Ok I have been running into a problem that I personally have with how social skill checks work. Such as deception, persuasion, and intimidation Maybe I'm getting it wrong? But I just don't like the idea of avoiding an encounter with a single dice roll. Or it almost makes social encounters seem to easy and quick. Shouldn't a skill challenge be just as fun mechanics wise as combat? I'm trying to think of social mechanics that would become just as challenging as a combat encounter. Rise of Tiamat has I nice social encounter with metallic dragon in it. A little clunky but with a little work that could be fun. Just an example. If anyone has any cool or useful tips on how they run social encounters feel free to post!
I run long social encounters two ways (at once, that is). The first way is to just let them role play with you, eschewing dice rolls in general. This, in my opinion, is best to use to draw your players into the encounter, to get them invested. As the encounter get more "serious" and they start trying to bluff or use a less-than-convincing argument is when I have them roll for persuasion and what-not. In short, the more reasonable their arguments, the less they roll. Of course, I only allow this to apply to characters with high Persuasion. If I just allowed any player who is persuasive to get away with role playing then they would never put ranks into Persuasion, but of course it is your game and you can do whatever you want.
Of course I always like to point out that there are always ways to make it more difficult. You can (at least in pathfinder) have a level 1 commoner prove a challenging social encounter to level 7 PCs via the following example. Commoner Doug is standing in front of a large crowd, "We can't take any more of this oppression!" (cheer of approval). The PCs who are known as lackeys of the Duke walk up. "Look, it is the dogs of the duke." [At this point, I would count the NPCs as hostile (-20 to diplomacy checks against Doug, the antagonist). Now the player who has 15 points in Diplomacy actually has a challenge. The more Doug is talked down, the easier the encounter gets. Most PCs won't want to fight an angry mob.] If this isn't helpful, lemme know.
What I like to do is let them play out their deception / persuasion / intimidation. Depending on how good their performance is I might give people advantage / disadvantage or +1-3 on their check.
For me, the check represents the natural stubornness of the respective NPC. An unsuccessful check doesn't even have to mean a failure. If a deception check fails for example, instead of straight up yelling "STOP LYING TO ME YOU ARE LYING WHAT" the NPC starts doubting the character. Something isn't quite right with this Archduke of... Fartington? What kind of duchy is that anyway?
Following interactions get harder, the NPC might talk to his friends about his suspicions ("Something just isn't quite right"). So instead of short-term implications they mostly have long-term ones.
If they RP bad AND the roll goes bad the NPC will probably just straight up call them out on their BS as usual.
I really like both of these! Thanks for the tips guys! What do you think of opposed perception checks from the npc with advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation? Also the players could have advantage or disadvantage depending.I feel like that could make it challenging depending on the NPC or monsters they are dealing with.
Don't forget that for every persuasion or deception check from the PC's end, there is an insight check from the NPC's end. If there are multiple NPCs involved, they can technical "help" each other to give whichever creature an advantage on said insight check as well.
If you want to be really mean, you can make the player do a check for every NPC in the room, although it can quickly appear ham-fisted.
Also, these are the times to encourage role playing. Just as a masterful tactician maneuvers around a battlefield, a masterful speaker must do the same with words. If a player says something truly insightful to persuade, and does so in an eloquent manner, it is often a good idea to reward them for it.
Remember that Passive Perception isn't the only passive skill. A bunch of NPCs will all have a Passive Insight that can serve as a starting DC for these things. If you're ever stumped on what to do, just roll a straight up Charisma contest, using with whatever skill the PCs reasonably want to use against the NPC's Insight or Perception skill.
Hey guys! It's been a while. So this is how I've been running my social encounters... I've found that if I just use the easy medium hard very hard guide lines for the situation it' has seemed to make the social encounters flow more easily. For example if the party encounters a group of hostile centaurs the D.C. To persuade them to let them go would be very hard but to persuade them to say spare their lives maybe a much lesser D.C. This has made much more interesting RP situation and made them really think about what skills they could use to help them out of seeming impossible to fight your way out situations.