... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Charm Person

Someone pointed to a Wizards of the Coast 4e discussion where people are complaining about two spells added to 4e Essentials that are, basically, Phantasmal Forces and Charm Person, which apparently have been missing until now because they aren't combat-oriented. On the new Charm Person specifically, they are saying things like:
"... Charm Person is the LEAST lamented spell EVER amongst DMs. It was a horrible idea the day it was invented and I personally danced on its (and Detect Evil, Know Alignment, etc.'s) graves. More than any other single feature of 4e the removal of open-ended plot-busting powers of this ilk told me that the people writing 4e ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD what would make the game better."
I don't want to deal with the 4e issues. I want to ask pre-3e GMs: have you ever had problems with Charm Person? If so, did any of the problems happen in a situation where there was no GM-driven plot?


  1. I cannot personally recall any problems with players using this spell. Sure, somtimes they'd use it on NPC's that I wish they hadn't, but so it goes. That's the way it rolls.

    But "a horrible idea the day it was invented"? No, not at all. And, as for Detect Evil/Alignment, it was all how it was roleplayed.

    i.e., a player casts Detect Evil on a King's noble & trusted (but evil) house wizard. Evil Wizard notices and immediately tells the King, "Sire, he is trying to cast an enchantment upon you. GUARDS!!!"

    Then the fun began. . .

  2. Heh, I love Charm Person, both as a DM and player. The only people I've ever seen take issue with it were players who satisfied both of the following descriptors:
    a- convinced all other players and DM were 'out to get them' from before they joined the group.
    b- painstakingly crafted an immense backstory with tons of attempted game advantages built in.
    c- depressed and/or angered when any other player did something cool, creative or impressive.

    In other words, only people who are already problem players and troublemakers have issues with Charm Person or Phantasmal Force, in my personal experience.

  3. Problems? No. I find charm person a really fun spell, both as a player and as a referee. In fact, I think I've had more fun with it as a ref than as a player, because it's often given me the opportunity to involve the PCs in stuff they otherwise might not have chosen for themselves -- like when the charmed NPC's associates come looking for him ...

  4. In Carter's Ara campaign he's been having issues with Charm Person, as one of the PCs is playing a Bard (the Brave Halfling Bard for Lab Lord). The problem actually hinges on the way the d% roll to charm interacts with the d30 house rule. At at level 3, the Bard instantly charms. So we've had a rock troll in the party for a long time, which has 3 attacks and is hard to kill, and he's also managed to charm an ogre, a stone giant, many other less deadly creatures, and so on. We ended up grafting a new system on to the Bard to regulate this a bit:


    Basically it's not messing with the "plot", since we don't have a plot. It does mess with Carter's plans sometimes, but then the occasional bad (or good) roll will do that too.

    And I assume if any of those spells were really a big deal a DM could house-rule them away if they wanted, let the grave-dancing commence. I don't see the problem.

  5. Yeah, I consider charm person to be one of the best spells in the game. You do have to be careful with it, but the only trouble its been in my games has been the occasional frustrated player. It's certainly less "plot shattering" than ESP and a lot of other intel-gathering spells.

  6. Charm person is a really powerful spell pre 3e (where it was rather disappointingly gimped), but its also one of the most fun ones in the game. I've only ever had serious issues with it when it was used on fellow PCs, and that was fixed with a couple of quick house rules. 1: Nameless NPCs are twice as likely as anyone else to be targeted by Bad Stuff; and 2: a character coming out of a charm spell remembers everything - we use a more short term custom spell for the jedi mind trick angle.

    As for NPCs being charmed, isn't the unscrupulous wizardly advisor hypnotizing the king and usurping the kingdom practically a stock plot? There's really no excuse as a DM for not rolling with it; it's like telling the fighter he's not allowed to kill things anymore.

    And anyone who hates illusion spells probably hates cake and puppies, too.

  7. No, no problems at all. It gets used now and again, but not all that much.

    I have a feeling that the quote above comes from a "Storyteller" "Railroader" MD who found his precious plot derailed when a player charmed the DM's Mary Sue out of her panties. *chuckle*

    Of course, there's always the DM's option of using is...

  8. I've never had a problem with Charm Person. I've always really enjoyed it both as a player and a DM. It's a fun spell that allows lots of opportunity for creative use.

  9. I agree with everyone that Charm Person is a fun spell. And yes, I think it's people who prefer front-loaded plot who are the primary people who object to Charm Person. But I wanted to be sure that I wasn't the only one who never really had a problem with Charm Person.