Diplomacy is generally ineffective in combat and against creatures that intend to harm you or your allies in the immediate future.

“Generally” means usually, commonly or ordinarily.

But still there is a chance to change someone's attitude by 1 or 2 steps from hostile to unfriendly or indifferent.

“Hostile” means aggresive or antagonistic.

Using Diplomacy to influence a creature’s attitude takes 1 minute of continuous interaction.

Combat is resolved on a round-by-round basis.

How is it possible to change someone's attitude from hostile to unfriendly, when there is no time to do that? Does hostile mean always combative?

  • \$\begingroup\$ The way that you've found doesn't actually use the Diplomacy skill at all - are you looking for ways to use Diplomacy, or ways to improve the attitude of hostile creatures? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 10:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see your point. Actually, I want to know If it is possible to use skill diplomacy in combat \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 10:19

3 Answers 3


No, “hostile” doesn't always mean “I am attacking you now”. A creature can be aggressive or antagonistic without actually attempting to harm you right now. An aggressive creature may attack, but aggressive behaviours include more than attacking; for example, an aggressive dog will growl and bark, may lunge and attempt to intimidate, and may attempt to bite, but it is still aggressive without attempting to bite. Note that the PHB's definition of Hostile (p. 72) lines up with the real word's meaning, in that more than half of the example behaviours are not combat and it allows for attempting to hurt non-physically:

Attitude: Hostile
Means: Will take risks to hurt you
Possible Actions: Attack, interfere, berate, flee

The same in D&D: hostile means that the creature doesn't like you, may attempt to hurt you, and is likely to communicate their intention before doing anything by displaying aggression behaviours right now. This is when you can use Diplomacy to change their attitude to Unfriendly or Indifferent.

So yes, Diplomacy has a use for Hostile creatures without trying to figure out how to use it in combat. The fact that you can't use it in combat doesn't indicate that there is a problem using it with Hostile creatures.


We can all agree about the ruletext being vague:

Diplomacy is generally ineffective in combat and against creatures that intend to harm you or your allies in the immediate future.

Is not really a serious ruletext, and can be read as:

(1) As you take 1 minute to make your diplomacy check, you will have a hard time doing it during a fight or on someone who is trying to kill you.

Or can be read as:

(2) A diplomacy check require the target to listen to you and you can't perform it on people who really don't want to be your friend.

Both are coherent, and it is up to the GM to choose which interpretation to use.

With the interpretation (1) you can use your diplomacy during a fight, even if it will be hard. Fight in Pathfinder rarely lasts for 1 minute. The GM may rule that diplomacy don't always take exactly 1 minute and add a random factor, and make it fail automatically if you operate offensive actions toward the target or its friends.

With the interpretation (2) you can't use it in a fight, but you still can use it against hostile creatures that are not in a fight (for example because you tied them up or because they are in jail, or because they are Shelyn paladins who can't attack first).

Anyways there are quicker ways to improve one's attitude, like with the charm spells (like charm person) or the witch charm hex, and these work in a fight.


This is one of those areas I like to allow the DM's Caveat. Special situations could call for it, such as a reluctant foe, or coordinating with an ally of opportunity. Either that or your character takes full defense and dodges incoming attacks while using diplomacy until the creature gets tired or confused enough to stop. The way I, or any DM I know, see it as long as they speak a language that you do, there is a way to convince them. Hostile does not necessarily mean attacking, and attacking does not necessarily mean relentlessly to the death. Commonly, moments where diplomacy needs to be rolled get deferred to RP and a handful of DMs I know do not like to break the rhythm with rolls.

While D&D isn't like a video game where it's "you stand over there, we'll stand over here and trade attacks until one side is dead", it also isn't practical to just stand there for ten rounds to make one roll.


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