Manipulating another entity’s thoughts in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (and fantasy tales in general) is a time-honored strategy employed in battles and social interactions. One practical approach involves utilizing the Charmed Condition to establish your character (or monster) as a friendly associate to their intended subject.
So, what exactly is the Charmed Condition? How does it function? And which abilities can induce it?
This introductory guide provides comprehensive information as to the mechanics of the Charmed Condition in DnD 5e, offering everything you need to know to grasp its workings.
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: CONDITIONS IN 5E
Table of Contents
What is the Charmed Condition 5e?
The Charmed Condition in 5e serves as a means to grant a creature an edge (though not necessarily a tangible advantage) in social interactions or divert a hostile creature’s attention during combat. This condition effectively establishes the charmer as a favorable or even friendly entity in the eyes of the charmed creature.
Essentially, the Charmed condition modifies a creature’s perception of another, placing the charmer in a favorable position concerning the affected creature, often as a friendly acquaintance.
You can find detailed information about the specific effects of the Charmed Condition in Appendix A of the Player’s Handbook, located on page 290:
“A charmed creature can’tcan’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.”
How the Charmed Condition 5e Works
The Charmed Condition operates through magical means, distorting the perception of the afflicted creature to perceive the charmer as someone familiar or friendly.
Nearly all effects relating to the Charmed Condition are rooted in magic. However, it’s important to note that these effects are not limited to being the result of cast spells; many creatures possess innate abilities that have the same effects as such spells.
At its core, a Charmed creature regards the charmer as an ally or amiable acquaintance. Moreover, the effects that impose this condition typically have a limited duration, often lasting no more than 1 minute. Although some abilities may extend this duration, reviewing each specific ability’s description is crucial.
Now, the question arises: what occurs when one is charmed?
In Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, being Charmed entails two significant outcomes. Firstly, a charmed creature is unable to attack or cause harm to the charmer. Secondly, the charmer finds it easier to interact with the Charmed creature.
Charm Person Spell in 5e
Sometimes life is easier when you can get someone to do what you want them to do. Making this happen depends on your powers of persuasion, especially if the course of action proposed might seem to have any advantage for them or even go against their natural inclinations. But everyone likes to help out a friend, and when you need to seem like someone’ssomeone’s friend, Charm Person is the spell you need.
Bear in mind, Charm Person isn’t mind control or hypnotism, but if successful, it will make the target look upon you more favorably, with a more friendly demeanor. And being a friend is all about helping other friends out. Right?
Charm Person Spell Description
The Player’s Handbook tells us that Charm Person is a 4th-level Enchantment spell that works as follows…
“You attempt to charm a creature you can see within range. It must make a Wisdom saving throw and does so with an advantage if you or your companions are fighting it. If it fails the saving throw, it is charmed by you until the spell ends or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it. The charmed creature is friendly to you. When the spell ends, the target knows it was charmed by you.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, you can target one additional creature for each slot level above 4th. When you target them, the creatures must be within 30 feet of each other.”
So, if cast successfully, the target becomes friendly towards you. You can’t force it to do anything openly detrimental to itself, but it will consider any requests favorably and be eager to help and take risks that it might otherwise have thought twice about.
Is Charm Person Good?
The power to persuade is an essential skill for every adventurer who sets foot beyond the safety of their own home. Eventually, someone will take offense at how you and your party do things. This could be a local lord or the Captain of the Royal Guard, a bandit leader, or just an itinerant pedlar. And these social roadblocks can be the difference between attaining your goal and finding yourself way off course, delayed, jailed, or even suffering from a severe case of being dead.
And whether it is the fate of the world that is at stake or you want to buy a fancy new longsword at a discount price, the ability to turn an ambivalent at best into a temporary friend is a great power to have. Playing politics takes time; combat draws too much attention, some times a simple Charm spell is the answer.
Using Charm Person Spell on Adventures
Charm Person is a handy spell. It is why the dungeon jailer lets you in to see your imprisoned friend against his better judgment. It is why you managed to get an audience with the King. It is why an NPC has convinced the city guards not to lock you up.
