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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    There's a lot of debate, especially on this forum, over whether physical appearance is tied to Charisma; while it says so at least in the 3.5 PHB, some players think it doesn't make sense because there are **** ugly monsters with 30 CHA and there is no reason for your appearance to govern sorcerer spellcasting.
    Anyway, I personally think that the designers intended appearance to be a single component/possibility for a high CHA score, someone could look completely average and have 18 CHA or have their appearance contribute to a large chunk of that score. Still, many players (including me) think this doesn't make much sense.
    In terms of solutions, some people think a whole new stat is the way to go, but that would be the most worthless stat in the game. I personally think it would be best represented by a feat, or maybe a series of feats. This will probably work.

    For 3.5/Pathfinder/4e: You gain +4 to Bluff and Diplomacy checks against anyone who is attracted to your race and sex.
    For 5e: You gain +1 to Charisma and advantage on Deception and Persuasion checks against anyone who is attracted to your race and sex.

    So there: a feat (which might be continued if a player desires it) to represent above-average appearance, which removes the attractiveness component from Charisma.
    Last edited by slachance6; 2016-06-27 at 04:35 AM.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by slachance6 View Post
    There's a lot of debate, especially on this forum, over whether physical appearance is tied to Charisma; while it says so at least in the 3.5 PHB, some players think it doesn't make sense because there are **** ugly monsters with 30 CHA and there is no reason for your appearance to govern sorcerer spellcasting.
    Anyway, I personally think that the designers intended appearance to be a single component/possibility for a high CHA score, someone could look completely average and have 18 CHA or have their appearance contribute to a large chunk of that score. Still, many players (including me) think this doesn't make much sense.
    In terms of solutions, some people think a whole new stat is the way to go, but that would be the most worthless stat in the game. I personally think it would be best represented by a feat, or maybe a series of feats. This will probably work.

    For 3.5/Pathfinder/4e: You gain +2 to Bluff and Diplomacy checks against anyone who is attracted to your race and sex.
    For 5e: You gain +1 to Charisma and advantage on Deception and Persuasion checks against anyone who is attracted to your race and sex.

    So there: a feat (which might be continued if a player desires it) to represent above-average appearance, which removes the attractiveness component from Charisma.
    The problem that I can see with that feat is that it can be kinda awkward if your DM has to think or you have to ask "Is this person attracted to the PC?"

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    That is also how I generwlly handle it.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    I remember in AD&D, perhaps in that edition's Unearthed Arcana, there was an optional stat called Comliness. It was the physical attractiveness stat which was directly adjusted by the Charisma stat bonus. I don't remember the race adjustments though.

    Personally, the players should be able to simply determine the looks of their characters instead of rolling for it. Conversely, there is the interesting aspect of completely rolling for it during character creation and seeing how it will affect the character's background.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    I've played in a couple games with a DM that included [Very] Handsome/Beautiful as a pair of feats one could take. The problem is just that it's almost never worth taking, relative to other feats, unless it's large enough to be worth only sometimes being relevant. +2 to two skills falls under 'considered bad' (see Self-Sufficient, Alertness, etc.), so for an appearance feat to work as something worth taking I'd think the bonuses would need to be more like +4 or even +6.

    Then you run into another issue. Now you will likely never have Attractive characters who aren't already a party face, because...well, having a good-looking character just went from not costing anything to costing a feat. The occasionally-relevant bonus turns into something that likely won't come up, because by the time a few levels have gone by the bonus is irrelevant when comparing a melee fighter's ability to cajole and convince with someone who has invested a great deal into said skills.

