Should strength be allowed for Intimidation? (With Justification)


Homebrew and House Rules

Sovereign Court

In many RPG games, Intimidation can be a fairly broad subject. There is veiled threats such as blackmail, insinuations and the like and there is Physical Intimidation such as a bouncer showing his presence to keep characters in line or using one's physical prowess to outright threaten people. In many games like the World of Darkness, you can use Manipulation+Intimidate for Veiled Threats and Strength+Intimidation for Physical Threats. One thing I find laughable is that I could play a fearsome Orc with a butt low charisma but still extremely dangerous yet suck at demoralizing a target despite having a Strength Score in the 20+ range. Should Strength be allowed for Intimidation for Physical Threats, or should Intimidation be only Charisma based?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Intimidating Prowess.

Liberty's Edge

There is a feat for that (Intimidating Prowess). Also your GM could give you a circumstance bonus

Damn Goblin Ninjas !!!

Grand Lodge

Darkfire142 wrote:
In many RPG games, Intimidation can be a fairly broad subject. There is veiled threats such as blackmail, insinuations and the like and there is Physical Intimidation such as a bouncer showing his presence to keep characters in line or using one's physical prowess to outright threaten people. In many games like the World of Darkness, you can use Manipulation+Intimidate for Veiled Threats and Strength+Intimidation for Physical Threats. One thing I find laughable is that I could play a fearsome Orc with a butt low charisma but still extremely dangerous yet suck at demoralizing a target despite having a Strength Score in the 20+ range. Should Strength be allowed for Intimidation for Physical Threats, or should Intimidation be only Charisma based?

I do not find it laughable. Intimidation is more about how you use what you have then what you actually have. You are attempting to control someone's behavior with fear and that doesn't just mean knowing how to make someone afraid. It means knowing how to use that fear to get them to do what you want and making sure you don't overdo it.

Sure circumstance bonuses may apply depending on the situation, but is still has more to do with Charisma than anything else.


There is a feat to do, take the feat it you want to do it. There is no justification to allow it otherwise. If your GM is lenient perhaps he will just allow you to have the feat Intimidating Prowess for free.


How's anyone who is particularly strong going to intimidate anyone? Just by looking particularly strong? Being strong isn't intimidating in it's own right, you can be a lovable giant too.

Looking menacing, that is intimidating. You don't need to look theoretically capable of snapping someone in half, you need to look like you would too. Like you might just snap, any moment now...

The Hulk isn't intimidating, he's just dangerous. Batman, now he is intimidating.


Darkfire142 wrote:
In many RPG games, Intimidation can be a fairly broad subject. There is veiled threats such as blackmail, insinuations and the like and there is Physical Intimidation such as a bouncer showing his presence to keep characters in line or using one's physical prowess to outright threaten people. In many games like the World of Darkness, you can use Manipulation+Intimidate for Veiled Threats and Strength+Intimidation for Physical Threats. One thing I find laughable is that I could play a fearsome Orc with a butt low charisma but still extremely dangerous yet suck at demoralizing a target despite having a Strength Score in the 20+ range. Should Strength be allowed for Intimidation for Physical Threats, or should Intimidation be only Charisma based?

You are right from a real life perspective. However, Pathfinder tries to balance the skills out. If a skill existed that allowed characters to use more than one type of ability, then that skill would become unbalanced compared to other skills.

That said, you can always uses your strength to gain circumstance bonuses. Tell your GM that you flex your muscles as you try to intimidate. He might give you a +2 or more circumstance bonus. Tell him you start breaking stuff in the shop as you threaten the shop keeper. That maybe worth another +2 bonus.

But you are right, a lion is outright intimidating, but I don't think that they have any ranks in the intimidate skill. Go figure.


VRMH wrote:

How's anyone who is particularly strong going to intimidate anyone? Just by looking particularly strong? Being strong isn't intimidating in it's own right, you can be a lovable giant too.

Looking menacing, that is intimidating. You don't need to look theoretically capable of snapping someone in half, you need to look like you would too. Like you might just snap, any moment now...

The Hulk isn't intimidating, he's just dangerous. Batman, now he is intimidating.

Superman/Batman is a better example. Mainly because Hulk is hugely intimidating, and will not hesitate to break every single bone in your body while roaring at you at the top of his lungs and smashing your face into the floor over and over and over and over.

Like, yeah, looks are menacing. Unless you know better.


I was surprised to see Intimidation based on Charisma in the first place; obviously it should be a Strength-based skill, with perhaps an option to factor in some Charisma on the side. Talk is cheap; it takes muscle to be threatening.


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Calybos1 wrote:

I was surprised to see Intimidation based on Charisma in the first place; obviously it should be a Strength-based skill, with perhaps an option to factor in some Charisma on the side. Talk is cheap; it takes muscle to be threatening.

