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%

Saeviomagy

Adventurer
Just a point - I don't have a copy of the 4e rules, so obviously any specific references to rules that I make are going to be referring to 3.5 mechanics unless otherwise mentioned so can we quit all the unproductive pedantry please?

Cadfan said:
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..." etc.

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.

"Lend us your troops or we'll leave you to sit in the mess you've created"
"Lend us your troops or we'll report to the king that you should be left to sort out the mess you've created"
"Lend us your troops or we'll report to the king that you're incompetent and should be replaced"
"Lend us your troops or we'll report to the king that you're incompetent and should be executed"
"Lend us your troops or Thunk, as a member of the kings Justiciars, authorised to be judge, jury and executioner, will find you incompetent to rule and execute you in accordance with the kings law"
"Lend us your troops or Thunk will punch you in the face"

At what point does intimidation start and diplomacy end?

Darkthorne said:
For example (genre change) if you wanted to get a Klingon to do something, I can see Intimidate, Bluff and Bribery (not sure what skill this would fall under) working exceptionally well, however I can see diplomacy tanking (failing) every single time (or at least most of the time).
Diplomacy would be used for bribery - you're trying to get someone to do something by striking a deal.
In some cultures baring your teeth is a sign of aggresion doesn't matter how good you are at diplomacy if you keep doing this then you are SOL.
If you're good at diplomacy, you stop doing it after the first time someone reacts negatively to it.

D'karr said:
But if you find the skill to be a waste, why would you spend your trained skill pick on it?
Causality. You choose your skills and then you play the game, not vice versa (usually - although it seems 4e might be tinkering with that, according to rumors)
 
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mlund

First Post
ardoughter said:
I think that most uses of bluff and intimidate should be all rolled in to diplomacy. They are negociating strategies and roleplayed out.

Here's the real problem: Some characters who are good at Intimidating others couldn't Diplomacy or Bluff there way out of a paper bag. That's why there has to be a separate skill silo for things inarticulate orcs with meat-cleavers and saber-tooth tigers guarding their litters can do that doesn't fall under Diplomacy or Bluff.

The best Negotiators will have training in all 3 of those skills and high scores / training in Perception and Insight as well so as to better judge which skills to use on whom at what time.

- Marty Lund
 

Lurker37

Explorer
Saeviomagy said:
DMs like to make their NPCs immune to it

The NPC was NOT immune in the excerpt. It was simply the case that because of the short-term nature of intimidate, and even moreso because of the negative consequences once it wore off, using it would actually work against the player characters in the example given. ( Convincing the Duke that you are a credible threat to him when you're trying to win his trust? Not so productive. )

As for usefulness, intimidate is effective in scenarios where Diplomacy isn't because it's fast. Diplomacy (and to a lesser extent, Bluff) require the target to be receptive to what you're saying. Intimidate can be entirely non-verbal, or at least not use actual language.

That lack of need for language means that you can also use it on animals that respond to threat displays.

I could even see a skill challenge where intimidate was needed to halt a mob in its tracks and grab their attention before diplomacy could be attempted, because prior to that they were all yelling too loud to hear anyone.
 

D'karr

Adventurer
Saeviomagy said:
Causality. You choose your skills and then you play the game, not vice versa (usually - although it seems 4e might be tinkering with that, according to rumors)

But in this case the particular poster had already made up his mind that "Intimidate sucks". So there is not causality. If he is already predisposed that the skill does not work as he would like, then why would he spend additional resources on it?

Most of the problems ascribed to the skill, in this thread, are really problems with the gaming group or the DM and not with the rules.
 


Because we have "poison damage" and HP-Isn't-Injury, isn't it possible to have Moral Damage?

Intimidate could be used as a method to do damage to people without actually using weapons. Beat their Will score and you do some damage. If the guy gets bloodied, he runs- if he falls to 0, he faints.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Intense_Interest said:
Because we have "poison damage" and HP-Isn't-Injury, isn't it possible to have Moral Damage?

Intimidate could be used as a method to do damage to people without actually using weapons. Beat their Will score and you do some damage. If the guy gets bloodied, he runs- if he falls to 0, he faints.

I really like this idea. Even if it isn't RAW, I may eventually house-rule it into the 4E game that I'm planning... running away at bloodied might be a bit much though.
 

hong

WotC's bitch
Wolfwood2 said:
So instead it is (or potentially is not) a wasted trained skill pick. Come on, don't be deliberately obtuse.