It is an excellent spell with only one real downside. Once the spell wears off or is broken, the person you used it on will know you have used magic to gain an advantage. So, when that happens, you must have achieved your goals and left the vicinity, especially if you have just managed to get a local warlord to let you look after his treasured gold ring for safekeeping.
Also, Charm Person can only target humans and humanoid creatures. These include some of the monstrous races, such as gnolls, goblins, lizardfolk, and more. This spell does not affect undead, harpies, merfolk, or animals. Their equivalent is the Charm Monster and some other domination spells found in the D&D universe.
Who Can Use Charm Person Spell?
Charm Person is a good spell for characters who wish to manipulate their environment and the people around them. Bards will undoubtedly want to take this spell as they are often smooth talkers, which amplifies their natural way of operating.
Other Charm Spells
Although Charm Person is the most ubiquitous charm spell in the D&D universe, plenty of others have similar effects.
Here is a list of Charm spells available in 5e:
- Animal Friendship – 1st-level (Beast creature type only)
- Charm Person – 1st-level (Humanoid creature type only)
- Crown of Madness – 2nd-level (Humanoid creature type only)
- Nathair’s Mischief – 2nd-level
- Fast Friends – 3rd-level (Humanoid creature type only)
- Hypnotic Pattern – 3rd-level
- Incite Greed – 3rd-level
- Charm Monster – 4th-level
- Dominate Beast – 4th-level (Beast creature type only)
- Awaken – 5th-level (Beast or Plant creature types only)
- Dominate Person – 5th-level (Humanoid creature type only)
- Geas – 5th-level
- Modify Memory – 5th-level
- Dominate Monster – 8th-level
Impact of Charmed in Combat
The initial effect of the Charmed Condition explicitly states that a charmed creature
“cannot attack the charmer or target them with harmful abilities or magical products”
Consequently, a charmed creature loses the ability to direct any attack toward the charmer, including harmful abilities or effects that do not require an attack roll. This encompasses effects such as the Phantasmal Killer Spell, which induces fear and inflicts psychic damage through a saving throw.
The term “harmful abilities or magical effects” might appear somewhat vague or open to interpretation. Best to consider it as anything that negatively affects a creature. This typically encompasses causing damage, but it may also include subjecting the target to other conditions.
This aspect primarily influences combat encounters.
Assuming the ability that applies the Charmed Condition does not possess any additional effects, utilizing a spell or ability to subject a hostile creature to this condition effectively redirects the creature’s attention elsewhere. This strategy can prove advantageous in diverting a formidable monster, such as a brawler, away from the party’s healer or spellcaster.
Impact of Charmed in Social Encounters
The second effect of the Charmed condition in D&D 5e grants the charmer advantage on all ability checks made to “interact socially with the creature.” Generally, this includes checks involving Charisma (Deception), Charisma (Intimidation), or Charisma (Persuasion), providing an advantage throughout the duration of the Charm. However, if players employ creative approaches, it may also extend to other types of checks.
This effect of the Charmed condition significantly facilitates social encounters for the charmer.
How To Stop the Charmed Condition
Ending the Charmed Condition is not always too difficult, and creatures typically have various options. These options may involve succeeding on a saving throw, employing a spell to nullify the effect, or receiving damage from the charmer or their allies.
Like other conditions in D&D 5e, Charm effects typically offer means to terminate them outright or conclude them prematurely. The methods for ceasing Charmed effects generally follow the same patterns as other conditions, with one notable exception.
The Charmed condition in D&D 5e can be stopped through three main methods: saving throws, spells, and taking damage.
Many abilities that inflict the Charmed Condition allow the affected creature to attempt saving throws to break free from its effects on subsequent turns. Typically, a Wisdom saving throw is required, representing a contest of willpower to resist the enchantment.
Particular innate monster abilities may grant immunity against becoming Charmed by the same effect, while others offer immunity specifically from the original monster’s Charm effect. To understand these nuances, it is essential to carefully read monster abilities and spell descriptions.
