D&D 5E Using social skills on other PCs

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What a bizarre question. Characters…NPC or otherwise…don’t “get rolls”. Humans sometimes roll dice to see what their characters are able to do.
Except we almost never refer to humans at the table. If player Jenny is playing character Carantha it's nearly always "Carantha, roll me a d20" rather than "Jenny, roll me a d20"; and so I've just got used to shorthanding it that the character gets the roll rather than the player.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

d
Except we almost never refer to humans at the table. If player Jenny is playing character Carantha it's nearly always "Carantha, roll me a d20" rather than "Jenny, roll me a d20"; and so I've just got used to shorthanding it that the character gets the roll rather than the player.

Yes. And, as noted previously, I was being a little disingenuous there (apologies for that) because my point was really that the human who "gets to roll" in the case of an NPC is the same human who arbitrates: the DM in both cases. Which changes the dynamic considerably from one in which a player is asking permission of the referee.

And, even then, the larger point is that you keep describing RPGs as if PCs and NPCs are perfectly symmetric, which seems to be your preference and is a perfectly fine preference, but is simply not the case in 5e.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Which is ironic (assuming you really mean the opposite), because this whole "social skills can make players do things" is driven by exactly those low levels, but in the other direction. If people just trusted their players to roleplay, they wouldn't have to insist that NPC social skills have mechanical effects.
I hoped you could see that I am debating a position I believe might have valuable ramifications. It's an investigation, not a commitment to that position.
 




clearstream

(He, Him)
It is clear that NPCs don't follow PC character generation rules, so it's not really a tenable position that they are exactly equal. One could still argue that they follow the same rules, but doing so you still have to start from a place of symmetry being broken.
I agree with that. It's not symmetric in all respects. I believe it is the presence of rules and guidance for PC dealings with NPCs that leads many to jump to a conclusion that RAW can't possibly support NPCs dealings with PCs!
 

Aldarc

Legend
@Aldarc I had a thought about Parley

Parley (vs. PCs)
When you press or entice a PC and they resist, you can roll +CHA: on a 10+, both; on a 7-9, they pick 1:
  • They mark XP if they do what you want
  • They must do what you want, or reveal how you could convince them to do so.

The tweak is the addition of the word, they. A hesitation is whether it is within norms for moves to give over a choice like that, however the reasoning is as follows.

If it is "pick 1" and between players, then we force the players into a dilemma with a risk of bad-feeling outcomes. The dilemma is, the resisting player on 7+ ought to prefer the first option, seeing as the second option lands in the same place, but without the XP. Therefore the pressing player ought to feel safe in picking the first option as it should suit both sides. However, they can then be 'betrayed' by the resisting player.

Or we say that what is really going on for the resisting player is this - do I prefer XP, or whatever it is I would reveal? Again, I don't feel this is the right bargain, and it shouldn't really be down to the pressing player to guess. You can see that there should (and likely will) be scope for negotiation. Therefore I suggest simply finessing that, and going straight to resisting player picks when it is not both.
It may help if you have the current write-up for Persuade (vs. PCs):
PERSUADE (vs. PCs)
When you press or entice a PC and they resist, ask their player: "Could I possibly get you to do this, yes or no?" If the answer is "No," let it drop.

If the answer is "Yes," you can roll +CHA: on a 10+, they mark XP if they do what you want, and if they don't, they must reveal how you could convince them; on a 7-9, they mark XP if they do what you want (but can refuse or make a counter-offer if they like).
 

I agree with that. It's not symmetric in all respects. I believe it is the presence of rules and guidance for PC dealings with NPCs that leads many to jump to a conclusion that RAW can't possibly support NPCs dealings with PCs!
Well it's a clue as to RAI that in social interaction rules they are always described as PCs influencing NPCs.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
It is clear that NPCs don't follow PC character generation rules, so it's not really a tenable position that they are exactly equal. One could still argue that in play they follow the same rules for resolution of action declarations, but doing so you still have to start from a place of symmetry being broken.

