Demoralize and the language based penalty


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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As i was reading through the Demoralize Action the -4 Penalty for if you are not speaking a language, or the target does not understand your language, struck me odd.

Demoralize (Single Action)

Auditory Concentrate Emotion Mental

With a sudden shout, a well-timed taunt, or a cutting put-down, you can shake an enemy’s resolve. Choose a creature within 30 feet of you who you’re aware of. Attempt an Intimidation check against that target’s Will DC. If the target does not understand the language you are speaking, you’re not speaking a language, or they can’t hear you, you take a –4 circumstance penalty to the check. Regardless of your result, the target is temporarily immune to your attempts to Demoralize it for 10 minutes.

Critical Success The target becomes frightened 2.
Success The target becomes frightened 1.
(CRB p. 247)

For example an actual Bear growling and standing up looking big and intimidating would get a -4 on his Intimidation roll against a Human.

But, say a Human, made to look and sound like the same bear would not gain the -4 to his roll. Even though, to the target, there is a bear doing this.

Going by the same rules an Animal (e.g. Bear) demoralizing another animal (e.g. Cat) of a different species would fall for the -4 penalty as the Bear does not speak a language/ the cat does not understand 'Bear'.

This ruling would also imply that generally no creature would understand 'basic body language'.


What's your opinion on this matter?

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It’s up to the GM, but for the most part, most humans understand “large angry bear” so no -4 for Fuzzywuzzy.


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Rysky wrote:
It’s up to the GM, but for the most part, most humans understand “large angry bear” so no -4 for Fuzzywuzzy.

Apparently though, most humans do not seem to understand "large angry bearbarian"...


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The penalty exists because "big angry scream" is not as demoralizing as "just as big, just as angry, just as scram, but also carried a meaning behind it that made it a lot more effective."

So it's generally working just fine.

If there are specific cases where the ability to demoralize seems mismatched between expectation and actual games stats, that falls to page 444.

Though I will counter "it's a bear so it should be scary" with "yeah, it's a bear... that's it though. Not particularly scary compared to other things people in Golarion have heard stories about."


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Askaran wrote:

For example an actual Bear growling and standing up looking big and intimidating would get a -4 on his Intimidation roll against a Human.

But, say a Human, made to look and sound like the same bear would not gain the -4 to his roll. Even though, to the target, there is a bear doing this.

If you're doing a Bear Roar, then that (IMO at least) falls under "you’re not speaking a language" and thus yes, the human also takes the -4 penalty. On the other hand, said human can shout something intimidating in their face, and that would bypass the -4 penalty, but would also probably do bad things to your Deception check to convince the target you are in fact a bear and not a man in a bear suit. And given you are now talking, I'm pretty sure that means you need a new Deception check because of the "You might have to attempt a new check if your behavior changes" clause.


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Agreed. Unless the human-bear is yelling his intimidating catch-phrase instead of just roaring, it also takes the -4.

That said, I don't know that I like the penalty in the first place; being yelled at by an angry person in a language you don't understand is pretty scary, IMO, as would be a bear. I think for me the -4 would just apply if I felt like the target would have trouble understanding that there's a threat. Like, say, if a human tried to intimidate a bear, rather than the other way around.


I would consider animals having the intimidating glare skill feat
but yeah, raw you don't understand how the bear is going to intimidate you and gets -4
I would assume that is not rai though


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RAW the bear takes the penalty.

As a GM, I wouldn't apply the penalty to "intimidating creatures that don't speak".

PCs require Intimidating Glare.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Bears aren't trained in intimidation and have a -2 charisma, so the difference between a -2 and -6 to Demoralize checks seems pretty academic. Intimidation, according to D&D and Pathfinder, is not a function of being big and dangerous. It is a function of how charismatic you are. How effectively your words carry the idea of an unknown danger. The most intimidating character in Inglorious Basterds is a also one of the smallest. Admittedly, Colonel Hans Landa also has an extremely relevant circumstance bonus from his position in the Gestapo. Ving Raimes and Samuel L. Jackson get some pretty relevant bonuses from being armed gangsters. But what makes all 3 scary is that you don't know what they are going to do next. Most Intimidation checks are being rolled by PCs, who are essentially homeless vagrants that go around killing things for a living. IE, extremely unpredictable. Even a physically slight one with no visible weapons could have a dagger hidden they will shove through your eye or be able to boil the blood in your veins.

