Charm Person 5e vs Older

jgsugden

Explorer
For those needing something with more length....

False Friend -

LEVEL 3rd
CASTING TIME 1 Action
RANGE/AREA 30 ft
COMPONENTS V, S
DURATION Permanent (see below)
SCHOOL Enchantment
ATTACK/SAVE WIS Save
DAMAGE/EFFECT Charmed

You attempt to charm a humanoid you can see within range. It must make a Wisdom saving throw, and does so with advantage if you or your companions are fighting it. If it fails the saving throw, it is charmed by you until the spell ends or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it. The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance. When the spell ends, the creature knows it was charmed by you. A creature that fails the saving throw can repeat it at the end of a long rest, ending the effect on itself on a success.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 3rd. The creatures must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them.
 

Coroc

Explorer
I agree, that is where " practically" comes into play.
It also varies a lot with the style of game. Much different flavor in Esper, Vampire, mystery etc.

But what you are describing seems more along the lines of suggestion rather than domination.
Well it was a named succubus, a lieutenant of Iuz with a tough DC Wis 18 charm gaze attack. The fun here was she was shapechanged into a beautiful woman. She acted as the assistant for a scarlet brotherhood ambassador for whose security the players were hired.
Plot twist is that the succubus was actually a plant by Iuz to assassinate the ambassador while he is in greyhawk and stirring up diplomatic trouble.
I told the player I selected to make a saving throw, which he botched, and then took him aside and told him that he is charmed and should act out that he is now madly in love with the succubus and does everything to protect her wellbeing.
It was almost comical he tried to organize flowers stood watch in front of her room and such, and from time to time he got another saving throw which he all did botch.
In the end his new love did even kiss him, which was fatal sending him on death saves.
He did get big extra XP and an inspiration for his exceptional RP.
 

Hikikomori

Villager
I don't have anything of substance to add but thank you everyone who replied. I found all the advice and viewpoints helpful as a long-time lapsed player returning to the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
With charm person you could add insult to damage, back then you could basically order the charmed mob to jump the cliff. And you were always fast because you had the shortest casting time.
Charm Person could never do that. Most of the problem with that spell came from DMs not knowing how to run it. All it did in 1e was cause the creature to view the caster as a trusted friend. Period. End of story. My most trusted friends couldn't get me to jump off of a cliff or hold off a red dragon for a round or two. They'd be able to get a 10% discount at a store I owned, though.
 

Coroc

Explorer
Charm Person could never do that. Most of the problem with that spell came from DMs not knowing how to run it. All it did in 1e was cause the creature to view the caster as a trusted friend. Period. End of story. My most trusted friends couldn't get me to jump off of a cliff or hold off a red dragon for a round or two. They'd be able to get a 10% discount at a store I owned, though.
You could not order a foe directly to jump off the cliff, true that, you could definitely order it to do everything which would not cause them direct harm. And even if it would cause harm e.g. defend their "trusted friend" from an attacker they would do that. They would definitely take a step backward (down the cliff) e.g. to make room for you if you trick them to do so.
I think the spell description said something like anything not outright suicidal the charmed person would do. It certainly was not intended just to get the 10% discount at the store, not that it would not work for that one also but that's what the Friends - spell (raise your Cha to 18 for a short time) was for.
Btw talking 2e , dunno if 1e was different.
 

Coroc

Explorer
Btw using charm person would have been noticed by the shopkeeper and considered equivalent of a magic attack so you would better not return to that shop, therefore the friends spell.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
As an aside you basically don't need magic at all to enthrall lower-leveled citizens in Pathfinder 2.

The Diplomacy score of a charismatic NPC is already at level 5 so astronomically higher than a low-level player character's Will DC, that even if you "take 10" you still achieve a critical success.

So it's basically only the "rules to influence NPCs doesn't work on player characters" clause that saves them.

I guess nothing saves a village of NPCs from the wiles of a level 5 Bard player character, though.
 

Coroc

Explorer
As an aside you basically don't need magic at all to enthrall lower-leveled citizens in Pathfinder 2.

