Using charm person to interogate the bad guy = BAD?


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You cannot really equate betrayal with rape.

The Exchange

Icyshadow wrote:
You cannot really equate betrayal with rape.

Why not? depending on degree it could be worse.

Liberty's Edge

Sitri wrote:
So when you say you agree with him, you mean you like what he says better than what he says is right. You are clearly adding your own rules based an extrapolation you made from the text, and a rather flimsy one. If you want to say you house rule it this way fine, but it is not the spell.

I think this may be extrapolation from other threads as well. Given it describes them as "friendly" which is a clear reference to the diplomacy rules, one would think that would be a thing that matters.


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Hey, there are new posts in that thread where people were saying superheroes are evil as long as you look at it from the villains' perspective, I wonder what new funny posts have been made, hmmm, they seem to be arguing that charm person is rape, chopping off people's fingers is the preferable solution, and oh god is someone seriously saying rape isn't really so bad, I think my soul just died a little, what the hell thread.


ciretose wrote:
Sitri wrote:
So when you say you agree with him, you mean you like what he says better than what he says is right. You are clearly adding your own rules based an extrapolation you made from the text, and a rather flimsy one. If you want to say you house rule it this way fine, but it is not the spell.
I think this may be extrapolation from other threads as well. Given it describes them as "friendly" which is a clear reference to the diplomacy rules, one would think that would be a thing that matters.

Yes, Sitri, my version of Charm Person is a house rule. It is part of a general house rule that if the descriptive text of a spell gives roughly the same effects as the technical details, and the descriptive version is more fun to roleplay, then I favor the description over the technical details. And part of that descriptive text, both you and ciretose have quoted:

Charm and Compulsion wrote:
Charming another creature gives the charming character the ability to befriend and suggest courses of action to his minion, but the servitude is not absolute or mindless.

Reference: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/glossary.html#charm-and-compulsion

Back to the original moral question: Is a Charm Person spell as much a violation of human (elvish/dwarven/halfling/gnomish/...) rights as torture?

Charm is less a violation of human rights than compulsion. It reduces the subject's powers of judgment but does not reduce his or her free will. Thus, it is less a violation of human rights than torture.

If people roleplay Charm Person as a compulsion effect that sometimes fails randomly based on an opposed Charisma check roll, then it is a compulsion effect and has the full moral weight of compulsion. Compulsion can get as bad as torture, though it is not necessarily as bad as torture. For example, the main alternative to Charm Person is Zone of Truth, which forces a person to speak the truth if he or she speaks at all. Zone of Truth is compulsion, but its limited scope prevents it from being a violation of human rights.


Mathmuse wrote:
If people roleplay Charm Person as a compulsion effect that sometimes fails randomly based on an opposed Charisma check roll, then it is a compulsion effect and has the full moral weight of compulsion. Compulsion can get as bad as torture, though it is not necessarily as bad as torture. For example, the main alternative to Charm Person is Zone of Truth, which forces a person to speak the truth if he or she speaks at all. Zone of Truth is compulsion, but its limited scope prevents it from being a violation of human rights.

It also states in "Zone of Truth" that the person is aware of the enchantment.

It does not do so in Charm Person.


Charm person is a level 1 spell. Has always been so. It is supposedly equal in power to things like magic missile, hold portal, alarm, spider climb and chill touch. It's not going to be magic that reshapes the person's entire life, folks.

If someone makes a good Bluff check, they can probably do just as much as the charm person makes possible, if nothing else they can pretend to be someone you know well enough to get you to play along for a while.

Much like Intimidate, you "sidestep" the Diplomacy check to make them friendly for a while. When the magic is up, you may think it weird how you felt about them and why you chose to trust them, and you will return to what you felt about them before the spell, but you will not automatically feel your entire mind has been seriously violated.

Think about it: An old friend of yours asks you to do something you're not allowed to do at your job. Something that will, if discovered, certainly bring serious repercussions. Would you play along? Depending on the circumstances, you might, but asking such a thing would put your friendship into question. I am firmly in the camp of "Sorry man, I really can't do that, it would be my ass on the line. Take this advice, though: Security inside the Evil Fortress here is very tight. You guys REALLY don't want to go inside, okay? I am telling you as a friend here..."


Sissyl wrote:

Charm person is a level 1 spell. Has always been so. It is supposedly equal in power to things like magic missile, hold portal, alarm, spider climb and chill touch. It's not going to be magic that reshapes the person's entire life, folks.

If someone makes a good Bluff check, they can probably do just as much as the charm person makes possible, if nothing else they can pretend to be someone you know well enough to get you to play along for a while.

Much like Intimidate, you "sidestep" the Diplomacy check to make them friendly for a while. When the magic is up, you may think it weird how you felt about them and why you chose to trust them, and you will return to what you felt about them before the spell, but you will not automatically feel your entire mind has been seriously violated.

Think about it: An old friend of yours asks you to do something you're not allowed to do at your job. Something that will, if discovered, certainly bring serious repercussions. Would you play along? Depending on the circumstances, you might, but asking such a thing would put your friendship into question. I am firmly in the camp of "Sorry man, I really can't do that, it would be my ass on the line. Take this advice, though: Security inside the Evil Fortress here is very tight. You guys REALLY don't want to go inside, okay? I am telling you as a friend here..."

But this makes the spell almost completely useless. It doesn't even negate diplomacy or intimidate. It just makes someone your friend for like.. a few minutes. It's the lonely guy's way to have a social interaction it seems. Or the non-charismatic.

equally, how many times have you been with a really close friend and been talking about "someone else" in a negative tone. Or talked about how "worked sucked today, so much crappy labor and my boss is a jerk". If your boss or your friends heard you talking about them behind their back, it could be catastrophic. Yet people do it daily, maybe minute-ly.

