D&D 5E Using social skills on other PCs

clearstream

(He, Him)
If they are taking all the text of the rulebooks into consideration, they would find that no, it can’t succeed because how the character thinks, speaks, and acts is up to the player, not the dice, to determine. So no ability check is supported in being called for.
This isn't right. The text expressly provides for a DM to decide if there is challenge present that makes what the player determines, uncertain and thus require a check. I thought you had conceded this point!?
 

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clearstream

(He, Him)
Ok, I see what you’re saying. Yes, a successful outcome would of course be narrated differently than a failed one, so in that sense the result of the roll does inform the DM’s narration. I meant more that I don’t see support for the DM calling for a roll solely to inform their description.
More than one consequence may pend on the roll. That's what my tea-lady example showed. Part of the consequence was a revocation of biscuit privileges. No more shortbread for the recalcitrant student! Another part of the consequence was a possible feeling of intimidation (tea-lady was clearly not persuaded, and in high dander) and it was up to the player to decide if they will roleplay that.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Here's an attempt to clarify things for those with fruit blindness:

When a character declares an action, a.k.a. "tries something", and the DM rules that the attempt fails (or possibly calls for a roll), what is the reason given for why they will (or might) fail? What thing is preventing the character from achieving their goal?

Note that this isn't "what chain of events got us here", which might include, "Somebody cast a spell on you" or "Somebody hit you with a truck" or "Somebody tried to persuade you").

It's "What is actually preventing me from doing X?"

How the DM explains it says a lot about what's going on.

Apples:
1. A specific rule that imposes a defined mechanical condition: Restrained, 0 HP, Charmed, Grappled, etc.
2. A physical reality so obvious it doesn't need rules: there is a wall in the way, you're in free fall, there is no oxygen, etc.
3. No specific mechanic allowing physical reality to be ignored: hobbits don't breathe fire, you don't know that spell, etc.

Oranges:
"You just can't"
"Your character wouldn't do that"
"You are trying to get an in-game advantage instead of playing your character"

The thing about Oranges is that if you keep pushing and digging and seeking clarity, eventually you are going to arrive at those pesky "thoughts and feelings" of the character, but without a named mechanic (Charmed, Restrained, Frightened, Zero HP) to back them up.

With the Apples, that's not necessary. It doesn't matter what the character is thinking or feeling, halflings can't breathe fire. It doesn't matter what they are thinking or feeling, when you are Restrained you can't move.

I'm not sure I can explain the difference any better than that. If anybody still wants to insist there is no distinction, well I guess we're at an impasse.
I like your post. Bear in mind that it is all imaginary. A character being tied up is just as imaginary as a character huddling on the floor in fear. The fluff is different, but the crunch is identical. The impasse is that if an ability check can tie a character up (preventing action) then why arbitrarily decide that an ability check can't cow a character (preventing action.)

There is a difference, but it is really hard to get at and still hasn't been properly articulated in this thread. Earlier I mentioned volition. That is because another poster had talked about a distinction between a player-character moving downward, and a player being forced to decide to have their character move downward. Perhaps look at how we scan the sentence.
  1. you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks
  2. you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks
Is it that - so long as I get to say what I want to try and do, no matter if I can do that, the sentence requirement is met? Or is it that - so long as I get to say the manner in which I do it, no matter if I can do it in that manner or not, the sentence requirement is met? It can feasibly be both, right? But how do I say the manner in which I am tied up? Isn't that up to the character doing the tying up? And what is the effect of saying what I want to try and do if I can't do it?

Responsive to your closing thoughts, maybe it is saying that - given that my character could do X, it is up to me if they do X. We feel like when our character is (in our imagination) tied up, they could not do X, so it is not up to me if they do X. Whereas we feel like when our character is (in our imagination) upbraided by an NPC, they could still do X, so it remains up to me if they do X.

Perhaps you can see how arbitrary that distinction really is. It is to do with the particular meaning we give to volition. We can readily imagine a world where every creature has a degree of psychic power, so that when they upbraid one another they really can make it that they cannot do X, by making it that they cannot choose to do X.

