Social Combat Bonus Actions

When playing D&D, I would have PCs who would shout at opponents and I was never clear on what effect they were expecting. D&D is a combat simulator first and foremost. I used to play Torg a lot and it encouraged non-attacks during combat which included taunting, tricking, intimidating, and testing the wills of opponents.

Using Torg as inspiration, I attempted to craft a system where PCs can influence the battle using non-combat actions.

These actions are used as a Bonus Action and can only be used once per encounter. We don’t want the PCs to use these every turn in an effort to optimize their combat. These are to be used to add flavor to the combat and shouldn’t really be used against every minion on the board.

Taunt – Persuasion. The PC calls out a specific target (minimum 3 Intelligence) and goads them into attacking. The target gets to make a Charisma saving throw to see if they keep their calm. This doesn’t force the target to attack the PC who is taunting them but if they choose a different target, they attack with a negative -2 modifier on their roll. If they make an attack against the PC taunting them, the target gets a +2 modifier. This effect lasts until the start of their next turn. If multiple PCs taunt a target, the last taunter is the one who the target wants to attack. 

Intimidate – Intimidate. The PC makes a show of power against a specific target (minimum 3 Intelligence). The target gets a Charisma saving throw against the Intimidate attempt. Failure means their next action is taken with disadvantage. If they succeed in the saving throw or successfully land a blow after being intimidated, then they cannot be intimidated by that PC again. This effect lasts until the start of their next turn. 

Trick – Deception. The PC attempts to trick a specific target (minimum 3 Intelligence), which includes everything from “hey, is that Drizzt!” to a physical feint, throwing sand, or feigning an injury. The targeted target gets an Intelligence saving throw to see if they fall for the trick. If they fail, then the next attack against them is made with Advantage. This effect lasts until the start of their next turn. 

Test of Wills – Insight. The PC engages in a test of wills with a specific target (minimum 3 Intelligence). While this may seem like a form of Intimidation it is really about comparing the PCs’ resolve to win vs. the target’s resolve to win. The PC makes an Insight check and the target makes a Wisdom Saving Throw. On a success the target is unaffected. If the target fails, then they are Frightened for one turn. This represents being shaken and doubting their ability. This effect lasts until the start of their next turn. If while under the effect of the Test of Wills, the target goes below half their hit points, they will attempt to disengage from the combat, flee, or if intelligent enough, surrender.