Monday, March 25, 2019

Charisma Breakdown

This ... took awhile.

Again, I plan to post it here and also on my wiki, under the heading of charisma. It is a breakdown of each point of charisma that a character might possess, from 3-18, in detail as you can see. I imagine some really, really won't like it. Others will quibble the exact divisions. The highest four categories, from 15 to 18, are going to surprise. I'm tempted to explain it; but I think I'll wait to see if someone asks me about it in the comments first. There's a lot here.

Measuring charisma is an effort to quantify the effects the ability stat has upon the reactions of others, their spontaneous treatment of the individual and their overall generosity to award the individual with opportunities and status. Low charisma individuals are met with revulsion and distaste, treated with disdain and usually ostracized or left out of social gatherings and organizations. High charisma individuals are met with liking and interest, are treated as desirable and often rise to positions of authority and trust within organizations.

The increase in charisma from ugly to bewitching compounds benefits that each amount of charisma above that level also enjoys (except where it is superseded by a more rewarding benefit). Creatures are capable of being particularly cruel to individuals of low charisma, whatever they might do; while often awarding those of high charisma more than they really deserve, as they often do little to earn it. 

The descriptions below only partly describe player characters. For such persons as those detailed here, it will often take years of commitment to rise through the ranks and be discovered for their charisma. Those with very high charismas, above 14, will be much less common than the dice might imaginably dictate. Some may be born with a 16 or more charisma, but a harsh life, accidents, poor health, disease and other consequences may severely diminish their potential. Only those charismatic who are born at least partly to privilege will remain so long enough to enjoy it. Players, of course, fall into this category. They, too, are unusual, even those whose fathers and mothers were common (though the character background generator adjusts their backgrounds with their charisma).

In large degree, it is suggested that a DM recognize that an extraordinarily beautiful and pleasant person moving about a late medieval or early modern world casually, as a cleric, bard, paladin or druid, would likely be seen as something of a freak. The list below is intended to effect that depiction.

Ugly (3 pts.)
Reactions to such persons will often be a mixture of repugnance and horror, as ugly persons are generally misshapen, frightful and even ghastly in appearance. Unusual color, a rank odour and outward signs that are suggestive of disease (even if no disease is present) is repellent and produces a strong aversion.

Treatment is harsh, as the ugly character tends to be manic, aggressive, needy and often unable to make themselves clearly understood, often due to the shape of their mouths and their lack of confidence, others will treat them with contempt, disrespect, abuse and verbal derision. Mockery is a common response.

Generosity is utterly lacking for such persons; it is extremely rare that they are given a place or means to make a living, unless it is in some role that is wretched or very unpleasant. They are often the victim of some person who cruelly exploits their dreadful condition. Otherwise, they are often too ugly to even beg, and are thus reduced to scavenging for food. Some are taken in and taught to be assassins ~ the only character class such persons can aspire to be, as no other profession would be moved to train them.

Ill-favoured (4 pts.)
Reactions are often a strong dislike and disinclination to interact with such persons, as the ill-favoured often appear to be physically damaged, demented or mutilated in appearance. Often deathly pale, possessed of straggling hair, off-set eyes or a strong odour, the response is usually abhorrence. However, there is a softening of the appearance occasionally, that will move another person to a sense of pity for the poor creature.

Treatment is inflexible, as the ill-favoured character cannot help their boorish mannerisms, their odd-pitched speech and their corrupt use of language; they are shuffled from place to place, living by handout, forced to feel ashamed for themselves and friendless. But there is little hate; merely callous disregard. As ever, only assassins would train such a person to level status.

Generosity permits very little. They may knock on a door in very poor times. Some will let them find shelter in an airy stable or behind a stoop. No employment would be given; only beggary is available. As before, such persons drift into the orbit of assassins, who look for persons like this with the other necessary characteristics to become heartless killers.