An old friend asked me to do something I'm not allowed to at my job, like say... print something for them using company resources, or using their CC to pay for a dinner for the both of us. It COULD have serious repercussions, but most likely wouldn't because it's not like I'm going to rake up a 10,000 debt, and i'm not going to print a 5000 page paper for the guy. Would I question him for wanting these things? No, it makes perfect sense and if the tables were turned I'd hope for the same sort of luck.

Now sure, there are extremes. Asking for a name is NOT one of them, unless again, seriously, the person KNOWS that absolutely no one ever talks to each other about anything because they know that death looms as soon as the magic beans are spilled.

If i were told sorry man, I'd ask him about that security. Clearly he is open enough to share that there IS security, so he's not going to die for mentioning that the security is there. Give an outline.

I'd still be very hard pressed that in this world, people would be doing these outrageous things (assassinating and killing tyrants), but are literally scared to DEATH of talking.


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I don't understand why you think charm person makes you able to interrogate them. Do all of your friends tell you everything?


Lamontius wrote:


I've done this approach with my fighter, but it's less "charm person" and more "dance around lasciviously while wearing a '2cp Party Boy' sign in front of the bad guy, until they (and the GM) beg me to stop and are willing to tell me anything if only the pain will end".

But other than that it's pretty similar.

Party hard!

There are many forms of torture.


KHShadowrunner wrote:
equally, how many times have you been with a really close friend and been talking about "someone else" in a negative tone. Or talked about how "worked sucked today, so much crappy labor and my boss is a jerk". If your boss or your friends heard you talking about them behind their back, it could be catastrophic. Yet people do it daily, maybe minute-ly.

This would be more along the lines of casually violating NDA's with your friends. And your boss is a serial killer with access to divination.

Liberty's Edge

Two separate issues.

1. Making someone who is your "I will kill you on sight" enemy magically become your friend, is in and of itself pretty powerful. It is just wrong to state otherwise.

2. Casting that kind of spell on someone is an attack. Casting magic missile on someone is an attack.

Players attack enemies.

If you use charm on someone, you are compelling them to do something they would not otherwise do if not under the influence of the charm.

Interpret that as you will.


Black_Lantern wrote:
I don't understand why you think charm person makes you able to interrogate them. Do all of your friends tell you everything?

My really good ones tell me everything, from their sex lives and how they live to drive their husbands to climax to their tax records, debt issues, and fears of financial catastrophes, to their darker days and horrible thoughts, to dreams, to aspirations, to confessions that they loved me themselves for years.

In short:

Yes.


Roberta Yang wrote:
KHShadowrunner wrote:
equally, how many times have you been with a really close friend and been talking about "someone else" in a negative tone. Or talked about how "worked sucked today, so much crappy labor and my boss is a jerk". If your boss or your friends heard you talking about them behind their back, it could be catastrophic. Yet people do it daily, maybe minute-ly.
This would be more along the lines of casually violating NDA's with your friends. And your boss is a serial killer with access to divination.

How many bosses have access to divination to overhear anything that is said? And who would willingly work for someone who had that power or ability? Truthfully, if someone worked for someone who had this power, they could commit suicide the moment they lost, regardless of the outcome. Why? Because the boss ALREADY KNOWS HE FAILED. And better yet, he would tell everything he knows, because he's already dead. In fact, he'd trade that information beyond willingly, without a charm spell, for protection against the very man who sent him out to kill.


ciretose wrote:

Two separate issues.

1. Making someone who is your "I will kill you on sight" enemy magically become your friend, is in and of itself pretty powerful. It is just wrong to state otherwise.

2. Casting that kind of spell on someone is an attack. Casting magic missile on someone is an attack.

Players attack enemies.

If you use charm on someone, you are compelling them to do something they would not otherwise do if not under the influence of the charm.

Interpret that as you will.

You are not compelling.

You are convincing.

EDIT: Also, I disagree with #2. You can Charm Person civilians and kings if you so choose. You don't -have- to take someone who is against you as the target of Charm Person. You can use it on an indifferent, or even slightly friendly person to make them your 'trusted ally'.

I don't see it as an attack. I suppose it 'can' be used as an attack. But I don't see it as such.

I really need to iron this out for my character, because I need to pick a level 1 spell and it's either this or silent image. And I want to have fun with it. I'm thinking I'll take this, if it brings up this much discussion, it's gotta be a good one for RP.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

KHShadowrunner wrote:
how they live to drive their husbands to climax

I'd like to meet your friends.


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Charlie Bell wrote:
KHShadowrunner wrote:
how they live to drive their husbands to climax
I'd like to meet your friends.

She's a very interesting, and great, person. I pretty much share every aspect of my life with her too. It's the most relieving feeling ever imaginable when you can say literally everything and anything about how you feel to a person and know that even if they disagree with you, they will at least listen, and even try to rationalize with you, about whatever it is.

An ultimate stress relief if you will.


KHShadowrunner wrote:
Black_Lantern wrote:
I don't understand why you think charm person makes you able to interrogate them. Do all of your friends tell you everything?

My really good ones tell me everything, from their sex lives and how they live to drive their husbands to climax to their tax records, debt issues, and fears of financial catastrophes, to their darker days and horrible thoughts, to dreams, to aspirations, to confessions that they loved me themselves for years.

In short:

Yes.

This is covered under the "helpful" clause instead of the "friendly" one (as are other suggestions you've made).

I'm a huge fan of Charm spells and effects and I use them all the time as a player, as they're extremely useful - extremely useful - but what you're describing here is not a "good friend" in the same way that Pathfinder Core and d20 books before it means. Basically, you're using a slightly different definition.