    I think it's best to either leave it as something within the realm of player choice, with it coming up sometimes (the same way height and weight can be determined by the player, but will sometimes give benefits/drawbacks based on what makes sense) but not being represented mechanically unless the GM wants it to be, in which case they do an on-the-spot thing. You could also make an 'Attractive' trait, or make a subset of 'minor feats' that you fill with similar things - ones that aren't worth taking on their own, but are still neat from a flavor perspective. Saying 'you can take three minor feats for every normal feat slot you use for minor feats' means that someone can take Attractive, Weapon Focus (Dagger) and Skill Focus (Bluff) to represent mechanically a portion of character backstory otherwise invisible in their stats (if they're, say, a melee combatant who grew up as nobility and was taught a few things to help them survive in a courtier's world before they chose the fighting life).
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by NuclearCommando View Post
    The problem that I can see with that feat is that it can be kinda awkward if your DM has to think or you have to ask "Is this person attracted to the PC?"
    Shouldn't be that awkward, just anyone of the opposite sex who is one of the typical player races (and maybe some of the more human-like monster races). Yes, there are some exceptions, but works as a general rule. (Seriously, we don't need a random table for NPC's sexual orientations.)

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Why does attractiveness need a mechanical effect in a game about killing things and taking their stuff?

    Besides which, attractiveness and charisma aren't really related, so combining them in game jargon is confusing as well as pointless.
    Last edited by Pluto!; 2015-12-01 at 08:11 PM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    As far as I'm concerned, your character's Charisma is whatever combination of attractiveness, charm, force of personality, and social kung fu makes sense for your particular character. The same goes for all attributes; it's just that Charisma is where this explanation is most often needed.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    charisma isn't just about looks. It's about your force of personality, looks, and other things. You can be a butt ugly undead lich, but you can be an extremely terrifying lich who speaks with a silver tongue.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    A feat doesn't make sense for physical appearance. It's not something you can learn, and it doesn't make sense to suddenly have it one day when you get to level 6.
    If you must have it represented mechanically, it should be randomly determined at character creation, or at least treated the same way the other attributes are.
    As everyone points out, if you are requiring spending build points on it, it will almost always be dumped. It's best if everything is random, and appearance is just one more randomly determined stat, along with height, weight, age, etc. It can add a modifier to social interactions under certain circumstances.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    A feat doesn't make sense for physical appearance. It's not something you can learn, and it doesn't make sense to suddenly have it one day when you get to level 6.
    What if you can only take it during character creation?

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    You should control everything about your character that doesn't have a non-trivial impact on game mechanics--their history, personality, appearance, etc. You decide what your character looks like. The end. If you start saying that appearance has a mechanical impact (that's non-trivial) then you just opened a can of worms with shape-shifting and appearance-altering illusions. It's best to just keep it as a flavor thing that doesn't have a significant impact on things.
    If you cast Dispel Magic on my Gust of Wind, does that mean you're disgusting?

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by Dren Nas View Post
    charisma isn't just about looks. It's about your force of personality, looks, and other things. You can be a butt ugly undead lich, but you can be an extremely terrifying lich who speaks with a silver tongue.
    I go with this for Charisma - it's about the way you act and carry yourself. It gives plenty of freedom on physical appearance, and avoids the weirder questions regarding sexual orientations, people's preferences, culture (what elves find attractive will be different from what orcs find attractive), etc.
    Last edited by goto124; 2015-12-02 at 01:40 AM.

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    Flumph

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    I wouldn't make it a feat, for the reason PersonMan mentioned - even if it was good enough (+2/+2 situationally is definitely not), it would mean that any non-face who wants to be attractive is hurting themselves mechanically.

    I think I'd probably just say the player can choose it, with no mechanical effect. If you're super-attractive but have low Charisma and no social skills, then people assume "[character] is just a pretty face, no need to take them seriously". You might be able to get some situational bonuses from it (can distract people, whether they take you seriously or not), but also some situational penalties (people tend to stare, so it's harder to do anything covert).

    Although that said, I could see a feat for taking advantage of your appearance, as long as the feat wasn't required to look good. Maybe something like "+4 to Bluff/Diplomacy/Perform in cases where appearance would help, goes up to +8 at 10th level".

    Having appearance as a stat just doesn't work at all though, IMO. Reason: Ettins, for example. An Ettin's idea of an attractive mate would have two heads, be 13' tall, and never bathe. You just can't claim there's any universal standard - unless you're running in the style of certain pulp-SF stuff where every alien species is inexplicably attracted to human women, I suppose.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2015-12-02 at 01:57 AM.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    A feat doesn't make sense for physical appearance. It's not something you can learn, and it doesn't make sense to suddenly have it one day when you get to level 6.
    Actually, yes, you can learn it. It's not just about bone structure and complexion, it's also about carriage, hygiene, deportment, self-confidence and empathy, all of which are completely trainable skills.

