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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Does Charisma even make sense?

    When looking at the core attributes in D&D the physical attributes are very well defined and reflective of your character.
    Power > Strength
    Finesse > Dexterity
    Resistance > Constitution

    The dynamic for mental attributes is totally different though, and I think that's kind of a shame because thinking about attributes in terms of power, finesse, and resistance gives a really clear picture of what strengths and weaknesses on a core level. Unfortunately Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma don't fit the Power, Finesse, Resistance structure.

    Charisma is kind of power, but only in social situations, but intelligence is more classically what mental power would be defined as. Wisdom is sort of a hybrid of finesse (in things like perception) and resistance for Will saves and the like.

    But as I was thinking about this structure I realized the major issue is that Charisma and Intelligence are sort of vying for the role of mental power. When I think about that fact Charisma is clearly the loser for the power role on mental attributes, but it also doesn't make sense as a finesse attribute. I think Charisma needs to be replaced entirely and social skills should instead be based on a new statistic that better represents mental finesse.

    Now I'm not talking about retrofitting this into the D&D system, I'm just brainstorming an idea. Does Charisma even make sense as a mental attribute if using the power, finesse, resistance structure for character attributes?

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Using that model, maybe not.

    But Charisma is, for me, force of personality. It's not attractiveness--ugly people can be charismatic. It's not rhetoric ability--I've known people who were uneducated and couldn't speak "well" who would knock you off your feet as they walked into a room and who could get everyone to follow them.

    I break the mental stats down as

    INT: Knowledge of facts, memory, logic. Ability to reason consciously through things.
    WIS: Perception, knowledge of self, intuition. Ability to see how things are, to separate self from other. The ability not to bend to someone else's will.
    CHA: force of personality, will. The counterpart to WIS--it's externally focused instead of internally focuses. It's the ability to get something else to bend to you.

    There's still a lot of overlap, but that's inevitable.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2018-05-18 at 10:30 AM.
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    I think the fact that charisma keeps being called will, but the actual saving throw in both 3rd and usually 5th is typically WISDOM means that the system is a little broke. Through PhoenixPhyre does distinguish the two, I don't feel it is as simple or intuitive as the physical stats. How can strongly willed people crumple in the face of external threats?
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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Honest Tiefling View Post
    I think the fact that charisma keeps being called will, but the actual saving throw in both 3rd and usually 5th is typically WISDOM means that the system is a little broke. Through PhoenixPhyre does distinguish the two, I don't feel it is as simple or intuitive as the physical stats. How can strongly willed people crumple in the face of external threats?
    I agree that the two saves are muddled.

    "Strongly willed" is too broad, IMO. You can be hard to dissuade (CHA), you can be perceptive as to the falseness of the threat (WIS), or many other such things. You can be stubborn but easy to trick; or easy to convince with accurate threats but able to shrug off false threats like water.
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Charisma is about as abstract as everything in D&D is. I wouldn't bother thinking too hard about it, and just take it for what it is: a stat used to tell people what to do or blow stuff up if you're a sorcerer

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    I should note that that comment wasn't me hating on D&D or charisma in any way. Everything in D&D is abstract, and that's ok. It isn't meant to simulate anything remotely resembling the real world.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    The D&D attributes have been redefined over the years to fit a more simulationist model while keeping the same names as the original game, where they are really abstract and limited in application. Four of them were primarily to determine what class a character was suited for. The other two (Con and Cha), determined abilities universal to all characters (hit points and leadership of followers).

    Charisma did three things, basically- adjust how npc's react to parley attempts, and determine how many followers you could lead and how loyal they were.

    Now they have tacked on whole new forms of magic that don't/ought not to have anything to do with leadership or social ability.

    Really, for the way the game works now, it would be better to rename and reorganize the attributes so they make more sense- but this won't happen because of tradition.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    "Strongly willed" is too broad, IMO. You can be hard to dissuade (CHA), you can be perceptive as to the falseness of the threat (WIS), or many other such things. You can be stubborn but easy to trick; or easy to convince with accurate threats but able to shrug off false threats like water.
    I'm not saying you are wrong, but I am saying you are definitely hitting the nail on the head. Why will needs to be connected to perception (which is usually a god stat in most games) is a little beyond me.

    then again, I also wonder why DnD needs a common sense stat. I feel like that is just inviting trouble. I think it got dropped for 5th edition, possibly even 4th.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by tedcahill2 View Post
    When looking at the core attributes in D&D the physical attributes are very well defined and reflective of your character.
    Power > Strength
    Finesse > Dexterity
    Resistance > Constitution
    These aren't actually easier to distinguish from each other than the mental attributes. Supremely agile people are also quite strong. People with bad overall health cannot have olympic class wight-lifting capability. And so on.
    And when you improve one of these things through training or maturing, the other two improve as well, albeit to a smaller degree; at least until you reach extreme levels.

