© Wizards of the Coast by Grzegorz Rutkowski

Compelled Duel 5e – How to Use This Spell Most Effectively

The righteous Paladin is a natural leader. With her unmatched talents, she can command enemies and allies alike, inspiring her friends to reach beyond their limitations. If the need arises, she can use her divine magic to bend others to her will.

As protectors of the weak and purveyors of justice, Paladins use their magic to keep friends and allies out of harm’s way. At 2nd-level, Paladins can learn the Compelled Duel spell.

This spell offers Paladins a chance to magically acquire a creature’s attention, compelling them to fight in a divinely inspired duel. Use this spell to draw enemies away from weaker allies and party members. 

What is Compelled Duel?

Compelled Duel is a 1st-level spell available to the Paladin class. This spell requires Concentration and lasts up to one minute. Creatures targeted by a Paladin’s Compelled Duel spell must make a Wisdom saving throw or else feel drawn to the spellcaster. 

Creatures affected by Compelled Duel suffer disadvantage if they attempt to attack anyone other than the Paladin who provoked them. Also, the creature must make a Wisdom saving throw if it tries to move more than 30 feet away from the Paladin.

Spell Attributes

  • Spell List: Paladin
  • 1st-level Enchantment
  • Casting time: 1 bonus action
  • Distance: 30 feet
  • Components: V
  • Duration: Concentration up to one minute

You attempt to compel a creature into a duel. One creature that you can see within range must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is drawn to you, compelled by your divine demand.

For the duration, it has disadvantage on attack rolls against creatures other than you, and must make a Wisdom saving throw each time it attempts to move to a space that is more than 30 feet away from you; if it succeeds on this saving throw, this spell doesn’t restrict the target’s movement for that turn.

The spell ends if you attack any other creature, if you cast a spell that targets a hostile creature other than the target, if a creature friendly to you damages the target or casts a harmful spell on it, or if you end your turn more than 30 feet away from the target.

Source: Player’s Handbook

There are some disagreements over the details of the Compelled Duel spell. The rules state that targets must make a Wisdom saving throw if they want to move more than 30 feet away from the caster.

This is important because the spell will end if the target is more than 30 feet away from the caster at the end of the caster’s turn. 

Most DMs interpret the spell in a way that means failing the saving throw will prevent the target creature from moving more than 30 feet. Some people argue, however, that the rules do not specify this and that failing the Wisdom saving throw doesn’t actually prevent the creature from moving at all. 

It’s important to state that the rules of DnD are open to interpretation. Both players and DMs are free to adapt the rules to better suit their playing style. 

How to Use Compelled Duel

Compelled Duel has a variety of uses for both players and DM’s. Players can use this spell to control the actions of enemy combatants. DMs may find it interesting to reverse this strategy on the party.

If the players find themselves making an enemy of a Paladin, they may end up being the ones feeling compelled to fight.

For Players

There are a number of ways that players can make use of the Compelled Duel spell, including both offensive and defensive strategies. The most obvious solution is to protect one’s allies by drawing the enemy toward the Paladin.

The Paladin is usually well equipped to deal with weapon damage. Drawing the enemy away from weakened allies can give them time to recover.

But Compelled Duel can be used for much more than just protecting the group. In the hands of clever Paladins, this spell shows surprisingly utility. Excellent for tactical combat as well as drawing out difficult to catch villains, Compelled Duel is a solid spell choice for any Paladin.

Surrounding the Target

One useful tactic is to cast Compelled Duel on a target and then surround them. While the Paladin’s allies won’t be able to attack the creature without ending the spell, they can use their movement to surround the target.

When everyone is in position, the entire party can attack at once. Or perhaps the creature can be compelled to surrender once it realizes the party has it surrounded.

Drawing Out the Enemy

Not everyone is keen to fight an adventuring party, especially not one that includes a Paladin. Criminals prefer to keep plenty of distance between themselves and agents of the lawful.

And evil knows no greater enemy than the divine justice of a Paladin’s sword augmented by the holy power of Divine Smite.

Compelled Duel can be a clever way to force would-be sneakers into the light. When evil attempts to run away, let the Paladin save the day! Casting Compelled Duel not only gives these enemies an incentive to fight, it also makes running away more difficult.

