Intimidate, or "whoops I wasted my skill points"

How would you like to see intimidate treated in 4e?

  • I'd like to see it stay as a skill to directly threaten people

    Votes: 71 34.3%
  • I'd like to see it broadened to cover any use of fear to get my way

    Votes: 99 47.8%
  • I have a third option which I'll explain in my post

    Votes: 21 10.1%
  • I never take intimidate anyway, who cares?

    Votes: 16 7.7%


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Dormain1

Explorer
Originally Posted by Saeviomagy Regarding 3.5 intimidate
At present, it seems that intimidate is a waste of skill points. It has the short term effects of bluff or diplomacy, but suffers because:

DMs like to make their NPCs immune to it
It wears off in a few minutes
It carries stiff roleplaying penalties
So - no doubt (in my mind) that as 3.5 has it, it's a waste of skill points.

DM's don't make PC immune to it, but it may not have the effect you were expecting
It is effective when dealing with mooks and brigands who respond better to a heavy hand than a soothing word

It is only a waste if you make it so, you run your character or NPC but there needs to be rammafications to what they do, either they are nice and people like them or they are nasty and people avoid them, hero vs villains which is it? heroes rarely intimidate people unless they are doing so to protect someone else or to prevent something bad from happening

there are penalties to using bluff when someone finds out you lied to them, dipolomacy sets the mood of the NPC or PC if you fail then they don't like you, just because intimidate is quicker to get the result and then the negative does not waste it

Originally Posted by Saeviomagy Regarding 4e intimidate
How would you like to see it in 4e?

I would like it re-named to Bullying to cut out any confusion
 



Jack99

Adventurer
Tuft said:
Waste of a feat then, since that is what you pay for getting a skill in 4E...

Que? You get to pick 4 skills (Rogues, and rangers I think, get an additional two) that you are trained in.

You can spend a feat to be trained in a non-class feat (I believe), or if you chose to multi-class, there is some sort of feat access with the first feat.

So I am not quite sure what cost of a feat you are referring to.
 

DandD

First Post
Only if you have to take it as a non-class-trained-skill. The excerpt for the Warlord and the Rogue clearly prove that you don't have to invest a feat at all.
And some people just invent things up regarding skill-usage. Who would have thought that the skill-challenge excerpt is taking such a huge derailment...

Meh, I'm going to stay out of all these Intimidate-speculations, as people even can't agree on how it works in 3.X, and now they're babbling about how it works in 4.0, when there hasn't been any real explanation to it at all.
 

GoodKingJayIII

First Post
4e has skill points now?

Raduin711 said:
I don't care if your half-orc's muscles are the size of texas, and has a rank of 3 bajillion, and rolled a natural 20, and the villain's HD is 1.

I feel pretty differently about this. If one has invested a significant portion of your character into being good at Intimidation, one should reap the benefits of that skill. The DC for the above situation would warrant a high DC to be sure, but it's not impossible. If a DM makes social skills arbitrary, then yes they are wasted points.
 

mmadsen

First Post
Convincing oneself of one's prowess while daunting one's enemy

In discussing Realism, Heroism, and Abstract Hit Points, I cited Dave Grossman on Posturing as a Psychological Weapon:
The resistance to killing can be overcome, or at least bypassed, by a variety of techniques. One technique is to cause the enemy to run (often by getting in their flank or rear, which almost always causes a rout), and it is in the subsequent pursuit of a broken or defeated enemy that the vast majority of the killing happens.

It is widely known that most killing happens after the battle, in the pursuit phase (Clausewitz and Ardant du Picq both commented on this), and this is apparently due to two factors. First, the pursuer doesn't have to look in his victim's eyes, and it appears to be much easier to deny an opponent's humanity if you can stab or shoot them in the back and don't have to look into their eyes when you kill them. Second (and probably much more importantly), in the midbrain, during a pursuit, the opponent has changed from a fellow male engaged in a primitive, simplistic, ritualistic, head-to-head, territorial or mating battle to prey who must to be pursued, pulled down, and killed. Anyone who has ever worked with dogs understands this process: you are generally safe if you face a dog down, and you should always back away from a dog (or almost any animal) in a threatening situation because if you turn around and run you are in great danger of being viciously attacked. The same is true of soldiers in combat.

