"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Friday, April 30, 2010

Under a vampire's spell

On page X41, the vampire's charm ability is described as:
"A vampire may also attempt to charm any who gaze into its eyes. The victim must save vs Spells to avoid the charm, with a -2 penalty on the roll. A charmed victim will be totally under the vampire's control, but cannot use spells or magic." (Italicized emphasis mine)

On page B16, the charm spell is limited by:
"Any commands given will usually be obeyed, except that orders against its nature (alignment and habits) may be resisted, and an order to kill itself will be refused."

Is the vampire's charm ability the same as the normal charm spell? If a victim is "totally under the vampires control" can they resist orders against their nature?


  1. They look like two different charm abilities to me, with a vampire able to order his victim's to commit suicide.

  2. Yeah, I hate to get into this kind of discussion (it sounds like the kind of house-rules, use-in-context, what's-the-situation determination to me)...but F it. I go with Jeff on this one. "Charm" is a particular type of effect that might as well be called "mind control." CHARM PERSON is a 1st level spell, CHARM MONSTER is a 4th level spell, and a vampire's CHARM is a third, different thing.

    It appears obvious from the Basic set (for example) that the a character able to act to "the best of its ability" can use spells, which is clearly different from the vampire power. I would use this as the basis of saying they are two different things.

  3. More generally, there's a temptation in adventure design - call it "magical naturalism" - to have the spell lists available to players define the limits of magic in the world. You can't have a magical effect in a dungeon unless it's plausibly McGyvered together from the spell lists and permanency. Monsters always cast from the spell lists. And so on.

    I prefer magic to be mysterious. This is hard when half your player's classes rely on magic abilities that are rule-limited and out in the open. One way to get the mystery back is to have other sources of magic break the rules - or have unknown rules that must be learned by trial and costly error.

  4. The "cannot use spells or magic" bit is suggestive to me of an almost sleepwalking thrall (befuddled beyond concentration), as opposed to the "sorry bud, can't help ya there" situation one can get into w/ a typical Charm--they still have some volition but they're less suspicious than Drac's slaaaaves..

  5. What Jayson said. Vampire charm should be called "mesmerize". That is how it looks like to me in every B/W vampire movie I've ever seen.

  6. I think that one of the things that throws me is that "charm" in the vampire description is bolded which usually means a spell name in most B/X writings.

  7. As above... if errata had existed way back then, the naming of this vampiric ability charm would surely have been altered.

  8. I would say it's a different effect that suppresses any arcane or divine abilities. I would also make outright suicide impossible, but giving their necks to the vampire would be allowed.