D&D 5E Persuasion - How powerful do you allow it to be?


There are only two things that I allow players to do to each other's character; what they agree to do to each other and when they are trying to kill one another. As an example of what they agree to do to each other; the wizard suggests he can turn the thief invisible to make to easier to sneak around. The thief says good idea do it.

For npcs I expect some sort of role play. Offering a bribe to the guard to look the other way.

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Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I only call for a Charisma check when the player’s approach to getting the NPC to do what they want has a reasonable chance of succeeding, reasonable chance of failing, and cost or consequence for failing, though most social actions have an inherent opportunity cost, so it’s fairly rare that an action meets the previous two qualifications and doesn’t meet the third. When it does, I will call for a Charisma check, and at that point the player may suggest that their proficiency in Persuasion might be applicable.

As for persuading other PCs, I leave it up to the player of the PC being persuaded whether the attempt succeeds, fails, or is uncertain and requires a check to resolve. I handle all player-vs-player actions that way.


Agree. No Persuasion checks on other PCs. (That was actually a rule in 3.5.) Up to DM if Persuasion can be used effectively in any other circumstance.


A skill can succeed and not have the immediate or desired effect. You can get utterly persuasive and not immediately change somebody's obvious actions.

For instance, I can conceive of no way in which I would cheat on my wife. If Gal Gadot wanted to seduce me, I can guarantee she would succeed the opposed skill check. That just gets me thinking of what she wants me to, it does not constrain my actions or force me to do anything. I would have little control over the thoughts I would have, I maintain sovereignty over my actions. I might have some sleepless nights and soul searching, but its nothing that a PC would see, and certainly not immediately.

If I tried to persuade a religious fanatic that their god does not exist, a critical success would result in them having a crisis of faith over the next few weeks, maybe reading some forbidden texts and questioning their elders. It does not make them immediately change their goals in life in the next 6 seconds.

The kings guard might still arrest you after you made a very convincing case. He might then ask the king to reconsider your case, or ask the captain if the evidence against you is really that strong. He might also be an a-hole and not care, despite the fact he believes you are innocent.

People don't change in minutes, even if they should.
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I allow quite a lot, but persuading someone often takes days or weeks depending on what you are trying to convince them of. Much like [MENTION=98008]Unwise[/MENTION] said above, something like the seduction of a faithful person could happen... over the course of many encounters, building chemistry, the illusion of shared interests, etc.

I allow it to go really far. It means that the players have a very large influence in the storyline, which is ok for me. I develop the world around them, and I enjoy the challenge to come up with new bits for each session. I never plan ahead the details very far, so I don't get upset like other DM's when the players derail my storyline.

In my opinion, each party of 4 heroes can have a Templeton Peck or a James Bond who can smooth-talk the group into or out of situations. Is that realistic? No. Is it fun? Yep!

But I never allow two players to roll against each other unless both parties agree to it. My NPCs will also never roll a persuasion check against a player's character. If anyone (player or DM) want to change the player's character's mind on something, actual real-world charisma or good arguments are the only way.
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How I do it:

1. Player says what they are doing (IC speech or OOC statement)
2. GM decides if outcome is uncertain
3. If certain, GM states result
4. If uncertain, GM states difficulty for check, between 5 (very easy) and 30 (nearly impossible)
5. Player rolls (or succeeds/fails if modifier guarantees success/failure)

So if it is impossible, then no roll.

As far as player characters go, I won't go beyond "he seems very persuasive" or "you believe what he's saying is true"; player decides how they react. Partial exception in rare case where we need to separate player & PC knowledge.

Edit: In practice might well allow a check to seduce the high priestess or persuade the guard to look the other way; it would depend on a variety of factors including the NPC personality, which I might randomly determine by rolling a d6. I would be more likely to set a DC of 25 or 30 than outright ban the attempt, but this might depend on what exactly the PC said, & how it interacted with the motivations of the NPC. Eg if the priestess had no interest in being seduced by the PC (eg she's actually a golem) :) then no roll. Or maybe there is no way she'd break her vows & have sex with him, but he might persuade her it was ok to go for a romantic stroll in the rose garden, and steal a kiss.
For the PC who has invested heavily in skills (eg the Rogue-19 IMC) I want them to be able to do impressive stuff, certainly in the DC 25-30 range. Comparable to what you get with combat feats and spells. But there are limits.
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Small God of the Dozens
Charisma skills don't work on PCs and any player who desperately wants them to is probably a guy you don't want at your table. I know as a player I'd never put up with that shizz, but I'm old and wily and pretty misanthropic, so I'm a hard sell. Setting that kinds creepy shizz aside, neither Persuade nor Deception is the auto-win button some players seem to think it is. In no case will either get some to act contrary to their own inclinations or interests. Not in any serious way anyway. If players want to try that I wave a piece of paper and pretend to be important to get into the place on a deception roll, I'm ok with that, but it's not like the guys they just walked past will forget them, nor will they not tell the watch commander they're there when he shows up.

Really, where those two skills shine is in two very specific areas. First, they are a great tool for experienced players to get great results out of third pillar play because they role play the every-living shizz out of it. That's cool. Those skills are also really useful for non-so-social actual people to play socially adept characters and have fun doing it even if that's not their natural or default actual set of social skills. What those skills are not is a crutch for people to try and game the system. That shizz is off side and mostly ruins whole campaigns, even if stops short of the possible misogyny and whatnot that's possible.

I am actually all for adults playing an adult game that may actually, gasp, involve seduction and sex, but that needs to be played with adults who are going to handle the material responsibly. Guys who are trying to skill check other characters are not that guy. Really, really, not that guy.


Players don't call for ability checks.

They describe what their character is doing.

The DM then determines if an ability check is called for and potentially if a skill can modify it.

There are several factors to consider:

Is the outcome in doubt? (if the PC can't succeed for example don't roll)
Is there a consequence for failure? (There is no drama if there is no consequence. The PC will just try again anyway)
Is it interesting? (don't waste time at the table for things that aren't fun)

So yes, the DM determines success, failure, or if the outcome is uncertain. Only in the latter case is a roll potentially called for.

This might all be with how they approach the situation. Succeed, failure, advantage, disadvantage can all be dependent on how the PC goes about things. It helps to know more about the NPC and what motivates them.


Personally, I would steer away from giving advantages to charismatic players/"good roleplay". For me, it is their character that is persuading, not the player, and I want to be welcoming even to the introverts in my groups, who just want to state what their charismatic character does, rather than do it themselves. We should be roleplaying because we like to roleplay, not for mechanical advantage on a check.

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