Base (5 pts.)
Reactions possess a hesitation to shun the person, but still to push them along so as to relieve themselves of the person’s unwanted presence. The base individual is vulgar in appearance, unclean, a whiff of odour, while disagreeable in face and posture. While distaste is rare, others will be sharply displeased or dismayed at the individual’s presence, urging them to move on and mind their business elsewhere. This is often said with some sympathy, supported by some small bit of charity … a copper coin or a direction to a proprietor to get the base person a bit of bread.

Treatment includes distaste and an urge to cross the street rather than meet the individual, but not everyone feels that way. There is daily humour at the expense of the person, but it is jovial, not cruel. Others treat the person as “a part” of their community, though from habit rather than warmth.

Generosity allows for open beggary, which even allows the person to be treated with momentary kindness. No other place would be given, except for a modest permission to allow them a permanent shelter, though an unpleasant one. Even now, only assassins would train the person to have a level.

Homely (6 pts.)
Reactions may be a sniff of the air and a moderate displeasure; the homely person’s face and body is off-putting, being bent over, gangly and somewhat lopsided. They will have a cheerful smile, however and are seen to be only unfortunate; if met, they’re rarely acknowledged, and even more rarely noticed. Others will usually given them little to no attention.

Treatment would consist of benign disinterest. Others would pass on the street with a slight nod, if giving any notice at all. Still, no one challenges their presence in the community. Folk sell them goods, exchange with the person, give a tacit approval and speak well of the person, somewhat.

Generosity provides a form of necessary work, as a gong collector, rat catcher, gravedigger or similar occupation, too mean for an ordinary folk. Some will be levelled; a fighter that’s gone to war; a ranger acting as a gamekeeper; an independent friar; a small-time thief or assassin; perhaps a very private monk, mage or illusionist, in this latter case most likely from far away and without any ties. Most would know nothing of their levelled ability, as they will use their skills infrequently, not wishing to bring attention and perhaps frighten others, who would see them as a threat.

Plain (7 pts.)
Reactions are lukewarm and indifferent, with a tacit approval that the individual belongs as part of the scene. A mild greeting is normal. Often passed over but usually acknowledged. Plain individuals lack any sort of distinctive feature, with a modest mix of eyes, nose and mouth, suggesting rural habits, honest intents and an artless lack of pretension. They are nodded to or quietly acknowledged as they pass.

Treatment is cooperative, sometimes helpful; persons are likely to remain alone all their lives, but might become a helpmate to a commonplace person or act as a servant in a household. They will be gruff, impatient and bitter. Most know their name; others will listen to their opinions but will put little store by them; occasionally, to gain support, another might ask a plain person to give their opinion.

Generosity includes, as said, with opportunities to be a servant. Most often, they work for family. As mages and illusionists, they may set up a tiny, unobtrusive shop, that will receive few customers. Some are morticians. A cleric will be an unpleasant deacon, managing a few pupils. A fighter will be a private guard for a single employer ~ and never part of a larger entity, where they would not get along with others. A ranger is most likely to act alone in some capacity, as hunters or private wardens. Assassins or thieves would roam as solitary criminals. Most common plain persons would have mediocre, painstaking work to do, with little to look forward to day-to-day.

Commonplace (8 pts.)
Reactions will tend to be welcoming, if muted. While not noticed as an important person by any means, commonplace persons will be granted the same initial reception as anyone else. In appearance, they’re merely people. It will be noticed by such persons, perhaps because they come closer than those with less charisma, that there are “average folks” who are friendly and gentry who tend to overlook such persons. Commonplace persons will generally find love with others of their charisma and social standing.

Treatment is an everyday acceptance, as the individual will most likely have an extended family, responsibilities, a plot of land, a secondary skill, and compatriots of about the same level of charisma. Most others in their immediate orbit will treat them with belonging. Outsiders, particularly the gentry, will treat them with some level of disdain, as poor folks.