    So I don't think there's any particular reason to focus on the intricacies of the mental attributes (which, by the way, are also influenced by the physical ones, and vice versa).
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    The Charisma stat has been used since 1974 to represent leadership and influence. It works fine.

    If you have a model for how the stats should work, and Charisma doesn't fit that model, then the model is incorrect.

    Specifically, you are trying to make the mental stats work like the physical stats. Your analysis that it doesn't work is absolutely correct. But that doesn't lead to the conclusion that the stats are wrong.

    The correct conclusion is that the physical model doesn't model the mental stats.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    These aren't actually easier to distinguish from each other than the mental attributes. Supremely agile people are also quite strong. People with bad overall health cannot have olympic class wight-lifting capability. And so on.
    And when you improve one of these things through training or maturing, the other two improve as well, albeit to a smaller degree; at least until you reach extreme levels.
    There can be huge gaps though.

    A weightlifter can be very unagile, with a very poor aim, and very clumsy fingers - these three, combined, are Dexterity.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    @ hamishspence: Dexterity is also balance, something you'll need to avoid unpleasant accidents when lifting hundreds of pounds into the air over your own head. I think you'll find that serious weightlifters are considerably more coordinated than the average person.
    To put it more theoretically: Strength isn't just the raw power of your muscle fibres. It's also very much the coordination of their use. And that's what dexterity is supposed to be about.

    Edit: Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you can't be strong and clumsy (though the stereotype is a lot more theatrical than real). But the capabilities of one's body is not compartmentalized into three, neat categories at all.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Does Charisma make sense in a Power / Finesse / Resistance model? Well, White Wolf, in whose products I first encountered such a model, certainly thought so. For them, Charisma was social Power.

    The question you should be asking, I think, is, does using a Power / Finesse / Resistance model make sense in D&D?
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-05-18 at 01:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    I don't understand the question. Resistance is Wisdom. Finesse is Intelligence. Power is Charisma.

    Dexterity is knowing your body, its capacities and limits, muscle memory, and ability to rapidly perform the right motion on a trigger.

    Intelligence is knowing facts, your academic limits, rote procedures for things, and the ability to rapidly recall the correct information on a trigger.

    Dexterity is arguably a power stat like strength, or moreso, since it can determine to hit, initiative, damage, armor class, and more. You've noticed intelligence in the same boat.

    Charisma, like Strength, is often not strictly necessary except in a few cases, but just applying it to any given problem tends to produce better results than you might initially expect.

    Strength and Charisma are raw force. Intelligence and Dexterity are finesse, and can arguably do everything. Wisdom and Constitution are resistance.

    Where's the inconsistency?
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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    d20 Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    These attributes are more abstract, being mental attributes as opposed to physical ones, so they are more difficult to really comprehend. This is how I think about it:

    Intelligence is mental prowess and the ability of a character to improvise and assess situations. That's why wizards use it because spell casting require a lot of planning on their part.

    Wisdom is the strength of the character's moral compass and the ability for them to perceive the world around them. So high wisdom attributes would mean that they are less likely to be tricked and they firm in their perception of good and evil.

    Charisma is the overall likeableness of the character. It sort of determines the kind of personality the character has, whether it is like a social butterfly or and introvert.

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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Part of the confusion is that "strong willed" can mean two things. But I think, using the OPs categories, Charisma makes perfect sense.

    Resistance = Constitution and Wisdom. These are your ability to resist external forces.

    Finesse = Dexterity and Intelligence. This is your ability to accurately manipulate things within your reach. A high intelligence isn't your ability to change things, but an ability to rapidly and accurately process things you encounter.

