Disposition is the rating of how much a character likes the player. The higher the disposition with a character, the easier it is to get something done with them. For example; a character with a higher disposition will give up information more quickly compared to one with a low disposition. Disposition is based on a number of factors, including race, personality, reputation, faction affiliations, and past encounters with that character, their friends, and their enemies. Disposition can also be affected by nonmagical abilities related to the speechcraft skill or through the use of charm spells.
In Morrowind and Oblivion disposition is indicated with a scale from 0 (with the subject really hating the player) to 100 (with the subject really adoring the player). In these games, the player is able to attempt to persuade almost every character in the game.
In Skyrim, the system works differently. Here, disposition is indicated with a scale from -4 to +4, with -4 standing arch nemesis and +4 for lover. Another difference is that disposition in Skyrim is invisible to the player. Disposition in Skyrim depends entirely on Speech, race, factions, quests done, if the person is a merchant, how often the player buys and sells at their store and more realistically how often they are interacted with.
Disposition in Morrowind
In Morrowind, disposition begins at a set value depending on each character's base value, race, faction reactions, as well as other factors.
Initial disposition in Morrowind is influenced by the Nerevarine's race, global reputation and the reputation they have within certain factions. The latter affects characters belonging to a faction and factions related to it, be it positively or negatively. For example, the Imperial Mages Guild are strongly opposed by the xenophobic house of Telvanni. If the Nerevarine rises within the mages guild, characters belonging to the house of Telvanni will drop in disposition. On the other hand, other characters belonging to other Imperial factions, such as the Fighters Guild will like the player more for it. The apparel being worn also has some influence on persuasion. Wearing a full suit of Daedric armor, whose value reaches a total of thousands of septims, will cause characters to take the player much more seriously compared to wearing cheap clothing.
Disposition can then be altered from the initial value through the persuasion menu. This menu can be accessed by pressing "Persuade" at the upper left corner of the dialogue menu. When the player attempts to persuade another character, they have the following options:
- Admire: When successful, the disposition of the character in question rises. The chance of success is mainly based on the personality attribute and the speechcraft skill. Therefore, a player with low values in both of these stats won't be very successful, resulting in disposition drops instead.
- Intimidate: Successfully intimidating a character will result in a temporary raise in disposition. The success of intimidation is mostly based on the strength of the player in relation to that of the victim.
- Taunt: This option is used to goad a character into attacking the player. Killing the angry character will not result in an arrest, as the player acted in self defense. If the taunting fails while the character already has a low disposition, the character will only denounce the player as being pathetic and refuses to react to any further taunts.
- Bribe: If none of the above options work, the player can always opt to bribe a character. Bribes can be given in amounts of 10, 100 or 1000 septims. The success of this option is based on how rich the character in question is. A beggar, for example, is much more affected by a bribe of 10 septims compared to a rich nobleman.
Until the disposition reaches zero, these persuade actions can be performed indefinitely, in particular using Taunt to lower disposition and the others to raise it. This can be used to retry a failed Taunt roll or level in Speechcraft.
Players skilled in the Illusion school of Magicka have access to Charm spells, which influence disposition. Charm spells will raise disposition. The amount raised is equal to the magnitude of the spell. It is possible to purchase or create charm spells potent enough to raise anyone to maximum disposition long enough to sway their buying power, complete a quest, or extract secrets from them. Disposition returns to normal at the expiry of the spell.
Disposition in Oblivion
Speaking with a character causes the camera to zoom on their face. Once this occurs, clicking the icon with the face opens a screen that shows current disposition and gives access to the persuasion minigame and Bribery options. The number in the center of the wheel marks the character's current disposition. From this menu, a minigame can be played which alters the disposition of the character. The Hero is rewarded with skill gains in Speechcraft whether disposition is gained or lost.
While the character's disposition slowly declines, the player must quickly select either a Boast, Joke, Admire or Coerce wedge. Each can only be chosen once each round. One of these actions is Loved, one Liked, one Disliked, and one Hated, as can be seen by the character's facial expressions. This preference does not change. Positive reactions improve disposition and negatives subtract from it. The colored segments rotate clockwise each turn, with larger segments having a greater effect.
An important factor in persuading is their facial expression. For example, when speaking to a Khajiit, if they do not like the option that the player is about to select, they lower their ears and hiss. Hovering the cursor over the "Joke" option causes this response in Khajiit, as many of them do not appreciate humor. Whatever tactics are chosen, the strategy is obviously to minimize losses and maximize gains; matching as closely as possible the actions that lose disposition to the smaller segments, and gains to the larger ones.
When entering the persuasion menu, the player also has the option to bribe a character. Unlike in Morrowind, the player has no choice in how much money will be spent on a bribe. One coin raises disposition by approximately 10 points, depending on the speechcraft skill; higher levels grant higher bonuses. The amount of disposition granted by each bribe lowers every time it is performed, until the maximum amount of disposition is reached.
The player's disposition is also determined by their fame and infamy. Having a high fame will result in characters on the right side of the law liking the player more, while criminal characters will start to dislike the player, while having a high infamy will result in the opposite. Like in Morrowind, a player character skilled in Illusion in Oblivion also has access Charm spells, allowing them to magically raise a character's disposition.
Having a high disposition with a character can cause them to look the other way when stealing. Even better; if the player's disposition with a guard is above 90, he or she will let the player go free after witnessing them committing a crime. This does slightly lower their disposition, but not by much.
Disposition in Skyrim
The disposition system in Skyrim is completely overhauled compared to that of Morrowind and Oblivion. As mentioned before, the 0–100 scale the previous games dealt with are replaced with an invisible scale ranging from -4 to +4. The ranks of this scale are as follows:
These ranks are invisible in the game itself and can only be seen in the Creation Kit. They are used to determine the behavior a character has towards the player. Hostile characters, such as bandits, will be designated as -3 Enemy, resulting in them attacking the player on sight. If the player married someone, said character will be raised to +4 Lover, which causes them to treat the player as a loved one in their dialogue.
Within the game itself, the disposition is simply indicated by the way the player is treated by the character. A character with good disposition towards the player will, for example, say "It's a fine day with you around" whenever the player is near. Characters with high disposition will also allow the player to freely take items from them, with the worth determined by disposition.
Unlike the previous games, there is also no way to influence disposition through the Speech skill or magic. The only way to directly influence disposition is by either helping characters with quests or other favors (including Investing), resulting in a raise of disposition, or committing violent crimes against them, lowering it. Another difference is that persuasion, intimidation and bribery are only used in a limited amount of scenes and are not influenced by disposition. Only the speech skill and associated perks seem to influence how good a player is at persuasion.