D&D 5E Charm Person ends if caster does something harmful to target. Is hurting the target's ally harmful?

What would be your take here? Two baddies - caster and warrior - come across two PCs - another caster and warrior. The baddie caster goes first and charms the PC caster. Unable to attack the baddie caster, the PC caster flings a fire bolt at the baddie warrior. The two warriors duke it out.

Then the next turn, the baddie caster follows up by casting suggestion on the PC warrior to get him to flee the battle. The PC warrior fails, and runs away, leaving the PC caster at the mercy of the baddie warrior. Does the charm end, if you're GM?
 

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"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. "

Casting spells at or hurting the ally is not directly harmful to the target. Charm stays.
 

jgsugden

Legend
As always, ask your DM because they are the final say.

My definition of harm may be broader than others. They could have used the word damage - but selected a different word. To me, harm is different than damage, and damage is not a pure subset of harm.

For example, if you charm a parent and then murder their child in front of them, that is harmful to the parent. They would never recover from the trauma of watching their child murdered right in front of them. That, in my book, would certainly be something harmful to that parent. To that end, I put an evaluation on each event and ask whether the target would suffer harm - physical or emotional - from the situation.

On the flip side, I would not necessariy give someone a save in the caster or their ally damaged the target if the target isn't particularly concerned with a little damage. To me, there has to be a significant disontinuity between the actions of the caster (or their allies) and the notion that they are friendly with the target. As an example from Critical Role, there have been plenty of times that Grog asked his allies to go ahead and hurt him to amuse himself or to test things out. If the target had a clear belief that the situation was all in fun, even if it dealt real damage, I would give no save because to me, that damage is not considered harm by the target.
 

It's up to the DM how this plays out, but it's worth noting that the charmed condition doesn't necessarily make one friendly to the charmer, at least not in 5e, and being unable to attack or target the charmer doesn't prevent one from attacking the environment or objects near them.

DM: "You feel compelled to keep your hand from pointing towards the mindflayer."

PLAYER: "I pull it upwards to blast the ceiling above them."

DM: "Dayum. Now I've got to crack open chapter 8 of the DMG for Improvised Damage."
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
It's up to the DM how this plays out, but it's worth noting that the charmed condition doesn't necessarily make one friendly to the charmer, at least not in 5e, and being unable to attack or target the charmer doesn't prevent one from attacking the environment or objects near them.

DM: "You feel compelled to keep your hand from pointing towards the mindflayer."

PLAYER: "I pull it upwards to blast the ceiling above them."

DM: "Dayum. Now I've got to crack open chapter 8 of the DMG for Improvised Damage."
The text of the spell notes that "The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance." I don't really read that as enabling a charmed creature to intentionally inflict damage upon the charmer at all, even indirectly. Ymmv.
 

The text of the spell notes that "The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance." I don't really read that as enabling a charmed creature to intentionally inflict damage upon the charmer at all, even indirectly. Ymmv.

You might start seeing the caster as a friendly acquaintance, but once they start attacking your allies no matter how much you protest, your own feelings become suspicious and that would arguably become an Insight check (with a reasonable DC) to realize you've been affected by something strange, especially when you can't remember how you ever became acquaintances.
 

Charm Person makes you regard the caster as a friendly acquaintance, but the rest of the party that you have adventured with probably have much stronger bonds.
If the two are fighting, it is quite legitimate to do anything in your power, including grapple checks and non-lethal spells to separate or prevent your friends from killing each other. The Charm condition would prevent you from grappling the caster of the charm, or probably using a sleep spell on them. However putting a wall between them or other method of splitting them up or stopping the fight would be fine.
 

Depends on how strongly the caster feels about the warrior. I include STRONG emotional damage as harm, like killing children, spouses, and immediate family members. But a mere co-worker doesn't cut it.

Humorously, this has encouraged characters to roleplay more and develop deeper relationships.

Also, if my friend shows up with some lunatic attacking my co-worker, I'm going to run away with my co-worker and sort it out later once everyone is safe.
 

