Intimidate and merchants - why not?


Rules Questions

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Basically, i've run into a problem with Intimidate. First off, my character is a 6th lvl Half-orc Inquisitor with max Intimidate (25) and i was in town trying to sell off loot.

The merchant offered me a price that was pretty low, so i tried to use an Intimidate check to force him to act more favourably to me (while i roleplayed the haggling, telling him that i wouldn't suffer his cheating ways and to give me what it's worth). I rolled something stupid like 39 on my check.

Well, that didn't work so well, instead of offering me a better price, he went to a panic button and told me to get the hell out of his shop!

I was prepared for him to react poorly next time i go there, but i didn't expect to be intimidated back, instead of it working.

Is Intimidate appropriate for this type of thing? Or do i need to get Diplomacy for trading?


According to the PFSRD, under the heading of Influencing Attitude, it says the following:

You can use Intimidate to force an opponent to act friendly toward you for 1d6 × 10 minutes with a successful check. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + the target’s Hit Dice + the target’s Wisdom modifier.

Success: If successful, the opponent will:

* give you information you desire
* take actions that do not endanger it
* offer other limited assistance

After the intimidate expires, the target treats you as unfriendly and may report you to local authorities.

Considering the sting at the end of this, Diplomacy is the far better option if you intend to keep using the same merchant, or you are attempting to avoid skirmishes and whatnot with local authorities.


SeraphM wrote:

According to the PFSRD, under the heading of Influencing Attitude, it says the following:

You can use Intimidate to force an opponent to act friendly toward you for 1d6 × 10 minutes with a successful check. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + the target’s Hit Dice + the target’s Wisdom modifier.

Success: If successful, the opponent will:

* give you information you desire
* take actions that do not endanger it
* offer other limited assistance

After the intimidate expires, the target treats you as unfriendly and may report you to local authorities.

Considering the sting at the end of this, Diplomacy is the far better option if you intend to keep using the same merchant, or you are attempting to avoid skirmishes and whatnot with local authorities.

Sure, but it should still work for at least 10 minutes, right?

Is there ever a reason why it shouldn't work if you succeed your check?


Technically, it should have worked... A successful Intimidate check FORCES the opponent to act friendly towards you for up to 1 hour. The painful downside to attempting said deal would be his very unfriendly reaction after the effect wears off.


Well, that depends. One could simply say that your GM or whoever didn't want it to work that way, and therefore it didn't.

However, it depends upon how the GM interprets the three bullet-points. Threatening to call the authorities might not be considered endangering it, and offering you the price you want might not fall under 'limited assistance'.

Still, I've never seen an Intimidated npc try to Intimidate back.

*edit. I agree with Pathos though, by nature of the definition of the word FORCE, the merchant should have cooperated for the time being.


SeraphM wrote:
Still, I've never seen an Intimidated npc try to Intimidate back.

Agreed... outside of the "Demoralize" option, Intimidate shouldn't really have an affect on how a player wishes his character to act towards a situation.


I also had pretty much the same issue with an NPC and my DM, first tried to roleplay it out in a "nice" way... wasn't even close to working, so I tried to intimidate him into doing what I wanted, rolled quite well (total of 28 or something at 2nd lvl) and definitely won that opposed roll.... He ran away screaming.... I haven't upped intimidation since 2nd lvl on that character because of that incident (wanted it for roleplaying, not for combat). Tried to explain that it isn't how Intimidate is supposed to work, and we had a reasonable discussion about it, but still sort of soured me on the skill.

Diplomacy > Intimidate for a social skill, and even possibly combat, depending on how your GM allows it to be used.

The Exchange

Tanis wrote:


Is there ever a reason why it shouldn't work if you succeed your check?

Yes, he could have been immune to Intimidate checks.

Dark Archive

snobi wrote:
Tanis wrote:


Is there ever a reason why it shouldn't work if you succeed your check?
Yes, he could have been immune to Intimidate checks.

Then why have the skill in your game at all?

As a GM, if I was intending Intimidate to not work the way it was written I would do my best to let players know beforehand that this is a house rule. If I make a ruling like the one the OP's GM made and the player in question brought the same argument to me, I am always willing to listen and either concede or meet 1/2-way and bring it up to the rest of the players and see what they have to say as well.

For the sake of continuity and not arguing during gameplay to keep things from slowing down, GM fiat during gameplay is a necessity. After the session, though, if I was playing in that game I would in all sincerity ask the GM and the rest of the players "why do we have Intimidate as a skill? What is it good for?"

Just my 2 cents.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Jayne Cobb: "I got a deal, on account of my intimidating manner."

Malcolm Reynolds raises his eyebrow in an intimidating manner.

Jaybe Cobb gives Malcolm Reynolds his change back.

The Exchange

Ian Eastmond wrote:


Then why have the skill in your game at all?

Not everyone has immunity to it.

Contributor

You panicked a man who had a panic button set up for just such occasions.

Look at this reasonably: Is there a bank on the planet where you could go in and threaten the bank manager to give you a loan?

The shopkeeper is not mind controlled. He's badly frightened. Hitting a panic button for guards is not an attack. Warning you to go away is in character.

It's also nicer than the other outcome, where you intimidate him into giving you a price for your junk which he otherwise would not have and ten minutes after you leave his shop, he gets up the nerve to call the city watch on you to arrest you for extortion, pleading his case with all the diplomacy at his disposal in front of the judge who of course in addition to his regular ranks of skills has obscene circumstance bonuses from the heavily armed bailiffs, the majesty of the law on his side, and the fact that he's the one with the powdered wig and the gavel and you aren't.

If you try to intimidate the judge, you will not only fail, but he will hold you in contempt. If you somehow succeed, he pronounces you free and everything else, and ten minutes later reverses his decision and tells the guards to bring you back dead, because no one threatens a judge in his court room and gets away with it.

Intimidate is what you want when you want a sinner to confess their sins, or a merchant to hand over his gold when you and your bandits are robbing his caravan. It can be used along with diplomacy in negotiations where threats and bribes are used together, but it's not going to do the impossible.

