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What is there in the rules which could allow me to make an evil creature less evil, or inhibit their evil, to the point they are “house safe”?

I’m ideally looking for something like an item (e.g. a collar) which could be placed on the creature, or a spell that could have been cast on them, at the NPC’s behest.

The specific creature I’m looking at is a lamia, if it makes any difference.

Background

I’m planning an NPC politician who I want to give a slightly unsavoury feel to, without having them doing anything overt like running around killing people (depending on how the campaign develops, I’m planning that they could turn into a populist leader who may or may not turn out to be evil). The NPC will be friendly towards the PCs, but I want some unsavoury flags that will suggest to the PCs not to trust them, without anything overtly illegal or that the paladin will immediately feel compelled to jump in and resolve. What I have in mind is a “trophy wife” lamia or a ‘zoo’ or something.

Frame challenge or what worked in your experience is also appreciated.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As I’m going to describe the creature rather than give a race, a Mailith or Yuan-Ti would be fine also. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan W Sep 14 at 10:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for something the players can change/undo? I'm worried this is ultimately an idea generation question. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 14 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please update your question to make clear whether you want the NPC to do the inhibiting of the lamia or whether you are generally seeking for all rules that could inhibit the alignment of the lamia. I voted to close for a lack of details -from review. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Sep 14 at 12:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch no, not planning on the players changing - or interacting with it. It’s really just to give a negative vibe to the NPC. \$\endgroup\$ – Dan W Sep 14 at 12:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OwenReynolds Please don't answer in comments, even partially or as a frame challenge. We try not to do that here. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 15 at 12:23
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None of your options are pretty here--where you say "evil tendencies inhibited" what you're saying is that it is either mind-controlling them, or subverting their personality. Most of these options are very evil...but may not be illegal since your politician is subjecting a "monster" to them. But, as I say, you do have options. We'll start with things such as spells/items.

WARNING: Make sure your players are okay with this sort of mental subversion--what your politician is doing is extremely abusive behavior.

Geas

5th level spell. Depending on how powerful of a caster laid it down, it would need to be renewed occasionally.

You place a magical command on a creature that you can see within range, forcing it to carry out some service or refrain from some action or course of activity as you decide. If the creature can understand you, it must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become charmed by you for the duration. While the creature is charmed by you, it takes 5d10 psychic damage each time it acts in a manner directly counter to your instructions, but no more than once each day.

In short, you give the Lamia a fairly broad-reaching Geas, such as "Be a good wife" or "Never do something that would harm me in any way" and it will take massive psychic damage if it disobeys.

Modify Memory

It'd take a while and multiple repeat castings of this spell, but a high enough level spellcaster can, given time, rewrite sufficient chunks of an individual's memory. Do this enough, and you can rescript their personality.

While this charm lasts, you can affect the target's memory of an event that it experienced within the last 24 hours and that lasted no more than 10 minutes. You can permanently eliminate all memory of the event, allow the target to recall the event with perfect clarity and exacting detail, change its memory of the details of the event, or create a memory of some other event.

At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, you can alter the target's memories of an event that took place up to 7 days ago (6th level), 30 days ago (7th level), 1 year ago (8th level), or any time in the creature's past (9th level).

Remove Curse or Greater Restoration purges all instances of this spell.

Feeblemind

You blast the mind of a creature that you can see within range, attempting to shatter its intellect and personality.

8th level spell so this is on the rather powerful end, but a sufficiently powerful Feeblemind is unrecoverable (Int of 1 gives a -5 to saves, with no proficiency bonus, a DC of 16 is insurmountable). A feebleminded individual is basically incapable of taking initiative on anything.

Force a Visit to Bytopia

This is more about changing alignment, but this is an optional rule/plane from the DMG where anyone taking a long rest on that plane has to make a Wisdom Save or become Lawful or Neutral Good--keep em there 1d4 days and it becomes a permanent change.

Caution: Send a patsy to do this with a lie about why you want it done...if your politician goes, he might risk, gasp, becoming a decent person.

Magic Item

As DM, you can make up magic items however you'd like. Perhaps there's a collar that can cast Dominate Monster on the creature who is wearing it, controlled by the person who is attuned to it. Snake-girl behaves herself out of fear of the collar being activated. Or, perhaps, Reverse Sanctuary...it's a cursed item that makes its wearer act like everyone else is protected by the Sanctuary spell.

Alignment is wibbly

The alignment specified in a monster’s stat block is the default. Feel free to depart from it and change a monster’s alignment to suit the needs of your campaign. If you want a good-aligned green dragon or an evil storm giant, there’s nothing stopping you.

If it suits the needs of your story for this NPC to be non-evil, then go ahead and make that change.

Frame Shift

This is going deep into "Your players might be uncomfortable with this" territory...but you don't need magic to change something's behavior. Abusers do it to their victims IRL on a regular basis. Punish 'undesired' behavior, reward 'desired' behavior, and force a dependency on you.

If you still want to include magic in this, then might I suggest giving a read to this reddit post (too long to transcribe here) that provides a breakdown of how a spellcaster used relatively low-level magic to shatter the sanity of an unsuspecting girl. Obvious warning on that link, as it talks through some serious abuse.

Don't explain it

You don't have to explain every minute detail of a setting to your players. Your Politician has a snake girl that would normally be a dangerous monster as a pet. He probably did something unsavory to attain this control, but if he doesn't explain what he did--then the PCs will never learn the details.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Oh, I agree that all of them have potential issues, mucking about with a creature's personality isn't an exact science. But if OP is asking for a mechanical explanation for the situation (so that it can possibly be reversed), then "plot" can align to resolve those potential issues. I mean, personally, as a DM...if I'm attaching a mechanical explanation to a setting detail, it's because I want my players to be able to interact with it. I'd want my players to be able to recognize signs of whatever was going on, identify it with a skill check, then have a way to 'resolve' it. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Sep 14 at 12:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DanW It's important to note that if you do use an existing mechanic, then the players may want to utilize that mechanic to negate it. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 14 at 13:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DanW You should never feel that narrating your story is abusing the DM wand. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 14 at 13:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Lamia have Geas as a daily ability. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 14 at 13:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, a visit to Bytopia could backfire in spectacularly horrible (for NPC baddie) -- the Lamia, becoming lawful or neutral good, might seek to overthrow/depose her "master" for the good of the region/society/etc if her alignment is strong enough (though if not strongly aligned, she may become submissive/safe simply to avoid causing harm)! Similarly, a patsy may realize they've been sent to do something immoral by NPC baddie, and conspire with (or inspire) the Lamia! \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J Sep 15 at 15:34
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It's an NPC, you don't need a specific mechanic

This is your story, you can make it do anything you want! If you want two characters to have a specific relationship, then all you need to do is narrate that to the players.

Individuals remain individuals, and you don't need to take the general descriptions about creatures as applicable to all of those creatures.

Storytelling can require a much looser application of the rules, and you as DM have control over the world, the characters, and everything else - you aren't limited.

Bypassing a traditional mechanic also means that there isn't a risk of the player's finding a simple way to unravel your story. It gives you the freedom to let the players be players and react to what they may do. If they come up with something awesome, then tell that awesome story. This isn't about power, or abusing it, it's about creating a cohesive story that you and your players can interact with in the way you want.

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