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So the Feat goes:

If you spend 1 minute talking to someone who can understand what you say, you can make a Charisma (Persuasion) check contested by the creature’s Wisdom (Insight) check. If you or your companions are fighting the creature, your check automatically fails. If your check succeeds, the target is charmed by you as long as it remains within 60 feet of you and for 1 minute thereafter.

Can a player trigger this effect through a familiar when he speaks through it? I don't want to deny my player this "because I said so," but it totally breaks any notion of balance for him to (for instance) send his familiar to god knows where, find someone important, pretend to be a great wizard trapped in a pseudodragons body, charm them through diplomat, then make them do god knows what.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you say 'make them'? Do you allow charm in your games to be really powerful? All it does is make them treat you like a friendly acquaintance, which you would be anyway if you were friendly to them. There is only so much an intelligent diplomat would do for an acquaintance. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 11 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ You're right, I had a terminal case of smoothbrain when I posted the question. I neglected to read up on the actual "Charmed" condition, and I think I just had a brainfart and likened it to a domination type condition for hours when I tried to find the answers in RAW, Now that I realize the inherent restriction on the charmed condition I see less reason to disallow it at all \$\endgroup\$ – MushinMan Oct 11 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should add in the explanation for the Familiar in question, any important details or rules pertinent to understanding the mechanics of the situation. Others might not know the full ins-and-outs of how Familiars operate, and having that explanation will help improve the quality of answers you receive. \$\endgroup\$ – He Who Rules As Intended Oct 12 at 0:09
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It is DM fiat.

There's nothing explicitly preventing this, but it would be funny to have that NPC be charmed by the familiar and not by the warlock speaking throught it.

The effects of the charmed condition are two:

  • 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 would say that as a DM, you can make this work, but remember that the charmed creature is in complete control of their own actions and would still behave as it would have had if they weren't charmed: they simply are more susceptible to what the charmer might say. For instance, even if you charmed the king, said king would never forgo their position just because you are charming it.

In conclusion: the charmed condition is common through many spells that manipulate the target, but this feat does not include the extra benefits of those spells: it's just applying the charmed condition.

That, and I still think it would be hilarious to have the familiar charm another person this way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ not being able to attack the target is often contrary to 'would still behave as they would if not charmed', and obvs not 'complete control of their own actions'. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 11 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil You are not wrong, but not being able to do you harm doesn't entail they are compelled by your words to do any other thing. You still do not have any control over how that NPC might act on your requests nor can you force them to do any other thing that they might have never done in their right mind. \$\endgroup\$ – Kogarashi Kaito Oct 11 at 20:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is it DM fiat though? The invocation lets you speak through your familiar, while the feat is conditioned on talking with someone. This case seems more like simply rules interacting. \$\endgroup\$ – ChumpNicholson Oct 11 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KogarashiKaito Oh, for sure, it's no dominate or anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 13 at 4:30
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Maybe, as long as it keeps talking non-stop forever

How does Voice of the Chain Master work?

The Voice of the Chain Master eldritch invocation reads:

You can communicate telepathically with your familiar and perceive through your familiar’s senses as long as you are on the same plane of existence. Additionally, while perceiving through your familiar’s senses, you can also speak through your familiar in your own voice, even if your familiar is normally incapable of speech.

There are several basic things to note here:

  • You speak through the familiar. It's not your familiar speaking on your behalf or anything like that, it's you actually talking with your own voice, just in a remote location and "through" your familiar.

  • You can do this 'while perceiving through your familiar's senses'. Ordinarily with Voice of the Chain Master, that's limited to being on the same plane of existence, but that's not actually a requirement if you have some other way to perceive through your familiar's senses while it's off-plane.

  • You aren't (necessarily) where your familiar is, you are just speaking from that location without actually being there

How does Diplomat work?

The third benefit of the Diplomat feat reads:

If you spend 1 minute talking to someone who can understand what you say, you can make a Charisma (Persuasion) check contested by the creature's Wisdom (Insight) check. If you or your companions are fighting the creature, your check automatically fails. If your check succeeds, the target is charmed by you as long as it remains within 60 feet of you and for 1 minute thereafter.

There are some basic things to note here as well:

  • Diplomat expects but does not require a target within 60 feet of you at the end of the 1-minute timer.

  • Diplomat works weird linguistically on a target who was never within 60' of you.

  • You can use the feat any time you spend a minute talking to someone who can understand you, regardless of distance or attitude or whatever else. You don't need to be present, though c.f. If you're listening to a voice recording, can you hear me? .

How does Diplomat work against targets beyond 60'?

The language here is ambiguous. 'As long as' is clearly being used in the temporal rather than conditional sense, given the following 'and for 1 minute thereafter', but 'thereafter' doesn't have a clear meaning in the case of a target that isn't within 60 feet. There's no consistent standard for how to read the sentence in English in that case, but the two most common readings of similar sentences in my experience are that either the thing that didn't happen is treated as if it happened for 0 seconds (i.e. the 'additional time' is the amount of time expected to be used) or the total time is now expected to be 0 (i.e. the 'additional time' is lost).

In this case, the best for the warlock is that it lasts the 1 extra minute when having a conversation at 65' distance. That's also what happens if you interpret "thereafter" to mean after the base time of 0 rather than the remaining specifically.

Putting it all together

Voice of the Chain Master definitely lets you use the Diplomat feat at any range, bypassing the Treachery of Images issue with recordings. However, the ability when used beyond 60 ft certainly only last for a minute, and may if the DM is feeling mean not last more than 0 time-- the charmed condition being applied and removed all at once, useful only for things that trigger off of a creature becoming charmed by you.

Since the effect only lasts a minute and takes a minute to set up, keeping it up continually would require a constant stream of talking from your familiar-- consuming your senses and action each round, and likely being really obvious, suspicious, and annoying.

Note also that while your victim can't attack you while charmed, they can totally attack your familiar.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Err, no. RAW, the target acquires the charmed condition forever, even if the charmer never says another word, as long as the charmer remains within 60 ft of the charmed. If the charmer moves farther off, it then last for another minute. (Enough time to make a get away? Check before you move.) \$\endgroup\$ – Mary Oct 11 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ You aren't within 60 feet in this use case, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 11 at 19:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Non-stop talking would, RAW, have no effect. If the DM rules that it has to be the wizard, not the familiar, there is no charm, and if otherwise, the familiar doesn't have to keep on talking, just not to leave. \$\endgroup\$ – Mary Oct 11 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mary Sorry, I was expecting people to be familiar with the abilities in question, I'll add more introductory information when I get home; thanks for pointing out that's needed \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 11 at 21:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mary Better? edited \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 12 at 4:37

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