    Power = Strength and Charisma. This is your ability to affect the world. Dexterity and Intelligence let you place your force accurately, but the force that moves objects is Strength, and the force that moves minds is Charisma.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    I don't know why so many get confused about CHA. I think its pretty well defined in game, and by archetypes like the Bard and Paladin. I've known plenty of people in real life, not particularly book smart, or wise (poor real life decisions), that make friends effortlessly and get people to constantly do things for them... even against their own interests. People just listen and react to them in a natural way that's hard to explain. Conversely, I'm sure we all know people that are smart and 'wise' that are shy, and can barely convince someone to hold a door open for them. CHA is basically confidence/self esteem/ social manipulation/ inner determination all rolled up together. A little overlap with the other mental stats, but you could say the same of STR and CON.

    In D&D it is further stressed that INT is a learned, 'bookish' strength, while CHA is an inherent, 'natural' mental strength, and WIS is an 'in-tune, self aware' ability. Though this probably isn't quite true in real life, I think it's a pretty good abstraction
    Last edited by Knightofvictory; 2018-05-18 at 07:21 PM.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Knightofvictory View Post
    In D&D it is further stressed that INT is a learned, 'bookish' strength, while CHA is an inherent, 'natural' mental strength, and WIS is an 'in-tune, self aware' ability. Though this probably isn't quite true in real life, I think it's a pretty good abstraction
    Except in this example, bards and paladins outside of third edition can gleefully dump that wisdom stat if they don't mind some mind control. How do you have a paladin who isn't the least bit self-aware? Heck, how do clerics keep not being chosen from people who are inherently strong with their minds? I mean, you probably have a few blackguards in the making right there, but I think if builds often lead to dumping a particular stat that should be there ICly, something went horribly wrong with the system.

    At least when wizards dump charisma, it makes perfect sense!
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Back in ye olden days there were penalties to charisma checks with people not of the character's own race/species.

    Trolls aren't uncharismatic, they just don't come across well to the types of people that they eat.
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Power > Charisma. How much force of personality you have, how well you are able to project yourself and sway others.
    Finesse > Intelligence. How fast your mind works, how well you learn new information and apply it in new ways.
    Resistance > Wisdom. How much self-control you have, how well you are able to see through or otherwise resist both inner and outer influences.

    Pretty straightforwards.

    You could also go the Exalted route, and treat social abilities as a third category, giving you three physical stats (Str/Dex/Con), three mental (academic knowledge/common sense/observational skills), and three social (force of personality/ability to use words/outwards presentation)
    Last edited by Grod_The_Giant; 2018-05-18 at 08:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    You could also go the Exalted route, and treat social abilities as a third category, giving you three physical stats (Str/Dex/Con), three mental (academic knowledge/common sense/observational skills), and three social (force of personality/ability to use words/outwards presentation)
    ... What? Ok, I think part of my confusion is that you switched the order around, but...

    Str/Dex/Con - sure. I'm trying to open a stubborn chest, Str helps me power through, Dex helps me finesse it open, Con helps me not get hurt in the process.

    academic knowledge/common sense/observational skills - what do you even view an academic challenge as looking like here? Say... I'm trying to play chess, academic knowledge helps me know how pieces move... Then what?

    force of personality/ability to use words/outwards presentation - I'm in a debate, outwards presentation is, sadly, all many hear, ability to use words let me make finer points, force of personality keeps me from being distracted by other ideas?

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    ... What? Ok, I think part of my confusion is that you switched the order around, but...

    Str/Dex/Con - sure. I'm trying to open a stubborn chest, Str helps me power through, Dex helps me finesse it open, Con helps me not get hurt in the process.

    academic knowledge/common sense/observational skills - what do you even view an academic challenge as looking like here? Say... I'm trying to play chess, academic knowledge helps me know how pieces move... Then what?

    force of personality/ability to use words/outwards presentation - I'm in a debate, outwards presentation is, sadly, all many hear, ability to use words let me make finer points, force of personality keeps me from being distracted by other ideas?
    It's been a while; I might have expressed them badly. Per the rulebook,
    • Charisma represents a character’s ability to express and articulate his beliefs or commands, convincing others to see things his way or follow his orders. It’s used primarily in social influence when a character wishes to make a sincere argument that he genuinely believes in
    • Manipulation is a character’s innate talent for deception, passing off lies as the truth, or simply telling people what he knows they want to hear. It’s used primarily in social influence when a character wishes to make a false argument... as well as any argument where the character is purely trying to evoke a desired response rather than to express his own feelings or outlook
    • Appearance is a measure of a character’s striking looks and his ability to use them... Appearance is used when a character wishes to influence others through looks, beauty, overwhelming presence, or first impressions rather than reasoned debate or emotional manipulation.
    • Perception rates both the raw quality of a character’s senses and his faculty for comprehending what he perceives*
    • Intelligence measures a character’s ability to think logically and rationally
    • Wits rates a character’s intuition, common sense, and ability to react quickly to new circumstances or while under fire.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    The key is that none of the D&D abilities accurately model anything realistically. We shouldn't try to make too much sense of them as anything other than game features meant to balance different sorts of characters.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Honestly, I feel like Wisdom is the one that makes the least sense. It's perception, but also willpower, but also intuition. Those are all pretty distinct. Even Dexterity, another catch-all at least has consistent individual parts. And it doesn't involve being wise! That's Intelligence, if anything.
    Last edited by SodaQueen; 2018-05-19 at 12:22 AM.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    If you like the power/finesse/resistance (PFR) idea, you should look into nWoD. They have a total of 9 attributes, divided into 3 categories (mental/physical/social), all following the PFR system.

