Will this house rule about the command spell unbalance the game?

The spell command says

The Target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or follow the command on its next turn. (Player's Handbook 223)

(Emphasis mine.) In the case of an order like approach or flee, the emphasized text makes sense. However, for an order like freeze it seems like the spell should kick in immediately as the target can follow the order right now. (Practically, this should enable an ally who provokes one to avoid an opportunity attack from such a foe affected by the command to freeze, for example.)

Is a house rule for the spell command like If an affected creature could perform the command off-turn, it does unbalanced?

• I edited this a lot. I hope that's okay. I found the original risky due to it being both opinion-based and subjective--as are many questions asking about why (instead of how) magic works the way it does. Instead, it sounded like you were considering a change in the rules, so I altered the question to ask about that change directly. Feel free to rollback. – Hey I Can Chan Oct 9 '16 at 15:55
• First off thank you for the edit, I always seem to have a lot of trouble wording my questions appropriately. The edit is mostly great but, if it's acceptable, I would kinda like an explanation on the RAW's logic as that may affect whether I/we implement a house rule like this. – ArtaSoral Oct 9 '16 at 16:24
• You're welcome. The question remains always yours, and you can curate it however you want. :-) I don't want to answer in comments, but I'm pretty sure the RAWgic is along the line of Most folks will use command to make foes do stuff, not not do stuff, and foes can't do stuff off-turn anyway, so addressing an edge case like freeze! isn't necessary. I mean, if you want to rollback or edit the question to ask for developer intent about off-turn actions (or, in this case, inaction), that is a thing, but I don't have much confidence that such a question will yield a useful answer. – Hey I Can Chan Oct 9 '16 at 16:39
• We've received multiple flags regarding the bounty on this. It is effectively asking a new question — but new questions need to be asked as separate posts. I've removed the bounty and refunded the reputation. If you have a new but related question, you can just ask it and link to this question for context. If the bounty should have been worded differently, you might want to drop by Role-playing Games Meta or chat for help to figure out how to word it so that it's not accidentally asking a new question. Thanks! – SevenSidedDie Oct 11 '16 at 23:12

I don't see any problem with your house rule, but I'm not sure it's really applicable. Part of the problem is terminology--there's a difference between a round and an action or "turn."

In any round, people take their action according to initiative. If my mage character is fighting an orc, and I win initiative, I get to act first in the round: my action is my turn. Suppose on Round 1 of the combat, I try to hit him with my dagger and miss. He then takes his turn and tries to hit me with his weapon--that's his turn.

For Round 2, I decide combat just isn't my style and cast Command, telling the orc "Freeze!" He hasn't had his turn yet--so if he fails his Wisdom save, when his initiative comes up, that is "on his next turn." He loses his action that round. So the rule has the effect that you want, at least as far as that goes.

I'm not finding anything in RAW one way or another, but it seems to me that any action that the orc could take, including fleeing combat, would be covered by that Command as long as he failed the Wisdom save.

In addition, to my eyes the Opportunity aspect is a gap in RAW.

The Command spell has other examples can effectively put the target "out of combat": for instance, "Drop" will make him drop his weapon, "Grovel" will make him fall on the floor. But as written, the target would be able to take a reaction that round, and then freeze, drop, or grovel the next round.

To my mind, that makes no sense, so I agree with you that the rule change is a good one. If I were GM, I would write that rule change so that if the target fails their Wisdom save, they cannot take a reaction until their next turn after they have performed the Commanded action.

This does not unbalance the game, so long as you remember that enemy casters can also use this spell, and use it to the party's disadvantage.

• thank you for the response, at the very least it makes me feel alot better about implementing the rule change. I'm still curious about why the RAW is written the way it is but I suppose my curiosity must go unsated. – ArtaSoral Oct 13 '16 at 2:26

I don't think it would greatly change things too much. I think it really comes down to your players and how they try to play the game, if they abuse rules or if they are just trying to do something epic, or they approach changed differently.

I have a DM who allows the Command spell to be any command not just what is listed. Example: our wizard, used command on a king to give up his crown (the crown as the position of ruler) and give the wealth of the crown to the people in his city. It turned out the king was going mad, and was at such a high CR due to a possession, the only way to free the king was for the man to not be king, so death, or willingly give up the crown, but nothing short of a command spell would work, and the king rolled a 1.

• What was the word used for that command? – daze413 Oct 10 '16 at 5:02
• It was a phrase really, i think it was, " Throw down your crown." or something. The DM felt a 5 word phrase would count. because in battle you can only speak 5 words on your turn. (there was a rule somewhere that said that). So he made that a house ruling. – A-Lloyd Oct 10 '16 at 5:12
• Hm. "Abdicate" would have stuck to RAW. – daze413 Oct 10 '16 at 6:13
• Hmm, well I don't think we could of came up with the word. but thank you, i will add that to my RP book. now im playing a spellcaster with a new DM, and may need that. sincerely, thank you. – A-Lloyd Oct 10 '16 at 6:25
• Good luck, then, different DM = different ruling. It may have cleared your last DM but I'd be wary of expecting anything since the duration of the spell is just 6 seconds, the king would regain his senses after that time. – daze413 Oct 10 '16 at 7:25

I think this makes the spell notably more powerful as it essentially turns a spell, which in RAW requires an Action to use. Your conversion makes it a Reaction.

From a fluff perspective, you've transitioned what was a complicated spell casting to a simpler one without any additional cost.

From a balance perspective, what you've essentially done is created a spell that creates the chance to take away an opponent's action without using your own action to do so. From an action economy perspective, that can be extremely powerful.

I think leaving it as a 1st level spell is potentially unbalanced. Doubly so, because the spell has higher level castings that can target multiple creatures.

I think if you want to implement it, you should balance it with a commensurate cost. I would recommend altering the spell such that there are 2 ways to elevate the spell. The first method is as written in the rules. The second method is that when cast using a 2nd level spell slot, the spell's casting time may be reduced to a Reaction. If using the second method, you cannot affect more than 1 creature.

• Where does the question indicate that the spell would now have a Reaction casting time? – SevenSidedDie Oct 12 '16 at 19:52
• I don't think you're understanding the home rule correctly. The change to reaction isnt in the casting of the spell, its in the execution of it (the target could now waste his reaction) – ArtaSoral Oct 13 '16 at 2:17
• I think I misunderstood the last sentence thinking it was saying that the Command spell could be used off-turn, which made me think that it had to use your reaction. – Pyrotechnical Oct 13 '16 at 14:02