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D&D 5E Is Intimidate the worse skill in the game?

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
One way of doing it would enforce the ''skill with another ability'' as being core & important to the game.
Then you would have a Persuade skill that could be use with Str (for intimidation situations), Int (for bluffing, mindgame-ing) or Cha (when using diplomacy and charm).

You could do the same with nature, for example: Use Nature with int for the lore, use Nature with Cha for animal empathy or Nature with Con or Str when dealing with survival or whatever.
 

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Minigiant

Legend
I'm glad my random thought generated discussion!



So you're saying it's a high-risk high-reward kind of skill?

I disagree that you always get 100% of the benefit, because intimidated people might not offer you the best help, and they'll remember that moment more too. Using Intimidate will damage your relationship with the NPC.

I said you can get 100%.
With Persuasion and Deception, there is a negotiation.

With Intimidation, there always isn't. Give me X or else. Just ultimatums a lot of the time.
 


Davinshe

Explorer
I would like to see intimidate named "Impress" and use it for situations where you intend to invoke an emotion or gut reaction. It could still be used for intimidating, but would have more obvious "positive" uses that presently default to persuasion such as flirting, joking and making merry, or projecting an aura of confidence.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

Thread title. All this talk about alternate ability use on skills brought up the old 'use STR for Intimidate' and it got me thinking about Intimidate and how is SUCKS.

"There are no sucky skills.... only sucky Players and DM's"

;)

Now for the details...

Undrave said:
Animal Handling is a pretty close second because more DM and players forget how important it would actually be in a pre-steam society and make it far too situational... but I still think Intimidate is worse.

The reason is that Intimidate will usually make things worse in 75% of the time you try to use it to force someone to do something. If you fail you usually shut down the entire social encounter right then and there, and even if you do succeed, that NPC is probably gonna hate you for quite a while. It's almost always a bad idea unless you're dealing with someone you're ready to fight.

At best it can be used to make enemies surrender and cut down the 'mopping up' phase of combat? But usually the DC isn't gonna be easy, and how can you trust someone who would do or say anything so you don't kill them?

Maybe Intimidate should have been rolled into Persuasion and just be a way to go about it and be left to the DM, like a lot of thing in 5e...

Anyway, discuss!

Too many Players/DM's ignore the "reality" of the campaign world. They reduce virtually everything to "how does this dice roll affect the mechanics of the game at hand?", and completely ignore just WHAT those dice rolls are attempting to do; model the 'reality and randomness' of the fantasy milieu.

Intimidating an Innkeeper in the towns only Inn...yeah, probably a bad idea no matter what, for the reasons you stated.

Intimidating an Orc war-band leader into allowing you and your group to leave unmolested? Probably good if you succeed, and bad if you fail.

Intimidating a Dwarven military leader into going with your plan...maybe good no matter what. Sure, he may be annoyed that he got intimidated by a soft human...but he might see that as a sign of strength of character and force of will. Something dwarves tend to look up to. (re: "Yeah, I went with his plan...but dang it all if'n that boy stuck to his guts and showed some real stones! He tries it again, well, that's gonna end differently. But this one time? Gotta respect a man for standing up for what he believes. He got through my pigheadedness...THAT time....").

So, bottom line, not everyone reacts to being Intimidated the same. Just like not everyone reacts to being "conned" (re: Persuaded) the same. People, and races, professions, etc, have different personalities. When the Player/DM treats everyone as if they were "just like themselves", that's when perceived problems arrise...and what can totally kill the suspension of disbelief.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Honestly surprised I didn't see anyone mention Medicine. It's primary use, to stabilize a dying character with a DC: 15, is done with a Medicine Kit without any check at all (not to mention magical healing, which is used even more frequently). Determining poisons is listed under Herbalism Kit IIRC, pretty much leaving only identifying disease. I've considered it the most useless skill for a long, long time. Performance comes in as a close second, at least until XGtE.

Intimidation is by far the least used social skill, but I think that's due to a lot of misconceptions. Intimidation isn't about a direct threat, but the implication of one. It's pulling out implements of torture, not using them. A hulking barbarian who leans forward and speaks in a soft growl; a bard who implies he could reveal a secret; a mage who lets people's innate fear of magic unsettle them; these are all forms of intimidation. Note that none of these have any more consequence of failure than Persuasion or Deception.

