[RPG] Animal handling vs persuasion while using speak with animals


So this is a standard player misunderstanding.

Ranger learned speak with animals, wanted to use it as flavour and to aid in the befriending of a beast, (giant poisonous snake). When it came to the roll, instead of using the rangers animal handling (+6) the spell actually made the task more difficult with persuasion being a (+0).

Question 1. Does this make sense rules as written?

Question 2. Does this make sense period?

My take? If a you have a pet dog, trained from a pup that you know and communicate with well already (think +6 animal handling with this particular dog) and you suddenly had the ability to speak perfectly to it and it back to you, would it make it more difficult to communicate with the dog? In my mind, hell no. In 5e rules as written D&D maybe?

Best Answer

This is a place for a Charisma (Animal Handling) check

Influencing a beast to be friendly is a charisma check...

A charisma check might arise when you try to influence or entertain others

"I really want to use my animal handling proficiency though." The Player's Handbook talks about a variant rule enabling Skills with Different Abilities.

Normally, your proficiency in a skill applies only to a specific kind of ability check. Proficiency in Athletics, for example, usually applies to Strength checks. In some situations, though, your proficiency might reasonably apply to a different kind of check. In such cases, the GM might ask for a check using an unusual combination of ability and skill, or you might ask your GM if you can apply a proficiency to a different check.

If your GM allows it perhaps you can make a Charisma (Animal Handling) check. It is certainly reasonable to include your proficiency for animal handling when interacting with an animal. Make sure to check with your GM if you are using this variant rule though.

If not...

You should use Persuasion regardless of whether the spell is active or not. Here are what the skills do according to the Basic Rules.

Animal Handling

When there is any question whether you can calm down a domesticated animal, keep a mount from getting spooked, or intuit an animal’s intentions ... call for a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check.


When you attempt to influence someone or a group of people with tact, social graces, or good nature, the GM might ask you to make a Charisma (Persuasion) check.

"Befriending of a beast" is not within the basic purview of Animal Handling so you should use Persuasion (it would likely be close to impossible to even attempt this without Speak with Animals or a similar spell; you should at least have disadvantage since you don't share a language without the spell).

Wisdom checks overall are...

effort[s] to read body language, understand someone’s feelings, notice things about the environment, or care for an injured person.

This has nothing to do with communication, which is why you cannot make a Wisdom (Animal Handling) check for this.

If your GM is allowing animal handling to be used for befriending beasts, then there is no reason to force a player to change skills with the new communication method. The intelligence of the creature didn't change, so the method for befriending would be the same; you would just get the added benefit of verbal communication (possibly advantage depending on the situation)

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