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D&D 5E Using social skills on other PCs

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Yes you do, see below, since you end up granting the NPC a Charisma (Deception) check in the end.
That just tells me success or failure, which is all I need to know.
And the problem by doing this is that you are equating yourself as a DM to the NPC you are controlling, which is not what roleplaying is about. NPCs are limited by their skills and abilities like PCs are, which is one thing that is sometimes not too hard to do when it's diminishing your abilities, but just impossible to do when the NPC abilities are greater than yours. For example, I know that I am incredibly clever and so charismatic (not to mention an incredible liar :p), but even I would not dare compare myself to an Archdevil in terms of persuasion.

Taking into account these abilities in your roleplaying of the NPC is as much what roleplaying is about as it is doing the same thing for a player playing his PC.
This is a fundamental philosophical difference we have on roleplaying, and not really relevant to the topic at hand. Suffice to say, I’m not of the opinion that it’s possible to “play characters who are smarter (or in this case better liars) than you,” nor that how “smart (or deceptive) your character is compared to you really matters.
You are of course free to totally reverse things this way, but it's not what the RAW is saying. First, in the introduction to the PH, it says that the DM has actions, so the action was the NPC lying to the PC, which should be resolved first.
The action was resolved without need for a roll. The NPC told a lie. If the PC takes an action to try and discern whether or not the NPC’s statement is a lie, a roll might or might be required to resolve that action; depends on the specifics of the approach.

To be clear, I do not believe this is the only way to resolve this scenario that’s supported by the rules. You could also roll a Charisma (Deception) check against the PC’s passive Wisdom (Insight) score, for example, and I believe you would have the support of the rules in doing so.
And yet, they will have been influenced by the Charisma (Deception) check of the NPC, and this while leaving the player 100% free to decide... :p
You say that like you think it’s in contrast to my position…?
 

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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
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.
Yes, but coupled with the view that an ability check is descriptive of the effort a creature is making, rather than determining the result of its action, is the view that the result is non-binding in terms of outcome. That's why there are posters in this thread saying that they make Charisma checks against PCs but that they aren't taking any agency away from the players because they are free to just shrug it off, and that the same goes for the DM in the case of a check being made against an NPC. In contrast, my DMing principles tell me that I am absolutely bound to honor the results of a check, meaning that on a successful result, the goal of the acting creature is achieved in the fiction.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yes. Such as rules governing social skills. Which you completely arbitrarily decide to not qualify.
Eh, no. Reason is not arbitrary. There's not one ounce of anything governing social skills that SPECIFICALLY creates an exception or contradiction to the rule allowing the player to decide. That's REASON to conclude that they don't override the player.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Yes, but coupled with the view that an ability check is descriptive of the effort a creature is making, rather than determining the result of its action, is the view that the result is non-binding in terms of outcome. That's why there are posters in this thread saying that they make Charisma checks against PCs but that they aren't taking any agency away from the players because they are free to just shrug it off, and that the same goes for the DM in the case of a check being made against an NPC. In contrast, my DMing principles tell me that I am absolutely bound to honor the results of a check, meaning that on a successful result, the goal of the acting creature is achieved in the fiction.
Oh, good point!
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
One interesting variation is they decide to lie. That in itself might call for a dice roll (Cha? Con?), but probably another dice roll (Int? Wis?) to see if they all tell the same lie. And if they fail the second check....wow, not sure. It gets complicated.
Exactly, and that's another reason why I quite like to lean into skills. A player can say - I want to pretend to spill - and we can resolve that by drawing upon the mechanics in a way that is fair, and respects choices they made for their character. PC's Constitution (Deception) against NPC's Charisma (Intimidation) as I suggested in an earlier post.

Also, I don't think the game should be adjudicated to the dissatisfaction of players. I am interested in NPCs using social skills because of the possible positive impact on players.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm not sure I stated such an absolute view, see below...
I see what happened. The extra comma here threw me off, "Only, the way I read it, it's not, since:" I read it as ONLY. The way you read it, is... not "only the way you read it is..." :p
As I've mentioned, it's entirely up to the DM and his style, what I did not like in the previous description was the gatekeeping of "the loop is mandatory, every action taken has to be by a PC, everything else is environment", when the RAW actually explain that it's not the case, just a simple tool for the flow of the game, with many possible exceptions.
Yeah, but I think that even if the loop is mandatory, the DM still gets to take actions. Those actions would just fall into the category of the DM describing the environment.