And why are tool proficiencies sort of but not quite treated like skills, almost.
I consider them to be half skills; they're supposed to be on par mechanically with languages. You can learn with downtime, unlike regular skills, so they're supposed to be not quite a good. In general, most tools have very little use without the addition of XGtE.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
You do not intimidate someone that you can not handle a fight with. You intimidate someone you know you'd win a fight against (or at least your character thinks they could).

Intimidation isn't just a threat. Intimidation is the art of communicating that you're superior to your opponent. It's a mercy, where you could kill them with little effort, you've decided to spare their life.

Intimidation is when a bandit is by himself against your level 5 party and you want to take information or take away the bandit's well-being. If you succeed your intimidation check, the enemy is intimidated by you. They understand any fight they try to make will end up with their heads on the floor, most likely. They don't want that. They like being alive.

You can try to persuade the bandit for info, but if the bandit sees you as a nuisance and not a threat, they'll just not say anything regardless of your roll. Why should they? Since when is someone going to rat out their business because someone kindly sweet-talked them?

Some people cannot be persuaded through proper ettiquette and needs their lives threatened to squeal.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I like your approach, but I would add that there is a podcast where Jeremy Crawford states that there are passive scores for all abilities/skills (not just perception/investigation) and these represent the floor for your success on a skill check. The die rolls is to see if you succeed beyond this floor. It avoids the nonsense of a highly skilled character failing at something relatively easy.
Which seems really silly to me, why don’t we just roll d10s and lower all DCs by 10 at that point?
 

Ristamar

Adventurer
I do think that the Cha skills seem to be more granular than other skills. Deception, Persuasion, and Intimidation are all different things, but climbing and swimming and jumping are all the same?

Hmmm.

For a mindful DM, it's more likely to enable multiple PCs to contribute to the social pillar in meaningful yet different ways instead of relying on a single face to dominate every social encounter.

The bulk of physical and combat challenges typically aren't thwarted single-handedly or fall prone to one PC consistently dominating the spotlight.
 


Strength (Intimidate)
= physical intimidation

Intelligence (Deception)
= a falsehood that can survive scrutiny

Charisma (Persuasion)
= charm, frighten, befriend, and empathy



I just started doing it this way, and really like it.

I made Deception Int a while ago. But now Intimidation is strictly physically imposing and credibly violent, applying Str. Persuasion is the social skill: pros and cons (formerly Cha Intimidation), being likable and influential, and reading people (formerly Wis Insight).

It works great. It is very flavorful. It is intuitive to know exactly which of the three to use, and there is no confusion. Str Intimidation is fun, is useful for nonlethal conflict resolution, and gives Fighters a nice social skill that theyre good at.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
Disagree completely in both the games I DM and the games I play. In games I play intimidation is probably the most used social skill and does not ususally end the social interaction. It could, but so could persuasion or deception.

We never use strength for intimidate. The example in the PHB makes no sense to me. Bruce Jenner is extremely strong and in his prime was arguably the top athlete in the world and nothing about him seems intimidating (then or now). Chuckie the doll on the other end of the spectrum, very intimidating despite being about 2 pounds, made of plastic and someone you could probably punt 20 yards. There is no logical reason why anyone should be afraid of a doll the size of a two year old with a machete. The reason why they are - Charisma! Chuckie knows how to scare people (or more accurately the writers do).

Also in the world of D&D it doesn't make sense to be scared of the guy with muscles when the wiry guy can hurt you just as bad and the bookworm can immolate you by pulling a ball of fire from the air. Given this you could argue there should be intimidation (dex) or intimidation (Intelligence) and then you really see the picture - it is not whether you can pound the guy to submission with your fists, slice the guy to submission with your dagger or burn the guy into submission with spells ..... it is how well you can convince him that you can do it, and THAT is why it is Charisma.

Things like the size of your muscles (Jenner) or a pile of cut up bodies behind you and stitches on your blood-stained face (Chuckie) might give you advantage on the roll or a bonus depending on your argument and exactly how you are trying to intimidate whoever you are trying to intimidate, but it is always a Charisma check IMO.
 
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Undrave

Hero
For a mindful DM, it's more likely to enable multiple PCs to contribute to the social pillar in meaningful yet different ways instead of relying on a single face to dominate every social encounter.

Ah! The high CHA character will still dominate regardless.