That said, while I strongly disagree with ciretose in terms of what Charm can accomplish (especially given his implication in his last post), as a GM, that's his right to decide. As a player, I'd complain, be frustrated and strongly dislike his decision (and try to talk to him about it), and I'd likely quickly change characters or concepts to play as a one that doesn't use Charm. Although, it depends on how he plays it. See I'm making all my judgements based off of his words, not his play style, as I've never played with him. It may very well be that he and I would work fabulously together with Charm... there's such a thing as linguistic differences even when people are speaking the same language. And we'd go on and play the game, or we wouldn't (but that's likely to be determined by far more than disagreement over one spell).

Anyway, on topic, let's look at me.

Charming someone or something isn't really bad and, if it was me and my options were to be charmed or tortured, from my perspective now, I'd totally take the Charm effect. I like living and especially not living with crippling physical and emotional pain.

Also, morally speaking, there are definitely things I wouldn't do for or with my friends, regardless of how good a friend they are. There are even things I wouldn't do for my wife - whom I love more than myself and anyone else on earth - because I'd feel they are immoral and wrong, though I'd likely strongly consider them, to a point (I'd consider myself "helpful" if not more to her).

Thus, under the effects of Charm, there are many things I wouldn't do, but it is likely possible to convince me to perform an immoral act... but it would require an opposed charisma check.

After being charmed, I'd likely feel one of several emotions:

  • I'd feel slightly confused and frustrated that I was tricked, if said person was genuinely an enemy before hand. Otherwise, I might not know.
  • Presuming I knew that I'd been charmed, I'd feel slightly frightened that I was controlled and slightly worried of said power being used on me again (the level of my fear and worry would depend entirely on how much I was compelled to do). I'd want to focus on steeling my will to make sure that "it didn't happen again", but it's highly unlikely that I'd spend my entire life revolving around those few hours.
  • I'd feel very relieved if I knew my other option was torture or some other terrible effect. This would be in addition to anything
  • I'd feel terribly guilty if I had done something immoral.
  • Were I just a bystander and not realized there was magic involved, I'd be amazed and slightly awed by the power the Charmer had with words to turn an enemy into an ally. I'd make a note to examine everything the Charmer said very carefully to make sure I wasn't fooled.
  • Were I just a bystander, and realized there was magic involved, I'd walk carefully around the Charmer, mostly noting to myself that I'd need to watch out for unusual words or gestures. However, given that I'd be living in a magic-rich world, I'd find this more "normal" than someone with the power to talk an assassin into being an ally.

This is, of course, presuming I'm pretty much myself only having lived in a magic rich world my whole life.

Given that, I'd much prefer Charm to Torture. Either way I'd break, but one has far, far fewer consequences.

And, as others have said, if I saw a murderer assault people in the middle of a tavern, they've basically given up their rights by becoming combatants. I'm not talking about just charming random people or people that I need: I mean they purposefully started a violent engagement with an enemy to the death, and, by doing so, surrendered their rights. Ergo (if I were still there, as I'd likely be attempting to get the heck out), I'd over-all approve of the basic mostly-non-invasive/non-painful techniques used to acquire information.

Others, of course, would feel differently.


KHShadowrunner wrote:
ciretose wrote:

Two separate issues.

1. Making someone who is your "I will kill you on sight" enemy magically become your friend, is in and of itself pretty powerful. It is just wrong to state otherwise.

2. Casting that kind of spell on someone is an attack. Casting magic missile on someone is an attack.

Players attack enemies.

If you use charm on someone, you are compelling them to do something they would not otherwise do if not under the influence of the charm.

Interpret that as you will.

You are not compelling.

You are convincing.

EDIT: Also, I disagree with #2. You can Charm Person civilians and kings if you so choose. You don't -have- to take someone who is against you as the target of Charm Person. You can use it on an indifferent, or even slightly friendly person to make them your 'trusted ally'.

I don't see it as an attack. I suppose it 'can' be used as an attack. But I don't see it as such.

I really need to iron this out for my character, because I need to pick a level 1 spell and it's either this or silent image. And I want to have fun with it. I'm thinking I'll take this, if it brings up this much discussion, it's gotta be a good one for RP.

Like you see here, it will depend so much on your GM. I play a lot of PFS games with many different GMs. In almost all cases I love this spell and it does provide great RP and alternate paths to accomplishing goals, but there are some GMs that want to pretend (like many people here) that the spell does nothing more than make someone your friend.

Someone asked me earlier "who are the charm haters?" I have had a PFS GM that says he refuses to allow players to use the charm spell because he thinks its too strong. The same GM has went off the rails on other save or suck spells too, but none so much as this one. I have heard many of the same arguments from him as I have seen in this thread: complete disregard of the second part of this spell, twisting of vocabulary, appeal to spell level, and so on.

The way I see it this spell is quite clear that it is supposed to be quite powerful if it works. Every level has multiple save or suck spells. This is a save or suck spell that if the target is a humanoid, doesn't have immunity to mind affecting spells, shares a language with you, and fails the save, you get a rather large measure of control over them.

Boo, Hiss, you don't control them they are just your good friend. As their master issuing commands (as so described in the charm sub school description I posted earlier) you are much more than their good friend. I have never known a person under any circumstances that I would go till a field for because they asked me to as in the FAQ beside the spell. You are distorting their world view to manipulate them to your whims. Note: I admit this is a very powerful ability, assuming your target satisfies the laundry list of restrictions for this spell and you can beat their will save.

So in short, as has become the popular term YMMV. Some GMs will let you use the spell as written, some wont. Some scenarios you will not get the opportunity to use this spell because of all the restrictions on targets and sometimes you will not be able to beat the targets will save (something that often gets harder as you level) so you are just wasting your turns and spell slots. Sometimes it will work and you will get a lot of satisfaction from your ability to control RP encounters. If I were going to make a character using charm for a game that always used the same GM, I would make sure I got his/her interpretation of the spell before I considered that route. If they are of the "ignore the charisma check portion of this spell" or "I can wiggle anything into the suicidal/harmful exemption" camp, I wouldn't think twice about skipping this spell.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

KHShadowrunner wrote:
Charlie Bell wrote:
KHShadowrunner wrote:
how they live to drive their husbands to climax
I'd like to meet your friends.