That's what I meant by "subtle", before. It's not half so settled as it might seem on surface.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
@Bill Zebub
  1. There are no psychological facts in the game-world.
  2. There are psychological facts in the real-world, relating to players and DM.
  3. Game rules cannot alter psychological facts.
Therefore.
  • Given the only facts bearing on if a character I control takes action X are psychological facts.
  • In that case, it is not possible for game rules to play any part in deciding if that character takes action X.
As you might see, I take the most parsimonious path to preserving the truth of this theory. I say that game rules can't overwrite psychological facts, while allowing the game rules to otherwise continue to work in their normal way. I simply say that - when all's said and done - they can do no harm to psychological facts.

I also allow for a subtlety that I believe can enhance our roleplay. I don't say that psychological facts are informationally isolated from the outcome of game rules. Only that the rules cannot alter them. Psychological facts can alter themselves, if they feel moved to by the outcome of the game rules. There may be other facts that are altered by the game rules with that same outcome, and I preserve that possibility instead of destroying it.






[EDIT I hope you will notice an assumption that is at issue in connection with the above, which is that ability checks within the scope of Persuasion and Intimidation are attempting to alter psychological facts. That is a very odd assumption, because if it is true that game rules cannot alter psychological facts, it is unreasonable that these game rules should be attempting to do so. Thus we might suppose another set of facts, about the character's volition. Those obviously could be altered by the game rules. You can see how unstated positions on whether the abilities are attempting to alter psychological facts or character-volition facts, and whether those are even separable, must lead to disagreement.

In this regard however, we should apply Occams Razor. Seeing as psychological facts alone are sufficient to motivate character actions, it is not necessary that there be any character-volition facts. As we should prefer not to multiple entities unnecessarily, and given it is up to us what is included in our game theory, we should not commit to the existence of character-volition facts. Or to put it another way, we should understand the necessity of character-volition facts before we commit to them. One way they could be necessary is if they were the only facts other than psychological facts that could possibly bear on if a character takes action X. However, we have what we think of as physical facts to do that job in the game-world.

The problem is, that leaves Persuasion and Intimidation stranded as game mechanics. Setting aside that they are simply a mistake, one way to salvage them is to suppose that there are volition facts for all creatures in the game-world other than player-characters. We might suppose that such creatures need volition facts as they lack psychological facts to motivate them. It would be strange to think so, however, because it is obvious that DM can and must supply motivating psychological facts in their relation.

Thus we need a hypothesis that makes it required that creatures other than player characters have a mixture of psychological and volition facts to motivate them. One is to observe that they are regulated by a set of rules that do not apply to player-characters, which are the social interaction rules in the DMG. Those rules create cases where no physical facts bear on if a creature takes action X, but volition and psychological facts still do. I think we suppose that the volition facts trump psychological facts in such cases, but as it is up to DM whether and how they apply, that produces no particular dystopia. (Another of the very many reasons for robustly preserving DM mastery of rules.)]
 
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HammerMan

Legend
If ripping the bar off the door can’t cause the door to open, it isn’t uncertain whether or not the approach of ripping the bar off the door will succeed in the goal of getting the door to open, so no roll is needed to resolve the outcome. You can simply narrate the character ripping the bar off the door and the door remaining closed.
THe uncertain part is IF THEY CAN rip the bar off
Sure, and if the DM decides that they won’t talk, then no roll is required to resolve the outcome of the action. The DM can simply narrate the NPC reacting to the attempt as they see fit, and not talking.
and if the reaction depends on the ability of the PC to actually intimidate them?
However, if the DM decides that the NPC might talk, and might not, a Charisma (Intimidation) check is how the rules would support them in determining which of those outcomes occurs.
no you check to see if PCs pass/fail at the action weather the goal is possible or not
Incorrect. I do not think that there is any subset of ability checks that NPCs can’t “use.” What I think is that, when a character’s goal (whether PC or NPC) is to force a PC to think, feel, or do something, an ability check is not the appropriate way to resolve that action because the outcome is not uncertain (per PHB 185). There are plenty of actions which wouldn’t force a PC to think, feel, or do something, which might have uncertain outcomes and therefore be appropriate to resolve with Charisma checks. There are probably also actions that might otherwise be appropriate to resolve with checks using abilities other than Charisma, but when the goal is to force a PC to do, think, or feel something on a success, and would therefore not be appropriate to resolve with a check.
And I don't think any socil skill can force PCs or NPCs to do anything
Yes; I understand that if someone thinks of ability checks as discrete actions in and of themselves instead of as a mechanic the DM uses to determine whether or not a specific approach succeeds at accomplishing a specific goal, it would indeed look like a carve-out.
 