If I'm running some goblins in a combat, I'm not going to say, "The goblin is going to use the move action to move 20 feet to the Barbarian and then use the attack action to try and hit him." It's going to be description, "The goblin rushes the Barbarian screaming something in goblin as he does so. The goblins arm is already in motion as he arrives, his axe arcing downward towards Kojak's thigh." Even though I took an action for the goblin, it could still be viewed as environmental description and follow the play loop.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
Exactly, and that's another reason why I quite like to lean into skills. A player can say - I want to pretend to spill - and we can resolve that by drawing upon the mechanics in a way that is fair, and respects choices they made for their character. PC's Constitution (Deception) against NPC's Charisma (Intimidation) as I suggested in an earlier post.
This doesn’t seem to violate the player’s ability to decide what their character thinks, feels, or does, so I’m not sure why you bring it up here.
Also, I don't think the game should be adjudicated to the dissatisfaction of players. I am interested in NPCs using social skills because of the possible positive impact on players.
Could you give an example of an action an NPC might take that would violate the player’s ability to decide what their character thinks, feels, or does that would have a positive impact on the players, and elaborate on why you think the impact is positive?
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
No. It doesn't make the result uncertain at all. The varying information just means that the PC can be wrong with his decision, not that the decision is uncertain.

Whether a lie will be believable or not is what makes the decision uncertain.

Uncertainty is when the player or DM doesn't really know which way the PC/NPC will go.

Not exactly, it's when the DM doesn't know whether the PC/NPC will accomplish something or not: "If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success--the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it's a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the DM."

So, in the case of deception, will the PC/NPC overcome the difficulty of producing a convincing lie in the circumstances.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Does the DM still call for the move to come into play, though? Earlier I assumed they would. The players don't name their move right? Even if it will be player-to-player.
The GM will call for a move when it's triggered in the fiction. Players will, however, sometimes name their moves, especially playbook-specific ones. (In contrast, GMs are never supposed to name their moves.) Players naming their moves is not necessarily ideal, as everything should begin and end with the fiction; however, Jeremy admits that it does happen that a player may indicate that their character wants to perform a move (e.g., Clash, Defend, Interfere, Aid, etc.):
Players might trigger a move intentionally, describing actions that they know meet the trigger. Or, they might also say “I want to Clash” or “I Defend.” That’s fine. But when they do, it’s your job to draw the fiction out of them. “Cool, what do you do?” “Okay, great, what’s that look like?” If you can’t picture it, ask for more detail. To do it, they have to do it.
But also note the bold. Players can't just declare a move; their characters have to do it. The GM may still call for the move or indicate that another move applies instead of the one the player named.

In the case of Parley or Persuade (vs. PC), it's not usually one that players "name" or say that they want to do.
 

Could you give an example of an action an NPC might take that would violate the player’s ability to decide what their character thinks, feels, or does that would have a positive impact on the players, and elaborate on why you think the impact is positive?

Yes. It seems to be that if there is disagreement on what a character would do, and the DM imposes their belief on the player, it’s hard to see how that would result in a “positive impact”.
 

Also, I don't think the game should be adjudicated to the dissatisfaction of players. I am interested in NPCs using social skills because of the possible positive impact on players.

Sure. But can’t that be used as just environmental description, to be used (or not) by the player as they see fit? Must it end with a restriction on player autonomy?
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
This topic gets re-hashed a lot, it seems, and in general my stance is that social skills don't 'work' on other PCs.

But I was just reading some of the early materials for Stonetop, a kickstarted PoA game, and came across this:

View attachment 147502

I like that a lot. It leaves the target PC fully in control of the player, but also provides a framework for Cha skills to 'work' on other PCs.

I don't have an elegant way to map that to 5e rules, but thought I'd throw it out there as a middle ground between the two sides of the debate.
So while we've been debating, I've been thinking how to draft a possibly more usable version of 5th edition persuasion. I've been thinking of how to leave significant facets of RP up to players/DM, while letting the mechanics decide on details.