A grizzly bear is a dangerous creature. It is also a fairly predictable one. A normal person is going to be wary of it, but no more so than a a hell knight. Also, keep in mind that most real world people are probably level -1, the rank of a barrister. A rank and file cop, someone actually trained to use weapons, would be 1st level. A grizzly bear is level 3. That makes them something most humans would be legit worried about regardless of its intimidation score. It also makes it something that a group of 1st level adventurers could very reasonably take on. And generally speaking mechanics are things meant to interact with PC adventurers, not emulate how a -1 commoner reacts to a bear.

Animals, beasts, and monsters that are meant to be scary in the context of Golarion tend to do so through special abilities for scaring people, not good intimidation scores. A grizzly bear isn't actually especially intimidating. An Owlbear is, but despite having a much higher Intimidation modifier it is actually going to use its Bloodcurdling Screech, not Demoralize.


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Claxon wrote:

RAW the bear takes the penalty.

As a GM, I wouldn't apply the penalty to "intimidating creatures that don't speak".

PCs require Intimidating Glare.

You are assuming that NPCs and PCs use the same rules. Beyond the most very basic of mechanics this is simply not true.


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thorin001 wrote:
Claxon wrote:

RAW the bear takes the penalty.

As a GM, I wouldn't apply the penalty to "intimidating creatures that don't speak".

PCs require Intimidating Glare.

You are assuming that NPCs and PCs use the same rules. Beyond the most very basic of mechanics this is simply not true.

True, but barring other rules for how to run intimidation for NPCs we only have the PC facing rules.

So, if they're not intended to take the penalty it's not a case of me reading the rules wrong, it's a case of the rules being incomplete/missing that would indicate otherwise.

It's fine for PCs and NPCs to have different rules.

But you know, they need to actually be written.


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As a GM, I'm happy to waive the language thing IF the roleplay matches. If it's an NPC or player who is using their words to intimidate, then language applies. If it's a creature that is roaring/doing a dominance display, I'll probably add the manipulate trait and waive the language penalty.

But I think I'd do all of that behind the screen. Once players realize they won't suffer a language penalty if they just scream incoherently at an enemy as opposed to say something cool an intimidating, it puts them in a tough spot - it's best for the team mechanically if they scream loudly. It's best for roleplay if they say something on point.

So, if they use words, it's rules as written. If they narrate their demoralize in such a way that I think it ought to work just as well with or without words, I'll just lower the enemy DC by 4 to offset the penalty they'll include in their roll.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
jdripley wrote:

As a GM, I'm happy to waive the language thing IF the roleplay matches. If it's an NPC or player who is using their words to intimidate, then language applies. If it's a creature that is roaring/doing a dominance display, I'll probably add the manipulate trait and waive the language penalty.

But I think I'd do all of that behind the screen. Once players realize they won't suffer a language penalty if they just scream incoherently at an enemy as opposed to say something cool an intimidating, it puts them in a tough spot - it's best for the team mechanically if they scream loudly. It's best for roleplay if they say something on point.

So, if they use words, it's rules as written. If they narrate their demoralize in such a way that I think it ought to work just as well with or without words, I'll just lower the enemy DC by 4 to offset the penalty they'll include in their roll.

This strikes me as unnecessary. There are at least 2 skill feats which provide the ability to ignore the language penalty and letting people roar without them invalidates the feats. And I don't personally think a single skill feat to offset a -4 penalty is an unfair tax.

I'm also for roleplay or other things providing a circumstance bonus ad hoc as discussed on page 12 of the GMG, but it would have to be REALLY impressive circumstance to make that bonus go up to +4. And that should work in conjunction with the skill feats, not replace it. IE:

If a barbarian without intimidating glare or intimidating prowess splits a wolf in half with a critical hit and then tries to Demoralize its pack mate, I might apply a -1 penalty to the wolf will DC (or perhaps more accurately, decide to do that when I see the Barbarian rolled 1 short of success.) If the barbarian does some crazy thing like describes themselves drinking the blood from the severed neck of the first wolf, I might make the penalty -2. However, the Barbarian still has to overcome the normal language based penalty.

Now if a barbarian with intimidating glare or prowess pulls the same stunt in the same situation, they'd still retain their +4 language advantage compared to the first barbarian, and then get whatever circumstance/roll play stuff on top of that.