Grand Lodge

Sure you can intimidate a merchant to get better prices...and at 38 he gives you VERY good prices. Then he calls the guards and you have the law after you. The thieves guild also gets wind of an independant muscling in one their "protection" racket and come after you too. ALL the other merchants hear about you and suddenly they close shop when you get near. With the price on your head from both the law and the underground, nobody will serve you or let you stay at their inn either. So yeah you can do it...but don't expect to get away with it scott free.


My two main points of contention are:

1) I was Intimidating him to give me a fair price, i wasn't extorting him (I'm CG); and

2) That to Intimidate someone you must be threatening them with violence. I contend that violence is only one way of intimidating someone.

btw, thanks for the quick responses. I will be talking to the DM about it, i just wanted to see what the consensus was.

Grand Lodge

Tanis wrote:
Is there ever a reason why it shouldn't work if you succeed your check?

If he wouldn't do what you are telling him to do for someone with whom he was friendly (not a dear and trusted friend, as charm person does). A merchant might give his friend a fair price, but not a price below cost, nor give away goods without payment.

Grand Lodge

Tanis wrote:

My two main points of contention are:

1) I was Intimidating him to give me a fair price, i wasn't extorting him (I'm CG); and

2) That to Intimidate someone you must be threatening them with violence. I contend that violence is only one way of intimidating someone.

1) YOU say your not extorting...the merchant has a different story. I don't care what your intent was...you basically threatened somebody to get more money from them. To them, that is extortion...period.

2) You don't need to use violence sure...but you ARE threatening them in some way. This is a hostile act...there is no if and ot buts about that.


Tanis wrote:

My two main points of contention are:

1) I was Intimidating him to give me a fair price, i wasn't extorting him (I'm CG); and

2) That to Intimidate someone you must be threatening them with violence. I contend that violence is only one way of intimidating someone.

btw, thanks for the quick responses. I will be talking to the DM about it, i just wanted to see what the consensus was.

1) What is your idea of a fair price? The game sets that as half going price with a few exceptions (trade items, art, etc.). That also assumes the item is in good and working condition (old, rusty or damaged items won't get that). If you're trying to get more than that, the DM having the merchant act that way isn't really out of line.

2) It is still a threat, regardless, and a bad thing otherwise it wouldn't have any effect as it didn't cause fear or concern for safety one way or another.


Skylancer4 wrote:
1) What is your idea of a fair price? The game sets that as half going price with a few exceptions (trade items, art, etc.). That also assumes the item is in good and working condition (old, rusty or damaged items won't get that). If you're trying to get more than that, the DM having the merchant act that way isn't really out of line.

Half price. If I had accepted the price he offered for our stuff, we would have been out of pocket a few grand.

Skylancer4 wrote:
2) It is still a threat, regardless, and a bad thing otherwise it wouldn't have any effect as it didn't cause fear or concern for safety one way or another.

Fair enough. I was prepared for the consequences (i was rping the lack of familiarity with civilisation and wanted to rp adjusting to that), what i didn't expect for it to not only not work, but for it to have negative consequences immediately.

Especially as that's what my character's supposed to do.


Tanis wrote:


Half price. If I had accepted the price he offered for our stuff, we would have been out of pocket a few grand.

Well, that being the case I'd ask the DM what is going on when you all get together again. I say that as this is something that will impact all the players and so everyone should be around for the explanations. There might be a plot reason (they want you to sell it someplace else or to someone else, they don't want you to sell it as it might be useful or important later on, etc.). If not, I'd politely point them to the book where it says half price for items and see what they do then. It is well with the DM's "rights" to change things but to do them without reason and letting the players know ahead of time is poor gaming etiquette. If they don't have a reasonable reason, I'd ask what other house rules are being implemented that you were all unaware of before the game started as it is within your "rights" as a player to have a sound understanding of the game you are playing in. Just don't be a jerk while doing it ;)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The rules say that you use intimidate "to frighten your opponents or to get them to act in a way that benefits you. This skill includes verbal threats and displays of prowess."

This means that you have to frighten or threaten the merchant with something, either physically or otherwise. So the question is, what was your exact 'threat? If there was no real 'frightening' comment or 'threat', it wasn't a real intimidate check to begin with.

A good threat towards a shopkeeper could be that you will take your business elsewhere or that you will spread the word among other potential customers that he does bad business, so they won't go there anymore. In this case the shopkeeper might agree to your demands without feeling cheated. If you threaten him physically, he will be hard pressed to agree to your demands and the panic butoon might indeed come into action.

Contributor

Tanis wrote:
Especially as that's what my character's supposed to do.

Your character is supposed to rout out wickedness and/or heresy, not look for shopkeepers who offer overly low prices for items they may or may not be able to sell later.

Your GM controls the economics of the world as well as the morality.

Unless you have specifically roleplayed your intimidation as something socially acceptable ("I'll have you know that I'm an Inquisitor for the Better Merchants Guilds and I'll see that you lose your accreditation if you don't buy this for the accepted blue book price as per standard guild protocol!") one assumes its a threat somewhere between breaking his bones or having your god curse his shop, and people take poorly to that.


If threatened with harm, I dont think a succesfull intimidate should allow him to go for the panic button.

If I was a shopkeeper and somebody pointed a gun at me and said:"give me your money and no funny business or I'll shoot" I'd say that'd be a pretty succesfull intimidation. I'd definitely give the money and try nothing. Now if I saw it wasn't a real gun I might call security.

I'd say a failed intimidation would make him call guards, not a succesfull one.

On the other hand if the shop keeper was trying to cheat, a threat to spoil his reputation could be considered an intimidation attempt IMO. This would require the shopkeeper to know he was trying to cheat though. If he truly tought he was offering fair price, it wouldn't work.

