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I have a player that has attuned to an Orb of Dragonkind and failed the check to avoid being charmed by it. This part of the item applies (emphasis mine):

While attuned to an orb, you can use an action to peer into the orb's depths and speak its command word. You must then make a DC 15 Charisma check. On a successful check, you control the orb for as long as you remain attuned to it. On a failed check, you become charmed by the orb for as long as you remain attuned to it.

While you are charmed by the orb, you can't voluntarily end your attunement to it, and the orb casts suggestion on you at will (save DC 18), urging you to work toward the evil ends it desires.

The other players are aware that this character has been charmed by the orb, and are trying to figure out a way to break the "curse". Can they do it? If so, how?

A couple of things that come to mind:

  1. Remove Curse. I'm thinking it doesn't work, as this is not a curse, and the item isn't, strictly speaking, cursed.
  2. Greater Restoration. This should work in theory: "You can [...] end [...] One effect that charmed or petrified the target". But it won't remove the attunement, and the text of the object says this applies "as long as you remain attuned to it"
  3. Disintegrating or otherwise destroying the orb. Would definitely work (it's listed in the object itself), but the characters don't have that ability yet.
  4. Breaking the attunement, for example by hiding the orb out of range (see Can you break somebody else's attunement on a magic item?). This should also work, and is probably the easiest way, but I'm trying to think of all possibilities.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that a Disintegrate spell would be ineffective, since it doesn't affect magic items at all. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2023 at 0:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RyanC.Thompson It's specifically called out as an option in the Orb's description, though: "An Orb of Dragonkind appears fragile but is impervious to most damage, including the attacks and breath weapons of dragons. A disintegrate spell or one good hit from a +3 magic weapon is sufficient to destroy an orb, however." \$\endgroup\$
    – Timst
    Nov 29, 2023 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ One piece of information that is IMO missing from this question: Do you want the players to succeed? Mind control effects on player-characters are an iffy topic, because they take away player agency. So it would probably be a good idea for the DM to make it easy for the players to solve this problem ASAP. But on the other hand, if the whole group is on board with this plot twist, then the player might be able and willing to roleplay their character as if they were mind-controlled, handing agency back to the player. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Nov 30, 2023 at 12:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ IMHO Remove Curse is a matter of DM interpretation, as this effect is mechanically very similar to a curse even though it does not use the literal word "curse." If you want it to work, then you would be well within your rights to rule that it does work. But be prepared for players to attempt to use Remove Curse on other objects with negative effects in the future, and think about how you intend to respond to those attempts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin
    Dec 1, 2023 at 0:03

4 Answers 4

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Just take the orb away

The rules for attunement (p. 138, PHB) say:

A creature's attunement to an item ends if the creature no longer satisfies the prerequisites for attunement, if the item has been more than 100 feet away for at least 24 hours, if the creature dies, or if another creature attunes to the item.

As you only become charmed as long as you are attuned to the orb, when the attunement ends, so does the charm. So just take the orb away more than 100 feet and more than 24 hours. Alternatively, someone else can try and attune to it, or you can kill and revivify the attuned character. All of them will break the attunement, and with that, the charm.

Of course, a character under the influence of the orb will probably do whatever is in their power to prevent any of this from happening.

(I first thougth another approach is to use Dominate Person on them, and if they fail the saving throw, you can take total control of them, and force them to involuntarily end the attunement. Unfortunately, that does not work for you as disattuning takes an hour, and the spell does not last that long unless you upcast it to 7th level. And if you have no access to disintegrate yet, you likely have no access to this, either. But it would end attunement without destroying the orb).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Dominate Person should be sufficient to get them to hand you the orb, though. Even if the orb casts Suggestion telling them not to, I would think that taking total control overrides any choices the character might make on their own regardless of whether those choices are influenced by magic. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2023 at 0:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ True. Depending on their capabilites, just waiting until they sleep or trance also might be a low tech approach to get the orb, hobbit vs Gandalf style. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2023 at 0:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is option 4 in OP's possible methods in the question, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – justhalf
    Nov 29, 2023 at 9:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Justhalf, yes, I think so for the first part. I don't think the first 2 in their list would work, and they have no disintegrate (plus, it would destroy a potentially very useful and powerful artifact), so breaking attunement, or making them break attunement with domination seem like the best options, and out of these #4 is by far the most practical. Especially because they are not dealing with a dragon here. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2023 at 9:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ there's an easier option: DIE, and then Rivivify. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Nov 30, 2023 at 14:27
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Greater Restoration should do it - but it should break both the charm and attunement.

