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

S'mon

Legend
Right, but then they just try again until the door is open.

So just have them open the door.

Don't waste time with boring rolls.

Repeated checks you normally use the Passive score, per the PHB. So if the difficulty is too high they don't get the door open.

The DCs are based on one roll or Passive score, that's why they are much lower than 3e DCs.
 

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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Repeated checks you normally use the Passive score, per the PHB. So if the difficulty is too high they don't get the door open.

The DCs are based on one roll or Passive score, that's why they are much lower than 3e DCs.
Then, yes, if they only get one shot and then can't open the door, that sounds like a consequence. I'm not real clear on when you go to passive scores, though, but "only one try allowed" seems a legit way to impose consequences.
 

Inchoroi

Adventurer
I roll persuasion.

In short, no, saying that there are some NPCs that simply can't be persuaded isn't wrong in any way. That's how the real world works, too. Some people can't be persuaded no matter how eloquent or powerful your argument is, sometimes simply because you're trying to persuade them.

That being said, you should also give them opportunities where a player who has invested their character into Persuasion and Charisma can shine and persuade people to do things. Just not all the time. I will usually write up some "important" things that NPCs believe in and can't be persuaded to violate (sometimes using the Background from 5e, for example), and then play the rest by ear.

For example, lets take the vestal virgin you mentioned above. If she's not an important NPCs to the plot, give him (whom I will call "Lothario" for clarity) a chance to destroy her vows and probably destroy any chance she has of remaining as a priestess (in other words, let the Lothario's player know that there are some consequences if he succeeds). If he still wants to try it, let him roll, but use the fact that she would be hostile to this idea to raise her "mental defenses" against it. Since I run 5e, I use passive Insight to do so. As a priestess, she's probably got a decent wisdom, so lets say her passive Insight is 13 (10 + her Wisdom modifier). To get someone to sleep with you, you'd have to make the NPC's attitude towards the idea Helpful, and her starting attitude towards the idea is Hostile. For each step from Hostile to Helpful, add a +5 to her passive Insight; that means its Hostile -> Unfriendly -> Indifferent -> Friendly -> Helpful, so she'd have a passive Insight of 33 (13 + 20) to resist the Lothario's Persuasion attempts. Finally, our vestal virgin then would have to fail against the Lothario's persuasion a number of times equal to her Wisdom modifier before being persuaded, and she can only fail once per day (but our Lothario can get more than one success each day); you can give the Lothatio an extra success for each +5 over the NPC's passive Insight the Lothario rolls. I would probably also give him disadvantage if he was particularly crass in his attempt, too.

As a consequence of doing so, he and the party can no longer receive any healing from that priesthood at all, because of that player's actions (in the case of the vestal virgin, though, I'd have said "Well, the priestess actually curses you for the clumsy attempt at seduction. Roll a Wisdom save.") I chose to use this example because its the extreme and, unfortunately, common trope. I do not advocate attempting to seduce vestal virgins.

To prevent the slightly rape-y vibes of things above, I will provide some NPCs throughout the story that are "romance-able," just in case a player wants to do that sort of thing. Only twice has anyone taken up the opportunity, one being a gnome bard helping a tribal matriarch to overcome her sorrow, as it were, and the other actually ended up with the PC marrying the NPC and having triplets (yes, I had to write rules for pregnancy just for that).

Using it on another player character, though, is really dangerous for the health of the group. There's only one group that I've ever had where I would allow stuff like that, and even then I expect that they wouldn't. On the Pro side of things, it adds drama, and I like that; on the Con side, people get tetchy when you say, "Oh, your character has to do this thing." If you judge that your players are mature enough to handle the drama in-character, then use the above as a guide.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Repeated checks you normally use the Passive score, per the PHB. So if the difficulty is too high they don't get the door open.

The DCs are based on one roll or Passive score, that's why they are much lower than 3e DCs.

Passive scores are for repeated actions over time. Like tracking a foe, or searching for traps while dungeoneering. Not for opening a door. And, again, if there are no further consequences (i.e. the foe behind the door is now aware of the PCs) then the door will open but the foe is able to gain the element of surprise (or whatever).

In my original example I was thinking of arcana checks and the like, where the consequences could be triggering a trap, eventually, but other PCs want to “try their luck” deciphering the runes.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Repeated checks you normally use the Passive score, per the PHB. So if the difficulty is too high they don't get the door open.

The DCs are based on one roll or Passive score, that's why they are much lower than 3e DCs.

Then, yes, if they only get one shot and then can't open the door, that sounds like a consequence. I'm not real clear on when you go to passive scores, though, but "only one try allowed" seems a legit way to impose consequences.

