it's telling you that doing X would be totally awesome.

Ten years from now, will you be in the bar with your fellows, saying "Haha, remember that time when I drank a bottle of Suggestion and then X!"? That means it was totally reasonable, so X goes.

On the other hand, ten years from now, will you be waking up crying in the middle of the night, shouting "Why, why did I do X!"? That means it's not reasonable, so X doesn't go.

This would make giving away The One Ring very unreasonable, but giving away the magic ring you just "liberated" from some "evil creature" totally reasonable. It mostly makes it so the reasonable-ness of any act is judged by how much it's going to ruin your life and haunt you, not by any amount of monetary value or whatever, which seems to be the idea behind the spell.

For example, you might get a noble to give you his purse of gold, but not get a farmer to give you his only cow. You could, however, convince the farmer to dance naked through the streets, but you couldn't convince the uptight noble to do the same.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would say that it is much easier for a noble to dance naked (no punishment), than a peasant. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Sep 8 '16 at 12:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ That depends on where the noble is and who would see. He might not be thrown in jail, but he might lose his reputation and would no longer be taken seriously. Pick any random high-ranking member of your own government and ask yourself if you could ever take him seriously again if you saw videos of him dancing naked and drunk downtown. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Sep 8 '16 at 12:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this theorycrafting, or the way you have run it at your table? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 8 '16 at 13:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras peasants are much more prone to being naked than nobles. ngram \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Sep 8 '16 at 14:04
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Rules as written, there is almost no guidance about Suggestion. The spell's power level is all a spot-ruling by the DM. There is no clarification anywhere in the book about what reasonable means

The Suggestion spell is extremely vague at what it can and cannot do, and Wizards (through Sage advice and tweets) have been very cagey about trying to nail it down. There are no officially published explanations for exactly how far the Suggestion spell can go. Even the example given in the book (Convince a knight to give her horse to the first beggar she meets) is unclear, as we don't know anything about the knight or the situation or the outcome. Is she currently on a quest? Does she have multiple horses? Is she in the middle of the desert 100 miles from the nearest town, meaning that giving up her horse is suicide? Is it her favorite horse? Is the horse a polymorphed version of her best friend that she's trying to cure? What happens once she gives up the horse, does she just walk away? Does she give it away and then immediately take it back? Can she ever take it back? What happens if the beggar tries to sell it to her? Does she still want it? Would she pay more or less for it? Does she even still recognize that it's her horse?

5e's mantra is 'rulings, not rules', and the Suggestion spell is the perfect example of this. It's simply not possible to know what the spell is capable of without having a conversation with your DM before you start the game. The DM will also likely break this ruling sometime during the game when it becomes obvious that you've found a way to use the spell that they didn't intend, so make sure you discuss exactly what you want to do with it before you devote time and resources to a plan that hinges on the Suggestion spell. Keep in mind also that the spell will likely have wildly different power levels from DM to DM and game to game. I've played in games where Suggestion was a social I-Win button and the very next game it was worse than a persuasion check.

There are lots of interesting theories and house rules and 'here's-what-reasonable-REALLY-means' out there on the internet that you can read for yourself, but the actual answer to your questions of 'How does Suggestion work with':

  • A halfling is carrying a magical ring that could be extremely dangerous if it was in wrong hands. A wizard suggests him to give it to the first person he meets.
  • A young seaman has just been given a giant vessel and he is going to set sail, the dream of his life. A wizard suggests him to sell him the vessel for a few money.

Is that there is nothing in the book that can give you a concrete answer. These will depend 100% on the DM, and in fact the answer will probably be different each time you try.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd house-rule (is it even a house rule, or would this be RAW?) that the extent and success of a Suggestion spell is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Asking a rich farmer to give one of his (100+) cows to the first person he meets would probably fly; asking a poor farmer to give his family's only dairy cow (which they rely on to put food on the table by selling the milk) to the first person he meets probably wouldn't. \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J Sep 8 '16 at 14:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ To extend this to the posited scenarios: Does the halfling know how dangerous the ring could be in the wrong hands? What if the first person he meets, he happens to know to be a very good person? Perhaps he would give it to Gandalf, but not Boromir? For the seaman, how much is he selling this ship for (and could he conceivably buy another seaworthy ship, albeit smaller, with the money)? What are the chances he could get another ship at a later point in time? If he could rationalize selling the ship to buy a smaller vessel requiring less crew and maintenance, that might be reasonable to him. \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J Sep 8 '16 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is probably the most succinct statement of the problem with Suggestion and similar spells I've ever read. The spell is very table- and GM-dependent for its effectiveness. There really isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Sep 8 '16 at 15:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DoktorJ: what if the poor farmer has only one cow but the first guy he mets promises him to give him five other cows the next day (the guy being of course lying, probably a goon of the caster)? \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme May 5 '17 at 14:56

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