But the orb should be aware of these risks. If the other PCs talk about their knowledge of the charm anywhere near the orb, the PC with the orb should already be doomed. The orb has at-will suggestion, that means it can suggest a course of action every single turn, with DC 18.

If the orb is aware that the other PCs are aware of the charm, or that the other PCs are leery of the PC keeping the orb, the PC will be spammed with suggestions that they are trying to steal the PC's orb and thus the PC should get away from them (or, preemptively neutralize them some other way).

The hard part isn't unattuning the item and breaking the charm, mechanically. The hard part is the PC with the orb should be actively opposing breaking the charm.

Finally, note that the orb has no visible effect when it charms or does not charm. Short of divination magic of some kind, there is no way for the in-game characters to know if the PC is charmed by the orb, and divination magic is usually pretty obtuse about this kind of thing. Not even the PC who fails/passes the saving throw would know they are under the charm effect.

They just know they don't want to harm the orb, and that they won't break attunement, and that they have these perfectly reasonable ideas (suggestion) every once in a while. (The orb spamming suggestion should be left for emergencies (like, the orb notices the PCs are trying to break its hold), as if you suddenly get an unstoppable wave of repeated intrusive thoughts you discard then they just come back, you might suspect something).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there anything that would make someone immune to Suggestion? Intellect Fortress (3rd) gives advantage on the Wis save, like from Bard countercharm. Protection from Evil and Good (1st) makes you immune to charm and possession, but only from creatures of certain types (extra-planar and undead), not including dragons, and this isn't a creature anyway. Mind Blank (8th) would work and is range: touch, but the OP's party doesn't have 6th-level spells yet. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2023 at 10:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant: A character under a charm and being given suggestions can still RP their character, just... RPing what the character would do when suddenly they're absolutely convinced that X is the best course of action. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2023 at 23:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @coppereyecat In 5e, Charm has limited effects - you won't harm the source of your charm, and it has social check advantages. But Suggestion, anything framed as "reasonable" is bought hook line and sinker on a failed save. And "your friends are trying to take your cool magic item away from you, you should prevent them" is a "reasonable" suggestion for most D&D characters. And at-will spam suggestion? I mean, resisting that is going to be tricky. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Dec 1, 2023 at 1:35
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Frame challenge: It should primarily be up to the characters to solve "problems", not necessarily the DM or even the players.

Starting with the most obvious point: the orb is not just a debuff/curse to be gotten rid of without thought - it does provide significant benefits that the player might want to keep. Additionally, whilst the players are aware of what is going on, their characters may not and given that DND is (among other things) a medium for storytelling, actions should have a cause and a motivation:

  • Do the characters have reason to suspect one of the party is charmed?
  • Would they know it is because of the orb and not some other effect?
  • Why would the characters and/or players want to break the connection/charm?
  • Would the characters even know how to break the connection? (very specifically not the players for this point)

I firmly believe it is just as important, if not more important, to consider motivations, because a player knowing a potential solution does not automatically mean their character does

On the other hand, enjoyment and consent should come above all else so having the other answer for some in game solutions, should the player want the attunement broken, is valuable. And finally, if a problem is becoming unhealthy/unfun you can always discuss in meta with the group to find a way forward.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good point yes. I'm not asking to solve the problem for them, but it's more to know what would be valid options, and to add/withhold elements to make it easier/harder to solve the "problem" (one of the characters did witness the attunement, noticed the behavior change, and wants to reverse it, but your last point is valid: they wouldn't necessarily know how the charm works and how to break it) \$\endgroup\$
    – Timst
    Nov 29, 2023 at 20:37
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Kill the character, then cast revivify.

Dying breaks all attunements, including cursed objects. While it's a little bit of an extreme measure, in the case where the party sees the character has been influenced by a magical artifact and understands what they're seeing IC, basically any adventurer of level 5 or higher who's ever received the revivify spell in the middle of an adventure is painfully aware of the side-effects, as they all desperately hope for an opportunity to rest and re-attune.

And in the scope of extreme, if the choice is between the character being forced to do something they'll regret for the rest of their lives, or being dead for less than a minute, it's reasonable that plenty of adventurers, I think, would pick dead for less than a minute.

It's also a little bit more expensive than Greater Restoration, but runs into none of the difficulties associated with the Orb influencing its owner - given that you organize the party quietly and surprise the one being charmed while they're resting. For their own good, of course. >.>

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 at times, extreme is best. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Thank-Glob
    Nov 30, 2023 at 18:54

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