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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    I posted this in the 5e sub and made a few changes based on feedback. They recommended I post here. I'd love to hear from you, especially constructive ideas on how to improve or expand on this concept.

    Influencing the PCs

    When it comes to social skills, many DMs avoid utilizing Persuasion or Intimidation against the PCs. Player agency is paramount to running the game, as the decisions of the players change the course and direction of the campaign in an infinite number of ways. We all know that it doesn't feel good to lose control of your character. These optional rules seek to utilize these mechanics in a way that is fair for players but also recognizes the ability of NPCs.

    Social Interaction

    A creature's ability to influence another creature can be limited by skill checks, the flow of social interaction or even the practical nature of what is being asked. Ability checks should only be called for when there is a meaningful chance of influencing the other creature.

    If the player becomes the target of a social interaction that seeks to influence their course of action, the player decides their starting attitude: friendly, indifferent, or hostile, as defined in the "Resolving Interactions" section of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

    Continue to use these rules as written for resolving those interactions, but with the following exception for players:


    Conversation Reactions
    Players may choose to oppose a suggested course of action, regardless of the DC or outcome of the roll. A player who disregards the request, demand or suggestion has disadvantage on the next ability check, saving throw or attack roll made in opposition to the suggested course of action. At your DM's discretion, inspiration may be awarded to players who follow the suggested course of action.

    Combat

    The following rule can be used by both PCs and NPCs in combat.

    Intimidate
    On your turn you can use the Intimidate action to attempt to intimidate a creature. The targeted creature must be Large or smaller and be able to see and hear you. The targeted creature must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the save fails by 5 or more, the creature is Frightened of you until the end of your next turn. The DC for the save is 10 + your Charisma (Intimidation) modifier.

    Notes

    Social Interaction
    These rules extend the social interaction rules found in the Dungeon Master's Guide (p. 244-5). If you are not familiar with these rules, please reference them as needed.

    Variant Rule: Skills with Different Abilities
    As an option, the DM may permit the use of the variant rules for "Skills with Different Abilities", as outlined in the Player's Handbook (p. 175). For instance, a raging barbarian may wish to utilize her physical prowess to intimidate another creature, which may call for a Strength (Intimidation) check in place of Charisma.
    Last edited by schm0; 2021-11-16 at 01:22 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Exalted (a white Wolf epic fantasy game) had a deeeeep system for social interactions involving dice and so on.

    Burning Wheel/Mouseguard had one as well.

    It may be a good idea to lift some of those elements to help players determine why they’re resistant to a suggested course of action (does it go against a core element of their character’s psyche, betray a relationship they prioritize, etc).

    My preference would be giving them 2 pools of points (call them healthy/toxic) that they invest in NPCs and each other. The more healthy points they put in an NPC the easier it is for them to influence the NPC and the more the NPC will help them out, but the more they ignore the NPCs input, forget their requests, or act counter to the NPCs interests, the more points they lose.

    Toxic points can be put on other characters or NPCs and indicate “this is a person that can just puuuush my goddamn buttons.” Maybe you are super infatuated and they take advantage, maybe they’re an unhealthy rival, maybe their a bad parent, etc. at the end of the day, your investment with them costs you something for a neutral outcome or one in their favor.

    This places the agency and choice in the hands of the PCs. They get to define relationships while also giving some of the reigns for their own PC to the DM to smooth out the story.

    The DM sees which NPCs the players want to interact with while they choose their own nemeses and foils.

    In either case, the DM can spend points to just get the players moving, they might be returning a favor or accept that part of buying into the game’s world is that they work to maintain relationships outside the party.

    Japanese game called Double Cross had the Lois system. That might also be worth a look.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    While other systems might be a good fit, I couldn't find any of the rule systems you listed available online.

    I'm really just looking for feedback on what I have here.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by schm0 View Post
    Conversation Reactions
    Players may choose to oppose a suggested course of action, regardless of the DC or outcome of the roll. A player who disregards the request, demand or suggestion has disadvantage on the next ability check, saving throw or attack roll made in opposition to the suggested course of action. At your DM's discretion, inspiration may be awarded to players who follow the suggested course of action.
    This is good, but you might want to draw it out a bit... the next check in opposition could be a very short duration, especially for more general demands (i.e. "Don't go into the Haunted Forest"). I might be inclined to allow this to be dismissed with a Wisdom saving throw (not necessarily having disadvantage), made when they attempt to go against it.

    One thing I've noted in creating social interaction rules for other systems is that if you choose to ignore the results of social systems, you are playing your character poorly; by the dice, your character was convinced, and saying that you're not convinced so your character not convinced is no different than deciding your character wasn't hit when the bandit put his sword through your gullet because you don't want him to be.

    While people will say that player agency is hurt by forcing the character to do things through social combat and the like, the player's choice was made when they decided not to invest in the necessary skills and abilities to defend themselves against social combat... the same as you made a choice not to defend yourself against physical combat when you did not wear armor (or have some similar ability). The dice determined that you took a sword to the face, and they determined that your character is now pretty sure that the dragon is gonna give him a good deal.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    This is good, but you might want to draw it out a bit... the next check in opposition could be a very short duration, especially for more general demands (i.e. "Don't go into the Haunted Forest"). I might be inclined to allow this to be dismissed with a Wisdom saving throw (not necessarily having disadvantage), made when they attempt to go against it.

