You suggest a course of activity (limited to a sentence or two) and magically influence a creature you can see within range that can hear and understand you. Creatures that can’t be charmed are immune to this effect. The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the course of action sound reasonable. Asking the creature to stab itself, throw itself onto a spear, immolate itself, or do some other obviously harmful act ends the spell.
The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, it pursues the course of action you described to the best of its ability. The suggested course of action can continue for the entire duration. If the suggested activity can be completed in a shorter time, the spell ends when the subject finishes what it was asked to do.
You can also specify conditions that will trigger a special activity during the duration. For example, you might suggest that a knight give her warhorse to the first beggar she meets. If the condition isn’t met before the spell expires, the activity isn’t performed.
If you or any of your companions damage the target, the spell ends.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 30 feet
Components: V, S, M (a snake’s tongue and either a bit of honeycomb or a drop of sweet oil)
Duration: Concentration, up to 8 hours
School: 2nd-level enchantment
Player’s Handbook, pg. 279
Suggestion has been around since the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons, but 40+ years have done nothing to clear up the spell’s clarity. In fact, we’ll be going back to the first edition version of the spell for guidance in unpacking Suggestion’s rules, as well as a multitude of quotes straight from Jeremy Crawford.
We’ll let you know from the outset: Suggestion is a perfect example of how DM rulings trump everything else. Take all the advice in here with a huge grain of salt, and remember that your DM might play the spell differently in your game.
Who Can Cast Suggestion in 5e?
The following classes have Suggestion on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Suggestion for free:
- Cleric (Knowledge Domain)
What Does Suggestion Do in 5e?
Suggestion forces the target to make a Wisdom saving throw. If they fail, you can suggest a course of activity, limited to two sentences, that influences a creature that can hear and understand it. The suggestion must sound reasonable (the part we’re going to have a lot of fun defining). Suggesting the most unreasonable acts, those that cause obvious harm, causes the spell to end immediately.
Suggestion lasts for a maximum of 8 hours if you maintain concentration. The suggestion can also occur on a specific trigger. If the trigger isn’t met before the duration ends, it doesn’t happen. If the activity takes less than eight hours, the spell ends when the target is done doing what it was asked to do.
Creatures that can’t be charmed are immune to Suggestion. Finally, the spell ends if you or your allies damage the target.
We get a few examples in the spell to help understand the scope of reason: asking a creature to stab itself, burn itself, or do some other obviously harmful act all fail. It’s worth noting that “harmful act” does not specify self-harm, which indicates that asking a creature to harm any other creature would also fail.
The other example is suggesting a knight give her warhorse to a beggar. What’s frustrating is the description doesn’t tell us the knight’s alignment; if she’s an evil lady who spits on beggars for fun, would she still find this suggestion reasonable?
One of many questions we hope to clear up below.
What Are the Rules for Suggestion in 5e?
The rules for Suggestion in DnD 5e are as follows:
Suggestion’s verbal component is separate from the suggestion itself. You may not be able to get away with stealthily casting Suggestion in a crowd of people because the others will hear that you’ve enchanted the creature. Jeremy Crawford confirmed that “the spells verbal component is a different utterance” to the “magical suggestion.”
The Suggestion only has to sound reasonable at the time of casting. Another fact confirmed by Jeremy Crawford: “To work, the suggestion spell’s suggestion needs to sound reasonable only at the time of casting.”
Suggestion can work in combat. Some DMs might try to claim that any suggestion from a foe will sound unreasonable once combat is engaged, but Jeremy Crawford provides some good in-combat examples of how to use Suggestion during a fight. The key is to make the cessation of combat seem reasonable through fear, diplomacy, or intimidation. Here are his examples on Sage Advice.
The target doesn’t know you cast Suggestion after the spell ends. Suggestion is not like Friends or Charm Person. The spell description does not indicate that the target knows you enchanted it after the enchantment ends, so they don’t.
Concentration needs to be maintained until the trigger is activated. If you make a Suggestion that’s going to play out over a long timeline, be aware that you won’t be able to cast any other concentration spells until the suggestion is fulfilled. Otherwise, the Suggestion spell will break.
Suggestion breaks the moment the target fulfills the action. So if you suggest that a target drop their sword, the spell ends right after they drop their sword.
Use the “Jedi mind trick” model. Unfortunately, the word reasonable isn’t one that can be precisely nailed down. We recommend thinking of Suggestion as akin to a Jedi mind trick that can trick intelligent creatures into behaving in ways that go against their better sense.
For example, consider when Bib Fortuna (head tentacle scarf guy) brings Luke directly to Jabba, even though they’ve been warned that a Jedi might be on his way. Was it really “reasonable” for Bib to behave in this way? By the strictest definition, no — some might even call it suicidal to ignore the wishes of such an unforgiving master.
But still, in the moment, the words “take me to Jabba now,” followed by “you serve your master well, and you will be rewarded” sound reasonable enough. Even if Bib recognizes Luke as the Jedi they’ve been warned about, it still sounds like allowing him in to see his master would earn him a reward.
Now, if Luke had suggested that Bib free Leia and shoot Jabba, the spell wouldn’t have worked. Try to apply the “Jedi mind trick” logic to Suggestion if you’re stuck.
