A Monk with the Stillness of Mind feature can use their action to end one effect on themselves which is causing them to be charmed or frightened.

By virtue of having this ability, does the Monk know when they are charmed (such as by the charm person spell, or a vampire's Charm ability) in order to expend an action to activate it?

Specifically, does something feel "off" to them when they are charmed and thus allow them to override the charm's stated effects in favor of activating Stillness of Mind?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think your question about whether a monk can use their action to overcome the 'total and precise control' of a dominate spell is unique enough to deserve its own separate question post. It's about the actual ability to use Stillness of Mind, not about awareness of the need to use it. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 5:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Every turn I'm not otherwise spending my action I end one charm/fright effect upon myself. \$\endgroup\$
    – aslum
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 14:53

9 Answers 9


Monks don't inherently know when they've been charmed, but we do still need to allow them to use their abilities. (From a Rules As Intended perspective, the monk wouldn't have this ability if there were no way to use it.)

I recommend you rule that, although the monk's conscious mind doesn't know when it's been charmed, the monk's subconscious can recognize the charm and can choose to remove it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is probably the most direct reasoning. There's no point to the ability otherwise. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting tangent is, that a savvy charmer could keep the monk busy and not allow them to have an action available for removing the charm. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 10:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ There are ways to use the ability with meta-gaming it; any character that is charmed can ask for insight checks to see if they realise something is wrong, their allies can try to convince them etc. At which point a Monk can use Stillness of Mind, a Berserker can Mindless Rage, or a caster can use Dispel Magic or Greater Restoration. \$\endgroup\$
    – Haravikk
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 13:13

Not inherently, but they can discover the charm

Usually, it's closest to the rules to assume that if a feature doesn't say it grants you an ability to detect something, then you don't have the ability to detect it. With that being said, the Sage Advice article for September 2016 states:

You and your companions might deduce that you were beguiled if evidence of the spell is found. It’s ultimately up to the DM whether you discover the presence of inconspicuous spells. Discovery usually comes through the use of skills like Arcana, Investigation, Insight, and Perception or through spells like detect magic.

With this, the DM has license to take this one of three directions:

  1. The Monk can't detect the charm alone: This feels kind of dirty to me. The sage advice suggests that a skill check could reveal the charm. But this would force the monk's friends to help them by convincing them that they were charmed, or that they should cleanse themself, just to be safe.
  2. The Monk can notice it with a Arcana/Insight/Other ability check: This follows the Sage advice pretty closely, and allows the monk a chance to use their features. But the player might grumble that they have to jump through a hoop that isn't specified in the rules to use a feature that they assumed didn't require a check. Though, that is completely player dependent. Some people like making ability checks.
  3. Screw the rules, just let them end it: Usually, being charmed isn't something that comes up a lot. It probably won't hurt anything to just let the monk end the charm. The player gets to use a class feature, it feels good, and everyone's happy. Though, I wouldn't go this route if a key point of the plot involves lots of charms.

In conclusion, the monk's feature doesn't by RAW let them notice the charm, but the sage advice suggests that they could discover it, either with an ability check, or by being convinced by their friends that something isn't right. But letting them just end the charm without going through all those steps probably won't hurt anything, assuming that charms aren't a core part of your game/story.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "2 the first time, 3 after that" could be a good compromise \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 10:10

Yes the monk can use its action to end it.

The monk's Stillness of Mind feature says:

Starting at 7th level, you can use your action to end one effect on yourself that is causing you to be charmed or frightened.

This isn't any different than Diamond Soul or Purity of Body. Monks get a lot of resistances, immunities and additional saves and effects. Basically, conditions aren't something you should be attempting to target a monk with. Of note, the skill does not state the monk knows it was charmed of frightened. So unless the effect has a specific wording that tells the target, like Charm Person does, the monk would not automatically know.

I find that the wording of this skill is fairly absolute. Personally, I think that the turmoil caused by a charm or frighten is enough of a clue to the monk that they would simply pause for a moment and seek clarity within before choosing a further course of action.