    One thing I've noted in creating social interaction rules for other systems is that if you choose to ignore the results of social systems, you are playing your character poorly; by the dice, your character was convinced, and saying that you're not convinced so your character not convinced is no different than deciding your character wasn't hit when the bandit put his sword through your gullet because you don't want him to be.

    While people will say that player agency is hurt by forcing the character to do things through social combat and the like, the player's choice was made when they decided not to invest in the necessary skills and abilities to defend themselves against social combat... the same as you made a choice not to defend yourself against physical combat when you did not wear armor (or have some similar ability). The dice determined that you took a sword to the face, and they determined that your character is now pretty sure that the dragon is gonna give him a good deal.
    I see where you are going with the time limit. I did consider this, perhaps limiting it to a minute. But imagine a scenario where the orc warchief successfully intimidates the party into retreating because they "agreed", where they wait for a minute to pass, return, and slaughter the orcs with no penalty. The time limit becomes rather pointless.

    I'd be fine with adding a Wisdom saving throw if the NPCs were afforded the same luxury, but they aren't. And again, the problem becomes how we determine the DC. That was my problem with designing this entire mechanic in the first place, because there are simply no rules for determining a DC against social skills outside of these mechanics in the DMG.

    I agree with your second and third statements, as well. When we roll Deception vs. Insight the players don't cry and whine if they can't read the NPC, or get upset at the mechanics because when they ultimately learn that the NPC lied to them. Why should Intimidation or Persuasion be any different? We are fine with failing a DC for hold person, banishment, etc. The dice determine skills, and if we are all agreeing that the dice determine how well those skills are implemented, we must naturally follow that course of action.

    The idea here is not that you are forced to do something, but rather, you face a small, one-time penalty if you don't.
    Last edited by schm0; 2021-11-20 at 05:42 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Inflicting the Frightened condition via the intimidation skill runs into the problem that spammable status infliction is very hard to balance around. Either it's too weak (giving up your action this round to impose disadvantage on enemy attacks is basically just a dodge action, and that's rarely worth giving up an attack for), or it's too strong (turning that into a bonus action pseudo-dodge makes a lot of characters much harder to hit). I don't mind it in theory as a way to reskin dodging, but I also don't see you hitting the balance sweet spot.

    I've seen a few ways of making PC persuasion work, but D&D doesn't have the mechanical hooks to make the biggest one work. The Exalted system has a few levels of defense against anything other than active magical mind control. First you have things you care about written on your character sheet with their importance rated minor/major/defining to your character and you can't be made to go against a passion unless an equally strong one is brought to bear. Second is that you have a pool of willpower points that can be spent to empower actions you put your whole self into, and you can spend one to negate an influence attempt. D&D would need a much more robust social system to make similar things viable, and I don't see those as being appealing.

    Second, I've seen rules light systems where taking actions against social influence suffered a penalty and/or required spending metagame currency, while actions according with social influence gained a bonus and/or gained metagame currency. (Either xp, or some form of plot-influence point.) D&D works best with everybody being the same level and ideally milestone leveling, so dangling an XP carrot is unlikely to be meaningfully enticing. Meanwhile, 5e intentionally avoids fiddly modifiers beyond advantage/disadvantage, which are pretty big to give out just because your ally convinced you that you want to go adventuring.

    Throw in 5e-isms (most notably that it's a hugely popular onboarding rpg, that many players prefer simplicity over the rules bloat you'd get from stapling on an involved social system, the way that d20 variance often swamps the modifiers involved, and the way that expertise makes skills one of the few places where bounded accuracy math gets broken - but only by people with an explicit expertise feature), you're looking at a lot of work and a lot of fighting against the system to get what you want.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by schm0 View Post
    While other systems might be a good fit, I couldn't find any of the rule systems you listed available online.

    I'm really just looking for feedback on what I have here.
    Ah, sorry, sometimes I forget that 10 years ago sample pdf's or fanlations were all over the place for non-english or OOP games.

    direct feedback on what you have here:

    I don't understand the objective? PCs are the diamond's in the rough, the person that says "damn it all, I'm gonna anyway" where others take up dad's rake and be a farmer like he wanted. There's magic and dragons that force them to act as though they are afraid. There are spells and succubi to make them act like they like someone. But at the end of the day, anything that dictates how their character acts is ultimately a betrayal of the game's objective, which is for them to play their PC in a shared world. The amount of rule lawyering that generally comes up: "can I close my eyes when I attack my ally so I have disadvantage? Can I do minimum damage? Can I just make an unarmed strike?" Is indicative of how unfun this is for these players.

    There's definitely a spectrum of opinion on controlling player actions and choices with mechanics, but in general, if I'm playing a guy that can literally summon fiends to kill people for me, I am not going cower (and make no mistake, the frightened condition is cowering -stand in place or flee, flail ineffectually-) from anything I don't think can make very short work of a devil. No "mere warrior" even if he's wielding a sunsword and wearing demon armor, will ever be able to cow me with a flex, glare, or dazzling murder display of a minion because no matter what level or CR you say a some guy is, to my PC, he's just some guy, and hell is full of those and I literally pull the things that run hell out of the air to kill for me (or raise undead or command the elements, etc).

    So the idea of intimidation checks being something to Fear Condition my PC will make no sense to me the player. Same for a Fighter that's bested a bear or hydra, etc. They know they border on superhuman, the idea they'd be nearly paralyzed because the bartender roared at them is nonsense.

    Beyond that, the idea you punitively nerf a PC's next roll because they disagree with your NPC is just appalling to me. Generally, if I have a disagreement with someone that so incenses me that I think it would have a mechanical impact on my performance in other spheres, I'd likely equate it to a free use of Barbarian Rage before I said it just generally makes you worse at the next thing you do.