    I think the standard description of charisma, where "physical attractiveness" is just one facet of the overall stat, is actually pretty reasonable. The problem comes about because some people seem to assume it must be more important than the other facets. You don't see threads on this board about "the 'persuasiveness' issue with charisma", do you? No, it's always "attractiveness" that people fixate on and want to separate out.
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    There's always clothes and makeup! Not limited to females.

    ... I had to mention it.
    Last edited by goto124; 2015-12-02 at 02:34 AM.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    A feat doesn't make sense for physical appearance. It's not something you can learn, and it doesn't make sense to suddenly have it one day when you get to level 6.
    If you must have it represented mechanically, it should be randomly determined at character creation, or at least treated the same way the other attributes are.
    As everyone points out, if you are requiring spending build points on it, it will almost always be dumped. It's best if everything is random, and appearance is just one more randomly determined stat, along with height, weight, age, etc. It can add a modifier to social interactions under certain circumstances.
    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Actually, yes, you can learn it. It's not just about bone structure and complexion, it's also about carriage, hygiene, deportment, self-confidence and empathy, all of which are completely trainable skills.
    Yeah, I was just thinking you'd make the feat say something like 'not only do you got it, you know how to flaunt it to maximum effect, in polite or casual situations, giving [bonus]', rather than 'you look great, [bonus]'.
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    NinjaGirl

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    As I see it, the player should decide the characters appearance.

    Charisma should play a role in that, but only in a tangiental way. You have to consider 'why does such an attractive person have such low charisma?' or 'what traits does this person have that make them so confident and well liked, even if they're unattractive?'

    Charisma is about confidence, wit, likability, but on a deeper level it's also about strength of personality.

    Being attractive can definitely contribute to those traits being strong as well, but there is also the possibility that an attractive person never really had to make an effort to learn to be funny or likable, and so even though some are initially drawn to them because of their appearance, it doesn't last and they come off as vapid, condescending or boring.

    Currently, I'm playing an elf rogue/wizard. She's got charisma 9, but I decided to describe her as attractive in appearance, but with an almost perpetual scowl or pout. She has very poor people skills. She's emotionally immature (only 115 years old) and has trouble thinking outside of her own perspective or empathizing with people who aren't like her.

    She's basically an annoying teen, who's too clever, too condescending and doesn't know how to approach complex social situations. She's also insecure when it comes to things she can't solve from a purely intellectual standpoint.

    Appearance needs to make sense in regards to the stats, but it shouldn't be dominated by them.
    Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you judge them, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    For 5e make it an alternate background featurw. Out of the abyss provides two backgeound features to make your character a more capable underdark explorer. So have a background feature of "attractive"

    ATTRACTIVE
    You have always been considered to be blessed with good looks. This has often made some aspects of your life easier and others more complicated. You gain advantage on deception and persuasion skill checks made against most members of other genders, and some members of your own gender, so long as their attitude toward you is neutral or better. You gain disadvantage on deception and persuasion checks against all targets whose attitude is below neutral toward you. On a roll of 20, however, regardless of outcome of the deception or persuasion check, the target NPC's attitude toward you increases by 1 step.
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    The supposed "problem" of Charisma and physical attractiveness is pretty D&D-specific. And even in D&D, it's only a problem if people insist to treat it this way for some reason, and ascribe too much importance to attributes.

