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Pathfinder Cards: Social Combat

****½ (based on 3 ratings)
Pathfinder Cards: Social Combat
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Add Deck $10.99

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Charm and Guile!

Make your social encounters come alive with new surprises and tactics! This beautifully illustrated 52-card deck gives you a great way to run courtly intrigue and tavern showdowns in your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaign. Whether you’re using deception, wit, or intimidation to get your way, this deck presents complete rules for extending subtle and devious conflicts. Jump into the drama and dominate the scene with Pathfinder Cards: Social Combat!

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-610-2

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Cards Subscription.

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Pathfinder Cards: Social Combat Pathfinder Cards: Social Combat

Product Availability

Deck: Ships from our warehouse in 1 to 7 business days.

Non-Mint: Ships from our warehouse in 1 to 7 business days. This product is non-mint. Refunds are not available for non-mint products. The standard version of this product can be found here.

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Product Reviews (3)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 3 ratings)

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Social Encounters Come Alive!


FINALLY, I've found some way to make social encounters more than just two die rolls!

This deck makes exchanges between characters and NPCs go from one die roll to full-fledged encounters with pitfalls, surprises, and ways for characters to show off! It has every character participate in the encounter, ensuring that no party's step out of the bard's or rogue's way when lips start moving instead of weapons. It focuses on more obvious skills like Diplomacy and Bluff, but also allows more skills like Knowledge, Perform, or even a Combat Maneuver to move the encounter along!

If the DCs seem too low for the characters tackling them, it also includes alternate to rules to bump the DCs, create a timer, or make the encounter better reflect the foes they are conversing with.

All-around fun, this deck will make my social encounters as nail-biting and intense as any tussle in a dungeon!

A New Take on 4E Skill Challenges for Pathfinder RPG

****( )

The new Social Combat Card Deck appears to be a rather straight-forward and at first blush, a satisfying mechanic for some variations in your game sessions when just role-playing it out or making a single "Diplomacy" roll seems WAY too easy. While the Social Combat Deck is no substitute for actual role-playing at the table, it can provide a narrative structure to guide players if you want to use it in that manner - more on that later.

For use in my Mummy's Mask AP campaign, the Social Combat Deck seems particularly well-suited for use in Vol 3 of the AP, Richard Pett's Shifting Sands - which involves a number of diplomacy and other social encounters to succeed in the first part of the adventure. For several encounters in Shifting Sands, the social combat deck may be just thing a GM is looking for.

Reduced to its bare bones, the Social Combat deck is the implementation of a 4E Skill Challenge for Pathfinder RPG. (Stay with me here, Skill Challenges in 4E were an extremely innovative, though as implemented, perhaps an ultimately flawed idea). The Social Combat deck consists of fours "suits" of 13 cards each, corresponding to four basic social skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate and Sense Motive and each card in each of the corresponding suits lists a challenge with a corresponding DC check for the primary skill in that suit.

In addition to one of these four primary skill DCs, the skill checks required by each card have another option in addition/alternative to these four basic skills, e.g., Profession skills, Knowledge skills, Spellcraft and so forth. There is a reasonably wide variation here in the secondary challenge options -- and that's the **critically important element** of the deck's design as it ensures that a PC who is not a Charisma skill oriented character still has the hope of making a real contribution to the skill challenge (or at least, not failing). Fighter types can help in many challenges too; indeed, in some cases where intimidation is a real option, they may be the best suited PC for the task. As in many things: "it depends".

The GM decides how hard the challenge is (higher difficulty is a larger grid) and which suit(s) might apply to the encounter (Bluff/Diplomacy/Intimidate/Sense Motive). The GM then shuffles the cards and then lays out a 3x3, 4x4 or 5x5 grid, **face down**. The GM turns over the card in the upper left of the grid. The goal of the challenge is to get from the upper left card to the lower right card of the grid and then beat BOTH the challenges on that lower right card. When a challenge on a card is passed, the horizontal/vertically adjacent cards to that card are turned over, -- though NOT the diagonally adjacent cards. To reveal a card diagonally on the grid as well, both challenges must be passed by the same PC attempting the card. A failure on either challenge mean no cards are turned over in any direction, a FAILURE is noted - and play moves on to the next PC.

You can roll "social initiative" (D20 +CHA stat) to determine the order of play or just let the PCs choose who goes first and who goes next. The play moves in order through **every player at the table** until it comes back to the "top" of the initiative order. This means that the skill challenge may often fail do to the team's "weakest link"; this is a "deficiency by design". On the plus side, the silky smooth social Bard in the party has an advantage as that PC can attempt two challenges on the card to turn over a diagonal card.

So now you know how you "win" a card and move on through the grid, turning over cards. So how do you lose? Simple: If the players fail as many times as the grid is wide, they lose. A 3x3 grid allows only two failures and so forth. The player who is "up" chooses which skill is available on the board to try though. This does not mean that the PC must choose a "new" challenge. A player can still try a roll which will not result in turning over a new card. The overall strategy is not so much for every player to succeed in turning over a new card on that roll; rather, the aim is not to lose the social combat by failing a roll. When a PC fails by more than five, all DCs on ALL card increase by 2 so things can get ugly, fast, due to the weakest link. So the correct "strategy", if the GM allows choice instead of just a "social initiative" roll is to leave the weakest link to the last of the initiative order to maximize available opportunities so as to avoid a failure.

To what degree the GM wants to use the grid and challenges as inspiration for in play narrative is up to that GM. Some players are better at this aspect of a RPG than others. You don't need to abstract a roleplaying encounter to mere die rolls. It's up to the particular players. Like always -- you decide how you are going to play your game.

Similarly, a particularly adept NPC can add to the DCs of particular suits or individual skill rolls attempted. It's up to the GM to tweak as required by the circumstances.

OVERALL: I think the Social Combat Deck is a real improvement on the 4E skill challenge mechanic for Pathfinder RPG and I am looking forward to trying it out in my game.

- Steel_Wind

Adds a new, fun mechanic to social encounters

****( )

As a DM, I'm always on the lookout for new things to make the social element a bit more interesting. These cards add a new mechanic slightly aligned with the "skill challenge" concept that D&D Fifth Edition brought to the game, only different in that there are four "suits": Bluff, Sense Motive, Diplomacy, and Intimidate. The mechanic plays out on a 3x3, 4x4, or 5x5 grid, depending on how "challenging" you want the encounter to be.

If done randomly, as suggested, the cards play out in interesting ways, sometimes ways that don't particularly make sense to the encounter at hand. Obviously you would want to limit their use, or exercise some latitude (draw a new card if you don't think it works), and allow the players some of their own interpretations.

Nevertheless, these do the trick if you are the kind of DM who wants random social challenges to be their own part of the game. I would make the following recommendations:

Let the players pick which skills (suits) they want to use in the encounter, then shuffle those cards.

Limit the grid to 3x3. The more cards that are involved, the more players' attention can wander. A 4x4 grid is "more challenging" but ultimately "less fun." If you want to make the encounter more challenging, just change the DCs on the cards or add a handicap.

Let the players make the narrative fit the cards.

Let the players "pass" if they feel their character can't contribute, or doesn't meet the skills on the cards.

Forget the "social initiative" mechanic completely. Just go around the table clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Most importantly, as a DM, don't use them for every social encounter (maybe once or twice per 3-4 hour game session). They are particularly useful if you don't have a specific investment in the outcome of a social encounter, but want to give the players a chance to pass or fail based on their social interactions, playing to their individual strengths and weaknesses.

I would give it 5 starts, except that I have the caveats listed above. Nevertheless, fun to use, but not for every game or social encounter. Gift Certificates
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