    Because I love it I'll try to sum up a version of Mouseguard's social interaction rules that can work with the 5e's rules lighter approach:

    Party vs NPC
    Once it becomes clear there is some social conflict, you do the following:
    1) State objectives- Example: NPC wants party to kill Baron- Party refuses
    2) Determine how participants will interact- Example:
    - NPC will use persuade and offer $$$
    - Fighter will Intimidate NPC and warn them off
    - Cleric will also Persuade and minister for peace
    - Monk rolls insight to determine if NPC reason is personal or not (maybe they're a jilted lover, maybe they're a rival baron's spy, etc)
    - Rogue will Sleight of Hand to try to steal NPC's wallet for info (maybe the foreign currency for the reward will be a clue)
    3) DM sets a DC in this case. Example: I'd base it on alignment, with Chaotic Evil being DC 5 and scaling up by 5 to Lawful Good at DC 30.
    4) compare rolls, if NPC beats difficulty based on PC alignment, that PC is convinced, but, each success on the PC side provides additional info which affords a concession from the NPC or creates a complication the NPC needs to clear before convincing someone else. Example:
    - NPC convinces the Rogue and Fighter after all, money is good and killing is what they do, but the Fighter's player isn't happy about straight up murder for hire
    - The Fighter's attempt at intimidation fails because they're in a crowded bar and the NPC is confident the party won't get themselves arrested by fighting here
    - The Rogue succeeds in stealing the $$$ so the NPC will have to get additional $$$ to meet the agreed upon reward (if the NPC can't get the extra money, the job is off) the rogue also believes the NPC is from across the sea.
    - The Cleric succeeds on making the NPC see the value of a peaceful resolution and the NPC agrees the job can work if the Baron just disappears forever.
    - The monk succeeds and knows the NPC is just a cat's paw for some other entity, maybe a rival noble, maybe an organization
    5) End of round- PCs can decide whether to press on. In this case the fighter and rogue are on board. It's a lot of money and saving the world ain't cheap. The monk and cleric are not convinced by dice but the Cleric's player decides they might be able to just kidnap the baron and dump him somewhere else and decides not to press. The Monk isn't on board but the player now sees 3/4 of the table is and decides not to press reserving the right to abandon the job or blow it up later (maybe by warning the target with a letter) and maybe rolling up a new character, or pushing the party to investigate exactly who the NPC works for.

    By clearly stating objectives the interaction stays focused. By allowing PC successes to become concessions with the understanding those concessions mean they're still convinced to do it, it helps smooth the transition from being diametrically opposed to the idea to getting on board.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    I think Anymage and schm0 have some solid concerns.

    Simply put, if inflicting fear requires no skills, spells, feats or even training, then every villain for the rest of the campaign would hire two level 1 commoners to follow them around and spam the action every round. Or four. Or twelve. Yeah, I could do the same with crossbows, but at some point AC gets too high or the players otherwise get defenses, plus hit points. It's just easier for a PC to shrug off a hail of arrows than make a DC 10 save to which they're not proficient starting at level...well, to be honest, one. And the commoners will never run out of ammunition.

    I have the same issue with this as I do with the alternate Str-based Intimidate checks, oddly enough. Basically, there's three layers of fear, wait that name's copyrighted, three types of fear.
    1) A completely reasonable, understandable belief that you, or something/someone you care about, is at risk. This is just normal and no die rolls are needed. The PCs are all down to single-digit hit points and have one spell slot between them, down the hallway come four trolls in plate mail, you're going to back off. The trolls don't need to roll any attacks, the PCs don't need saving throws, they know enough's enough and flee before being slain. Same with looking over the edge of a 400-foot cliff to the rocks below and saying "Nope, not jumping off that". That's fear. It's just not irrational fear. You don't need to make a saving throw to decide to leave a burning building.
    2) Magical/psionic/supernatural fear, something that can force a character into actions the player does not want. Once magic or whatever is involved, it's an attack like any other. The attacker has earned that right by, again, casting a spell, firing a beholder eye ray, piercing their mind, etc etc. Considering there are spells/attacks which charm, stun, injure or kill, this isn't really considered unfair or unbalanced.
    3) Intimidate checks. These are attempts to force an irrational fear, without there being a solid enough reason. If the PC says to the bandit lord "You saw me cast fireball last round, surrender or I throw the next one through that door right there where you store all that whiskey you stole" that's not really an Intimidate check. The bandit lord knows there's a real risk here through objective means. At best, it's a Bluff check if the PC is lying (out of spell slots, for example). The bandit lord should simply be played by the DM to act as Intelligent and Wise as his stats demand. "Stop or I stab the hostage" doesn't work on city guards because the hostage-taker made an Intimidate check, it works because he has a knife to an innocent throat. The evil wizard's last bodyguard just fell, he has two spells left, and the party just healed everyone to full. When the bard demands the wizard surrender, it comes down to what those spells are, and if he's truly suicidal, not the bard's Intimidate check.

    Incidentally, this is where the Str-based Intimidate checks lose me. A barbarian who can barely string four words together doesn't need to make an Intimidate check to shake down a level 1 bandit or two, who can clearly see the barbarian would whoop them in a fight. Nor should he really need one to get the information from the guy he's grabbed by the throat and lifted four feet off the ground -- or over the city wall. The physical threat is quite visible and quite reasonable. Ask yourself: if two people give the same mobster the same "I'll break your legs" threat, would they believe the 6-foot-6 275-lb linebacker, or the 5-foot-5 accountant, who happens to own a Ring of 20 Strength? Why would the mobster believe the accountant?

