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The official description of charmed is as follows: (Source – Roll20)
- A charmed creature is unable to attack the one who charmed them, or use any harmful abilities or magical effects against them.
- The charmer has advantage on any ability check to interact socially with the creature.
Causes of Charmed in 5e:
There are a few spells and items that can cause the charmed condition, but it can also be caused by good player RP. Natural charm is something that a DM can consider based on the word choice and enunciations of a player, which would apply the condition to the one they are talking to.
This natural charm can be reinforced by the assistance of basic items – a lute, for example, inspires intrigue with people, because it isn’t a common everyday sight on the road. This results in them being more open to being influenced by this condition.
Monsters can also inflict the charm effect, such as a Harpy’s luring song.
- The Charm Spell
- Philter of Love Potion
- Rod of Ruleship
- Sentient Item attempting to take control of the weilder
- The Orb of Dragonkind
- Luring Song Harpy Ability
- Good Player RP – Natural Charm
How Charmed Can Be Used for Storytelling:
While not as direct as something like Blind, the Charmed effect can be quite helpful for storytelling purposes.
Let’s start with an example; say you have a very well-spoken politician speaking to a crowd, each word weighing on their minds as he tries to argue his points. Well, his speech could contain words designed to sway the opinions of the crowd in the direction of his choice, intending to align them with his goals. However, the politician could only be doing lip service to quell the masses from revolt regarding a negative change to the populace’s environment.
“Perhaps the building of a mercenary headquarters in the city isn’t such a bad idea,” he would say. “The roads would be safer with more people patrolling the streets,” he would argue. The words he said carried such charm…they were all but happy to support the supposed safety that a bunch of sellswords would bring.
However, charm can also be used benevolently – a judge could be using a charming ability to calm an irate defendant or plaintiff down to get the information they need to pass judgment on a case. It could also be used to quell a crying child who scraped their knee.
The uses are varied, and it can be quite powerful in the right hands.
It is also important to distinguish the difference between charmed and dominated – a charmed person still has the mental capacity to make their own decisions, but they consider their charmer to be like a friend. A complete loss of willpower is more along the lines of Dominance. Dominance can only be inflicted by the Dominate Person spell specifically, that I know of.
I wanted to point this out because some RPG video games don’t have this distinction, such as Divinity Original Sin 2 (Humble bundle partner link). If you were coming from a game where the charmed condition was essentially domination, then you’d likely unintentionally confuse the two, leading to a very different roleplaying outcome that could actually cause tension in your group, depending on what it was they were forced to do while charmed.
How to Detect if Someone Is Charmed:
Players can roll an Insight check to see if a person is charmed if they suspect something. If it is of magical origin, then you could also roll an arcana check to see if there is any lingering magic around them and determine the type of magic used.
What Counters Charmed?
The Charmed condition uses a Wisdom Saving throw check against a Charisma roll.
- Elf Fey Ancestry – You have advantage on Saving Throws against being Charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.
- Half-Elf Fey Ancestry – You have advantage on Saving Throws against being Charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.
- Gnome Cunning – You have advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma Saving Throws against magic.
- Resilient – Gives you +1 to Chosen Ability score, and grants proficiency in saving throws for your chosen ability score.
- Beguiling Defences – 10th Level ArchFey Warlock. Charm reflect as a reaction.
- Indomitable – 9th level Fighter feature Once per long rest, reroll a saving throw that you fail. If you do so, you must use the new roll.
- Stillness of Mind – Starting at 7th level, you can use your action to end one Effect on yourself that is causing you to be Charmed or Frightened.
- Mindless Rage – Path of the Beserker, Available at Level 6.
How Bad is the Charmed Condition?
As far as conditions go, charmed is possibly one of the least problematic to deal with in most cases, and doesn’t come up often in groups unless you have a bard with you. The reason this is the case is that roleplaying something charming can be quite challenging if you yourself aren’t very charming yourself.
It is primarily a social effect and is used to drive the nature of roleplay in a way that favors the charmer. It is useful as a means of preventing possible conflict with someone, but it can also be twisted by a clever DM or clever players into inciting a large-scale war.
I will say this: the Charmed condition can lead to uncomfortable situations with your group if you take things a little too far. You’ll want to keep this in mind, as this has led to groups falling apart in the past. If you value your group, I suggest keeping overly suggestive things to a level that everyone is okay with.
The next condition on the list is deafened.