Persuade and Intimidate Your Players

by schm0

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Influencing the PCs

When it comes to social skills, many DMs avoid utilizing Persuasion or Intimidation against the PCs. Player agency is paramount to running the game, as the decisions of the players change the course and direction of the campaign in an infinite number of ways. We all know that it doesn't feel good to lose control of your character. These optional rules seek to utilize these mechanics in a way that is fair for players but also recognizes the ability of NPCs.

Social Interaction

A creature's ability to influence another creature can be limited by skill checks, the mechanics of social interaction or even the practical nature of what is being asked. Ability checks should only be called for when there is a meaningful chance of influencing the other creature.

If the player becomes the target of a social interaction that seeks to influence their course of action, the player decides their starting attitude: friendly, indifferent, or hostile, as defined in the "Resolving Interactions" section of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

Continue to use these rules as written for resolving those interactions, but with the following exception for players:

Conversation Reactions

Players may choose to oppose a suggested course of action, regardless of the DC or outcome of the roll. A player who disregards the request, demand or suggestion has disadvantage on the next ability check, saving throw or attack roll made in opposition to the suggested course of action. At your DM's discretion, inspiration may be awarded to players who follow the suggested course of action.


The following rule can be used by both PCs and NPCs in combat.


On your turn you can use the Intimidate action to attempt to intimidate a creature. The targeted creature must be Large or smaller and be able to see and hear you. The targeted creature must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the save fails by 5 or more, the creature is Frightened of you until the end of your next turn. The DC for the save is 10 + your Wisdom (Intimidation) modifier.

Social Interaction

These rules extend the social interaction rules found in the Dungeon Master's Guide (p. 244-5). If you are not familiar with these rules, please reference them as needed.

Variant Rule: Skills with Different Abilities

As an option, the DM may permit the use of the variant rules for "Skills with Different Abilities", as outlined in the Player's Handbook (p. 175). For instance, a raging barbarian may wish to utilize her physical prowess to intimidate another creature, which may call for a Strength (Intimidation) check in place of Charisma.