D&D 5E Using social skills on other PCs

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
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.
I’m not sure they have been. I think some arguments have been misunderstood to have been seeking to show 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?
Why would “the deception skill” (or to be more accurate, a successful Charisma (Deception) check) decide what a player can decide their character does?

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?
I don’t think it’s more worrying, I just think the rules support the latter and not the former.
 

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Lyxen

Great Old One
Not by 5e RAW. Uncertainty is the player or DM not knowing which way the NPC or PC will go.

Actually, RAW supports my perspective, it has nothing to do with where the PC/NPC will go, just with: "character or monster attempts an action (other than an attack) that has a chance of failure."

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.

"Your Charisma (Deception) check determines whether you can convincingly hide the truth, either verbally or through your actions." So, seeing the overall definition of an ability check, it's not about whether the other party believes or does not believe, it's about seeing whether you can succeed or not at being convincing.

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.

That was entirely up to you not to roll because you decided on auto-failure because the NPC was bad at lying. Had he been better at lying, then there would have been a doubt as to whether he could lie convincingly. Whether the other one would have believed him is another matter, as your player showed.

When it comes to things like intimidation and persuasion, though, only the player can determine uncertainty.

I have given you the opposite example, haggling using persuasion. In that case, it's an opposed checked and the DM determines the result.

"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.

I would argue that as a player, your reaction would totally depend as to whether I describe a whining goblin or an enraged pit fiend trying to intimidate you.

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.

And yet, as a DM, I might roll the NPC's persuasion check to see whether he finds new information, or whether I can roleplay him more persuasive. Remember, I'm not rolling to see whether you accept the information, I'm rolling because I'm just not sure how persuasive my NPC is, it's only his success of failure on his attempt that I'm interested in.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Why would “the deception skill” (or to be more accurate, a successful Charisma (Deception) check) decide what a player can decide their character does?
Another case might be where say Lord Frogmouth promises some payment, but is planning to default on it. The PCs think the promise is good.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Without getting too bogged down into PbtA frameworks, a successful "check" on a Persuade (vs. PC) in Stonetop, broadly speaking, gives the target PC the choice to either (1) agree to do what the rolling PC wants or (2) reveal what could persuade them, through whatever method of their choice. There is a bit more to it. To "press or entice a PC and they resist" is a condition that must exist in the fiction for the move/check to be triggered. But the check is also dropped if the player of the target PC believes there is nothing that the other PC could do to persuade their character.

One key difference is that Stonetop distinguishes between two types of Persuade: i.e., (vs. NPCs) and (vs. PCs). NPCs would never roll Persuade against PCs in either Stonetop or PbtA games. But two reasons for that is primarily (a) the GM never rolls in PbtA games but also that (b) a failed Presuade (vs. NPCs) roll could involve the NPC turning the tables on the PC.

As to whether that would be Charisma or Wisdom in D&D 5e, I think that the former may reflect sweet talking it out of the target while the latter would reflect discerning it. Stonetop simply uses Charisma to cover the entire range of possibilities.
Right, so the outcome of the part of the move that would fall under Persuasion (in D&D terms) is left entirely up to the player to resolve. The player is free to submit to or (on any result) to refuse the request. The die roll only determines if they are required to reveal how they could be convinced, which (again in D&D terms) could be handled with a Wisdom (Insight) check against the PC's Charisma (Deception) check if the player does not wish to disclose.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
It can decide what they think for example, they think that a disguised NPC is Lord Frogmouth. And so on.
Only if you inform them “you think this is Lord Frogmouth.” You could instead simply not inform them that it isn’t Lord Frogmouth and allow them to decide for themselves what they think about the NPC’s identity. In that case, there would be uncertainty - the PC might learn the NPC’s identity, or they might not. The rules would support making an ability check to resolve that uncertainty.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Another case might be where say Lord Frogmouth promises some payment, but is planning to default on it. The PCs think the promise is good.
Right, so same deal. On a failed Deception check* you tell the player that Lord Frogmouth’s behavior (maybe his body language, or the tenor of his voice or something) indicates that he’s not being honest. On a successful one you say nothing. Either way, the players decide for themselves what to do with the information available to them.

*my personal preference would be for a Deception vs Insight contest, preferably initiated by the player’s action, but I don’t think that’s the only supported way to rule by any means.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
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.
For sure. These balance concerns you raise are weighty and valuable. They need addressing.

Looking back on the conversation, I suddenly realise that I had in the back of my mind that other posters would say something like - yes, for the sake of argument and apposite the OP - let's think about how the game looks given social skills can be used against players. Then I got drawn into a legalistic debate against positions that as you know I will characterise as tenuous and circular.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Right, so same deal. On a failed Deception check* you tell the player that Lord Frogmouth’s behavior (maybe his body language, or the tenor of his voice or something) indicates that he’s not being honest. On a successful one you say nothing. Either way, the player decide for themselves what to do with the information available to them.
Holy quibbles. I view this (belief in the disguise) as something the PC thinks. They think (erroneously) that this is Lord Frogmouth.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Holy quibbles. I view this (belief in the disguise) as something the PC thinks. They think (erroneously) that this is Lord Frogmouth.
Again, only if you tell them they think so. You could instead not tell them it isn’t Lord Frogmouth and leave it up to them to decide who they think it is (presumably they’ll think it’s Lord Frogmouth, unless given reason to think otherwise).