NPCs could follow character generation rules, I don't think that there is any rule anywhere that precludes that. It's just that for me (and for the designers, apparently), it's simply too complicated and unneeded for most cases/situations. And another way to look at it is that NPCs are not limited by character creation rules and limitations.

But in any case, in terms of action resolution, there is only one set of mechanics in the game, which is used by all creatures, whether it's combat actions (although once more the NPCs have the advantage as they can get legendary and lair and mythic actions), or the use of ability scores: "An ability check tests a character's or monster's innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a challenge."

So, once more, seeing that the rules unify everything especially in terms of actions, I will say once more the burden of proving that it's dissimilar falls on those who think it, as nowhere in the rules does it say it is AFAIK.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Well it's a clue as to RAI that in social interaction rules they are always described as PCs influencing NPCs.

You have exactly zero proof of this intent. And actually the RAW goes the other way:
  • Insight: "Your Wisdom (Insight) check decides whether you can determine the true intentions of a creature, such as when searching out a lie or predicting someone’s next move."
  • Deception: "Your Charisma (Deception) check determines whether you can convincingly hide the truth, either verbally or through your actions."
  • Contests: "Sometimes one character's or monster's efforts are directly opposed to another's."
  • DMG: "Wisdom Perceptiveness and willpower Spot a hidden creature, sense that someone is lying"
  • DMG: "Charisma Social influence and confidence Persuade a creature to do something, cow a crowd, lie to someone convincingly"
So basically Insight would be pretty useless if it could be used only against PCs, because it's the one resolution mechanic that is used in Deception vs. Insight.

So, extremely clearly, the game expects a PC to be able to use his insight to detect the lie told by the deception of a monster/NPC, therefore Charisma checks can be used vs. PCs.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
And another example, bargaining/bartering/haggling, is usually handled through Charisma (persuasion). Whether buying / selling /bartering from/with a NPC, it clearly falls within the scope of "A contest is a kind of ability check that matches two creatures against each other. Use a contest if a character attempts something that either directly foils or is directly opposed by another creature’s efforts. In a contest, the ability checks are compared to each other, rather than to a target number."

So unless your PCs only barter with each other, you have another clear example of an NPC using a social Charisma check against a PC.
 


clearstream

(He, Him)
Well it's a clue as to RAI that in social interaction rules they are always described as PCs influencing NPCs.
I'm not sure if this is a perfect case, but consider text like

You can communicate however you are abIe, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn. You can also interact with one object ar feature of the environment for free, during either your move ar your action. For example. you could open a door during your
move as you stride toward a foe, ar you could draw your weapon as part of the same action you use to attack.

Similar language, but doesn't imply solely you, the player though, right? NPCs can communicate, yes? They can open doors etc
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
And also, from the doppleganger: "While reading the target's mind, the doppelganger has advantage on Wisdom (Insight) and Charisma (Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion) checks against the target." Obviously, dopplegangers only fight other monsters, or use that power only against other NPCs/Monsters... :p

Or the Icewind Kobold: "Three kobolds in cold weather gear can pass themselves off as a clumsy human with a successful group Charisma (Deception) check, the DC of which equals the onlooker’s Wisdom (Insight) check result." But not against PCs ?

Or the Elder Brain: "The elder brain can also make a Charisma (Deception) check with advantage to deceive the target’s mind into thinking it believes one idea or feels a particular emotion. The target contests this attempt with a Wisdom (Insight) check." But not against PCs ?
 

