D&D 5E How do you rule on NPC-to-PC social interactions?

Please check all that you agree with (you can agree with more than one)

  • An NPC can appear to a PC as someone they are not, with a CHA (Deception) check

    Votes: 35 63.6%
  • An NPC can appear to a PC as someone they are not, with a CHA (Performance) check

    Votes: 27 49.1%
  • An NPC can give a PC misinformation, with a CHA (Deception) check

    Votes: 36 65.5%
  • An NPC can avoid giving a PC any clue that information is false, with a CHA (Deception) check

    Votes: 37 67.3%
  • An NPC can pry information from a PC, with a CHA (Intimidation) check

    Votes: 6 10.9%
  • An NPC can know if a PC is sincere in a promise, with a WIS (Insight) check

    Votes: 38 69.1%
  • An NPC can leave a PC in no doubt of their ability to harm that PC, with a CHA (Intimidation) check

    Votes: 22 40.0%
  • An NPC can distract a PC so that something goes unnoticed, with a CHA (Deception) check

    Votes: 35 63.6%
  • An NPC can distract a PC so that something goes unnoticed, with a CHA (Performance) check

    Votes: 30 54.5%
  • An NPC can leave a PC in no doubt about their fine performance, with a CHA (Performance) check

    Votes: 34 61.8%
  • An NPC can leave a PC in no doubt about their fine art, with a CHA (Painter's supplies) check

    Votes: 31 56.4%
  • An NPC can leave a PC in no doubt about their fine art, with an INT (Painter's supplies) check

    Votes: 29 52.7%
  • None of the above could happen in my D&D games

    Votes: 7 12.7%
  • In the past, none of the above could happen in my D&D games, but that might change

    Votes: 1 1.8%
  • Other (I will explain in thread)

    Votes: 10 18.2%

clearstream

(He, Him)
In another thread we discussed the possibility of symmetry in NPC-to-PC social interactions. Symmetry in that context, means that a PC or NPC can make an ability check to influence a PC or NPC. That debate was highly legalistic. However, there were a few cases where disagreements seemed much less vehement. I am curious about those cases, because they may reveal an opportunity to enhance immersion-in-world through improved (but by no means complete) symmetry between player-characters and other characters.

Disregarding RAW and RAI completely for the purposes of this thread, how do you run NPC-to-PC social interactions in respect of just the cases presented in this poll? As you can see, I am hoping we can reveal our "normal" in these cases. Just to set aside fears, there is no slippery-slope entertained here: the cases are as you see them, and any commitments in their regard are not assumed to be commitments to anything further. This is all for 5th edition, in case of doubt.
 

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aco175

Legend
A lot are presented as the NPC doing something and rolling. I have the PC roll to notice what the NPC is doing. So, if a NPC was trying to distract a PC I would have the PC make an insight or perception check instead of the NPC making a deception check. Makes my job harder to roleplay since I am trying to bluff the player, but puts the success into the player's PC with them being rewarded for having a high insight or such. There may be opposing roles if needed.
 

An NPC can of course attempt to do all those things... but it's the PC who rolls an insight, perception or investigation check (or something else if applicable).

What to roll depends (1) on what the NPC tries to accomplish, (2) on on how the PC approaches the challenge and (3) how much the DM wants to give away about why the player is rolling.

I never roll social interactions against my players and then force them to roleplay in a certain way.
 

S'mon

Legend
In another thread we discussed the possibility of symmetry in NPC-to-PC social interactions. Symmetry in that context, means that a PC or NPC can make an ability check to influence a PC or NPC. That debate was highly legalistic. However, there were a few cases where disagreements seemed much less vehement. I am curious about those cases, because they may reveal an opportunity to enhance immersion-in-world through improved (but by no means complete) symmetry between player-characters and other characters.

Disregarding RAW and RAI completely for the purposes of this thread, how do you run NPC-to-PC social interactions in respect of just the cases presented in this poll? As you can see, I am hoping we can reveal our "normal" in these cases. Just to set aside fears, there is no slippery-slope entertained here: the cases are as you see them, and any commitments in their regard are not assumed to be commitments to anything further. This is all for 5th edition, in case of doubt.

