I am fairly new to D&D; however, I have years of roleplay experience. Last night I attempted to charm a shopkeeper, and the DM didn't tell me if I succeeded or failed — he seems to do this with everything. Anyway, having read the description of charm person and then reading several views on it by others, it seems the common consensus, if the NPC passes the save and is not charmed, is that nothing should happen. However, what happened is this:

The DM told me the shopkeeper's eyes started to glow slightly and to tell her what to do and so I asked her to give me some potions. I understood it as though if her eyes changed then yes, she was charmed. Apparently this was not the case and she pulled a crossbow out on me instead, so I left the shop. I really think I've been cheated here, but I want your opinions as I'm unsure whether I need to talk to the DM or not.

Like I said, the common consensus I found is that if an NPC is not charmed then nothing at all should happen until the spell ends, when it says they know they are charmed, but they have to have been charmed in the first place to know this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ it's more why did this happen as if the npc was not charmed then there shouldn't be a bad outcome i feel as though nothing should happen except maybe the npc looks at you funny because you gotta do hand jestures so like if the ain't charmed then maybe they should laugh at you or just give you a wierd look not act aggressive as it states they only know they were charmed by you if it was successfull and has later worn off \$\endgroup\$
    – Emily
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 11:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted this because I think this is an excellent question – but it might also be one we may not be able to answer. I'd personally love to opine on this topic, but I have mainly opinions, no correct answer. If this question winds up closed, or otherwise too, I would love to discuss this topic in our Role-playing Games Chat if you're so interested. Welcome to our site :) \$\endgroup\$
    – kviiri
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 11:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you should talk to your DM - not just about this particular situation, but also about the fact that "he seems to do this with everything", which sounds frustrating. It's possible that the glowing eyes represented a special ability that allowed the NPC to pass the save automatically, but only your DM will be able to tell you that for sure :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2, 2020 at 11:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ regarding the everything comment he rolls a dice irl we can hear it through mic but the rest of us use the website i get that dm rolls are not meant to be seen but he never tells us if we were successfull or failed unless we roll really bad and can guess it's a fail like i fell this is unfair cause how am i supposed to react if i don't know what i am reacting to \$\endgroup\$
    – Emily
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 11:51
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    – V2Blast
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 12:07

2 Answers 2


Only your DM knows

Why the shopkeeper's eyes started to glow slightly? We don't know. Maybe the place itself is magical, it might be a part of the mystery the DM prepared for you. Or the eyes weren't really glowing, since it was just a figure of speech. Only your DM knows this for sure, so you should ask her (him) first.

Why the shopkeeper reacted so aggressively? We don't know either. We can guess why, but only your DM knows this for sure. There is a couple of reasons tho, why the old lady could do that.

1. The spellcasting act itself is obvious

Unless your character is a sorcerer using subtle spell metamagic, the Charm Person spell requires verbal and somatic component, that means "chanting of mystic words" and "forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures" according to the book. So an unknown person comes to your shop, casts a spell (it failed on you but still) and then requires to give something for free. Looks like an obvious robbery attempt for me.

2. The target of the spell knows it was charmed

According to the spell description, the creature knows it was charmed "when the spell ends". The DM could rationalize, that it does not matter if the target succeeded or failed the saving throw — the target will know regardless of the reason why the spell ends.

You should talk with your DM if this bothers you

D&D is a game you can't play "wrong" as long as all participants are having fun. If some things bother you, you should talk about it with the DM. Be specific, name things you feel unfair or frustrating. Focus on your feelings, not on being "right" or "wrong" according to the rules. A decent DM will keep this in mind and adapt the game.

You can consider talking to your DM not by telling them what they did poorly, but focusing on how you felt. e.g. "Hey, last session, when X happened, I felt confused/frustrated because I couldn't figure out Y." You accurately know what you felt, so you can speak confidently about that. Your DM is unlikely to get defensive when you don't directly criticize them, so is more likely to help (thanks @BBeast for the summary).