HammerMan

Legend
🤷‍♀️ I personally see advantages to telling the players the DC and potential outcomes, and no advantages to not telling them, which is why I choose to tell them. But, this is something I don’t think the rules provide specific guidance on.

In fact, if someone were to suggest that the rules don’t support me in ruling this way, I think they would be correct. (I don’t think they support either option in this case; they are silent on the matter, so either way you rule on the matter, you are doing so without support.)
the only disadvantage is time and emersion. IF I add an extra step to every non attack roll check it adds time, and time that is spent giving the player info the character doesn't have.
 



@Bill Zebub
  1. There are no psychological facts in the game-world.
  2. There are psychological facts in the real-world, relating to players and DM.
  3. Game rules cannot alter psychological facts.
Therefore.
  • Given the only facts bearing on if a character I control takes action X are psychological facts.
  • In that case, it is not possible for game rules to play any part in deciding if that character takes action X.
As you might see, I take the most parsimonious path to preserving the truth of this theory. I say that game rules can't overwrite psychological facts, while allowing the game rules to otherwise continue to work in their normal way. I simply say that - when all's said and done - they can do no harm to psychological facts.

I also allow for a subtlety that I believe can enhance our roleplay. I don't say that psychological facts are informationally isolated from the outcome of game rules. Only that the rules cannot alter them. Psychological facts can alter themselves, if they feel moved to by the outcome of the game rules. There may be other facts that are altered by the game rules with that same outcome, and I preserve that possibility instead of destroying it.






[EDIT I hope you will notice an assumption that is at issue in connection with the above, which is that ability checks within the scope of Persuasion and Intimidation are attempting to alter psychological facts. That is a very odd assumption, because if it is true that game rules cannot alter psychological facts, it is unreasonable that these game rules should be attempting to do so. Thus we might suppose another set of facts, about the character's volition. Those obviously could be altered by the game rules. You can see how unstated positions on whether the abilities are attempting to alter psychological facts or character-volition facts, and whether those are even separable, must lead to disagreement.

In this regard however, we should apply Occams Razor. Seeing as psychological facts alone are sufficient to motivate character actions, it is not necessary that there be any character-volition facts. As we should prefer not to multiple entities unnecessarily, and given it is up to us what is included in our game theory, we should not commit to the existence of character-volition facts. Or to put it another way, we should understand the necessity of character-volition facts before we commit to them. One way they could be necessary is if they were the only facts other than psychological facts that could possibly bear on if a character takes action X. However, we have what we think of as physical facts to do that job in the game-world.

The problem is, that leaves Persuasion and Intimidation stranded as game mechanics. Setting aside that they are simply a mistake, one way to salvage them is to suppose that there are volition facts for all creatures in the game-world other than player-characters. We might suppose that such creatures need volition facts as they lack psychological facts to motivate them. It would be strange to think so, however, because it is obvious that DM can and must supply motivating psychological facts in their relation.

Thus we need a hypothesis that makes it required that creatures other than player characters have a mixture of psychological and volition facts to motivate them. One is to observe that they are regulated by a set of rules that do not apply to player-characters, which are the social interaction rules in the DMG. Those rules create cases where no physical facts bear on if a creature takes action X, but volition and psychological facts still do. I think we suppose that the volition facts trump psychological facts in such cases, but as it is up to DM whether and how they apply, that produces no particular dystopia. (Another of the very many reasons for robustly preserving DM mastery of rules.)]