Thus one key to the battle is simply to get the enemy to run. The battlefield is truly psychological in nature, and in this realm the individual who puffs himself up the biggest, or makes the loudest noise, is most likely to win. The actual battle is, from one perspective, a process of posturing until one side or another turns and runs, and then the real killing begins. Thus posturing is critical to warfare, and victory can he achieved through superior posturing.

Bagpipes, bugles, drums, shiny armor, tall hats, chariots, elephants, and cavalry have all been factors in successful posturing (convincing oneself of one's prowess while daunting one's enemy), but, ultimately, gunpowder proved to be the ultimate posturing tool. For example, the long bow was significantly more accurate and had a far greater rate of fire and a much greater accurate range than the muzzle-loading muskets used up to the early part of the American Civil War. Furthermore, the long bow did not need the industrial base (iron and gunpowder) required by muskets, and the training of a long bowman was not really all that difficult.

Thus, mechanically speaking there are few reasons why there should not have been regiments of long bowmen at Waterloo and the 1st Bull Run cutting vast swaths through the enemy. [Similarly there were highly efficient, air-pressure-powered weapons available as early as the Napoleonic era (similar to modern paintball guns), which had a far higher firing rate than the muskets of that era, but were never used.] But it must be constantly remembered that, to paraphrase Napoleon, in war, psychological factors are three times more important than mechanical factors. The reality is that, on the battlefield, if you are going "doink, doink," no matter how effectively, and the enemy is going "BANG!, BANG!," no matter how ineffectively, ultimately the "doinkers" lose. This phenomenon helps explain the effectiveness of high-noise-producing weapons ranging from Gustavus Adolphus' small, mobile cannons assigned to infantry units to the U.S. Army's M-60 machine gun in Vietnam, which fired large, very loud, 7.62-mm ammunition at a slow rate of fire vs the M-16's smaller (and comparatively much less noisy) 5.56-mm ammunition firing at a rapid rate of fire. (Note that both the machine gun and the cannon are also crew-served weapons, which is a key factor to be addressed shortly.)​
Grossman emphasizes the importance of posturing, and I think that could easily play into a realistic-yet-heroic game:
Bagpipes, bugles, drums, shiny armor, tall hats, chariots, elephants, and cavalry have all been factors in successful posturing (convincing oneself of one's prowess while daunting one's enemy), but, ultimately, gunpowder proved to be the ultimate posturing tool.​
Under the current rules, for instance, a successful intimidate check leaves the target shaken for 1 round, when it should probably leave them shaken indefinitely, potentially frightened, and even panicked.

Plenty of cinematic heroes are so cinematic because they stare down their enemies and win the fight before it even begins. Also, a lot of cool-looking combat gear -- plumed helms, war standards, etc. -- is cool-looking specifically in order to be literally awesome.

Imagine a glowing magical sword offering +4 to intimidate...

It might make sense to make Intimidate checks against the target's Intimidate skill -- and redefine Intimidate to mean Posture, in the sense used by Grossman: convincing oneself of one's prowess while daunting one's enemy.
 

malraux

First Post
One of the tradeoffs of intimidate, at least in 3e, is that it also has an in-combat usage. Admittedly it also requires a feat (intimidating rage) to be useful, but still, it can do some good stuff outside of social situations.
 

mmadsen

First Post
A point I made earlier:
As I mentioned before, under the current rules, a successful intimidate check leaves the target shaken for 1 round, when it should probably leave them shaken indefinitely, potentially frightened, and even panicked.

For reference, I thought I'd include the SRD's rules for those fear conditions.

Shaken
A shaken character takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.

Shaken is a less severe state of fear than frightened or panicked.