I would say there's a difference between "retries" and "repeats" when it comes to adjudication. In "retries," the character fails, the player wants to have him or her try again, and the only real cost is the time it takes. Per the rules, assuming the goal is achievable given the approach, the character takes 10 times the normal amount of time needed to normally complete the task. The character fails the first attempt, so now the player has the option to trade time for automatic success (no roll). Note that if the approach to the goal fails and it wouldn't make sense for the same approach to subsequently succeed, then "retries" are not possible. This is in the DMG, page 237.

"Repeats" is when you're performing a task repeatedly, but in an overall sense such as when traveling - you're performing the task a number of times, but the circumstances are changing along the way. You're not just stood at one door trying to get it open. Passive Perception used to detect traps in the front rank of the marching order while traveling or to have a chance to avoid surprise from hidden monsters is an example of this. You're performing the task of "staying alert to danger" repeatedly as you explore the environment and so a passive check is appropriate when you travel into the path of a trap or monster. Generally speaking, I would say that passive checks for anything other than Perception (because it's used for surprise and traps, specifically) will be rare. "Retries" will be more common, though if there is no time pressure such as a deadline the PCs are operating under or wandering monster checks every so often, the DM might be better off just doing success at a cost or progress combined with a setback for many failed checks. A failed check means you get the door open, but you've made a lot of noise, drawing in a monster from an adjoining area of the dungeon (for example).
 


5ekyu

Hero
I think this is a general problem with the d20 skill system in general, not just persuasion. We have been conditioned to think that a natural 20 (or an 18 or 19) is autosuccess because it beats the DC, but in many, many, many cases, a check should be unwarranted or the DC too high to beat, regardless of the roll. What I hate most is when someone rolls poorly, then everyone else jumps on the bandwagon, trained or not, and tries to roll high.
Remember, a failed ability check can be not just "nothing happens" but can be "some progress with setback". So, I find it fine to have the setback often be increased difficulty edpecially for further efforts - even impossibility for the same approach.

To me the bigger problem is the frequency with which FMs default to resolving more complex tasks with single die rolls to begin with.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
Repeated checks you normally use the Passive score, per the PHB. So if the difficulty is too high they don't get the door open.

The DCs are based on one roll or Passive score, that's why they are much lower than 3e DCs.

Why can't they open the door?

And why are we wasting time with this mundane door?

Now, if a giant boulder is coming that is going to crush them and they need to open it right now, then we're talking. That's drama.


(If we're bringing 3e in...there is no 'take 20' in 5e because there is no need for it. The PCs should just accomplish the task)
 

ccs

41st lv DM
Well, I've said this before, so I'll say it again here.
When I DM my position is that anything the players can do to an NPC/monster can affect them as well. Stabbing them, robbing them, casting spells on them, using skills on them.... NPC/Monster/Fellow PC - doesn't matter the source.

So if your position is that you should be immune to something because you're a PC? Say skills used against you? Ok.... Just be aware that the DC for you to affect others - NPC/Monster/Fellow PCs - with that just jumped to impossible.

As for PCs trying to accomplish ridiculous/abusive/ etc with something like a single social check? I find that reminding them that it cuts both ways serves as an effective deterrent.
As is pointing out that you will play the results of any dice rolled.

PvP - This is not my concern. PCs aren't, by default, immune to each other when I DM. So...
The players can largely decide this on their own while I sit back & watch.
Though I will set DCs as needed & remind players that they will play the results of any die rolls.

For the most part this has worked out quite well for me over the years. Self-moderation for the win.:)

So how powerful is something like Persuasion when I DM? As powerful as the Players want it to be. :)
 

Mycroft

Banned
Banned
I think the amount of social influence skills is bit high; we got Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion, but is intimidation not a form of persuasion. They are all a form of coercion, could we not have one skill: Influence or Coercion? You can describe how your character goes about this (via diplomacy, intimidation, bluffing, or other social tactics).
 

5ekyu

Hero
I think the amount of social influence skills is bit high; we got Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion, but is intimidation not a form of persuasion. They are all a form of coercion, could we not have one skill: Influence or Coercion? You can describe how your character goes about this (via diplomacy, intimidation, bluffing, or other social tactics).
Perhaps, yes, but then isnt acrobatics just a form of athletics? Isnt insight a form of perception or investigation? Survival vs Nature? Etc.

You can find highly related skills in a number of different cases.

Separating Intimidation and Persuasion to me is good because they help define differences in characters. A character who is big and brutish and who scares and coerced someone into going along is radically different than someone who charms their way.

By separating those different approaches into different skills, they make defining those two archetypes easier and avoid (discourage) to some degree the more generic approach.

But, that's me, I look at choices and lists of options (especially core) as how well they help to differentiate one character from another. I want to be able to look at a choice and use it descriptively - and if I have a guy with high intimidation and another eith high persuasion I get very clear differences to use descriptively.

