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Skills in Conflict


Source Ultimate Intrigue pg. 186
The Intimidate skill allows characters to use fear to gain an advantage over others.

Scaring Them into Submission: Other than demoralizing foes in combat, the main use of the Intimidate skill is to force someone to capitulate to your requests by scaring them into doing so. This is similar to improving someone’s attitude to friendly with Diplomacy and then making a request, but it doesn’t require multiple rolls. Instead, the requests are restricted to those that provide limited assistance and actions that don’t endanger the creature, including giving information. This means that an intimidated creature doesn’t necessarily do what the intimidating character wants if it would be dangerous. After the Intimidate check, the target becomes unfriendly and might take actions such as reporting the intimidating character to the authorities. Thus, Diplomacy is often more likely to be successful in the long term in campaigns with interweaving plot lines and recurring characters. Since intimidation is based on fear, creatures immune to fear are also generally immune to attempts to use Intimidate against them.

Posturing and Bluster: The rules for the Intimidate skill specify that a check’s DC is based on the target’s HD and Wisdom modifier. That generally works when one person is attempting to Intimidate the other, but sometimes both parties are actively participating in acts of posturing and bluster. Since this DC is usually low, the two characters would end up intimidating each other, which isn’t quite realistic. Instead, consider opposed Intimidate checks, or if the situation warrants it, a full-fledged verbal duel.

Explaining Negative Consequences: Sometimes a character wants to calmly explain negative consequences to someone in a way that merely relies on logic, not fear. This is particularly important when attempting to convince someone immune to fear, such as a paladin or vampire, to back down in the face of negative consequences. This is different than improving a creature’s attitude or making a request (particularly since a character might try it with an unfriendly creature), so it doesn’t fall under Diplomacy. One good way to handle this is to use the rules for influence or verbal duels instead, since those both allow for logic and knowledge to help impact the situation. If only a skill check is possible, consider allowing an Intimidate check that doesn’t apply any modifiers tied to frightening the target (such as the Intimidating Prowess feat, size modifiers, an inquisitor’s stern gaze, and so on) and then having the result not be a fear effect.