While countering the Charmed condition with spells can be more challenging, as Charm effects usually have short durations, some spells available can end the condition early. Examples include:
- Calm Emotions (1st-level, affects only humanoid creatures and suppresses the Charmed condition temporarily)
- Dispel Evil and Good (5th-level, works on effects from Celestial, Elemental, Fey, Fiend, or Undead creatures)
- Greater Restoration (5th-level)
- Power Word: Heal (9th-level)
Many spells or abilities that inflict the Charmed condition specify that the effect ends if the charmer or their allies damage the affected creature. This condition is often stated explicitly, such as in the Charm Person spell:
“…[the creature] is charmed by you until the spell ends or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it.”
The underlying concept remains the same: if the charmer or their allies harm the Charmed creature, the effect is terminated. Players can effectively counteract and end the Charmed condition in D&D 5e by understanding these methods. However, it’s important to note that most monster abilities don’t include the provision for ending the Charmed condition through dealing damage.
Typically, if a monster’s ability inflicts the Charmed condition, causing damage to the affected creature does not automatically terminate the effect. In these cases, more reliable methods, such as succeeding on a saving throw or employing a spell, remain the better options for countering these effects.
Even when a monster’s ability does mention dealing damage to a Charmed creature, it usually only allows the creature to make an additional saving throw against the effect.
For example, the Succubus’s Charm ability states that if a creature “suffers any harm…it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on a success.” Failing the initial saving throw against the Charm ability results in the Charmed condition lasting 24 hours.
Another example is the Harpy’s Luring Song ability, which mentions potential damage from specific sources like dangerous terrain such as lava or a deep pit. The ability further states that “whenever it takes damage from a source other than the harpy, the target can repeat the saving throw.”
Thus, if a creature affected by the Charmed Condition due to a Harpy’s Luring Song is about to enter harmful terrain or is damaged by a creature other than the Harpy, they can make saving throws to potentially end the effect prematurely.
In summary, while the damage can play a role in ending the Charmed Condition in specific cases, relying on methods such as saving throws or spells generally offers more reliable options for countering these effects.
Charmed vs. Frightened
The Charmed and Frightened conditions share similarities in manipulating a creature’s perception but have distinct mechanical effects. While both conditions alter perception, the Charmed Condition creates a sense of friendliness or trust toward the charmer. In contrast, the Frightened Condition instills deep fear, preventing the afflicted creature from willingly approaching the source of their fear.
In combat, these conditions have different implications. The Charmed Condition prohibits an affected creature from causing harm to the charmer, whether directly or indirectly. This means that in a combat encounter, the afflicted creature cannot assist in attacking the charmer, potentially diverting attention from more threatening adversaries.
Conversely, the Frightened Condition restricts a creature from willingly approaching the source of its fear, diminishing its mobility.
Additionally, while the affected creature can see the source of their fear, all their attacks and ability checks are made with disadvantage, making combat significantly more challenging.
Therefore, both the Charmed and Frightened Conditions have the potential to either benefit or hinder creatures in combat, depending on whether one is inflicting or experiencing the effects of these conditions.
Charmed Condition 5e FAQs
What does the Charmed condition do in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition?
The Charmed condition in D&D 5e alters a creature’s perception, making them consider the charmer a friendly or trustworthy individual. The affected creature treats the charmer as an ally or friendly acquaintance.
How long does the Charmed Condition last?
The duration of the Charmed Condition varies depending on the specific ability or spell that inflicts it. In general, the condition lasts for up to 1 minute. However, some abilities or spells may have longer durations. It is important to refer to the ability or spell description for the exact duration.
Can a charmed creature attack or harm the charmer?
No, a charmed creature cannot attack or otherwise harm the charmer. The Charmed Condition states that the affected creature cannot target the charmer with harmful abilities, magical effects, or attacks.
Kendra has always been a hardcore fantasy nerd. Growing up in the worlds of Tolkien, Sanderson, Jordan, and Abercrombie, DnD & board games just came naturally. She and her husband, Bryan, started GameCows.com in 2018 as a fun passion project that just took over their lives. An avid board gamer since childhood and chronic DnD chronicler for more than two decades, she loves to play, write, travel, and learn dead languages. She is also a professional content writer at SlashGear.com