She's a very interesting, and great, person. I pretty much share every aspect of my life with her too. It's the most relieving feeling ever imaginable when you can say literally everything and anything about how you feel to a person and know that even if they disagree with you, they will at least listen, and even try to rationalize with you, about whatever it is.

An ultimate stress relief if you will.

Ah geez, I was going for the gutter and you totally took the high road.


What the-

No, seriously, what the-


This ties back to the social aspect in my mind. It's like everything that allows for role play gets severely penalized because you have to accurately act out exactly what is happening or else you're doomed.

The character becomes your good friend. Good friends are closer and better than bosses! I don't see how it is possible to say that they form a bond of trust that is more realistic and personal than the bond to their boss, but that very bond is NOT strong enough to deter away from that bond with their boss. Which would then imply that the bond between your boss is stronger than the bond between your best friend. Which would then make your boss your best friend, which would then mean that the bond you create should be equal to your boss!

Is your boss a trusted ally? If you were willing to tell your boss that x party invaded his fortress and he should consider putting guards here and here because where they are currently placed, here and here, is no good, why would it be harmful or suicidal to tell 'another boss'?

You cannot control the person. I cannot say "You will do this" and it is done. I can slyly convince him that it is a good action, and as someone else pointed out he will most likely be convinced to do it. But will he go through with it all the way? Will he actually do it? Maybe. But the point of the spell is typically NOT to force someone to do something (I also learned that 80% of the populus hate evil characters, and I guess I'm a partially evil guy), but to get them to reveal things to you as if they were your friend.


KHShadowrunner wrote:
The character becomes your good friend. Good friends are closer and better than bosses! I don't see how it is possible to say that they form a bond of trust that is more realistic and personal than the bond to their boss, but that very bond is NOT strong enough to deter away from that bond with their boss. Which would then imply that the bond between your boss is stronger than the bond between your best friend. Which would then make your boss your best friend, which would then mean that the bond you create should be equal to your boss!

I'm pretty sure this isn't how logic works.

I'm pretty sure this isn't how anything works.


KHShadowrunner wrote:

This ties back to the social aspect in my mind. It's like everything that allows for role play gets severely penalized because you have to accurately act out exactly what is happening or else you're doomed.

The character becomes your good friend. Good friends are closer and better than bosses! I don't see how it is possible to say that they form a bond of trust that is more realistic and personal than the bond to their boss, but that very bond is NOT strong enough to deter away from that bond with their boss. Which would then imply that the bond between your boss is stronger than the bond between your best friend. Which would then make your boss your best friend, which would then mean that the bond you create should be equal to your boss!

Is your boss a trusted ally? If you were willing to tell your boss that x party invaded his fortress and he should consider putting guards here and here because where they are currently placed, here and here, is no good, why would it be harmful or suicidal to tell 'another boss'?

You cannot control the person. I cannot say "You will do this" and it is done. I can slyly convince him that it is a good action, and as someone else pointed out he will most likely be convinced to do it. But will he go through with it all the way? Will he actually do it? Maybe. But the point of the spell is typically NOT to force someone to do something (I also learned that 80% of the populus hate evil characters, and I guess I'm a partially evil guy), but to get them to reveal things to you as if they were your friend.

If you are of the determinism philosophy, the difference between controlling someone and making them want to do something they are capable of is just a matter of vocabulary.


That post about bonds and bosses was like the spawn of a math problem that had naughty time with a psych textbook.

I need to lay down.


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Specifically, the "bond" argument (or do I mean bond "argument"?) assumes the following as axioms:

1) All human relationships are qualitatively identical; they differ only in strength. Professional, familial, romantic, and platonic relationships are all the same except that some might be stronger than others. There is only one linear scale.

2) The strongest bond has the power to automatically dissolve other bonds at will by virtue of being the strongest. If my brother is really close to our cousin but slightly closer to me, I can tell him to cut off all ties with our cousin and begin plotting to destroy him, and my brother will do so because my brother likes me better.

Beep boop is this how you puny earth humans interact with other members of your species?

Liberty's Edge

KHShadowrunner wrote:
ciretose wrote:

Two separate issues.

1. Making someone who is your "I will kill you on sight" enemy magically become your friend, is in and of itself pretty powerful. It is just wrong to state otherwise.

2. Casting that kind of spell on someone is an attack. Casting magic missile on someone is an attack.

Players attack enemies.

If you use charm on someone, you are compelling them to do something they would not otherwise do if not under the influence of the charm.

Interpret that as you will.

You are not compelling.

You are convincing.

You are casting a spell to have them act in a way that they would not otherwise.

Literally, that is what you are doing.

You aren't chatting them up to show you are nice. You are casting magic against a will save to make someone think differently than they would if not under a spell.


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So what would a good character do in this situation.
I'm just asking out of curiosity since I think after this thread I am never rolling a good alignment ever again.

Silver Crusade

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Using Charm Person on someone that works in a bank.

Caster: How's it going my friend?

Banker: It's going good, how are you?

Caster: Fine, fine. Listen, do you think you could give me the account numbers of some of your customers?

Banker: Sorry but I can't do that, I could be fired and prosecuted.

Caster: C'mon, I'm your best friend.

Banker: Since you are my friend then you should know not to put me in a situation that would cause me to not only lose my job but spend time in jail.

There are something things that your friends just will not do, that is what Dominate Person is for not Charm Person.