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Captain Morgan wrote:

Bears aren't trained in intimidation and have a -2 charisma, so the difference between a -2 and -6 to Demoralize checks seems pretty academic. Intimidation, according to D&D and Pathfinder, is not a function of being big and dangerous. It is a function of how charismatic you are. How effectively your words carry the idea of an unknown danger. The most intimidating character in Inglorious Basterds is a also one of the smallest. Admittedly, Colonel Hans Landa also has an extremely relevant circumstance bonus from his position in the Gestapo. Ving Raimes and Samuel L. Jackson get some pretty relevant bonuses from being armed gangsters. But what makes all 3 scary is that you don't know what they are going to do next. Most Intimidation checks are being rolled by PCs, who are essentially homeless vagrants that go around killing things for a living. IE, extremely unpredictable. Even a physically slight one with no visible weapons could have a dagger hidden they will shove through your eye or be able to boil the blood in your veins.

A grizzly bear is a dangerous creature. It is also a fairly predictable one. A normal person is going to be wary of it, but no more so than a a hell knight. Also, keep in mind that most real world people are probably level -1, the rank of a barrister. A rank and file cop, someone actually trained to use weapons, would be 1st level. A grizzly bear is level 3. That makes them something most humans would be legit worried about regardless of its intimidation score. It also makes it something that a group of 1st level adventurers could very reasonably take on. And generally speaking mechanics are things meant to interact with PC adventurers, not emulate how a -1 commoner reacts to a bear.

Animals, beasts, and monsters that are meant to be scary in the context of Golarion tend to do so through special abilities for scaring people, not good intimidation scores. A grizzly bear isn't actually especially intimidating. An Owlbear is, but...

Except for the Bear Animal Companion, which specializes in Intimidation, and giving it -4 makes that specialization basically useless. No other Companion takes a natural penalty to its specialty.

thorin001 wrote:
Claxon wrote:

RAW the bear takes the penalty.

As a GM, I wouldn't apply the penalty to "intimidating creatures that don't speak".

PCs require Intimidating Glare.

You are assuming that NPCs and PCs use the same rules. Beyond the most very basic of mechanics this is simply not true.

The Demoralize Action is a basic mechanic. As written, a Vrock would take a -4 Penalty to Demoralize most PCs, which is silly.

Honestly, Intimidation being based solely, or even mostly on Charisma has always been dumb, but that's a larger legacy issue that isn't going away.

You can be extremely intimidating, but not charismatic at all. In fact, since Charisma tends to represent physical attractiveness as well, having a very low Charisma could actually make you more intimidating. Think Jason Vorhees, or the thing from It Follows. Or the Thing from The Thing.


Aratorin wrote:
...since Charisma tends to represent physical attractiveness as well...

What other house-rules that a lot of people use for literally no reason and act like it's a rule from the book should we adjust the game to work based on?

I'm not sure if Charisma has ever represented physical attractiveness in D&D (I don't think it has since Comeliness used to be a thing), but I know that there is zero reason to treat it as doing so in Pathfinder 2nd edition.


thenobledrake wrote:
Aratorin wrote:
...since Charisma tends to represent physical attractiveness as well...

What other house-rules that a lot of people use for literally no reason and act like it's a rule from the book should we adjust the game to work based on?

I'm not sure if Charisma has ever represented physical attractiveness in D&D (I don't think it has since Comeliness used to be a thing), but I know that there is zero reason to treat it as doing so in Pathfinder 2nd edition.

thenobledrake wrote:
Aratorin wrote:
...since Charisma tends to represent physical attractiveness as well...

What other house-rules that a lot of people use for literally no reason and act like it's a rule from the book should we adjust the game to work based on?

I'm not sure if Charisma has ever represented physical attractiveness in D&D (I don't think it has since Comeliness used to be a thing), but I know that there is zero reason to treat it as doing so in Pathfinder 2nd edition.

Nobody said it's a rule. But it's definitely a correlation that has existed for decades. If an NPC or creature is described as "beautiful", you can be fairly certain that it's going to have a high Charisma score. Succubi, Nymphs, Angels, etc... Whereas if it's unattractive, and not a Demon, it will likely have low Charism. Orcs, Trolls, Ogres, etc...

A Dryad Queen has +27 Intimidation. A Storm Giant only has +24. The Dryad Queen essentially gets a beauty bonus to Intimidation because her Charisma is higher, despite a Storm Giant being a much more fearsome and intimidating creature to run across.

