Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Second Take on Charisma

Blogger assures us that the deleted posts and comments will be up “shortly”, since they have been saying this from the beginning of the blackout (which I perversely enjoyed) my confidence is not riding high on this one. So here goes one repost of the two missing.

Wednesday we discussed an alternative view of Charisma, today I thought I would restate my musings more directly as a rules variant. Any feedback, as always, is appreciated. (I'm still trying to work out the mechanical effects of CHA in directing larger groups as per Scott's suggestion yesterday.)

Charisma is a combination of status and reputation--and the confidence and skill-set of leading that flows from this. In game this is represented by an attribute that ebbs and flows with the relative success –or failure—of the character. CHA is rolled as normal at the beginning of a character's career, but is modified by the following factors:

1. The character's repute grows alongside his personal power. At levels 4,8,12,16, 20, 24 and so on, CHA increases by one point. A level drain or other in-game mechanic that drops a character under one of these benchmarks will also reduce the CHA bonus. A 4th level thief, for instance, hit by a wight and dropped to 3rd level will forfeit the bonus until she regains her former level.

2. Status grows with “conspicuous consumption”. A character's CHA is raised one point if a character posses a flashy, obvious magic item OR expensive clothing/armor AND impressive dwelling worth at the minimum 2,000-5,000 gp. This is a one-time bonus which is forfeited if the item(s) is lost.

This bonus is relative to the particular society at the GM's discretion. In the case of magic items, for instance, a character would only be allowed a bonus in an high magic society if he possessed an obvious magic item of great power. The relative value of luxurious clothing and dwelling are set by the particulars of that culture: a sizable mead-hall and rich fur coat in a Nordic-like barbarian society or a stately manse and fine velveteen toga in a highly-urbane one.

3. A character gains or loses CHA with the fortunes of on-the-ground leadership. At the end of an adventure or expedition (a convenient, exp-awarding stopping point that can span several sessions), the party's leader, caller, or spokesperson makes a roll for a CHA gain or loss. (The party's overall leader is determined by the players prior to play of that adventure.)

If the adventure is deemed a success by the GM the player adds one point of CHA if the player rolls a percentile dice under his existing CHA score. If it is a failure than the leader subtracts 1-3 CHA (as determined by the GM) unless he rolls under his existing CHA score PLUS his level. (The chutzpah of a character with a high Charisma allows him to spin success or failure better.) This roll can be modified by the GM to reflect in-game circumstances (leading larger than usual bodies, severity of challenge, etc.).

Example: Mogg the Mendicant, a 6th level Cleric with a 14 CHA, was nominated by his party to be the Year-King of their recent expedition to the dead city of Chaon Gacca in Tasuun. The expedition was a total flop, several party members went to meet the Makers and the loot was sparse. Mogg did however captain a pirated war-galley and a company of pole-armed Wombatmen over the course of the adventure, so the GM deems that he will get a +3 to his saving roll. To not lose CHA, he must roll under a 23 (14+6+3). He unhappily rolls a 90 and is saddled with a loss of two CHA by the GM.

CHA perks:
Starting at fourth level a character with a CHA 12 and over will become reasonably well-known (respected and/or feared) in a 20-mile radius from their base of operations. The GM will modify reactions, hiring, and other functions inside this radius in favor of the character on a case by case basis.

Also starting at fourth level characters with a CHA 15 and over will also become eligible to be appointed to a minor post of authority in or around their base of operations. The actual position (title, responsibilities, and rewards) will vary according to the particulars of a campaign and the character. A ranger could become the town's warden in a local forest or a thief a banker or other scalawag for instance.

Starting at 8th level, characters with 15 and over CHA will become eligible to enter the lower ranks of the nobility or other suitably impressive position in society. As above the particulars will vary according to the campaign.


  1. Some rules sets - notably the Two Hour Wargames family - use Reputation (Rep) as the all-inclusive stat that functions much as a Level does in D&D. Basically your Rep is how god you are at things overall (ie. how heroic one is) and how good you are determines your Rep. If you are soundly defeated your Rep suffers - and so do your abilities. When you succeed at heroic deeds your Rep increases - with a corresponding increase in abilities (just like levelling up.) One could easily substitute "Renown" for Reputation.

  2. Hackmaster has a great way to deal with fame and honor. But it's a bit more complicated and I really like what you suggest for the Charisma atribute.

    Thx to give me such a great idea for houseruling Chrarisma in a similar way!

  3. What is the source of the image used in this post? Beautiful.