    And if you say "well the accountant could crush something" I go right back to reasonable threat. But I do admit this is a difference in opinion I'm not going to fight anyone over. I just don't use it.


    Intimidate doesn't require that kind of proof. "Give me the key to your master's hideout, or I'll break your fingers" would be Intimidate. Well, unless the last guy said "No" and got his fingers broken. (Yes, it's the engine scene from Firefly) "Hey, you leave that defenseless person alone" while your hand moves to your sword hilt, that's Intimidate. Well, it is if you're a stranger in town. If you're local law enforcement, the consequences are more clear. "Your boss just fled and locked the door behind him, we're standing in the only other way out, and half your friends are on the floor bleeding out. Do you really like these odds?" could be Intiimidate as well. But even in these cases, I don't see anyone turning into a weeping pile of cowardice and suffering penalties to die rolls and movement.

    Again, that's my take on the subject.

    Based on that framework, you're basically trying to shove everyone into Option 2. I just don't see the level 10 fighter stumbling enough that a level 1 peasant can lock him down like that, which he's got a 25% or higher chance of doing. If you're a level 10 fighter and someone in farmer clothes carrying farmer tools says "Tremble before me!" I don't think that merits a die roll. I think that merits laughter, a stern shaking of the head, a sarcastic eyeroll and "What's wrong with you?" or a swift punch in the throat, depending on alignment. Hell, an evil target (PC or not) might just slay the farmer on the spot. It's possible the farmer is a disguised assassin or vampire or something, but (a) if they present themselves as such we're back in Option 1 and (b) the level 10 fighter shouldn't assume that when they see someone in farmer clothes with farmer tools -- even one yelling "Tremble before me!" Assassins and vampires don't make up 25% of the population.

    I don't want to be the DM who says "well, your level 10 fighter is now Frightened of the guy in burlap sack cloth and holding a dull iron sickle". I don't think I could sell that. And even using your rule of "the player can just decide he's not affected, but gets Disadvantage to pay for it" that was probably going to be an attack roll and there is no difference either way.

    I get what you're going for, but you're making it way too accessible for this level of potency. My first thought is "No". So is my second. My third is "there has got to be some restrictions".
    a) First thing that leaps to mind is "make this a Feat, for which you have to be proficient in Intimidate".
    b) Or a class ability, also requiring proficiency.
    c) It's commonplace for saving throws against nonmagical Fear to make the target immune for 24 hours. That farmer in farmer clothing and farmer tools shouldn't get to spamlock a level 10 fighter forever.
    d) This one's nearly impossible to make objective: the user must be an obvious threat to the target. I just don't like the idea of spamming this ability because you have nothing better to do, and even if I was, there's already a Help action for that. Frightened isn't objectively better/worse because of the rolls that are affected, but, Help gives Advantage on one attack roll. Frightened forces Disadvantage on all of them.
    e) And there should be some understanding requirement, maybe even a language barrier. A twenty-foot shark isn't going to respond to threatening words, and energetic motions will just make it attack sooner. And for all we know, "I will break your legs" phoenetically translates into Orcish as "birds like mariachi shoes" which isn't quite as Intimidating.

    "At the DMs discretion the saving throw might have Advantage or automatically succeed" is nice, but it's also pretty vague. I know I said (d) was subjective and it is, but at least it's more clear than "sometimes doesn't work because I said so". Even if they do boil down to the same thing, e.g. a kobold staring down a charging rhino.

    Please reconsider. Again, the believability barrier is "level 10 fighter vs. level 1 farmer in farmer clothes with farmer tools". As you wrote the rules, that's a one-in-four shot of actually working. I don't think that's what you're going for, but that's what your rules allow and therefore encourage.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    Inflicting the Frightened condition via the intimidation skill runs into the problem that spammable status infliction is very hard to balance around. Either it's too weak (giving up your action this round to impose disadvantage on enemy attacks is basically just a dodge action, and that's rarely worth giving up an attack for), or it's too strong (turning that into a bonus action pseudo-dodge makes a lot of characters much harder to hit). I don't mind it in theory as a way to reskin dodging, but I also don't see you hitting the balance sweet spot.
    A few quick notes: first, the frightened condition does much more to a creature than taking dodge action, and second, it takes an action so I'm not sure how it could potentially be spammed.

    Second, I've seen rules light systems where taking actions against social influence suffered a penalty and/or required spending metagame currency, while actions according with social influence gained a bonus and/or gained metagame currency. (Either xp, or some form of plot-influence point.) D&D works best with everybody being the same level and ideally milestone leveling, so dangling an XP carrot is unlikely to be meaningfully enticing. Meanwhile, 5e intentionally avoids fiddly modifiers beyond advantage/disadvantage, which are pretty big to give out just because your ally convinced you that you want to go adventuring.
    That's what I'm trying to do here, provide incentives and disincentives. Specifically, inspiration for and disadvantage against the requested action, respectively.

    Throw in 5e-isms (most notably that it's a hugely popular onboarding rpg, that many players prefer simplicity over the rules bloat you'd get from stapling on an involved social system, the way that d20 variance often swamps the modifiers involved, and the way that expertise makes skills one of the few places where bounded accuracy math gets broken - but only by people with an explicit expertise feature), you're looking at a lot of work and a lot of fighting against the system to get what you want.
    The "fail by 5 or more" mechanic here is meant to address that.