There’s a lot of gymnastics there (and the previous post) trying to prove the distinction doesn’t exist. Fruitlessly, once again.

But instead of refuting the increasingly odd arguments one by one, let me turn this around: instead of you constantly try to find an inconsistency in my definitions, let me ask you: how do you define the difference between DM and player authority over PC control? Is there a line? Or is it just wherever the DM decides in the moment?
 

except after a week of us showing WHY we read it as NPC/PC can both use the skills you refuse to accept it...
Well, I acknowledge that if you dismiss the roleplaying rule as mere guidance, but take other similarly written passages as rules, and distort the meanings of “general” and “specific”, and are willing to give the DM authority to arbitrarily rule that NPC attempts to influence PCs are automatically successful….with all of the above, I can see how you could twist RAW and ignore RAI to get there.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I like your post. Bear in mind that it is all imaginary. A character being tied up is just as imaginary as a character huddling on the floor in fear. The fluff is different, but the crunch is identical. The impasse is that if an ability check can tie a character up (preventing action) then why arbitrarily decide that an ability check can't cow a character (preventing action.)
The crunch is not identical. If at some point the cowed character decides that running in fear for his life is better than sitting in fear and waiting to be killed, he can do so. The tied up character has no such option.
There is a difference, but it is really hard to get at and still hasn't been properly articulated in this thread. Earlier I mentioned volition. That is because another poster had talked about a distinction between a player-character moving downward, and a player being forced to decide to have their character move downward. Perhaps look at how we scan the sentence.
  1. you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks
  2. you as a player determining how your character thinks, acts, and talks
Is it that - so long as I get to say what I want to try and do, no matter if I can do that, the sentence requirement is met? Or is it that - so long as I get to say the manner in which I do it, no matter if I can do it in that manner or not, the sentence requirement is met? It can feasibly be both, right? But how do I say the manner in which I am tied up? Isn't that up to the character doing the tying up? And what is the effect of saying what I want to try and do if I can't do it?

Responsive to your closing thoughts, maybe it is saying that - given that my character could do X, it is up to me if they do X. We feel like when our character is (in our imagination) tied up, they could not do X, so it is not up to me if they do X. Whereas we feel like when our character is (in our imagination) upbraided by an NPC, they could still do X, so it remains up to me if they do X.

Perhaps you can see how arbitrary that distinction really is. It is to do with the particular meaning we give to volition. We can readily imagine a world where every creature has a degree of psychic power, so that when they upbraid one another they really can make it that they cannot do X, by making it that they cannot choose to do X.

That's what I meant by "subtle", before. It's not half so settled as it might seem on surface.
I don't think those two things are separable like that. What are you determining? How. In both 1 and 2 that is true.

When it comes to thinking, there's nothing that can stop the player from making that determination that isn't special in some way that can prevent it. Some spell, class/race ability or chemical potion, pheromones or what have you. Those can override the player determination in a specific way. A social skill has no such ability to force, so they cannot override.

When it comes to acting, there are more limitations. In addition to specific spells, abilities, etc., you also have physics and physical restraints. The player might determine that his PC walks away, but if he's bound in rope walking might be impossible. He might determine that his PC jumps the grand canyon on foot, but physics says he goes a X feet and then plunges downward, probably to his death. The player is far less likely to actually be able to act as he wishes than to think as he wishes.

When it comes to talking, it's in-between both of those things. Barring a silence spell, gag or something similar, the PC will be able to talk and will say whatever the player likes.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
There’s a lot of gymnastics there (and the previous post) trying to prove the distinction doesn’t exist. Fruitlessly, once again.
I imagine you skimmed it and didn't consider what I was saying. No umbrage.

But instead of refuting the increasingly odd arguments one by one, let me turn this around: instead of you constantly try to find an inconsistency in my definitions, let me ask you: how do you define the difference between DM and player authority over PC control? Is there a line? Or is it just wherever the DM decides in the moment?
I'm disappointed I could not make this clearer: I am not trying to find inconsistency in your definitions. Rather I am putting forward a theory of game play that must account for them. At the same time accounting for competing definitions.