Generosity dictates their lives will revolve around work, seasonal events, births, deaths and little opportunity past their mundane lives. However, this offers a comfort, as well as knowledge that although their lives are dull, they are sound and productive. Most levels conform to their kind, performing what skills they have for the benefit of their kin. Clerics alone stand out; with this level of charisma, they are accepted as minor priests and functionaries inside the church system, though rarely do they ever become important and never do they preach to a wide congregation.

Neighbourly (9 pts.)
Reactions will be a strong salutation, followed by several interested questions before personable matters are dropped in favour of other things. A neighbour is rugged, fine to look at, with a gentle charm. No strong bond is evident, but even with strangers there’s a sense by appearance, expression and stance that this is at least a fellow countryman, individual or person of similar breeding to the norm. Some consideration is paid by the gentry to a neighbour; but a stranger among the gentry will give no notice. A neighbour might find love among others with a point more in charisma and a social standing slightly higher.

Treatment is a low-born respect, as they have excelled somewhat among their commonplace peers. They’re given the best tables at the worker’s tavern, they are respected by guards and by officials. Their weddings are usually publicly celebrated; and at festivals they are often chosen first to compete in games. To the gentry, they are treated as peaceable, but rarely are their names remembered.

Generosity permits these lower middle class persons are upstanding members of their guilds, town watchmen and minor officials. Some are farmer leaders and foremen; most are not, and at best lower level authority is all a few are offered. They do lead healthy lives, however, and can usually trace their family half a dozen generations, at least, into the past.

Friendly (10 pts.)
Reactions to such persons will be a strong hail, with others going out of their way in public places to make sure a greeting occurs. A friendly fellow smiles, is easy to talk to, will laugh at a joke and is open to what others want to talk about. They will be more sympathetic, causing others to express their like and appreciation often. Friendly persons find committed love among others up to a 12 charisma, with a fair status above their own. They may dabble in relationships with persons up to 14.

Treatment is kindness, as they pass on the street. Well spoken of, they are friendly with guards and officials, Gentry are apt to notice them and converse for a moment or two.

Generosity enables them to become relatively successful, giving them strong houses, yards, comforts for their children and contact with family in other parts. They are more in low-level positions of authority, particularly in guilds; a reeve or hayward might be friendly, as well as a head guard, a local apothecary, a kindly minister or a willing scout and guide.

Affable (11 pts.)
Reactions by others, upon greetings, will include genuine concern for the affable person’s situation, while others will certainly beg the person’s good wishes. Folk will gather as they appear at a tavern or in the market place, to share stories. These persons may find committed love from anyone, and are often courted.

Treatment often includes others that laugh at their jokes and see them as important residents in the community, or as interesting persons that are passing through. Buying a drink for an affable person is a common request.

Generosity enables them to set up independent workshops or become senior members of guilds, while they are often approached with duties for the village or local quarter. They will often agree to become toastmasters or to head a small welcoming committee. Levelled persons are celebrated for their skills and are often encouraged to send their children to distant places for training.

Warm-hearted (12 pts.)
Reactions will be to approach the individual with concerns for the person’s welfare and situation, most likely offering a good meal upon greeting if known to the area, in an attempt to share company with the person. Others will be anxious to share news, tell the latest gossip and positively remark on the warm-hearted person’s appearance and anything new they might see.

Treatment encourages these people to sit and converse, which they will do while their friends will assume their workload. Warm-hearted people provide emotional sustenance and encouragement to others, who treat them as special benefactors.

Generosity will make allowances, so that in times of hardship they are given welfare and support, both for them and their families. They are rarely evicted; someone will find a way to create work for them or pay their rent. If necessary, they will be given light duties to perform on behalf of the town. In general, however, they rise to be important leaders of guilds, associations and collectives. Many will use their personalities to ensure receiving training when they are quite young.