Frightened
A frightened creature flees from the source of its fear as best it can. If unable to flee, it may fight. A frightened creature takes a -2 penalty on all attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks. A frightened creature can use special abilities, including spells, to flee; indeed, the creature must use such means if they are the only way to escape.

Frightened is like shaken, except that the creature must flee if possible. Panicked is a more extreme state of fear.

Panicked
A panicked creature must drop anything it holds and flee at top speed from the source of its fear, as well as any other dangers it encounters, along a random path. It can’t take any other actions. In addition, the creature takes a -2 penalty on all saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks. If cornered, a panicked creature cowers. A panicked creature can use special abilities, including spells, to flee; indeed, the creature must use such means if they are the only way to escape.

Panicked is a more extreme state of fear than shaken or frightened.

Heroes of Horror recommends redefining frightened to get around the problem of forced fleeing and to increase the distinction between frightened and panicked. Instead of having frightened mean -2 to rolls and you must run away, it can instead mean -4 to rolls.

This actually ties in with one of the Meta-Mechanics Worth Stealing, Grim Tales' fight or flight mechanic:
When faced with something that provokes a horror check, characters have a choice -- flee, and then face an easier check, or stand their ground and risk the consequences. The kicker is that each player decides in secret, and everything is revealed at once. Watching one guy stand his ground while his comrades flee is just priceless.​
Also, it probably wouldn't come up in D&D as much as in a modern game, but I might make those to-hit penalties multiply over range increments, to reflect the fact that a shaky hand is devastating to firearm accuracy.​
 

Cadfan

First Post
Random comments.

First, re the "there should always be a chance because a PC invested resources in this."

No, there shouldn't. The fact that a PC invested resources in Intimidate doesn't mean that fairness dictates that every specific situation have at least some chance of Intimidate working. It means that the game, overall, should have chances for the PC to use his skill. Try applying that logic to other things- if I invest lots of feats in improving my Bluff skill, I still fail when I try to convince the Duke that he's really a frog. Likewise, if I invest lots of feats on my Intimidate ability, it still doesn't work when I lack the leverage necessary to make credible threats. A high modifier and a high die roll should not replace these things, they should augment them, much like any other social skills.

Second, regarding the idea that intimidate should be "convincing people of things through the use of fear."

I think its safe to say that convincing people to do things through fear is something with a LOT of subcategories. And I don't think they should all be treated alike. Convincing someone that you will break their arm if they don't comply is one subcategory. Convincing someone of the truth of their secret fear that their wife is having an affair is another. You don't intimidate someone into believing that. You might insinuate, you might suggest, you might exaggerate, but you don't intimidate.

Finally, re the idea that coercing through threat is not enough ground for a skill to cover.

Really?
 


WyzardWhately

First Post
Even if Intimidate is somewhat mechanically suboptimal, it's still a viscerally satisfying skill to use at times. I figure that has to count for something.
 

Charwoman Gene said:
I want a +1 to intimidate for my tall hat.
Interesting, previous to this post, I thought Charwoman Gene was a random, averagely friendly and nice poster. But he seems... threatening and dangerous to me now!
 

FireLance

Legend
Cadfan said:
Second, regarding the idea that intimidate should be "convincing people of things through the use of fear."

I think its safe to say that convincing people to do things through fear is something with a LOT of subcategories. And I don't think they should all be treated alike.
It's a handwave, like how a single Athletics skill means that you are equally good at jumping, climbing and swimming. There are also plenty of implied subcategories for skills such as Arcana, Nature and Religion.

Convincing someone that you will break their arm if they don't comply is one subcategory. Convincing someone of the truth of their secret fear that their wife is having an affair is another. You don't intimidate someone into believing that. You might insinuate, you might suggest, you might exaggerate, but you don't intimidate.
For what it's worth convincing someone that his wife is having an affair would be a Bluff check by my categorization. I might allow an Intimidate check to convince a man to kill his wife because he is afraid she is going to have an affair, though.
 

GoodKingJayIII

First Post
Cadfan said:
First, re the "there should always be a chance because a PC invested resources in this."

