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D&D 5E Monsters charming PCs during combat

jayoungr

Legend
Bumping this thread because the party finally came up against another monster using charm abilities last session, and it became as contentious as I'd feared. As a note, this monster was a fragment of the Evening Glory, and her charm ability causes the target to regard her as their true love.

The glamour bard kept calm emotions readied every round for an instant cast on anyone who became charmed. Okay, fine.

The bard's player insisted that calm emotions should be able to auto-succeed against anyone he used it on, because the target can choose to fail the save.

So I tried targeting the bard himself. Of course, he had calm emotions readied, and the player said he would choose to fail against his own spell.

By the RAW, I can't see any reason for this not to work. But it makes a complete hash of the story if someone would just willingly fail a saving throw to convince them to stop loving their true love!

What do people think? How would you handle this?
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Bumping this thread because the party finally came up against another monster using charm abilities last session, and it became as contentious as I'd feared. As a note, this monster was a fragment of the Evening Glory, and her charm ability causes the target to regard her as their true love.

The glamour bard kept calm emotions readied every round for an instant cast on anyone who became charmed. Okay, fine.

The bard's player insisted that calm emotions should be able to auto-succeed against anyone he used it on, because the target can choose to fail the save.

So I tried targeting the bard himself. Of course, he had calm emotions readied, and the player said he would choose to fail against his own spell.

By the RAW, I can't see any reason for this not to work. But it makes a complete hash of the story if someone would just willingly fail a saving throw to convince them to stop loving their true love!

What do people think? How would you handle this?
I would rule that someone that is charmed (especially in this case) will not automatically fail a save. They have no reason for the target to believe they're being irrational. I'd probably apply disadvantage on the save but that's it.

As far as readying a spell, there has to be a trigger the person with the readied action can detect. In addition, how many spells did the bard have? If you ready a spell you've cast it when you ready whether it's actually triggered or not. On the other hand, readying a spell is pretty much all they're doing for the entire combat, so it is a sacrifice on their part.

IMHO there are times when you just have to say no and make a ruling that makes sense to you. This would be one of those cases for me.
 

I'd allow it. If the players are willing to spend that amount of resources on avoiding being charmed I see no reason not to allow it to succeed. The bard is playing an anti-love ballad.
 

jayoungr

Legend
If the players are willing to spend that amount of resources on avoiding being charmed I see no reason not to allow it to succeed.
The thing is, it's practically nothing in the way of resources for them. Calm Emotions is a 2nd-level spell. The bard is currently level 7, which means he has 7 available spell slots of 2nd level or above. He's in no danger of running short on spell slots, or even of having to think hard about how to use them.

And it's not just the succeeding--it's the auto-succeding, without a saving throw, that's bothering me.
 

The thing is, it's practically nothing in the way of resources for them. Calm Emotions is a 2nd-level spell. The bard is currently level 7, which means he has 7 available spell slots of 2nd level or above. He's in no danger of running short on spell slots.
And he is spending the entire combat strumming away on his lute to counter one ability, rather than contributing to the fight.
 

jayoungr

Legend
As far as readying a spell, there has to be a trigger the person with the readied action can detect.
The player argues that the character would be expecting the charm effect from the enemy and would know that something had happened.

In addition, how many spells did the bard have? If you ready a spell you've cast it when you ready whether it's actually triggered or not. On the other hand, readying a spell is pretty much all they're doing for the entire combat, so it is a sacrifice on their part.
1. The character has 7 spell slots capable of casting calm emotions.
2. Wait, are you saying the spell slot is lost if the trigger doesn't happen within one round? We haven't been playing that way.
3. Not a sacrifice because control-type stuff is what the character does. Also, there are two bards in the party, so the other one can pick up the slack.

IMHO there are times when you just have to say no and make a ruling that makes sense to you. This would be one of those cases for me.
Ugh, I was afraid of that. This is either going to cause interpersonal drama--the player got rather emotional the other night when this came up and said something along the lines of, "If I can't do this reliably, then you're invalidating my character"--or it's going to make a hash of the story to the point where I might as well not even bother having monsters that try to charm. And when you're dealing with vampires, that's a big loss.

And he is spending the entire combat strumming away on his lute to counter one ability, rather than contributing to the fight.
See above--calm emotions IS his contribution to the fight. He's not a big damage dealer anyway. And I'm fine with that; not everything should be about DPR. I just don't like the auto-shutdown of a monster's toolkit.
 

A typical battle is supposed to take around 3 rounds and should take up to 20 minutes.

It's really not that not that long to sit out.

