Guardians of the Past
Talking is an option
One overlooked survival technique is to talk. Many people die because they attack the too tough for them creature because “it’s there” or “it’s evil”. But kings have armies, some monsters gate in help (some fiends gated help can also gate), and sometimes you just aren’t tough enough. But talking may give you a chance to deal with the enemy, get an idea of its plans, find a weakness, or deal with the villain while others sneak by to complete the mission. Perhaps he’d GIVE you the goal of the quest if you do something for him. As usual talking requires using judgment; but may save you a painful death.
Some basic rules of thumb
Never let on how badly you need the other parties help. And always be sure to let your most charismatic/silver-tongued party member do the talking.
Never assume the other guy is telling the truth. All too often PC’s take the word of any
NPC as gospel truth, even if the NPC has obvious reasons to lie (i.e. is having the crap beat out of him by the PC’s)
Always keep the other guy’s motivations in mind. The key to negotiation is figuring out what the other guy wants. Is the other guy a mercenary? Offer double what the other guy’s paying. Is the other guy wizard? How about some flashy spells he doesn’t have? Is he a religious devotee? Hope you know enough about theology to convince him that you’re in the right.
Don’t lie unless you need to. Too many PCs end up as pathological liars when talking with NPCs, when there was no known reason to lie. Often, the NPCs eventually found out they were being lied to. This does not make for successful negotiations.
And when you do lie, make absolutely sure that you know what you said. Lies are harder to
remember. It’s often a good idea to make sure that the DM remembers it as well, so that you can at least agree on something.
When you’ve got your opponent over a barrel, make sure he knows it but be careful not to rub his nose in it too much. If you do, he might decide to refuse your demands, regardless of the consequences. There are people who would rather die than be extorted/humiliated, especially by someone they don’t respect, so loss of face should be kept to a minimum. Staying polite helps. And occasionally you might want to consider giving up something relatively invaluable, so your opponent has something to show his own people that can be interpreted as a victory.
Ask for the moon
Don’t be afraid to ask for the moon, meaning aim high in negotiations. The other party may be willing to agree to your demands or offer a counter proposal.