The Diplomacy score of a charismatic NPC is already at level 5 so astronomically higher than a low-level player character's Will DC, that even if you "take 10" you still achieve a critical success.

So it's basically only the "rules to influence NPCs doesn't work on player characters" clause that saves them.

I guess nothing saves a village of NPCs from the wiles of a level 5 Bard player character, though.
So basically, after the heroes slay the villainous bard and ask around wether what he did to the populace:
"Did the evil overlord suck your blood and threaten to turn you into undead? Did he rape your women and pillage your belongings?"

"No"

"What did he do then?"

"He sang this evergreen, and I could not get the melody out of my head anymore..."
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
That was not really a complaint, by the way.

Just that my years of playing 5E had made me forget the shenanigans you get in a "add level to proficiency" system...

But yeah, basically just so. At fifth level you can apparently sport something like +13 to Diplomacy or Performance, without magic spells or items. Consider the ability to take 10 and you automatically crit any level 1 creature trained in Will saves with a Wisdom of 10. The Will save bonus is +3, the Will DC is 13, and thus, a result of 23 or higher is a critical success.

Since this basically lets you turn hostiles into neutrals* it doesn't feel like a stretch to assume you can woo any random lady off her socks, right off the streets, without even trying...

*I mean, sometimes you're just not up for burninating the countryside, and just want to be friendly instead...
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You could not order a foe directly to jump off the cliff, true that, you could definitely order it to do everything which would not cause them direct harm. And even if it would cause harm e.g. defend their "trusted friend" from an attacker they would do that. They would definitely take a step backward (down the cliff) e.g. to make room for you if you trick them to do so.
Eh, no. The caster only became a trusted friend. You could order them to give you their home for free, and they would say no. Just like I would say no to a trusted friend who asked me to give my house to them. Charm has never been the god spell people misuse it as. This is the 1e language.

"Explanation/Description: This spell will affect any single person or mammal it is cast upon. The creature then will regard the druid who cast the spell as a trusted friend and ally to be heeded and protected. The spell does not enable the druid to control the charmed creature as if it were an automaton, but any word or action of the druid will be viewed in its most favorable way."

So you regard it as a trusted friend or ally to be heeded or protected, just like I view my best buddies. It does not enable control of the creature, so you cannot order it to do anything that isn't suicidal. Well, you can, but you will be ignored if you order it to do anything that you or I wouldn't do for our best friends. The charmed creatures has to view the request in its most favorable way. That does no say that it has to be favorable, only that it views in in the MOST favorable way. Well, the most favorable way I would view my best friend asking for my house or even my new living room furniture would be to say no.

It certainly was not intended just to get the 10% discount at the store, not that it would not work for that one also but that's what the Friends - spell (raise your Cha to 18 for a short time) was for.
Btw talking 2e , dunno if 1e was different.
1e was intended to make the person view things in its most favorable way in the context of "best friend" making the request. Period.

Here is the 2e language. It's virtually identical to 1e, so yes, 2e also had no intention to make it a god spell like people misused it as.

"If the spell recipient fails his saving throw, he regards the caster as a trusted friend and ally to be heeded and protected. The spell does not enable the caster to control the charmed creature as if it were a automaton, but any word or action of the caster is viewed in the most favorable way."

The only change is "its" to "the" in the last sentence. Even so, THE most favorable way I would view my best friend asking for my house or even my new living room furniture would be to say no.
 

Coroc

Explorer
...
a trusted friend and ally to be heeded and protected.
...
So in your opinion, how far would this protection go if the trusted friend is attacked?
In a 50:50 combat encounter e.g. the charmed mob thinks it has a 50% chance to win but 50% to perish,
will it then fight for the caster or flee?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So in your opinion, how far would this protection go if the trusted friend is attacked?
In a 50:50 combat encounter e.g. the charmed mob thinks it has a 50% chance to win but 50% to perish,
will it then fight for the caster or flee?
It depends on the alignment, personality and abilities of the charmed individual. I would jump without hesitation into a fist fight on the side of one of my best friends, unless drastically outnumbered. I would not charge someone with a knife or gun if I were unarmed. I would probably engage a knife wielder if I could grab a solid chair or something else to give me an advantage over the knife wielder.

