D&D 3E/3.5 (3.5e) Intimidate and Undead

Theo R Cwithin

I cast "Baconstorm!"
(Forked from this thread)

In a discussion about (among other things) controlling undead, the notion of using Intimidate (or Diplomacy, etc) came up. After a bit of googling and poring over the SRD, I can't decide for certain if this is possible, given the Undeads' immunity to mind-affecting effects. So question:


  • Can you use Intimidate against Undead?

I know now how I'd rule and can think of lots of examples that go either way, but I'd like to hear what others have to say, or if someone can point to a definitive ruling.
 

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HoboGod

First Post
Aye, but this question spawned from the intimidation of intelligent undead such as ghouls and vampires.

You know, this got me kinda bugged, too. I'm gunna start digging for answers, too.
 

Volomon

First Post
If their immune to mind-affecting effects I would say no, because morale is a mental condition. Can't say for sure I'll look around too I guess.
 

Runestar

First Post
Why does no one ever read the skill entries?

From the description of the intimidate skill,

Special You gain a +4 bonus on your Intimidate check for every size category that you are larger than your target. Conversely, you take a -4 penalty on your Intimidate check for every size category that you are smaller than your target.
A character immune to fear can’t be intimidated, nor can nonintelligent creatures.


and from the fear entry in special abilities section of MM,


All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects.


So yeah, all undead are immune to intimidate because they are automatically immune to mind-affecting effects, which includes fear effects (of which intimidate is one).:)
 

HoboGod

First Post
AH HA! I found something! Monster Manual II says "Immune to mind-affecting effects" (pg 10). Monster Manual IV says "Immunity to all mind-affecting spells and abilities" (pg 220).

Assuming the newer book trumps the older book, MM IV is the way and the light. Intimidate is a skill, not a spell. Abilities are usually things which refer to special abilities. Unless someone can point to a place where skill checks are referred to as abilities, I do believe intelligent undead can be intimidated.

Edit: Libris Mortis uses this wording of Undead Type as well, page 35, when describing benefits of undead type for undead monster classes.

2nd Edit: Oh, Monster Manual II is printed 2001, making it 3e. Monster Manual IV was printed 2006, making it 3.5e and therefor double trumps.
 
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Itamu

First Post
if your going to ignore their immunity to mind influencing abilities which fear qualifies under All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects you may as well be using the dark minded and unliving templates instead of typical undead.
 

Runestar

First Post
Unless someone can point to a place where skill checks are referred to as abilities, I do believe intelligent undead can be intimidated.

It's irrelevant. Intimidate is a fear effect, and fear effects are always mind-affecting abilities (it is even classified under the special abilities section).

Fear is fear, it doesn't matter what the source is or how it is classified. :)
 

HoboGod

First Post
Where does it say it's an ability? I see "All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects" here, but that's not to say it's an ability. Give me a page number or link, please. 3.0 intelligent undead are immune to intimidate, I agree. However, I'm inclined to believe they aren't in 3.5.

And I respectfully disagree with fear is fear, no matter how it is classified. To say that is to say fire produced by any magical spell is the same as real flame.
 
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Volomon

First Post
Where does it say it's an ability? I see "All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects" here, but that's not to say it's an ability. Give me a page number or link, please. 3.0 intelligent undead are immune to intimidate, I agree. However, I'm inclined to believe they aren't in 3.5.

And I respectfully disagree with fear is fear, no matter how it is classified. To say that is to say fire produced by any magical spell is the same as real flame.

It's either an ability or a spell, what other classification is there? 3.5 is just clarifying (failing at it apparently), intimidate would be an ability. Intimidate is a skill based on an ability modifier, aka it's an ability. Everything is classified as either one or the other. Either it runs off of some state or it runs off of magic.

Basically it's neither effected by mortals or immortal means.
 

HoboGod

First Post
What?! First of all, I'm confused, are we going off rules as written, right now? If so, I would like some citation. If not, well, I still would like some citation in the form of examples. Secondly, a skill that uses an ability modifier has nothing to do with abilities such as Extraordinary, Spell-like, and Supernatural, which is more likely what the 3.5e Monster Manual is suggesting in undead type description. Thirdly, I don't like this binary being created here. What suggests that an ability refers so open-endedly to anything that isn't a spell?

