I have a player that spams Intimidate during combat and it feels unbalanced/unfair. The character is a half-orc fighter so it's reasonable that they would be intimidating, but it feels like a cost free, low level fear spell/feat. I've been treating it as a contested check using wisdom for the opponent, though maybe passive wisdom score as the DC would work better. I don't want to stomp on their RP and I like the rule of cool aspect, I just want to stop the spamming and the unbalanced feel.
Possible solutions I have considered which could be combined: 1. Costing a bonus action or even an action to intimidate rather than the free talking time in a turn 2. The player can only attempt to intimidate once per enemy 3. The DC increases after each failed attempt
What have you been using as the effect of a successful intimidate check? I would lean into having both 1 and 2 be true. Like some fear effects once a character passes a test then they are immune to that same fear for an extended period of time. Given that it sounds like whatever effect you are letting the successful Intimidate cause is somewhat similar to a spell I would definitely have it cost at minimum a bonus action if not a full action.
Sorry, 3rd try and still 2 months too late to be any help. My wisdom and intelligence are average; also my xp is not high; but I want to try and help (I have had a somewhat similar dilemma in the past, barbarian spamming grapple and taking actions). I would offer you 3 logical paths to follow: Rules as written, action economy/ resource management, or risk vs. reward.
Rules as written: (PHB, pg 179) Intimidation. When you attempt to influence someone through overt threats, hostile actions, and physical violence, the DM might ask you to make a charisma (intimidation) check. Examples include trying to pry information out of a prisoner, convincing street thugs to back down from a confrontation, or using the edge of a broken bottle to convince a sneering vizier to reconsider a decision. (PHB, pg. 190) other activity on your turn, your turn can include variety of flourishes that require neither your action nor your move. You can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn. … the DM might require you to use an action for any of these activities when it need special care or when it presents an unusual obstacle. … (PHB, pg. 193- the only mention of any skills used in ACTIONS IN COMBAT is SEARCH) when you take the search action, you devote your attention to finding something …
Personal opinion: RaW- no mention of using intimidation during combat = no using intimidation in combat. Balanced. If want to stretch it, read and make your own opinions … DM discretion.
Action economy/ resource management: compare it to something else done in combat. Spells I considered to be the closest were true strike (cantrip, 1 action, concentration 1 rd, on your next turn adv on 1st att roll against the target), cause fear (lv. 1 XGtE, 1 a, conc 1 min, wis save or become frightened of you), fear (lv. 3, 1 a, aoe cone, wis save or use dash action to run away), turn undead (channel div- 1/ S or L rest, aoe radius, wis save or spends turn getting away …), vicious mockery (cantrip, 1 a, wis save or physic damage+ disadv on next attack roll), dissonant whispers (lv. 1, 1 a, wis save or physic damage and immediately use reaction to move as far as it’s speed allows away from you…). Some high level monsters have actions/ legendary actions which cause stun or fear, not really familiar but a few are mummy lord (2 l a), vrock (demon, a, 1/d), Nalfeshnee (demon, a, recharge 5-6).
Personal opinion: basically what you listed. all take an action, none would be appropriate to spam besides true strike which is not very action efficient but is RP appropriate … unless you want to resource management a free level 1 spell which may be RP appropriate (and maybe hope none of the spell casters notice?).
Risk vs. reward: cha vs wis + adv/disadv based on role play? What do you consider an appropriate risk for the effect their intimidation is having (presumably adv/ disadv or fear).
Personal opinion: might be OP but mot RP appropriate, DM’s discretion.
Consensus: a very long winded and time consuming way to say DM’s discretion, but hopefully this will give some logical perspective. If nothing else works and it becomes a real problem throw the book at them and rules as written it, I added page numbers so you can read and come to own conclusion.