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Charismatic Personality Appearance Disorder

Sean_RDP

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No statistic has been as ill defined from the very beginning of role playing as the Charisma stat. I think this is true for most games. In some ways I imagine it derived from "leadership" scores that many units or generals have in table top war games. I do not know this for sure of course, but I surmise this was the case. No one seemed to use it correctly and at least early on among the games I played it lacked real emphasis in design. When I began playing Runequest and found that the role playing stat had been replaced with an appearance stat and now I could role play however I wanted, I was quite pleased. It held a great deal of appeal to me. To say that many years later when I noted CHA creeping into d100 games, I was a bit baffled.Why was this happening? Why were designers making this choice for a stat no one cared about before anyway. Was it the sudden use in d20 games, which revived CHA as a meaningful stat?

Despite my confusion, I was forced to reconsider some kind of stat that encompassed an element of personality and decided that personality was just what I was looking for. 

In Q21, PER / Personality is an important stat. It is a measure of force of personality and presence of the character. How the character chooses to use this depends on what skills that they choose.Those skills are listed under Communication skills. But what about appearance? 

On the one hand no one can help the face they are born with and we have to make the most of it. Often a strong personality overcomes societal preferences, but is there something useful in having an actual appearance stat? I do not want to put in a stat to just have one and I want to not be on the fence about it.Right now Q21 does not have any appearance stat and I am not inclined to add it in, even though I have a great deal of nostalgia for it. 



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Since the dawn of roleplaying  (at least for me) my players have always used this as a dump stat. You'll see the same stories on a multitude of forums. I've ALWAYS put a value on all characteristics in my games. Now that being said my players are just as likely to slap someone as try to negotiate with them so it's not always easy to give Charisma a solid chance. If you WANT Charisma to be a used characteristic then make it more important in your games. Give the character with the highest a love interest (who is actually beneficial), or some charmed hireling who decides to help the party just to be close to the charismatic character. Let them negotiate lower prices when trying to buy/sell goods. Have people buy the character with higher charisma a meal or drink at the tavern. But it's important not to leave other players out because they dumped Charisma. Play on everyones strengths and weaknesses. Only you, the chronicler, can give value to aspects of a character. 

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I've always found Appearance to be a bit limited compared to Charisma. Charisma can be whatever blend of appearance and personality the player wants it to be.

Appearance also runs into problems when run in a fantasy game like Runequest or Magic World where you have a number of different humanoid species running around, all with different appearances. Should my dragonnewt have multiple appearance score for how different species perceive them? It's easier to imagine Charisma cutting across those lines than Appearance. 

I don't get too worked up about it either way though. I save my real stat hate for EDU.

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I always make charisma rolls against a different species a difficult roll as well as social skills if the races are opposed. 

Edited by tooley1chris
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10 minutes ago, trystero said:

I tend to think of APP (in BRP games which use it) as "Appeal", rather than "Appearance"; it's a mixture of looks and personality.

Oh, I like that. I had never thought of it like that. Very cool

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4 hours ago, trystero said:

I tend to think of APP (in BRP games which use it) as "Appeal", rather than "Appearance"; it's a mixture of looks and personality.

I never liked APP replacing CHA, but your suggestion suddenly makes it work

Edited by Mankcam
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D&D went through a similar quandary when it added, and later removed, the Comeliness Attribute.  The problem, of course, is that both physical appearance and personality attractiveness tend to overlap each other in subtle ways that are difficult to draw boxes around.  If we try to say, for instance, that a physically attractive female who has a horrible and irascible personality has no charismatic influence over people, we are confounded by the fact that somehow she still does indeed have a charismatic affect on others - and even might have people seemingly irrationally bending obsequiously to her every whim, whether they actually enjoy doing so or not (perhaps such followers would feel less abused - or not abused at all - if she also had a high charisma: food for thought).  One example of such a character might be the role that Meryl Streep played in The Devil Wears Prada (and here we can get into trouble again with those blurred lines, because Streep is older in that film, and although she has an element of being physically attractive, I would say that the efficacy of her physical appearance has more to do with the way in which she carries herself than with raw physical appeal; and yet she severely struggles with truly connecting with others throughout the entire film - is that what we would expect from someone whose influence comes from their "charisma?").  On the other hand, it may be a little easier for us to understand the effect that someone has through their personal charm or animal magnetism even though they may not appear to be very physically attractive - yet, it does seem that there must be some rudimentary physical attractiveness for their charm to "leverage" - otherwise, they effect can be quite the opposite! 

Further complications arise when once considers physical attractiveness as it relates to mate selection.  Now, physical attractiveness is not simply a simple attribute to be considered as an effect that can be objectively measured when checking for someone's reaction.  Instead, it becomes a game in itself that involves the self-perception of the person who would be affected by the attractiveness of someone else.  For example, a woman sees a man who has a certain level of attractiveness, but, she is also attractive, and based other interactions she has had before with other men, she might consider herself to be able to do better, even though he has a certain level of attractiveness.  So, in such a case as this, we might model a check for reaction on the man's score for attractiveness (is this a composite of physical attractiveness and charisma - this is still undecided for now) and then account for the woman's confidence in her ability to potentially do better by a simple attribute bonus subtraction or by an attribute vs. attribute chart comparison (using some statistical curve).  But even then, we hit upon yet another problem: how do we measure the woman's confidence?  Would it be some composite of her overall appeal (charisma and physical appearance) modified by her intelligence/power/(wisdom?)...?  

My point, overall, is that it is both a subtle and complex question.

PS - I also forgot to mention the effect of financial and physical power (even intellectual power) that factors into attractiveness/appeal.  Streep's character was a successful fashion mogul, and this certain had an effect on her followers.  Women can often find men who are physically powerful to be more physically attractive.  And let's not forget the appeal that Leonard Nimoy had in his role as Spock: he had more female fan mail that William Shatner, and yet, in a within the constraints of a gaming system, we might easily be led to think that Spock would have less charisma or even physical attractiveness than Kirk.

Edited by boradicus
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