In several fictional and real life cases though there has been situations where people have been intimidated for long term. Threats like: "if you ever speak of this, well be back to pay you a visit" could shut peoples mouths permanently. Do people think this should be impossible in Pathfinder? Criminal organizations would always be blown when victims always tell the authorities about them after an hour? PCs find a shopkeeper extorted by a local gang, too scared to tell the PCs about them. Well, lets just wait an hour for the intimidation to wear off and he'll tell everything about the gang. The door should swing both ways.


He should have just done what you wanted. That's my opinion. Big angry guy standing there telling you not to cheat him and probably just looking pissed? Yeah, he should have been cowed.

Quote:
Look at this reasonably: Is there a bank on the planet where you could go in and threaten the bank manager to give you a loan?

Depends on your definition of 'loan.'

Please refrain from telling people what their characters do and do not do, however.


Merchant: *pee* "Uh, no, you are ah.. quite right! Ah, is 3,000 gold sound fair?"

Inquisitor: "blah blah blah" *walks away happy*

...twenty minutes later...

Merchant: That summab!&%~ just robbed me! *shouts* Guard!

**

That is to say, *yes* it works EXACTLY as worded. He pees, you get your 'fair value' However, it works EXACTLY as worded: "After the Intimidate expires, the target treats you as unfriendly and may report you to local authorities."

Define 'local authorities.' His Guild? The Law? The Hellknights?

Quote:

You can use this skill to frighten your opponents or to get

them to act in a way that benefits you. This skill includes
verbal threats and displays of prowess.

**

What does all this gibberish mean? You threatened him. He remembers this. It could affect future encounters in this town, and with affiliated merchants.

Consequences. Consequences.

Shoulda' Dip'd the guy ;)

GNOME


Tanis wrote:
Basically, i've run into a problem with Intimidate. First off, my character is a 6th lvl Half-orc Inquisitor with max Intimidate (25) and i was in town trying to sell off loot.

What size is this town? Different size communities have different wealth levels. It is possible the merchant simply didn't have quite enough money to offer you half price for the loot.

Do you have a reputation in this town? If you didn't before you will now.

Does the merchant have a reputation in this town?

Does your DM have a detailed haggling system in his game? I have never played a game where there was any haggling, there is sometimes RP with merchants but I have never seen a good haggling system, most players don't want to turn buying/selling into that big a deal they just want to skip to the next fight or dungeon. So if your DM is using a haggling system it would be good to know how it works. If he isn't you should ask him why the merchant wasn't offering the standard price for the loot?

Quote:
The merchant offered me a price that was pretty low, so i tried to use an Intimidate check to force him to act more favourably to me (while i roleplayed the haggling, telling him that i wouldn't suffer his cheating ways and to give me what it's worth). I rolled something stupid like 39 on my check.

How does your character know how much the stuff is worth? Did you roll an Appraise check?

It is possible your DM thought you were asking "full price" for the loot instead of just half price due to your use of the words "give me what it's worth." If he did, then that would obviously be what the merchant believed as well, which might be why he went off the handle so quickly.

Otherwise it might have been the simple fact that you were intimidating a merchant who thought he was being helpful. Perhaps he was already acting favorable and simply didn't have the money to offer any more. You try to strong arm him and he wants you to leave.

How about this, you failed your Intimidate for RP reasons. Think about this scenario. What if you went into a pawn shop in today’s world. You wanted to sell something and the pawn owner was offering you a really below average price for the items. Now you tell him you aren't going to put up with his crap and he better give you what those items are worth. His default answer is going to be "Get the H@!! out of my store" not "Oh excuse me, I didn't realize it was YOU, I guess I could offer you $2000.00 more for this stuff." Now if you drew a weapon and used intimidate you might get the extra money, but then you are basically robbing him. Same deal with the merchant.

Quote:
Well, that didn't work so well, instead of offering me a better price, he went to a panic button and told me to get the hell out of his shop!

Let me ask again, how big is this town? Why are there panic buttons in this place, which I assume are magical? If the town is small and if this isn't a high magic campaign then this seems a little out of place to me. However, if he had such a thing, it is absolutely reasonable for him to have used it in this instance. Why have a panic button if you're not going to use it when some brute off the street comes in and tries to strong arm you into giving him more money for his garbage.

The other thing is, maybe you didn't successfully intimidate him. Maybe the merchant is a retired war veteran or maybe he just practices sword play with the local guard force in his spare time. It isn't common but every once in a while you hear about people going to rob a pawn shop or some other store and running into some retired Marine who kills them, or some gun enthusiast who is an expert marksman who also kills them. Maybe he simply wasn't scared of you and wanted you to leave before he was forced to gut you and spray your entrails all over his lovely shop.

Quote:
I was prepared for him to react poorly next time i go there, but i didn't expect to be intimidated back, instead of it working.

He didn't intimidate back. He was either not scared or he was panicked and it was a defense mechanism. Not everyone reacts to fear or intimidation in the same way. Some people when they are scared will run away as fast as they can, some will cower in a corner, and some will pick up the closest solid object and try their best to end your life with it. Maybe he just bluffed you and there really was no panic button, did you hear anything?

Quote:
Is Intimidate appropriate for this type of thing? Or do i need to get Diplomacy for trading?

That depends on a whole host of things. Diplomacy is usually better for trading and haggling but I could see intimidate working in some situations. You really need to talk to your DM about how HE feels about intimidate in haggling. It is possible he sees it as a thug and bandit tactic rather than a subtle imposing demeanor that pushes someone to give you their best price. Maybe the way he sees it, either they will be afraid of you and you will be in essence a bully/robber for practicing this, or they won't be afraid of you in which case you have no control over what might happen. You need to know how your DM is handling haggling.


While it's a bad idea to use Intimidate on merchants on the long run, the GM used the old "punish players for good rolls" trick, which is just cheap.

Intimidate is not Create Fear. It's a psychological weapon that attempts to make clear to the victim that not cooperating will be bad for him. And if the Intimidate check is succeeded, this happens. The victim will know that he should cooperate. They'll not get frightened and run away screaming, alerting everyone or anything like that, because they know they'll only make matters worse with that.