    Quote Originally Posted by BerzerkerUnit View Post
    Ah, sorry, sometimes I forget that 10 years ago sample pdf's or fanlations were all over the place for non-english or OOP games.

    But at the end of the day, anything that dictates how their character acts is ultimately a betrayal of the game's objective, which is for them to play their PC in a shared world.
    The social mechanic doesn't dictate anything, it imposes disadvantage on a single roll against the requested course of action. The combat mechanic utilizes an existing condition, which I supposed "dictates how the character acts" but that can be said for every condition.

    There's definitely a spectrum of opinion on controlling player actions and choices with mechanics, but in general, if I'm playing a guy that can literally summon fiends to kill people for me, I am not going cower (and make no mistake, the frightened condition is cowering -stand in place or flee, flail ineffectually-) from anything I don't think can make very short work of a devil. No "mere warrior" even if he's wielding a sunsword and wearing demon armor, will ever be able to cow me with a flex, glare, or dazzling murder display of a minion because no matter what level or CR you say a some guy is, to my PC, he's just some guy, and hell is full of those and I literally pull the things that run hell out of the air to kill for me (or raise undead or command the elements, etc).

    So the idea of intimidation checks being something to Fear Condition my PC will make no sense to me the player. Same for a Fighter that's bested a bear or hydra, etc. They know they border on superhuman, the idea they'd be nearly paralyzed because the bartender roared at them is nonsense.
    Let's say, for example, that the bartender just so happens to be an orc. Orcs have proficiency in Intimidation, which gives them a +2, making the DC 12. Assuming the player does not have Wisdom save proficiency, and for some reason dumped most of their Wisdom so it's 10, and let's also assume the party has no bard, no bless, and no other way to boost that save. That means the player has to roll an 8 or higher to avoid being frightened for a turn. I don't think those odds are unreasonable against a creature that is designed to be intimidating, especially considering the players can use these actions as well and the creature most likely can't do much else on its turn.

    Consider the comparison to cause fear, which takes an action and a spell slot, but does not need an investment in the Intimidation skill to be effective, as it relies on a straight roll vs. spell save DC, and can be upcast to affect more than one target.

    As for the "superhuman" comparison, even the strongest heroes can be frightened by a number of creatures in the game, the most iconic of which is in the name of the game itself. The idea that your character is somehow immune to the Frightened condition by default doesn't really mesh with the game mechanics.

    Beyond that, the idea you punitively nerf a PC's next roll because they disagree with your NPC is just appalling to me. Generally, if I have a disagreement with someone that so incenses me that I think it would have a mechanical impact on my performance in other spheres, I'd likely equate it to a free use of Barbarian Rage before I said it just generally makes you worse at the next thing you do.
    In game terms, it has nothing to do with disagreement. If an NPC tries to persuade you to do something, you use the tables in the DMG. The tables are based on a requested course of action, and how much a character is willing to give up. If you say your character is hostile, even with the best possible roll the only thing an NPC can convince you to do is to something that has no risk.

    The Mouseguard rules sound fun, but ultimately it's about 5x the work of what I've proposed here (a check for each of the PCs is rather excessive, IMHO). Ultimately, the system isn't much different than what I've proposed, except for the alignment bit, which I'd prefer to avoid tacking mechanics onto.

    Quote Originally Posted by Breccia View Post
    I think Anymage and schm0 have some solid concerns.

    It's just easier for a PC to shrug off a hail of arrows than make a DC 10 save to which they're not proficient starting at level...well, to be honest, one. And the commoners will never run out of ammunition.
    To clarify, the DC against a commoner is 6, not 10 (fail by more five or more). I borrowed this from the "degrees of failure" mechanic in the DMG.

    I have the same issue with this as I do with the alternate Str-based Intimidate checks, oddly enough. Basically, there's three layers of fear, wait that name's copyrighted, three types of fear.
    I see no difference between 1 and 3. If the creature convinces another creature to follow a course of action through intimidation, that is a reasonable understanding or belief that something is "at risk." It doesn't matter if it happens via roleplay or through skill checks. (Both valid approaches to social encounters. Not everyone is comfortable speaking in character and making in-character arguments, which is why skills represent the character, not the player. A good DM asks for a roll in both approaches.)


    Incidentally, this is where the Str-based Intimidate checks lose me. A barbarian who can barely string four words together doesn't need to make an Intimidate check to shake down a level 1 bandit or two, who can clearly see the barbarian would whoop them in a fight. Nor should he really need one to get the information from the guy he's grabbed by the throat and lifted four feet off the ground -- or over the city wall. The physical threat is quite visible and quite reasonable. Ask yourself: if two people give the same mobster the same "I'll break your legs" threat, would they believe the 6-foot-6 275-lb linebacker, or the 5-foot-5 accountant, who happens to own a Ring of 20 Strength? Why would the mobster believe the accountant?
    The correct answer is the one with the higher Intimidation DC, using this proposed variant rule.

    But even in these cases, I don't see anyone turning into a weeping pile of cowardice and suffering penalties to die rolls and movement.
    You only call for a roll when there's a chance for failure. If your NPCs have strong wills and are used to dealing with threats, that would make sense to not call for a roll. It also wouldn't apply because the scenario you described was social in nature, so combat actions would be moot.

