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Scenario

Standard action, the bard casts Charm Monster. The monster changes posture, it seems to have worked!

"Back up, I charmed it" - he yells to his allies (free action)

while gesturing at the monster to stop fighting (move action or fluff alluding to action for next round?)

Question

What's the earliest he can make the Opposed Charisma Check to convince (Int 1) monster to back off and stop attacking allies, assuming all his allies immediately went full defense and that there's no one except for the party and the monster there?

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3 Answers 3

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Talking is a Free Action

Nothing in Charm Monster explicitly states that a particular type of action is required to command the target, only that an opposed Charisma checks required if you command them to do something that they normally would not. In the case of casting it in the middle of a fight "Stop attacking the people who were just beating on you with swords" probably requires one such check.

Now we contrast with a similar spell, Dominate Monster

Changing your orders or giving a dominated creature a new command is a move action.

Here, we can see that the spell explicitly calls out what type of action is required to issue a command. Since Charm Monster lacks this language, this restriction does not apply.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Dominate monster is at least a 6th level spell (double) but mostly a 9th level one (6 levels higher) - a one way telepathic link requiring a move action makes it probable that a lower level spell requires more -- but then with dominate you're basically remote controlling, which does sound like more effort than suggesting something to a friend... hard to say. \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 19:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I expect that the real reason the limitation was placed on Dominate but not on Charm was because A) you get absolute control, which takes more effort, and B) to try and balance the spell a tiny bit, because getting to take your own full turn plus the targets own full turn is pretty strong. Meanwhile, with Charm all you can do is suggest a course of action, which leaves far more room for interference by a DM if the spell is getting out of hand. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 20:24
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Free Action

The spell does not enable you to control the charmed person as if it were an automaton, but it perceives your words and actions in the most favorable way. You can try to give the subject orders, but you must win an opposed Charisma check to convince it to do anything it wouldn’t ordinarily do.

The typical wording if this required a separate action would be 'as a standard action' or similar. Instead, it just says 'words and actions' and 'convince', which sounds like talking to me, a free action (of which you can take a 'reasonable' number per round).

Your GM may have a differing opinion, as this is vague. Performing a diplomacy check as a standard action (to change someone's attitude towards you) is a thing - they may rule that this is something similar. However, other GMs may rule that a charmed creature 'perceiving your words and actions in the most favourable way' means they stop attacking you and your friends (until the creature is again attacked, breaking the spell).

In the end it does come down to GM, but by RAW my take would be that it is a Free Action like other instances of talking, that then triggers an actionless opposed Charisma check.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note the example gave Intelligence of 1 - so talking is likely out \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Performing a Diplomacy check to influence attitude takes "1 minute of continuous interaction". It is not a standard action. \$\endgroup\$
    – niekell
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 23:23
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Not an action

The way I have seen it played with Charm Person (to which Charm Monster is identical), an opposed Charisma check is either done in addition to whatever other checks and actions required (e.g. using Diplomacy) or is not an action at all.

In most cases, this is a limitation that makes the spell quite a bit weaker than the much-feared art of Diplomancy, so it's just an additional check you have to make to succeed at something else. You gain something (an automatically friendly attitude) for losing something (having to make an extra check)

However, because no special action is specified for an opposed Charisma check, it is itself no action at all, which enables you to make it when it's not your turn (which you usually can't do with actions).

Take note that while speaking is a Free action that you can even take on someone else's turn, "treat the target’s attitude as friendly" means that you have to use Diplomacy to Make a Request, which "takes 1 or more rounds of interaction, depending upon the complexity of the request". Improving target's attitude further would take 1 additional minute of talking.

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