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How to pass Persuasion checks in Starfield

The gift of gab

Starfield player and Barrett having a conversation on a spaceship Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Not every problem in Starfield has to be solved with shooting. A lot of the time, you’re given a chance to talk your way out of a lot of problems before anything happens — from talking someone into giving up before the fighting starts to talking down the price of services to just convincing someone to do the right thing.

Starfield’s Persuasion mechanic isn’t explained all that well and it can be confusing. Our guide will explain how Persuasion works and how to improve your chances of being successful at it.

How Persuasion works in Starfield

In a lot of the conversations you’ll have in Starfield, you might see a [Persuasion] dialogue option. This choice starts of a skill challenge minigame of sorts. There’s a lot going on, so let’s break it down.

Starfield Persuasion dialogue options with the difficulty, options, and turns highlighted Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon
  1. At the bottom of the screen, there’s a row of pips under the word “Persuasion.” This is essentially the difficulty of the conversation. You fill in those pips by choosing a dialogue option from the list above, and your goal is to fill them all before you run out of turns.
  2. The number next to each dialogue option is how many pips it might fill in — when you choose an option, there’s a check that happens in the background. An option that only gets you a +1 has a (relatively) high chance of succeeding. An option that gives you +6, on the other hand, has a very low chance of succeeding. The colors correspond to the difficulty in a standard traffic light ranking — green is easiest, red is hardest, yellow is somewhere in the middle.
  3. Next to the difficulty pips, you’ll see turns. This is how many chances you have left to finish filling in the pips. Each choice you make uses a turn. If you succeed on your last attempt, you’ll be given a free turn — one last chance to fill the rest of the pips.

Some options might have your background or faction affiliation in brackets at the beginning of the dialogue line. Anecdotally, at least, these seem to have a better chance of succeeding than generic options.

Your task in any Persuasion conversation is balance the risk of failing against the number of pips you fill in if you’re successful. Picking +1 options every time will probably get you a maximum of 3 or 4 pips, so it’s not going to work for harder Persuasion challenges. On the other hand, picking the +5 option every time is almost never going to work.

Try to balance out the risk of failing against the total number you need.

Critical successes

Sometimes, when you choose an option, you’ll get a critical success — think of this as rolling a natural 20 in D&D. A critical success automatically fills in the rest of the pips and you’ll succeed on the entire Persuasion challenge.

How to increase your Persuasion chances

The best way to permanently improve your chances at Persuasion is to dump skill points into the Persuasion (Social) skill. Each point increases your chances of succeeding by 10%.

Beyond that, you can find apparel like the Neocity Corpwear outfit (we bought one in Neon) that will give you a bump of 5% to your chances while you’re wearing it. Suits and business attire generally come with such a perk.

Starfield the Hippolyta item improves your chances of Persuasion. Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

The best items to temporarily improve your chances will be in your inventory under the Aid section. Hippolyta gives you a +20% Persuasion chance for 5 minutes and Paramour gives you +25% for 10 minutes. With enough points in the Chemistry skill, you can even make your own Hippolyta and Paramour, but you need to put 8 skill points into the Science tree before Chemistry is even available.

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