As I see it, it makes perfect sense that the undead can be manipulated by the intimidate skill. When a dragon with frightful presence approaches it's enemy, the enemy is manipulated by an imaginary threat, an undead creature would naturally be immune, regardless of intelligence. When a barbarian uses his intimidate skill, he's using an actual threat which may suggest that he's about to pound his enemy into the ground until horrible amounts of pain and agony are inflicted, any intelligent creature that cares for its well-being should be somewhat influenced, regardless of being undead. If this wasn't true, what stops an intelligent undead from jumping into a volcano when a PC throws a tasty bag of meat above it? An undead creature is too INTIMIDATED by the volcano to risk its life so carelessly.
 
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Volomon

First Post
Ok maybe I just super failed at the delivery there. Intimidation causes shaken which is an affect of Intimidation. Shaken in turn is a fear effect, Undead are immune to fear effects.

Intimidate :: d20srd.org

Click on shaken, then click on fear. All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects. If Intimidation uses shaken to do its effect and shaken is a fear effect and all fear attacks are mind-affecting. Then undead are immune.
 

HoboGod

First Post
Just because it's a fear effect, 3.5 rules don't explicitly state the undead are immune to them. They simply can't receive them from spells and abilities.

However, that's intimidation's action in combat. Just as bluff varies from feint, so does intimidate from demoralize. Whether the undead can be demoralized is an argument for another day. Intimidate used in place of a diplomacy check to make a creature friendly has no fear effect associated to it, merely a bonus for creatures that have additional bonuses against fear, which the undead could obtain from spells and whatnot.
 

Jack Simth

First Post
Just because it's a fear effect, 3.5 rules don't explicitly state the undead are immune to them. They simply can't receive them from spells and abilities
Well, first there's the entry from Intimidate: "A character immune to fear can’t be intimidated", then there's the entry from the undead type "# Immunity to all mind-affecting effects" and capped off with the fear type of status "All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects". How much do I need to connect the dots?
 

StreamOfTheSky

Adventurer
Why does no one ever read the skill entries?

From the description of the intimidate skill,




and from the fear entry in special abilities section of MM,





So yeah, all undead are immune to intimidate because they are automatically immune to mind-affecting effects, which includes fear effects (of which intimidate is one).:)

I'd like to take this opportunity to go off on a bit of a tangent and say that I've always always ALWAYS (it bears the repetition) hated the fact that intelligent undead still got to count as mindless. In fact, I think the plethora of "special treatments" they've gotten in how they interact with various spells, feats, and other effects at least somewhat proves my assertion that giving them the automatic benefit of being mindless just because they're undead is complete and total bull****.

Two examples, just off the top of my head:

The Command Undead spell:

"Assuming the subject is intelligent, it perceives your words and actions in the most favorable way (treat its attitude as friendly). ...You can try to give the subject orders, but you must win an opposed Charisma check to convince it to do anything it wouldn’t ordinarily do. (Retries are not allowed.) An intelligent commanded undead never obeys suicidal or obviously harmful orders, but it might be convinced that something very dangerous is worth doing."

"A nonintelligent undead creature gets no saving throw against this spell. When you control a mindless being, you can communicate only basic commands, such as “come here,” “go there,” “fight,” “stand still,” and so on. Nonintelligent undead won’t resist suicidal or obviously harmful orders. "

Or how about the Song of the Dead metamagic feat? For +1 spell level, it lets you use mind-affecting spells on intelligent undead. But not non-intelligent undead. Why not? Well, because they're ACTUALLY mindless! The text from crystalkeep's feat database:
"Mind-Affecting spells prepared with this feat effect Intelligence Undead, but not Mindless Undead, Constructs, or any living creatures of any type. Any spell prepared with this Feat becomes a Necromancy spell."

So... :):):):) those smug intelligent undead bastards! Let 'em be Intimidated!
 

Theo R Cwithin

I cast "Baconstorm!"
Sorry I hopped away from a thread I started for so long.

Really I believe this is a problem with RAW (again), and one in which I honestly can't discern RAW from RAI. The more I look at it, the more I realize that several terms are poorly defined (eg, "fear", "fear effect" "fear attack") and sometime terms are misused (eg, "shaken" is sometimes called an "effect", when it's more correctly termed a "condition")

Well, first there's the entry from Intimidate: "A character immune to fear can’t be intimidated", then there's the entry from the undead type "# Immunity to all mind-affecting effects" and capped off with the fear type of status "All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects". How much do I need to connect the dots?
"Fear attacks" seems to be defined here as "mind-affecting fear effects", which suggests to me that there are fear effects that are not mind-affecting-- and it is to these non-mind-affecting (if any) that Undead would be vulnerable.

