Talking D&D: Geas/Quest

Getting someone to do something you want can be hard in D&D. You could use violence, but that might actually get you a useless corpse should the recipient be resistant. Oh! I know! Let’s use magic to force them to do what we want! And not just Dominate Person or the more powerful Dominate Monster, which could fail via Will Save, but the Quest spell (Geas if you’re a bookworm wimpy Wizard vs. the Cleric name for it). So not only is the bastard free to act as he will, he’ll die if he doesn’t submit. Ha ha ha ha ha!!!

*ahem* Geas/Quest is a powerful 6th Level spell for Bards, Clerics, Sorcerers and Wizards. After 10 minutes of casting, any creature no matter the HD will have to complete a magical instruction…no save. This is a permanent curse, and will not disappear until the magic is sated, no matter how long it takes. The creature can resist this compulsion, but doing so will slowly kill them until they renew their efforts towards the Geas/Quest. You could try and remove it, but you need a more powerful caster than the one who placed it on you, and if it’s the big bad of the campaign, it’s a guarantee you’ll never find a better caster.

I like this spell. It’s dangerous just like Wish, in that it can change the landscape of a game drastically. In the hands of a PC, they could use it to strengthen the resolve of an ally on their journey, or totally alienate an NPC against them forever. For the GM, it not only puts a wretched effect on a PC who dares to challenge the odds, but it’s an amazing tool to put focus on where the campaign is going. Oh noes! The PC is cursed and will need to go here to get rid of it, so I’ll just base challenges around that eventual outcome.

Granted, this can be quite annoying to PCs, who enjoy their freedom and loathe being forced to do something when they want a choice in the matter. I merely state it as one of the main reasons a DM would use it against PCs, because it’s the reality of the matter. And yet, this isn’t why I used it in a previous failed game almost exactly one year ago, despite the arguments of He Who Is An Ass. I just threw it in for the heck of it. Who knew such a casual inclusion in an experimental game would result in such a headache?

The story goes like this: it was a brand new game starting at 5th Level, lots of books available (No Book of Erotic Fantasy despite it’s seemingly joked insistence), and a focus on having fun, be humorous, and don’t take it seriously. Aside from that, the game was going to be an experiment for me. The premise was to give the PCs situations where it was plainly obvious outright confrontation would get them killed. Roleplaying and bizarre thinking on the part of the PCs was to be glorified, with minimal dice rolling. An interesting concept I wanted to see played out.

Which is why the cook of the famous restaurant serving humans for dinner was a Balor. No no, don’t worry, they took care of him just fine. They managed to convince him they were putting on a play of good cop bad cop, with him being the scared and helpless criminal face first on the table. A coup de grâce from his vorpal hand axe took care of him…and them, and the rest of the restaurant as the Balor exploded.

They met Heironeous in the afterlife (could have been any god, but because one of the PCs sought him out for help against the Balor…worked out well enough). He thanked them for what they did, and was willing to bring them back to life…if they accepted his Quest, and revive 30 select people from that Balor explosion. They resisted a bit, but after a bit of talking and coerced by the idea of getting trophies for every 10 they revived, they accepted, and were brought back via True Resurrection.

This is of course where things got whack. During the entire conversation with Heironeous, they thought they were being given a quest, not a “Quest” quest. If they had asked questions regarding it as such, he would have told them. And as far as I remember from that conversation, I didn’t contradict myself or misspeak in response to their questions. If I did I regret so much, but because I’m sure I didn’t, all I can really do is hang my head in shame as the PC realizes he’s under a Quest spell and bluntly says he’s not playing anymore, resulting in his PC’s death after a few days.

I was screamed at for 30 minutes about how a LG god would never do that, even though Paladins sometimes ask to be given a Quest, and this PC was considering to become a Paladin at some point. The monsters were supposedly too difficult to defeat and should have been of lower CR, yet they took care of it just fine, and saying every challenge should be won by a fight shows how single-minded you are (along with a small grasp of D&D). He also claimed I didn’t appreciate what he was doing in the game and was retroactively making changes to railroad him, when I found him to be funny if just a little different from what I’ve done, and that’s fine.

Then he said it’s wrong to kill PCs of which so much effort and work is put into them. Which I head desk over, because what do you say to the PC who knows a door is trapped, then proceeds to walk into said door and die? Do you scream at the DM as well when you roll low and he rolls high? This PC was told he would be given a Quest, and Heironeous didn’t lie: the PC just forgot to ask what that meant. If you outright refuse to participate in a game just because you don’t like the consequences of actions, why are you even playing?

Which is why I pretty much refused to speak to him on lines of thought which had no ground. That and refuse to deal with tantrums. Might have been a mistake, because the rest of the PCs may have wanted someone who could back himself up against accusations, but I refuse to lower myself to such vulgarity. It’s just not worth it, most of all for a game. That was the second session and it had already fallen apart. One PC immediately said she was done, and another saying he would rather play another game on the same night…run by the guy who refused to play. So yes, that really hurt, but I suppose I can be proud of standing my ground.

Had there been flaws or other additions in the game which could have kept this instance from happening? Sure, but you could say the same thing for any game, and you learn from those mistakes and guess what? That’s okay. To expect everything to be perfect for the PCs at all times is not only insane, but cruel. Even more so if the grounds you stand on are full of holes. That’s what really gets me about this instance of gaming, and the greatest thing I can take from the the situation: sometimes you need to ignore the hypocritical ass.

Two weeks after the last session, He Who Is An Ass ran a game which was nothing but a glorified railroad, something he screamed at me for 30 minutes in front of those who I would call friends (who were also part of his own game). His excuse? He couldn’t change that aspect of the game because it was already too deep into production. No realization that he broke his own rule (even worse than what he says I supposedly did), or even thinking about backing down from his 30 minute tantrum with this game in mind.

