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I wanted to confirm this I've heard tell they are but there seems to be much debate. Can you use intimidate to demoralize undead? This seems like the sort of thing that they would have made clear in the rules but it doesn't seem to be.

Undead Traits mentions immunity to mind-affecting effects in general, one could argue shaken is mind-affecting but it is never specified. It does say it is a state of "fear" but fear also does not specify that it is mind-affecting.

Based on this I might rule undead can be demoralized.

But, after some further thought...

Shake could be considered either a "morale effect" or "mind-affecting" but it doesn't specify and usually where something is a "morale" bonus or penalty specify the type. The best support for the concept that it is though would be the Psionics spell Demorailze which does specify "mind-affecting".

So the only argument might be that this was only meant to apply to magic effects not non-magic ones. Which seems to perhaps be a bit weak.


Mind affecting


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Are you looking for a RAW or not? –  Colin D Apr 29 '14 at 19:03
Just for comparison with its antecedent Dungeons and Dragons 3.5: "A character immune to fear can’t be intimidated..." and "All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects." Pathfinder lacks such language. –  Hey I Can Chan Apr 29 '14 at 20:31
@HeyICanChan yeah the lack of clarity in the PF rules is frustrating at times. –  Chris Nicola Apr 29 '14 at 23:37
@ColinD, RAW I suppose, but since they seem pretty vague, what do people usually rule on this one? –  Chris Nicola Apr 29 '14 at 23:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

By a very strict reading of the rules, you would be correct. There is nothing that specifically spells out that fear is a mind-affecting effect. However, the idea of something that doesn't have a mind experiencing fear is a tad ridiculous. This is one of the many times when the RAW doesn't spell something out that should be obvious: IF you don't have a mind, you can't be afraid of the scary guy trying to intimidate you.

As corroboration to this: The feat Turn Undead lets Clerics make undead run away, "as if panicked". If undead could be affected by fear effects, then they could just say that it applies the panicked condition to the undead. Since fear effects are mind-affecting, they cannot do that.

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Not all undead are mindless though, right? –  Chris Nicola Apr 29 '14 at 23:35
Not all undead are mindless, but all of them are immune to mind-affecting abilities. Related:… –  DuckTapeAl Apr 29 '14 at 23:56

Undead Traits (Ex) Undead are immune to death effects, disease, mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, phantasms, and patterns), paralysis, poison, sleep, stun, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save (unless the effect also works on objects or is harmless). Undead are not subject to ability drain, energy drain, or nonlethal damage. Undead are immune to damage or penalties to their physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution), as well as to fatigue and exhaustion effects. Undead are not at risk of death from massive damage.

Although it is never explicitly stated (so there is a RAW argument to made for intimidating undead), using the intimidate skill to demoralize is a morale effect. Therefore, undead are immune.

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"Although never explicitly stated, [...] is" The use of is here is problematic. Consider should be or most would consider or something along those lines. –  KRyan Apr 29 '14 at 20:22
I wasn't able to find anywhere where shaken was specified as a morale effect (aside from the action being called demoralize) you would think this would be the kind of thing that was made very clear in the rules. –  Chris Nicola Apr 29 '14 at 23:34

While, as @DuckTapeAl has pointed out, nothing in the rules state that fear is mind-affecting, and therefore the RAW answer is "No",

RAI: Yes, undead are immune to demoralize

I found a couple of quotes by James Jacobs, Creative Director at Paizo, in the ">>Ask *James Jacobs* ALL your Questions Here!<<" Thread on the Paizo messageboards. The short version can be found in this post:

[...] Intimidate to demoralize is indeed a fear effect, and thus creatures immune to fear or mind-affecting effects can't be demoralized by this skill

For the longer version, here are three quotes, sorted by date, emphasis mine.

Oct 22, 2012, 11:09 am

Little Skylark wrote:

Are paladins above level 3 immune to intimidate?

They are immune to being demoralized, since being shaken is a fear effect.

Sep 28, 2013, 11:51 am

Scott_UAT wrote:

[...] Can you demoralize mindless creatures with Intimidate and/or sway their condition towards you? [...]

This is still a question for the rules boards, but my preference? No... you can't demoralize mindless creatures, because you need a mind to know fear, and you need to know fear in order to be demoralized. The rule of common sense is my rule citation here, in other words.

Jul 3, 2014, 12:57 pm

Malick Rel wrote:

I have seen a few questions recently regarding morale and similar things, and I was wondering if you might offer your two cents worth on an issue of roll vs role play.
There are all manner of creatures out there that are immune to fear or mind affecting, and there are all manner of PCs that can throw down Intimidate and Diplomacy checks that would seem almost magical in their potency.
When an entity cannot have it's mind forcefully changed by a magical effect, are they subject to their mind changing through Diplomacy or Intimidate? Here is where the Role seems more relevant to the Roll, even if it is in the 50+ range.
Would a "successful" intimidate check against a creature with immunity to fear make them shaken?

Diplomacy effects are not technically mind-affecting, and as such you can diplomacy against creatures that can understand you and realize what you're doing. The target needs to be intelligent enough to understand you of course. Intimidate to demoralize is indeed a fear effect, and thus creatures immune to fear or mind-affecting effects can't be demoralized by this skill.

Now there is some interesting disparity in these (which is not unusual at all with James Jacobs rulings). Mindless creatures are immune to mind-affecting effects, which according to the third quote makes you immune to fear, yet he states that this is still unclear and he has no rules citation for this. However, this might just be for the RAW-side of things.

Overall I get the impression that demoralize is intended to be a fear effect, and that fear effects are intended to be mind-affecting effects. But as others have pointed out, that is not really the case with the rules as written.

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