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Friday, July 12, 2013


I wanted to take a look at the Suggestion spell from Supplement I (Greyhawk.) Here's the text of the spell:
Suggestion: A spell which works on the principle of hypnosis. If the creature which it is thrown at fails to make its saving throw vs. magic it will carry out the suggestion, immediately or deferred according to the wish of the magic-user. Self-destruction is 99% unlikely, but carefully worded suggestions can, at the referee's option, alter this probability. Suggestions must be simple and relatively short, i.e. a sentence or two. Duration: 1 game week.
The first thing that occurs to me is that Suggestion spell is yet more proof that Charm Person is not mind control. If a charmed person does exactly what you want, then Charm Person is better than Suggestion: it's 1st level instead of 3rd level, it lasts longer, it covers more than a single command. The only benefit of Suggestion would be that it can affect any kind of thinking creature, not just those covered by a Charm Person spell. But if Charm Person is not re-interpreted as mind control, the only "mind control" spells are Suggestion (one command) and Magic Jar (unlimited control.)

The other thing that occurred to me was the bit about saving throws. We usually read the words "saving throw" without thinking about it much. But consider this: when is the saving throw for the Suggestion spell made? At the time the spell is cast, or at the time the suggestion is triggered? And does the magic-user know the target's saving throw failed?


  1. As I recall, we ruled that suggestion was higher level because it was subtle. Charm person was more direct but much easier to spot -- the target might be clearly acting out of character, and the target will realize something was wrong, either on a successful save or after the spell wears off. Suggestion, on the other hand, was not obvious when the save was made or after the effect ended (time or triggered). It might be good for only one command, but the target and observers had no real evidence that it was magic. In fact, I think we even ruled that the target might rationalize the decisions made and actions taken.

    1. That still seems awfully limited. If Charm Person were mind control, then Suggestion shouldn't be more than 1st level, or maybe 2nd if you assumed that a Suggestion can't be dispelled, only countered by another Suggestion.

      I'm much more inclined to Charm Person being the equivalent of rolling "Very Friendly and Extremely Loyal" for a reaction.