Voted yes to everything except:

An NPC can give a PC misinformation, with a CHA (Deception) check - an NPC can always give misinformation, no check required.​

An NPC can pry information from a PC, with a CHA (Intimidation) check - no, the NPC can intimidate the PC, but the PC's reaction is up to them, barring Suggestion-level mind control. Some PCs might rather die than give up vital info.​

 

HammerMan

Legend
I checked all of them because they are all possible, but like I said in other thread(s) corner cases... 99% of the time if I have an NPC artisit I am not going to roll, i am going to describe. The dice rolls work best in my games when I do not have an encounter planned, and am 'winging it'

so if the PCs out of no where ask to find an artist, and I need to tell them about 3 pieces they have on display, since I didn't have the NPC named and ready, I might just make up some basic idea's and roll to see how well they turned out.

however if part of my plot is an artist is the lover of the queen and one of the suspects in the princes murder, I most likely have pre done some work and made up art piece ideas without rolling. (sometimes the art or the name of the art might even be a thematic clue out of game if the PCs pay close attention)
 

HammerMan

Legend
I never roll social interactions against my players and then force them to roleplay in a certain way.
I see this alot about forcing players. I wonder if you can answer me, why would anything you do force anything (not withstanding domination/charm magic or the like) and do your players not on there own roleplay out based on the information you give them?

I am not trying to start a fight. I just don't understand why it seems to come up that people think that others (or fear they themselves would if X happens) force players to do anything...

also I must ask, since my players go crazy off my prep all the time (most of the time but not always by accident) can anyone tell me a way to force them BACK to my planed areas?
 


Vaalingrade

Legend
I prefer the PC end of them rolling insight, perception, etc. I feel like even if every NPC rolls a quite of 'identifier rolls', the PCs will get paranoid.
 

Gilladian

Adventurer
My take is that NPCs can do anything a PC can do, but the PC is in control of their response. So an NPCcan deceive a character, with or without a roll depending on situation, but the PCs response to that possibility is theirs to play out.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Yes to all except forcing the PC to give out information.

However, it is worth noting that most of these would be opposed checks, so t5he PC will be rolling against the NPC justr as the NPC is rolling a check against the PC.

I checked them all (except intimidate) but what Cap'n Kobold said applies. There is an opposed roll if the players wants it, otherwise if an NPC lies they just lie, no roll required. If an NPC they don't know is pretending to be another NPC they don't know then also no roll unless the PCs get suspicious somehow, etc. .
 

I see this alot about forcing players. I wonder if you can answer me, why would anything you do force anything (not withstanding domination/charm magic or the like) and do your players not on there own roleplay out based on the information you give them?
Scenario: NPC sells weapons. He claims that his greatsword is of special quality (but the DM knows the guy is a liar), and wants to sell it to the PC at 5x the listed price in the PHB, even though in reality it's just an ordinary greatsword.
The PCs are interested to buy a greatsword, especially if it has special properties (and let's assume they cannot check it for magic properties and aren't proficient in smith's tools).

Now the NPC makes a deception check and rolls a natural 20, for a total of 27. Does that mean that the PC must now buy the sword at 5x the market price, even if the player behind the PC suspects that he's being deceived? I would consider that player "forced" to buy that sword.

I think that the player should have freedom to refuse that sword at all times, no matter what the DM rolls. It's up to the DM to put up some decent roleplay. And in addition, the player can attempt to see through the lies with an Insight check.

I am not trying to start a fight. I just don't understand why it seems to come up that people think that others (or fear they themselves would if X happens) force players to do anything...
You're asking nice, so no offense taken. :)
also I must ask, since my players go crazy off my prep all the time (most of the time but not always by accident) can anyone tell me a way to force them BACK to my planed areas?
I cannot force my players to go anywhere. I have multiple lists of random things: Random names for NPCs, random shops, pubs including price lists, random village names. And importantly, I accept that the players choose the mission. They may rewrite the entire plot as they stumble through the world.


If the NPC rolls a very high persuasion check, shouldn't the player fall for that charismatic idea and follow along? If so, if the DM rolls high, the player is forced to roleplay.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Yes to all except forcing the PC to give out information.

However, it is worth noting that most of these would be opposed checks, so t5he PC will be rolling against the NPC justr as the NPC is rolling a check against the PC.
Have you ever noticed any meta-game gotchas? Such as the PC knowing they just rolled Insight and experiencing a degree of internal dilemma? That might not be a strong, subversive or bad faith dilemma.

It might be something like - I may have been going to lean into not trusting this NPC, but now that I have rolled Insight it's hard for me to do that with a completely clear conscience, so I guess I better just trust them.
 

Voadam

Legend
Most of these, such as an NPC giving out misinformation or a performance or art piece, I just roleplay out or narrate with no roll. If I am doing a The Devil Went Down to Georgia skill challenge it will probably be an opposed roll contest between the NPC and the PC.

I do not use a roll to pry out information from a PC, I let them roleplay out giving it up or keeping confidences.

I might use an NPC roll against passive PC insight for a disguise or a distraction.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Now the NPC makes a deception check and rolls a natural 20, for a total of 27. Does that mean that the PC must now buy the sword at 5x the market price, even if the player behind the PC suspects that he's being deceived? I would consider that player "forced" to buy that sword.
As I caveated, this poll doesn't demand any commitments beyond what it asked. The way I read it is that the players don't know whether that is a fair price or not from this NPC. Does that mean they have to buy the sword? I don't think so.