Various effects throughout gaming history that inflict scars or mutilation give Charisma penalties.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Aratorin wrote:


Nobody said it's a rule. But it's definitely a correlation that has existed for decades. If an NPC or creature is described as "beautiful", you can be fairly certain that it's going to have a high Charisma score. Succubi, Nymphs, Angels, etc... Whereas if it's unattractive, and not a Demon, it will likely have low Charism. Orcs, Trolls, Ogres, etc...

Not necessarily. I can think of at least one RotRL NPC who is specifically described as handsome and has crap charisma. The Bugul Noz is so hideous looking at it can kill you, but charisma is its best stat at +7.

Meanwhile, one could make the case that Ogres and Trolls and what not are low charisma because they are grunting morons with no amount of social grace. Though one of the nice things about ability scores being decoupled from monster stat calculation is that an Ogre now has pretty dang good Intimidation despite having -2 charisma.

Quote:
A Dryad Queen has +27 Intimidation. A Storm Giant only has +24. The Dryad Queen essentially gets a beauty bonus to Intimidation because her Charisma is higher, despite a Storm Giant being a much more fearsome and intimidating creature to run across.

[urlhttps://youtu.be/K3VOf3CBGvw?t=214]Alternatively, one could argue Dryads have good Charisma and Intimidation because they are meant to be able to do the Galadriel thing,[/url] being imperious queens. They are quite beautiful, but they also need to be able to boss people around.

Meanwhile, Storm Giants aren't especially leaders and have poor control of their emotions. They are bigger, but they aren't especially more dangerous, though they might appear that way to the uninformed.

I also think there is a bit of a difference between being something being dangerous and something to be wary of and something that actively manipulates feelings of fear. But all this is kind of a gray area. Charisma is really just kind of a weird ability score at the end of the day.


Aratorin wrote:
But it's definitely a correlation that has existed for decades.

Doesn't make it valid, though. It's just like HP - meat, it's never been actually true no matter that even authors of game material have at times fallen into treating it as if it were.


Aratorin wrote:
Claxon wrote:


RAW the bear takes the penalty.

As a GM, I wouldn't apply the penalty to "intimidating creatures that don't speak".

PCs require Intimidating Glare.

The Demoralize Action is a basic mechanic. As written, a Vrock would take a -4 Penalty to Demoralize most PCs, which is silly.

Honestly, Intimidation being based solely, or even mostly on Charisma has always been dumb, but that's a larger legacy issue that isn't going away.

You can be extremely intimidating, but not charismatic at all. In fact, since Charisma tends to represent physical attractiveness as well, having a very low Charisma could actually make you more intimidating. Think Jason Vorhees, or the thing from It Follows. Or the Thing from The Thing.

I agree with you, but the rules contradict what we think.

Personally I would be all for a rule in the rule book that says that animals don't use charisma or language for intimidation and instead use strength and visual and or auditory signals.

Or course I think PCs should have that same option without a feat, but again the rules disagree with us.


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thenobledrake wrote:
Aratorin wrote:
...since Charisma tends to represent physical attractiveness as well...

What other house-rules that a lot of people use for literally no reason and act like it's a rule from the book should we adjust the game to work based on?

I'm not sure if Charisma has ever represented physical attractiveness in D&D (I don't think it has since Comeliness used to be a thing), but I know that there is zero reason to treat it as doing so in Pathfinder 2nd edition.

It is part of the rules of pathfinder
Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 17 wrote:
Charisma measures a character’s personality, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and appearance.

And since we're supposed to be able to tell the same stories in PF1 as PF2, it makes sense for people to use that in PF2 too.


Claxon wrote:


But you know, they need to actually be written.

They are: Ask you GM is the rule that is written.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Rikkan wrote:
It is part of the rules of pathfinder
Source PRPG Core Rulebook pg. 17 wrote:
Charisma measures a character’s personality, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and appearance.
And since we're supposed to be able to tell the same stories in PF1 as PF2, it makes sense for people to use that in PF2 too.

I don’t think it necessarily “makes sense” for people to ignore the PF2 CRB’s written description of Charisma in favor of the PF1 CRB’s written description of Charisma.

PF2’s description specifically removes the reference to appearance from the previous iteration of the game which makes nobledrakes statement fairly accurate.

“Source - Pathfinder 2nd Edition Core Rulebook pg.19” wrote:


Charisma measures your character’s personal magnetism and strength of personality. A high Charisma score helps you influence the thoughts and moods of others.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Same kind of stories. Same kind. Not same stories. Once more for the people in the back: Same kind of stories. The original quote was not ever "same stories", it just got mutilated into that by people who wanted to use it against the devs.

