Suggestion: A spell which works on the principle of hypnosis. If the creature which it is thrown at fails to make its saving throw vs. magic it will carry out the suggestion, immediately or deferred according to the wish of the magic-user. Self-destruction is 99% unlikely, but carefully worded suggestions can, at the referee’s option, alter this probability. Suggestions must be simple and relatively short, i.e. a sentence or two. Duration: 1 game week.
Now, suggestion isn't in the LBB's (Little Brown Books in the first-ever D&D boxed set). This spell and the text above were added in Original D&D Sup-I Greyhawk (by Gyagx & Kuntz). I find this new 3rd-level spell hard to parse, considering it just gives one short direction that lasts maybe a week -- especially when you've got charm person at 1st-level, allowing one to continually order the victim around, and lasting arbitrarily long (two weeks before an average-Intelligence victim gets a new save, as shown two pages prior in the same book). In what way is this spell stronger? Is it that the suggestion has potency even in the absence of the caster? Was it simply a glitch that the rules for the two spells were developed in parallel, not knowing how powerful the other was intended to be?
Generally speaking, I find most of the spells added in Sup-I to be puzzling, or hard to make sense of, or weaker than spells in the LBBs, or more complicated or just kind of queer. So suggestion is just one example of that. In fact, the very addition of spell levels 7 to 9 (also in Sup-I) I basically disagree with, and find those spells to be frequently weaker than the original level 6 spells (control weather, death spell, reincarnate, etc.)
Dave Cook left this spell out of his D&D Expert Rules (perhaps wisely), so now we'll just proceed directly to the AD&D line.
AD&D 1st Ed.
Duration: 6 turns + 6 turns/level
Area of Effect: One creature
Explanation/Description: When this spell is cast by the magic-user, he or she influences the actions of the chosen recipient by utterance of a few words - phrases, or a sentence or two - suggesting a course of action desirable to the spell caster. The creature to be influenced must, of course, be able to understand the magic-user’s suggestion, i.e., it must be spoken in a language which the spell recipient understands. The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the action sound reasonable; a request asking the creature to stab itself, throw itself onto a spear, immolate itself, or do some other obviously harmful act will automatically negate the effect of the spell. 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. The course of action of a suggestion can continue in effect for a considerable duration, such as in the case of the red dragon mentioned above. If the recipient creature makes its saving throw, the spell has no effect. 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. Undead are not subject to suggestion. The material components of this spell are a snake’s tongue and either a bit of honeycomb or a drop of sweet oil.
Basically the same spell here with some additional verbiage. A small modifier is given for "a very reasonable suggestion" (-1 or -2 to save), and an increased chance seems to be given for getting a creature to kill itself through trickery (i.e., hallucinating that acid is bathwater). Although the spell text says that is has "a considerable duration", the time the spell lasts has actually been radically decreased from 1 game week (in OD&D Sup-I) to only 6 turns + 6 turns/level (that is, by the written rules here, 1 hour/level + 1 more). The charm person spell still retains its arbitrarily long schedule of saves (in units of days, weeks, or months) , so if anything it's even harder to see how that 1st-level spell is not more useful than suggestion.
AD&D 2nd Ed.
Range: 30 yds.
Duration: 1 hr. + 1 hr./level
Area of Effect: 1 creature
When this spell is cast by the wizard, he influences the actions of the chosen recipient by the utterance of a few words--phrases or a sentence or two--suggesting a course of action desirable to the spellcaster. The creature to be influenced must, of course, be able to understand the wizard's suggestion--it must be spoken in a language that the spell recipient understands.
The suggestion must be worded in such a manner as to make the action sound reasonable; asking the creature to stab itself, throw itself onto a spear, immolate itself, or do some other obviously harmful act automatically negates the effect of the spell. However, a suggestion that a pool of acid was actually pure water and that a quick dip would be refreshing is another matter. Urging a red dragon to stop attacking the wizard's party so that the dragon and party could jointly loot a rich treasure elsewhere is likewise a reasonable use of the spell's power.
The course of action of a suggestion can continue in effect for a considerable duration, such as in the case of the red dragon mentioned above. Conditions that will trigger a special action can also be specified; if the condition is not met before the spell expires, the action will not be performed. If the target successfully rolls its saving throw, the spell has no effect. Note that a very reasonable suggestion causes the saving throw to be made with a penalty (such as -1, -2, etc.) at the discretion of the DM. Undead are not subject to suggestion.
The material components of this spell are a snake's tongue and either a bit of honeycomb or a drop of sweet oil.
I think this is the usual copy-and-paste job from 1E to 2E; I can't see any functional differences at all. On to 3E...
D&D 3rd Ed.
Level: Brd 2, Sor/Wiz 3
Components: V, M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One living creature
Duration: 1 hour/level or until completed
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
The character influences the actions of the enchanted creature 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.
The suggested course of activity 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 he was asked to do. The character can instead specify conditions that will trigger a special activity during the duration. If the condition is not met before the spell expires, the activity is not performed.
A very reasonable suggestion causes the save to be made with a penalty (such as –1, –2, etc.) at the discretion of the DM.
Again, this looks the same as the other AD&D spell versions. Duration has been justified to simply 1 hour/level (no bonus extra hour). But at least in this ruleset charm person has been reduced to the same 1 hour/level duration, so suggestion is not obviously deficient in that particular statistic. But I still can't see any advantage to justify it being two spell levels higher.
Personally, I think what I'm going to house-rule in my games is that charm person lasts 1 day, and suggestion lasts 1 month (again, the only extension to spell duration that I make), so there's a clear long-term advantage to this latter spell. But what do you think? Is there some explicit functional advantage to suggestion that I'm missing out on? Or was the spell simply a waste in Sup-I and the rest of classic D&D?