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Command: How Does This 1st Level D&D Spell Work?

Are you looking for a 1st-level spell that can bring your enemies to their knees? A spell that scales when casting at higher levels, allowing you to control up to 9 enemy combatants? Let me introduce you to Command.

How Does It Work?

Command is a spell that can be learned by clerics, paladins, and warlocks, takes a single action to cast, and requires only verbal components. When cast, the targeted creature(s) within a 60-foot range must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or fall under the spell’s effect. The caster speaks a one-word command, which the target is forced to follow on its turn.

At higher levels, the spell targets one additional creature per level. For instance, casting Command at 7th level targets seven creatures. However, the creatures must be within 30 feet of one another when the spell is cast.

What’s So Great About It?

Because the spell accepts any one-word command, it offers an incredibly wide range of possibilities all of which are at the Dungeon Master's (we call them Quest Masters) discretion. There are standard options listed in the spell description, including Approach, Drop, Flee, Grovel, and Halt. The Dungeon Master's Guide provides guidance on how each of these commands should be handled.

Approach forces the target to move towards the caster by the shortest route and stop if it becomes adjacent to the caster. This effect could be used to force an enemy into dangerous terrain. For example, the caster could position themselves so that a pit trap sits between themselves and an enemy. The target would then have to move towards the caster, falling into the pit trap and taking damage. It can also be used to maneuver enemies into position for ally spell effects, such as area of effect spells or spells with short ranges.

The opposite of Approach, Flee forces the target to spend its turn moving away from the caster by the fastest means available. It can be used similarly to maneuver enemies into difficult terrain, natural hazards, and spell effects. Because Approach and Flee cause enemies to move, they may also provoke opportunity attacks from adjacent allies. With careful positioning, this can be used to cause significant damage to enemies.

Drop forces the target to immediately drop what it is holding. This outcome can be especially useful if an enemy is holding a valuable artifact or magic item that the party needs to recover. Once the enemy drops the object, and ally can then retrieve it and safely stow it away. This can also be used for enemy weapons, significantly reducing the damage they can deal.

Grovel forces the target to fall prone, consuming its turn. Once the target is prone, ally melee combatants can attack the enemy with advantage.

Halt forces the target to stay still and take no other actions. This can be used to stop an enemy from drinking a potion of healing, keep an enemy in a particular area, or prevent them from fleeing.

Upcasting Command causes it to affect multiple targets, allowing you to gain the same effects on a larger group of enemies. For instance, Approach can draw a group of enemies into position for a Fireball. Flee can force a group of enemies to run into a ravine. Drop can cause a group of enemies to drop their weapons, leaving them momentarily defenseless.

What Can Neutralize the Spell?

There are two main magical defenses which can neutralize Command: Counterspell and Dispel Magic.

When casting Command within the range of an enemy’s Counterspell (60 ft), there is the possibility that it will be Counterspelled. Of course, you could Counterspell the enemy’s Counterspell, but if another enemy caster is present, they could Counterspell your Counterspell, and so on. Because the range of Command is 60 ft, it is likely that you will need to be in range of an enemy’s Counterspell when casting Command, but careful positioning and target choice can prevent the spell from being Counterspelled.

Additionally, Dispel Magic can be used to target the spell effect of Command before the target’s turn, dispelling the effect. However, because the spell effect only lasts until the end of the enemy’s next turn, there is a short window of time in which it can be dispelled.

Other Uses

Because Command works with any one-word command, you have countless options, making this an incredibly versatile spell.

"Drink" or "Eat" could be used to force an enemy to consume a poisoned food or drink. This provides the rare opportunity to use high-damage, ingestion-only poisons, such as Midnight Tears or Pale Tincture, to injure and possibly kill enemies. Similarly, "Kiss" can force an enemy to kiss the caster, causing them to take damage from poison-laced lipstick, such as Crawler Mucus. "Breathe" can force enemies to inhale poisons, such as Essence of Ether or Malice.

"Sleep" could force enemies to fall asleep. This may have the effect of causing them to fall prone and unconscious on their turn. However, at the QM’s discretion, they may remain asleep after their turn has completed. This can remove deadly enemies from the battle, granting your allies a numbers advantage, especially when upcast on a group of combatants. Effectively, it can emulate Sleep at a higher level and without having to prepare the spell.

Overall, Command is a surprisingly powerful spell which can be useful in a vast number of situations. Plus, as a 1st level spell, it is something that a novice spell-caster can learn and use to easily turn the tide of battle in favor of your party throughout your entire campaign.

How have you used Command to defeat your enemies and ensure victory for your party? Tell us in the comments below!


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