D&D 5E Using social skills on other PCs

A character (doesn’t really matter if it’s a PC or NPC) wants to frighten a monster, and doesn’t have any spells that can do so or doesn’t want to spend the spell slots. So they declare “I try to frighten the monster by acting all scary.” Since there is not a specific rule for how to resolve this action, the DM falls back on the general action resolution mechanics. Can this action succeed? Assuming the monster isn’t immune to fear or anything and the approach of “acting all scary” is something that could indeed frighten it. Can it fail? Sure, maybe the character acting all scary isn’t enough to scare the monster. Are there meaningful stakes? We’d need more context to determine that, but for the sake of argument let’s assume there are. So, the DM ought to call for an ability check to resolve this action, probably Charisma (Intimidation), and in this thought experiment, that would mean imposing the frightened condition on the monster.

I'll elaborate on this example: the DM could also decide that, no, there's absolutely no way this monster would be afraid of this character's antics. No roll, no intimidation. It's right there in the rules.

Now, the rules don't actually provide any guidance on how to handle the inverse situation. It may not be provable, but it's certainly reasonable....again, given the text on 185....that in the inverse situation the player is the one who adjudicates the effect on their own character. The DM gets to do that for the entire rest of the world, but the Player has authority over their own character. So if they say, "Nope, no chance," there's no chance.

Again, not RAW, but in my opinion (and it should be @Lanefan's!) that seems more logical than saying, "No, the DM gets to both declare NPC actions and adjudicate their outcome, even if it involves PCs."
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Based on information that may vary depending on the social skill result, which in turn makes the result uncertain justifying a roll.
For the ability check result to be applied, an ability check must first be made, which requires uncertainty.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
@Charlaquin, let's for real go back to the OP. What if Persuasion was not about convincing a PC/NPC to do something as some sort of compulsion, but, rather, it was like the discussed framing of Stonetop? That is to say, you learn what it would take to persuade a PC/NPC (though maybe they can't be persuaded), though the NPC/PC still gets to decide. Would that not change the certainty of the outcome as per your usage? I.e., the players control the thoughts, actions, etc. of their characters?
I'm not @Charlaquin, but I think the problem with this suggestion (at least for me) is the use of an ability check for this purpose. There seems to be a correlation between those who would not call for an ability check to resolve an effort to influence a PC socially (and I count myself among them) and those for whom the result of an ability check is binding (among which I count myself as well). That's why I suggested (and use) inspiration for this purpose.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
No, it exists because of the order of operations.

As a thought experiment, let’s assume that it was possible to impose the Frightened condition on a creature with a successful Charisma (Intimidation) check.

A character (doesn’t really matter if it’s a PC or NPC) wants to frighten a monster, and doesn’t have any spells that can do so or doesn’t want to spend the spell slots. So they declare “I try to frighten the monster by acting all scary.” Since there is not a specific rule for how to resolve this action, the DM falls back on the general action resolution mechanics. Can this action succeed? Assuming the monster isn’t immune to fear or anything and the approach of “acting all scary” is something that could indeed frighten it. Can it fail? Sure, maybe the character acting all scary isn’t enough to scare the monster. Are there meaningful stakes? We’d need more context to determine that, but for the sake of argument let’s assume there are. So, the DM ought to call for an ability check to resolve this action, probably Charisma (Intimidation), and in this thought experiment, that would mean imposing the frightened condition on the monster.

Now repeat the same thought experiment, but imagine the character is trying to frighten a PC. Can this action succeed now? Well, the goal is to frighten the PC, which is something the character feels, and os therefore decided by the player. So, if the player decides they are not frightened, then it can’t succeed. Likewise, if they decide they are frightened, then it can’t fail. So, we never reach the point in the general action resolution process where an ability check is called for, which means the effects of a successful ability check are never able to be applied.

Now let’s suppose that the character, perhaps aiming to eliminate the possibility of failure in their actions, decides to spend the spell slot and cast cause fear instead of declaring a goal and approach. Now we have a specific rule telling us how to resolve this action, so we don’t have to rely on the general action resolution rules. The spell simply says “ The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become frightened of you until the spell ends.” No need to check for uncertainty, the rule explicitly tells us that the target must make a Wisdom saving throw.
This last can apply exactly as well to the social skills, which encourage a DM to call for a check. Except of course you exclude them from counting for... reasons.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Not at all, you can assign a monster any hit dice you want, it's just the PCs which are restricted.
Which is a difference in how PCs and NPCs hit dice and hit points are calculated.
It's not that it can be applied to monsters, the rules explicitly tell you that it applies to them: "An ability check tests a character's or monster's innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a challenge."
Sure, just a difference of phrasing there.
The new format for spells is an option, it has not invalidated all the previous monsters spell lists.
Indeed it hasn’t, but monsters have had dice recharge abilities since the monster manual.
Yep.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
@Charlaquin, let's for real go back to the OP. What if Persuasion was not about convincing a PC/NPC to do something as some sort of compulsion, but, rather, it was like the discussed framing of Stonetop? That is to say, you learn what it would take to persuade a PC/NPC (though maybe they can't be persuaded), though the NPC/PC still gets to decide. Would that not change the certainty of the outcome as per your usage? I.e., the players control the thoughts, actions, etc. of their characters?
Yes, of course it would.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I'll elaborate on this example: the DM could also decide that, no, there's absolutely no way this monster would be afraid of this character's antics. No roll, no intimidation. It's right there in the rules
Exactly! A DM could rule no check, or they could call for a check. It depends on the case at hand.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'm not @Charlaquin, but I think the problem with this suggestion (at least for me) is the use of an ability check for this purpose. There seems to be a correlation between those who would not call for an ability check to resolve an effort to influence a PC socially (and I count myself among them) and those for whom the result of an ability check is binding (among which I count myself as well). That's why I suggested (and use) inspiration for this purpose.
I'm neither following the distinction you are trying to make here, nor how that applies to the aforementioned Parley/Persuade (vs. PC) move, nor how it's problematic that such a result would be binding.