I too often found 3.5 Intimidate to be a weak social skill. I think there were several problems with it.

1. Most situations where it would be a good idea to use Intimidate (that is, you don't care about the long term relationship) tended to begin with "roll for initiative".

2. Using Intimidate in combat was unrewarding.

3. No rules for long-term intimidation. Sometimes you can indeed scare someone so much that they stay scared even after you leave.

I'd like to see 4E fix these problems.
I've never encountered these problems.

The issue seems to be that, like many social skills, Intimidate leaves a lot of wiggle room for interpretation. Some DMs tend to be more hardass in how they interpret it than others. I've never encountered one of these DMs. I'm quite happy for the wiggle room to remain in 4E.
 

FireLance

Legend
Lurker37 said:
The NPC was NOT immune in the excerpt. It was simply the case that because of the short-term nature of intimidate, and even moreso because of the negative consequences once it wore off, using it would actually work against the player characters in the example given. ( Convincing the Duke that you are a credible threat to him when you're trying to win his trust? Not so productive. )
While I take that point, it still highlights the limitations of Intimidate in the 3.5e rule set, and (perhaps consequentially) as understood by the majority of posters: it's a short-term effect, and it's limited only to making the subject fear you, as opposed to playing on his fears in general. If Intimidate is short duration, has negative consequences, and doesn't do anything more than a successful Diplomacy check can do, why would anyone ever take it instead of Diplomacy if he had the choice?

So let me restate the question. How would you make Intimidate roughly as useful as Diplomacy in 4e? It's not sufficient to say that they are useful in different circumstances, or that the DM can always come up with a scenario where Intimidate is more useful than Diplomacy. In 3.5e, you could come up with scenarios where Use Rope is more useful than Spot, but that does not change the fact that in most games, Spot is used much more often than Use Rope. What changes would you make to either Intimidate or Diplomacy so that a character who is left with one skill choice and the option to choose between the two of them would find them to be of approximately equal value?
 

DandD

First Post
Intimidate is useful when you don't care that the NPC will be hostile to you later, but you don't want to be bothered to fight it out with him or waste valuable magic compulsion effects on him, and it has an immediate effect, and in many cases a low DC, especially if they're already hostile or unfriendly to you. Not every NPC will try to actively oppose you. Most will just leave and hate you for the rest of their miserable low-level existence. They will never bother you, because although they hate you, they still value their life and will let that incident be.
Normally, you use Intimidate against weaker enemies.
Weak enemies who are hostile will berate you at best, flee in general, and just wimper at worst. Bullying small kobolds, goblins, dretches, cultist NPCs with NPC-classes like Commoners, Experts, Aristocrat who just suck and other weaklings is a good use for Intimidate.
Either you spill out the beans to the party and might at least get a fair sentence by the local court, or get even to leave in one piece, or Thorgar the Ever-Knuckling shall break your little finger-bones.
That's by RAW. Everyone who still has problems with that in 3.X really just has a problem with their own gaming group.
 

Saeviomagy

Adventurer
D'karr said:
But in this case the particular poster had already made up his mind that "Intimidate sucks". So there is not causality. If he is already predisposed that the skill does not work as he would like, then why would he spend additional resources on it?

Most of the problems ascribed to the skill, in this thread, are really problems with the gaming group or the DM and not with the rules.

Hmm, let us objectively compare diplomacy, bluff or intimidate, shall we? We'll use the 3.5e rules.

Bluff - can either cause the target to behave how you want them to behave for a short time, or believe something you want them to believe with no limit on duration. It's opposed by a skill that most people don't actually have. Can also deliver secret messages, allow you to hide in combat and deny your opponent his dex to ac (both fairly major combat impacts with the right circumstances). Takes 1 round+ to perform.

Diplomacy - can permanently change the attitude that NPCs have towards you. Can pleade cases and negotiate deals. Resisted with a static DC that does not scale with level. Has the potential to backfire. Takes 1 round+ to perfom.

Intimidate - can change a targets attitude to you for a short period of time. Has the potential to backfire. Automatically screws up your relationship with the target over any longer period of time. Has penalties for being smaller than your target. Opposed by a score that everyone has that scales proportionally to your skill, forcing you to max the skill out and even then only have a small edge. Can also be used to effectively waste your turn (ie - you spend your turn intimidating, which may or may not work, and the effect of a success is your opponents actions are slightly impeded for his turn). Doesn't work on anyone immune to fear. Requires at least a minute except for the waste your turn option. Takes 1 minute to perform

Now, without even considering other issues - which of the three skills above are:
a) Useful in the majority of social situations
b) Useful in the roles that they are appropriate for
c) A good use of skill points to ensure that you can take part in social situations

Intimidate is useless in the following situations from a mechanical standpoint
1) You want to keep good relations with the target (ie - the target is important in any way and is not already unfriendly or worse).
2) The target is hostile and an in a superior position to you (because they're unlikely to let you stand around for a minute making threats when they could just roll for initiative).

