There are many ways to Speak with animals (for example the spell with that name). When you do...

You can ask questions of and receive answers from animals, but the spell doesn't make them any more friendly than normal. Wary and cunning animals are likely to be terse and evasive, while the more stupid ones make inane comments. If an animal is friendly toward you, it may do some favor or service for you.

However, asking someone (even friendly) for something requires a diplomacy check*, and

You cannot use Diplomacy against a creature that does not understand you or has an Intelligence of 3 or less."

Since even if the target is a very stupid (INT 3) being of your own race who's language you speak you can't convince them of anything using diplomacy, it follows that even if you speak the animals tongue, you can't use diplomacy.

*For example if you are asking a friendly Thrush (CHA 6) for simple aid, would have an AC of 8 (10 from friendly - 2 cha modifier). While that wouldn't be hard to beat untrained and w/o bonuses it wouldn't be hard to fail either...

Now it get's even weirder when thinking about making it more friendly towards you.

Words alone might be meaningless but diplomacy is

"...used to negotiate conflicts by using the proper etiquette and manners suitable to the problem."

This could include actions such as offering food. "I'm your friend, here see, this is food that I'm willing to share with you. Come have it..." - and since diplomacy is a 1 min action it could incorporate letting it smell you, touching it etc. I do that all the time in real life when meeting stranger's animals and roaming cats in the City... Diplomacy also wears off after 1d4 hours unless GM says otherwise so I'd have to upkeep the idea that I'm it's friend...

Anything with enough intelligence (>3) isn't an animal (but a magical beast or other creature)?

So it would seem the only thing it's good for is for receiving information, but only what ever they naturally felt like saying anyways. And for giving simple information (for example "Your owner killed your mom." without rolling anything, and just hoping it'll do something with it.) However Bluff and Intimidate don't mention intelligence.

Does that mean I can lie to get an animal to do stuff, but not tell the truth? Intimidate for temporarily changing it's attitude to friendly, bluff to say "I"m your God. Follow, obey and serve me!" :-D And then (throw a Pokeball or if you don't have any) can you finally use Handle animal to command it around?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can't you cast buff spells on the animals to raise their INT? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dakeyras
    May 20, 2013 at 10:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Like what? How does a witch get a hold of a cheap buff spell for that? \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    May 21, 2013 at 7:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not 100% sure, but I think a party cleric might be able to? My 3.x experience is limited to D&D Online though, which changed some things. I'm pretty sure though that a +2 int item would eventually be available, which will make anything you put it on that has any Int whatsoever have at least 3 Int. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dakeyras
    May 21, 2013 at 13:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have to disagree that sharing food with an animal or letting it smell you to let you befriend it is an example of "negotiating a conflict by using proper etiquette and manners". I'm guessing the Int requirement is there because creatures of animal intelligence have no "etiquette or manners" which can be applied diplomatically, not because you cannot be friendly to them. In short: Don't let the rules over-rule (sorry...) your game! :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric
    May 21, 2013 at 22:15

4 Answers 4


You're trying to use a D&D precedent in Pathfinder, but the Diplomacy rules were specifically changed!

The line "You cannot use Diplomacy against a creature that does not understand you or has an Intelligence of 3 or less" was explicitly added to the skill description in Pathfinder; it was not present in prior incarnations of the rules. Given this, it hardly matters whether it worked in 3.5 or not.

what is this witch ability good for if it doesn't allow for using diplomacy?

Um, talking to animals, same as the spell it emulates? You can still get information from them. I believe you could also cast [language dependent] spells on them, if you want a more specific game benefit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh! I didn't realize the link was from D&D ! That makes sense of the link. Normally to get information from creatures you request of them to tell you something, which normally uses diplomacy, right? If you can't use diplomacy, why would the animal tell you anything? The spell description for speak with animals says: "Wary and cunning animals are likely to be terse and evasive, while the more stupid ones make inane comments. If an animal is friendly toward you, it may do some favor or service for you." - how would I ask it to do favors though without diplomacy? \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    May 20, 2013 at 3:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Julix It depends on what the initial attitude of the creature is, which is somewhat up to the DM. Diplomacy is not a skill you need to use every time you interact with someone! You only roll it when you try to change their attitude. \$\endgroup\$
    – starwed
    May 20, 2013 at 3:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or when you request anything of them. The easiest thing to ask is simple directions for a -5 modifier. For a friendly creature with a CHA of 10 it's still an AC of 5. A rat has a CHA of 2, thus a malus of -4, so it would have an AC of 1. Natural 1 doesn't have special effects, so yes, without diplomacy you'll always be fine asking a friendly rat for simplest advice. By the way, I'd love to upvote for catching the mistake with the link, but I don't have enough "power" yet. \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    May 20, 2013 at 3:57

Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive are used for resolving verbal conflict between characters. Animals are still characters, so yes, you can try using these skills in a conversation with them just as you can with other creatures, provided you share a language or otherwise can communicate (as with Feral Talk).

Exceptions (like Wild Empathy) do exist, but as exceptions they state this explicitly.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually that answer does help: Intimidate, Sense Motive, and Bluff all don't mention an intelligence requirement. Thus, while I can't tell the truth to show that I'm it's friend, I can still lie to it. "I'm a God, and you should be my servant. It's your destiny!" hahahahaa - however that doesn't solve the trick for making it like me... :-S Handle animal is for training etc. and getting animals to do just what you want (even if they hate you), and as far as I know there's no "teaching friendship"... \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    May 20, 2013 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget you always have the option to roleplay (instead of "rollplay"), doubly so for social encounters. The game's rules are hardly adequate enough to have a check for every action you might want to undertake, so if you feel something should work (e.g., because you do it yourself in real life), just describe it and/or act it out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric
    May 21, 2013 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do agree, I'm not going to let this keep me from roleplaying it if the situation comes up, but without rule backing I'm not going to create a character based on the concept. The idea was to make a witch that can use charm on anything to raise attitude by one, then use feral tongue and silver tounged to diplomatize for a while and try to make friends everywhere we go... and every now and then all those rolls work and we get someone to tag along until they don't like something. "This climate sucks, I'm going home" - "Well thanks for being with us for a while. Safe journeys" ;-) \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    May 22, 2013 at 5:16

Short answer: No. The only RAW way to use a Diplomacy-like effect on an animal is with Wild Empathy, which Witches do not get. If you want to do this kind of thing, your easiest RAW route is to be a Druid.

Long answer: So, it sounds like this question is couched inside a larger one. It sounds like what you really want is to be able to have a small army of animals that follow you around doing your bidding using Diplomacy and your Witch abilities. I think I can safely say that the rules were not designed with that case in mind, so your best bet is really to talk with your GM. Even if you can come up with a RAW argument for it working, your GM may be uncomfortable with that kind of ability and may disallow it anyway. However, if your GM thinks it's cool, they might work with you to make the concept work.


So there's this great skill called Handle Animal. Its very first use, "Handle an Animal," involves commanding an animal to perform a task or trick that it knows. Base DC is 10. It's basically your replacement for other social skills when dealing with animals.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I dont think so. This skill seems to be designed for situations where an animal may not understand you at all, and RAW, it only lets you deal with animal tricks or purposes, no mention at all about influencing attitudes. \$\endgroup\$
    – kravaros
    May 25, 2013 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ In addition to what kravaros said, Handle Animal makes several references to domestication, and implies heavily that the skill is only useful to get domesticated animals to do things. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    May 25, 2013 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Read it carefully, it is used for a variety of things and makes several domesticated/wild distinctions therein. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 25, 2013 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have. It lets you command animals to do tricks, teach them tricks, or rear a wild animal into a domesticated one (strongly suggesting that the first two apply to domesticated animals only), and it does not in any way suggest manipulating its attitude, which was the main point of the question. Furthermore, if the "other social skills" mean diplomacy, bluff, and intimidate, it does not let you do any of the things that these do. Although it is not written there, I would even believe that the skill usually only applies to master: handling a hostile guard dog to attack its owner is ridiculous. \$\endgroup\$
    – kravaros
    May 25, 2013 at 17:29
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The only problem I see with that is that it is a bit of a homebrew approach - which is okay, but not what the asker asked for. If we leave the fact that it is not an answer to this particular question aside, I think it is a good idea, I might actually use it in my games as well. That, however, does not change the fact that it certainly isn't Rules As Written and therefore does not deserve to be upvoted (here). \$\endgroup\$
    – kravaros
    May 25, 2013 at 19:20

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