Neither the "mind-affecting" descriptor nor the term "fear attack" figures anywhere in the Intimidate description, so I don't see any reason to assume Undead are immune to it. Furthermore, note that the Intimidate skill check is made against a level check, rather than a Will save as a "fear effect" is. This suggests that Intimidate isn't even a "fear effect" by RAW.

Yes, I totally agree that this is borderline rules lawyering! :] But in this particular case I feel it's justified.

First, I can easily envision, for example, a scenario in which the PCs want to threaten a vampire: strap him to a plank before dawn and face him east as the rising sun approaches. This is a clear use of Intimidate, and classic cases like it ought to be available to PCs.

Secondly, if Intimidate is to be considered "mind-affecting", then arguably so are Diplomacy, Bluff and other similar skills. So shouldn't Undead should be immune to all social skills in that case?

Ultimately, I do think Undead ought to be at least resistant to all form of fear, so I'll likely attempt to sidestep the RAW by adding a houserule granting a racial bonus or some sort, along the lines of:

All Undead gain a +4 racial bonus against fear and fear effects that they are not otherwise immune to.

Meh. YMMV ;)
 
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HoboGod

First Post
Well, first there's the entry from Intimidate: "A character immune to fear can’t be intimidated", then there's the entry from the undead type "# Immunity to all mind-affecting effects" and capped off with the fear type of status "All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects". How much do I need to connect the dots?

Aye, you do a good job connecting the dots, but my argument lies TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY on "Immunity to all mind-affecting effects." D20srd, among many places, have neglected to update to represent what appears in Monster Manual III and Monster Manual IV, the definitive source books for monster types in 3.5e. It doesn't say "Immunity to all mind-affecting effects" anymore. It says "Immunity to all mind-affecting spells and abilities." Don't believe me? Look it up, I gave the page number in my previous post. If you can find evidence that skill checks are considered any form of ability, be it supernatural, extraordinary, spell-like, or miscellaneous, I'll gladly concede my point and give you great kudos.
 

Itamu

First Post
the point here it that hobogod is going to play the way (s)he wants whether the rules say otherwise or not and therefore there is no point in arguing that intimidate is an ability and thusly within those rules or that intimidate effects morale which is also within said book which states on that exact page that they are immune to morale effects etc. because (s)he'll always come up with something to argue against it. as I've said just use the dark minded and unliving templates in the place of typical undead immunities and such if your going to go that way and it makes things much easier
 

HoboGod

First Post
I resent that kind of accusation, good sir. I am a scholarly person and therefor only accept arguments presented to me in a scholarly form. I admit to a stubbornness in that sense, alone. However, it is not unfair for me to request a well-researched and properly cited explanation of one's opinions when I have presented the same to you. Any counter-argument to my claim must either A) discredit the source of my claim (Monster Manual IV), B) present evidence and/or examples that discredit my theory, or C) prove logically that my theory is not true.

I will not accept arguments, however, that A) deliberately attack my character and reputation, B) make bold claims without cited evidence, or C) use logical fallacies to claim my theory is not correct.

I will not settle for simplicity, only accuracy.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
I resent that kind of accusation, good sir. I am a scholarly person and therefor only accept arguments presented to me in a scholarly form. I admit to a stubbornness in that sense, alone. However, it is not unfair for me to request a well-researched and properly cited explanation of one's opinions when I have presented the same to you. Any counter-argument to my claim must either A) discredit the source of my claim (Monster Manual IV), B) present evidence and/or examples that discredit my theory, or C) prove logically that my theory is not true.

I will not accept arguments, however, that A) deliberately attack my character and reputation, B) make bold claims without cited evidence, or C) use logical fallacies to claim my theory is not correct.

I will not settle for simplicity, only accuracy.
Well, that's a valid position. However, why should anyone bother to to do that? Unless you find another 'scholarly person', there's no point.

I for once am a practical person, interested in getting things done. If 'RAW' or 'RAI' gets in the way of DMing a fun game, I choose to ignore it. Debating for debate's sake is an exercise in futility. What's to gain?

Interpreting the rules is _not_ a science. If you feel Intimidate should work on undead, rule that it works, if you feel it shouldn't work, rule that it doesn't. It's that easy!

(and if you're not the DM, good luck convincing your DM of your position!)
 

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