Checking the D&D 3.5 Player's Handbook rules, the rules are explicit that the Diplomacy skill cannot be used to influence other PCs, only NPCs.

But I see no such restrictions for Intimidate or Bluff. I can see an unscrupulous high Charisma PC using either skill to, for example, get his way when there's a disagreement with other PCs.

But that might mean after failing a die roll, a player's PC is "convinced" to do something contrary to the owning player's intentions(!), which would be awkward to say the least.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you looking for RAW answer or something else? From my experience forcing players to take actions can be very disruptive out of game and causes lots of tension between the players. \$\endgroup\$
    – Colin D
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, rules as written. What happens if a player insists on intimidating or bluffing another player's PC? \$\endgroup\$
    – RobertF
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 15:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Resentment and recriminations (in my experience) \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 15:44

6 Answers 6


Unlike Diplomacy, Intimidate and Bluff both have well-defined mechanical uses outside of open-ended persuasion. For instance, Bluff can be used as part of a Feint action in combat. If player-versus-player actions are allowed in game, then those uses of the skills are allowed by RAW. That is, in my opinion, why you do not see an explicit rule against the skill's use, in the same way that you don't see a rule against one PC targeting another with a spell or attack.

There is no RAW for "forcing" another PC to believe something or act in a particular way, and PCs do not have ratings of friendly, neutral or hostile towards each other. Those are categories assigned by DMs to enable setting of DCs etc.

By RAW, when you use Intimidate or Bluff to manipulate a target socially, the end result is not directly translated to actions, but to attitude and general behaviour. So a player can by RAW declare that they are acting "friendly" to someone who has just intimidated a PC and still refuse to do anything they ask (after all they would have refused just 10 minutes ago when the PCs were definitely friends, right?). It would be an uncomfortable stalemate if the opposing player did not want to have their PC obey orders.

There is nothing that stops players by consensus agreeing that PCs can Bluff each other in order to keep secrets, or Intimidate each other to perform specific actions. However, RAW does not cover this, it is open ended in the same way as the ultimate actions of Intimidated or Bluffed NPCs are open to DM interpretation. It is up to DM arbitration, and because it impacts PCs, player agreement, whether such actions even work at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Neil, great answer. Just thinking that another, indirect, means by which an evil high Charisma (and high level) PC can intimidate other PCs is to surround himself with a gang of followers (i.e., enforcers). \$\endgroup\$
    – RobertF
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 16:31

Yes, but not in the way you're thinking.

Bluff simply means "I'm making you believe something is true before you get a chance to think too hard about it". So, if that paladin is side-eying the rogue's lockpicks, a successful bluff is "These are for my legitimate business uses. I would never do anything illegal!".

From the SRD:

A successful Bluff check indicates that the target reacts as you wish, at least for a short time (usually 1 round or less) or believes something that you want it to believe. Bluff, however, is not a suggestion spell.

It also mentions:

If it’s important, you can distinguish between a bluff that fails because the target doesn’t believe it and one that fails because it just asks too much of the target. For instance, if the target gets a +10 bonus on its Sense Motive check because the bluff demands something risky, and the Sense Motive check succeeds by 10 or less, then the target didn’t so much see through the bluff as prove reluctant to go along with it. A target that succeeds by 11 or more has seen through the bluff.

And those modifiers start early - a +5 for just "a little hard to believe", up to +20 for "way out there". So feel free to give the bluffed those bonuses as need be.

As for Intimidate, it's even more restricted - sure, you can bully someone. But then they're completely justified in using this line:

After this time, the target’s default attitude toward you shifts to unfriendly (or, if normally unfriendly, to hostile).

So, now you're back to RP. Mr. Bully got his way this time, but now the party is unfriendly towards him. The next time, they're hostile. (And as a GM, you'd be completely justified in allowing either PvP or just leaving the character behind - either through plot or table fiat.)