This seems to be the argument against:

Can a NPC influence a PC via a social skill?
The result is not uncertain, so the check is not made. I.e. they cannot influence the PC.
Why is the result not uncertain? Because the NPC cannot influence a PC via a social skill!

o_O It is completely circular! 🤷
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Previously, it seemed you bestowed a kind of inviolable certainty on things falling within the definition of roleplaying.
No, that’s why I kept invoking specific beats general when you tried to hold up Charm Person as a counter-example. Charm Person is a spell, which has a more specific resolution procedure than the general one involving ability checks, so where it contradicts those rules, specific beats general gives it precedence.
You argued that for a DM to be working within the rules required that DM to have a basis for their judgments as to uncertainty. It occurs to me to that for consistency you ought to believe that to be working within the rules a DM must also have a basis for their judgments as to stakes? Is that right? Or is there a lack of parity in those requirements?
The rules aren’t very specific on what constitutes stakes, so it’s harder to find support in them for formulating a judgment about stakes. But certainly I don’t think they support a DM in calling for a check that has no stakes.
Anyway, as it turns out, that certainty is often violated within the game rules. Thus, within the game paradigm, a DM is justified to say that things falling within the definition of roleplaying can be uncertain.
Sure. Though I’m not sure it particularly matters. The resolution procedures for spells and the class and monster features you’ve called out as breaking the roleplaying rule don’t particularly care about the certainty of the action.
So far as I can tell, you now say that only some instances of uncertainty count. You appear to say that a DM is justified in judging an attempt uncertain only if it meets the criteria for those instances. And you list criteria which if I have them correctly largely amount to specificity. A specific enough rule can form an exception. I think this is a much better argument than the uncertainty argument, because for one thing it doesn't leave unexplained why we don't have a similar test for stakes.

In summary, it turns out that it wasn't the uncertainty that was at issue, but meeting the criteria to form an exception that was. That is why I said you have shifted the argument. It now seems that if only social skills would meet the criteria to be a suitable instance, then a DM will be justified in calling for a check.

This is where things get tangled. The RAW on calling for checks doesn't ask for a DM to consider specificity. I think I understand your reasoning here, but let's try and spell it out
  1. To call for a check, there must a be a chance of failure
  2. For all things falling within the definition of roleplay, there is no chance of failure
  3. Some game mechanics introduce a chance of failure to things falling within the definition of roleplay
  4. Luckily, they are exceptions to the putative general rule (actually a definition) and therefore avoid the test altogether
I think this would more closely resemble my argument if you cut 3 (because it’s irrelevant) and change 4 to “luckily, there are actions that, in exception to the general action resolution mechanic, don’t require a check to be made to be successful, and therefore avoid the test altogether.
This is a nice piece of bootstrapping! Taking it on face value, we can simply say that the social skills are sufficiently specified. Who do the game rules then endorse? Neither. No matter how you may feel, there is nothing in the rules that supports your definition of 'specific enough.'
We can make arguments from consequence in play, preference, what we understand to be norms, but you need to produce RAW additional to the above to support any claim that a game mechanic like deception is not specific enough.

Deception specifically calls for a check making it clear that a DM is justified in doing so. That particular forms an exception to any general rule.


Again, the DM is encouraged to call for a check. The particular here overrides any general elsewhere.


Rather than state the obvious, I'd prefer to highlight that including our conclusions in our premises will drive doubts that the particular of each social skill forms a good enough exception to the possible general rule.

Some questions worth asking are: Where is the RAW that tells us what is specific enough? Where, is the RAW that says it must be a spell to be specific enough? Or that it must reference a condition?
Your argument here is treating the degree of specificity as the issue, which as I’ve said to you in an earlier post, it is not. The issue is the order of operations. Ability checks are part of the general action resolution procedure, which occur after uncertainty has been established, so the outcome of an ability check cannot justify its own uncertainty, because an ability check requires uncertainty to be made in the first place, and the effects of a successful ability check can’t be applied if the ability check is never made. Spells and certain class features and monster features sidestep the question because they have more specific action resolution procedures that contradict the general action resolution rules requiring uncertainty.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Well it's a clue as to RAI that in social interaction rules they are always described as PCs influencing NPCs.
I don’t necessarily think it is. The rules in the player’s handbook are generally addressed to players, so it’s to be expected that examples of rules being applied would be framed in terms of the player perspective. It’s telling the player when to expect the DM to ask them to make an ability check, not laying out for the DM all the instances when they should call for a check. For that kind of guidance, you would want to look to the dungeon master’s guide rather than the player’s handbook.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top