Edit: I also want to say that Charm Person is not a cut and dry, post it on a forum with a definite use, kind of spell. It involves the player and the DM. The player decides what he would "like" to do and the DM then decides if it will work or not so they will either proceed to the Charisma check or not.

I think the biggest problem I've seen with people and this spell is the fact that their DM's have allowed them to do more than what the spell was designed to do so it's like being told the wrong thing for years and not accepting the truth when you are finally corrected. But at the same time, what is appropriate of the spell varies from DM to DM.

Silver Crusade

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I found it strange that charm person makes the target 'friendly', when 'friendly' is only second best on the Diplomacy table.

When I first realised that (a few years ago), my reaction was that the first thing I'd do after charming someone would be to make a Diplomacy skill check to make them helpful! This is much easier from a 'friendly' start than any other starting attitude!

It also must be acknowledged that making the target 'friendly' is only part of what the spell does! The 'opposed Charisma check' thing does not describe a general mechanic for adjudicating personal interactions, it's part of the spell's effects, and it's just as wrong for a DM to pretend it's not there as it is to pretend that you can 'disbelieve' mirror images!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

Beep Beep - Reading - Assimilating........

Liberty's Edge

Lamontius wrote:


So what would a good character do in this situation.
I'm just asking out of curiosity since I think after this thread I am never rolling a good alignment ever again.

If the person he is charming is evil and charming them serves the greater good, he would charm them.

Hell good players stab things all the time, and that seems much more evil.


So to tie this back to the original question. Would any of you truly describe what i'm doing as evil. because I am attempting to 'convince' you that this topic should be discussed and revised. And you are doing so! I wouldn't say I'm doing it that charmingly, but it's what the spell in effect does.

I'll take the bank example:

Caster: Hey buddy!
Banker: How's it goin man!
Caster: Pretty good! Hey! So I couldn't help but notice you're really enjoying workin at this place huh. What's the deal?
Banker: Yeah man, they pay well (info on what kind of rewards you get from being in the field), the boss man is pretty lenient (useful?), and overall I'm having a good time.
Caster: Sound awesome, how's your co-workers? Annoying or are we talkin about some pretty cool people. The place sounds pretty bumpin.
Banker: Well, I talk to so and so (Name given of someone) and he usually works with me at my shift (Position of person at given time). He's pretty cool. But the assistant manager can be a real dirt bag (useful? agressive attitude of a person).
Caster: Well, sounds like a person to avoid. What's her name? Hey, what's the bosses name? I wanna put in a good resume and knowing names sounds like a great way to spice things up. I'll keep it professional of course. Who would want to go slapping a person's name in a resume unless it was to convey respect.
Banker: Totally dude, his name is xyzabcd. Put my name in there too if you want, I'll reference ya. Avoid efghijkl in HR, they're pretty meticulous about who they hire and what those hiree's do.

All of this typical information transferred during a regular conversation with a good friend. Does your friend know he's going to get his head chopped off for calling his assistant manager a dirt bag? He'd probably get fired. That's pretty hurtful. But friends do those kinds of things.

In regards to brothers: No. But you can say that you'd be influenced by my words and start monitoring things much more carefully. You're all taking things to an absolute extreme. Charm person does not dominate. It does not override their memory and take over their mind. It does not bestow compulsion them into believing your every word and whim. In fact, I'd argue that you STILL need to make bluff checks if you bluff! But it DOES make them trust you. It makes them believe that you are a person that they would talk to on a regular basis on pretty much anything. It doesn't mean I can tell them that chugging chloroform is something we did in the past as a great past time and he'll start doing it. It does allow me to talk to my good friend about .. well.. anything.

Finally, you cast a spell against pretty much everything. You cast a healing spell on your ally when he is hurt. Is this attacking? Obviously not, because the goal is good! It's to heal! Charm person is in a grey area. I'm not doing it to attack them. I'm not bending their will. I'm (forcibly) making them believe that I'm a good person. Sort of like how doing someone a favor or a quest makes them think about you in a different light. Doing quests for people does not mean you are attacking them.

I like Charm Person. It brings out a world of thought and consequence. But I see more practical use with Silent Image. I guess.


EDIT: three posts between the last one I read and now...
Pretty much, Malachi.

Also, ciretose, while I understand you're position (and as a GM you've the right to do so), you're clearly undervaluing the intent of the spell. I mean, it's not even ambiguously so. Looking at the spell (and the faq/errata on the right), it's pretty clear that what you're describing is not what the faq/errata on the right is describing.

Again, you have every right to interpret it that way at your table, and that's fine, but in general, you're doing the spell a disservice (though you may consider it overpowered as intended, and again that's fine).

Also, Lamontius, you may be joking, but: a good character (in my interpretation) would Charm the heck out of the guy, if doing so saved the lives of innocents and made for less death and violence over all.

If they were lawful, said character would likely keep their word (so long as the villain kept theirs and it didn't lead to evil) even once the charm ended because of the demands of honor. If they were chaotic, they'd likely ignore anything they promised because, hey, who cares (though they might keep their word incidentally, as is expedient in the situation). If they were neutral they'd likely try to keep their word, but it's really not the most important thing.

Spoiler-Free Kingmaker Example: I have a lawful good psion in Kingmaker. During one point, he went looking for murderers, and was in a hurry about it before more were killed. Charm Person took care of much of his investigation quickly, and finding one of the murderers (but only one) meant that he had no time to go searching for the rest. Enter charm person again, follow up some flirtation with some questions and a Suggestion spell, and when the target had pretty much confessed her crimes, the legal hammer came down instantly (he'd been very careful not to promise anything, with advanced use of the bluff and diplomacy skill). Subsequent uses of charm, hypnotism, and suggestion meant that she detailed every little bit of the murderous plot quickly, was disabled mostly painlessly, and numerous innocent lives were saved as a result of it.