A LG 10th level fighter who was charmed would have a much higher threshold of who he would jump in and defend the caster against than a N farmer would.
 
The issue with 1E-era misunderstanding/abuse of Charm Person was twofold. First, people wanted it to be Domination - which it decidedly isn't and even goes out of its way to try to establish that it isn't. Second is that people want it to apply to not just the caster but also all the casters friends. But that isn't even close to what the spell describes. The end result is that people want it to be a combat spell that completely neutralizes a successfully charmed opponent, turning them into a totally submissive puppet. What it actually is written to be able to do is overwhelmingly a matter of out-of-combat circumstances. Unless you cast Charm Person on someone who is currently attacking you or intent on attacking you very soon, charming them doesn't actually benefit you much - and never did. It won't make the charmed victim change how they feel about THEIR current friends and allies, nor how they feel about YOUR current friends and allies. It only makes YOU into a trusted friend. That obviously has only marginal benefits in combat and won't change their personality and world views regarding others. A charmed attacker won't attack the caster, but it would take a HEAP of additional instantaneous pleading and convincing to get them to not just very simply change targets and continue to attack other PC's. It is only the rampant and willful misreading (or more accurately, NOT reading) the spell description that makes Charm Person as powerful as it often seemed.

What enabled monsters in 1E and other editions to do what PC's can't with that same effect is that monsters get it at will, with a gaze or simple proximity to them or the like. Unless the victim has blanket immunity they can just keep charming by staring at them or hanging around them until it finally takes hold. By contrast PC's have to cast a new spell on every victim they want to charm (which may or may not succeed) and they don't have a bottomless supply. But then the charm effect lasts for weeks typically, assuming average human-ish intelligences.

5th Edition is only significantly changing the effectiveness of it for monsters by reducing the duration compared to 1E. They're still mostly getting it as an unlimited-use effect I believe so 5E monsters wanting to maintain charmed victims long-term have to keep them very close for daily re-establishment of the effect.
 

Coroc

Explorer
The issue with 1E-era misunderstanding/abuse of Charm Person was twofold. First, people wanted it to be Domination - which it decidedly isn't and even goes out of its way to try to establish that it isn't. Second is that people want it to apply to not just the caster but also all the casters friends. But that isn't even close to what the spell describes. The end result is that people want it to be a combat spell that completely neutralizes a successfully charmed opponent, turning them into a totally submissive puppet. What it actually is written to be able to do is overwhelmingly a matter of out-of-combat circumstances. Unless you cast Charm Person on someone who is currently attacking you or intent on attacking you very soon, charming them doesn't actually benefit you much - and never did. It won't make the charmed victim change how they feel about THEIR current friends and allies, nor how they feel about YOUR current friends and allies. It only makes YOU into a trusted friend. That obviously has only marginal benefits in combat and won't change their personality and world views regarding others. A charmed attacker won't attack the caster, but it would take a HEAP of additional instantaneous pleading and convincing to get them to not just very simply change targets and continue to attack other PC's. It is only the rampant and willful misreading (or more accurately, NOT reading) the spell description that makes Charm Person as powerful as it often seemed.

What enabled monsters in 1E and other editions to do what PC's can't with that same effect is that monsters get it at will, with a gaze or simple proximity to them or the like. Unless the victim has blanket immunity they can just keep charming by staring at them or hanging around them until it finally takes hold. By contrast PC's have to cast a new spell on every victim they want to charm (which may or may not succeed) and they don't have a bottomless supply. But then the charm effect lasts for weeks typically, assuming average human-ish intelligences.

5th Edition is only significantly changing the effectiveness of it for monsters by reducing the duration compared to 1E. They're still mostly getting it as an unlimited-use effect I believe so 5E monsters wanting to maintain charmed victims long-term have to keep them very close for daily re-establishment of the effect.
Maybe my initial interpretation was also influenced a bit by gold box computer games, there it really was an insta killer.
What still stands though, is that hold person and sleep (sleep or lower level mobs) have been instakill spells in 1e and 2e and they changed to a better in 5e.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
And thank god so.