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Emily if this is your actual question, all this shopkeeper story is a red herring. You should ask a straight question "Does the creature know it was charmed if it succeeded the saving throw?" If there are other questions remain, you should ask them separately, since we have "one post - one question" policy here. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 12:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't want anything from you @Emily, I just explain how things work here. I've asked the question myself — Does a creature targeted by the Charm Person spell “know it was charmed” if it succeeded on the saving throw? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 12:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ The idea was not to "confront" the DM, but give them feedback, if (s)he ever asked for it. There is a good habit to ask "how was the game? what was good? what was bad?" at the end of a session. If your particular DM is not interested in this, well, this is sad... you hardly can change this, unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 12:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Emily If it helps, you can consider talking to your DM not by telling them what they did poorly, but on how you felt. e.g. "Hey, last session, when X happened, I felt confused/frustrated because I couldn't figure out Y." You accurately know what you felt, so you can speak confidently about that. Your DM is unlikely to get defensive when you don't directly criticise them, so is more likely to help. Since the end of the session is a bad time for your group, ask at the start of the next session, before getting into the game. \$\endgroup\$
    – BBeast
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agree completely with item #1. casting some spell + giving orders = robbing the store. Now if the wizard said "I heard there was a sale on these potions" (hoping to get "oh, for you, they're free"), the shopkeeper might have merely been very suspicious. Or put another way, Charm spells can't be free gold. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2, 2020 at 23:00

Your DM likely invented it, but the rules entitle them to do so.

In D&D, there's rules-as-written, and there's the DM's creation, which may vary wildly and even invent magical effects for which there are no existing rules.

Rules-as-written, this action would normally go one of two ways:

  • The shopkeeper passes their saving throw. They are not charmed, and probably saw the verbal and somatic components of charm person, and could guess that you attempted to cast a spell on them. As a potion seller, they may even have sufficient magical knowledge to know you cast the spell. Even if they didn't notice you cast the spell, when you demand free potions, they would be within their rights to interpret it as a robbery attempt and order you to leave.
  • The shopkeeper fails their saving throw. For the next hour, they regard you "as a friendly acquaintance". Note that this is an acquaintance, not an ally or servant. When you demand free items, the shopkeeper is likely to reject this. In other words, charm person would still not have allowed you to rob the item shop. Since they are charmed, they should technically have rejected your offer in a more friendly way, but that's up to the DM.

In my estimation, the shopkeeper probably failed their saving throw, which is why the DM describes their eyes flashing (a detail not strictly in the rules, but the DM may invent such details). The DM then (correctly) asserted that the robbery attempt should fail, but the shopkeeper's hostile manner diverged slightly from the rules.

It's also entirely possible that the character simply broke out of the charm effect. They may be a 7th level monk, who can end charm effects on themselves using Stillness of Mind (PHB p.79). They could be immune to charm, such as a 10th level fey pact warlock with the Beguiling Defences ability (PHB p.109) They may have some ability or other magic item giving resistance to charm effects.

There may also be an effect present in the shop which counters charm person precisely to prevent situations like these, which, given that charm person is only a 1st-level spell and a potion shop sells primarily to adventurers, must be among the most common magical threats to the shop. The fact that the shopkeeper keeps a crossbow under the counter suggests that they are concerned about casual robbery and have taken at least basic preparations.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It makes sense that in a world where even beginner mages can cast spells to charm people, it would be common for shopkeepesr to have some measure to protect themselves. Otherwise, what fool in that world would go into business? \$\endgroup\$
    – Seth R
    Commented May 2, 2020 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ i would like to ad the dm toled me that the roled very high and passed the check but he never toled me this till after we had stopped for the night so why would he make me believe she is charmed when she was not \$\endgroup\$
    – Emily
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Emily, because DMs like to have fun too? They probably didn't appreciate you trying to use magic to rob the store (the shopkeeper NPC sure wouldn't!), so they decided to have a little fun and make you think about trying it next time. \$\endgroup\$
    – Seth R
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 21:45

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