In the example above, the shopkeeper wouldn't throw them out of the shop, because he'd believe that the Inquisitor will punish him for trying to cheat, or get others (like the city watch) to punish him for committing a crime.

Of course, after a while, when he can think clearly again, he might realise that he was well in his rights to offer any price, and might "retaliate" by not letting the inquisitor into the store any more, telling other merchants about it, or maybe even calling the watch on him.


I'm going to have to agree. The DM made a bad call with horrible implications. If you had known that he was going to make it so that you could never use Intimidate in social situations, you never would have invested so much in that skill. It's cheap, bad RP, worse rules comprehension and hopefully a one-time only event.


I say the intimidate should have worked. Nothing at all about intimidate says you are actually threatening them. Something as simple as "Fine, if you wont give me a good price I guess I'll just go tell the church your a cheat and not to do buisness with you." works fine and is intimidation. Hell, it could be that you mock him for his paltry shop and are outraged by his insulting offer. He wont like you, he will feel like hes being extorted, but you have done nothing illegal, and when the guards show up you will have the moral high ground. Doesn't mean the guy wont hate you afterwards, but just because you intimidate someone it does not mean that you did anything wrong.

In the real world, things like "do I need to get in contact with your manager," or crossing your arms as someone speaks to you are perfectly valid uses of intimidate that in no way threaten the person or are in any way, shape, or form illegal.

The inquisitor is good at intimidate because he knows which buttons to push to get things done and convince the person to do what he wants them to do.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Caineach wrote:

In the real world, things like "do I need to get in contact with your manager," or crossing your arms as someone speaks to you are perfectly valid uses of intimidate that in no way threaten the person or are in any way, shape, or form illegal.

The inquisitor is good at intimidate because he knows which buttons to push to get things done and convince the person to do what he wants them to do.

This is exactly why when my players make a check like that, I ask how they go about doing it. Grabbing a poor shopkeeper by the shirt and threatening to eat his children is gonna get you in trouble, maybe not right away though. Telling him you are going to report him to the Better Business Bureau or local equivalent is just as intimidating, but totally legal and not likely to get you in trouble. Unless the local BBB is a halfling mafia of course.


"1) I was Intimidating him to give me a fair price, i wasn't extorting him (I'm CG)?!?"
WHAT WAS FAIR???? WHAT WAS BEING OFFERED!?!
WHAT WAS THE ITEM BEING SOLD?
OR WAHT WAS BEING BOUGHT?

I mean if merchant ran of take his stuff and leave town. Just never go back cause like may folk said the blow back will be and should be harsh.


Tom S 820 wrote:

"1) I was Intimidating him to give me a fair price, i wasn't extorting him (I'm CG)?!?"

WHAT WAS FAIR???? WHAT WAS BEING OFFERED!?!
WHAT WAS THE ITEM BEING SOLD?
OR WAHT WAS BEING BOUGHT?

I mean if merchant ran of take his stuff and leave town. Just never go back cause like may folk said the blow back will be and should be harsh.

Or your in the right, and the merchant is hosed if he tries to bring it up in public, as other people will know that he pays less than market value for goods and so they should not pawn things to him.

Dark Archive

There are a huge number of ways one can intimidate. Some threaten violence. Some do not.

- "Give me a fair price, or I'll beat you to a pulp!" tends to illicit unwelcome responses from town guard.

Other approaches might be more helpful.

- "Nice place you have here. It would be a shame if something happened to it." Somewhat borderline.

- "This is a great location. My cousin in the thieves guild has been looking for a vacant lot, and I'll be sure to tell him about your shop." Slightly more indirect, but he might get the picture.

- "You've built a reputation for fair prices here. It would be a shame to ruin it now over a few gold pieces. As I am between adventures, and have nothing better to do with my time, it might be fun to spend a few days outside your door telling people of your cheating ways." Now you're in solid legal territory, and into a charisma based approach to the problem. You can probably secure his cooperation for a more fair price, while he will spit on your shadow as you leave his premises.

- You could even go the more indirect physical threat. "I understand that times are hard right now, it's just that I've told my extremely ugly friend here (indicate fighter with high strength, big ax) that you would give him a fair price for his goods. He tends to overreact to bad news, and I think we'd both hate to give him any." Not actually threatening violence, and the city watch won't have much to actually do about this, but the point would be clear to the shop owner. You can even follow it up with - "My friend might cause some damage that he would have to pay for, and maybe spend a night or two behind bars for, but that would only make him turn his thoughts to revenge. His ear collection is getting pretty full, but he said he always has room for two more." Again, no actual threat. Just a lot of implied stuff.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'll tell you how I see it. You tried something it didn't work. Instead of complaining on a board, and trying to talk to your DM to reverse it, or find out how thigns work, etc, role play it. Play it the way your character would. "Hmm, he should have been too scared to push back like that". Go ask some questions of people why. Maybe he was prepared for it. Maybe other have doen the same thing to him before and now he has had enough, even if he gets hurt. Maybe he has a deal with the local guards and he knows he is the only game in town, and knows he can get away with it. Maybe he pays protection to the thieves guild. Maybe he is trying to cheat you. The DM dosen't have to tell you why. Deal with it like your character would and move on. Sometimes things don;t work like expected. Sometimes that is the point. Sometimes you DM needs you to be poor for a bit longer.

Use it as an oppurtunity to look into in the future. Maybe it will spark an idea with your dm and open up a whole new adventure.

These "My DM did a bad thing on me" threads are too much sometimes...


Ok, first off Noretoc, i never said 'my dm did a bad thing on me'. I just wanted to know if i was mistaken in the way i applied the Intimidate skill. Having said that, you've actually given me a good idea on how to proceed. Maybe there was something going on i didn't know about.

The point was, i didn't threaten him with anything illegal or violent. And yes,.

In regards to the other questions, it was a large metropolis, with many merchants. We did Appraise the items.