    So, in a way you are right. Charisma doesn't make sense as a mental stat. It's a social stat. D&D might call it mental at times, but it really isn't. In D&D, Int is your mental power and finesse, while Will is more your mental resistance, and Cha is basically all three put into one social stat.
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by SodaQueen View Post
    Honestly, I feel like Wisdom is the one that makes the least sense. It's perception, but also willpower, but also intuition. Those are all pretty distinct. Even Dexterity, another catch-all at least has consistent individual parts. And it doesn't involve being wise! That's Intelligence, if anything.
    I think it's a result of D&D being at the lower end in terms of number of basic attributes as regards RPGs (both TTRPG & CRPG), so it's hard to avoid lumping together characteristics that don't seem to have a lot in common. The only RPG I can remember that had less basic attributes than D&D is early DSA, which had Courage, Strength, Charisma, Intelligence and Dexterity.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Part of the confusion is that "strong willed" can mean two things. But I think, using the OPs categories, Charisma makes perfect sense.

    Resistance = Constitution and Wisdom. These are your ability to resist external forces.

    Finesse = Dexterity and Intelligence. This is your ability to accurately manipulate things within your reach. A high intelligence isn't your ability to change things, but an ability to rapidly and accurately process things you encounter.

    Power = Strength and Charisma. This is your ability to affect the world. Dexterity and Intelligence let you place your force accurately, but the force that moves objects is Strength, and the force that moves minds is Charisma.
    Basically just came here to post that - in my d20 hack that I'm perpetually working on, that's how I explain lay out and the stats.

    (One minor difference, I put CON & WIS down as "Health", and explain it in terms of toughness, endurance and so on.)

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    It makes sense, within D&D's paradigm, to have an ability score that governs Talky Stuff.

    Otherwise, no.
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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    I think part of the problem with CHA is that even the game designers had differing opinions about it.

    We all agree that Charisma is more force of personality than beauty, but I remember seeing stuff in some splat books that seemed to believe otherwise. I think it was the 3.5 Book of Vile Darkness that had the Maiming Strike feat, which said you could do Charisma damage to someone by giving them a nasty scar on their face, or something like that.

    I have no clue how that really worked. But that whole book was pretty bad anyways.

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    Default Re: Does Charisma even make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drowicorn View Post
    We all agree that Charisma is more force of personality than beauty, but I remember seeing stuff in some splat books that seemed to believe otherwise. I think it was the 3.5 Book of Vile Darkness that had the Maiming Strike feat, which said you could do Charisma damage to someone by giving them a nasty scar on their face, or something like that.
    No splat required. From the SRD:
    Charisma measures a character’s force of personality, persuasiveness, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and physical attractiveness.
    My bolding.

    Edit: In 1st edition AD&D, Charisma is described thusly in the PHB:
    Charisma is a measure of the character's combined physical attractiveness, persuasiveness, and personal magnetism. A generally non-beautiful character can have high charisma due to strong measures of the other two aspects of charisma.
    My 2nd edition PHB is a little ambivalent about it:
    [Charisma] is not a reflection of physical attractiveness, although attractiveness certainly plays a role.
    But it seems to say that the attraction charisma supplies isn't physical.

    Player's Option introduced subabilities. Charisma breaks down into Leadership and Appearance.
    [Appearance] determines the physical presence and attractiveness of the character. A character with a high Appearance score would be handsome or beautiful, perhaps even famous for outstanding looks (such as Helen of Troy).
    Last edited by hymer; 2018-05-19 at 09:20 AM.
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