    I get what you're going for, but you're making it way too accessible for this level of potency. My first thought is "No". So is my second. My third is "there has got to be some restrictions".
    a) First thing that leaps to mind is "make this a Feat, for which you have to be proficient in Intimidate".
    b) Or a class ability, also requiring proficiency.
    c) It's commonplace for saving throws against nonmagical Fear to make the target immune for 24 hours. That farmer in farmer clothing and farmer tools shouldn't get to spamlock a level 10 fighter forever.
    d) This one's nearly impossible to make objective: the user must be an obvious threat to the target. I just don't like the idea of spamming this ability because you have nothing better to do, and even if I was, there's already a Help action for that. Frightened isn't objectively better/worse because of the rolls that are affected, but, Help gives Advantage on one attack roll. Frightened forces Disadvantage on all of them.
    e) And there should be some understanding requirement, maybe even a language barrier. A twenty-foot shark isn't going to respond to threatening words, and energetic motions will just make it attack sooner. And for all we know, "I will break your legs" phoenetically translates into Orcish as "birds like mariachi shoes" which isn't quite as Intimidating.
    The problem being solved here is that NPCs can't use their Intimidation or Persuasion abilities.

    A) Doesn't solve the problem for existing NPCs.
    B) Doesn't either.
    C) This is fine, a rider makes sense. Your example here is beyond contrived, more on that later.
    D) Again, if you have low charisma, or lack Intimidation proficiency, you'll likely never want to use this. The DC is stacked against you. Dodge is objectively better.
    E) There is, the target must see and hear you. For instance, one can intimidate most animals into running away in real life even though none of them have a language. Body language is universal.

    I do like one thing here, and that's the proficiency requirement. Perhaps adding that the save is made with advantage if the intimidating creature is not proficient.

    Please reconsider. Again, the believability barrier is "level 10 fighter vs. level 1 farmer in farmer clothes with farmer tools". As you wrote the rules, that's a one-in-four shot of actually working. I don't think that's what you're going for, but that's what your rules allow and therefore encourage.
    It's a contrived scenario, honestly. If the DM is ignoring the fact that they are farmers, not orcs, and roleplaying them as such then that's a bad DM abusing the mechanics. (Let alone, why is a level 10 fighter being challenged by farmers?) But to be fair your objection doesn't fly in the face of my goals, which is to bring utility to the several hundred or so NPCs that have these skills and can't currently use them. Ultimately, I recognize that what you say is technically possible, however unlikely. (I'd also argue being surrounded by an angry mob of anything would be terrifying, but I digress.)

    So the new proposed language would be:

    Intimidate
    On your turn you can use the Intimidate action to attempt to intimidate a creature. The targeted creature must be Large or smaller and be able to see and hear you. The targeted creature must make a Wisdom saving throw. The DC for the save is 10 + your Charisma (Intimidation) modifier. If you do not have proficiency in the Intimidation skill, the save is made at advantage. If the save fails by 5 or more, the creature is Frightened of you until the end of your next turn. If the creature's saving throw is successful, the creature is immune to your Intimidate action for the next 24 hours.
    Last edited by schm0; 2021-11-21 at 04:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by schm0 View Post
    I see no difference between 1 and 3.
    See that's the thing, I do. A level 1 bandit doesn't need to fail any skill check or saving throw to run from a minotaur. The minotaur will flatten them. It's more than reasonable to back away from an almost assured death. The minotaur has no fear attacks, no training in Intimidate, garbage Charisma and won't even bother wasting an Action. It's just 600 pounds of CL 3 muscle wrapped around 30 pounds of axe and studded with 15 pounds of sharp horns. On an average axe hit, the bandit is instantly killed. The bandit will do the math and run. Or, hide. Unless the bandit is critically stupid, blind, or on pain of death ordered never to retreat. And that last one would require an even stronger credible threat than ">99% chance I'm dead by the third round".

    Now, replace that minotaur with a 190-pound hornless human. The bandit should be wary, but could realistically think he has a shot. The human could go for the Intimidate check to convince the bandit to move on. But so could the rogue strapped with throwing knives, the spellbook-brandishing wizard, or anyone else clearly armed and capable. The danger isn't so obvious that the bandit will 100% flee, so some kind of opposed roll is called for.

    That's the difference between 1 and 3. Is there any reason to need a roll, because the threat isn't abundantly clear?

    If the threat is not objectively obvious, it would take some convincing to exaggerate the perceived risk to change the target's mind. That's an opposed roll of some kind: Insight, saving throw, etc. Which, incidentally, is why I'm still leaning on Charisma so hard, but that's still a separate topic.

    If the threat is so objectively obvious, no skill, no saving throw should be called for. This is no longer "I smell smoke, should I play it safe and leave, or check for the source?" This becomes "I can plainly see the building is on fire". Get out.

    You've addressed everything else that I know you've given it a second thought. That's all I can ask for. For the record, I still disagree, but after you test-run it come back and let us know. I could yet be convinced this could work. Who knows, it might lower the stench of Cha being a dump stat for combat-heavy characters.

