[RPG] Are these rulings for Command balanced


The Command spell has been around for some time, and while there are a few answers clarifying its use in previous editions, some don't apply in 5E (e.g., the seemingly popular "Undress" command, which would cause an enemy to remove its armour, doesn't work in 5E because doffing requires more time than the duration of the spell).

So, I'm wondering if the following are balanced rulings for the spell:

  1. Betray/Backstab/Mutiny: Attack the nearest ally.
  2. Throw: Throws whatever is being carried (e.g., weapon/shield/focus) as far as possible (could be in the direction of the caster).
  3. Quaff/Drink (assuming the caster can see the enemy has a healing potion/ale/waterskin): Drinks the potion, even if at full hp; drinks the ale; or just water.

Best Answer

Half of these won't work because they aren't “one-word commands”, which the spell is limited to.

  • “Betray”/“Backstab” require a direct object. These won't work unless the target and exact action are unambiguous. Compare with the “drop” command in the spell's writeup: it only works if they're holding something. The spell won't make them go find something to pick up and then drop, and in the same way, “betray” or “backstab” won't make them go and find someone to betray (and how, exactly?) or backstab.

    If your target had their weapon out and already pointed directly at an ally's back (an unlikely situation), only then would “backstab” be an immediately-meaningful command. (Even in such a situation “betray” would still not work, because it's too abstract — betray how, do what exactly?)

  • “Mutiny” means to gather companions into an organised resistance to a legitimate authority for the purpose of overthrowing that authority. This isn't something that can be done in one turn.

These have a good chance of working, though not necessarily how you hope:

  • “Throw” works just like “drop”: whatever's in their hand, they will throw. However, it won't be as far as possible or in the direction you want. Probably it will only be as little as possible and in whatever direction is most impulsively convenient; i.e., it will likely land right beside them.

  • “Quaff”/“Drink”, like “drop”, “throw”, (or rarely “backstab”) will only work if they're holding or already poised beside a drinkable substance. Are they standing in front of a fountain of dubious liquid, or holding a potion in their hand? Then it will have an immediate meaning as a command. Are they nowhere near a drinkable, and only have stuff to drink in their pack or tucked away on their belt? Then the command won't work because it makes no sense.

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