@Kevin Andrew Murphy: My character is supposed to stand up for what's fair. Punishing heretics is only part of my portfolio.

My character has no real love for laws, but in this case he did nothing to warrant the guards being called. It was more a matter of 'you made an Intimidate check...you must have threatened him with violence'. Despite me rping it totally peacefully.

And to say that you can't Intimidate without threatening violence i believe is erroneous.

And again - i rolled a massive check. It should've worked IMO, if only for 10 minutes.

Dark Archive

Tanis wrote:

Ok, first off Noretoc, i never said 'my dm did a bad thing on me'. I just wanted to know if i was mistaken in the way i applied the Intimidate skill. Having said that, you've actually given me a good idea on how to proceed. Maybe there was something going on i didn't know about.

The point was, i didn't threaten him with anything illegal or violent. And yes,.

In regards to the other questions, it was a large metropolis, with many merchants. We did Appraise the items.

@Kevin Andrew Murphy: My character is supposed to stand up for what's fair. Punishing heretics is only part of my portfolio.

My character has no real love for laws, but in this case he did nothing to warrant the guards being called. It was more a matter of 'you made an Intimidate check...you must have threatened him with violence'. Despite me rping it totally peacefully.

And to say that you can't Intimidate without threatening violence i believe is erroneous.

And again - i rolled a massive check. It should've worked IMO, if only for 10 minutes.

Perhaps if you expand on how you ROLE-PLAYED the encounter, it might help us to understand.

Rolling a "massive check" means nothing without context. What exactly did your character say to the NPC?

If you intimidate an NPC in a place where the NPC cannot escape from, or call for help from, it's one thing. If you intimidate an NPC in a public venue, patroled by the town guard, where he is known, and you are not, then it is another thing entirely.

The game is more than dice. It's called role playing (RPG), not dice rolling (DRG).

In reality, the person you should be talking to is your GM. Perhaps you have a different view of what is expected of you at the table than he does. Perhaps he has a different view or a house rule or a preference for how intimidate works at his table than you do. It may very well be that you cannot come to a meeting of the minds on how the skill works that you are both happy with, and you need to speak to him about retraining that skill, or retooling your character to fit what his view of how skills work is.

Social interaction skills are a tricky thing, and while the rules lay out guidelines, the DM is free to throw in any situational modifiers that he feels appropriate. Also, the DM is free to treat his NPCs as people, and not as automatons responding to a die roll. While you rolled a "massive" intimidate check, the DM can be free to adjudicate this as you making a shop keeper feel so threatened in his own store that he felt he had no recourse but to call the town guards.

Again, it really comes down to context, and what you and the DM both had in terms of expectations, and how the actual role-play was played out.


Like i said in my OP Elias, i said to the merchant that i wouldn't suffer his cheating ways and to give me what it's worth.

How is that not rping?

I think you misunderstood me there. I rp everything, even combat.


Tanis wrote:

Like i said in my OP Elias, i said to the merchant that i wouldn't suffer his cheating ways and to give me what it's worth.

How is that not rping?

I think you misunderstood me there. I rp everything, even combat.

I'd have gone with:

"I'M MAD AS HELL AND I WON'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!"

*shakes fist*

Dark Archive

Tanis wrote:

Like i said in my OP Elias, i said to the merchant that i wouldn't suffer his cheating ways and to give me what it's worth.

How is that not rping?

I think you misunderstood me there. I rp everything, even combat.

Um, this sounds like a demand.

I don't think I've ever gone into a shop trying to sell something and successfully demanded money from the store owner. I think in most jurisdictions this amounts to extortion, or robbery.

You have goods to sell. The store keeper makes an offer. If the offer is too low, then you are free to attempt to bargain his offer upwards, or to leave the store without selling him your goods. I don't think I can point to any place where you are free to actually demand a better price.

If I were DM, I think my response as the store owner would be to say "Get the h*ll out of my store.", given that you successfully intimidated the cr*p out of him, my role playing his response would be to scream for the guard, and explain how these ruffians had come into my store, and tried to sell me their used merchandise, and how when I offered them a price, they demanded more money and tried to threaten me into giving it to them, and how I would at the very least like the guard to throw them out of the store, the bazaar, and possibly the city, and that it might be a good idea to put them before the Lord Mayor as hooligans and thugs and that some time in Hizzoners cells might teach them how to behave properly around decent folk.

Given the store owner's status as a tax-paying businessman, and your status as itinerant visitors, it might be obvious where the town guard's sympathies might lie.


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You can intimidate a store - easy.

You threaten their reputation.

It works.

*shakes fist*


Brother Elias wrote:
Tanis wrote:

Like i said in my OP Elias, i said to the merchant that i wouldn't suffer his cheating ways and to give me what it's worth.

How is that not rping?

I think you misunderstood me there. I rp everything, even combat.

Um, this sounds like a demand.

I don't think I've ever gone into a shop trying to sell something and successfully demanded money from the store owner. I think in most jurisdictions this amounts to extortion, or robbery.

You have goods to sell. The store keeper makes an offer. If the offer is too low, then you are free to attempt to bargain his offer upwards, or to leave the store without selling him your goods. I don't think I can point to any place where you are free to actually demand a better price.

If I were DM, I think my response as the store owner would be to say "Get the h*ll out of my store.", given that you successfully intimidated the cr*p out of him, my role playing his response would be to scream for the guard, and explain how these ruffians had come into my store, and tried to sell me their used merchandise, and how when I offered them a price, they demanded more money and tried to threaten me into giving it to them, and how I would at the very least like the guard to throw them out of the store, the bazaar, and possibly the city, and that it might be a good idea to put them before the Lord Mayor as hooligans and thugs and that some time in Hizzoners cells might teach them how to behave properly around decent folk.

Given the store owner's status as a tax-paying businessman, and your status as itinerant visitors, it might be obvious where the town guard's sympathies might lie.

Then he's not intimidated.

*edit* Like i said, i was fully prepared for the consequences (as a player), and was looking forward to rping my character learning the subtleties of haggling.