Picture Rey at the end of Force Awakens. That's Stillness of Mind, successfully removing an ongoing frightened condition.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The question isn't whether or not the monk can end the charm, the question is whether or not the Monk realizes that he's been charmed. The idea being that a monk that doesn't realize he's been charmed would not have a reason to even use the Stillness of the Mind. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 3:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ As the skill quite clearly states: "...end one effect on yourself that is causing you to be charmed or frightened." It does not say you need to be aware of it. Just that it has to be causing the effect. Like I said, the wording is fairly absolute. People can downvote this into oblivion if they like. If the skill worked any other way, it would be a completely useless class feature. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 4:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ It also says that it requires an action. This suggests that the monk is actively doing something; a small chant maybe, or a ki manipulation on himself perhaps. Regardless, if it takes the monk's action, then it is reasonable to assume that if it were reality, many monks wouldn't use the action, whatever it is, unless they are suspicious that they are charmed. Some players really like acting rationally as their character like that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 5:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or the monk is simply taking a moment to still a mind suddenly in turmoil when it usually isn't. Either way, the skill does NOT require a check to see if the monk knows they're charmed. That's adding a barrier to a skill for no reason, and is not part of the skill in question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 5:05

Metalevel considerations on this are hocus bombus. Questioning the nature of perception is a slippery slope. We don't remove AC bonuses from fighters on the basis of whether they percieve that a shield was necessary, or remove evasion bonuses from rogues on the basis of whether they percieve that they triggered a trap or a wizard was casting a spell. It is the responsibility of the DM to provide subtetly beyond a static label of "You are frightened or charmed or under an illusory effect."

Just don't tell the players any more than the character knows. Let them make up their own minds and roleplay as best they can. If the player doesn't use the ability and it bites them in the ass, so be it. Or vice versa, don't railroad the table because you can't deal with players using their class abilities to play the game.

Further, monks are trained to engage a disciplined mindset of rational consideration. Anything that impedes that with violation of their martial axioms and unwelcome emotions violates stillness of mind.

Even further, in terms of practical consideration, how exactly do you use the class ability if the effect it specifies circumvents usage? Why would anyone write such a useless runaround, unless the intent was to provide a charm counter?

In which case, yes, the monk can know they are charmed, and can end the charm by using the turn to mantra or littany or whatever.


I am by no means an expert, but my opinion on this would depend on the nature of the charm. One definition I've heard of the "charmed" status effect is simply that the person that charmed you is considered your "best friend" by your character. You would do nearly anything to help that person, but probably not die for them. Consider if your own best friend asked you to jump on a grenade for them. You might call into question your friendship with them.

That being said, unless they are being dominated, and their state of mind was being called into question by an ally, the monk could focus their mind and dispel the charm, ending the effect.

Of course, RAW, it seems like the player can just decide to end the effect on their character, by virtue of being monk and self-aware. Similar to how a lucid dreamer often and regularly questions whether they are awake or dreaming at any given point. It's become a habit, and thereby part of the character.

Either seem to fit aesthetically to me, monks are all about introspection and focus of the mind.


No, the monk does not know he/she is charmed

Charm Person and the Friends cantrip both state "When the spell ends, the creature knows it was charmed by you."

As this is specifically stated in these cases, that means that if it's not explicitly stated, that you don't know. Furthermore, even in these cases you don't know until after the charm ends.


Only if the monk recognizes the casting of the spell

Charm Person states

When the spell ends, the creature knows it was charmed by you.

This means that during the duration of the spell, the target doesn't know that it's being charmed, and thus cannot use Stillness of Mind to end the charm.

The charmed effect would break down if the target is aware that it is charmed only from the status effect. This knowledge would allow the target to act in a manner contrary to being charmed ("I know that it's only the charmed effect that's making me not want to attack this creature, so I'll attack it anyway"), and thus eliminate the effects of being charmed in all cases. I'd argue that making the saving throw against being charmed would represent this realization.