Plus in this case " baddie caster" has put "pc warrior" out of harm's way by suggesting he leave the combat.
Good use of both charm person and suggestion.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Situationally dependent, but sometimes in cases like this where it's iffy I'll just give the charmed target another save against the charm.
 


jgsugden

Legend
You might start seeing the caster as a friendly acquaintance, but once they start attacking your allies no matter how much you protest, your own feelings become suspicious and that would arguably become an Insight check (with a reasonable DC) to realize you've been affected by something strange, especially when you can't remember how you ever became acquaintances.
Your view of how the spell works and mine seem to differ a bit. If two of my friends are fighting with each other, I'd want to stop the fight - but I would not suspect I was drugged or hypnotized just because my friends were fighting. Now, if my friend landed a killing blow on another friend, that would be cause to potentially break the spell. However, the spell breakd sown as follows.

Once the charm person spell is cast (and the save is failed):
  • The charmed creature can't attack the charmer.
  • The charmed creature can't target the charmer with harmful abilities or magical effects.
  • The charmer has advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature.
  • The charmed creature regards the charmer as a friendly acuaintance.
The first is a prohibition on any attacks. This is a defined situation - so essentially if it requires an attack roll, the charmer creature can't do it to the charmer.

The second a prohibition on targeting the charmer with 'harmful abilities or magical effects. This does not prohibit including them in an area of effect, per se, but before you can do that you need to consider the rest of the spell. Harmful here is a subjective term, but to me it really boils down to whether the charmed creature would feel betrayed by the action.

The third is self explanatory and not terribly convoluted outside of the inconsistent way in which charisma checks are used.

The last is the real cornerstone of the spell - you regard the charmer as a friendly acquaintance. They're someone you know (an acquaintanence), and you're friendly with them. My go to example is someone from work that you like, or a neighbor from down the street that seems pretty cool. Would you be ok catching them in a grenade blast? Probably not. Would you be ok collapsing a roof on them? I hope not. Would you be ok taking an extra candy from the candy dish on their desk despite the sign saying 'Take 1'? Maybe ... maybe not.

Regardless, if that friendly acquaintence were to attack a friend or family member, my first instinct would be to stop the situation and figure out why the attack took place. It would not be to suspect I've been drugged and brainwashed.
My general approach to charm person is to use it rarely on PCs in combat scenarios, and to give the PCs the benefi of the doubt when they use it on others.
 


jgsugden

Legend
Which is different from a "friend."

Also, "anything harmful" is preposterously vague.
Note that they've discussed places, including charm spells, where they knew they were being vague, and thought it was best to leave it up to the discretion of the DM. This is design, not accident.

D&D is an RPG. A role playing game. Characters play a role in a story, and stories can go anywhere. You can't have rules for everything, and there are many places where trying to be too specific will bog the game down, result in edge cases that do not fit specific rules, and an overall reduction in fun. The best posts in this thread all start the same - go ask the DM. The rules are vague, and we can offer how we see it, but only your DM is going to necessarily be right about how it works in their game.
 

It doesn't seem to me that suggestion would come across as doing harm to the PC warrior. If anything, I think the PC caster would feel relieved that there was "no need to fight"! "Wow, <Warrior PC> can be super stubborn about things, I'm so glad you were able to smooth this over without it actually coming to blows. That would have been really bad!"

I would, however, allow the caster PC a chance to sell me on them getting an additional attempt to break the charm, or perhaps a bonus to future saves. Not because of "indirect harm" (which, again, I don't actually see here in the first place) but because of the gross illogic of the situation. Someone you and your friend were just about to fight, now you're friendly acquaintances and your warrior friend has left you alone with them? That's weird!
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
You can't have rules for everything. . .
See GURPS.
. . . and there are many places where trying to be too specific will bog the game down, result in edge cases that do not fit specific rules, and an overall reduction in fun.
100% agreed.
The best posts in this thread all start the same - go ask the DM.
Well, that's sort of Rule Zero, and since it always applies, it's not exactly helpful. My point was that since "anything harmful" can be just about anything, just about anything can end the Charm spell. Attacking the wizard PC's warrior-friend is harmful to the wizard's chances of survival, harmful to the relationship that the wizard and warrior have, harmful to the wizard's personal bubble of safety, harmful to the wizard's nostrils and ears, harmful to...
 

Research has demonstrated that just having a poor impression of students will negatively impact outcomes, and even just believing (falsely) that a lab rat is dumber than your average rat will lead to lower performance in mazes.

So, yeah, even thinking bad thoughts about the target can hurt them.

Good luck.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

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