The description for geas states:

You place a magical command on a creature that you can see within range, forcing it to carry out some service or refrain from some action or course of activity as you decide.

There is a difference of interpretation on this word within my group. I take it as meaning the creature is literally forced to obey a simple command or refrain from a course of activity. It cannot voluntarily decide that it will disobey said command.

A friend of mine believes that the target has the option to not follow the command and that the word "forced" is mostly in reference to the fact that if they are not able to carry out the command, they take damage. He believes that the target has the free will do decide to not carry out the command.

He also used this thread as justification: Are creatures affected by Geas truly "forced" to follow your actions, or merely coerced by the threat of damage?

Now I think that is an interesting way to view it but there was only one answer and no further discussion, possibly because he was right or there was not much interest at that time. It seems very odd to me that they used the term "forced" and not "coercively forced" in the spell description if the intent was that the target of the spell has the free will to simply disobey and eat the damage. I think that if the intent was indeed that the target could voluntarily disobey the command, they would have worded the spell description very differently.

tldr; If I geas someone and give a command, can they voluntarily decide of their own free will to disobey the command, or are they forced to do the command (and in the event that they are not able to, due to say being restrained somehow, they eat the damage)?

Thank you for your time and effort!


Your final question:

If I geas someone and give a command, can they voluntarily decide of their own free will to disobey the command?

YES, with consequences

The spell description on PHB p. 245 clearly states that (emphasis mine):

While the creature is charmed by you, it takes 5d10 psychic damage each time it acts in a manner directly counter to your instructions, but no more than once each day.

This does more than imply that the creature has free will, it directly states that the creature can disobey, but there is a punishment of damage. So, in your parlance, the creature is free to "eat" the damage as a penalty for going against your command of their own free will.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.