    While I've gotten you to consider a second time, perhaps a third. You've already made it clear you've added a DC bonus already. A variable DC bonus for overwhelming outnumberedness might help. One guy in leather armor with a knife is going to have a harder time scaring another, when that second guy has nineteen friends behind him. I know you're open to this idea because you already baked in the Large size. One bandit might flee from a minotaur. Twenty might not.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by Breccia View Post
    See that's the thing, I do. A level 1 bandit doesn't need to fail any skill check or saving throw to run from a minotaur. The minotaur will flatten them. It's more than reasonable to back away from an almost assured death. The minotaur has no fear attacks, no training in Intimidate, garbage Charisma and won't even bother wasting an Action. It's just 600 pounds of CL 3 muscle wrapped around 30 pounds of axe and studded with 15 pounds of sharp horns. On an average axe hit, the bandit is instantly killed. The bandit will do the math and run. Or, hide. Unless the bandit is critically stupid, blind, or on pain of death ordered never to retreat. And that last one would require an even stronger credible threat than ">99% chance I'm dead by the third round".
    I guess I'd argue that's not intimidation, but covered under the morale rules. A single combatant may flee if "the creature has no way to harm the opposing side on its turn". I'd say dying in one blow qualifies here. :)

    You've addressed everything else that I know you've given it a second thought. That's all I can ask for. For the record, I still disagree, but after you test-run it come back and let us know. I could yet be convinced this could work. Who knows, it might lower the stench of Cha being a dump stat for combat-heavy characters.

    While I've gotten you to consider a second time, perhaps a third. You've already made it clear you've added a DC bonus already. A variable DC bonus for overwhelming outnumberedness might help. One guy in leather armor with a knife is going to have a harder time scaring another, when that second guy has nineteen friends behind him. I know you're open to this idea because you already baked in the Large size. One bandit might flee from a minotaur. Twenty might not.
    Yeah a secondary goal is definitely to expand on the social pillar in general. But again, the sort of scenarios you are describing (being outnumbered) is already covered in the DMG. Besides, the action can only target a single creature anyways.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Re: low-Cha Minotaurs and Intimidate -
    There's a difference between "rationally afraid of" and "successful Intimidate check". Failing an Intimidate check doesn't mean people aren't afraid of an angry Minotaur, it means the Minotaur doesn't get to choose how that fear manifests.

    Example: The Minotaur is on the trail of a thief who stole something from him. He goes to a disreputable tavern, grabs the bartender by the collar, and demands to know where the thief is.

    Intimidate Success: The bartender tells him as much as he knows, including "I have no idea" if that's the true answer, and doesn't cause trouble.
    Intimidate Fail: The bartender might scream for help immediately, he might pretend to answer and then make a run for it, he might blurt out a fake answer if he doesn't know the real one, he might assume he's going to die regardless and thus try to go down fighting, he might panic so much he passes out, etc, etc.

    In some cases being scared is good enough. If you just want the bartender to leave, and you don't care whether he calls for help while running away, then just "being an angry Minotaur" is sufficient, no check required.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-11-27 at 02:17 AM.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by BerzerkerUnit View Post
    There's definitely a spectrum of opinion on controlling player actions and choices with mechanics, but in general, if I'm playing a guy that can literally summon fiends to kill people for me, I am not going cower (and make no mistake, the frightened condition is cowering -stand in place or flee, flail ineffectually-) from anything I don't think can make very short work of a devil. No "mere warrior" even if he's wielding a sunsword and wearing demon armor, will ever be able to cow me with a flex, glare, or dazzling murder display of a minion because no matter what level or CR you say a some guy is, to my PC, he's just some guy, and hell is full of those and I literally pull the things that run hell out of the air to kill for me (or raise undead or command the elements, etc).
    I guess the question is - are you fine with that working in the other direction too?
    You try to intimidate the corrupt guildmaster and regardless of the roll he's like: "Kid, I've had over a dozen assassination attempts against me in the last year alone. I personally supervise when the alchemists are making liquid agony. You're just not in the right league to scare me."

    Because while I think it's fine for the process to work differently for PCs and NPCs, I think that if a given end-result is unacceptable for PCs then it's no good for NPCs either. If the PCs are supposed to be fearless then that should be a thing which they actually are in-world.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-11-27 at 02:30 AM.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Has any GM here tried "giving fake public information" about monsters that succeed a secret check?
    So something like:

    [GM has secretly rolled for intimidation/deception/... beforehand, and compared to passive insight/perception/... of the PCs]

    Player: 24 dmg.
    GM: It's slashing damage, right?
    Player: Yes.
    GM: It seems to be resistant to it, so 12dmg. (But secretly reduce the HP by 24)
    Player: Ugh, this fight will be harder than expected.

    Or alternatively

    GM rolls behind his screen a 17 to an attack roll and 11 to the 2d6 of damages, with +6/+3 the attack is 23 and the total damage is 14
    GM: So 13, +10 to hit it's 23, and for 14 damage if its hits, almost exactly its average damage!
    Player: What? Can someone else tank for me?

    I know this behaviour would definitely be a red flag if that was not made clear during session 0 that when dealing with secret informations, the GM might actively lie but will always stick to the rules. But I would be curious to know if anyone tried something like that, as the most effective way to have a PC afraid of something is to ensure that the player is at least worried about said thing.
    Last edited by MoiMagnus; 2021-11-27 at 07:11 AM.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    If this is a variant, then what's the default? I think we have a situation here where different people on this thread have a different understanding of what the base rules are, and as such are imagining the same 'house' resting on different 'foundations' with dramatically different end results.

