I'm in a campaign with a reasonably permissive and flexible GM. Currently, I'm trying to put together an enlightened and charismatic bodhisattva type character who charms everything with his voice, but never hurts people himself.

There are plenty of options for creating charming characters, but almost none that involve not doing damage. One of the ideas I had to solve this issue was to give up a feat/feats to allow me to forgo dice of damage to add/enhance the non-damaging effects of charming attack powers.

I'm really just stuck for ideas at the moment. The best I can come up with is enhancing the attack-roll, or reducing their saving throw by the number of damage dice given up.

Are there any other examples, or suggested abilities that I can present to my GM that would help me to build this concept?


To clarify, I'm not asking "How do I make a pacifist character?", but more "How do I add effects by sacrificing my ability to do damage?" or "What specific examples of forgoing damage for added benefits are there in other classes?", etc.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Similar to: Role playing with powers, solely for the effect without damage and Can I play an effective pacifist in D&D 4e?. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzrlk
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 2:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't have time for an in-depth answer, but you might check out the pacifist cleric as well as the bard PP Life Singer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 2:46
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I'll be honest here, there is a good chance that you are playing the wrong game if you want to play a character like this. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 3:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle: Unfortunately I don't have a choice on the game system, but as I said, the GM is flexible. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzrlk
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage Since I'm going for a charming type character, the pacifist cleric isn't thematically appropriate, but the PP Life Singer looks like a good source of inspiration. Cheers. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzrlk
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:08

2 Answers 2



If you don't want to deal damage you've got some options:

  • The lazy warlord or Shaman. Basically you build either a warlord or a Shaman that doesn't deal damage, but instead grants lots of attacks. This is heavily party dependent, you'll want a few characters in your party who specialize in basic attacks to deal with this. You don't have to be completely lazy, you can just emphasize powers that grant attacks and bonuses and take a few damaging powers. (The right warlord can also be a party face if that's desired)

  • The pacifist cleric. This is a very strong healer who can take some powers that deal damage, but mostly stays away from damage dealing powers in favor of powers that grant bonuses and heals for the party.

If you only want to trade a cut of your damage for status effects several strikers have feat options that allow you to remove a die or so of their striker damage and add on a status effect (if this interests you can I can expand this).

  • Underhanded Tactics (Rogue) Dragon 368 - Trade a die of SA for -2 attack penalty
  • Hobbling Strike (Ranger) MP2 - Trade a die of Quarry for Slow
  • Staggering Strike (Ranger) MP2 - Trade a die of Quarry for Push 1
  • Disheartening Ambush (Rogue, Paragon) MP2 - Trade a die of SA for rattling
  • Enlarge Spell (Wizard) AP - subtract 2 from each die to increase spell size by 1
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the forgo damage for extra effects is exactly what I'm looking for in this question. Really just examples of where they're used, and suggestions that I can pass on to my GM. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzrlk
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Tzrlk I've added a list of the feat options available \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Tzrlk to be honest, I'd go Shaman or Warlord and take a mix of damaging, non-damaging and attack granting powers. they are both a ton of fun to play. That said, you could make a mean penalty dishing rogue if you wanted to :) \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sad that the list of existing options is so narrow; it really seems like this sort of thing would make powers more versatile and interesting. Would be nice if they added custom content back into the character creator. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzrlk
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:28
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Tzrlk there might be some other options to reduce damage outright, but these are the ones that deal with the phrase "Damage die" and involve reducing it. \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:33

There are plenty of options for creating charming characters, but almost none that involve not doing damage.

I'll go on a tangential approach here: Hit points do not equal physical damage. To quote the explanation of Hit Points in the Rules Compendium and the Player's Handbook:

Hit Points

Over the course of a battle, adventurers and monsters take damage from attacks. Hit points measure the ability of a creature to stand up to punishment, turn deadly strikes into glancing blows, and stay on its feet throughout a battle. Hit points represent more than physical endurance. They also represent skill, luck, and resolve—all the factors that combine to help a creature stay alive in combat.


Powers, abilities, and actions that restore hit points are forms of healing. Characters (and some monsters) might regain hit points through rest, heroic resolve, or magic. When a creature heals, add the number of hit points regained to its current hit points. A creature can heal up to its maximum hit point total but can’t exceed it.

You can have an entire fight where the only thing being damaged is someone's resolve to keep on fighting, or their stamina and ability to keep on going. The Fey Warlock's many nightmare-inducing psychic attacks - like Eyebite - very distinctly almost certainly do not inflict any sort of physical harm. Incidentally, this is also why D&D 4e doesn't have a concept of nonlethal damage - because D&D 4e doesn't say that damage is lethal in the first place.

Bearing this in mind, reskin your powers

If your character doesn't physically injure anyone, then what does the damage your character deals represent?

  • Does it erode at their willingness to continue fighting?
  • Do you have the magical ability to do that, or is that just a mundane result of the force of your personality?
  • Do you employ a school of power which aims to weaken people temporarily rather than injure them, sapping their strength and stamina, drawing fights to end through the sides ceasing to fight rather than through someone's death?

For each power that involves harming someone physically, reconsider the flavor text. What other flavor can you apply to that power that has the same mechanical effects?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent answer. I'd upvote, but I'm too new to this board to have enough rep. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzrlk
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pity I can't accept more than one answer. This is a really good piece of advice that I'll be certain to include in the character build. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzrlk
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 4:40

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