Social (13 pts.)
Reactions will be for strangers to notice the person as they move up the street and to introduce themselves politely, even if they are strangers. Those of 8 or less charisma will hang back, intimidated. If known to the area, invitations to important events will often occur, with promises that a special table will be arranged, or a space at the head table. The gentry will view the individual as one of their own.

Treatment insists they have a special set of gifts that enable them to liaison between different customs and circles, as they are welcomed often even by those with which they share little in common. They are listened to fervently, their words are considered to be truth and rarely are they successfully questioned in public.

Generosity encourages them to set aside labour entirely and be organizers, courtiers, hosts, social reformers, political leaders and others like voices. They are very busy. They move behind doors where those with less charisma would hardly be allowed. They exist in large enough numbers that they make up the majority of the cultural hoi polloi. Those lacking skills may still move in these corridors, though less well ~ somehow, on charm, they get by.

Chivalrous (14 pts.)
Reactions of all persons, except the gentry, will be somewhat intimidated, but nevertheless very welcoming. There will be a distinct use of genuflection (show deference) from those of 10 or less charisma, while others will hail and engage in short, polite conversations. Invitations, when they occur, will occasionally arise from the middle classes and the gentry, but the lower classes will be satisfied to gaze on the person from afar. Shopkeepers will rush to please.

Treatment of these persons is a mixture of homage and appreciation for their contributions. These are especially celebrated entities whose capabilities outweigh the gentry around them. They move about in carriages, with retainers and hangers-on, with others who appeal to them for moments of their time.

Generosity enables them to become captains of the guard, respected courtiers, persons in charge of the finances and running of the area; though of course, subordinate to aristocrats with titles. Those without special knowledge or wisdom are given duties that fit their limited skills.

Fair (15 pts.)
Reactions of the non-gentry will be muted and deeply respectful, accepting company if it is given but never seeking to impose. The gentry will, if given the opportunity, seek to adopt the person, bringing them around to the house, introducing them to children of marriageable age, encouraging the person to begin in business or some other respectable activity. The gentry will, in fact, be something of a pest in this regard.

Treatment begins to reflect the relative rarity of these persons. As persons of consequence, they do not have to work so hard as their lesser peers to be heard in the halls of power. Even if they are not especially bright, they are usually found a place, as they are a pleasure to be near, for persons of great stature.

Generosity allows many who do not have skills to marry into the upper echelons. Some may obtain power through less savoury means, as gigolos and courtesans ~ but most exploit their skills while around them, they are celebrated for their personalities alone.

Beautiful (16 pts.)
Reactions will be strong and highly appreciative. Most persons, even the gentry, will tend to give space and respectfully give acknowledgement. All persons, from the shopkeeper up to and including the gentry, will show varying levels of making room, giving attention or otherwise dashing about as they serve and attend to the person. The single exception will be persons with legitimate power and title, who will view the person as a person to know and to engage with.

Treatment demonstrates that these are likely the most beautiful persons that ordinary people will ever see in person. Even at that, they are rarely viewed directly; most of the time, they will protect their appearance with privacy, not because they are truly threatened, as they usually surrounded, but rather because their beauty disturbs persons.

Generosity ensures that most of them are directly connected with court or with persons of power and title. Generally, they will escape the provinces for the comparatively comfortable life to be had in capitals. They may be enlightened persons of consequence, or they may surrender that to become manipulators behind the scenes, moving less attractive persons as puppets.

Graceful (17 pts.)
Reactions will be distant; most persons, except those with power and title, will consider themselves inadequate to hold discourse with the person. Less attractive persons will be pushed out of the person’s presence; an aura of space will expand around the person should they go anywhere. Those with power and title will suggest paths towards marriage or political power.

Treatment is hushed and reverential. It will be difficult to speak directly to lesser persons, who will describe themselves as unworthy. The degree of intimidation others feel will be very high.

Generosity will lead them to become lords and ladies through marriage, or by gifts bestowed upon them. Paladins will be profound, unusually prized members of court, as their appearance is startling and tends to strike even courtiers with astonishment.