    Charisma tells you how big a number you add to some skill checks, and how much oomph your spells have for some spellcasting classes. Whether that means your character is attractive, persuasive, forceful or inspiring, or any combination thereof, is entirely a matter of description. After all, having a high Charisma isn't going to matter much if you have no ranks/proficiency in relevant skills, anyway.
    Last edited by Morty; 2015-12-02 at 06:16 AM.
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by slachance6 View Post
    Shouldn't be that awkward, just anyone of the opposite sex who is one of the typical player races (and maybe some of the more human-like monster races). Yes, there are some exceptions, but works as a general rule. (Seriously, we don't need a random table for NPC's sexual orientations.)
    It's not that hard for people of the opposite sex/gender (delete as appropriate, I'm not going into that can of worms, suffice to say I once got confused because a friend decided that they may actually have been born in the right body all along, I just gave up and mentally labelled their gender as 'meh'), if we assume <=10% of the setting is homosexual just roll 1d10, 1 is not interested, for <=5% use 1d20. There's other problems with different people being into different things, but it's a usable abstraction. For the same gender/sex (still staying away from the worms, so deleitfy) it's more complicated, as suffice to say that bisexuality is not a clear cut issue and different people draw the line at different points.

    Of course, that's just for the three basic types of sexual attraction. You could add asexual and demisexual as well, and then there's the whole bisexual/pansexual divide where I'm still not certain where the official divide is. Then there's the entire romantic attraction angle, and we are now into the area where I'm fairly certain I've been the only person interested in the Random Orientation Table for a while.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    The supposed "problem" of Charisma and physical attractiveness is pretty D&D-specific. And even in D&D, it's only a problem if people insist to treat it this way for some reason, and ascribe too much importance to attributes.
    How I like games that just let social skills be governed by the INT/WIS equivalents.

    My personal game ruling on attractiveness is the one in Anima: Beyond Fantasy. For those who don't know how stats work in it, there are on a scale of 1-10+ with 5 being the human average and 10 being the effective human maximum (which characters can only exceed wih GM permission). The section on appearance pretty much goes as follows:

    'Appearance is another stat, to be honest it's not really worth anything, ask the GM if you have to roll 1d10 or if you can just pick your attractiveness. No elevens.'

    Nice for a game to outright admit it once in a while.
    Last edited by Anonymouswizard; 2015-12-02 at 08:33 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    One issue I have had is that lot's of DMs consider being ugly to be the players "punishment" for not putting points into Cha. Cha is, for most characters, the least mechanically valuable stat, and thus DM's perceive any character who used Cha as their dump stat as being a munchkin. They take delight in making these players squirm by describing just how ugly and repulsive their character is at every turn.


    Also, I let players re-fluff their feats. If someone wants to play an ugly diplomat and feels they can't get by without the feat they can simply change the beauty feat to something else like a soothing voice, captivating gaze, animal magnetism, or what have you.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    One issue I have had is that lot's of DMs consider being ugly to be the players "punishment" for not putting points into Cha. Cha is, for most characters, the least mechanically valuable stat, and thus DM's perceive any character who used Cha as their dump stat as being a munchkin. They take delight in making these players squirm by describing just how ugly and repulsive their character is at every turn.
    To assume that there has to be a close relation between CHA and appearance - is a whole extra dimension of totally failing to grasp the whole concept. Point out that a lich gets a +2 CHA adjustment.

    And roleplaying it is a way harsher punishment. When the player with the low-CHA character tries to intervene in conversations - whether with outsiders, or internally within the party - the others will ignore them. Probably won't even notice that they're doing it. The nerd will have to put a lot of extra effort into making any point they feel strongly about. If you really want to rub it in, have them make Will saves to intervene at all in social situations, because they need to screw up their courage to try again when they've been put down.
    "None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned. A natural result of these conditions is, that we consciously or unconsciously pay more attention to tuning our opinions to our neighbor’s pitch and preserving his approval than we do to examining the opinions searchingly and seeing to it that they are right and sound." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Point out that a lich gets a +2 CHA adjustment.
    Knowing my group I'd just hear a lot of 'bone the lich' jokes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    My group uses the age old 'x/10' rating. If we arent sure how hot someone is, we roll a d10.
    In some rare cases we add a bonus to the roll, like for nymphs and succubi.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by Steampunkette View Post
    For 5e make it an alternate background featurw. Out of the abyss provides two backgeound features to make your character a more capable underdark explorer. So have a background feature of "attractive"
    Two thoughts on that. None of the other backgrounds come with disadvantages that I know of, so that's unprecedented. But more importantly, this is just a depressing background. It's shallow enough to make physical attractiveness, a subjective thing, into a stat that has any significant mechanical effects, but to imply that you're giving up a background of any substance and essentially having a character be defined strictly by "I'm pretty" is even worse. "Pretty" is not a background. It's one tiny aspect of a character that shouldn't matter much.

