I was reading the Beholder's statblock (MM, page 28):

Eye Rays. The beholder shoots three of the following magical eye rays at random (reroll duplicates), choosing one to three targets it can see within 120 feet of it:

  1. Charm Ray. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the beholder for 1 hour, or until the beholder harms the creature.

  2. Paralyzing Ray. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

  3. Fear Ray. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. [...]

If a PC is charmed by the Charm Ray, can he not repeat the check on his turn?

If the Beholder simply charms a PC and then doesn't attack him, can the charmed PC not attack or target the Beholder with harmful abilities or magical effects for the rest of the fight?

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes, but there are ways around it

You are correct in that you don't get extra saves to shake off the charmed condition. The Charm Ray is indeed a powerful means for the beholder to prevent your character from attacking it, and without intervention this effect will last for the whole fight.

As discussed in this question, while you can't attack the beholder directly or directly target it with any harmful effects, you can still support your party. To be specific, the charmed condition has the following two effects:

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.

Nothing in the charmed condition prevents you from assisting your allies, be it healing them (either with spells or potions) or providing cover or doing any other task which aids your allies who happen to be fighting the beholder. You are only prevented from targeting the beholder with harmful effects (this probably includes the Help action to help your allies hit the beholder).

There is also nothing stopping you from attempting to remove the charmed condition. The spells calm emotions (2nd level), greater restoration (5th level), mind blank (8th level) and power word heal (9th level) can be used to remove or suppress the charmed condition caused by the beholder's Charm Ray mid-combat. While the latter two are likely beyond your reach, the former two should be available for a party of appropriate level to fight a beholder. You can cast these spells on yourself if you have them available, or get a friend to cast them for you, thus ending the charmed condition.

As indicated by CTWind, there exists another way to suppress the effects of the Charm Ray, and that is by using the beholder's own Antimagic Cone (or another antimagic field you happen to have handy, but we'll assume you don't have one of those). The Eye Rays are explicitly magical, and the duration of the Charm Ray's effect is not Instantaneous. Within the antimagic field...

Any active spell or other magical effect on a creature or an object in the sphere is suppressed while the creature or object is in it.

This would include the effects of the Charm Ray. The beholder's Antimagic Cone even calls out the Eye Rays as being affected by it. Thus, if you stand within the beholder's Antimagic Cone, the charmed condition is suppressed and you can attack normally.

This is not a fool-proof plan, as the beholder can move or deactivate its Antimagic Cone at the start of its turns. But in doing so you force the beholder to choose between using its Antimagic Cone to suppress your party's casters and magic items or leaving you charmed.

  • A comment that 5e "charmed" is very different than 3e "charmed" might also improve this answer if added inline; the link is great, but it is something that is easy to miss to someone with a history of D&D in their brain. – Yakk Oct 16 at 15:26
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    I haven't played 3e, so I wasn't aware of that distinction. From this question, it appears that the OP is quite aware of what the 5e charmed condition says (they specifically call out attacking the beholder and targeting the beholder with harmful abilities). However, I shall quote the charmed condition for the convenience of those who might be confused. – BBeast Oct 17 at 0:00

That's correct: the beholder's Charm Ray does not have a repeating save. The other rays you've quoted show what it would look like if it were there, and it's not.

You're also correct that while charmed the PC cannot attack the beholder or target it with harmful effects, per PHB p.290 ("Appendix A: Conditions").

Beholders, amirite?

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    Just two cents: errata didn't change this. – Mołot Oct 15 at 12:11
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    Is it worth noting that since the charm effect is caused by the (explicitly) magical eye rays, it's a magical effect that would be suppressed while within the antimagic cone of said beholder? – CTWind Oct 15 at 20:21

The Beholder’s charm power is long-lasting but limited in effect

You are reading of the rules is correct, but your characterization that the charm ray takes a character “out of the fight” is an overstatement.

The beholder’s charm ray has no “while the target is charmed” clause, making its effects limited to those listed in the charmed condition:

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

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

Ref: PH, p 290.

The main restriction is the charmed creature cannot attack/target the beholder. The fact that the beholder has advantage on social interaction checks probably won’t have much effect in the middle of combat. (Advantage on a Persuasion check shouldn’t allow the beholder to command the charmed creature to act against their companions, for example.)

Besides for not harming the beholder directly, the character is free to act normally. They can protect, heal, and otherwise aid their allies, attack allies of the beholder, plunder the room, etc.

The charmed character can still act creatively and make a difference in the fight.

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