Guilt-free, because said target was an evil, murderous sociopath who'd taken and killed innocents multiple times and was threatening to do so again, and, frankly, there was no time. She had, in effect, become an combatant by her actions. We all pretty much agreed he handled things in both a lawful and good manner: not resorting to torture and going to the measures he did only for the good of innocents.

So, now you've got my answer.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
KHShadowrunner wrote:
Black_Lantern wrote:
I don't understand why you think charm person makes you able to interrogate them. Do all of your friends tell you everything?

My really good ones tell me everything, from their sex lives and how they live to drive their husbands to climax to their tax records, debt issues, and fears of financial catastrophes, to their darker days and horrible thoughts, to dreams, to aspirations, to confessions that they loved me themselves for years.

In short:

Yes.

But if either of you had a job that had a security clearance or trade secrets, would you share them? That may be a closer equivalent for sensitivity of information - personally sensitive or official, job responsibility sensitive. A lot of people who will share (or overshare) personal details can successfully compartmentalize that info from job-based info.

But it also comes down to personality. There are people who will not talk about such issues with friends, even close ones. This makes, I think, charm person a useful tool because it forges an instant relationship but not an automatic info dump.


Sitri wrote:


If you are of the determinism philosophy, the difference between controlling someone and making them want to do something they are capable of is just a matter of vocabulary.

Fair enough, you could argue that one is manipulation, while the other is domination. And some times manipulation is pretty bad, even evil. It's a side of the coin I'm willing to say exists and is real.

That doesn't mean that manipulative people are bad at what they do, and usually get away with a hell of a lot of evil things because that's just how manipulation works.

You might not -think- you'd give away your credit card number to someone. But careful manipulation makes you give over that, your security number, AND the name of your mother. Manipulative people.

Man I want to roll evil now. True Neutral just doesn't feel as good as NE.

At least for my bard.


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ciretose wrote:
Lamontius wrote:


So what would a good character do in this situation.
I'm just asking out of curiosity since I think after this thread I am never rolling a good alignment ever again.

If the person he is charming is evil and charming them serves the greater good, he would charm them.

Hell good players stab things all the time, and that seems much more evil.

Okay so pretty much exactly what happened in the original post's example.

Whew man I'm so glad that we got that settled before this thread went on for multiple pages about that concept.


Bill Dunn wrote:
KHShadowrunner wrote:
Black_Lantern wrote:
I don't understand why you think charm person makes you able to interrogate them. Do all of your friends tell you everything?

My really good ones tell me everything, from their sex lives and how they live to drive their husbands to climax to their tax records, debt issues, and fears of financial catastrophes, to their darker days and horrible thoughts, to dreams, to aspirations, to confessions that they loved me themselves for years.

In short:

Yes.

But if either of you had a job that had a security clearance or trade secrets, would you share them? That may be a closer equivalent for sensitivity of information - personally sensitive or official, job responsibility sensitive. A lot of people who will share (or overshare) personal details can successfully compartmentalize that info from job-based info.

But it also comes down to personality. There are people who will not talk about such issues with friends, even close ones. This makes, I think, charm person a useful tool because it forges an instant relationship but not an automatic info dump.

Again, the bond between me and my friend? Yes. We have. We know the consequences of if it is shared. We know each other well enough to know we wouldn't.

And I guess I agree. But that pretty much completely screws the spell over. Or, it puts a complete trust in the DM's hands. Half the DM's will be in favor, half wont. That's ok, I trust the DM. But it still makes the spell worthless. Because now you have to analyze what the spell is, who the character is that you are using it on, and how the DM both interprets the spell, the character, and your character.

It is ultimately the DM's decision. Which is why this ties into the fact that it's a social aspect spell, and as such, at nearly a great risk of being completely useless.

At let it be known that this is not an instance in my case, as I'm either going to pick up the spell this level or next. I don't know how our DM is going to play it out. But there's no confessing that it's irritating to know that while I cast grease on the ground, they save or fall, If I cast charm on them, they save or they (may help me out if the enemy attacks or may not because they do not see any harm in letting their friend get attacked (or they may help out but they will help out both parties because they're both friends (or they will help you out by disarming you preventing anyone from doing any damgage))) and then will stare at you with idle content (not discontent, mind you) because this person happens to be (a social outcast / a rejected degenerate / a person of a race that happens to hate yours / a person who cannot speak / a person who fears for his life at everything / a person who just watched his good friend attack his other good friend and is not sure of what to make of the situation)

Liberty's Edge

Because that is how you act toward your friends does not mean that is how others act toward their friends.

Who knows how the NPC would act toward their friends.

The GM.


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Damn this really isn't that difficult.

You charm person someone, they fail their will save, their attitude is Friendly. You then do a relatively simple diplomacy check to switch their attitude to helpful.

At that point you can ask for most routine favors without even needing a diplomacy check.

Revealing secret knowledge which is generally what the Bard is trying to get from his target is still somewhat risky to the target (if his bosses find out that could be bad) so I generally still require some diplomacy checks. Actually getting someone to give material aid to the PCs can definitely be risky.

Furthermore fanatical followers of an organization are still going to be morally loathe to betray that organization so it's hard to get meaningful information out of some NPCs particularly clerics, paladins, cavaliers, etc.

Fortunately many of the people you want to get secret knowledge from are fundamentally mercenary at heart.

So in short charm person is a helpful tool and while some people might have moral compunctions against abusing it, it seems like a relative low transgression on the list of sins. Alignment shifts aren't really needed unless you are doing morally icky stuff with the charmed people.

Actual torture on the otherhand is definitely morally problematic. Fortunately I think you can do enough of the good cop bad cop routine with intimidate that actually pulling out the pliers to torture someone for information is rarely used by the PCs. NPCs on the other hand..


