I animated a corpse (into a zombie) using the animate dead spell. During a fight with a succubus, the succubus tried to charm the zombie using its Charm ability:

One humanoid the fiend can see within 30 feet of it must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be magically charmed for 1 day. The charmed target obeys the fiend's verbal or telepathic commands. If the target suffers any harm or receives a suicidal command, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on a success. If the target successfully saves against the effect, or if the effect on it ends, the target is immune to this fiend's Charm for the next 24 hours.

The zombie is not immune to being charmed according to its stat block - but the animate dead spell says that I command the undead how to act.

Can the zombie be charmed into fighting me? In general, can creatures you command (familiars, summoned, animated) be charmed into fighting their master?


3 Answers 3


Can the zombie be charmed into fighting me?


In the specific case of the Succubus (and the spell Charm Person which the Charm action seems to borrow from) the target has to be a humanoid. A Zombie is of the type undead, and thus not a valid target. Though there are other spells and abilities that produce the charmed condition on any type of creature who is not immune to the charm condition, like Fey Presence and Hypnotic Pattern.

Moreover, the charm effect doesn't grant control, it would only prevents it from attacking the charmer, and gain advantage on social checks.

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. (PHB 290)

However, since the undead is compelled to follow the command of the person who controls it, the Zombie's new found love for you shouldn't prevent it from carrying out the task.

In general, can creatures you command (familiars, summoned, animated) be charmed into fighting its master?


Charmed doesn't allow control. Familiars would be susceptible to the charmed condition unless their stat block provides immunity.


Suggestion won't work on Zombies. Suggestion reads:

.. influence a creature you ca see within range that can hear and understand you. Creatures that can't be charmed are immune to this effect.

Zombies don't have drive/will, so even if someone suggested to the Zombie should attack you, it would be overridden by your command, as long as you are in control. Even outside of a caster's control, a Zombie doesn't care about anything except killing the nearest target; so suggesting outside of who or what to attack next might not have the intended affect -- but it up the DM what the Zombie does with the suggestion.

A Find Familiar (both typical and Pact of Chain) summoned familiar would arguably be susceptible to suggestion; and the variant familiar Imp, Quaist or Pseudodragon would definitely be susceptible to suggestion.


Dominate person wouldn't work on a Zombie, as a Zombie is not of type humanoid, it is of type undead. Dominate Monster (lvl 8 spell) would work to control a zombie.

Dominate Beast on a Find Familiar summoned familiar probably shouldn't work, because it isn't a beast, it is a spirit -- but Dominate Monster should, as it says specifically "creature" which includes spirits.

The variant familiar Imp, Quaist or Psudodragon would be a real creature, but all count as monsters by their type, so Dominate Monster would apply (not beast).

Summoned Creatures and constructs

Summoned creatures and constructs are all called forth from their own spells with their own verbiage. Some can be freed much more easily from the hold of the summoner than others. Most of them you lose control of by losing concentration. In either case, there are typically ways of using them against the caster.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer contains some verbiage on Charm not being usable to control creatures; While that’s true of the Charmed condition, there are spells and features which involve charms which explicitly do grant control of the charmed creature. The one that’s being asked about is the Succubus Charm, which does contain such verbiage, and thus the notes on the charmed condition as they are somewhat misleading. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Jun 9, 2020 at 15:11

No, a succubus can't use the Charm action on undead creatures

Succubi have the power to charm humanoids. Zombies are undead; they are not classified as humanoids.

The "Type" section of the introduction to the Monster Manual (p. 6) begins by describing the importance of a creature's type:

Certain spells, magic items, class features, and other effects in the game interact in special ways with creatures of a particular type.

defines these separate types of creatures:

Humanoids are the main people of the D&D universe, both civilized and savage, [...] They have language and culture, few if any innate magical abilities [...]

Undead are once-living creatures brought to a horrifying state of undeath through the practice of necromantic magic or some unholy curse. [...]

These defined types are used, among other things, to determine spell effects.

As quoted in the question, the succubus has the Charm action (MM, p. 285), whose description says it targets "One humanoid the fiend can see".

However, the zombie statblock says, under the monster's name (MM, p. 316; bold for emphasis mine):

Medium undead, neutral evil

Therefore, the Charm action of the succubus has no effect on undead.

Other charm effects follow their own rules

The succubus may only be able to charm humanoids, but other charm effects follow their own rules. For instance:

  • The 1st-level spell charm person (PHB, p. 221) also only works on humanoids. It also doesn't cause a target to unquestioningly obey commands on a failed save; the target simply becomes charmed, and treats the caster as a friendly acquaintance.
  • The 4th-level spell charm monster (XGtE, p. 151) can target any creature type, but is otherwise identical to charm person.
  • The 5th-level spell dominate person (PHB, p. 235) grants greater control over the charmed target on a failed save, but is still limited to humanoids.
  • In contrast, the 8th-level spell dominate monster (PHB, p. 235), which can target any creature type, could be used to wrest control of a zombie or skeleton from its animator. Like dominate person, it lets the caster issue general commands to the target telepathically without requiring an action, or take precise control of the target until the end of your next turn by using an action.
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer would be improved by including the game's definition of 'humanoid', a list of all available subtypes, the rule that says that humanoid is always means a creature type, or something similar. Without that some people (myself included) will fall back to the normal english definition of humanoid: Has 2 legs, 2 arms, a torso, a head, and walks upright. Which would mean zombies are definitely humanoid. Maybe I'm nuts, but it feels like you are missing one of the legs on a very well constructed tripod. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shane
    Mar 9, 2016 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Shane Zombie dogs aren't humanoid. But you're right about everything else. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Mar 9, 2016 at 23:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it might be more correct for you to say that it is possible, but not with the situation the OP was in. \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Mar 10, 2016 at 15:39

Animate Dead is not influenced by Charm.

"Charmed" is a specific status condition in 5E. It means:

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.

Source: 5E Srd.com

Surprisingly, being charmed doesn't seem it interact at all with Animate Dead, which says:

On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command any creature you made with this spell

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your answer completely ignores the fact that Charm only works on humanoids, and zombies are not humanoid. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 10, 2016 at 13:45

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