So, recently our party went up against a Death Tyrant and it hit me with Charm Ray; even with an impressive WIS I failed and was charmed.

The Charmed condition says:

  • 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.

I understand that this means I cannot attack the Death Tyrant. I also understand that the charmed condition is not a form of domination, so I'm not dominated by the Death Tyrant and therefore won't necessarily suddenly start attacking my party or anything.

So assuming there are no other enemies, what can I do?

There's no re-rolled save (unless the Death Tyrant hurts me, but let's assume it won't do that whilst my fellow party members are still fighting it) so this condition is lasting for the rest of this fight.

Can I still heal my friends (I'm a Cleric in this party, by the way)? Can I still use the Help action to allow them to gain advantage on attacking the Death Tyrant?

These things, whilst they aren't attacking "the charmer" or targetting with harmful abilities or magical effects, are enabling others to harm it, so isn't that against the spirit of being charmed? What can I do in this situation without cheesing against the Rules as Intended here?


2 Answers 2


Anything You Want, except for

attack the charmer or target the charmer with harmful abilities or magical effects.

Charm in 5e is mainly for increasing your odds in social situations, but it does have the additional combat support of preventing attacks from the charmed creature on the creature that charmed it.

Other than not targeting the charmer with an attack, ability, or magical effect, the Charmed character is free to do what they'd like.

Social Interactions in combat

A DM or player may try to insert a social interaction (persuasion, intimidation, etc.) in combat. The effects of this are going to be up to the DM, but there are spells that are more directly related to this like:

  • Suggestion (but even this has limits that DMs should try to use)
  • Command (powerful, but limited to single words)

Playing the Condition

Roleplaying charmed can be fun, but just don't overdo it! The limitations are clear but you can have some fun acting charmed while still being your own character and participating in the combat with your team.

Targeting the Charmer

But what does this really mean? In 5e, things mean what they say. And in this case, attacking or doing something that is against the charmer specifically is what is outlawed.

Much like the spell Sanctuary (PHB, 272) which states

If the warded creature makes an attack or casts a spell that affects an enemy creature.

the limitation here are actions that are targeting the charmer. If the spell, effect, item, action is targeting the charmer, then you can't do it. If it's not, then you can.

What about Help?

Help states (emphasis mine)

You feint, distract the target, or in some other way team up to make your ally's attack more effective

The first phrase clearly is not allowed by charm. You can't distract the Charmer directly because you can't target the Charmer. However, if you can figure out something that is distracting to everyone, then a DM may allow this action.

Convincing Scenarios

As always, DMs should be aware of using some mechanics to control players or allowing players to control NPCs more than they really should be able to may impact the fun had at the table.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso Flanking would also be disallowed. The charmed creature is clearly not a threat. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented May 30, 2018 at 21:25

As a DM, this is how I run charm person: I tell players to imagine that they go a store with their friends. Somewhere along the line your friends get into a fight with the store clerk. Maybe the clerk was a jerk, or made a mistake on calculating the bill - but it is clear to you that your friends are taking it way too far by physically assaulting the clerk. What would you do? In your mind, the clerk does not deserve being attacked and is only defending himself. Aiding you friends so they can continue to attack this clerk is clearly wrong regardless of what the altercation was originally about.

I then shift the conversation back to the action in the game, and tell the charmed player, that regardless of the foe the party is facing, or if this charm spell happened halfway through combat, it is like they had a moral revelation that helping your party attack this foe is wrong. Ask them what their character would do in this situation. They may think that the best course of action is to try to calm everyone down. Or maybe, they get upset at their party for attacking this innocent person/thing and decide they can't bear it and flee the room. If they have the idea to heal/bless/cast guidance/inspire someone, who would they do this for - their friend or the store clerk (evil necromancer)? Allow them to role play in combat just as they would in social settings to figure this out.

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    – V2Blast
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 21:51

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