The GM probably did not know how the NPC would act toward their friend. He probably kablamma-poped this guy into existance when we realized that we wanted encounter x to occur. Maybe he has a light backstory. But not enough to tell me if he'd tell me anything.

Charming an important NPC is even more worthless because you pretty much KNOW they're not going to do anything.


I think I've been convinced. I'm taking Silent Image. The risk is just too great that Charm Person is pretty much useless. If you can successfully cast it, you might as well just intimidate/diplomacy your way to victory. lol.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
KHShadowrunner wrote:

And I guess I agree. But that pretty much completely screws the spell over. Or, it puts a complete trust in the DM's hands. Half the DM's will be in favor, half wont. That's ok, I trust the DM. But it still makes the spell worthless. Because now you have to analyze what the spell is, who the character is that you are using it on, and how the DM both interprets the spell, the character, and your character.

It is ultimately the DM's decision. Which is why this ties into the fact that it's a social aspect spell, and as such, at nearly a great risk of being completely useless.

At let it be known that this is not an instance in my case, as I'm either going to pick up the spell this level or next. I don't know how our DM is going to play it out. But there's no confessing that it's irritating to know that while I cast grease on the ground, they save or fall, If I cast charm on them, they save or they (may help me out if the enemy attacks or may not because they do not see any harm in letting their friend get attacked (or they may help out but they will help out both parties because they're both friends (or they will help you out by disarming you preventing anyone from doing any damgage))) and then will stare at you with idle content (not discontent, mind you) because this person happens to be (a social outcast / a rejected degenerate / a person of a race that happens to hate yours / a person who cannot speak / a person who fears for his life at everything / a person who just watched his good friend attack his other good friend and is not sure of what to make of the situation)

It doesn't make the spell worthless at all, rather, it gives it an appropriate worth. This is, after all, a first level spell. It's not dominate person. It provides very minor control of a target, more akin to conferring significant influence, rather than outright control.

If you can't trust your DM to adjudicate the spell fairly, you probably have one of two problems - 1) you can't trust the DM, period, or 2) you have too high an interpretation of what the spell can and should do.

Things that becoming a trusted friend and ally should entirely reasonably do:
1) Make Diplomacy checks easier. You've basically shifted someone from Indifferent to Hostile up to Friendly.

2) Make Bluff checks easier. He trusts you, so there's a +5 modifier because he wants to believe you.

3) Make you eligible for any effects the target has going that affect his allies.

4) And, of course, you get to try to order the target around with an opposed Charisma check as long as it is something the target would normally consider doing. Like trying to stop the fight if one of his actual allies tries to target you.

Is that about right for a first level spell? I think so.


KHShadowrunner wrote:
I think I've been convinced. I'm taking Silent Image. The risk is just too great that Charm Person is pretty much useless. If you can successfully cast it, you might as well just intimidate/diplomacy your way to victory. lol.

... if you've got the time, sure. Charm is faster and (slightly) more reliable. And if you've got both Charm and diplomacy you can make a hostile into a helpful, something that diplomacy on its own just can't do.

Bill's pretty much got the right of it. And ciretose is accurate in that the GM would, in fact, "know" what the NPC would and wouldn't do (as the GM is the one that is creating and controlling the NPC), and thus is inherently correct about the NPC's actions. It may be irritating to you if the GM plays too many NPCs as paranoid, suspicious, sure-of-death-except-for-betrayal characters at all times, but hey: he's running the world. ciretose's choice is his own, and I don't like it, but if it makes sense for his games, it's the right way to play for him.

And I'm really not sure what it is that you mean by being "convinced". One GM's interpretation isn't another's. And what Silent Image can and cannot get away with has a laundry list of GMs disagreeing with each other and themselves from game to game, far more than Charm, even if Charm is more vocally contentious.

Because seriously. Silent Image. You make an image. That's silent. It moves, though! Can it be useful? Absolutely. Is it more useful than Charm... unlikely. Depending on the GM's interpretation, it could be considered enough to make people go "Oh, SNAP, it's a blue dragon's head opening to eat us that's appearing from thin air, we should run away and never even look back lest it eat us!" on the 'strong' end to "Oh, hey, you have a free naughty magazine once per day." on the less-than-strong end. (It's really something more like the middle. I house rule that you use checks when using such things.)

Given that it's a first level spell, it doesn't have any emotional or compulsion affect along with it, and how an NPC will react to a silent image is entirely within the hands of the GM anyway, so you're not escaping that part of the social contract by choosing one over the other.

ANYWAY, this is all kind of off-topic.


yea well I'd have to say if you were trying to get a Red Mantis to betray their boss or cult, that would give them their saving throw the break the charm, however. If you were to dress up LIKE a RED MANTIS and charm a real member and then say, hey let's go to the hide out, I'll cover your back to make sure no one is following.

You could pull that off.

If Thugwort and Bobby were hired by the local loser for X gold to assassinate you? I think Charm would work just fine, they dont' have any particular or long term attachment or knowledge of "their boss".


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So objectively speaking of the morality of the act in a real-world context as the OP apparently wants us to: The act is not bad in any way, shape, or form, because it's a fictional act being perpetrated on a fictional character. In other words no act actually occurred.

In terms of crowd reaction: If the crowd is so blase (or hardcore) that they watch assassins and adventurers fight it out in the middle of the local tavern and calmly and keenly observe all the actions going on after the melee has ended, I'd imagine they're hardened enough that a little magic isn't going to faze them, since they obviously don't fear death or bodily harm while a bunch of (presumably) strangers are swinging swords and spells and whatnot around nearby. Unless it's specifically a magic-hating/magic outlawing society, in which case someone in the melee probably already cast some magic so they're screwed either way.

