Intimdating PCs


Rules Questions

Sovereign Court

Is there a rule on whether or not PCs can be intimidated? A cursory check did not turn one up, but it makes me feel uncomfortable...


Provided the PC isn't immune to intimidation due to class abilities you can intimidate a PC just as easily as the PC can intimidate someone else... however you couldn't change their 'attitude' anymore than diplomacy can.

However demoralizing them remains an option.

Sovereign Court

Its more the fact that they are by the rules, so its dictating the players action.

PFSRD wrote:

If successful, the opponent will:

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


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Like Abraham Spaulding said, an NPC can use Intimidate to demoralize during combat because it's not changing an attitude but giving a condition. There seems to a be a rule that nothing but magic can make a PC do something he doesn't want to do.


However since intimidate is lacking the language that states it can't be used against a PC and is limited in how long it lasts I'm not so hurt by the idea that it could be used to force the PC to take a minor action as those listed.

*Spalding, people, not Spaulding -- The original spelling for me!*

Sovereign Court

There seems to be a rule?

I am under the impression there was something vague in 3.5, but I don't see anything in the text on the PFSRD.


I don't know so much that there is a "rule" against doing things like that to PCs, but I can definitely say that MOST of them would just say "My character wouldn't be scared of him." Unless, of course, they are the type that comes up with some irrational fear as part of their character concept.

Demoralizing isn't as easy for them to weasel away from. It's got a set DC (10+HD+Wis) and the effects are mild compared to being 'forced to act a certain way' and whatnot.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I've always ruled that an attempt to intimidate a PC works as it does against an NPC, however exactly how the PC reacts is up to the player. I tell him that the NPC actually is imposing, or frightening, usually going a little further to describe what he is doing, just as I require my players to role play their own social skills. After all, a 30 Diplomacy check doesn't mean a lot to a king, if they are trying to bribe him and he is an honorable man.


I had though about this the other day. it's funny ause alot of chars dumpstat charisma and mechanically this makes them easier to be intimidated. but the my cadavers wouldn't be scared of him line likely still holds true.


What becomes more troublesome is when two players use skills against each other. We had an intimidate against another player in a social encounter, the other player, apparently being intimidated, walked away from the encounter to sulk as that is what his character would apparently do if intimidated. The player switched out characters within a session or two. We thus took steps to ban certain skills to be used player vs player.

Scarab Sages

We’ve used Intimidate checks occasionally in our games as to whether captured PCs give up info to the baddies. It hasn’t caused any issues, as our players roll with the consequences (good or ill) pretty well. Sometimes you crack, sometimes you don’t.

Sovereign Court

The rules seem clear to me - I just don't like them - "If succesful the opponent will give you information you desire." So if a PC is intimidated and asked, "Where are the orphans hiding so I may feast upon their entrails!" Paladin or not - assuming to low to be immune to fear - if he is successfully intimidated he must tell... Right?

I would love someone to prove me wrong. Problem is this is for a Living world community game so I cannot really houserule it, I need to go by the book which is distressing.

Scarab Sages

Verik Jarrow wrote:
So if a PC is intimidated and asked, "Where are the orphans hiding so I may feast upon their entrails!" Paladin or not - assuming to low to be immune to fear - if he is successfully intimidated he must tell... Right?

Correct.

As you say, it’s “by the book”—good for the goose and the gander. Turn it around. If it was the paladin who succeeded at intimidating the evil lieutenant “Where is your master so I may eradicate his evil from this land once and for all!?” Wouldn’t it be a travesty to have it ruled any other way—after the check has been made and passed—than to have the lieutenant spill his guts?


My 8th level bard was recently demoralized by an under-equipped thug likely half her level. She had a rogue and wizard of the same level to either side of her at the time. It was shameful.

Unfortunately, thems the breaks.


Hold on a minute here.

"Check: You can use Intimidate to force an opponent to act friendly toward you for 1d6 × 10 minutes with a successful check. "

"Friendly" is one of the 5 starting attitudes listed in the Diplomacy skill. The first paragraph starts with this sentence:

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

So using Intimidate to control the actions of PCs isn't really supported by the rules. I would say that a GM could influence the PCs, but it would be completely dependent on the situation, and the understanding of the nature of the game among the group.


Rule or not: "Forcing" the players character to do anything, while they have full control over their actions (e.g. no Dominate Person in effect and such) is imo simply a bad style of DMing.

The DM has information-advantage in any case. So if you feel that the PC are challenged too less, just adjust other encounters.

EDIT: The only real exception here I could think of, would be a PC that is getting captivated and tortured. However, I would rather allow a Will save in addition here, so that the player of said character, has at least a little bit of control (or the feeling of it)


Verik Jarrow wrote:

There seems to be a rule?