This basically restricts intimidate to being used in the following scenarios
1) interrogating a captive after you've beaten his fellows.
2) avoiding fights that you would have won anyway.
3) interrogating someone that you could easily overpower (which is basically 1+2)

Now, there's a couple more things to hamper it's use that are not mechanical, but certainly seem widespread.
1) DMs tend to frown on players using intimidate in any public venue unless it's against NPCs who are considered extremely disreputable (which makes it difficult to sue in scenario 3).
2) DMs tend to be more prone to deciding that an NPC simply cannot be intimidated than they are to decide that an NPC cannot be bluffed or diplomed(?).
3) DMs tend to be willing to allow diplomacy or bluff to invade the space of intimidate. If an implied threat is not real, a DM is more likely to call for bluff than intimidate. If the NPC is being offered a plea bargain - diplomacy.
4) It strains credibility and hurts the campaign for captured NPCs to NEVER speak simply because noone in the party has intimidate.

Now, honestly and even before the final section - which of the three skills are worth having?

Fifth Element said:
Once more, with feeling. It'll stick eventually.
It's also totally irrelevant. The original post didn't say "the duke in the example was immune to intimidate" it said "DMs like to make their NPCs immune to intimidate", which in my opinion and looking at the posts on this board is true. A large proportion of DMs feel that if their NPC has the upper hand in any way (higher level, comparatively unhurt, numerical superiority, obviously muscly compared with the 'weakling mage' etc) then they can just ignore or harshly penalise an intimidate check.

The same is rarely true of bluff or diplomacy.
 

AntiPaladin

First Post
I've definitely wasted my skill points on Intimidate before. You'd think it would be a key barbarian ability, but even wit the BoNS it's just... no.

I am looking forward to 4.0 where skills are ftw!
 

Saeviomagy

Adventurer
DandD said:
Intimidate is useful when you don't care that the NPC will be hostile to you later, but you don't want to be bothered to fight it out with him or waste valuable magic compulsion effects on him, and it has an immediate effect, and in many cases a low DC, especially if they're already hostile or unfriendly to you. Not every NPC will try to actively oppose you. Most will just leave and hate you for the rest of their miserable low-level existence. They will never bother you, because although they hate you, they still value their life and will let that incident be.
Normally, you use Intimidate against weaker enemies.
Weak enemies who are hostile will berate you at best, flee in general, and just wimper at worst. Bullying small kobolds, goblins, dretches, cultist NPCs with NPC-classes like Commoners, Experts, Aristocrat who just suck and other weaklings is a good use for Intimidate.
Either you spill out the beans to the party and might at least get a fair sentence by the local court, or get even to leave in one piece, or Thorgar the Ever-Knuckling shall break your little finger-bones.
That's by RAW. Everyone who still has problems with that in 3.X really just has a problem with their own gaming group.

That's not RAW. RAW says intimidate in any scenario other than Demoralise takes a minute to do, while bluff or diplomacy takes less time.

Even ignoring that - you're saying that the main use of intimidate is to avoid fights that you would win.

Wow, really seeing some value there.
 

Ahglock

First Post
I think intimidate needs a comparative increase in power to the other social skills but maybe not a overall or actual increase in power. IOW maybe we need some nerfing. Intimidate should be basically as solid of a choice to make for a skill as any other skill, and especially equally viable to diplomacy and bluff. How we get to that point I don't really care.
 

mmadsen

First Post
Saeviomagy said:
Even ignoring that - you're saying that the main use of intimidate is to avoid fights that you would win.

Wow, really seeing some value there.
Winning fights without fighting should be extremely valuable -- even assuming they're all fights you would win -- but D&D's odd that way. Hit points and healing magic make combat surprisingly safe.
 

mmadsen

First Post
FireLance said:
How would you make Intimidate roughly as useful as Diplomacy in 4e?
As I said before, intimidation is a huge part of real-life combat, and morale has always mattered more than the things we consider so important in D&D combat. Intimidation should have the power to panic enemy troops.
 



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