First edition DnD guidance. Finally, given that the 5th edition Suggestion has a real gap in substantive info in the spell description itself, we decided to take a look at the original. The spell is mostly the same, but this excerpt helps a lot:However, a suggestion that a pool of acid was actually pure water, and a quick dip would be refreshing, is another matter; or the urging that a cessation of attack upon the magic user’s party would benefit a red dragon, for the group could loot a rich treasure elsewhere through co-operative action, is likewise a reasonable use of the spell’s power.
These examples are brilliant for shedding light on what is and isn’t possible with Suggestion. You can trick someone into inadvertently harming themself or others. You can convince a foe, in mid-combat, to stop fighting. Note that both examples also sound reasonable.
One more tidbit from the 1st edition spell text stands out:Note that a very reasonable suggestion will cause the saving throw to be made at a penalty (such as -1, -2, etc.) at the discretion of your Dungeon Master.
What’s interesting about this addition is that it recognizes a sliding scale of “reasonable.” In 5e, that might look like giving creatures advantage on saving throws against absurd suggestions, and disadvantage against super-reasonable ones.
How Do I Use Suggestion in 5e?
Suggestion has a lot of fun uses, both in and out of combat:
Stopping combat or gaining an advantage. The examples of in-combat uses of Suggestion given by Jeremy Crawford are “Flee! A dragon comes.” “Don’t attack; I intend no harm.” “Your sword is cursed. Drop it.”
The pattern you see here is that you use one sentence to command the behavior you want, and the other sentence to explain why it’s reasonable.
Getting good deals. Suggesting that a shopkeep should pay more for your crummy, dented Goblin armor, scoring a free healing potion from an alchemist who feels bad for your “sick kids,” or outright convincing someone that you’ve already paid for the amulet you’re wearing — these are all shenanigans Suggestion allows for.
Learning the truth. Part of what makes Suggestion so much better than similar Enchantment spells is that the target just does what you say rather than regarding you as a “friendly acquaintance.” If you want a baddie to spill the beans on his master’s plans, Suggestion is a quick way of accomplishing that.
Sorcerer subtle spell shenanigans. Sorcerer’s subtle spell metamagic allows for you to cast Suggestion without the verbal component. Combined with a convincing disguise and/or performance and the right target (i.e., the “leader” in the room), and you can almost turn Suggestion into a poor man’s Mass Suggestion.
There are literally as many ways to use Suggestion as there are situations and words you can think of. Using Suggestion well is all about tailoring your words for the situation to get the behavior you want.
Who Can I Target With Suggestion 5e?
You can target any creature with Suggestion, but if they are immune to Charm, then the spell will have no effect.
Is Suggestion a Good Spell?
Yes, Suggestion is a good spell with great utility for a variety of situations. It’s not an automatic get out of jail free card, but if you use those two sentences cleverly, you can get a lot done.
The trick to making Suggestion powerful is understanding how to speak like a lawyer and describe “reasonable” conditions to justify your suggestions. It also helps to talk to your DM out of game about the limitations of the spell, as they see them.
Suggestion 5e Compared to Charm Person (and Friends)
Suggsetion is much better than Charm Person and Friends for two reasons. First, Charm Person only causes the target to treat you as a “friendly acquaintance.” Think about how much you’d do for your coworker, neighbor, or any other person who you consider a “friendly acquaintance” — probably not all that much, unless you’re a much better person than me.
The target of Charm Person also has advantage on their saving throw if you’re in combat with them. Suggestion has no such limitation.
Friends only gives you advantage on Charisma checks.
Reason two why Suggestion is superior is that the target has no idea that you enchanted them after the spell ends. With Charm Person, the target is aware of the fact that they’ve been enchanted. In the case of Friends, the creature might even become hostile.
Overall, it’s clear why Friends, Charm Person, and Suggestion are cantrip, 1st, and 2nd-level enchantment spells respectively.
Suggestion 5e DM Tips
As a DM, you decide how strong Suggestion is. That’s true for a lot of Illusion and Enchantment spells, but there are few spells in the game where this is more true than Suggestion.
We suggest (get it?) that you follow our “Jedi mind trick” model from above. Make your players think about how they phrase their suggestions to sell “reasonable” to the target. This not only makes the spell more balanced but also more satisfying to use successfully.
Additionally, we’re really into the “sliding scale of Suggestion difficulty” that was part of the spell in DnD’s first edition. It allows players to try more things without giving you too much of a headache whether it’s under/overpowered.
Most importantly, be consistent with the power level you give Suggestion. Talk to players outside of the game, either at a session zero if you know someone’s planning an enchantment-heavy caster or after they pick the spell up so that everyone’s on the same page about what Suggestion can and can’t do.
Simple Suggestion 5e Spell Text
Suggestion: (2nd-level, 30, concentration, up to 8 hours, V/S/M (a snake’s tongue and either a bit of honeycomb or a drop of sweet oil)) The target makes a Wisdom saving throw; on a failure, it follows your suggestion to the best of its ability for the entire duration, until it completes the course of action you suggested, or you or your companions damage it.
The suggestion is limited to two sentences, and the target must be able to hear and understand you. The suggestion must sound reasonable and cannot cause the creature any obvious harm to perform. You can also specify a trigger that causes the target to take follow your suggestion. Creatures that can’t be charmed are immune to the effect.