15
\$\begingroup\$

Edit: I had the wrong spell earlier. I thought it was Charm Person. I hope this doesn't make it a moot question, just because Charm is more severe.

This happened long ago in our campaign, but I've been wanting to ask about this scenario anyway.

My party fought a great vampire lord who tried to take over the continent. After a huge battle we captured him and he used Charm on my character to aid his escape, which I failed to save against. Despite this I said that I try to stop the vampire lord from escaping anyway, but the DM wanted me to defend the vampire lord as he escaped and other players around the table (some more experienced in DnD than myself) agreed with him saying that my character sees the vampire lord as a friend.

The description of Charm is as follows:

The Charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn't under the vampire's control, it takes the vampire's requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and it is a willing target for the vampire's bite Attack. (MM 297)

And the description of the Charmed condition is as follows:

  • A charmed creature can’t Attack the charmer or target the charmer with harmful Abilities or magical effects.
  • The charmer has advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature. (PHB 290)

The thing is that my character, while neutral good rather than lawful, believes that those who are accused of crimes should be allowed to stand trial (or forced to, if the accused doesn't want to like in this case). The spell description of Charm doesn't say that it alters memories and my character wouldn't let even his best friend evade trial knowing that he did what the vampire lord did.

I haven't specifically written this view in my character's profile, but I do believe that there's enough information to go on, as well as precedent throughout the campaign, to surmise it.

I'm not saying that the Charm spell had no effect. Without it my character would think that the evidence against the vampire lord as well as the seriousness of his crimes would be enough to warrant a summary execution (again, my character is not lawful good, so his stance can change for extreme cases like this). I wanted him to take a milder stance as the effect of the Charm Person spell. That is, make everyone agree to let the vampire lord stand trial rather than execute him, not outright try to help him escape like the DM wanted. Making the vampire lord stand trial would of course require that he doesn't escape, so reasonably my character should try to prevent that.

My question is this: Is a character's beliefs and personality argument enough to oppose (in a non-harmful way) someone who has charmed them with the Charm spell?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ ♦ Hi folks. Please use comments only for requesting clarification, suggesting improvement, or minor moderation or meta matters. Comments on this site are not for answering the question, including partial answers or tips or insights or so on; they are also not for tangential discussion of the topic or for musings. If you can write a full answer, please do so. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 12 '18 at 17:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The discussion tangent has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 12 '18 at 20:19
22
\$\begingroup\$

Not Necessarily

Vampire's Charm

The specifics of Vampire's Charm are more impactful than a standard charm:

The charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn't under the vampire's control, it takes the vampire's requests or actions in the most favorable way it can...

In this case, the charm increases from Charm Person's friendly acquaintance to trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Agency should still not be fully removed from the character, but this is a much stronger effect and should treat the interactions with the Vampire differently. You wouldn't necessarily go against all your beliefs, but you are going to protect the vampire and listen to it more than you would just a friendly acquaintance.

Combine this with the mechanics of the Charmed Condition and you also gain advantage on ability checks to interact socially.

A charmed creature can't attack the charmer or target the charmer with harmful abilities or magical effects.

The charmer has advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature.

Does advantage translate to anything more?

The big question is whether or not you can persuade someone to do something against their beliefs. Mechanically, the charmed target is still under their own control, they just view the charmer as a trusted friend and therefore will listen to them more than they normally would. Whether or not that means you can take their agency away is going to be dependent on the DM and table.

How I'd rule

At my table, I would not allow one creature to persuade another to do something that is against their beliefs, unless they could come up with an argument that makes that action feel like it goes with their beliefs when it really doesn't. But that's going to be on a case by case basis and a very tricky effect to pull off. If a party member can't persuade another party member to do something against their beliefs (which they shouldn't), then neither can someone casting Charm. Vampire's Charm is still going to have them protect the Vampire, but not necessarily allow the Vampire to dictate actions (even with a successful Persuasion Check.) To do that, you need something like Dominate Person.