Bewitching (18 pts.)
Reactions will be something like fear. It will be generally held belief that a person cannot be so charismatic without having some special powers, to charm, beguile or fascinate persons out of all safety. In some quarters among the gentry, there will be an unspoken, strong resentment, that may be problematic in the right circumstances. Lower establishments will refuse to serve, considering themselves unworthy. An ordinary life is possible only through disguise.

Treatment is exceptional and mystifying. Such persons are probably never ordinarily seen by even gentry; their incongruous presence is eerie and unnatural. Even kings and queens are made humble by their appearance and their personalities. Because of this, persons of this appearance are vulnerable. They will often wear a mask or covering of some type, to minimize their outward effect.

Generosity of their charisma enables them to become master manipulators behind the scenes. A few become usurpers. Each is an entity onto themselves, defying categorization.


kimbo said...

Very interesting, Alexis.

A lot of apsects i havent seen considered before. High Cha becomes a burden to be managed. Your Cha system seems to be a proxy for social class/status. To what extent will "clothes maketh the man" affect Charisma, even temporarily? Does this imply a maintenace cost on appearances (clothes, baubles, hygiene, gear, entourage) for a particular Cha?


Alexis Smolensk said...

Let's call it, "living up to your potential."

I reasoned thus: a high charisma offers opportunities and choices; and while most players would rather run with their high charisma into a dungeon and slaughter things, most with a high charisma would rather take the offers of gentry first, then persons up the scale. The greater the charisma, the greater the scale. Maintenance is de rigueur for all persons on that social ladder, if they're allowed to be there at all.

Since it did come up today, the conflict card system I experimented with had bonuses for influencing others based on how much bling you were wearing. I believe it was +1 for 10 g.p., +2 for 100 g.p., +3 for 1,000 g.p. and +4 for 10,000 g.p.

Maxwell Joslyn said...

Your examples of the highest position to which a character with X Charisma might ascend, seem like the perfect complement to your existing Charisma-based generator for father's profession. By translating from profession to these Cha categories, the players could at once understand how the PC and their family are treated by society. Tons of roleplay potential in that.

There are other benefits to nailing down these guidelines. For example, someone rolling a new PC who sees that Cha 12 is enough to be "an important resident to the community" knows they'll be able to rely on their reputation with local NPCs as an in-game resource. That's enticing enough, to me at least, to consider putting 12 in Cha rather than a true "survival" stat... As these rules evolve your players will have yet another hard choice to make in char creation. So, mission accomplished!

Pandred said...

This is the content I come here for.

The best rules are rules, imho, are ones that evoke instant imagination on how they could be employed. Already I can see my home game gaining from just my initial reading here.


ViP said...

Interesting breakdown, but I still have a question : does a character remain charismatic when confronted to radically different cultures and/or races ? Does his or her ability to impose their will on others change depending on their opponents' innate or social preferences ? For exemple, should the unexceptional dwarf suddenly become the leader when the party encounters a tribe of beard-worshipping humanoïds, or will the 18-Charisma cleric alway be able to talk her way out of any situation involving intelligent creatures ? The former seems more reasonable to me, but that solution implies that Charisma is mechanically different from the other 5 abilities.

Alexis Smolensk said...


I can see others running their games differently, but ... these radically different cultures and races exist in the same game world as humans and such, and will have met humans and such before. I don't see every mountain pass in my game as a voyage into a, "lost world." My world is based on trade, and lots of it. Marco Polo thrived in China; and I don't think charisma should be suspended because someone is talking to a rakshasa.

Now, does that mean there won't be modifiers? No, probably there will be modifiers. But I haven't done the work on that, so I can't say for sure what I'd do.

jamescbennett said...

