Starfield, like most open-world RPGs, features the ability to leverage your charm and social cunning to find peaceful paths through a quest or win someone over to your side. We haven't seen a lot of this system yet, but it already looks a lot better than the rightly mocked, stripped-down version in Fallout 4 that often boiled down to pressing the smiley face or the sad face button.
In addition to unique dialogue related to your background, like negotiating a higher fee for hunting down a dangerous critter for the Beast Hunter, there is also a Persuasion skill that plays into your success on speech challenges.
What is a speech challenge in Starfield?
As we haven't been told specifically how the speech challenge system works yet, much of this is informed deduction based on studying trailers and screenshots, not anything the devs have directly confirmed. So be aware that it might work slightly differently when we actually get our hands on Starfield.
From what we've seen so far, speech challenges in Starfield seem to operate on the basis of Turns, which is the number of lines you get to try out before the person you're trying to persuade has had enough of you.
Your goal is to fill up the Persuasion bar, which can be longer or shorter depending on what you're trying to persuade them to do, before you run out of turns. The different lines you can try are marked green, yellow, or red depending on the Persuasion difficulty to get them to succeed, but the more difficult arguments also fill up more of the Persuasion bar.
There is also a mechanic called "Auto-Persuade" in a few screenshots, which seems to be a limited resource you can use to automatically succeed at an argument. The Lockpicking skill also allows you to "bank" a certain number of auto-successes as you get better at it, so this probably works the same way. We're not sure how many Auto-Persuades you get at each level or how you recharge them just yet. But it is nice, if my character is supposed to be a master charmer, that I don't always have to leave things up to chance.
It's unclear at this point what actually goes into determining if a particular argument is successful, but it's probably based on your Persuasion skill, since that skill specifically mentions success in speech challenges. With this system, it will be possible for very persuasive characters to get their way by brute force of personality, but also for characters who haven't specialized that way to get through some of the easier challenges by playing it safe with low-risk options.
Whether other social skills like Barter and Instigate can affect the chances of succeeding at a speech challenge is anyone's guess, but we have seen that they can add new dialogue options to the list, so it's probably worth training them if you want to get the most out of those challenges.
Failing a speech challenge in Starfield
So what happens if you run out of Turns and your target still thinks you're full of it? It depends on the context, but one obvious consequence of failing a speech challenge in Starfield is that you may end up having to fight someone you were trying to be diplomatic with. We've also seen dialogue options where you can choose not to even try to talk it out if you're the type who shoots first and asks questions later. In other cases, you might simply not be able to obtain a dubiously legal security clearance, forcing you to find another way to complete a quest.