The monsters who have dominate abilities tend to be rare. If your campaign is full of them then it might be worth changing it out to something else.

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.
Does this hold true for you at 5th level? 10th?

How many players are at the table, may have something to do with it of course. But just curious.

As far as charm goes, it is part of the game. If it isn't overused, then it is a nice wrinkle. But when it becomes a crutch of the DM to dismantle the party's strengths, then it can be a problem.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
The player argues that the character would be expecting the charm effect from the enemy and would know that something had happened.


1. The character has 7 spell slots capable of casting calm emotions.
2. Wait, are you saying the spell slot is lost if the trigger doesn't happen within one round? We haven't been playing that way.
3. Not a sacrifice because control-type stuff is what the character does. Also, there are two bards in the party, so the other one can pick up the slack.


Ugh, I was afraid of that. This is either going to cause interpersonal drama--the player got rather emotional the other night when this came up and said something along the lines of, "If I can't do this reliably, then you're invalidating my character"--or it's going to make a hash of the story to the point where I might as well not even bother having monsters that try to charm. And when you're dealing with vampires, that's a big loss.


See above--calm emotions IS his contribution to the fight. He's not a big damage dealer anyway. And I'm fine with that; not everything should be about DPR. I just don't like the auto-shutdown of a monster's toolkit.

Interpersonal issues aside, I try to base rulings on consistency, logic and my understanding of the rules.

So let's talk about readied actions. What was the trigger? Seeing that someone else was charmed? How? Is there any visual indication?

Then the bard gets charmed. Again, what's the trigger? He can't interrupt the charm, this isn't counterspell. It's a reaction, they have to wait until after the charm has taken effect. But once the charm has taken effect he no longer has a reason to cast the spell. After all they're in love, what can be wrong with that? Which also goes to the "willingly fail a save". The person being affected by the spell has to want to fail.

I don't necessarily care about game balance or even rewarding characters per se. Although I do regularly reward and encourage innovative thinking, that doesn't mean every idea they come up with is going to work. End of the day I do my best to not play favorites; either for an individual player or for monsters vs players. I do my best to be a neutral arbiter of the rules on both sides.

My recommendation would be to discuss this outside of game time. Let him know what you think and why. The only option is to always let them have their way no matter what. I've experienced that with other DMs and I personally found it annoying as a player. As a DM I've learned the power of "no". I don't get upset, I don't argue, I just let people know I've made a decision and we can talk about it after the game if they want.

Good luck.
 

MarkB

Legend
Bumping this thread because the party finally came up against another monster using charm abilities last session, and it became as contentious as I'd feared. As a note, this monster was a fragment of the Evening Glory, and her charm ability causes the target to regard her as their true love.

The glamour bard kept calm emotions readied every round for an instant cast on anyone who became charmed. Okay, fine.

The bard's player insisted that calm emotions should be able to auto-succeed against anyone he used it on, because the target can choose to fail the save.

So I tried targeting the bard himself. Of course, he had calm emotions readied, and the player said he would choose to fail against his own spell.

By the RAW, I can't see any reason for this not to work. But it makes a complete hash of the story if someone would just willingly fail a saving throw to convince them to stop loving their true love!

What do people think? How would you handle this?
A character doesn't automatically take a readied action the moment the opportunity occurs. They can choose to do so or not. What reason does the bard have to cast calm emotions on himself? The only reason for him to do so is because he knows that he's been charmed, and that by casting it he will cease to be charmed and will treat the caster as an enemy.

If you knew that the action you were preparing to take would cause you to fall out of love with your paramour and treat her as an enemy, would you go through with it?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
My question is this: any time a Bard gets charmed, what's stopping said Bard from turning around and charming the charmer, on an "I'm in love with you, now you'll be in love with me" basis?

They might take each other out of the fight, to be sure, but it does give the charmed Bard a viable answer.
 

2. Wait, are you saying the spell slot is lost if the trigger doesn't happen within one round? We haven't been playing that way.
Yes, the spell slot is spent when the spell is readied, as are all of its components.

You also might not have noticed that readying a spell requires concentration. That bard won't be using bless or cause fear or anything else that requires concentration.

I would be dealing with the situation by making sure that the bard's player clearly specifies the trigger for the readied action. What percievable action are they waiting for?

More generally, charm magic is a situation where the game is taking away some agency from players. However, this is being done with the players' permission (they chose to play the game knowing that such magic exists).

If the players aren't happy with this (something that might come up during a session zero) then there is nothing wrong with removing such effects from the game. Just make sure you remove them for everyone. If the foes can't charm the characters then the characters can't charm the foes.
 

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