Deception is often rolled against an Insight check, but sometimes a fixed DC makes more sense, particularly if talking to a random villager or town guard or someone else whose stats you might not have readily available. For all of these DCs, the assumption is that the target in question is some random schmoe. If they’re any kind of named character, have them roll Insight (possibly with advantage or disadvantage).
DC 5: Trick someone into believing something they already believe, like convincing a peasant that the king, whose death they have not yet heard about, is still alive.
DC 10: Trick someone into believing something they’d like to believe already, like convincing a peasant that an army of orcs has been defeated.
DC 15: Trick someone into believing something when they have no particular reason to believe you one way or another, like convincing a peasant farmer that it’s illegal to run a ferry after sunset.
DC 20: Trick someone into believing something inconvenient for them, like convincing a peasant that his farm is built on cursed lands, or unlikely, like convincing a local merchant that you’ve got a bridge to sell him.
DC 25: Trick someone into believing something that is both inconvenient for them and harmful to their sense of identity, like convincing a happily married peasant that his wife has been cannibalizing children in secret.
DC 30: Trick someone into believing something that is bizarre to the point of immediate incredulity, like convincing a happily married peasant that his wife is five kobolds standing on each other’s shoulders and wearing a coat.
The primary difference between Persuasion and Intimidation is in the long term effects. As such, refer to the Persuasion chart below for guidelines to adjudicating a single roll, but bear in mind the long term consequences of scaring someone into helping you as opposed to charming or inspiring them.
How much money you earn when performing is largely a function of how wealthy the people you’re playing for are. People in D&D worlds don’t tend to be strictly divided by class as in a caste system, but they do tend to avoid people who are far outside their social class. Nobles rarely hobnob with beggars and wealthy merchants aren’t often in the company of street urchins. As such, we’ve divided the seven lifestyle levels found in the PHB into five social classes, each containing three different lifestyle levels.
Slums: Wretched, squalid, and poor
Street: Squalid, poor, and modest
Tavern: Poor, modest, and comfortable
Market: Modest, comfortable, and wealthy
Noble: Comfortable, wealthy, and aristocratic
DC 5: Play music in the slums without being physically attacked for the racket.
DC 10: Keep the people passing by on the street more or less content, earn 1d10 copper pieces (mostly out of pity). If you’re very lucky, it’ll bump you up from wretched conditions to merely squalid conditions.
DC 15: Draw a small crowd while playing in the street or the tavern, earn 1d10 silver pieces. Usually enough to maintain a poor standard of living (even reasonably talented artists tend to struggle compared to blacksmiths or tailors similarly skilled in their own trade).
DC 20: Keep a tavern audience entertained, get hired by a merchant to perform in order to draw attention to their store for a market audience, become locally well known, earn 1d4-1 gold pieces, to a minimum of five silver pieces. Usually enough for a modest and often for a comfortable standard of living.
DC 25: Stand out amongst the competition in market audiences, get hired on for a private performance at a nobleman’s ball, become known throughout a small region like Elturgard or the city of Greyhawk, earn 1d10 gold pieces. Usually enough for either a comfortable or a wealthy lifestyle, and if you’re lucky enough for aristocratic.
DC 30: The star of the show, known throughout a large region like the Sword Coast or Flanaess, playing exclusively for the highest bidder amongst wealthy nobles, earn 3d6 gold pieces, usually enough to maintain an aristocratic lifestyle and in all but the unluckiest cases enough to maintain a wealthy lifestyle.
DC 35: A master of the form who shall go down in history, known throughout the better part of a continent and playing only for kings and emperors, earn 1d10 platinum pieces, easily enough to maintain an aristocratic lifestyle.
If a single performance has multiple performers, they each roll, their earnings are totaled up, and the total is split evenly between them, or they can choose to assist one another to give each other advantage. This is especially helpful if some of the performers aren’t as good as others. Someone with a +4 in the same band as someone with a +9 is better off giving that +9 guy advantage so he’s more likely to hit a DC 20 and get 1d4-1 (average 1.5) gp, as opposed to making the check himself and making an average of 1d10 cp plus the other guy’s 1d10 sp for a total of about 6 sp on average, less than half of what they’d make working together. This is just the gap between a level 1 expert with a good CHA and a level 1 trained with a middling CHA. Additionally, a large band (like an orchestra) is going to have much more predictable earnings due to the law of large numbers, whereas a single performer will vary quite a bit from very good nights to very bad nights due to the law of large numbers.
If you’re trying to persuade someone into doing anything especially important, you’re probably going to want a full-on social encounter, which we’ll cover in the Art of Encounters. A lot of social interactions are best covered by a single die roll, however. Charming a guard into looking the other way while you step into the treasury for a look around, inspiring a militia to keep fighting despite the odds, or persuading a hireling to stay with the party on credit after you run out of treasure to pay him with up front.
This chart refers back to the 3.5e Diplomacy rules for NPC attitudes like helpful, indifferent, unfriendly, and so on. These terms don’t have any specific rules meaning in 5e, and are only used as a reference point.
DC 5: Persuade someone to do something they were going to do anyway.
DC 10: Persuade someone who is helpful to act in a helpful manner, like convincing a barkeep whose children you saved from goblin kidnappers to hide you in a back room when angry guards of a corrupt noble come looking for you.
DC 15: Persuade someone who is friendly to act in a helpful manner, like convincing a barkeep whose business you saved from thieves guild extorters to hide you in a backroom, or persuade someone who is indifferent to act in a friendly manner, like convincing a guard not to report you when he catches you snooping about where you shouldn’t be (but he still throws you out), rally professional soldiers whose morale is waning.
DC 20: Persuade someone who is indifferent to act in a helpful manner, like persuading a guard to look the other way altogether while you do something illegal, rally a ragtag militia whose morale is waning, or persuade someone who is hostile to act in an indifferent manner, such as convincing people who are trying to stab you to stop trying to stab you and instead just walk away.
DC 25: Persuade someone who is unhelpful to act in a helpful manner, like persuading a discount arms merchant whose business tanked when you came back to town with eighty goblin short swords and flooded the market with cheap weapons to lend his caravan guards to your next expedition.
DC 30: Persuade someone who is hostile to act in a helpful manner, like convincing someone to switch sides mid-fight.
DC +X: Add an affected character’s Wisdom save bonus to the DC. For the majority of creatures, this is in the neighborhood of -1 to +2, and will not often make a difference, but particularly for those with a Wisdom save proficiency, it could be the difference between being talked into defecting mid-fight to not even being talked into stopping to hear out the other side.