The Pathfinder 2e definition of Charisma is "Charisma measures your character’s personal magnetism and strength of personality. A high Charisma score helps you influence the thoughts and moods of others."

It says nothing about appearance at all.


Also, the story is "was beautiful" or "was ugly" not "had a high charisma score" or "had a low charisma score" so the story being told isn't affected by not repeating a prior edition's mistake to equate appearance with an ability score.


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thorin001 wrote:
Claxon wrote:


But you know, they need to actually be written.

They are: Ask you GM is the rule that is written.

That's a terrible rule to be employed as first rule.

I wont accept that as an excuse.

A GM could literally make up the whole game, but I don't want them to. That isn't a good frame work to frame the game, because GMs will not be consistent.

It's one thing to have a corner case weird rule interaction that needs adjudication.

Scary animals not avoiding the penalty for intimidation without shared language is a system flaw.

Liberty's Edge

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Claxon wrote:
Scary animals not avoiding the penalty for intimidation without shared language is a system flaw.

It's a pretty easily fixed one, but yes.


I'd consider that pretty niche. On the PCs' side, this only comes up for the bear animal companion. On the GM's side, a lot of the big animals aren't going to be demoralizing. The "scary" doesn't come from threats, but from action. Cobras and geese may not have things reflected properly, sure. That's not a big deal.

And, ultimately, if I find out how to make my bear animal companion threaten to disembowel somebody slowly, that's definitely worth +4 to intimidate.


Claxon wrote:
Scary animals not avoiding the penalty for intimidation without shared language is a system flaw.

It being a design decision you do not like doesn't make it a flaw.

Non-language penalty is there because detailed and understood threats are more intimidating than vague or not understood threats, so the system makes sense from the "is there a reason for this rule?" point of view.

This rule also passes the "Does it work for most circumstances?" check because the math of a check vs. a DC is predictable, and the modifier isn't so large as to completely invalidate the deviation of a die nor so small as to be completely subsumed by the deviation of a die in most cases.

The rule is even "future proofed" for situations like enchanting a big scary animal so that it can speak a language and avoid the penalty for it's threats not being detailed and understood.

Some people might prefer that instead of a baseline and a penalty (your threat isn't the best kind, so minus) this kind of rule be delivered as a baseline and a bonus (your threat is the best kind, so bonus) even though that kind of rule would mean a constantly applied bonus rather than an occasionally applied penalty - but preference differing doesn't make things flaws.


Captain Morgan wrote:
jdripley wrote:

As a GM, I'm happy to waive the language thing IF the roleplay matches. If it's an NPC or player who is using their words to intimidate, then language applies. If it's a creature that is roaring/doing a dominance display, I'll probably add the manipulate trait and waive the language penalty.

But I think I'd do all of that behind the screen. Once players realize they won't suffer a language penalty if they just scream incoherently at an enemy as opposed to say something cool an intimidating, it puts them in a tough spot - it's best for the team mechanically if they scream loudly. It's best for roleplay if they say something on point.

So, if they use words, it's rules as written. If they narrate their demoralize in such a way that I think it ought to work just as well with or without words, I'll just lower the enemy DC by 4 to offset the penalty they'll include in their roll.

This strikes me as unnecessary. There are at least 2 skill feats which provide the ability to ignore the language penalty and letting people roar without them invalidates the feats. And I don't personally think a single skill feat to offset a -4 penalty is an unfair tax.

I'm also for roleplay or other things providing a circumstance bonus ad hoc as discussed on page 12 of the GMG, but it would have to be REALLY impressive circumstance to make that bonus go up to +4. And that should work in conjunction with the skill feats, not replace it. IE:

If a barbarian without intimidating glare or intimidating prowess splits a wolf in half with a critical hit and then tries to Demoralize its pack mate, I might apply a -1 penalty to the wolf will DC (or perhaps more accurately, decide to do that when I see the Barbarian rolled 1 short of success.) If the barbarian does some crazy thing like describes themselves drinking the blood from the severed neck of the first wolf, I might make the penalty -2. However, the Barbarian still has to overcome the normal language based penalty.

Now if a barbarian with...

Good points, and thanks for bringing them up. I had overlooked the feats that are there to help you do what I was describing.


thenobledrake wrote:
Non-language penalty is there because detailed and understood threats are more intimidating than vague or not understood threats, so the system makes sense from the "is there a reason for this rule?" point of view.