My point still stands - he acted as if he wasn't intimidated.

Contributor

Tanis wrote:

@Kevin Andrew Murphy: My character is supposed to stand up for what's fair. Punishing heretics is only part of my portfolio.

My character has no real love for laws, but in this case he did nothing to warrant the guards being called. It was more a matter of 'you made an Intimidate check...you must have threatened him with violence'. Despite me rping it totally peacefully.

And to say that you can't Intimidate without threatening violence i believe is erroneous.

And again - i rolled a massive check. It should've worked IMO, if only for 10 minutes.

I think the trouble is, you rolled a massive check on the wrong skill.

You were there to haggle with the merchant. You said, "I will not suffer your cheating ways! Give me what it's worth!"

You then chose to roll Intimidate rather than Diplomacy, or Profession Merchant, or even Performance Acting.

Any of these might be used, but would flavor the encounter differently and the perception of your words.

Diplomacy is the best bet. Your words may be histrionic, but loud lamentations and breast beating are a part of a certain style of haggling, and nothing personal is meant by it. It's just part of how the game is played.

Profession Merchant would have been wisely talking shop with the merchant as a fellow merchant and leveling with him. Telling him he's a cheat is a complaint from a fellow merchant.

Performance Acting would likely not work very well unless the merchant was a theater buff and recognized you delivering Reinette's soliloquy to the safflower merchant from "The Courting of Ardena's Daughters." Otherwise, you're just acting weird and mannered and the merchant may think he's dealing with a crazy person.

Instead, you go for Intimidate, not because it's the best tool for the job at hand but because it's the biggest club in your golf bag. You Intimidate the merchant, meaning that he's viewing your words in the most threatening manner possible, and as such, will act friendly to you for ten minutes, give you info, do stuff that doesn't endanger him, or otherwise offer limited assistance.

You have no way of knowing the man's finances, both the amount of liquid cash he has on hand and his chance of being able to sell the whatsis quickly at a profit or whether he would instead be stuck with a costly white elephant.

It's up to the GM to interpret the limit on "limited assistance." Buying up your character's grot for book standard prices can very reasonably not be on that menu.

It's also quite reasonable to interpret "friendly" to be a different thing than actually friendly. He might be shaking in his boots or standing at attention. Or he may have gotten initiative on you and pressed the panic button before you had a chance to complete your intimidation, and when you succeeded at it, he offered you limited assistance by telling you that he'd pressed the panic button and you should run away before his guards showed up.

Lots of way to run with it, but I think you had unreasonable expectations and also pulled the wrong club out of your golf bag for the task at hand.


Fair call Kevin.

I guess i will have to splurge for that Headband of Int. (with Diplomacy as a bonus skill).

damn.


A skill you might have used in addition with "intimidate" is "sense motive". I only mention this because I've run into problems like this myself. My dm has presented several RolePlay problems and we as a group would fail or not succeed as well as we thought we should. He would then mention one or more skills we could have used.

A "sense motive" check to see if you can get more money or a better deal from a merchant is always a good idea. Especial if they are being difficult with you. Plus I would think that the DC would be fairly low to at least notice something wrong with him. Allowing you to then move on to "intimidate" or "diplomicy" him correctly. (Maybe even giving you a bonus on your roll...)


I have done the whole "target reduced to crying in gibberish" route on an intimidate check before, but that was when the player rolled a 1 on the die. I made a spot decision and figured it would be a nice change if rather than acting all big and bad (especially when the npc was tied up) like I normally see on failed intimidate rolls he would instead be so frightened that any further attempts to get anything out of the guy were useless. But that was the result of a BAD roll, not a good one.


Brother Elias wrote:


Rolling a "massive check" means nothing without context. What exactly did your character say to the NPC?

Rolling a MASSIVE check means a lot actually. It says that you succeeded at the task and what attitude the NPC will have as a result. It's right there in the skill description. HOW the success will affect the merchant and the player is due to RP interactions. THAT a success occurred? Due to the roll.

Brother Elias provides an excellent demonstration of why you should check with your DM on social interaction skill checks before designing a character. You need to know if they're going to have an unwritten rule 0 that the player needs charisma, but your character doesn't.

I mean, look at the rest of his post: he ignores the actual description of the event. The PC never threatened violence, but he assumes that this is a task for the city guard and for flight, despite the many ways intimidate can be used.

OP, you should read Brother Elias carefully. He's the archetype of your DM's biases. By meeting of the minds, he means "the DM's interpretation".


You can use this skill to frighten your opponents OR to get them to act in a way that benefits you. This skill includes verbal threats and displays of prowess."

i have to agree with the underdogs here. People are assuming intimidate HAS to threaten violence. verbal threats hardly have to be threats of hurt and violence. I agree with Caineach 100% You guys have never been intimidated by your father without being threatened with violence? If brock lesner crossed his arms and gave you a sturdy glare i bet you would be intimidated without violence!

"i said to the merchant that i wouldn't suffer his cheating ways and to give me what it's worth."

while thats a short and blunt statement it also leads to only speculation, the RPing shouldn't have ended there. both on the players and NPC's side. The Dm should have given him opportunity to RP more by coexing the player into revealing more intent through the NPC. The NPC SHOULD have been made friendly for the time being as with a check of 38 he was definitely intimidated.

there where some points im picking up on that the OP has provided. The items WERE appraised, weather they were appraised correctly is another thing, but what they do know is the characters believe the items to be worth more than what the merchant is offering. so easther they wern't worth that much and the appraise was botched OR the merchant really is a cheat! BUT since the the merchant SHOULD HAVE been intimidated it should have been more played out.

Here's a good example (keeping in mind that the role was 38 and the merchant was probably intimidated and temporarily should have been friendly, and since he's friendly he's not necessarily trying to deceive the player either.)

op:"i won't suffer you cheating me. give me what it's worth!"

the DM should have RP'd the merchant more to divulge the players true intent since is vague and full of speculation.

