Return Fire: This proficiency allows a character to catch and throw back thrown weapons with a successful dexterity check. Any attack made in this manner is subject to any applicable non-proficiency penalty or specialization bonuses. Arrows can be caught and thrown back only if the attack was unsuccessful and even then only 25% of the time. Returned arrows are thrown at a -2 penalty with half the arrow’s usual range (calcuate as short bow or appropriate crossbow) and deal only half damage.
Social Skills: Proficiency in Social Skills allows a character to augment their Charisma or Wisdom rolls relating to certain actions based on how many points they have applied to each skill. For instance, a character with two points in Persuade attempting to Persuade an NPC would make a Charisma check at a +2. A character receives five points per non-weapon proficiency slot spent on Social Skills, and these points may be divided as the player sees fit.
Bluff (Cha) – Bluff is used when attempting to convince someone of an untruth or a half-truth. Possible uses include feigning knowledge of a person, place or event; convincing other characters of previous or current association; pretending to an enemy force that reinforcements are right around the corner (when the player is, in fact, alone and very screwed); telling others that one’s poker hand is much better than it really is; or telling any number of falsehoods.
Sense Motive (Wis) – Sense Motive allows a character to determine when another character is lying to him or is attempting to work toward a hidden agenda. Often this check will oppose a Bluff check, though not always. In order to use Sense Motive, a character must be able to see the character whose motive is being sensed and must have heard a statement made by that character. Though rarely one may determine aggression or ill intent before it strikes, Sense Motive cannot be used to read minds; it works best against spoken falsehoods and only moderately well for non-verbal cues.
Gather Information (Wis) – Gather Information is what a character would use to discover the lay of the land in a new town or city, gather rumours about local events or investigate the location of a person or object sought. A check requires no less than 20 minutes of investigation (though more may be required depending on the situation), after which a check is rolled. If successful, some useful piece of information is gleaned. This proficiency is not useful in uninhabited places or areas in which the user does not understand the local language.
Persuade (Cha) – This proficiency represents the ability of a character to make a compelling argument to convince a subject NPC character to see things his way, respond more favorably, or comply with a request. The character must engage the NPC in conversation for at least two rounds (meaning that the subject must be willing to talk with the character in the first place); subjects whose attitudes are threatening or hostile aren’t affected by Persuasion.
Intimidate (Cha) – The other side of the Persuasion coin, Intimidation represents a talent for bending people to your will by scaring the living daylights out of them. NPCs who are intimidated are quite likely to do what they’re told, out of fear. On the negative side, they are also very likely to harbor much resentment against the character that intimidates them. The NPCs will keep their resentment hidden—until the first chance to avenge their pride arises.
Of course, any character may roll on any of these abilities using their base ability score; the use of a proficiency only allows for modifiers to the base ability score roll.
The discretion of the DM is important in the use of the Social Skills proficiency, as modifiers almost always apply. A scraggly wizard attempting to convince a raiding party of goblins is unlikely to Bluff them into believing he’s a powerful enchanter. However, with the use of a Phantasmal Force spell to create an image of a fiery dragon, the same wizard would have a much easier time convincing the goblins to seek easier prey. Also, some NPCs are more susceptible to some social skills than others. A character who cannot be Persuaded might easily fall prey to Intimidation. Attempting to Gather Information regarding someone’s recent disappearance might be exceptionally difficult in a town whose population is trying to keep the disappearance a secret. In short, interpersonal contact is dynamic, requiring both players and DMs to stay on their toes and be creative.