However, in the case of Charm Person, it's possible that the monk could see and recognize the spell being cast (see this question), and know that he/she is being charmed. This knowledge, which is separate from the status effect itself, would allow a target to know that they are being charmed. The target would have to recognize the source of the magic (a wizard casting a spell, or a vampire using its magic powers) and the effects of the magic (this spell causes people to be charmed) in order to figure out that they themselves are being charmed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer only addresses the spell charm person. It would be a much better answer if it addressed the charmed condition, which is what the question is asking about. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 6:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate the cited question. I suppose my question would go in contrast to that, which states that the target doesn't know they've been charmed would the monk at least know something is off enough to justify that they need to clear their mind and effectively activate Stillness of Mind. I've edited my original question to better better inquire on that aspect. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 13:53

The character knows only what the DM allows the character to know.

This is directly implied by the implementation of knowledge skills. You roll, add your bonus, and then the DM decides what your character knows about a particular subject based on the results. Many DMs hand-wave common knowledge to make life easier: virtually every character knows for example that goblins are short and that the undead are inherently evil. But make no mistake, what is considered "common knowledge" could easily vary from DM to DM.

So to answer your actual question, no. Short of DM assistance or the rule being changed to explicitly state that the Monk knows whether they are Charmed or Frightened, there is no way to know for sure.

Does this matter in the grand scheme of things? Not really.

As Lino Frank Ciaralli correctly points out, there is no mechanical requirement (I challenge anyone who disagrees to find such a rule) for the Monk to know whether or not they have been Charmed or Frightened in order to use the Stillness of Mind ability. Any such requirement is strictly a house-rule, and I would question the competence of any DM operating under it.

This question is really about meta-gaming and roleplaying etiquette.

While I am not a fan of meta-gaming, I do understand that sometimes it is necessary for resolving some situations in a satisfactory manner. Short of your DM explicitly coming out and telling you "You are Charmed (or Frightened)." there is no solution that will tell you with 100% certainty that you are under the effects of either condition without meta-gaming. Therefore, if you impose the requirement that a Monk must know they are Charmed or Frightened prior to using Stillness of Mind (presumably under the guise of trying to avoid meta-gaming), then you are basically making the ability useless because there is no way to use it without meta-gaming.

If you still must know for sure, we can take what we know about the conditions mechanically (hence meta-gaming) and derive a solution using inductive reasoning and proof-by-contradiction. For example, the Frightened condition states the following:

The creature can't willingly move closer to the source of their fear.

Therefore, to determine if your character is Frightened, simply assume you are Frightened and follow this simple procedure:

  1. Take a step forward.
  2. Turn 90 degrees to the right.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 three more times.

By definition, one of those four steps forward would have put you closer to the source of your fear. If your DM did not stop you at any point to tell you that you cannot step forward, then you are by definition not Frightened.

A similar test can be constructed for the Charmed condition by exploiting the fact that the victim cannot target the caster with harmful spells or effects, but it requires that the caster be present to run the experiment.

Honestly, this seems like a problem that would only arise if my DM is unnecessarily aggressive and personally trying to make the Monk useless due to some inherent bias. Personally, if I were in this situation, I would respond by using the ability at each opportunity regardless of whether or not I'm actually Charmed or Frightened under the rationale that my character is paranoid. If I used the above test and thought I was Frightened, I'd erase that condition. Otherwise, I'd assume I was Charmed and erase that condition. If the DM wishes to avoid wasting game-time going through this pointless charade every couple of minutes, then he or she will do me the courtesy of letting me know when I actually need to use it.


I have recently come across this exact question in my game.

I have the player roll an Insight Check on themselves with advantage, and the DC to beat is the spell caster's modifier. If the Monk succeeds, they are aware of their charmed or frightened state.

If they fail, they follow until a new trigger allows them to try the insight again. New triggers can be, but not limited to, an attempt to move or attack that the spell prevents, taking damage, seeing another player act in a similar way, and more.


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