The difference is simple,
  • On rules and resolution, DM decides
  • On player-character motivation, player decides
DM is supported in judging anything uncertain, even things that are ordinarily certain such as how a character acts. Game circumstances are infinitely diverse. There's no universal definition of what counts as challenging or consequential enough.

Game results can't impinge on player character motivation, but they can inform what might be roleplayed should the player choose. A result that informs roleplay can include consequences that don't impinge.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
The crunch is not identical. If at some point the cowed character decides that running in fear for his life is better than sitting in fear and waiting to be killed, he can do so. The tied up character has no such option.
My example is one of a character so cowed that they cannot run in fear for their life.

When it comes to thinking, there's nothing that can stop the player from making that determination that isn't special in some way that can prevent it. Some spell, class/race ability or chemical potion, pheromones or what have you. Those can override the player determination in a specific way. A social skill has no such ability to force, so they cannot override.
Panache uses an ability check. It can override. More generally, S>G exceptions are not excluded from arising within the scope of ability checks. (So any theory that would exclude them must be adjusted to tolerate them.)

When it comes to acting, there are more limitations. In addition to specific spells, abilities, etc., you also have physics and physical restraints. The player might determine that his PC walks away, but if he's bound in rope walking might be impossible. He might determine that his PC jumps the grand canyon on foot, but physics says he goes a X feet and then plunges downward, probably to his death. The player is far less likely to actually be able to act as he wishes than to think as he wishes.

When it comes to talking, it's in-between both of those things. Barring a silence spell, gag or something similar, the PC will be able to talk and will say whatever the player likes.
Let's not bar a silence spell or gag then. We can always arrange it so that the crunch of a situation is identical whether it is a physical or social ability check.
 

HammerMan

Legend
Well, I acknowledge that if you dismiss the roleplaying rule as mere guidance, but take other similarly written passages as rules, and distort the meanings of “general” and “specific”, and are willing to give the DM authority to arbitrarily rule that NPC attempts to influence PCs are automatically successful….with all of the above, I can see how you could twist RAW and ignore RAI to get there.
wow can you write that a bit more insulting?? We read the rules differently
 

I imagine you skimmed it and didn't consider what I was saying. No umbrage.


I'm disappointed I could not make this clearer: I am not trying to find inconsistency in your definitions. Rather I am putting forward a theory of game play that must account for them. At the same time accounting for competing definitions.

The difference is simple,
  • On rules and resolution, DM decides
  • On player-character motivation, player decides
DM is supported in judging anything uncertain, even things that are ordinarily certain such as how a character acts. Game circumstances are infinitely diverse. There's no universal definition of what counts as challenging or consequential enough.

Game results can't impinge on player character motivation, but they can inform what might be roleplayed should the player choose. A result that informs roleplay can include consequences that don't impinge.
Yes!

Thread done?*

*as long as no one mentions the p185 roleplaying rule as something the DM should consider, we should be good. D’OH!
 
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When it comes to thinking, there's nothing that can stop the player from making that determination that isn't special in some way that can prevent it. Some spell, class/race ability or chemical potion, pheromones or what have you. Those can override the player determination in a specific way. A social skill has no such ability to force, so they cannot override.

When it comes to acting, there are more limitations. In addition to specific spells, abilities, etc., you also have physics and physical restraints. The player might determine that his PC walks away, but if he's bound in rope walking might be impossible. He might determine that his PC jumps the grand canyon on foot, but physics says he goes a X feet and then plunges downward, probably to his death. The player is far less likely to actually be able to act as he wishes than to think as he wishes.

When it comes to talking, it's in-between both of those things. Barring a silence spell, gag or something similar, the PC will be able to talk and will say whatever the player likes.
Why? Why can physical skill impede how you act but social skill cannot impede how you think? Mind you, I fully agree that this is a sensible way to run things, but it is a personal preference, not something actually written in the rules.
 


