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D&D 5E Monsters charming PCs during combat

If I use charm abilities, I aim at whoever seems like the easiest target. So either the weakest link in the party, or an npc. But usually they make their saves, which is kind of disappointing.
 

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jayoungr

Legend
So basically what I'm hearing about calm emotions is "Don't worry about it"?

I'm just afraid that when my players finally confront Strahd, he's going to go down in one round....
 

MarkB

Legend
So basically what I'm hearing about calm emotions is "Don't worry about it"?

I'm just afraid that when my players finally confront Strahd, he's going to go down in one round....
Strahd's smart. If he knows the party and their capabilities, just have him charm the one who can cast calm emotions first.
 



robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
So basically what I'm hearing about calm emotions is "Don't worry about it"?

I'm just afraid that when my players finally confront Strahd, he's going to go down in one round....
Don't forget Legendary Resistance, and I would give him advantage on saving throws against magical effects too. He's been around the block.

Also, (and I know this isn't super popular), make sure his initiative slot is very high - at least +10 to any initiative check (if you want to roll it). There's nothing worse than the final big-bad just sitting there and taking a beating (OK there are legendary actions, but still) waiting for its turn to come round. If the PCs gain the element of surprise then awesome, otherwise the big bad should be more than ready to take on these meddlesome PCs.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Don't forget Legendary Resistance, and I would give him advantage on saving throws against magical effects too. He's been around the block.

Also, (and I know this isn't super popular), make sure his initiative slot is very high - at least +10 to any initiative check (if you want to roll it). There's nothing worse than the final big-bad just sitting there and taking a beating (OK there are legendary actions, but still) waiting for its turn to come round. If the PCs gain the element of surprise then awesome, otherwise the big bad should be more than ready to take on these meddlesome PCs.
Also, being Strahd, he is probably aware that the PC will be there shortly, so have the swarms already present and maybe a few other underlings.

Edit: Oh, and he's a wizard. Give him Counterspell.
 


cmad1977

Hero
So basically what I'm hearing about calm emotions is "Don't worry about it"?

I'm just afraid that when my players finally confront Strahd, he's going to go down in one round....

He can walk through walls, move out of turn, and has legendary saves. He’ll be fine. Strahds most powerful tool in his arsenal is his mobility.
 

MarkB

Legend
He can walk through walls, move out of turn, and has legendary saves. He’ll be fine. Strahds most powerful tool in his arsenal is his mobility.
He could get really nasty with that if he wants to - walk in behind the party, try to charm a PC, then walk back out again. If he succeeds, nobody knows in-character that anything's wrong. It could be a TPC before anyone fires a shot.
 



jayoungr

Legend
But why would he? He doesn't realize that he's charmed until the charm is over. There's no reason to just cast it.
I'm pretty sure the player will want to do it, and I'll be the bad guy if I say no, because the group had a bad experience with charm last time they faced a creature with that ability.

Ugh, I'd just skip it altogether if they hadn't said they really wanted to play Curse of Strahd.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm pretty sure the player will want to do it, and I'll be the bad guy if I say no, because the group had a bad experience with charm last time they faced a creature with that ability.

Ugh, I'd just skip it altogether if they hadn't said they really wanted to play Curse of Strahd.
That would be the moment that I reminded the players of that. I wouldn't allow cheating, but then my players wouldn't try it, either.

Sorry man.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm pretty sure the player will want to do it, and I'll be the bad guy if I say no, because the group had a bad experience with charm last time they faced a creature with that ability.

Ugh, I'd just skip it altogether if they hadn't said they really wanted to play Curse of Strahd.

I cover this in my session 0. I don't cheat on the side of the monsters, but I do run them as effectively as I can given their abilities and taking into consideration intelligence.

Strahd is a genius level monster. He's going to use every option he has. On the other hand I'd also consider giving people insight checks to realize their friends are being charmed, perception checks for them to notice Strahd and so on. I don't want the bad guys to permanently win (except on very rare occasions) because that's generally not fun. I don't want to softball either.

Other than that just remember that charm is not dominate (although Strahd has that as well).
 

jayoungr

Legend
Other than that just remember that charm is not dominate (although Strahd has that as well).
Yikes, I hadn't even thought about dominate. A quick skim of the ability makes it look like calm emotions would negate that as well, since dominate person applies the charmed condition. It's one thing for a 2nd-level spell to override the 1st-level charm person, but dominate person is 5th-level--does that seem right, or am I missing something?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Yikes, I hadn't even thought about dominate. A quick skim of the ability makes it look like calm emotions would negate that as well, since dominate person applies the charmed condition. It's one thing for a 2nd-level spell to override the 1st-level charm person, but dominate person is 5th-level--does that seem right, or am I missing something?

Well, that's a tough one. But remember, the calm emotions only lasts a minute and it's a concentration spell. As others have noted, you have to have a reason to cast it.

Seems like charming the bard first and then ignoring him might be the best strategy.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Dominate goes well beyond the charmed condition, so I can see an argument that it couldn't completely suppress the Dominate Person/Monster spell. On the other hand, 1st levels spells have been able to do so since at least 2nd edition (protection from evil, I'm looking at you). So this actually imposes a slightly higher cost of a 2nd level spell.
 

Ugh, I'd just skip it altogether if they hadn't said they really wanted to play Curse of Strahd.

While I largely agree with the folks who suggest that this is what the players signed up for, if charm doesn't work for your table, you should swap it out for something else. I don't know the ins-and-outs of the 5e mechanics for Strahd's abilities, but I would just figure out what the mechanical effect of the ability would be and swap in or design something that has a similar impact. He's the ultimate BBEG, so it would be fitting for him to have some unique abilities (and would keep things especially exciting for players who may know a bit too much about the published Strahd). So if the main thing would be to neutralize some characters, swap in a sleep or paralysis ability. If it would force the party to fight among themselves, maybe he can summon the evil twin of a character or two (same character stats but allied with Strahd); fluff it such that this is the evil side of the character's soul. That sort of thing. You can keep the epic feel of a climactic battle against the vampire lord without adhering to any specific ability.
 

Exactly, Charm simply negates a PC.

It's almost like there are these things that give certain powerful "boss" creatures with legends attached to them extra actions in combat that vastly help make using their action to Charm one PC each round less of an action economy issue. Especially when nothing in the charm ability states that it can only effect one target at a time.

Within two rounds a Vampire should have not only attempted (with reasonable chance of success) charmed what is likely half the party, but also grappled and bitten someone twice and moved it's speed up to 3 times (once without provoking). Anything less is just playing a Vampire poorly. And what self-respecting master of the night doesn't have a vampire spawn or some bats/wolfs/thralls he's already charmed? And if your group is larger than 5 players who says he/she can't have a second vampire bride/husband?
 

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