Realistically, you shouldn't need to roll dice against other players at table. Certainly not Intimidate, since RAW makes it self-defeating. I can see Bluff being used more for obfuscation (the classic "make sure the Paladin doesn't know that we just robbed this place blind" tactics), and even there that's as much a table-talk thing. (But I could see Mr. Paladin wanting a Sense Motive to see if he actually sees it happen for RP purposes).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Allen. Yea, it's self defeating in the end to use these kind of social skill ploys against other players, except perhaps for the thief bluffing the paladin, heh. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – RobertF
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 20:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RobertF Specifically, it's self-defeating to try and control other players this way. Because in the end, no rule will prevent them from just getting up and leaving. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 20:40

I think the answer to whether or not Charisma-based persuasion should be permitted really lies within the hands of the GM, because it depends on your group.

In some groups, for example, winning a dice roll and "forcing" your fellow PCs to do whatever you wanted would be just as ridiculous as the idea of the wizard casting Command on the fighter who didn't agree with his battle plan. Sure, the wizard will have control of the fighter for a number of rounds, but afterwards, the fighter will probably attack the wizard and the group will disintegrate into chaos as the party picks sides and attacks each other.

Thus, as a GM, I simply wouldn't allow these charisma ability to be binding for the sake of the party (barring some sort of evil campaign, end of campaign send-off, or the like).

However, I am currently playing in a group of 12 (it's a little unwieldy) and for us, charisma is often used to resolve debates since we have so many PCs of wildly different alignments. For example, the party's decisions about moral quandaries are often made through a dexterity or charisma-based check, simply because the Lawful Evil Anti-Paladin and the Neutral Good Druid are never going to agree on whether we should release or kill the gnoll children we found in the cave we were paid to clear. It works well for us, because everyone should have a chance to make a party decision at some point without us having to argue in character for half an hour.

So, in summary, I would say that except in exceptional situations, although players are welcome to attempt the checks, they should never be binding and take away the autonomy of another player.

(Example of an exceptional situation: The Chaotic Neutral Rogue stole a pricy piece of the Anti-Paladin's loot. The DM allows the Paladin to use Intimidate to force the Rogue to return the loot, since the Rogue had already compromised the Paladin's agency by stealing his item.)


In my opinion, too many players put too much of themselves into a character - they take things too personally. Outside of D&D 3.5 specific rules, which were answered pretty well above, the key here is "roleplaying", which involves interaction between the players' characters, somewhat independent of the players themselves. I'll address your comment that forcing a character to go in a direction other than intended by the player is "awkward".

Games I've been a part of have often used bluff checks when one PC was trying to hide something from another: when they were working at cross purposes, when they decided to flat out lie about the outcome of an event, etc. The very nature of roleplaying is that even if you, as a player, don't believe something, a good bluff check from a PC or NPC means your character could buy it hook, line and sinker. At that point, it is your responsibility to play your character within the boundaries of that character's knowledge. It's the nature of the game.

With regards to intimidate, unless you're playing a game with evil PCs, I don't think, in 25 years of RPGs, I've ever used intimidate against another PC (nor had it used against me by a PC). I think that any of my characters that tried such a thing would be shunned and cast out by the party. It's not a social thing to do, and not part of being a "team". Of course, the games I've been involved in all contained parties of Neutral or Good aligned characters that were expected by the GM to work together to some degree.

Ultimately, you have an idea for your character's behavior and reactions, but that idea must also be shaped by that character's abilities/stats. There also must be room for the GM and the game scenario itself to further shape that character in directions that you didn't anticipate, and that challenge is what makes RPGs fun for me.


RAW and RAI:

Players are not intended to use such skills against one another. It can be done when you need to make the paladin look the other way, or demand order, but it should mainly be done within the fiction not within the die rolls.