That's not even a little bit true. Sentient creatures, and especially Humans, are much more intimidated by the unknown then they are by the known.

That's why way more people are afraid to fly than to drive, despite there being a much higher chance of them dying a car crash.

The threat you can't understand is far more intimidating, because your brain has no tools to rationalize and deal with it.

No, I'm not a psychologist, but as a person who has been living with clinical OCD for over 30 years, I have a very deep understanding of fear and intimidation.


I think you are confusing two different things as being the same.

That being not knowing what exactly a sound meant - is it mad? is it hungry? was that a dumpster lid closing, or a gunshot? - and the "filling in the blanks has allowed me to make this the worst it possibly could be" unknown.

A big scary animal roaring is not "the unknown" in relevant context.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber

Keep in mind the action in question is "Demoralize" not "Intimidate." While Frightened is the condition applied on success, the focus is about sapping the enemy's will to fight. So here's my opinion as far as a rationale goes.

Beasts and large creatures and all that have the natural ability to demoralize an enemy through sheer physical intimidation.

Little humanoids do not, in comparison. So either, like a barbarian, have to tie it to their prowess and rage or, like a bard for example, have to use crafty language and viable threats to convince another intelligent creature that they are about to get swatted.

So yeah. When a little scrawny gnome wants to demoralize a bear, there's not much they can do. Hence big -4 penalty. A bear has all the natural ability to spook a little gnome though, hence no penalty. If the bear can be made to understand the gnome's speech (actually not hard), then no penalty to the gnome as they can actually convince the bear things are about to suck.

Generally speaking, I'm just taking the Bestiary's numbers for monsters at face value. There is no reason to assume that every beast in both books has a -4 penalty to all checks (especially ones with screams or general demoralizing abilities) to be added onto the value they provide. I don't see a lot of reason to second guess that, from my personal point of view.


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Sporkedup wrote:

Keep in mind the action in question is "Demoralize" not "Intimidate." While Frightened is the condition applied on success, the focus is about sapping the enemy's will to fight. So here's my opinion as far as a rationale goes.

....

Generally speaking, I'm just taking the Bestiary's numbers for monsters at face value. There is no reason to assume that every beast in both books has a -4 penalty to all checks (especially ones with screams or general demoralizing abilities) to be added onto the value they provide. I don't see a lot of reason to second guess that, from my personal point of view.

I am more than ok with the separation of mental intimidation for all creatures that actually use speech including characters and the more physical intimidation / demoralization for all creatures that rely on displays of strength in order to do so. However this should be stated somewhere in the CRB or MM.

A bear standing on its hind legs roaring, a gorilla pounding his chest or an elefant trumpeting madly before charging really are not that hard to understand.


Just assume Bears and Vrocks have the Intimidating Prowess (not the Intimidating Glare) feat (and that the Strength score is already accounted for).

In other words, just let monsters use Demoralize without the penalty. Only humanoids (and PCs in particular) need to worry about the -4.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:
Sporkedup wrote:

Keep in mind the action in question is "Demoralize" not "Intimidate." While Frightened is the condition applied on success, the focus is about sapping the enemy's will to fight. So here's my opinion as far as a rationale goes.

....

Generally speaking, I'm just taking the Bestiary's numbers for monsters at face value. There is no reason to assume that every beast in both books has a -4 penalty to all checks (especially ones with screams or general demoralizing abilities) to be added onto the value they provide. I don't see a lot of reason to second guess that, from my personal point of view.

I am more than ok with the separation of mental intimidation for all creatures that actually use speech including characters and the more physical intimidation / demoralization for all creatures that rely on displays of strength in order to do so. However this should be stated somewhere in the CRB or MM.

A bear standing on its hind legs roaring, a gorilla pounding his chest or an elefant trumpeting madly before charging really are not that hard to understand.

None of them are especially frightening to adventurers either. A grizzly and a gorilla are both 3rd level creatures, meaning even the weakest party of PCs can take them down. An elephant is a higher level threat, but it is also not a predator that is going to try and eat you. And none of them (save bear animal companions) are trained in Intimidation so the language barrier is the least of their issues. The gorilla, though, gets a special ability called Frightening Display that involves beating its chest and is language agnostic. Whether it's right for the gorilla to get that but a lion's roar not to is debatable, I guess, but there's more at play for either of them than just being big and strong.

