Charme and Verbal Threat

Rules Questions

Hi. Last game the DM had a monster use charme monster on the party barbarian. He would have failed the saving throw, if not for the +5 given by the fact that we were threatened by it.
The monster had previously attacked and hit one of the party (NOT the barbarian), after having summoned the illusion of a demon and having threatened us all of death (literally, the first words it said were that we had come there to die, and that if we behaved it would maybe have a little of fun with the barbarian before eating us).
Now, at the moment the party and the DM had misinterpreted the description, and considered the attack the monster had made before using the spell as the threat that granted the bonus to the saving throw. Now the DM, after having read in depth the spell description, is saying that he should not have had the bonus, since the spell states that HE has to be threatened, and the creature attacked another character. He is not planning on replaying the combat, it's just a matter of interpretation.
Does not the fact that the monster threatened us all verbally at the start count as a threat?

P.S. are there any official rulings or FAQs on the matter? The DM is kinda wary of accepting any answer that is not official.

Liberty's Edge

If the creature is currently being threatened or attacked by you or your allies, however, it receives a +5 bonus on its saving throw.

That line, and what you can get the Charmed person to do has generated endless debates and very few definitive answers.

The best reply is "your GM should decide how it works in your world".

If I have a knife to the throat of your significant other you feel threatened?
If I am fleeing with your wallet you feel threatened?
If I am having a friendly boxing match and you are a guy that loves them, you feel threatened?

I, as a GM, would decide on the basis of the character's behavior and the situation if the target feels threatened or not.

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There's nothing official on that part of Charm Person, but the description of the Fascinate bardic performance, which also uses the term "threaten", might can reveal somethign of an official stance on the word:

"Any potential threat to the target allows the target to make a new saving throw against the effect. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a weapon at the target, automatically breaks the effect." CRB pg. 37

If a drawn weapon is a threat, a monster that already attacked a party member surely is one, too. Honestly, if you're on the street with a friend, and I shoot your friend, but don't point my gun at you, would you not feel threatened?

Quite frankly, Charm Person is not a combat spell, and that's what the increased DC represents. One should virtually always get the +5 DC when the spell is used in combat - this matches how the word "threaten" is used in the take 10 rules: "Distractions or threats (such as combat) make it impossible for a character to take 10." CRB pg. 86

Derklord wrote:
Charm spells in combat, completely correct

I would allow charm spells to "assist" in the extremely rare call truce and "entreating critical" feats, but that is very much not RAW, these feats are so weak they can make use of anything to improve them, unless you fully munchkin them in a party full of secret spell casters.

As written, charm monster in combat could do the following things, imho, charm spells and abilities vary massively from table to table:

--Take a character out of a possible pursuit. Like, Succubus seeing she is losing, charms the Dimensional anchor caster to allow her to escape.
--Make a character believe a not outrageous lie, such as "he is the Big Bad and he forced me to do this!"

Liberty's Edge

Generally, you cast it before the combat starts, to avoid it starting or to potentially remove an opponent.
It doesn't overwrite the target's previous loyalties or his self-preservation impulses, so, normally, it wouldn't have him attack his companion, but he could interpose himself between them and you, trying to stop attacks from both parties, it gives you a chance to escape and so on.

His being your best friend doesn't mean he wouldn't attack you in some extreme case. During the American Civil War members of the same family or friends were on the opposite sides and fired on each other while staying best friends.
The important thing is that GM should have a successful Charm do something useful while not making it Dominate person.

Both the CRB and Ultimate Intrigue have text on what charm spells are supposed and allowed to do, by the way. Here is the CRB text, and here is the text from Ultimate Intrigue.

Threating someone does not mean you are actually attacking them. The spell states if you are being threated or attacked you get the bonus. If you only get the bonus when you are actually being attacked there would be no need to included being threatened.

Verbally threatening someone will usually be enough to get the bonus on the save. When you threaten someone you basically indicate that you are going to take hostile action against the person. How you indicate that does not really matter as long as the target understand your intention. The threat remains until it for whatever reason no longer applies. Telling someone you intend to kill them is threatening them, since the demons actions did nothing to indicate he no longer intended to kill the party he was still threatening them. The barbarian was included in the original threat so would count as being threatened. If the demon hand indicated that the barbarian was no longer in danger of being killed that might cancel the threat for the barbarian.

Look at it this way if in the real world someone with a gun said they were going to kill you and you attacked them, you could claim self-defense. The reason you can claim self-defense is you are being threatened. Once the person with the gun tells you he intends to kill you, you are being threatened. A demon is at least as dangerous as a person with a gun and has told the party he intends to kill them. That is a threat.

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