Persuasion reveals whether a creature will do or sacrifice what you ask, and what they desire in exchange.
So this is the core rule: it's not complete at this point. Just the nub of it. The idea is not to say anything about what a creature must do, only to disclose facts about what they want and would do for it. It's symmetrical. When an NPC makes a successful persuasion check against a PC, the PC discloses what they are willing to do, and the price.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
That just tells me success or failure, which is all I need to know.

And that is based on the NPC using a social skill on a PC, which is all I needed to prove.

This is a fundamental philosophical difference we have on roleplaying, and not really relevant to the topic at hand. Suffice to say, I’m not of the opinion that it’s possible to “play characters who are smarter (or in this case better liars) than you,” nor that how “smart (or deceptive) your character is compared to you really matters.

Indeed, it's a different philosophy but still, it's what separates playing yourself against roleplaying a character.

The action was resolved without need for a roll.

First important point, we agree that there was an action from the NPC. Now, you decided not to allow a roll, but it's your choice, and the RAW is clear: "In addition to roleplaying, ability checks are key in determining the outcome of an interaction." So it would be perfectly within the scope of the RAW for a DM to actually request a roll from a NPC, since "An ability check tests a character's or monster's innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a challenge," in this case, the challenge being to lie convincingly to a PC.

The NPC told a lie. If the PC takes an action to try and discern whether or not the NPC’s statement is a lie, a roll might or might be required to resolve that action; depends on the specifics of the approach.

If you play it that way, there is no reason not to reverse it when a PC tells a lie to an NPC. It's absolutely symmetrical. But again, choosing to play something that way is purely your decision, the RAW do not make any constraint here.

To be clear, I do not believe this is the only way to resolve this scenario that’s supported by the rules. You could also roll a Charisma (Deception) check against the PC’s passive Wisdom (Insight) score, for example, and I believe you would have the support of the rules in doing so.

And that's all I wanted to hear, thanks. Beyond that, it's just a difference of style.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Sure. But can’t that be used as just environmental description, to be used (or not) by the player as they see fit? Must it end with a restriction on player autonomy?
We come back to an earlier point. Game mechanics regularly intrude on what players can decide their characters do. There have been arguments in this thread seeking to show that RAW doesn't allow that.

Set that aside for a moment and ask instead: what is the moral difference between say Deception skill deciding what a player can decide their character does, and any other game mechanic? Regardless of whether we think the RAW allows it or not, why is it more worrying to say that a dragon could roll their intimidate and make a character unable to approach, than that they should use their frightening presence?
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Yes. It seems to be that if there is disagreement on what a character would do, and the DM imposes their belief on the player, it’s hard to see how that would result in a “positive impact”.

Well, there are many players at our tables who absolutely love it when they are possessed / controlled / charmed by an enemy, so yes, there can be extremely positive impact. For that, you need to have mature players who are not overly concerned about concepts like "player agency" because they realise that it's just a game anyway, that characters are not real and that it's not an unacceptable intrusion on their free will as human beings...
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I see what happened. The extra comma here threw me off, "Only, the way I read it, it's not, since:" I read it as ONLY. The way you read it, is... not "only the way you read it is..." :p

My bad, I agree that the style was not the best in that sentence.

Yeah, but I think that even if the loop is mandatory, the DM still gets to take actions. Those actions would just fall into the category of the DM describing the environment.

If I'm running some goblins in a combat, I'm not going to say, "The goblin is going to use the move action to move 20 feet to the Barbarian and then use the attack action to try and hit him." It's going to be description, "The goblin rushes the Barbarian screaming something in goblin as he does so. The goblins arm is already in motion as he arrives, his axe arcing downward towards Kojak's thigh." Even though I took an action for the goblin, it could still be viewed as environmental description and follow the play loop.

As mentioned, this stretches my understanding of what the "environment" includes. Anyway, it's a bit of a moot point since the PH allows all approaches there anyway.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Whether a lie will be believable or not is what makes the decision uncertain.
Not by 5e RAW. Uncertainty is the player or DM not knowing which way the NPC or PC will go. If the DM or player does know which way the PC or NPC will go, even if it results in the wrong answer or decision, the outcome was never uncertain. I the player am free to decide whether my PC believes or doesn't believe the NPC, regardless of how well or crappy the NPC is at his lying ability.