People keep citing things that would be scary to real humans in the real world as things which should be intimidating to adventurers, and I don't really get why. Yes, a bear is dangerous. Adventurers live for danger. I would be quite concerned if someone came at me with a weapon in the real world, too, but that's not going to make an adventurer lose their nerve. Adventurers are dare devils who become increasingly superhuman.

If your NPC animal is going against another NPC, then the rules start to matter less anyway. A lone level 0 shoemaker is going to be scared by a bear regardless of its intimidation score. Gugs still have an irrational phobia of ghouls regardless of such things.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:


None of them are especially frightening to adventurers either. A grizzly and a gorilla are both 3rd level creatures, meaning even the weakest party of PCs can take them down. An elephant is a higher level threat, but it is also not a predator that is going to try and eat you. And none of them (save bear animal companions) are trained in Intimidation so the language barrier is the least of their issues. The gorilla, though, gets a special ability called Frightening Display that involves beating its chest and is language agnostic. Whether it's right for the gorilla to get that but a lion's roar not to is debatable, I guess, but there's more at play for either of them than just being big and strong.

People keep citing things that would be scary to real humans in the real world as things which should be intimidating to adventurers, and I don't really get why. Yes, a bear is dangerous....

Really? You think level 1 adventurers wouldn't feel significantly threatened by a large bear? Neither the characters nor the players would have any idea of the encounter difficulty. The nature of a fight against a +2 enemy is that it would almost absolutely definitely kill you in a one-on-one fight. Just because you and your friends have the tools to probably take this thing down doesn't mean you won't maybe panic if it gets right in your face and roars. Level 1 adventurers are largely untested and inexperienced in combat, so facing a bear is probably a first for them...

As players become accustomed to such things... they level up. Which, with the proficiency system in PF2, means that experiencing enemies like bears makes them less likely to feel threatened by bears in the future. That's the point.

I dunno. Doesn't seem like a big stretch to say that things that are bigger than PCs should be able to use their physicality to demoralize without a penalty (since most of these aren't good at it anyways). Things that are good at it either have a special ability or are intelligent enemies, so only in the case of the latter would I think the penalty could really be called into play.

Just because Golarion isn't our world doesn't mean that people aren't spooked by 800 pound angry critters sprinted at them. Seasoned vets and people with strong willpower and all that are already mechanically represented...


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Being scary is not the same thing as being good at scaring people, though.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber
MaxAstro wrote:
Being scary is not the same thing as being good at scaring people, though.

For sure. Which is what intimidation proficiency and charisma scores are for!


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

And a grizzly bear has a... -2 Intimidate.

Meaning against a 1st level character who is only Trained in Will and has an 8 Wisdom, the bear will fail to Demoralize them without the -4 a whole 65% of the time.

So if your argument is "bears are scary", you are using the wrong argument. :)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition Subscriber
MaxAstro wrote:

And a grizzly bear has a... -2 Intimidate.

Meaning against a 1st level character who is only Trained in Will and has an 8 Wisdom, the bear will fail to Demoralize them without the -4 a whole 65% of the time.

So if your argument is "bears are scary", you are using the wrong argument. :)

I know!

My only point is that bears are scary enough that they don't need an additional -4 on top of all that because they aren't communicating that demoralize attempt through a shared language.


MaxAstro wrote:
Being scary is not the same thing as being good at scaring people, though.

Hold on, just asking my pals Michael and Jason what they think about the "being scary is not the same thing as being good at scaring people" -4 language penalty...


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ubertron, that's a poor argument. Anyone who made a stat block for Michael or Jason that didn't have the Intimidating Glare feat, just based on the name of the feat alone, obviously doesn't know what they are doing.


Question for people that want the penalty for not sharing a language gone from generally "scary" creatures that don't normally speak: would they gain an additional bonus on top of that if something magical/special made them capable of speech and able to formulate appropriate demoralizing statements, or are we saying that a bear that make actual threats isn't any more scary than just a bear?


thenobledrake wrote:
Question for people that want the penalty for not sharing a language gone from generally "scary" creatures that don't normally speak: would they gain an additional bonus on top of that if something magical/special made them capable of speech and able to formulate appropriate demoralizing statements, or are we saying that a bear that make actual threats isn't any more scary than just a bear?

My take is that this should be broken into 2 different actions. In the middle of a fight, what you say to me isn't nearly as important as your ability to physically threaten me.

Psychological Intimidation can certainly be effective, but that would require a more long term commitment, or a different scenario.