From a playing perspective:

We usually roleplayed it out with a bit of meta versus meta when someone has the bright idea to use social skills on a sheet and the d20 versus an actual player. We knew what the rolls meant and would often break the 4th wall in those cases just to reinforce that using skills in that manner was "frowned upon"

Eventually the joke got old and people stopped trying to roll social skills against one another unless it was entirely in jest.

Overall, the players settled into classes and stats that they could actually roleplay out (which means I never play High CHA characters normally), leading to much more interesting situations of how would a low INT or WIS person interact in a high stress situation.


For Diplomacy: Check: You can change the initial attitudes of nonplayer characters with a successful check.

For Bluff: Check: Bluff is an opposed skill check against your opponent's Sense Motive skill. If you use Bluff to fool someone, with a successful check you convince your opponent that what you are saying is true. Bluff checks are modified depending upon the believability of the lie. The following modifiers are applied to the roll of the creature attempting to tell the lie. Note that some lies are so improbable that it is impossible to convince anyone that they are true (subject to GM discretion).

Circumstances Bluff Modifier

-The target wants to believe you +5

-The lie is believable +0

-The lie is unlikely –5

-The lie is far-fetched –10

-The lie is impossible –20

-The target is drunk or impaired +5

-You possess convincing proof up to +10

Try Again: If you fail to deceive someone, further attempts to deceive them are at a –10 penalty and may be impossible (GM discretion).

For Intimidate: Check: You can use Intimidate to force an opponent to act friendly toward you for 1d6 × 10 minutes with a successful check. The DC of this check is equal to 10 + the target's Hit Dice + the target's Wisdom modifier. If successful, the target gives you the information you desire, takes actions that do not endanger it, or otherwise offers limited assistance. After the Intimidate expires, the target treats you as unfriendly and may report you to local authorities. If you fail this check by 5 or more, the target attempts to deceive you or otherwise hinder your activities.

While possible to use Bluff and Intimidate against another player, Bluff clearly gives an advantage within party members (You know the rogue is a liar so why wouldnt you be at least doubtful) and Intimidate assumes you arent already friendly (most party members are already friendly with each other) would by rules allow them to pursue contacting the authorities afterwards, and even then only would otherwise offers limited assistance further curtailing how useful it would be against party members.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Don’t use the term “RAI” unless you cite specific evidence (developer commentary, etc) that the author’s intent really was different from what was written. Without specific evidence, it is inaccurate, misleading, and potentially insulting to others’ opinions – and those facts tend to make your contention seem weaker because you’re trying to prop it up with an assertion of RAI. If your argument is sound, it should stand on its own; the assertion that the developer agrees with you, less any evidence to demonstrate it, just looks like you’re trying to make your personal opinion look official. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 17:21

From the DMG, pg 15:


The important point to remember regarding the actions of player characters during an adventure is that each player controls his or her own character. Don’t force a character to take a specific action (unless the character is under a magical compulsion; see below). Don’t tell a player what his or her character’s emotions are. Even if an NPC with a high Charisma score attempts to persuade a character, no mere die roll should force a character into doing something. Some rules in the game apply specifically to NPCs and not PCs, the most significant of which are the rules concerning NPC attitudes (see NPC Attitudes, page 128, and the Diplomacy skill on page 71 of the Player’s Handbook). These rules should never be used to enable an NPC to change the way a player character views that NPC. When running an NPC, feel free to try praising, misleading, tricking, cajoling, or maligning a character, but don’t use your authority as DM to exert control over what a player character does.

(some emphasis added)

Einstein believed that the laws of reality should apply equally to any object in any inertial frame of reference 1. He was a pretty smart guy [no citation needed]. If a law applies to NPC->PC interaction it should also apply to PC->PC interaction unless there is a compelling reason otherwise (i.e. unless something about the difference between the two effects a change in how the interaction works). There is no such compelling reason in this case (i.e. no aspect of the fundamental differences between PCs and NPCs results in a change). Therefore these kinds of skill checks (the kinds that would be prohibited for an NPC to use on a PC) are prohibited.


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