When I started playing 2e I had to houserule some spells either do not exist or you would instantly snap out of them as soon as an attacking motion is made vs. the target of the spell. And I mean motion, not actually finishing.

Those spells were sleep, charm person, hold person. Why? Because those spells in 1e and 2e, designed for a sneaky gygaxian approach of a dungeon,
e.g. put all the goblins asleep, take the treasure, move out again, or RP approach of some fiddly situation e.g. you charm the guard to let you into a castle
in contrast to simply slaying said guard and goblins has a major flaw.

They all are instakill spells at spell level 1 or 2, mightier than other save or die spells in the case of sleep because with other spells at least you would get a saving throw, as mighty than a level 9 power word kill!

With charm person you could add insult to damage, back then you could basically order the charmed mob to jump the cliff. And you were always fast because you had the shortest casting time.

Way better now with 5e way, way, better.
I never ever had a problem with those spells. Sure it let an encounter end quickly. But in 2E there is lots of them per day.
 

zenopus

Explorer
The original conception of the spell, in Vol 1 of Original D&D (0e, 1974), actually did bring the target fully under the caster's power: "If the spell is successful it will cause the charmed entity to come completely under the influence of the Magic-User until such time as the "charm" is dispelled". This version didn't even have a time limit! The basic idea was for the M-U to charm a human/humanoid to fight for them. The creature would probably die before long, so duration wasn't really important.

The duration (based on Int) until a new saving throw could be made was added in the first OD&D supplement, Greyhawk (1975). Then AD&D rewrote it as influence rather than domination. So the history of the spell is something of a continuous rewrite over the editions to reduce the power from the original idea.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The original conception of the spell, in Vol 1 of Original D&D (0e, 1974), actually did bring the target fully under the caster's power: "If the spell is successful it will cause the charmed entity to come completely under the influence of the Magic-User until such time as the "charm" is dispelled". This version didn't even have a time limit! The basic idea was for the M-U to charm a human/humanoid to fight for them. The creature would probably die before long, so duration wasn't really important.

The duration (based on Int) until a new saving throw could be made was added in the first OD&D supplement, Greyhawk (1975). Then AD&D rewrote it as influence rather than domination. So the history of the spell is something of a continuous rewrite over the editions to reduce the power from the original idea.
I disagree. It was changed during 1e in 1978 when the PHB came out. So for 41 years out of the 45 years that D&D has been around, it has more or less held the current incarnation. Some slight details change, but the idea that it can't force anything and the victim gets a lot of leeway to decide what to do has been a constant. That's hardly a continuous rewrite on the spell.
 

zenopus

Explorer
Well, perhaps I overstated it, but my comments were made in the context of this thread, which is about the 5E version being much less powerful than the 1E version. But I also could also point to other editions. 2E added more restrictions to the 1E version, including checking the saving throw during the Int-based interval (rather than at the end), which potentially makes it much shorter and unpredictable. 3E drastically reduced the duration to the much shorter 1 hour per caster level, and 5E just has a flat 1 hour duration. The trend line over the years is to reduce the power of the spell.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Well, perhaps I overstated it, but my comments were made in the context of this thread, which is about the 5E version being much less powerful than the 1E version. But I also could also point to other editions. 2E added more restrictions to the 1E version, including checking the saving throw during the Int-based interval (rather than at the end), which potentially makes it much shorter and unpredictable. 3E drastically reduced the duration to the much shorter 1 hour per caster level, and 5E just has a flat 1 hour duration. The trend line over the years is to reduce the power of the spell.
I think that's more about how people, including DMs, have used the spell improperly, rather than to limit the spell's actual power. If you just follow the wording and have the victim only do for the caster what he would do for his best friend, the spell loses a huge chunk of its "power." I think the designers have been moving to save people from themselves.
 

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