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Playing D&D 5e, but this Fiendish Charm was located in the DMsGuild adventure "The House of the Midnight Violet".

My party will soon be fighting a Fiend who has the "Fiendish Charm" ability. It says if the target suffers any harm , the target can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on success.

My question is - can the fellow players choose to do lower damage on a hit? like just straight up taking the minimum amount to help get their friend out of the charm, or are they at the mercy of the attacks and hope the player doesn't crit trying to dispel the charm?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. In addition to specifying the system/edition (e.g. by adding the appropriate tag, such as [dnd-5e] or [pathfinder-1e]), you may also want to specify what fiend you're talking about/the description of its Fiendish Charm ability; that way, users may be able to suggest better ways to accomplish the goal of ending the effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Oct 25 at 17:31
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You cannot intentionally lower weapon damage, but you have a weaker unarmed strike that deals less damage.

The only (officially published) fiend with the Fiendish Charm feature is the Cambion. The relevant portion reads:

If the target suffers any harm from the cambion or another creature or receives a suicidal command from the cambion, the target can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.

So the idea here is that our ally is charmed, and we want to do some damage to them (harm) in order to give them an opportunity to retry the saving throw. You cannot intentionally lower the damage of the attack, there is just no rule that allows that. The rules for Making an Attack state:

On a hit, you roll damage

And that's it. No ability to "pull your punches", so to speak, is given. However, punches may be a viable solution here. If you are not playing a monk that assigns a damage die to unarmed strikes, the following rule applies to all unarmed strikes (and optionally if you are a monk):

Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength modifier. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.

This effectively minimizes the damage you do with a melee attack, which is essentially what you're looking for here. Instead of slapping your ally with your sword, give them a good kick in the pants for less damage.

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    – V2Blast
    Oct 26 at 16:28
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Yes of course

  1. The DM describes the environment
  2. The players describe what they want to do
  3. The DM narrates the results of the action

Everything else in the book is just a set of rules that explain what normally happens in common situations and how to adjudicate or what dice to roll etc. Wanting to not really hurt someone is not standard, and thus not covered by the attack rolls.

In fact it is covered nicely in the description for point 2:

Sometimes, resolving a task is easy. If an adventurer wants to walk across a room and open a door, the DM might just say that the door opens and describe what lies beyond.

In this case, hitting weakly is easy, you just hit weakly. The damage rules are there for when you actually want to hurt your opponent. Adventurers are generally competent, and I assume that even I could cut someone with a dagger in a non-lethal way rather than accidentally plunge it into their heart - an adventurer certainly can.

There are cases for making attack rolls if hitting is in doubt, but start with the default assumption that if it sounds sensible, then the characters probably can do it.

Don't be tied down by the rules because they do not cover all situations.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I try and roll as few dice as possible, so yes actually. If there is a contest for any reason (such as the charmed character doesn't want to get slapped) then an attack role fits, but not a damage roll. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Oct 25 at 20:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ "There are cases for making attack rolls if hitting is in doubt, but start with the default assumption that if it sounds sensible, then the characters probably can do it." I would be more in favor of this answer if you could give some more guidance on when to call for rolls and when not to. Sure, maybe I could use my dagger to stab my shirtless ally just enough to deal 1 damage, but if I am wielding a greataxe, which only has one speed, but my ally is wearing plate armor, how are you deciding if I can hit automatically or not and if I can deal minimum damage on purpose, or not? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Flip the greataxe around and hold the shaft just under the blade, then furiously poke your ally with the handle. Or for something slightly more natural but potentially more damaging twist it sideways so the flat of the axe hits them. Spears can be reversed, swords or daggers can use the flat of the blade, clubs can just use less force/not follow through because there's not a cutting edge to begin with. If the GM isn't sure, they can always ask the player "how are you trying to do minimum damage?" and then adjudicate if the players suggestion is sensible. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 25 at 22:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevejackson121 no to turning the blades of an axe, sword or dagger. Try hitting with the side of an axe and it is more than unwieldy. And a proper sword held at the blade becomes a war pick. Halting a blow of a 2 pound cube at the end of a 1.5 foot stick will break your own wrist. Only spears can be arguably be used as staff. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Oct 26 at 11:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ "There are cases for making attack rolls if hitting is in doubt" Why would it not be in doubt in the stated scenario? A charmed PC will no longer view the other PCs as allies, and should therefore attempt to avoid any strikes from the non-charmed PCs as best they can. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 26 at 22:01

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