It’s like my earlier analogy of disguises as social traps. When a PC fails a Perception check to find a trap, you don’t tell them they think there’s no trap there. You just tell them they don’t find a trap.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Holy quibbles. I view this (belief in the disguise) as something the PC thinks. They think (erroneously) that this is Lord Frogmouth.
It's for the player to decide. The DM shouldn't be saying things like "You think this is Lord Frogmouth." Or saying an NPC is trustworthy or anything like that. (Assuming I understand the example clearly. I just caught up on the thread with a heavy dose of skimming.)
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
It's for the player to decide. The DM shouldn't be saying things like "You think this is Lord Frogmouth." Or saying an NPC is trustworthy or anything like that. (Assuming I understand the example clearly. I just caught up on the thread with a heavy dose of skimming.)
If we say - you have no reason to suppose this is not Lord Frogmouth - we are saying what they think (i.e. that they have no reason to suppose.) It may be up to the player to decide, but at this point we have already decided what their character thinks (that there is no reason to suppose.)
 

Aldarc

Legend
Right, so the outcome of the part of the move that would fall under Persuasion (in D&D terms) is left entirely up to the player to resolve. The player is free to submit to or (on any result) to refuse the request. The die roll only determines if they are required to reveal how they could be convinced, which (again in D&D terms) could be handled with a Wisdom (Insight) check against the PC's Charisma (Deception) check if the player does not wish to disclose.
It could also simply be handled with Charisma (Persuasion). In terms of symmetry, I may even prefer if this is what Persusasion vs. NPCs also entailed. Have it be more about revealing how they could be convinced or even if they can't than "I win. I have convinced the NPC."

It's for the player to decide. The DM shouldn't be saying things like "You think this is Lord Frogmouth." Or saying an NPC is trustworthy or anything like that. (Assuming I understand the example clearly. I just caught up on the thread with a heavy dose of skimming.)
This is also why I leave color and adjectives completely out of my descriptions of scenery. If I tell PCs that a chair is red, old, ornate, beautiful, or even a chair at all, then I risk telling them what their characters think!
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If we say - you have no reason to suppose this is not Lord Frogmouth - we are saying what they think (i.e. that they have no reason to suppose.) It may be up to the player to decide, but at this point we have already decided what their character thinks (that there is no reason to suppose.)
Don't say they have no reason then. What is the actual action the player declared for the character here? What is the DM saying in response?
 


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.

Yes, game mechanics regularly intrude. I didn’t ask if they ever do, I asked if they must in this case.

And this gets back to a question I asked earlier: how do we distinguish between things the player decides, and things the referee decides? My answer, partly because I like clear definitions and partly because I just believe in it as a game design principle, is that players control their action declarations (and therefore, by implication, their character’s thoughts/feelings/emotions), unless a specific game mechanic clearly states otherwise.

Some posters seem to prefer that this a privilege granted by the DM, who can revoke it when they see fit.

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?

Because if that action declaration can be used by the Dragon to override the player’s right of autonomy, then any NPC can do the same, which leaves us with the possibility of a goblin intimidating a Tier 4 barbarian with a lucky roll, if the DM thinks that’s what that PC “would do.”

And, again, if such a disconnect actually occurred, the real answer is that those two people probably shouldn’t play together. But it’s the underlying principal that the DM arbitrarily decides how a PC reacts that I don’t want to validate.

Also, if the Dragon could do that then it wouldn’t actually need an ability that accomplishes the same thing. Just sayin’
 

Holy quibbles. I view this (belief in the disguise) as something the PC thinks. They think (erroneously) that this is Lord Frogmouth.
So this may come down to another philosophy difference.

Some people think the height of roleplaying is to isolate your own thoughts from those of your character.

My ideal is that you and your character share the same thoughts. I don’t want to pretend to be intimidated by an orc that I know I can kill without breaking a sweat, because the dice told me to. I want to genuinely be intimidated (on my character’s behalf) because I don’t know what the DM is up to.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
If we say - you have no reason to suppose this is not Lord Frogmouth - we are saying what they think (i.e. that they have no reason to suppose.) It may be up to the player to decide, but at this point we have already decided what their character thinks (that there is no reason to suppose.)
So don’t say that. They can decide for themselves if they have reason to suspect it isn’t Lord Frogmouth or not. Literally all you have to do if Not-Lord-Frogmouth succeeds at his Deception check (and/or the PCs fail their Insight check) is not say that they can tell it isn’t Lord Frogmouth.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
It could also simply be handled with Charisma (Persuasion). In terms of symmetry, I may even prefer if this is what Persusasion vs. NPCs also entailed. Have it be more about revealing how they could be convinced or even if they can't than "I win. I have convinced the NPC."
But this is what a Wisdom (Insight) check is already used for -- to determine the result of an effort to discover just this sort of hidden information. Charisma checks are used to determine the result of an effort to convince a creature to agree to a certain course of action. What would be gained by changing the names around?
 

Aldarc

Legend
This is also why I leave color and adjectives completely out of my descriptions of scenery. If I tell PCs that a chair is red, old, ornate, beautiful, or even a chair at all, then I risk telling them what their characters think!
iserith quoted me and then immediately put me on ignore. I guess they didn't find any levity in my humor. 🤷‍♂️

But this is what a Wisdom (Insight) check is already used for -- to determine the result of an effort to discover just this sort of hidden information. Charisma checks are used to determine the result of an effort to convince a creature to agree to a certain course of action. What would be gained by changing the names around?
We may have to agree to disagree here. I can already anticipate a back-and-forth that goes nowhere.

I will point out that Stonetop also has "Seek Insight" as a move alongside Persuade (vs. PC/NPC), so I don't think that it's necessarily as clear cut of a distinction as you make it out to be.
 

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