If the NPC rolls a very high persuasion check, shouldn't the player fall for that charismatic idea and follow along? If so, if the DM rolls high, the player is forced to roleplay.
This is something this particular investigation steers clear of. I wanted to look specifically at cases that I believe are somewhat in doubt, but not vehemently disputed. I believe what you describe here will fall into the latter category!
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Sorry, but an NPC (or PC) doesn’t “do” anything with an ability check. The players at the table make a check to see if what their characters do succeeds or fails when the outcome is in doubt, so I chose “None of the Above” because I don’t agree with any of those statements.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
It might be something like - I may have been going to lean into not trusting this NPC, but now that I have rolled Insight it's hard for me to do that with a completely clear conscience, so I guess I better just trust them.

The player can fail an insight roll, determine (via that check) that the NPCs seems to be telling the truth but still be suspicious because of other factors not related to the performance. I see no problem with that. But I do think most insight rolls need to made secretly by the DM behind the screen (and no this is not an invitation to turn this thread into a rolling in the open vs. rolling behind the screen clusterfudge).
 

As I caveated, this poll doesn't demand any commitments beyond what it asked. The way I read it is that the players don't know whether that is a fair price or not from this NPC. Does that mean they have to buy the sword? I don't think so.
Reading the poll again, I see that you mostly chose scenarios where the players are indeed not forced to act. The intimidation check where a PC must reveal information is really on the line for me though. As a player I'd be upset if I am forced to give information even if I'd be standing in front of the Tarrasque if that is based on a roll by the DM. If I fail a roll against being frightened, that's fine of course.

It doesn't change my vote, because I would always reverse it. Instead of Deception by the NPC, it's Insight by the player.

Also, I think that most DMs would not be able to distinguish between the cases in the poll and the example I gave above where players are forced... but that's an assumption you may disagree with.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
A lot are presented as the NPC doing something and rolling. I have the PC roll to notice what the NPC is doing. So, if a NPC was trying to distract a PC I would have the PC make an insight or perception check instead of the NPC making a deception check. Makes my job harder to roleplay since I am trying to bluff the player, but puts the success into the player's PC with them being rewarded for having a high insight or such. There may be opposing roles if needed.
More or less the same for me, but notably the player must declare an action before I can ask for an ability check e.g. Wisdom (Insight). I might have the NPC roll to determine the DC or just pick one (perhaps 10 + NPC's bonus on the relevant ability check). And never can the result of this roll and my narration say how the character acts or thinks e.g. "You believe her..." or "He's trustworthy." That is for the player to decide.

If the NPC is lying or performing or trying to intimidate, I just describe that and ask "What do you do?" I don't need to roll to determine description.
 

Voadam

Legend
Scenario: NPC sells weapons. He claims that his greatsword is of special quality (but the DM knows the guy is a liar), and wants to sell it to the PC at 5x the listed price in the PHB, even though in reality it's just an ordinary greatsword.
The PCs are interested to buy a greatsword, especially if it has special properties (and let's assume they cannot check it for magic properties and aren't proficient in smith's tools).

Now the NPC makes a deception check and rolls a natural 20, for a total of 27. Does that mean that the PC must now buy the sword at 5x the market price, even if the player behind the PC suspects that he's being deceived? I would consider that player "forced" to buy that sword.

I think that the player should have freedom to refuse that sword at all times, no matter what the DM rolls. It's up to the DM to put up some decent roleplay. And in addition, the player can attempt to see through the lies with an Insight check.
That sounds like the players are interested in buying a superior sword but the DM rolled a Deception versus passive insight and the NPC succeeded.

I would run that straight with giving no indication that he is trying to pass off something as what it is not. On a fail on the deception check I would have told them that something seems up with his pitch about the superior quality of the weapon.

No need to force the players to do anything.

Rolling to deceive the players into buying a faulty sword would be a different situation.
 

Reading the poll again, I see that you mostly chose scenarios where the players are indeed not forced to act. The intimidation check where a PC must reveal information is really on the line for me though. As a player I'd be upset if I am forced to give information even if I'd be standing in front of the Tarrasque if that is based on a roll by the DM. If I fail a roll against being frightened, that's fine of course.

It doesn't change my vote, because I would always reverse it. Instead of Deception by the NPC, it's Insight by the player.

Also, I think that most DMs would not be able to distinguish between the cases in the poll and the example I gave above where players are forced... but that's an assumption you may disagree with.
Also, if the roll determines what a PC knows, believes, etc., but that doesn’t require (or prevent?) any actions…what was the point?

If it’s just for roleplaying, can’t people just roleplay?
 

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