Why is everyone so down on Charm Person?

Again, the words are "complete influence", not "complete control".
Sure; it's a matter of interpretation (which is one of the things I like about OD&D -- it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and preference). How much influence is "complete influence?" Personally, I typically don't go for outright control, either, but I allow a lot of room in that direction (especially if I deem the victim to be "weak minded"). For more potent control, the (OD&D) magic user should use hold person:

The Men & Magic description of hold person reads:
A spell similar to a Charm Person but which is of both limited duration and greater effect. It will effect from 1-4 persons. If it is cast at only a single person it has the effect of reducing the target's saving throw against magic by -2. Duration: 6 turns + level of the caster. Range: 12".

Note that the only real description of the effect is "similar to Charm Person...[with]...limited duration and greater effect;" nothing about paralyzation, et cetera. Referees often interpret this to mean that hold person is a charm-like "complete influence" as well, but even more potent. In other words, hold person gives the magic user a "hold" on the victim. I know that some OD&D referees interpret charm person as being powerful, but limited influence (but with the indefinite duration), and hold person as being complete domination or control (but with limited duration).

There's also at least one published example of OD&D hold person being used in a dominate/control manner. The Judges Guild adventure "Night of the Walking Wet (Realm of the Slime God)" includes an enemy that uses hold person to force PC victims to walk forward and touch something they probably shouldn't...
 
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Treebore

First Post
Sure; it's a matter of interpretation (which is one of the things I like about OD&D -- it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and preference). How much influence is "complete influence?" Personally, I typically don't go for outright control, either, but I allow a lot of room in that direction (especially if I deem the victim to be "weak minded"). For more potent control, the (OD&D) magic user should use hold person:

The Men & Magic description of hold person reads:


Note that the only real description of the effect is "similar to Charm Person;" nothing about paralyzation, et cetera. Referees often interpret this to mean that hold person is a charm-like "complete influence" as well, but even more potent. In other words, hold person gives the magic user a "hold" on the victim. I know that some OD&D referees interpret charm person as being powerful, but limited influence (but with the indefinite duration), and hold person as being complete domination or control (but with limited duration).

There's also at least one published example of OD&D hold person being used in a dominate/control manner. The Judges Guild adventure "Night of the Walking Wet (Realm of the Slime God)" includes an enemy that uses hold person to force PC victims to walk forward and touch something they probably shouldn't...

Thats just an example of why I like going with 2E spell versions. Plenty of feedback about game play, plenty of further feedback in Dragon magazine about various spells, spell groups, etc... and 2E is the last edition before deadly spells were removed from the game. In some cases I will go with 3E versions because the intent fo the spell uses is even clearer.

So by and large 2E spell descriptions have the clearest intent of use and effect while still being very dangerous in effect. The same can be said for many 3E spells, I just didn't like how they became less deadly. I could accept it within the context of the 3E game because I wasn't paying 375,000 XP to go up one level, but I am not playing 3E anymore.
 

Thats just an example of why I like going with 2E spell versions.
Sounds like we prefer different approaches to that. I like the earlier descriptions which allow more latitude, and are more like guidelines or suggestions than canonical definitions (that goes for monster descriptions, too -- I find the 2e descriptions with all the ecology details and such to be way too much info).

With magic (and monsters), I tend to think of it as being a lot looser and more "wild" than many DMs do. Even things like ranges and areas of effect might not be hard-and-fast rules. I try to view the canonical descriptions as an example (perhaps a typical example), but not necessarily set in stone. The loose descriptions of the OD&D rules suit that better than the more detailed descriptions of later editions.

I also tend to see later editions as one possible way the game developed -- one interpretation and development of the D&D rules and traditions. However, it's not necessarily the approach I take. For example, I tend to prefer less Tolkien and more Leiber or Howard in my game world. I tend to like a different view of the D&D Elf, too -- not so much in stats, but it flavor and background. Lots of other examples.
 

Gailbraithe

First Post
I have always run Charm Person as follows:

With a successful save that target knows that they have been the subject of a spell, but do not know what spell it was without a Spellcraft check. Their reaction will depend on many factors. A city guardsman might be terrified and run for his comrades, while power wizard might simply laugh and say "Your feeble mind-tricks will not work on me, boy."

A target who fails their save has no idea a spell was cast on them. From their perspective, they lost their focus for second, their mind wandered, and they can't recall exactly what happened.

Under the influence of the spell, the target has new positive feelings about the caster, and views the caster as a trusted friend and confidant, but continues to hold all of their own beliefs and their original attitudes towards other friends. Thus it is almost impossible to use Charm Person to convince someone to attack their friends. It is simplicity itself to convince a Charmed person to break up a fight between their friends.

After the spell wears off, the targets positive feelings fade. If the caster did not cause the subject to take any actions that the subject would not have taken normally in the course of helping a friend, or any action that has long term negative consequences, then the subject will have no lasting animosity towards the caster. Though they might observe in future encounters that the caster doesn't seem so fascinating and exciting to be around anymore.