In your specific case, Protecting the vampire is your major concern. Allowing him to have a trial rather than summary execution would likely fall under that. But I could also see the Vampire trying to persuade that you that he wouldn't get a fair trial. It doesn't mean you'd help him escape given your beliefs, but it would mean you'd try to make sure it was a fair trial.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 11 '18 at 16:47
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ You didn't use the word "consent" in your post, but I find that it's a pretty similar concept to what you're describing. If you're Charmed, you still have the full ability to determine the consent of your character, you're just mistaken about the circumstances. Now, some DMs want to take that consent away on Charm because it is very hard for many players to not meta-game when Charm is involved (but I would know that the vampire is bad news!, etc), but your character's will is fully intact. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael W. Jan 11 '18 at 18:57
9
\$\begingroup\$

The vampire likely used the vampire ability called charm rather than the spell charm person (an easy mistake to make).

Charm

The Charmed target regards the vampire as a trusted friend to be heeded and protected. Although the target isn't under the vampire's control, it takes the vampire's requests or actions in the most favorable way it can, and it is a willing target for the vampire's bite Attack.

In this case, I think your DM's interpretation is correct that your character would feel compelled to protect and aid the vampire. Though they might have tried to explain it better so you as a player understood that the effect you were under was different from the one you thought you were.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ This makes sense. It wasn't described to me as such at the time. I was basically just told that I saw him as a friend. \$\endgroup\$ – Kapten-N Jan 11 '18 at 14:55
6
\$\begingroup\$

The vampire's Charm ability is more powerful than the Charm Person spell.

While the spell would probably not force you to do something for the vampire that you wouldn't do for your friend, a vampire's charm forces you to consider the vampire someone "to be heeded and protected." That difference alone probably justifies your DM's decision.

\$\endgroup\$
5
\$\begingroup\$

As the rules you have quoted show, charm person does not let the caster issue commands to the victim. They can ask nicely and their chances that the target will react favorably are significantly improved. Rolling social checks against PC-s is not usually done though, so how the GM handles this may vary.

The following is how I would rule it: If this trait of your character is backed up (ie. not likely you made it up on the spot to avoid the spell's effects) I would be inclined to let you act as you wanted. You still would not attack the vampire yourself and may oppose your allies who do so, which is a fair advantage to gain from a 1st level spell.

If you want to get closer to the mechanics of the spell, you could involve a roll. I recommend that the charmer rolls Cha(persuasion) with advantage against the better of your Cha and Wis scores. The result still would not mean unquestioning obedience. The victim would, for example, pause to contemplate what to do and give an opening for the charmer to escape.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Pause and do nothing was exactly what I did. As a player I was in a position between opposing my character's personality and beliefs (without proper understanding of why I should) or opposing my DM and the other players. So I did nothing, blaming cognitive dissonance on my character's part. \$\endgroup\$ – Kapten-N Jan 11 '18 at 15:00
2
\$\begingroup\$

I wanted him to take a milder stance as the effect of the Charm Person spell. That is, make everyone agree to let the vampire lord stand trial rather than execute him, not outright try to help him escape like the DM wanted.

Let's imagine, for a moment, that you and one of your adventurer friends are shopping in the city.
Your adventurer friend breaks into a shop that's closed and steals something.
You are appalled at this, and demand that he submit to the authorities to stand trial (while standing inside the empty shop).
While saying this, an angry shopkeep runs down the stairs toward your friend brandishing a longsword, with clear intent to harm.
Your friend moves to escape - what do you do?

I would put forward that the only sensible, lawful thing to do is to help him escape. You want him to stand trial (can't do that if he's dead), and you don't want further crimes committed (can't have the shopkeep assaulting him).

You'd probably even want to escape with him in the hopes of encouraging him to go to the authorities immediately. But in the case of the vampire, you'd be glad you didn't - you'd have a pretty bad time being alone with a vampire lord after the escape.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ To play devil's advocate - that isn't the only option. If the character has a strong belief in justice, he may simply try to prevent the shopkeeper from attacking. Now, during that time the vampire could escape - but you could easily still try to apprehend him as well. Protecting him and allowing him to escape justice or two different things. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 11 '18 at 15:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.