What did you base this on? Does this assume a 3d6-in-order world? Because you have "normal" reactions assigned to 7 and 8, which give a -1 penalty on reaction rolls, and are describing 1/216th of the population as "bewitching". I was in Hollywood long enough to meet some of the "bewitching" people--the ones you can feel walk into a room even when you aren't looking, the ones who aren't quite 5' tall but you always feel like you have to look up at them. People like that are rare--a handful per culture per generation. There aren't 34 million of them wandering around right now. 18 is just "3 or more standard deviations above the mean", the top half-of-a-percent of the population. You are describing the top one percent of the top one percent, and maybe even the top one percent of that. 18 CHA is much more likely to be homecoming queen at a High School with 2000-2500 students than to be Grace Kelly.

JB said...

Pretty awesome stuff. I shudder at the thought of a paladin bereft of moral compass or honor...villainous indeed!

Alexis Smolensk said...

James C.,

There were points in the full document that addressed some of these points, but I'll go over them for you.

This is not based on any system except that it is generally accepted that a 3 is the lowest stat available to a D&D character, and an 18 is the highest. The "-1 penalty on reaction rolls" you refer to describes a game system that I don't use. Getting into why I don't use them would be a waste of time, so I won't.

While it is fair to assume that a 3d6 roll for charisma applies to every person AT BIRTH, we must also acknowledge that 99% of the population would grow up in a very unpleasant, backward, disease-ridden, malnutrious prone environment composed of very hard labor, opportunity for accidents and virtually no healthcare. We might also throw in eugenics, but let's not. Let's propose that 1 in 216 farmgirls are born with an 18 charisma. After the first five years of their existence living in squallor, that's going to diminish quite a few of those. Many will be sold into slavery, as they're pretty, where they will end up in a grim existence as prostitutes and worse occupations. Many of the beautiful men will lose some of their shine from battle and rough sports. Habitual narcotics and venereal disease will take their toll. Those who do make it, and maintain that 18 charisma, will survive because they are empowered to live protected, healthy, isolated lives ... from which they will be plucked by the most elite of society as courtiers and wives, gathered together into places where EVERYONE is of a certain charisma, and they can stand to be around each other more easily.

See, while you see an 18 charisma as "generally good-looking," I'm counting it as "perfect and without flaws." I'm describing your 18 charisma as a 12, and thus creating a lot more layers above what your proposing. I'm also treating the WHOLE charisma, not just the looks of a homecoming queen. That 18 charisma I describe is also unbelievably well-spoken and conspicuously unnatural.

As regards to "7 and 8" being normal, I said nothing of the kind. I described 7 as plain. Basically, a wallflower. A girl that doesn't get asked to dance. A boy who can't stop stuttering. And my 8 was described as, effectively, a factory worker. Now, you may see that as "normal," but I see that as crude, lacking in manners, abusive, non-empathic and boorish. They may get along with each other, but an AVERAGE literate person can hardly bear to be around such people.

Now, that's my prejudice. I think a mass of people would end up with an 8 charisma because, even though 10.5 is "average" for rolls, culture and society would rub many of those additional points away, as is evident from any studies we have of people living in ghettos and other slums. The 3d6 is a potential. LIFE grinds that down if one has to spend 12 hours a day at labor just to survive.

I don't expect to convince you. But I will point out, this sort of list and breakdown EXISTS NOWHERE. 40 years of D&D and no one has thought to do this. So as I've taken to saying these days, you go ahead and make your own list, and break it down your way. You're welcome.

Maliloki said...

Thought provoking...

Also, the last sentence of second to last paragraph: I believe "of some time" should be "of some type"

Alexis Smolensk said...


Ozymandias said...

I would hasten to add, In response to James' questions, that Alexis has posted his table on ability scores by social class, indicating that 2d6 per stat (not 3d6) is the norm for about 45-50% of the population.

I had to keep that in mind while reading these descriptions. I keep wanting to go back to my sample population documents to see how many persons (out of thousands) show up with 18 Charisma.

I don't think we pay enough attention to the impact the full character creation process has on our worlds . . .

Joey Bennett said...

