Nice to see somebody other than Fighter pissing off the locals for once. Of course, Drow Priestess seems to have her own history in that regard. Maybe they should team up to terrorize the countryside?

Any dang way, today’s comic is all about the downsides of Intimidation. As a tool in the social encounter toolbox, coercion and threats of bodily harm are all about short-term gain. Similar to the friends cantrip over in 5e, your best use cases for “do the thing or get face-stabbed” lie in disposable minions, nameless NPCs, and villains you’ve already captured. These are the characters that 1) probably won’t become recurring threats, and 2) have limited ability to take revenge. Think of them as protentional sources of information (Tell me where your boss is hiding!); givers of minor boons (Let us inside the secret speakeasy!); or shortcuts to solving active threats (How do we deactivate the device?). 

What Intimidation sucks at is ongoing relationships. If you’re trying to build diplomatic relations with Elf Princess, the jagged edge of a broken bottle shouldn’t be your go-to choice. You might attain your immediate goal, but you might also find a ring of spear tips pressed against your throat.

This biz can be frustrating when you’re good at Intimidate, crap at Diplomancy, and still want to convince a friendly to do your bidding. The best way I’ve found to sneak around that little conundrum lies in rephrasing your persuasive overtures in the form of dire consequences. For example, rather than going the Diplomacy route with, “Lend us the artifact and we will use it for a just cause,” foreground the opportunity cost instead: “If you don’t lend us the artifact, the demons will sack your city.” It’s a bit of a cheat, and you’ll need a GM willing to let it slide, but that simple rephrase can take advantage of your skills while salvaging your relationships.

On the other hand, if you happen to be a Pathfinder kid, then you can always coerce your opponents for days at a time. That’s more of a villain than a PC move though. And more to the point, I’ve never seen a PC so dedicated to Intimidation that they bother to make the requisite checks “once per week for 1d6 weeks without failing any.” Maybe it’s fine for keeping a criminal informant on a short leash as a downtime activity, but in a hobby full of ticking clocks and swiftly-approachign doomsdays, the use case is narrow indeed.

All of the above leads me to our question of the day! When you’re trying to walk the narrow line between “threatening an ally” and “using your best social skill,” how do you justify the use of Intimidation? Have you ever managed the trick without stretching your GM’s suspension of disbelief? Guess us all your best tales of bullying, bluster, and browbeating down in the comments!


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