If it was just high "influence", less so.

But to each their own.
 

Mycroft

Banned
Banned
Perhaps, yes, but then isnt acrobatics just a form of athletics? Isnt insight a form of perception or investigation? Survival vs Nature? Etc.

Could be, Pathfinder has a nice Consolidated Skills variant; and in PF2 Perception is no longer a skill, which I think is a good move. In 5th Ed it's the only skill listed twice for some monsters, in the Skills line, and in the Senses line, seems like they could streamline that.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Darn I agree with a lot of people in this thread. How can I have a good fight if we agree.
You have a possible Problem player. Talk to them and if they don't straight up, show them the door.
 

pemerton

Legend
I've basically secretly decided...they simply WILL NOT be able to actually succeed on some checks (for example, the latter, there is simply NO force possible to persuade some people to abandon principles or their personal morales).

IS this a step too far? I mean, this is a fantasy game, but in reality, you can't persuade everyone to your point of view no matter HOW Charismatic you are. There are ALWAYS those that will have a different opinion, different idea, different morals or other things.
The precise details of the situations you describe I have no firm view on.

But as for the two things that I've quoted:

(1) I don't see the point of deciding this secretly. Generally I think a game works better when players know its rules.

(2) As a general proposition, I would suggest that the best way that to find out that some NPC is not amenable to being persuaded of something is in virtue of the check failing. That is, it is an output of resolution, not an input into it.

"I want to make an Athletics check to climb up the air."

"I want to make a Persuasion check to convince the loyal Queen to assassinate the King."

Nope. Not reachable. And 20 is not an auto success for anything except attack rolls.
In the film Hero, an absolutely resolute assassin is persuaded not to kill the Emperor (by the Emperor himself and the assassin's ally Broken Sword); and in the film's climax Broken Sword also, by dramatic means, persuades Flying Snow to join him in renouncing the attempt to assassinate the Emperor.

If D&D is to be capable of emulating these sorts of heroic and dramatic fantasy stories, then I don't think it works to just shut down social mechanics based on a preconception of who really wants what.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The precise details of the situations you describe I have no firm view on.

But as for the two things that I've quoted:

(1) I don't see the point of deciding this secretly. Generally I think a game works better when players know its rules.

(2) As a general proposition, I would suggest that the best way that to find out that some NPC is not amenable to being persuaded of something is in virtue of the check failing. That is, it is an output of resolution, not an input into it.

In the film Hero, an absolutely resolute assassin is persuaded not to kill the Emperor (by the Emperor himself and the assassin's ally Broken Sword); and in the film's climax Broken Sword also, by dramatic means, persuades Flying Snow to join him in renouncing the attempt to assassinate the Emperor.

If D&D is to be capable of emulating these sorts of heroic and dramatic fantasy stories, then I don't think it works to just shut down social mechanics based on a preconception of who really wants what.

In D&D 5e, the DM decides if the proposed task has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure. Only if both of those conditions are true does the DM calls for an ability check. The mechanics follow the DM's judgment as to the viability of the task if they follow at all, per the rules.
 

Celebrim

Legend
As a general proposition, I would suggest that the best way that to find out that some NPC is not amenable to being persuaded of something is in virtue of the check failing. That is, it is an output of resolution, not an input into it.

This would be like suggesting that the best way to determine how wide the ocean is is by seeing if the jump check to cross it succeeds.

It sounds really cool to suggest the rules always determine the fiction rather than the fiction determining the rules, until you really start having to deal with the implications of that and the Bizarro World that inevitably results. If you put all the effects before the causes and then retconn everything to try to match the results, don't expect to end up with logical consistency.

Much of the purpose of having rules in an RPG is to ensure that the results of the process match expectations. If the rules consistently produce results at odds with expectations, then the game will feel silly and comedic. Moreover, if you prioritize the rules ahead of the fiction, don't expect players to do anything but manipulate the rules rather than the fiction.

Which, ironically, is precisely why FATE based games despite the intention to prioritize the story tend to produce such bad stories.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Remember, a failed ability check can be not just "nothing happens" but can be "some progress with setback". So, I find it fine to have the setback often be increased difficulty edpecially for further efforts - even impossibility for the same approach.

To me the bigger problem is the frequency with which FMs default to resolving more complex tasks with single die rolls to begin with.

Right, and I do use the progress with setback as well. I do forget sometimes to add more complex skill rolls or multiple rolls to simulate taking a long time to get something right.

We had an untrained monk use thief tools to open a door a couple weeks so, she failed the DC but I said it took her probably 5 minutes of fumbling with the lock before she could open it. Fortunately, the goblins in the next were busy feasting and singing and didn't hear.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
This would be like suggesting that the best way to determine how wide the ocean is is by seeing if the jump check to cross it succeeds.

