Posted by : David Guyll July 06, 2017

When I was working on the succubus for the second Appendix D update for Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book, I went through various D&D editions to see what they did, and one thing I noticed that she always gets an at-will charm person.

I made a Charm talent for the wizard in an earlier Dungeons & Delvers draft (the Enchanter tree didn't make it into the Black Book), which at the time let you spend Mana, have the target make a Will save, and if they failed treat you as a trusted friend until you proved otherwise.

It originally didn't have a duration, because I honestly thought that the charm person spell didn't have one, either: I thought they just considered you a friend until something happened!

In 2nd Edition the spell (charm person) lasted until the target made a successful saving throw, which was regularly checked at intervals based on the target's Intelligence: the smarter they were, the sooner they got to make additional saves.

3rd Edition had it last one hour per caster level (which is what I also did with the Black Book version), while 5th Edition sets it at a single hour, though the 5th Edition succubus's Charm lasts for a day but they can only have one creature charmed at a time: they can't just keep spamming it until everyone is either charmed or resists it.

With all this in mind I decided on a few things.

The first was that a succubus can only charm creatures that aren't already hostile towards her. This means she has to be subtle and catch the PCs off guard. She can't just run (or fly) around spamming Charm over and over until someone fails a Will save. Unless the party is expecting succubi or catches her with her pants down (since she can't completely disguise herself), this shouldn't be that hard to do (the first time anyway).

(I'm working on the bard for the third Appendix D update, and a lot of their magic so far only works on creatures that aren't already trying to bury an axe in your skull.)

I think 5th Edition's whole "you're immune for 24 hours" is boring, weird, and arbitrary (though still better than earlier editions' just-keep-trying-until-someone-fails model): like, someone else can try to charm you, even another succubus, but no matter what that particular succubus cannot charm you until at least 24 hours have elapsed.

Instead I designed it so that if a target makes their Will save, then the succubus has to basically wait until the target lets their guard down before she can try again. She can follow the potential victim around, and wait until they no longer expect a succubus to try and charm them (could take awhile), or maybe change her shape and trick the person into thinking that she's just a normal person and earn their trust.

The other thing I'd considered was making you immune to the succubus's charm for a random duration, like 1d6 rounds, minutes, or hours (or a random duration after everyone has more or less "calmed down").

So what do you think: good way to handle charms? Prefer how another edition did it? Got something completely different you want to pitch? I could see Enchanter wizards getting a talent that lets them charm even hostile creatures, maybe with a save bonus, higher Mana cost, and/or reduced duration as a kind of emergency charm.

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