Apr 6, 2011

Charm Person vs Hold Person

After reading about the Sleep spell on Cylcopeatron it got me thinking about other 1st level spells in D&D.  This is the original entry for Charm Person
Charm Person: This spell applies to all two-legged, generally mammalian figures neartorless than man-size, excluding all monsters in the "Undead" class but including Sprites, Pixies, Nixies, Kobolds, Goblins, Orcs, Hobgoblins and Gnolls. If the spell is successful it will cause the charmed entity to come completely under the influence of the Magic-User until such time as the "charm" is dispelled Dispell Magic). Range: 12"
That's a really powerful 1st level spell. A patient wizard (and really, aren't they all?) could slowly take over entire communities in an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" manner. If there aren't any other wizards about (or high level Clerics) then there's nothing to break the Charm. Why not, right?

Now here's Hold Person a spell a Magic-User needs to gain 4 more levels before they can cast.
Hold Person: A spell similar to a Charm Person but which is of both limited duration and greater effect. It will effect from 1-4 persons. If it is cast at only a single person it has the effect of reducing the target's saving throw against magic by -2. Duration: 6 turns + level of the caster. Range: 12".
I don't know when it got changed into "Immobilize" Person, but this reads to me like "Maintain Control Over" Person. It's Charm Person but it affects up to 4 people, or one person with a minor penalty to their saving throw. I'm not sure that compares to throwing Fireballs or Flying but it's still better than what it turned into in the updates. Here's Hold Person in Swords & Wizardry
The caster targets 1d4 persons (the same parameters as the Charm Person spell), who are completely immobilized (saving throw applies). The caster may also target a single person, in which case the saving throw is made with a penalty of -2.
I... guess. I don't know about you but charming someone effectively forever as a 1st level spell seems like a much better deal than a 3rd level spell that's 10% harder to save against and only lasts an hour. And they're not charmed - they're just immobile.

Why is Charm Person so good, and Hold Person so bad? Sometimes it feels like there's a lot of arbitrary things in this game. ( :-D )

As an aside, the original Hold Person works perfectly for the Bene Gesserit. So scratch this:

Replace 'Light' with 'Charm Person', duration: concentration -- This is 'The Voice'

And just remove 'Light' from their list of spells. The original Hold Person with the limited duration works much better for 'The Voice'. I even like that they need to be able to 'cast' 2nd level spells before they've mastered it.