Clarifying Spells - Hypnotic Suggestion


Mass Hypnotic Suggestion has a limitation in the text relating to its non-effectiveness against deaf people or those with ears covered, but Hypnotic Suggestion does not. While I understand MHS has the projection effect, that seems more like frills than substance, and it seems that HS should also have to be heard by the target in order to affect it - thoughts?


The text of Mass Hypnotic Suggestion says that
As hypnotic suggestion, except that all creatures of 8 HD or below who can hear the sorcer's voice are affected.
So we know for a fact that MHS is a sonic, language-dependent effect but it is also implied by the word "except" that it is different from hypnotic suggestion so lets look at that spell.

Hypnotic Suggestion has a range of Evil Eye (instead of a range of Medium as MHS) which makes it a gaze attack. This means that the magic is delivered through the eyes and so even a deaf target is a viable target for HS. So HS is different from MHS in that it is not a sonic effect but is instead a gaze attack. However HS is still a language-dependent spell. The caster must give instructions
by suggesting a course of activity (limited to a sentence or two). The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the activity sound reasonable to the person.
The caster must communicate with the target in a language they both understand. If both the caster and target understand sign language then the caster could impart a suggestion that way but if they do not have any language in common then the caster is limited to whatever communication he can make by jumping up and down and pointing. Since the suggestion is limited to "a sentence or two" and must be "worded in such a manner as to make the activity sound reasonable to the person" such an attempt would almost certainly fail and the spell be wasted. Matter of fact I am prepared to rule that if the caster and target do not share a common language, and the suggestion is not imparted in that language, then the spell fails, period.

As an aside note that a blind man is immune to hypnotic suggestion but not to mass hypnotic suggestion.

Hope that helps.


Interesting analysis. Part of my concern with HS was the communicate with the target requirement, and it seems that if the person can't hear the suggestion, that it won't work - i.e., effectively has the same limitation as MHS, but isn't clearly stated.

Though you bring up an interesting point about the blind guy with HS - so basically HS and MHS won't work against someone who can't hear, but MHS will work against a blind or averting eyes target, at better range, and against a group, so it is better in a number of ways. Interesting what happens when you read and interpret the text of the spells, clarifying how they work.