Aldarc

Legend
Well, I acknowledge that if you dismiss the roleplaying rule as mere guidance, but take other similarly written passages as rules, and distort the meanings of “general” and “specific”, and are willing to give the DM authority to arbitrarily rule that NPC attempts to influence PCs are automatically successful….with all of the above, I can see how you could twist RAW and ignore RAI to get there.
The roleplaying rule? I feel like hardly anyone, including likely yourself, considered Page 185 as anything more than general guidance about roleplaying before until it somehow became a critical lynchpin of the game for the purposes of arguments in this thread. I have never once before this thread ever heard that snippet from Page 185 cited as a rule about roleplaying.

Page 185 has been cited before for other matters pertinent to the page, but the oldest citation of PHB "page 185" in regards to roleplaying - though not about this particular snippet - I have found appears to be me (as recent as Aug 2021) in regards to descriptive roleplaying being regarded as equally valid a method of roleplaying as actor stance roleplaying.

I'm suspicious that it would not have been cited earlier than that as a roleplaying rule on ENWorld in the seven years that this game has been out. (I will admit that it is possible that it has been cited earlier - I searched only for "185" - but that either someone who is ignoring me or that I have on ignore prevents me from seeing it.) But since this thread (30. Nov. 2021), it has formed the vast bulk of its subsequent citations. I can't help but get the impression that the Page 185 "rule" in question appears to have been willed into existence as a rule for the sole purposes of this thread.

Likewise, if it is a rule, critical or otherwise, for the play loop of 5e D&D, then I would expect that it to show up in the 5e SRD as a rule (possibly in a different form), but I will admit that I am having difficulty finding any mention of it in any form or phrasing.

Well, I acknowledge that if you dismiss the roleplaying rule as mere guidance, but take other similarly written passages as rules, and distort the meanings of “general” and “specific”, and are willing to give the DM authority to arbitrarily rule that NPC attempts to influence PCs are automatically successful….with all of the above, I can see how you could twist RAW and ignore RAI to get there.
If this is how you choose to respond to others who have different readings of the text than your own, then maybe you should either not respond or step away from the thread.
 
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clearstream

(He, Him)
The roleplaying rule? I feel like hardly anyone, including likely yourself, considered Page 185 as anything more than general guidance about roleplaying before until it somehow became a critical lynchpin of the game for the purposes of arguments in this thread. I have never once before this thread ever heard that snippet from Page 185 cited as a rule about roleplaying.

Page 185 has been cited before for other matters pertinent to the page, but the oldest citation of PHB "page 185" in regards to roleplaying - though not about this particular snippet - I have found appears to be me (as recent as Aug 2021) in regards to desriptive roleplaying being regarded as equally valid a method of roleplaying as actor stance roleplaying.

I'm suspicious that it would not have been cited earlier than that as a roleplaying rule on ENWorld in the seven years that this game has been out. (I will admit that it is possible that it has been cited earlier - I searched only for "185" - but that either someone who is ignoring me or that I have on ignore prevents me from seeing it.) But since this thread (30. Nov. 2021), it has formed the vast bulk of its subsequent citations. I can't help but get the impression that the Page 185 "rule" in question appears to have been willed into existence as a rule for the sole purposes of this thread.

Likewise, if it is a rule, critical or otherwise, for the play loop of 5e D&D, then I would expect that it to show up in the 5e SRD as a rule (possibly in a different form), but I will admit that I am having difficulty finding any mention of it in any form or phrasing.


If this is how you choose to respond to others who have different readings of the text than your own, then maybe you should either not respond or step away from the thread.
FWIW DMG 244 expressly characterises the PHB 185 section as a guideline.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Yes!

Thread done?*

*as long as no one mentions the p185 roleplaying rule as something to DM should consider, we should be good. D’OH!
WTY!

You have noticed that my definition sustains 185, right? It divides roles as supported by the text. DM is master of rules. Player is master of their character. All one does to conform with what the text best supports is prevent the results of game mechanics from invalidating 185 unless they are S>G exceptions or set limits.

[Or a better way to put is is that when narrating the results, do so in the way that respects player agency.]
 
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