No, there shouldn't. The fact that a PC invested resources in Intimidate doesn't mean that fairness dictates that every specific situation have at least some chance of Intimidate working.

Don't know about anyone else, but I wasn't talking about every situation. Just specific ones where intimidate might be appropriate.

Cadfan said:
if I invest lots of feats in improving my Bluff skill, I still fail when I try to convince the Duke that he's really a frog.

In the spirit of the game, I would not call this an honest attempt to use bluff by the player. Unless of course that's the kind of game we're playing.

Cadfan said:
Likewise, if I invest lots of feats on my Intimidate ability, it still doesn't work when I lack the leverage necessary to make credible threats. A high modifier and a high die roll should not replace these things, they should augment them, much like any other social skills.

PCs are badass heroes. In many situations, they will have at least some social leverage because, frankly, no one else is willing or able to do what they do.

Certainly determining where certain social skills are appropriate is up to the DM, but I am more inclined to give my players more options rather than less.
 

Cadfan

First Post
FireLance said:
It's a handwave, like how a single Athletics skill means that you are equally good at jumping, climbing and swimming. There are also plenty of implied subcategories for skills such as Arcana, Nature and Religion.
The problem for me isn't the fact that there are subcategories. Its how different this particular alleged subcategory is, and how "convince someone that bad things will happen unless they take action" is so much like Diplomacy.

1. "Lend us troops so that we might bring glory to your cause by routing these orcs."

2. "Lend us troops or else the orcs will pour over your border like a flood, burning all in their path. Thousands will die, your holdings shattered, and even if they are repelled before they reach your castle, the cost will be dire and famine will undoubtedly follow in the years to come as your people rebuild and replant their torched fields."

3. "Lend us troops or else Thunk here is going to break your arm. Right Thunk?"

The first seems to unquestionably be Diplomacy. The last unquestionably Intimidate. I just think that the one in the middle is pretty clearly Diplomacy as well. Its practically identical to the first example, except that instead of alluding to good results if aid is given, the player is mentioning bad results if aid is not given. This practically goes hand in hand. Meanwhile, threats are clearly off in their own territory.
 

Xyl

First Post
A successful Bluff check means that you have come up with a relevant lie and convinced the target of its truth. A bluff check could be used to make an angry ogre believe that you have a dozen strong knights waiting to aid you in the next room. If you wanted to use the threat of those knights to get him to turn over his treasure, you would also need an Intimidate check.

A successful Intimidate check means that you have convinced the target that you are a serious threat to them. An intimidate check could be used to make the same ogre believe you are too dangerous to attack unprovoked. If you wanted to convince the ogre that he should therefore let you pass through his territory, you would also need a Diplomacy check.

A successful Diplomacy check means that you have convinced the target to take a course of action that benefits you by convincing it it benefits itself. A diplomacy check could be used to get the ogre to leave you alone in return for a bribe. If you wanted to trick the ogre by using a promise of a reward in the future but not delivering it, you would also need a Bluff check.

All of this IMO, of course.
 

Cadfan

First Post
GoodKingJayIII said:
Don't know about anyone else, but I wasn't talking about every situation. Just specific ones where intimidate might be appropriate.
Specifically, you were talking about a character with 1 hp remaining, currently situated between the jaws of the villain's pet Rancor, trying to intimidate someone.
 

Evilhalfling

Adventurer
in 3.5 I used intimidate as the skill needed for commanding troops. Anyone in direct control in rolled and intimdate check, and success added modifiers to the mas combat roles.

It got used a couple of times by PCs, more by NPCs and helped make the argument that fighters (and paladins) made the best war leaders.

There was also a fair amount of houseruling, either allowing it as a move acion, or providing run away benifits rather than the simple 1 round shaken. Of course these effects were completely subject to DM logic, I wouldn't want an intimatate twinky to avoid major (and fun) battles just because he had one good skill. But intimdateing the last, wounded guy into fleeing/surrendering was fine.
 

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