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D&D 5E Monsters charming PCs during combat

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I love to use charm in my combats, it makes them so much more dynamic I find, the saves have weight!

Though I don't try to force PC's to fight each other (unless it's dominate). I do the same "your good friend is being fought by your other friends, how do you handle that?" and let the players figure that out for themselves.
 

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Unwise

Adventurer
One thing that a lot of people in my games forget is that being charmed does not mean that people now hate their friends. It can be fun being in a situation where your new best friend is fighting your other friends. A PC could validly be healing both sides of the battle while trying to talk people down. Putting themselves between the fighting parties makes sense too.

We had a PC charmed by an evil wizard know that his friends were massively badass and would undoubtedly kill the wizard. As a result, he grappled the guy, through him over his shoulder and ran away, barring the chamber door behind him. When alone and frustrated, the wizard them vampiric touched him for critical damage. The PC then tore the wizard's arms off, thus re-enforcing the idea that the wizard had badly underestimated the party.

We had a wizard get charmed by a vampire's spell in a cramped combat in a small area. Through some cool RP he was convinced that his old friends must be under some kind of charm, to be attacking this clearly innocent and righteous vampire. As a result he cast dispel magic on the room, freeing himself but also revealing that one of the party was an enemy in disguise. Confusion and hilarity ensued.

This being said, Charmed is less fun normally than Dominate. My players love smacking other party members, so they are fully invested in the game when dominated. Being merely charmed just makes them sit out the fight unless they find a way to make it interesting.
 

MarkB

Legend
Vampire Charm can be a little tricky compared to standard charm because of the extra caveats it adds - that the subject feels a need to help and defend the vampire, and sees their instructions in the best possible light.

It's basically super-charm - the vampire isn't just your new friend, they're your best friend ever, the charismatic one who you always find yourself going along with even when you know it's a bad idea.
 

jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
Otherwise I think having a risk of a PC being taken out of combat by a charm once or twice a campaign is fine.

If you find that combat takes a long time to resolve then that might be the source of the problem rather than the charm itself.
Well, the first time this happened to me, it was the endboss of a whole campaign (Esmae Amarantha in DDAL season 4). She had another of those super-charm abilities, where the target would just freeze and be enthralled by her beauty. [ETA: I misremembered; the target wasn't compelled to freeze. Her charm ability works almost exactly the same as the vampire's ability.] The problem wasn't so much the length of time needed for the combat as the fact that she charmed a couple of PCs right off the bat and they didn't get to participate in the final battle at all. I think the players found that seriously unfun.

Looking back, I probably should have had one of the boss's allies unwisely use an AoE spell or something like that, to jolt them out of it.
 
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Though I don't try to force PC's to fight each other (unless it's dominate). I do the same "your good friend is being fought by your other friends, how do you handle that?" and let the players figure that out for themselves.

Exactly, Charm simply negates a PC.
 


ad_hoc

(they/them)
Well, the first time this happened to me, it was the endboss of a whole campaign (Esmae Amarantha in DDAL season 4). She had another of those super-charm abilities, where the target would just freeze and be enthralled by her beauty. The problem wasn't so much the length of time needed for the combat as the fact that she charmed a couple of PCs right off the bat and they didn't get to participate in the final battle at all. I think the players found that seriously unfun.

Looking back, I probably should have had one of the boss's allies unwisely use an AoE spell or something like that, to jolt them out of it.

Was there any way for the players to learn of her charm powers ahead of time?

Having a chance to learn that kind of thing and then leaving it up to the players to prepare for how to deal with it might be a fun way of handling it.

I think it is good design to work in extra successes that the players can make which will make their time at the end easier.

This allows for failing forward early on. Get enough of those failures though and the end of the campaign ends up being tough.

Tyranny of Dragons did this with weakening Tiamat.
 

jgsugden

Legend
D&D is an RPG - a role playing game. Characters play a role in a story.

When charmed, their role takes a turn. Encourage the players to embrace their new story and really get into it. Read them the text of the charm ability/spell and then describe the feelings they have towards their 'new ally', and a bit of guidance abot how they feel about their 'true' allies. Then let them go and have fun.

What if they twist and cheat the charm so that it isn't what you described? My advice is to just let it go and let the story they are telling unfold unless they're blatantly ignoring the charm.... as long as they're trying toplay up the charm, even if it isn't how you see it, just let the story unfold and join the players on the ride.
 

dave2008

Legend
Exactly, Charm simply negates a PC.
What other attack can a vampire use that will negate a PC (assuming about 10th level) in one round? You act as if taking a PC out of combat for the entire fight is a bad thing. Isn't that the whole point of combat? In one round the vamp can eliminate a threat that could damage it, and it doesn't have to worry about damaging that character so it can focus on the rest of the party. It is a great option for a vampire. Any other attack would only take about 24 HP of damage. You would probably need to do that at least for 2 rounds to be as effective as a charm. What option do you think would be more effective?
 
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