Merchant "what are you getting at Sir!? do you mean to run me through if i don't give you the gold you desire!?"

this would have given the op the chance to explain his threat and maybe realize he has other options to threaten him with.

1) "no im not going to kill you fool! But i know from our appraiser that these items are worth far more than what you offer. I will leave and take this account to the merchants guild and they will decide how they like you cutting into there share!"- these are all threats still.

most merchants in metropolises must be registered with the local guild and prices are set so buisness can be done fairly and equally throughout the city. If word gets out he's cheating he could lose his charter or worse find himself in prison! If the items were not appraised correctly the merchant might tell them what there worth, since he is friendly he would not try to lie as the character could go to another merchant and find out there real value. word could still get out about the merchants cheating ways. this gives the GM a chance to build up the NPC and play off his cheating.

merchant "Im so sorry brave adventurer i know the price is not fair i'm cought red-handed. business has been so slow lately and i don't have the gold to give you all that it's worth. but i knew i could sell some of these items quickly and bring new life into my shop. If you take these items to old korg he has had really good business lately and could afford to give you what there worth."

2) "No im not going to kill you. But since we will be in town a while i will ask our bard to wright a comedy of your exploits and will gladly pay the bard to recite it night after night in every tavern as we stay here so your name will forever live on OH GENEROUS MERCHANT!"- again all still threats. maybe this angle catches the GM by suprise and he feels willing to reward such a roleplaying experience for cleverness.

3) "yes im going to kill you! and afterwards im going to take all your other valuables and then rape your horses! bet you wish you bought this sword now huh!!!" merchant begins begging for his life while loading up his merchandise. aftwards the party quickly rushes out of town.

with a role of 38 the OP should not have been "punished" just because he used intimidate. the GM had options just as the player. with such a high role the GM should have been more willing to compromise or at the least have the merchant hint the player in the right direction. GM's shouldn't punish players because they actually invested heavily in a skill. this makes the players feel like there are evil and good skills and there not, there just skills.

I do have one major issue though MrVergee. you have the same problem a CG player of mine has with intimidate. CG characters like being free and hate when others tell them what to do. don't you find it extremely hypocritical to play your character telling other what to do being CG!? lol NG may be a better alignment for you or find more interesting ways to use intimidate like my player has, like examples above would be more along the lines of what a CG MIGHT do, except the last ofc.

hope my post helps you and your GM in the future.


I also think people take it to far. A high intimidate roll doesn't mean you are super scary (unless you want it to be) - it means you have perfect control of the nuance of the intimidation.

Consider: A monk needs to jump over a 10ft chasm. He rolls (and with all his bonuses) makes a 46. This does not mean he jumps face first into the wall on the other side. It means he made the jump comfortably and lands exactly where he wanted to some 15ft away.

In the same way a intimidate of 40 doesn't mean that you exceeded the shopkeeper DC by 20 and thus he's reduced to a crying mumbling mess of emotions. It means that you've perfectly calibrated your threat (however subtle or overt it is) to perfectly meet the optimal sweet spot of shopkeeper helptitude. (Sure, a GM may ask for a Sense Motive to see how well you control your threat level.)

The point is, the shopkeeper doesn't need to be intimidated into the cesspit of self-doubt and panic. It is enough for him to be intimidated to the point where he sees the wisdom of making a 20% better offer.

At the very least, if the character has okay Int/Wisdom then it should not be hard to calibrate your intimidation. A roll of a "40" intimidate does NOT mean that your eyes start glowing demonically and your aura of killing intent subdues lesser mortals like shopkeepers. Unless you want to scare the wits out of the shopkeeper. For simply getting a better bargain, a suitably roleplayed threat (and amazing roll of 40) should comfortably meet the requirements.


Personally I think subtle intimidation in a haggle would be as good as a diplomacy roll.

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I also think that blatant threat like :Grabbing a poor shopkeeper by the shirt and threatening to eat his children. Would also work most of the times, if the shopkeeper would still gain eventually money from the deal. Why?

1. Intimidator might actually do what he claims. Not all are going to take the risk.

2. People generally don't like others to know they got intimidated (especially business practicers)

3. Doing something might actually cost more than you would gain.

4. It might even be an advantage to know people like you.

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So a motorcycle ganger with a ball-peen hammer says in modern small store "I'm gonna beat your children to a bloody pulp, if you don't give me 10% discount." And after getting the stuff:"Ha, ha just kidding" and shakes hands. Now I think that if the shopkeeper actually got the price he is asking from big regular customers (bulk buyers who get discounts), its at least 95% he will be satisfied for the money after the adrenaline is down. If the shopkeeper would be losing money, its suddenly very different. As he can't be letting things go with negative profit, or he'll be out of business. So he could do something about it. Yet it isn't certain even in this case, if the item was cheap / guy don't regularly do that. But as conclusion I think that there is a severe line witch appears when people go + to - in income (to their final reacion)

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Now the ganger had gang, the inquisitor doesn't? Wrong. The inquisitor can have very visible symbols of his church. And it isn't like modern church. For example Gorum (Inquisitor can be chaotic good) thinks violence is ok (or better than ok, desirable). The Gorum followers won't probably be too happy, if the shopkeeper sends law after one of their inquisitors. Plus the inquisitor is probably much heavier armed than with ball-peen hammer. Plus as understand from the character (intimidate 25) he should look like the most serious guy in the metropolis ( and I think it would be great, if I actually as a DM could make the player feel that ).

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Going further I would allow a fair chance to intimidate also police and criminals. But of course if the character would probably have to eventually have to prove himself, if going to be the tough guy of the city.

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So the mafia works and lunch money get stolen yet nobody does anything about that...

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Oh that was my closing argument, but back to "4. It might even be an advantage to know people like you.". This could be an adventure, shopkeeper asks "I have a competitor who seems to do something shady, but the law is powerless. Maybe you could "talk" him to switch towns for a price?"