Earlier this year I was running my game and the PC druid was talking to an NPC. The NPC tried to lie to him, but I knew the NPC was really bad at lying. There was no meaningful consequence involved, so I simply told the PC that he noticed the NPC fidgeting nervously and not making eye contact as he spoke, and that he could tell the NPC was lying. The player corrected me, saying that his PC having lived his entire life in the wild not only doesn't know about that sort of body language, but really doesn't even care, so he doesn't pick up on the lie. Immediately I was like, "Okay. You don't notice the lie." and we kept playing with the PC believing what that NPC said.

Not exactly, it's when the DM doesn't know whether the PC/NPC will accomplish something or not: "If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the ability check is a success--the creature overcomes the challenge at hand. Otherwise, it's a failure, which means the character or monster makes no progress toward the objective or makes progress combined with a setback determined by the DM."

So, in the case of deception, will the PC/NPC overcome the difficulty of producing a convincing lie in the circumstances.
When it comes to things like intimidation and persuasion, though, only the player can determine uncertainty.

"The DM calls for an ability check when a character or monster attempts an action (other than an attack) that has a chance of failure."

The key word there is "chance." When it has a chance of failure, which also means a chance of success(ie uncertain), a roll is called for. As a player I know 100% whether an NPC can persuade or intimidate my PC. There's no "chance" involved, so no roll can be involved.

If the NPC wants to talk my PC into taking him with me as I journey to the next town, I will make that decision without a roll. Once I've heard his reasons and arguments for why I should take him, I'm going to make that decision. If I say no, there's no roll that can make that change. no, means no. The only way to change it is to come up with a new reason for me to take him. I will then decide again based on that. Maybe I will say yes based on this new information. Maybe I will say no. At no time, though, is the outcome in doubt. It's either absolutely yes or absolutely no, which means no roll is involved.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
And that is based on the NPC using a social skill on a PC, which is all I needed to prove.
Mhmm. Remember the part where all throughout this thread I’ve been saying that social actions aren’t a carve-out? There’s no reason that I know of that social actions can’t be used on PCs, or that they shouldn’t be resolved with ability checks as a blanket rule. It is only when an action (social or otherwise) infringes on a player’s ability to decide what their character thinks, feels, and does that I believe an ability check is not a supported way to resolve the action.
IFirst important point, we agree that there was an action from the NPC. Now, you decided not to allow a roll, but it's your choice, and the RAW is clear: "In addition to roleplaying, ability checks are key in determining the outcome of an interaction." So it would be perfectly within the scope of the RAW for a DM to actually request a roll from a NPC, since "An ability check tests a character's or monster's innate talent and training in an effort to overcome a challenge," in this case, the challenge being to lie convincingly to a PC.
Well, in that instance, it’s more that I opted not to require a roll than not to *allow one. But, yeah, I don’t think an NPC telling a lie necessarily infringes in a player’s ability to decide what their character thinks, feels, and does. Unless you tell the player “you think he’s telling the truth” instead of just not telling them he’s lying, in which case I don’t think the rules support that.
If you play it that way, there is no reason not to reverse it when a PC tells a lie to an NPC. It's absolutely symmetrical. But again, choosing to play something that way is purely your decision, the RAW do not make any constraint here.
I disagree that it necessarily needs to be symmetrical here. I probably would run it fairly symmetrically, but I don’t think that’s the only supported way to run it.
And that's all I wanted to hear, thanks. Beyond that, it's just a difference of style.
👍
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yes. It seems to be that if there is disagreement on what a character would do, and the DM imposes their belief on the player, it’s hard to see how that would result in a “positive impact”.
It also gives the persuasion skill the same power as a Suggestion spell. As long as the NPC hits the proper DC(PC fails the save), the PC has to do what the NPC is suggesting through the persuasion skill. Persuasion actually becomes stronger than the Suggestion spell. It has no concentration requirement or 8 hour duration, and can be used at will, even on a creature immune to charm.
 

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