HAHA, no. If you just have the muscle but don't have the charisma or the skill, people just laugh at your wanna-be thug attittude.

A good example of charisma as intimidation is the Joker. In most incarnations he is a skinny guy. Even in the movies he isn't skinny but he isn't in shape either, but he is still one of the scariest guys in the planet.


VM mercenario wrote:
Calybos1 wrote:

I was surprised to see Intimidation based on Charisma in the first place; obviously it should be a Strength-based skill, with perhaps an option to factor in some Charisma on the side. Talk is cheap; it takes muscle to be threatening.

HAHA, no. If you just have the muscle but don't have the charisma or the skill, people just laugh at your wanna-be thug attittude.

Until the wannabe thug severely hurts them with his muscle.

Conversely, the charismatic guy is intimidating until people catch on that he's talking the talk. The ideal situation is having the ability to talk a good game, and the muscle(or power) to back it up.


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Calybos1 wrote:

I was surprised to see Intimidation based on Charisma in the first place; obviously it should be a Strength-based skill, with perhaps an option to factor in some Charisma on the side. Talk is cheap; it takes muscle to be threatening.

No it does not take muscle because physical violence is not the only way to harm someone. The little guy that you know WILL kill you can be intimidating just because you know(or think) he will do things other people would only talk about doing. Being strong is also no assurance that you are good at fighting.


The question was should strength be allowed . It's a duh.


I think Social Skills are Completely Role Play based...

You could intimidate someone with Intellect or Wisdom or even Dex...

I think a GM would take that into account when they describe their Action...

Now if you want argue Charisma... You could technically FAKE it using that Skill as a Ace up the Sleeve kind of thing for everyone.


wraithstrike wrote:
Calybos1 wrote:

Being strong is also no assurance that you are good at fighting.

neither is being intimidating.

Liberty's Edge

Reecy wrote:

I think Social Skills are Completely Role Play based...

You could intimidate someone with Intellect or Wisdom or even Dex...

I think a GM would take that into account when they describe their Action...

Now if you want argue Charisma... You could technically FAKE it using that Skill as a Ace up the Sleeve kind of thing for everyone.

I find the bold part an interesting truth. It won't cause fear, in every case, though.

Now, Cha intimidation shouldn't either...not that kind of fear...but in every case, intimidation should be the 'step back and think about it' kind of thing. Cha intimidation is as often about 'political clout' as anything else...the little old woman can't fight...doesn't know magic...couldn't harm you by herself...but she has the clout to make your life utterly miserable.

Now...I'm almost thinking it's worth allowing intimidate off of any stat...if it suits...but the reaction won't always be fear...exactly.

I'm thinking that the kind of intimidation we're talking about here might even be more appropriate if it was BAB based...resisted by BAB.


Reecy wrote:
I think Social Skills are Completely Role Play based...

The problem with this is that it's very easy to go to the skills not mattering at all, which really isn't fair to those who have spent them. If the guy who's really good at RPing being threatening/convincing/duplicitous can pull it off without having to roll, what's the point in having the skills to put ranks in at all?


Maybe Intimidate should be based on Strength OR Charisma, depending on which 'flavor' you use....


No Orthos...

I meant as you Role Play it out you make the Roll and Substitute the Bonuse stat from Charisma to whatever based on how you are trying to do it... I would never remove the roll.


Right Eldon

I would say it would be something like this:

You use Str to Intimidate a Barkeep

Now they lose 2 to their Diplomacy +1 for every 5 you defeat them by...

Thud walks into Bar
Thud Buys Drink
Barkeep says thats 5 gold
Thud Smashes Stein on Bar
BarKeep intimidated using Str
Thud say Free

Barkeep Nods hands him another and walks.


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So, I put forward a scenario. Let's say there is some stone giant with incredibly high strength, but low charisma. He is up against a powerful sorcerer. In an attempt to intimidate on muscle alone, the giant flexes his muscles and goes "I'M GONNA CRUSH YOU SO HARD!".

The sorcerer scoffs at this notion and replies "With a single word I could turn you into a puddle of blood on the ground." with a steely gaze and unwavering attitude.

Strength doesn't account for jack alone, especially not in a world with such powerful magic users.

Shadow Lodge

I like it the way it is now (based off Charisma and not Strength to start, and a feat enables it to be based off Strength).

Having it be based off Strength first (and require a feat to instead run off Charisma) makes a lot more encounters deadly in a GM's hands since it's more common to see enemy units with high strength and low charisma than the other way around.

Everyone who has cited various fictional characters (The Joker, Batman) helps add fuel to this fire - that things are right the way they already are.

I personally would think certain charismatic folks are almost always naturally able to intimidate someone (especially in courts of intrigue) - Tywin Lannister, Petyr Baelish, Cersei, Melisandre, the Queen of Thorns, etc.

