The Blade of the Raven Queen
During a social interaction, the adventurers usually have a goal. They want to extract information, secure aid, win someone’s trust, escape punishment, avoid combat, negotiate a treaty, or achieve whatever other objective led to the interaction in the first place. The creatures they interact with also have agendas. Some DMs prefer to run a social interaction as a free-form roleplaying exercise, where dice rarely come into play. Other DMs prefer to resolve the outcome of an interaction by having characters make Charisma checks. Either approach works, and most games fall somewhere in between, balancing player skill(roleplaying and persuading) with character skill (reflected by ability checks).
The Player’s Handbook provides guidelines for balancing roleplaying and ability checks in a social interaction (see chapter 8, page 185 “Adventuring,” in that book .
l. STARTING ATTITUDE
Choose the starting attitude of a creature the adventurers are interacting with: friendly, indifferent. or hostile. A friendly creature wants to help the adventurers and wishes for them to succeed. For tasks or actions that require no particular risk, effort, or cost, friendly creatures usually help without question. If an element personal risk is involved, a successful Charisma check might be required to convince a friendly creature to take that risk. An indifferent creature might help or hinder the party, depending on what the creature sees as most beneficial. A creature’s indifference doesn’t necessarily make it standoffish or disinterested. Indifferent creatures might be polite and genial, surly and irritable or anything in between. A successful Charisma check is necessary when the adventurers try to persuade an indifferent creature to do something. A hostile creature opposes the adventurers and their goals but doesn’t necessarily attack them on sight. For example, a condescending noble might wish to see a group of upstart adventurers fail so as to keep them from becoming rivals for the king’s attention, thwarting them with slander and scheming rather than direct threats and violence. The adventurers need to succeed on one or more challenging Charisma checks to convince a hostile creature to do anything on their behalf. That said, a hostile creature might be so ill disposed toward the party that no Charisma check can improve its attitude, in which case any attempt to sway it through diplomacy fails automatically.
Play out the conversation. Let the adventurers make their points, trying to frame their statements in terms that are meaningful to the creature they are interacting with.
Changing Attitude. The attitude of a creature might change over the course of a conversation. If the adventurers say or do the right things during an interaction (perhaps by touching on a creature’s ideal, bond, or flaw), they can make a hostile creature temporarily indifferent, or make an indifferent creature temporarily friendly. Likewise, a gaffe, insult, or harmful deed might make a friendly creature temporarily indifferent or turn an indifferent creature hostile. Whether the adventurers can shift a creature’s attitude is up to you. You decide whether the adventurer have successfully couched their statements in terms that matter to the creature. Typically, a creature’s attitude can’t shift more than one step during a single interaction, whether temporarily or permanently.
Determining Characteristics. The adventurers don’t necessarily enter into a social interaction with a full understanding of a creature’s ideal. bond, or flaw. If they want to shift a creature’s attitude by playing on these characteristics, they first need to determine what the creature cares about. They can guess, but doing so runs the risk of shifting the creature’s attitude in the wrong direction if they guess badly. After interacting with a creature long enough to get a sense of its personality traits and characteristics through conversation, an adventurer can attempt a Wisdom (Insight) check to uncover one of the creature’s characteristics. You set the DC. A check that fails by 10 or more might misidentify a characteristic, so you should provide a false characteristic or invert one of the creature’s existing characteristics. For example, if an old sage’s flaw is that he is prejudiced against the uneducated, an adventurer who badly fails the check might be told that the sage enjoys personally seeing to the education of the downtrodden. Given time, adventurers can also learn about a creature’s characteristics from other sources, including its friends and allies, personal letters, and publicly told stories. Acquiring such information might be the basis of an entirely different set of social interactions.
3. CHARISMA CHECK
When the adventurers get to the point o( their request, demand, or suggestion- or if you decide the conversation has run its course- call for a Charisma check. Any character who has actively participated in the conversation can make the check. Depending on how the adventurers handled the conversation, the Persuasion, Deception, or Intimidation skill might apply to the check. The creature’s current attitude determines the DC required to achieve a specific reaction, as shown in the Conversation Reaction table.
- DC Friendly Creature’s Reaction
- 0 Does as asked without taking risks or making sacrifices.
- 10 Accepts a minor risk or sacrifice to do as asked.
- 20 Accepts a significant risk or sacrifice to do as asked.
- DC Indifferent Creature’s Reaction
- 0 Offers no help but does no harm .
- 10 Does as asked as long as no risks or sacrifices are involved.
- 20 Accepts a minor risk or sacrifice to do as asked.
- DC Hostile Creature’s Reaction
- 0 Opposes the adventurers actions and might take risks to do so.
- 10 Offers no help but does no ha rm.
- 20 Does as asked as long as no risks or sacrifices a re involved.
Aiding the Check. Other characters who make substantial contributions to the conversation can help the character making the check. If a helping character says or does something that would influence the interaction in a positive way, the character making the Charisma check can do so with advantage. If the other character inadvertently says something counterproductive or offensive, the character making the Charisma check has disadvantage on that check. Multiple Checks. Certain situations might call for more than one check, particularly if the adventurers come into the interaction with multiple goals.
Once a Charisma check has been made, further attempts to influence the target of the interaction might be fruitless or run the risk of upsetting or angering the subject creature, potentially shifting its attitude toward hostility. Use your best judgment. For example, if the party’s rogue says something that pushes a noble’s attitude toward the party from indifferent to hostile, another character might be able to diffuse the noble’s hostility with clever roleplaying and a successful Charisma (Persuasion) check.
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