It sounds really cool to suggest the rules always determine the fiction rather than the fiction determining the rules, until you really start having to deal with the implications of that and the Bizarro World that inevitably results. If you put all the effects before the causes and then retconn everything to try to match the results, don't expect to end up with logical consistency.

Much of the purpose of having rules in an RPG is to ensure that the results of the process match expectations. If the rules consistently produce results at odds with expectations, then the game will feel silly and comedic. Moreover, if you prioritize the rules ahead of the fiction, don't expect players to do anything but manipulate the rules rather than the fiction.

Which, ironically, is precisely why FATE based games despite the intention to prioritize the story tend to produce such bad stories.
I submit that FATE produces bad stories at the same rate D&D does. As evidence, I present ENW, where the are weekly posts about games going off the rails (like this very one). There's nothing inherently more likely to result in good story about the GM prewriting or curating a story than finding one in play.

Over a few threads that have touched on this I get that you dislike narrative games and also fundamentally misunderstand them. This is apparent in your ocean example. Narrative games use strong themes and genre tropes as rails for what fiction can be plausibly established in game. So, yes, your example could be true, but only in a game where it's established that the PCs can credibly jump over oceans. Then, the size of an ocean that hasn't already had its size established could be determined by how far an ocean-jumping PC jumps.

To go to [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION]'s example, if the story focuses is assassinating an Emperor, then the fiction around that is up for grabs in a narrative game. This does differ from a D&D style in that the D&D game will have strong DM curation and creation of the story elements while the narrative game will have strong genre logic as a guide which is on all players. This doesn't mean that narrative style games are less likely to produce good stories, nor more likely. But, it's worth noting that the story of Hero couldn't exist in D&D without heavy GM force, while it could happen in a narrative game. This isn't a criticism of D&D.

And, this all said, I agree with [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION]'s comment to [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] -- letting play direct the story is fine, but it not how 5e is structured nor how its rules work. The system will fight you if you try. This is not a criticism of 5e (which I run weekly).
 

Celebrim

Legend
There's nothing inherently more likely to result in good story about the GM prewriting or curating a story than finding one in play.

I agree, but that has nothing to do with problem I perceive FATE as having or anything that I said. It's always a bad sign when someone decides to strongly disagree with me by starting out with a statement I already agree with.

This is apparent in your ocean example.

My ocean example is inherently and deliberately exaggerated to make the point clearly without delving into all the complexities that would be brought up in a real example from play. I fully agree real examples from play would be much more vague and debatable, but the same problem would in my opinion underlie them.

I don't dislike Narrative games at all. I just think that many of the mechanics that have been niavely adopted to support Narrativist play goals actually run counter to them.

To go to [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION]'s example, if the story focuses is assassinating an Emperor, then the fiction around that is up for grabs in a narrative game.

See, it's up for grabs around that in ANY game. By insisting that this is a particular element of narrativist games, you are already so far off the path there is hardly any hope that our conversation will be productive. Narrativist mechanics do not singularly or especially create the concept of a fiction without predetermined outcomes, and indeed if that really is the point, then the fact that the mechanics in my opinion often work markedly counter to that result is much closer to my point.

This does differ from a D&D style in that the D&D game will have strong DM curation...

Oh just stop. I said nothing at all about strong DM curation or any other such nonsense. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to be told I'm fundamentally misunderstanding something, and then have you go off on a rant about "strong DM curation"? Unless you actually mean that is strong DM curation to suggest that an ocean is 1000 miles wide and implausible to jump over unless you have superpowers, or unless you mean by "strong DM curation" that a sworn vestal virgin with every reason to fear the wrath of her deity should she break her vows is probably less seduceable that ones loving spouse, then drop the whole "strong DM curation" crap.

But, it's worth noting that the story of Hero couldn't exist in D&D without heavy GM force...

That is absolutely and completely and totally wrong.

And further, you still appear to have no clue with what I consider wrong with FATE's ability to generate story.
 
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Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
[MENTION=4937]Celebrim[/MENTION]

It might be helpful if your criticism of Narrativist games actually used a Narrativist game as an example rather than a game that is tuned to genre adherence and narrative control. Anyone in particular dictating outcomes is against the spirit of Story Now play.

I do not think it is helpful to act like mechanics and the fiction must be independent of one another. The fiction should be a meaningful input to the mechanisms of the game which in turn should effect the fiction. In Apocalypse World you have to first establish meaningful fictional positioning to utilize the mechanisms and often the GM is called upon to make judgement calls about the content of the fiction in response to player moves. In Blades in the Dark your fictional positioning determines position (risk) and effect (how meaningful success is). In Sorcerer opposition dice pools are based on the fiction. Burning Wheel has objective DCs.
 

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