If I'm say, trying to convince a group of soldiers to follow me(a player) into a fight, or a crowd to riot, or otherwise convincing a large group of people via oration to do something (maybe it's a more modern setting and I'm trying to convince people to vote for me), would this be a persuasion check? (I want you to do x...) or a performance check (I'm doing something in front of a large crowd of people, trying to get something out of it).

If it's a performance check, at what scale do I need to switch between persuasion to performance?

Or is it both?

  • @Selkie Are you asking to double check your DM or as research to go back to your DM with or just a strict reading of the rules? If your DM already made a call then it is moot point in all honesty. – Slagmoth Oct 15 at 16:29
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    Nope, we haven't even started playing, and nothing's come up relating to it. I'm just trying to get an idea of what the DM's likely to rule in the future (keeping in mind that nothing's set, and what he says goes) – Selkie Oct 15 at 16:30
  • Do not answer in comments. – mxyzplk Oct 16 at 21:18
up vote 34 down vote accepted

Persuasion to Convince a Crowd

The core rules include cases of groups in their examples of persuasion checks:

Examples of persuading others include convincing a chamberlain to let your party see the king, negotiating peace between warring tribes, or inspiring a crowd of townsfolk.

Performance is about Entertainment

Performance:

Your Charisma (Performance) check determines how well you can delight an audience with music, dance, acting, storytelling, or some other form of entertainment.

Combination

One might attempt to use a combination to overcome an obstacle where the end goal is to convince a large crowd. The character might begin with performances to attract enough people to form a sufficiently large crowd, and then transition to persuasion to convince the group of something.

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    As DM, I might even go with a performance check to get their attention, with the result translating to some sort of bonus (or penalty, or DC change) on the subsequent persuasion check. Nothing in the rules that really supports that approach, though. – Walt Oct 15 at 18:46
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    @Walt I think everything in the rules supports that approach :) – NautArch Oct 15 at 18:47
  • @NautArch Specifically, that approach is not based on the way the rules tend to work (I'd use a graduated skill check for the performance, while the rules treat skill checks as all or nothing; I don't know of anything in the PHB or DMG that suggests mixing separate skill checks for one action; 5e prefers advantage over situational modifiers). It's entirely within the rules even without going all the way to a "the DM is always right" trump card, because it's just "the DM decides the DC for skill checks", but it's not borne from the same design principles as the published rules. – Walt Oct 15 at 19:03
  • @Walt The rules simply ask the player to state their actions - and then the DM decides what to do. "What to do" could be exactly what you're proposing. – NautArch Oct 15 at 19:18
  • Negotiations are usually done among diplomats (or tribe leaders). Highlighting "tribes" imho gives the false impression that that part of the sentence contains a relevant example. (This imho is not the case.) – fabian Oct 16 at 11:18

Persuasion

The right skill is Persuasion.

Persuasion. When you attempt to influence someone or a group of people with tact, social graces, or good Nature, the GM might ask you to make a Charisma (Persuasion) check. Typically, you use Persuasion when acting in good faith, to foster friendships, make cordial requests, or exhibit proper etiquette. Examples of persuading others include convincing a chamberlain to let your party see the king, negotiating peace between warring tribes, or inspiring a crowd of townsfolk.

Compare it to the description of Performance.

Performance. Your Charisma (Performance) check determines how well you can delight an audience with music, dance, acting, storytelling, or some other form of entertainment.

You are trying to convince a crowd, so you use Persuasion for that. However, you may want to ask your DM to attempt throwing a joke to lighten the mood, a form of entertainment, so the DM may call for Performance check in place of Persuasion.

If I were the DM, I may allow them to attempt lighten the mood with a joke by asking for Performance check first, followed by the Persuasion check. A success grants advantage to the following Persuasion check.

  • @KorvinStarmast oh i see. The first part is RAW, only need persuasion. However, i add a section for optional combination of skill to suggest for the DM, if he specifically calls how to do it – Vylix Oct 16 at 0:29
  • Nice upgrade. :) (I also think that I may have commented under your answer rather than the OP's question). – KorvinStarmast Oct 16 at 1:55

It's not up to the player, it's up to the DM

Players describe what they want to do, but it's the DM who decides what, if any, roll is necessary. The type of check, whether it's a DC or opposing, and what the results will be is entirely up to the DM.

The introduction in the Basic Rules covers this:

The DM Describes the environment ...

The players describe what they want to do...

The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions.

The section on Ability Checks gives some more detail(my emphasis):

For every ability check, the DM decides which of the six abilities is relevant to the task at hand and the difficulty of the task, represented by a Difficulty Class.

But your table may be different

While the rules state to operate in this manner, it is not uncommon at tables for players to ask for the roll. This has the added effect of prompting for rolls the player isn't proficient in to get them out of their comfort zone. If you always ask for rolls in which your proficient, then you are greatly reducing your overall challenge.

Whether or not that's legitimate will be up to your DM and your table. But ultimately, unless that's how your table plays we can't really answer that question for you as a player.

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    I mean, sure, at the end of the day everything's about the DM like that. Being brand new to the game, (but having read a bunch) I figured I'd do some research of my own – Selkie Oct 15 at 18:35
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    @Selkie That's reasonable, but for your specific question the only person who can answer what will happen is your DM. We can't tell you how they may rule in terms of what roll to make. We can help guide you, if your a DM, as to how to approach. But there are a lot of factors. What if your speech is deceptive in nature? Should you roll deception? That's why it's most important to just describe what your doing and let your DM tell you what to roll. – NautArch Oct 15 at 18:36

Recommendation: do both, and lead with Performance

Begin the effort to appeal to, or connect to, the group of soldiers with a performance. If it goes well, then try persuasion to get them to follow you, work with you help you, etc.

  • Work with the DM ahead of time to suggest that a good performance may offer advantage on the persuasion check.

    If you bomb, then the persuasion attempt might be tried at another, more auspicious time.

This has been working IRL for years

The above technique has been used by advertisers, politicians, propagandists, and for that matter some religious folks, in real life to good effect. It has also been used by professional musicians to try and raise money for a cause: see Concert for Bangladesh and Live Aid as but two examples of that.

  1. Step 1: Performance (music)

  2. Step 2: Persuasion (contribute money for cause X)

    What you are doing with music and "help me" is a variation on the above theme.

You can also describe this as the social skills version of using artillery to soften up the enemy before a ground assault.

It depends...

Obviously I cannot make calls as to what your GM decides, but if I had to judge, it'd depend on what you were trying to achieve.

If you actually want to convince them of some position of yours, I'd ask for a persuasion check.

If you just want to get the crowd behind you (e.g. Monorail guy from the Simpsons) without (m)any actual arguments to convince them with, I'd call for a performance check.

Possibly a mixture of both, as KorvinStarmast said above. Success on the performance check has the crowd mentally behind you, so it's easier to convince them with arguments (if you do have any).

  • Is it true that you can get Mono from riding the Monorail? – Robert Columbia Oct 16 at 15:08

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