    This may be another case of people trying to be hyper-realistic with their games, because I realize that in the real world people get perks from fitting a certain archetype of what's considered broadly attractive, but that path of attempting to achieve hyper realism in games is one that leads to misery. It's a game. It should be fun. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I like to imagine that's even more so the case in a fantasy world with so many different races and creatures. I want the fantasy world to be something fun to play in and that means playing a character that fits your creativity.

    I like to draw my characters and after spending hours on such a depiction, I'd be really ticked at a DM who said "You drew him too attractive. His charisma is only 10." Your own drawing of the character that YOU created is not accurate?
    Last edited by Dalebert; 2015-12-02 at 03:40 PM.
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    Two thoughts on that. None of the other backgrounds come with disadvantages that I know of, so that's unprecedented. But more importantly, this is just a depressing background. It's shallow enough to make physical attractiveness, a subjective thing, into a stat that has any significant mechanical effects, but to imply that you're giving up a background of any substance and essentially having a character be defined strictly by "I'm pretty" is even worse. "Pretty" is not a background. It's one tiny aspect of a character that shouldn't matter much.
    The character would still get the proficiencies and equipment, as well as traits, bonds, flaws, ect.

    They just wouldn't get, say, retainers, or general acceptance among the common people, or somesuch. Although really, characters should be able to take a background feature in addition to the one from their background, because some nobles are well read, some soldiers are accepted by the nobility and have a rank, and some sages also happen to be attractive.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    That's a terrible idea.

    So nobody is a pretty sailor, scholar or loner?
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Actually, yes, you can learn it. It's not just about bone structure and complexion, it's also about carriage, hygiene, deportment, self-confidence and empathy, all of which are completely trainable skills.

    I think the standard description of charisma, where "physical attractiveness" is just one facet of the overall stat, is actually pretty reasonable. The problem comes about because some people seem to assume it must be more important than the other facets. You don't see threads on this board about "the 'persuasiveness' issue with charisma", do you? No, it's always "attractiveness" that people fixate on and want to separate out.
    This. And even if you completely don't focus on hair, smell, smiling, movement etc etc and only about gross physical structure PC's can always hit the gym. This doesn't mean that anyone in the real world can become attractive by putting a certain amount of effort into it, but that goes for all "feats". Some people will just always suck at playing the theremin or at ice climbing, even if all the things you need for those skills (hand eye coordination, hearing the pitch of a note, not being afraid of heights) are in principle trainable. There are people who have trained for and have become a lot better at all of these things.

    (Okay, sure, that's a bit of an overstatement. Some parts of attractiveness can't be trained or helped. But you can't train your height either, and I don't think there's a restriction on halflings being good basketball players in d&d.)
    Last edited by Lvl 2 Expert; 2015-12-02 at 04:35 PM.
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    Default Re: My solution to the "attractiveness" issue with Charisma

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    How I like games that just let social skills be governed by the INT/WIS equivalents.

    My personal game ruling on attractiveness is the one in Anima: Beyond Fantasy. For those who don't know how stats work in it, there are on a scale of 1-10+ with 5 being the human average and 10 being the effective human maximum (which characters can only exceed wih GM permission). The section on appearance pretty much goes as follows:

    'Appearance is another stat, to be honest it's not really worth anything, ask the GM if you have to roll 1d10 or if you can just pick your attractiveness. No elevens.'

    Nice for a game to outright admit it once in a while.
    I think it's best to completely ignore physical attractiveness when describing the baseline attributes (whatever they may be). Just make it a trait/talent/advantage you can take that may give you bonuses when interacting with people attracted to your gender. The nWoD does it. So does GURPS. And plenty of other systems apart from those, I'm sure. D&D doesn't have anything to handle that, apart from optional trait subsystems. But that's just D&D being D&D.
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