Here are some examples:
1) Upon arriving in town, an attractive female sorceress casts charm person on a city guardsman, and asks him to give her a free tour of the city. When the spell wears off, the guard only has a pleasant memory of spending the day with the most amazing woman he ever met. Should he meet her again, he might observe that she seems different, maybe he notices she's sort of haughty and arrogant, and wonders why he didn't notice that before. He never suspects that he was the victim of a spell.

2) A group of adventurers need to arrange a meeting with the King. The speak to his major domo, who is reluctant to arrange the meeting. The party wizard casts charm person the major domo, and he arranges the meeting. The major domo, if asked, will only remember that he was initially suspicious of these adventurers, but that their mage seemed a good fellow. He would never consider that he might have been charmed.

3) A wizard needs a new spellbook, but has no money. He goes to a bookseller and asks if he can advance him a blank book, which gets a laugh. A bit angry now, the wizard casts charm person and convinces the bookseller to give him the most expensive blank spellbook in the store as a gift. A few hours later when the spell wears off, the bookseller's thoughts suddenly switch from "I hope my new friend is enjoying his book." to "By the gods! What was I thinking? That was a special project for Zarkon The Easily Annoyed! I'm ruined!" The more he thinks about it, the less sense his decision makes, and the more and more convinced he becomes that the wizard must have tampered with his mind.

4) A party of adventurers walks up to an orc outpost. The wizard casts charm person on the orc guard at the gate, and convinces the orc to let the party through. The orc returns to his post, happy he could help his new friend. An hour later he suddenly realizes he just let a group of humans into the lair, and immediately runs to get help. If he doesn't realize he was charmed, it's because he's got an INT 6.
 

roguerouge

First Post
And, as a side note, IMC, people who have been charmed don't necessarily know they've been charmed. A spell only has its explicit visual effects. Even if they save against it, they only know that they saved against some mental assault. Only a trained spellcaster (or someone who made an Arcana check) would be able to say "You tried to charm me, didn't you?!"

Not to mention that a simple skill trick will hide the identity of who cast the spell, as will Disguise Spell or using Still/Silent/Eschew feat triad. An enchanter who casts this spell without means of hiding who cast it is like an illusionist who stands before the raging orc horde and announces that he's an illusionist. The point of enchantment is to be subtle.

And there's an alternate Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference from Tara/Willow: Cordelia is actually flattered when Xander miscast the love spell on her in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.
 

Noumenon

First Post
Gailbraithe, I think you've got the ideal mix of charm and dominate there. That's how I want to run it. Great job walking through the different psychological processes of the shop owner "figuring it out" and the major domo convincing himself "I was in control the whole time, I let him in because of my own judgment."

That last is a pretty natural way for humans to react anyway -- we never say "Oh, I decided to buy that because the store was piping in fragrance that lowered my resistance," even when you can tell by the sales numbers that the fragrance is exactly what made us change our minds.
 

Strumdaddy

First Post
As a DM, you could really turn this around on an adventurer who abuses it.
I see cults formed around a wholly and unabashedly incorrect impression of this player character. I see fan clubs and people on street seeking him as a known face. "My friend says she just loves you!" I see rivals seeking him in challenge, nominations for local politics, and people seeking to continue the relationship... and asking favors of this new relationship: "Hey buddy, remember when I looked the other way? Now I'm going to need your help!"
 

MGibster

Legend
It seems like the charm person most people play with is more like antagonize person. Either the person hates you when they make their save, or once the duration expires and they feel controlled, or once their friends realize you enchanted them. Use charm person to get a date, and many people will accuse you of mind rape.
I would go absolutely caveman on someone who casts Charm Person on me in real life. Once the charm wore off, I'd see if I could find them and then I'd start bouncing their head off the nearest wall. Since this isn't a D&D thread, we don't have to limit charm to their various spell descriptions over the years so lets think about some of the most charming creatures out there. I think sirens would qualify with their lovely voices luring sailors to their doom. How about Dracula? He was able to charm the pants off of Lucy.
 

p_johnston

Adventurer
So I've always considered charm person and it's kin to be in the same category as killing for d&d terms. By which I mean that doing it with bandits and random monsters can be justified but if your doing it to townsfolk it's probably evil.

Frankly regardless of what you are using the spell for it is using magic to invade someones mind and forcefully change it to your benefit. In the real world it would be the equivalent of drugging someone to try and get them to do what you want. Frankly the entire enchantment school of magic is... at best iffy when you think about the morality of it.
 

Staffan

Legend
This thread is originally from 2008, so I think the OP was referring to the 3e version of the spell. But looking at 5e instead, I think it's perfectly fair to have the charm person spell induce hostility when it wears off. The one that shouldn't do so is the cantrip version, friends. Friends is what many people in the thread seem to mean when they think of a "positive" version of charm person – it makes you extraordinarily charming, but doesn't really mind control anyone. It just gives you advantage on Charisma checks against a particular person. Unfortunately, friends is the spell that explicitly makes the target hostile afterward, while charm person "only" makes the target realize they've been magically influenced and then lets them take it from there.
 

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