Dark Archive

roguerouge wrote:
Brother Elias wrote:


Rolling a "massive check" means nothing without context. What exactly did your character say to the NPC?

Rolling a MASSIVE check means a lot actually. It says that you succeeded at the task and what attitude the NPC will have as a result. It's right there in the skill description. HOW the success will affect the merchant and the player is due to RP interactions. THAT a success occurred? Due to the roll.

Brother Elias provides an excellent demonstration of why you should check with your DM on social interaction skill checks before designing a character. You need to know if they're going to have an unwritten rule 0 that the player needs charisma, but your character doesn't.

I mean, look at the rest of his post: he ignores the actual description of the event. The PC never threatened violence, but he assumes that this is a task for the city guard and for flight, despite the many ways intimidate can be used.

OP, you should read Brother Elias carefully. He's the archetype of your DM's biases. By meeting of the minds, he means "the DM's interpretation".

I read your post, and have been thinking about it for a bit. I think your "he ignores the actual description of the event" is not a fair assessment of my post. I directly address the fact that if you walk into any store and demand a higher price than offered from the storekeeper, coupled with an attempt to intimidate, that this would be seen by most as a threat.

That aside, I really think that by meeting of the minds, I actually meant to talk to your DM. The DM might view the use of the skill one way, and you another. It might be the DM is misinformed, or that what the player felt was happening is not what the DM running the NPC felt was happening at the time. Or it may be that the DM just doesn't believe that the Intimidate skill works the same way the player thinks it works.

I thought about this, and took a second look at the actual description of intimidate.

"You can use this skill to frighten your opponents or to get them to act in a way that benefits you. This skill includes verbal threats and displays of prowess."

"Check: You can use Intimidate to force an opponent to act friendly toward you for 1d6 × 10 minutes with a successful check. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + the target's Hit Dice + the target's Wisdom modifier. If successful, the target gives you the information you desire, takes actions that do not endanger it, or otherwise offers limited assistance. After the Intimidate expires, the target treats you as unfriendly and may report you to local authorities. If you fail this check by 5 or more, the target attempts to deceive you or otherwise hinder your activities."

and

"Action: Using Intimidate to change an opponent's attitude requires 1 minute of conversation. Demoralizing an opponent is a standard action."

There are a couple of points that stand out here.

1. The use of this skill requires a full minute of conversation. As I stated before, if you have a goblin held captive it's quite easy to get in a minute of intimidation to change his attitude (temporarily) to friendly. It's quite another matter to stand in a shopkeepers store for a full minute acting intimidating without him telling you to get out, or summoning help from a neighbor or passing guard. There is no provision for a rushed intimidate check.

2. Intimidate is used on opponents, whereas diplomacy is used on nonplayer characters. The threat is specifically part of the use of the skill ("using verbal threats or displays of physical prowess"). The assumption with intimidate is that you are forcing an enemy to pretend to treat you in a friendly manner and "If successful, the target gives you the information you desire, takes actions that do not endanger it, or otherwise offers limited assistance." The fact that the description itself uses the term "frighten" means that you are in some way threatening the target of your intimidate.

Contrast this with Diplomacy

"You can use this skill to persuade others to agree with your arguments, to resolve differences, and to gather valuable information or rumors from people. This skill is also used to negotiate conflicts by using the proper etiquette and manners suitable to the problem."

and

"Check: You can change the initial attitudes of nonplayer characters with a successful check."

By the very nature, Diplomacy is based around negotiation, where Intimidate is based on coercion.

The assumption with Diplomacy is that you are talking to people (NPC), where the assumption with Intimidate is that you are acting on enemies ("opponent").

I think a previous poster made a good point when he stated that Intimidate was the wrong tool for this job. While the character might have been optimized for intimidate, using it was not appropriate in this circumstance.

there is a third point, especially if we are looking at this purely in a rules context:

3) From Diplomacy: "If a creature's attitude toward you is at least indifferent, you can make requests of the creature. This is an additional Diplomacy check, using the creature's current attitude to determine the base DC, with one of the following modifiers. Once a creature's attitude has shifted to helpful, the creature gives in to most requests without a check, unless the request is against its nature or puts it in serious peril. Some requests automatically fail if the request goes against the creature's values or its nature, subject to GM discretion."

So, lets assume that we are strictly looking at the technical aspects of this encounter.

Player Intimidates Shopkeeper - Rolls "massive" check.

Shopkeeper is "Intimidated" and his attitude is temporarily Friendly.

In order for player to actually accomplish his goal of gaining a better price for his goods, he needs to follow the Intimidate with a Diplomacy roll to make the request.

Let's assume the shopkeeper has a charisma modifier of 1. (He interacts with the public a lot, so he at least has some charisma.) The base DC for the diplomacy check is 11 (10 plus his charisma modifier - from the table). The DM needs to decide which modifier is most appropriate for "give me more money for my goods". If I were deciding between "Give simple aid", "Give detailed or lengthy aid", and "Give Dangerous aid", given the OP's information that it was the difference of a few thousand GP, I'd class it as "dangerous aid". Such a business decision could make or break a shopkeeper. This holds the modifier of +10 (per table).

So. Player now needs to make a diplomacy role of 21 in order to actually get a better price for his goods.

From the OP account, this did not happen. So even RAW, we have.

Player "frightens" (per skill description) shopkeeper ("opponent") using "verbal threats or displays of prowess." Succeeds. Player does not follow up to make diplomacy request gain better price. Shopkeeper, being frightened, calls for help.

I'm not sure that I can find real fault with the DM in this situation.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Tanis wrote:
Ok, first off Noretoc, i never said 'my dm did a bad thing on me'. I just wanted to know if i was mistaken in the way i applied the Intimidate skill. Having said that, you've actually given me a good idea on how to proceed. Maybe there was something going on i didn't know about.

Sorry, your second post seemed like you were angry that it didn't work like you expected it to, or how you thought the rules worked. I got the impression you were trying to show your DM he was wrong. If I misunderstood, sorry.

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