For the ability check result to be applied, an ability check must first be made, which requires uncertainty.

Yes, of course it would.
I'll call that progress.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
For the ability check result to be applied, an ability check must first be made, which requires uncertainty.

Which there is, since the information imparted by the social check will depend on the result of the roll, hence even if the reaction is fully in the hand of the player, it is uncertain what it's going to be.

And that is without even going in the domain where, as the DM, there is uncertainty about how the player will have his character react anyway.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I'll elaborate on this example: the DM could also decide that, no, there's absolutely no way this monster would be afraid of this character's antics. No roll, no intimidation. It's right there in the rules.

Now, the rules don't actually provide any guidance on how to handle the inverse situation. It may not be provable, but it's certainly reasonable....again, given the text on 185....that in the inverse situation the player is the one who adjudicates the effect on their own character. The DM gets to do that for the entire rest of the world, but the Player has authority over their own character. So if they say, "Nope, no chance," there's no chance.

Again, not RAW, but in my opinion (and it should be @Lanefan's!) that seems more logical than saying, "No, the DM gets to both declare NPC actions and adjudicate their outcome, even if it involves PCs."
Yeah, while I don’t think the rules support this way of handling actions targeting PCs, I think it would be a great house rule.
 

Exactly! A DM could rule no check, or they could call for a check. It depends on the case at hand.

Great. So far we're on the same page.

So, when a monster declares a goal and an approach...which isn't even touched on in the rules...and the goal is to influence how a PC "thinks, acts, or talks"...which is explicitly assigned to the Player's authority...who gets to play that adjudication role? The rules say nothing on this, so it's up to us to decide. What makes the most sense? What answer doesn't contradict the text?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I'm not @Charlaquin, but I think the problem with this suggestion (at least for me) is the use of an ability check for this purpose. There seems to be a correlation between those who would not call for an ability check to resolve an effort to influence a PC socially (and I count myself among them) and those for whom the result of an ability check is binding (among which I count myself as well). That's why I suggested (and use) inspiration for this purpose.
I think the key dividing factor here is in how we view ability checks. Folks arguing with me keep talking about “using social skills” like that’s a thing in the 5e rules. I think for those who conceptualize ability checks as actions, instead of a step in the process for resolving actions, my argument probably seems like nonsense.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I think the key dividing factor here is in how we view ability checks. Folks arguing with me keep talking about “using social skills” like that’s a thing in the 5e rules. I think for those who conceptualize ability checks as actions, instead of a step in the process for resolving actions, my argument probably seems like nonsense.
Whether I conceptualize ability checks as a step in the process for resolving actions or not doesn't fundamentally change whether or not I see your argument as circular nonsense or not.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
This last can apply exactly as well to the social skills, which encourage a DM to call for a check. Except of course you exclude them from counting for... reasons.
What are you talking about? Social skills are not actions, they’re a source of bonuses on a subset of ability checks. Ability checks are not actions, they’re a step in the action resolution process; a step which comes after determining uncertainty, if uncertainty is established. An action that is resolved by the general action resolution process can either succeed (if it has no chance of failure or no stakes), fail (if it has no chance of success), or be resolved with an ability check. An action taken with the goal of forcing a PC to think, feel, or do something succeeds if the player decides it does, or fails if the player decides it does. There is no opportunity for an ability check of any kind to be made, because based on the goal, the process for resolving it says it should succeed or fail. If a more specific process governs the resolution of the action, such as the spellcasting rules, then none of this is relevant to the resolution process of that action.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Which there is, since the information imparted by the social check will depend on the result of the roll,
A roll is made only if there is uncertainty. You are relying on the assumption of a roll being made to establish uncertainty. That is circular.
And that is without even going in the domain where, as the DM, there is uncertainty about how the player will have his character react anyway.
That’s not really relevant for the purposes of establishing the possibility of success and failure, which is the uncertainty we care about in the general action resolution process.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Great. So far we're on the same page.

So, when a monster declares a goal and an approach...which isn't even touched on in the rules...and the goal is to influence how a PC "thinks, acts, or talks"...which is explicitly assigned to the Player's authority...who gets to play that adjudication role? The rules say nothing on this, so it's up to us to decide. What makes the most sense? What answer doesn't contradict the text?
Players decide what their characters think, say, or act, except where overridden by game mechanics.
 



clearstream

(He, Him)
What are you talking about? Social skills are not actions, they’re a source of bonuses on a subset of ability checks. Ability checks are not actions, they’re a step in the action resolution process. An action that is resolved by the general action resolution process can either succeed (if it has no chance of failure or no stakes), fail (if it has no chance of success), or be resolved with an ability check. An action taken with the goal of forcing a PC to think, feel, or do something succeeds if the player decides it does, or fails if the player decides it does. There is no opportunity for an ability check of any kind to be made, because based on the goal, the process for resolving it says it should succeed or fail. If a more specific process governs the resolution of the action, such as the spellcasting rules, then none of this is relevant to the resolution process of that action.
This is a new line of argument. You now say that the reason is because ability checks are not actions, right? Is rolling the dice ever an action, in your view?
 

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