Fantastic. The only struggle I have is one that is inherent in the way we view charisma. It is very possible for someone to possess great beauty, and yet have interpersonal skills that would indicate a significantly lower charisma score. The inverse is also true, although the appearance of an individual will probably make it so that their other charismatic qualities are not as available to them. Put more succinctly, an individual's appearance and their mannerisms both impact their overall charisma, and each other, but they are not as tightly coupled as we usually treat them, and as your breakdown seems to imply.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Oh, I am acutely aware of that point, Joey.

Remember "comeliness"? Comeliness was, and apparently is returning, as an attempt to split the charisma stat so that it makes the distinction betwen beauty and interpersonal skills. It added very little to the game, detracted a great deal from player self-perception and was VERY unpopular. The concept dragged its ass through a decade of abuse before it was finally dropped because players patently did not care to know what their physical beauty was.

I'm pretending that the two are linked together, for game purposes. I don't pretend it offers a real simulation for human attractivness in any sense. Humans are not divided into 16 categories. We often thrive in some communities while finding ourselves awkward and ineffectual in others. If there were practical value in fine-slicing the concepts further, I might feel a motivation to try ... but there isn't. So though aware of the descrepancy, I'm just ignoring it.

Joey Bennett said...

Understood. So since there is a connection between the different aspects of charisma, for game purposes you are simplifying the system to assume an equal level of all of those aspects for a given charisma score rather than using some sort of a matrix of those aspects and how they might offset one another to describe the score.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Correct Joey. Incidentally, this is what is always done, when we make a check using only the stat number.

JB said...

One more question, Alexis: does tying Charisma so closely to social status mean a limited range of Charisma stats for NPCs based on circumstance of birth? I understand that PCs are outside the normal caste system, but could they expect to find all NPC nobles of a higher Charisma stat, and all but the rarest peasants and ruffians to be on the low end?


Alexis Smolensk said...

There is a difference between a courtier and an advisor, a military commander, a religious leader and so on. And courts differ. I have nations as small as a single square kilometer; no doubt, you'd find many of lesser charisma attending the lord of such a place. Still, we'd choose the cream of the crop, wouldn't we?

Nobles are usually chosen by birth, and have flaws. But nobles are also made, and by the book I'm reading now of the 16th century, making an attractive, well-spoken person a noble was strongly expected by many an adventurer captain or commander. Charisma is hereditary, so if we're talking five or six centuries of giving responsibility on the basis of charisma, we should expect a lot of nobles to be born of somewhat better disposition than the hoi polloi.

But as I've hinted, high intelligence, high wisdom and considerable prowess are also reasons to come to court ~ and genius has its own politics. Richelieu had his own troubles chasing the harlots out of Louis' bedroom in order to discuss politics. So not everyone at court would be beautiful. Everyone, I must believe, would be talented; or else someone would remove them from all that power they held for the sake of general welfare.

At the low end, I should think the peasants and the ruffians would be led by their own version of "court," ala Hugo's the Court of Miracles. The ruffians would be on the low end, but the one-eyed man, et al. Bad luck, poor wisdom, a flaw in some capacity, would likely mean the occasional 18 charisma person would be too stupid, too sickly, too foolish and such to be of much use in any court. Those dichotomies create system problems, yes, but great characters.

JB said...

; )

Rosenritter said...

This has been an interesting set of posts to read - enough that my thoughts extended well beyond the limits of a single comment, and had to go into a blog post. To summarize: I fall into the "not my D&D" camp on this one. It's a fascinating look at someone else's game, but the major focus on appearance and initial reaction, remind me more of the rightfully maligned Comeliness stat. I'd put a lot more weight on the factors of "leadership" and "personality".

Still: It looks like it can serve at the table, and seems a worthwhile substitute for a standard reaction check in social circumstances, insofar as it acts as a "just look at the number" sort of thing, rather than requiring a moment to consider situational adjustments each time.