I know this question has been answered for pathfinder, but I did not find the crucial rule cited there in 3.5, i.e. the change lasting 1d4 hours ot that it can be used only once per day.

A PC ranger in my campaign intends to befriend a pack of legendary wolves by repeatedly using wild empathy on them. I am aware that this is ultimately a DM decision, but I would like to be sure about the rules part first. As fas as I can see there is no duration given in the Wild Empathy entry - so is it RAW that it lasts indefinitely? In this case could the PC improve the wolves' attitude step by step to helpful which would eventually gain him some quite considerable allies?

The retry rules seem very ambigous:

Optional, but not recommended because retries usually do not work. Even if the initial Diplomacy check succeeds, the other character can be persuaded only so far, and a retry may do more harm than good. (PHP, p.72)

This does not exactly state that you cannot retry - it seems to imply that you cannot improve the result of the first check, but not entirely preclude it.

So: is the idea of using several Wild Empathy checks on the wolves improving their attitude step by step legal as far as RAW is concerned?


2 Answers 2


Wild empathy works like Diplomacy, so this question is really about Diplomacy, not wild empathy.

And the answer is, Diplomacy doesn’t apply some temporary “more friendly” condition on the target. As written, it changes their opinion of you entirely. It makes them like you more. And it doesn’t change again until something else comes along to specifically change it again.

Really, very little is written in Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide on the subject of NPC attitudes. It is largely left up to the DM to figure out, within the constraints of acting according to the attitude (which can be changed by Diplomacy or Intimidate, and presumably other means). But RAW, Diplomacy just works, and it works every time, and there is no protection against it—which is why RAW Diplomacy is sometimes referred to as “diplomancy.” Pathfinder didn’t really do much to change this, either—making it temporary is an improvement, but not much of one when most NPCs aren’t interacted with for very long, and if the party can hit a given DC once, they can probably do it again if necessary.

Realistically, every table I have ever sat at treated Diplomacy as just ad hoc “roll me a check and if the number impresses me enough I’ll let that work,” rather than use any formal system (much less the system written in the books). I don’t honestly think there is any other way to run it—diplomacy is just far too complex to distill down into simple rules.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The Giant's Diplomacy Fix did wonders on the ad-hoc bit (diplomacy isn't what makes people like you, it's what gets them to do what you ask - with their attitude being a modifier) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 18:31

Closest I can think of RAW is the passage on diplomacy's Retry.

Try Again Optional, but not recommended because retries usually do not work. Even if the initial Diplomacy check succeeds, the other character can be persuaded only so far, and a retry may do more harm than good. If the initial check fails, the other character has probably become more firmly committed to his position, and a retry is futile.

Now, this isn't rules-talk, but if I were to interpret it, it'd be 'followup checks are made at a penalty. If a check doesn't improve attitude at all, no retries can be done'.

Now, if your player wants to take his time about it, I'd say allowing an exception for taking 20 to be the way to go. While diplomacy isn't a normally take-20 skill, this is exactly the situation that would seem to call for it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Where do you deduct the "penalty" part from? Also, it only says you cannot retry an inital check that has failed. Nontheless I think analyzing this word by word is a way to figure it out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ "intial check fails" --> no retry, "the other character can only be persuaded only so far" --> there is a limit for total influence on the other character. This limit is defined by the best result given in the table for the initial check. Otherwise the sentence would not make sense. "retry may do more harm than good" --> the odds do not get better on the second check, i.e. the table remains the same as for the first check and the result may well be worse. Second roll takes precedence. \$\endgroup\$
    – Giorin
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 15:00

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