I am under the impression there was something vague in 3.5, but I don't see anything in the text on the PFSRD.

I cant remember where it is, but while it is not a rule it is highly suggested to not use things like diplomacy or intimidate to control PC's. I think this is more of a "in the spirit of fun" things since it is just one more way other than magic that a player can lose control of a character. It is also an easy way to railroad the PC's by forcing them to do something they don't want to do.

Sovereign Court

Fergie wrote:

Hold on a minute here.

"Check: You can use Intimidate to force an opponent to act friendly toward you for 1d6 × 10 minutes with a successful check. "

"Friendly" is one of the 5 starting attitudes listed in the Diplomacy skill. The first paragraph starts with this sentence:

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

So using Intimidate to control the actions of PCs isn't really supported by the rules. I would say that a GM could influence the PCs, but it would be completely dependent on the situation, and the understanding of the nature of the game among the group.

That bit about nonplayer characters seems like what I am looking for, but I cannot seem to find it in my book of the PFSRD. Is it perhaps under diplomacy? Ah nevermind I see it. Hmmm, yes that seems to work, thanks!

Scarab Sages

DunjnHakkr wrote:
The only real exception here I could think of, would be a PC that is getting captivated and tortured. However, I would rather allow a Will save in addition here, so that the player of said character, has at least a little bit of control (or the feeling of it)

Ah yes…this is part of a system we have in place for interrogation/torture. Intimidation checks and Will saves. Sometimes you play with certain systems so long you forget what’s “rules” and what’s “how it is.” Either way, we play it the same way on both sides, seems only fair *shrug*.

The Exchange

Applying the Intimidate rules word-for-word to PCs, and even certain NPCs, would be strange... you could purposely try to Intimidate them with a really low skill and 'force' them to 'attempt to deceive you or otherwise hinder your activities' by failing the check by 5 or more! All the rules are merely guidelines in certain circumstances, and some more than others... although I do see the potential issues with 'official' games situations.

I'd suggest that if an NPC has taken the required full minute of conversation to Intimidate a PC, and succeeded on the roll, then it's fair to slap the shaken condition penalty (from the one standard action's worth of demoralize version) on that PC for the full 1d6x10 minutes the Intimidation should last... if they're not role-playing out the fact their character's been Intimidated (which would be the ideal).


Verik Jarrow wrote:
Is there a rule on whether or not PCs can be intimidated? A cursory check did not turn one up, but it makes me feel uncomfortable...

The DMG (3.5), pg. 149, says that "NPCs can never use a Charisma check to influence PC attitudes. The players always decide their characters' attitudes."

It's up to the DM though.


It's one of the things the group has to decide for itself. The best way to do this depends on the GM and players.

DunjnHakkr wrote:
Rule or not: "Forcing" the players character to do anything, while they have full control over their actions (e.g. no Dominate Person in effect and such) is imo simply a bad style of DMing.

Not really, no. Depending on the circumstances, it can be good GMing. Even characters have their limits, and if a player persists in going way beyond his character's limits, he should be reined in.

While there might be a hard rule about non-magical charisma-dependant checks being unable to change a character's behaviour, good role-playing means acting appropriately for the situation.

For example, some people want to play that character that can't be fazed or scared or tricked, yet they come up with a totally twinked-out fighter with 7s in Int, Wis and Cha. They will claim (often at the top of their lungs) that they're not afraid or intimidated (being 1st-level nobodies standing in front of a 20th-level weapon master general wielding Stormbringer, the soul-eater sword that is known across the known multiverse and beyond.

Sure, that's an extreme example, but more subtle situations exist as well.

That having been said, it really is a matter the group needs to resolve before they start playing.


Firstly, I am aware of the RAW.

As a DM, I frequently find myself telling the players how their character react to situations. For example, if after witnessing a particularly gruesome sight, a PC fails his fort save I would tell them something along the lines of, "The horrific sight has unnerved you and you fell sick to the stomach."
I use the same approach when adjudicating diplomacy and intimidate. I will tell the players their character's reactions to what is going on. "That dragon is pretty scary. You think maybe you should do what he wants." or "That Bard's request actually sounds pretty reasonable" I let the player's decide and roleplay their actions.
I also use player reactions, somewhat, as a benchmark for how npc react to diplomacy and intimidate checks. After all, the attitude descriptions are only guidelines. It's up to me, the DM, to decide just what a "Friendly" npc will or will not do. So if the Fighter often says to me "My character would not be scared of that." I may, once or twice, say to him, "No, the Demi-Lich is not scared of you."

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