Skill Focus: Bluff

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 22, 2009

Everybody lies and you can do it better than most because you’re trained in Bluff. But why limit yourself to just telling a convincing lie? Here are 10 new and creative ways to get more out of Bluff.

Bluff is not only applicable when speaking untruths. Any attempt at a falsehood is covered by this catch-all skill. Whenever you pretend to be someone you’re not, or mislead an opponent in combat, you rely on Bluff.

In many situations a Bluff check can or should be accompanied by another skill in order to make the lie more believable. It’s up to you and the DM to determine which situations warrant secondary checks, the appropriate DCs and what modifiers may apply.

10 New Ways to Use Bluff

  1. Fake left, move right

  2. By falsely telegraphing your movement, a pursuer believes you’re about to turn left, when in fact you actually turn right. +2 to your next Stealth check.

  3. Fake accent

  4. You put on a false accent in an attempt to convince people that you’re from a particular region or country.

  5. Act on stage

  6. You put on a performance in order to entertain others.

  7. Pretend to eat or drink

  8. You pretend to eat or drink something harmful in order to lull your victim into doing the same. Or pretend to be drinking, and getting drunk, when in fact you’re not. This may require two bluff checks: the first to fake drinking, the second to fake being inebriated.

  9. Forge documents

  10. Whether it’s a passport, a letter of introduction, a full pardon or a priceless work of art, your deft hands, attention to detail and knowledge of what people are likely to scrutinize allow you to create passable forgeries.

  11. Tell a Joke

  12. During combat you tell a joke to put your opponent off guard. They have to be able to hear and understand you. +2 to your next attack against that target. This benefit does not provide you with combat advantage.

  13. Impersonate the faithful

  14. You pretend to be a faithful servant of a deity in an attempt to fool other worshippers, magical wards or automated defenses. +2 to your next Religion check.

  15. Cheat at Cards

  16. While playing any game of chance you can overplay or underplay your hand to gain an advantage.

  17. Undercover

  18. You pretend to be someone you’re not.

  19. Haggle

  20. Your fast-talking skills allow you to get a better price for goods and services.

Let us know what you think of these suggested uses of Bluff. If you’ve come up with new and creative ways to use Bluff, please share them.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out all of our Skill Aides, including other entries in the Skill Focus series

1 Risan April 22, 2009 at 8:10 am

Good job, I really like the fake accent. I’m not so sure about telling a joke in combat, I think the feint option is good enough. But overall a very good post.

2 Ameron April 22, 2009 at 8:47 am

I’m glad you enjoyed these. My inspiration for “Tell a joke” came from reading Spider-man comics. He’s always joking during a fight and I thought this might add some levity to D&D combat. Providing +2 to the attack seemed like an appropriate reward if a PC makes the effort.

3 Chase Dagger April 22, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Nice, I find these “Skill Focus” articles a great source of ideas.

The tell a joke in combat thing got the wheels turning, and now I see generically as Bluff in Combat. If a joke makes sense; then sure why not, but I doubt all monsters have a sense of humour. Alternatively if the PCs think of something decent to lie about during a fight, I’d ask them to roll a Bluff for sure.

I like the cheating at cards idea a lot, but I would really like to see an article about card games within D&D. The games would have to be short and fairly simple to keep the pace of the actual game moving, but I’m sure it could be done.
Gambling is an exciting idea it would be interesting to see what games could be synthetically created with just dice rolls.
I’d like to see a way to incorporate the bluff skill in the games. I assume the Bluff check would get harder (in some way) each time you cheated in front of the same person.

4 Rook April 22, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I do love these Skill articles. Keep them coming.

@Chase Dagger; on the subject of quick and easy card games in real game time, how about this. Each player rolls 5 or 7 d12s (which is closest to the 13 numbers and faces in a regular deck) and just use simple poker style rules with 1s as Aces. Since there are no suits, you leave out flushes, but straights would still work. Just an idea off the top of my head.

5 Chase Dagger April 23, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Yeah that’s the exact kind of idea I was looking for. I like it and I’ll work with it. I’d love to see more too.

6 Ameron April 23, 2009 at 12:35 pm

@Chase Dagger
I’m glad you enjoyed this article and this series.

I think gambling in D&D is a good topic for a future post. I know I’ve researched and invented many forms of gambling for my D&D games over the years. Perhaps it’s time to share that experience with the Dungeon’s Master readers.

The key to any form of gambling in D&D is to keep the games simple and remember that you got together to play and RPG and not poker (or blackjack or whatever).

There are 17 skills, and I’ve only touched on 6 so far. More to come, I promise. I’m going to get around to all of them eventually, but if there’s a particular skill you want to see soon, let me know.

7 waxandfeathers May 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm

I agree with rook, the skill articles are definitely my favourite part of the site. My request would be an article about dungeoneering … its always seemed to me to be the least generally applicable skill, and I’ve been looking for someone who can shed some light as to how it can be used more effectively.

8 Ameron May 13, 2009 at 8:00 am

Thanks for the comment. I’ve got Athletics as the next skill in the queue, but I think I can push Dungeoneering up in the order. Give me a couple of weeks to put something together.

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