It was actually a very common theme with his games. He made encounters which we were doomed to fail if we participated for any reason, encounters we would fail if we didn’t jump through hoops, altered situations in a game if it didn’t fit where he wanted it to go, and completely harped upon creating a gaming world which had nothing but railroads for play. For someone who loved railroads like no one’s business, he certainly had a problem with playing on them. That right there is the true test of a DM or game master in general. If you’re unwilling to play in the game you create, you shouldn’t be a DM.

Back to the original purpose of this post: Geas/Quest is an awesome spell, despite the fact it’s left a sour taste in my mouth from He Who Is An Ass. I’ve since used it twice in my ongoing campaign, and everything is fine. I believe I’m fair in where it was used, and I’m the first one to berate myself on faults, and even do so in the case of those situations at times. But that game one year ago? Not at all. Even if there was any shred of evidence which found me in the fault, it means nothing to the garbage thrown in my direction. Proportionality. I can walk with a free conscience knowing that.

Except I have a tendency to always remember the shit people pull on me, and distance myself from them should they not repent in some way. Which is why I’m no longer friends with the guy, and why this still irks me even one year later. In his last correspondence with me he said he regrets ever playing D&D with me, as a last ditch effort to sound like he cared. Me? I’m glad as hell, because it opened my eyes to who he really was. It wasn’t just that D&D night which proved he was one never to trust, but hey, that’s for another time.

In regards to the game I was planning, I’ve kept all the notes I’ve made, and have shelved the ideas in folders and my mind until I have the time to come back to it. And yeah, I do intend to go back to it at some point, if my creating a campaign wiki for it was any indication. It’s filled with whatever I remember from those two nights and what I’ve bothered to put in on my free time. No idea who would be willing to play it, but it’s there for me should I ever have the time to come back.

So happy anniversary I say, when the beginning of the end started in a friendship. Happier for it, though sad so much was lost because of it. As it goes.


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8 thoughts on “Talking D&D: Geas/Quest

  1. […] bizarre is I never really heard this word uttered until He Who Is An Ass said I was doing it in a previous game. Sure I had heard of the term and understood it a little, but I’ve never really looked into […]

  2. […] only gone there once, and while I’m sure I could enjoy myself there normally, being around He Who Is An Ass was taxing, which was 75% of the total time spent there. The other 25% was with two other fellows […]

  3. […] it turned out? Well, I’ve already spoken on that, so it doesn’t bear repeating…save some new feelings and thoughts as I look back on it […]

  4. abi April 12, 2014 at 8:32 pm Reply

    can i geas/quest someone to be my slave till i die

    • JoeSomebody2 April 13, 2014 at 2:05 am Reply

      To quote the spell, “If the instructions involve some open-ended task that the recipient cannot complete through his own actions the spell remains in effect for a maximum of one day per caster level.” Slavery is not a specific task, therefore open-ended. Prepare to have your food poisoned, because you are definitely going to die through their service. 😦

      However, I would recommend against such a route with this spell, and shoot this down at the gaming table. It’s more trouble than it’s worth, given slavery is exceptionally vague on the task you seek. The intention of this spell does not give the caster to compel others to do WHATEVER they want with one casting, and you’re better off just compelling them to do that specific task you really, really want (or don’t want, given the inverse applies). Now if you ARE keen on enslavement, Domination spells help you with that. 😉

  5. paula September 16, 2016 at 12:40 pm Reply

    To be geased is saying,”Your going to do as I tell you to do” sorry, not going to happen.. you were wrong….and manipulative….a GOOD PERSON WOULD NEVER THROW A SPELL ON SOMEONE UNLESS GIVEN PERMISSION…..D&D master

    • JoeSomebody2 September 16, 2016 at 7:03 pm Reply

      A Dungeon Master isn’t supposed to cast a spell on a Player Character unless they are given permission? Sorry, that makes no sense, because that makes it sound like a Wizard/Sorcerer/etc. can never fight the adventuring party. Clarity please? 😀

      And I think you need to reread what I wrote. The situation was never ”Your going to do as I tell you to do,” the Player had options before them to continue adventuring, but they outright REFUSED to play. It’s not wrong or manipulative to challenge Players, because that’s all it was. A challenge. Rather than rising to the occasion, they were a crybaby about not getting what they wanted. That’s what’s “wrong” in this circumstance. 😦

  6. chriscrafte May 16, 2018 at 4:01 pm Reply

    I think that that guy was just the biggest baby! Personally I think that Geas is a great spell for a DM to use because it makes for a great plot device for the players to go do the story. I would also say that it isn’t railroading because they will have some kind of reason to do the main quest so whats wrong with their characters being tasked with Geas to do something for the main villain or even some kind of neutral character that wants the party to do something for them. If lets say its the main villain it would be super interesting if he Geased them to get him the “all powerful magic MacGuffin” the after math of them giving it to the villain would be so interesting because now it could be a story about the group wanting revenge and to stop the villain now that he can take over the world.
    Or as another example a more neutral wizard character could equally put a Geas on the players with a command like “Bring me all the items on this list” and now the group over the course of the story have a side quest of a wizards shopping list.
    Honestly I feel like it can be tough to use Geas on the players but it should be completely fine as long as the command is NOT something that will keep them doing work for the caster indefinitely because I guess you’ve been talking about the 3.5 version of the Geas spell whereas the 5e version is a little different but basically it doesn’t say anything against commanding someone to “protect me from all danger” which such a command if casted with a 9th level spell slot would make the target have to follow the caster and keep them safe which such a command isn’t a cool thing to do to the players because than you have ACTUALLY taken away the players freedom and railroaded them.

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