In games I play intimidation is probably the most used social skill and does not ususally end the social interaction. It could, but so could persuasion or deception.

So you bully a lot of people then?
 



pming

Legend
Hiya!

You do not intimidate someone that you can not handle a fight with. You intimidate someone you know you'd win a fight against (or at least your character thinks they could).

Intimidation isn't just a threat. Intimidation is the art of communicating that you're superior to your opponent. It's a mercy, where you could kill them with little effort, you've decided to spare their life.

I would suggest it's not 'only' the threat of physical violence. You can Intimidate someone socially, emotionally, professionally, etc. For example, using your 'friends in high places'...say, the Lord/Lady of the land, or the Patriarch of the local Church of St.Cuthbert...to get what you want. "If you don't do X, I may just have to bring your....'indiscretions' with the bar maid. And the millers daughter. Oh, and the poor, vulnerable, Widow Larue who only just lost her husband last month! The Church doesn't take kindly to that sort of....shall we say, 'Amorous Endeavours'".

So Intimidate isn't just physical (I don't have the PHB, so not sure if it specifically says ONLY physical threats...then again, any DM should not be beholden to RAW if it gets in the way of using something to help present believability).

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
This is why my amended skill list has had all the "bad" skills thus far mentioned removed. I always use the Optional Rule of Variant Ability Score + Skill and thus:

Acrobatics gone-- use Athletics [DEX] instead
Animal Handing gone-- use Nature [WIS] instead
Intimidation gone-- use STR [Persuasion] instead
Medicine gone-- use Survival [INT] instead
Sleight of Hand gone-- use Deception [DEX] instead

Then depending on the campaign I will add in other potential skills like Commerce, Warfare, Nobility, or Folklore.

As far as the Intimidation skill itself is concerned... my next upcoming campaign is going to be in Theros... and thus with the heavily-Greek inspired setting, both Persuasion and Intimidation will get a bit of a revamp. Persuasion will be used almost exclusively as philosophical debate, logical argument and rhetoric (an exceedingly important part of Greek life). Whereas Intimidation will be not only your standard threats of violence... but also your presence. How important you are, how imposing, how much your reputation precedes you, how in awe people are of you. It won't be strictly a negative reaction... but will often be quite positive and you won't even necessarily have to do anything to accomplish it. When you make a check and succeed, the people will kiss your ring and lick your boots. And you won't ever have to threaten to snap someone's neck to do it.

So this'll be one campaign where I'll be leaving both Persuasion and Intimidation in (and it only makes me wish even more that we could rename and revamp the skill list in D&D Beyond, because I'd love to rename both skills to Rhetoric and Presence instead.)
 

The difference gets a lot better if you rename Persuasion to Negotiation.

That way the solcial control skills become:
Indimidation - do what I want or something bad happens to you (which may or may not be physical - intimidation includes blackmail).
Negotiation - do what I want and something good happens (which includes bribery).
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I like your approach, but I would add that there is a podcast where Jeremy Crawford states that there are passive scores for all abilities/skills (not just perception/investigation) and these represent the floor for your success on a skill check. The die rolls is to see if you succeed beyond this floor. It avoids the nonsense of a highly skilled character failing at something relatively easy.

If the possibility of failure makes no sense, then why roll?
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
I like your approach, but I would add that there is a podcast where Jeremy Crawford states that there are passive scores for all abilities/skills (not just perception/investigation) and these represent the floor for your success on a skill check. The die rolls is to see if you succeed beyond this floor. It avoids the nonsense of a highly skilled character failing at something relatively easy.
I have no clue why Jeremy didn't reference the actual variant rule in the DMG called "automatic success." Not only does it contradict what he claims should be the case of the interview, it's much more elegant, especially because it's a variant and not implied to have a place in everyone's games.

Basically, if your ability score is =DC+5, you automatically succeed on your task. If you have an ability score of 16, for instance, you automatically succeed any DC of 11 or higher.

It also lets you have automatic success while you have skill/tool proficiency regardless of modifiers. So anyone with proficiency in persuasion at level 11 will always succeed a DC 15 check regardless of CHA. The only thing the scores would effect are DC's greater than 15.

I've tried it, and it's correct that the game becomes more predictable this way, but I think it might appeal to those grumps that hate having dice at their table without +23 mods to back them up.
 

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