Just because he's strong as an ox, Hodor shouldn't be naturally intimidating. :)


Ok wait Al

we are talking about player use of this...

With your Example

Wizard may not have a High Charisma

So he uses INT to Intimidate

He talks about how he controls the cosmos and the Stone Giant will be destroyed by his PHENOMENAL COSMIC Powers...

Stone Giant Loses intimidate...

So you can alter his level of Hostility by 1 to 2 levels depending on the roll...

Now say its combat is may Ensue Gm could determine the since INT was used
1.Lower Initiative by 1 +1 for every 5
2.Confusion Sets in for the first round
3.Stone Giant befriends Wizard because he thinks little man talks big

You have endless possibilities You can apply different conditions.
You could just apply negatives to other checks...

My only argument is that this opens doors to players to Use these Social Skills based on their Play Style or the design of the character.


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uh, isn't there a feat that lets you add strength mod to intimidate? Is this the drama club section of the boards? Does bypassing RP with brute force therefore get one booted and even knowing of a feat that lets you do so cry "power gamer"? Just wondering, because the hulking muscled veiny dude strongarming oh anybody isn't an alien concept to me at least.


They mentioned the feat earlier we took it a Step further in the Discussion saying Social Skills can technically play out using any Stat bonus based on how you attempted to use the Skill..

Using a Feat is kind of weird to be able to do this...

Again just my opinion..


Ahh this slippery slope. Here is a quandary, how about intimidate being intelligence based?

I think that you are missing that even a weakling can be intimidating, because they know the right words to threaten someone with. This is in fact the purpose of intimidate, to get an NPC do something you want without wining and dining them. Using your raw brute strength to intimidate people into doing what you want to only works in the right circumstances. You can't really intimidate the city guard by smashing something after all and flexing you muscles at them will probably just make you a butt of a running gag. (See Lt. Armstrong from Full Metal Alchemist)

That being said taking a feat to make it a str based skill is balanced. The classes that this feat is useful for are all melee classes, that well should have to spend the feat to make themselves intimidating. Though really it should be only for the demoralize ability in the intimidate skill description

As for it being Intelligence based, it was just an example that one can intimidate using any ability. An intelligent character can brow beat someone who is less intelligent after all.


Actually beating someone up to get them to comply isn't intimidation. Intimidation is getting them to comply without the need to beat them up. Yes, the charismatic guy can "talk the talk" until someone catches on; that's the whole point of being good at intimidation. The better you are at it, the harder it is for people to catch on that it's all just talk.

It helps if you set in your mind that Charisma = Confidence. If you're very confident, you can get people to do things they wouldn't otherwise do. A guy who's a walking wall of muscle can walk into the bar and make demands, threatening to hurt people but if he doesn't exude sufficient confidence or isn't trained in how to use fear as a psychological weapon, then he's just throwing his weight around and people will think they can take him. Whether they actually can or can't doesn't enter the equation; the thing that matters is whether they think you'll hurt them or not. That comes primarily from your confidence/charisma, not raw muscle. Intimidating Prowess is simply a feat that lets you leverage your glorious musculature to make the psychology that much more potent; you actually can beat their face into chowder and knowing how to emphasize that with your physique makes it that much more believable.


Pathfinder doesn't really have a very realistic system for social combat. Of course nobody else does either, at least if you insist it be one you can apply by rote with little table variation and expect consistently reasonable results.

In reality diplomacy/bluff/intimidation shade together with no real crisp lines between the skills. Are you a man who is six feet or more tall? Guess what, you get a significant bonus to most of your social interactions due to the intimidation that people's subconscious mind assigns because of your imputed ability as a physical threat. Even when you're being perfectly polite and civil there is still an element of intimidation in nearly every social encounter. Ditto bluff. People talk about 'putting one's best foot forward'. In such encounters one is nearly always trying to spoof the other party's status detector such that they are perceived as being higher status than they might be perceived as having otherwise. And even when you're actively trying to intimidate, there's usually a subcurrent of diplomacy, as a smart intimidator will give the intimidated a rationalization for compliance that doesn't paint them as cowardly or weak-willed. Most of the posters here err in perceiving humans as rational. They're not, most are rationalizing. They are not their rational brain, their rational brain is more like their ambassador.


Calybos1 wrote:

Maybe Intimidate should be based on Strength OR Charisma, depending on which 'flavor' you use....

interestingly enough in 2d ed intimidation non-weapon skill was just that. depending on how it was use. some people use words others action like punching a table in half, crushing a mug in their hands or the classic lifting 2oo lb. man off the ground with on hand. in the end really comes down to how creative a player can be and how much fun the dm wants to have atm. with the encounter.

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