A person that I'm engaged in combat with and planning to kill anyway isn't going to scare me by saying he's going to murder my family, he's going to scare me by showing how he's going to cave in my skull.

Combat Intimidation and Social Intimidation are not the same thing.


MaxAstro wrote:
Ubertron, that's a poor argument. Anyone who made a stat block for Michael or Jason that didn't have the Intimidating Glare feat, just based on the name of the feat alone, obviously doesn't know what they are doing.

It seems like Michael and Jason need to pay some feat tax in order to be really, really scary. How convenient that there is a skill feat to suit their needs. ;) :P

Look guys, I understand why the rule is written as it is, and that the rule does make sense if you are just looking at mental intimidation and from a certain angle, especially game meta. However I neither find it very intuitive nor especially fitting for any nonlanguage based intimidation attemps.

If an enemy soldier is comming at me with a bayonet charge - war faced, wide eyed, yelling a battle cry at the top of his lungs and all - I guess I do not need to understand what he is yelling in order to feel scared.

But that are just my 5 cent...


Aratorin wrote:
Combat Intimidation and Social Intimidation are not the same thing.

They seem similar enough to me, both in style and function, to remain the same action.

After all, despite how incredibly different the actual vagaries of combat with a sword is to combat with a spear, we can have just one Strike action that works for both so we aren't further cluttering an already cluttered rule book.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:
MaxAstro wrote:
Ubertron, that's a poor argument. Anyone who made a stat block for Michael or Jason that didn't have the Intimidating Glare feat, just based on the name of the feat alone, obviously doesn't know what they are doing.

It seems like Michael and Jason need to pay some feat tax in order to be really, really scary. How convenient that there is a skill feat to suit their needs. ;) :P

Look guys, I understand why the rule is written as it is, and that the rule does make sense if you are just looking at mental intimidation and from a certain angle, especially game meta. However I neither find it very intuitive nor especially fitting for any nonlanguage based intimidation attemps.

If an enemy soldier is comming at me with a bayonet charge - war faced, wide eyed, yelling a battle cry at the top of his lungs and all - I guess I do not need to understand what he is yelling in order to feel scared.

But that are just my 5 cent...

Luckily, people with the Warrior background get Intimidating Glare as a bonus feat, so that enemy soldier is covered. :P


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:


If an enemy soldier is comming at me with a bayonet charge - war faced, wide eyed, yelling a battle cry at the top of his lungs and all - I guess I do not need to understand what he is yelling in order to feel scared.

Aratorin wrote:
A person that I'm engaged in combat with and planning to kill anyway isn't going to scare me by saying he's going to murder my family, he's going to scare me by showing how he's going to cave in my skull.

OK, so by this standard what fights wouldn't inflict the Frightened condition? Because you two are saying that your PC should be Demoralized by someone just screaming and swinging a weapon at them, which is basically every fight. You're not even describing taking an action to specifically do this; your examples are literally just "I am attacked with a weapon." This game assumes you aren't going to lose your cool every time something dangerous happens because dangerous things happening is the norm. Screaming and roaring while attacking isn't itself a Demoralize because you can always be screaming or roaring while attacking.

Keep in mind, there are lots of ways a creature can specialize in scaring people. A fighter who wants to "show you how he's going to cave in my skull" can do so with Intimidating Strike feat. A barbarian can take Terrifying Howl. A gorilla can Frightening Display. These are ways a character can choose to be scarier than normal. But once you start arguing that a creature should inflict Frightened just by virtue of being dangerous the Frightened condition loses all meaning and we might as well assume every combatant is Frightened every fight and say it evens out.


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Captain Morgan wrote:
OK, so by this standard what fights wouldn't inflict the Frightened condition? Because you two are saying that your PC should be Demoralized by someone just screaming and swinging a weapon at them, which is basically every fight. You're not even describing taking an action to specifically do this; your examples are literally just "I am attacked with a weapon." This game assumes you aren't going to lose your cool every time something dangerous happens because dangerous things happening is the norm. Screaming and roaring while attacking isn't itself a Demoralize because you can always be screaming or roaring while attacking.

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like your opinion, man.

But in earnest. Nobody is debating that you need to spend an action to try to demoralize an opponent, even if we all know that you can talk for free during your round, we are just questioning the language dependent part because sight and sound alone can already cover a lot of meaning.

There simply is no need for the skill action to have the language dependant trait apart as a stepping stone for feats that will let you circumvent that trait / penalty.

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