Stopping an NPC from Fleeing

We’ve all been there. The party is after a notorious villain. They finally chase him to his hideout only to be ambushed by bothersome minions while the real villain escapes. If only there were some way to prevent such a thing from happening…

Here’s a perfect chance to use a Compelled Duel spell. The next time an evil wizard attempts to run away, cast Compelled Duel and see if a little divine radiance can change his mind. 

Buying Time for Allies

In tough fights every turn counts. Buying your allies time to recover hit points or move to a new position can be crucial. Compelled Duel is perfect for distracting troublesome enemies and getting your party out of tight spaces.

Having even just one turn to drink a potion of healing, or move out of harm’s way, could be the difference between celebrating victory and spending the next game session roling new characters. 

How Do You Get Compelled Duel?

Compelled Duel is on the Paladin’s spell list, so only the Paladin class has access to this spell. Because Compelled Duel is a 1st-level spell, Paladin characters will be able to learn this spell as early as level 2.

As Paladin’s gain experience, they develop even greater magical abilities, using their arts to heal the sick and smite the wicked. 

For Dungeon Masters

Compelled Duel gives Dungeon Master’s something to consider as well. Like many DnD spells, the details of Compelled Duel are a little open to interpretation. DMs should consider this if their game features a Paladin in the party. 

It’s best to discuss any rule interpretations with the group ahead of the game. This helps avoid confusion about how the game will run. In the end, the game is more enjoyable if players know what to expect ahead of time.

What NPCs Might Use Compelled Duel?

Casting spells isn’t just for players! DMs can really bring some excitement to the game by turning the tables on the party and unleashing some spells of their own. Not all Paladins are on the side of good, after all. Some Paladins even take oaths to serve the force of evil’s dominion. 

An evil Paladin might delight in using the Compelled Duel spell to bend the minds of enemies and allies alike, forcing them to fight to the death. But even good Paladins might find themselves on the wrong side of an adventuring party, especially if it harbors characters of ill repute. 

Perhaps the party’s Rogue has stolen one too many jewels and is in need of a little divine justice. Compelled Duel is a good way to deter sneak-thieves from slipping into the shadows, and out of the hands of justice. 

How to Play an NPC Affected by Compelled Duel

Creatures targeted by Compelled Duel will need to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, they are compelled by divine forces to fight the caster. What happens next is up to the DM. 

Creatures affected by Compelled Duel suffer disadvantage on attacks against anyone other than the caster. This gives the creature incentive to ignore anyone but the spellcaster. On the other hand, there’s nothing technically preventing the creature from attacking someone, or something else. 

Compelled Duel can also be an excellent opportunity for roleplaying. An NPC who dramatically accepts a Paladin’s magical challenge is sure to leave an impression. Spells like this give DMs a chance to add drama and flare to an otherwise routine encounter, and to create characters that the players will never forget.

Making Wisdom Saving Throws

When a Paladin casts Compelled Duel, the targeted creature gets a chance to resist the spell by making a Wisdom saving throw. With a high Wisdom score and a bit of luck, the creature will be able to ignore the Paladin’s call to arms.

However, if the creature fails, they will be under the Paladin’s influence for up to 1 minute. Attempting to move to a space that is more than 30 feet from the Paladin will require another successful Wisdom saving throw. It’s important to note that succeeding this saving throw does not end the spell. 

Interpreting the Rules

The rules for Compelled Duel as stated in the Player’s Handbook are a little open to interpretation. Some people argue that Compelled Duel doesn’t actually keep the target from running away because the rules don’t explicitly state this. 

When rules are unclear, it’s up to the DM to make a ruling and decide how the game should proceed. In cases like this, the most direct solution is usually the best. Most people will agree that the rules of Compelled Duel imply that the creature can’t move more than 30 feet after failing a Wisdom saving throw, even if the text doesn’t state it outright. 

A Magnetic Personality

Paladins are known for their charismatic personalities. Natural leaders, it’s not uncommon to find a Paladin at the head of an adventuring party, fighting for justice and honor. Often as skilled with words as they are with swords, it’s difficult to resist the Paladin’s infectious sense of decency.

Because it both taunts the enemy and protects weaker allies, Compelled Duel is a great choice for any Paladin.

And for those players who enjoy adding dramatic flair to their character’s personality, Compelled Duel is the perfect spell for a boisterous, if not slightly arrogant, crusader of good.