    Is the intimidate skill used to create fear, or control how fear manifests?
    Quote Originally Posted by Breccia View Post
    3) Intimidate checks. These are attempts to force an irrational fear, without there being a solid enough reason.
    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Re: low-Cha Minotaurs and Intimidate -
    Failing an Intimidate check doesn't mean people aren't afraid of an angry Minotaur, it means the Minotaur doesn't get to choose how that fear manifests. [...] In some cases being scared is good enough. If you just want the bartender to leave, and you don't care whether he calls for help while running away, then just "being an angry Minotaur" is sufficient, no check required.
    Personally, I'd say that this skill is appropriate for either and for both at once. I'd consider giving a player advantage when they have one half of this covered and are only using intimidate to do the other - i.e. to get a specific reaction from an already-frightened NPC or just to frighten an NPC without controlling how that fear manifests. That's just my opinion on how the rules should be though, and has no bearing on what the rules actually are as interpreted by any given table.

    Where can this skill, and this variant, be used?
    Quote Originally Posted by schm0 View Post
    You only call for a roll when there's a chance for failure. If your NPCs have strong wills and are used to dealing with threats, that would make sense to not call for a roll.
    How do you determine whether there is or is not a chance for failure? I usually proceed on the assumption that the same rules that determine a character's chance for failure on a roll also determine whether there's a chance for failure in the first place. In other words, there's no chance for failure and no roll required if-and-only-if the character would still succeed on a die result of 1.

    You seem to be proceeding on the assumption that the DM intuits whether there's a chance for failure and then uses that to decide whether to call for a roll. Neither approach is necessarily better or universally correct, but they do make a difference to how this variant plays out.

    Quote Originally Posted by schm0 View Post
    It also wouldn't apply because the scenario you described was social in nature, so combat actions would be moot.
    Now, that's interesting. I don't generally expect to see any sort of prohibition on combat actions being taken out of combat. If a character in a social encounter decides to start stabbing people, I expect them to be able to do so. Granted, that'll probably start combat - but I'd consider it very surprising if the DM said "No, you can't do that becasue I haven't rolled initiative!"

    If you intend this to be a combat-only option, then it'd make sense to make that more clear.

    I think that we can blame the general vagueness of 5e's rules for this. It's hard to build houserules when there's no common understanding of what the foundation for those rules is.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    GM: It seems to be resistant to it, so 12dmg. (But secretly reduce the HP by 24)
    Since you asked, I do sometimes lie to the PCs, but not in this specific case. I think this specific case was called out by a previous Edition as "it's obvious when the target resists" and I've stuck with it ever since.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Example: The Minotaur is on the trail of a thief who stole something from him. He goes to a disreputable tavern, grabs the bartender by the collar, and demands to know where the thief is.

    Intimidate Success: The bartender tells him as much as he knows, including "I have no idea" if that's the true answer, and doesn't cause trouble.
    Intimidate Fail: The bartender might scream for help immediately, he might pretend to answer and then make a run for it, he might blurt out a fake answer if he doesn't know the real one, he might assume he's going to die regardless and thus try to go down fighting, he might panic so much he passes out, etc, etc.
    This is exactly how the social part of the Intimidate should play out. The minotaur is such an obvious, credible threat that its low Cha means it's going to have a hard time even asking a question before the owner, staff and patrons bolt for the exits, leaving the monster facing a room filled with half-eaten meals and spilled mugs.

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    Default Re: Variant Rule: Persuade and Intimidate your PCs (Feedback Wanted)

    My apologies for not responding sooner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert_W View Post
    If this is a variant, then what's the default? I think we have a situation here where different people on this thread have a different understanding of what the base rules are, and as such are imagining the same 'house' resting on different 'foundations' with dramatically different end results.
    The default is there is no default. You just don't do it. Every forum I've gone to pretty much says "don't use persuasion or intimidation against your players, it violates player agency". (Deception is the obvious exception, which is a skill contested against the player's Insight.) That's what prompted these rules.

    How do you determine whether there is or is not a chance for failure? I usually proceed on the assumption that the same rules that determine a character's chance for failure on a roll also determine whether there's a chance for failure in the first place. In other words, there's no chance for failure and no roll required if-and-only-if the character would still succeed on a die result of 1.

    You seem to be proceeding on the assumption that the DM intuits whether there's a chance for failure and then uses that to decide whether to call for a roll. Neither approach is necessarily better or universally correct, but they do make a difference to how this variant plays out.
    In this case it's a saving throw, so the decision is made for you.

    Now, that's interesting. I don't generally expect to see any sort of prohibition on combat actions being taken out of combat. If a character in a social encounter decides to start stabbing people, I expect them to be able to do so. Granted, that'll probably start combat - but I'd consider it very surprising if the DM said "No, you can't do that becasue I haven't rolled initiative!"

    If you intend this to be a combat-only option, then it'd make sense to make that more clear.

    I think that we can blame the general vagueness of 5e's rules for this. It's hard to build houserules when there's no common understanding of what the foundation for those rules is.
    Combat actions have always been limited to combat. They are listed under "Actions in Combat" and contained within the Combat chapter for a reason. It's also why the rules for helping a creature out of combat work differently than the Help action taken on your turn. Some things work the same, like casting spells, but some spells will throw you into combat and others won't. Once you enter combat, the combat rules (and combat actions) apply. If you say "I wish to make the storekeeper cower in fear using my Intimidation combat ability" that's the initiation of combat and the party rolls for initiative and turns are handled in that order. It's no different than saying "I cast fireball at the shopkeeper". If you say "I wish to intimidate the shopkeeper into giving me a better price" that's a different story, and the Intimidate combat ability would not be used (see Social Interaction in the DMG instead.)

    I'm not sure how much more clear I can be, the Intimidation action is listed under a Combat heading.
    Last edited by schm0; 2021-12-15 at 12:32 PM.

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