If the commoners ARE afraid they're probably not exactly going to rush off to rat out the folks who just WON the fight, lest they become the next victim. If they choose to have a negative opinion of the spellcaster/spellcasters in general because of the Charm Person, that's their own fault, not the fault of the party. Otherwise folks would have to start shifting alignment everytime they botched a Diplomacy check.

Though if you live in a society where magic is commonplace enough that the average tavern-goer can recognize a charm person spell/more subtle magic being cast and immediately know what's going on, I'd question the notion that Magic is particularly "taboo" in that world.


Okay, this is a long thread and I'm not going to read the responses.

The OP wants to talk about societal ramifications. I've touched on this in an unrelated thread.

Charm person is absolutely toxic to the rule of law. Because it has a nonzero chance of causing the victim to commit acts contrary to their own morality as long as they aren't suicidal it is unjust to punish someone who committed a crime under the influence of charm person equally to someone who committed the same crime without magical influence.

There is no way to prove whether or not someone was charmed after the fact. The mere existence of the charm spell makes justice impossible.

Charm can be used to induce people to accept contracts they would not normally accept, and cannot be proven or disproven after the fact, poisoning the validity of contracts in general.

The rule of law and charm person cannot coexist. Arcane casters (except summoners and magi, but how do you tell the difference between a magus and a wizard/martial multiclass without looking at their character sheet?) must die or be exiled unless knowledge of the spell can be extinguished.

Without the ability to use an opposed charisma check to get results better than diplomacy it can be tolerated enough to not drive out arcanists, but should still be criminal for the same reason consent under the influence of mind altering substances is not valid consent.

Dominate is actually less bad. While it can still be used for contract fraud the extreme behavior changes it induces make it possible for witnesses to identify dominated people with enough reliability to salvage the notion of criminal justice. There will still be magic induced miscarriages of justice, but at least you can try to sort things out.


Atarlost wrote:
Because it has a nonzero chance of causing the victim to commit acts contrary to their own morality as long as they aren't suicidal...

... except that isn't true.

Check it!

Charm Person wrote:
The spell does not enable you to control the charmed person as if it were an automaton, but it perceives your words and actions in the most favorable way. You can try to give the subject orders, but you must win an opposed Charisma check to convince it to do anything it wouldn't ordinarily do. (Retries are not allowed.) An affected creature never obeys suicidal or obviously harmful orders, but it might be convinced that something very dangerous is worth doing.

That's hardly a "nonzero chance".

EDIT: and while the DC is higher, you're still able to tell a person is enchanted with sense motive.


Why would Charm be incompatible with the rule of law?

Magistrates would certainly know about the spell in general terms.

One ruling could be that actions under the impact of charm person are still voluntary acts thus the charmed person is responsible for their actions regardless.

Another ruling could be that charm person removes any moral culpability of the victim thus there would be all sorts of attempts to determine if the person was the victim including commune, detect lies, contact other plane, etc.

The most likely alternative is that judges understand that charm person could result in diminished capacity and the judge attempts to determine the truth of the matter but doesn't condone the use of "I was charmed" as a blanket immunity from prosecution.


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Atarlost wrote:

Okay, this is a long thread and I'm not going to read the responses.

The OP wants to talk about societal ramifications. I've touched on this in an unrelated thread.

Charm person is absolutely toxic to the rule of law. Because it has a nonzero chance of causing the victim to commit acts contrary to their own morality as long as they aren't suicidal it is unjust to punish someone who committed a crime under the influence of charm person equally to someone who committed the same crime without magical influence.

There is no way to prove whether or not someone was charmed after the fact. The mere existence of the charm spell makes justice impossible.

Charm can be used to induce people to accept contracts they would not normally accept, and cannot be proven or disproven after the fact, poisoning the validity of contracts in general.

The rule of law and charm person cannot coexist. Arcane casters (except summoners and magi, but how do you tell the difference between a magus and a wizard/martial multiclass without looking at their character sheet?) must die or be exiled unless knowledge of the spell can be extinguished.

Without the ability to use an opposed charisma check to get results better than diplomacy it can be tolerated enough to not drive out arcanists, but should still be criminal for the same reason consent under the influence of mind altering substances is not valid consent.

Dominate is actually less bad. While it can still be used for contract fraud the extreme behavior changes it induces make it possible for witnesses to identify dominated people with enough reliability to salvage the notion of criminal justice. There will still be magic induced miscarriages of justice, but at least you can try to sort things out.

If you follow this logic, no magic should be permitted at all, anywhere, ever. Charm Person is hardly the only thing in the spell catalogs that would be a nightmare in regards to "rule of law."

Not to mention that this position you've taken seems to inherently presume the existence of such things as evidence-based hearings, trials, etc... when it's just as likely to be "Some nobleman/noble-appointed magistrate said I'm guilty so I'm guilty" or even simple "might makes right" or "possession is 9/10s of the law" (unless you "possessed" something belonging to the right/wrong noble).

Trying to apply "semi realistic" law to fantasy settings (particularly high-magic fantasy) is much like trying to do the same in a Superhero setting: It simply doesn't work well. "Realistically" the societies in question would have created laws that adjust and account for the problems that common understanding of the existence of magic and superhuman abilities cause (with varying degrees of success of course) but instead there often seems to be attempts to apply our own real-world frame of reference to settings in which such a thing is like fitting a square peg into a round hole, so to speak.

Most D&D style settings seem to present an overall general acceptance of magic with degrees of regional variation and regulation: A nation or two that are "magic-user ruled" or "magic friendly" and one or two where magic-users are persecuted or oppressively regulated, with a whole lot of in-between. How the tavern-dwellers in the original scenario presented would react would almost always depend heavily on what the local opinion of magic in general is.

And of course, how strictly "realistic" your game master wants to be.

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