Ideas about charisma

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I've been thinking about what the base stats for D&D are and how they relate to real life.

The physical stats seem easy enough to relate to actual people's abilities (though Str and Con might edge in on each other's territories a bit in reality).

The mental stats are harder, though I feel fairly comfortable with the *feel* of what Int and Wis are. Charisma is always the tough one however. In modern life we typically use the term to refer to one's "attractiveness of personality," which definitely has a good deal of interrelation with a person's physical attractiveness. It's easy enough to see how this affects a D&D character's Bluff and Diplomacy skills. But if it applies to a sorcerer's spellcasting, a cleric's undead turning, a paladin's saving throws, and Use Magic Device skill (and even Intimidate skill), it goes beyond what "charisma" means in modern day usage.

To my understanding, the term "charisma" comes from a Greek term meaning "a favor given," relating to "charis" which means "grace." It was used a lot in the New Testament to describe wondrous things people could do because God gave them some sort of amazing ability. I won't go into word evolution here, but there's a lot to what "charisma" can mean that has been lost in the word as it is used today.

My eventual point is: I think the D&D folks should stop trying to define Cha as "force of personality." Instead I think they should just change their tack and admit that Cha really refers to something that doesn't have anything to do with mundane life in the real world. Every day, all of us real people use Str, Dex, Con, Int, and Wis. But unless we're engaging in some sort of spiritual/psychic/etc activity, we're not even aware of *having* a Cha score. In our mundane understanding of life, that "aptitude for supernatural/wondrous capabilities" essentially doesn't exist.

Cha therefore is something that people *have* in the D&D world, and that's the thing that makes the D&D world magical and amazing. If WotC allowed for this description, they might remove a lot of argument about what aspects of the game should rely on which ability score. It would also allow people to understand the point that WotC tries to make--that physical attractiveness is not related to Charisma, (and that sorcerers are just as likely to be introverted or ugly as anyone else).

With this in mind, it would make some degree of sense for resistance to all spells (whatever form that takes) to be highly Cha-based for all characters. There needs to be something important to make it so that Joe-the-everyday-fighter doesn't assume that Cha is the perfect dump stat. In a world where magic exists, the stat that inherently relates to magical capability suddenly becomes important. In 3rd edition, the fighter who doesn't plan to interact personally has almost no reason to want good Charisma.

What I don't know is how to involve Charisma in a resistance system that needs to have different ability scores (Con/Dex/Wis) defend again different assaults. Could a character's charisma bonus apply to resistance to spell effects *in addition* to the normally relevant stat (Con, Dex, Wis)? In the 3.5 system, I'd consider doing so--with a +1 to all spell saving throw DCs, so that the average-stat adventurer isn't affected much, but Charisma suddenly matters to everyone. (Obviously the paladin's special abilities would have to change a bit.)

I'd also consider making Charisma be the stat that determines how hard a spell is to resist across the board, so all spellcasters have to consider Cha somewhat important--and certainly not a dump stat. Obviously there would have to be some way to rebalance Charisma-based spellcasters in comparison to others.

Any thoughts?
I always have looked at the non-physical stats as follows:

Intelligence = Reason
Wisdom = Intuition
Charisma = Willpower

I do treat charisma as a force of personality, a measure of forcing your will upon others. IMO, Magic/Psionics in 4e should be

Intelligence = Manipulating outside energies
Wisdom = Channeling divine energies
Charisma = Manifest personal energies

IMO, of course. Ironically, 3.x sorcerers would be psions and bardic magic would be intelligence based while bardic music effects would be charisma.
My only comment (for now) is: Since we are limited by die roll, or point buy, or whatever.
There has to be a "dump stat". For a fighter, charisma does seem to hurt the least. In older editions you could dump wisdom with some freedom, but in 3.5, and I assume 3rd ed, a fighter needs a decent wisdom score for saves, as well as detection abilities.
Personally I hate to go lower than 10 on any score, but then your primary scores end up being kind of paltry. Your decent Chr fighter is mediocre at fighting. Cause, you can't really dump Int either.
I seem to go low on con for my fighters. The better HD kind of makes up for it.
I can see where psions and sorcerers could start to merge (ignoring the fantasy vs. sci fi fluff elements). I still feel though that the word "personality" needs to be removed from the definition of charisma to make it make sense--I don't think your scheme really disagrees with that, BTW.
Someone suggested an idea I like: Tying charisma into action points/luck/fate.

Game effect: Charisma's important for the first time

Justification: Eh, watch any action movie or fantasy movie. Who are the heroes? Well, generally, they're the most attractive and compelling characters. Ugly, boring, plain, non-interesting people are not heroes. And the main villains will have a dark charisma.

So Charisma may be taken to be the universe smiling on one. Perhaps it's not that Charisma causes luck as luck seems to cause higher Charismas.

In at least two character types -- swashbuckler and bard -- the idea that high charisma = high innate luck seems appropriate. With the Paladin or cleric, it's not so much luck as actual divine favor. Sorcerors? I guess their odd bloodline gives them both high charisma as well as innate power to work magic.

Perhaps a character would get Fate Points (or whatever) equal to three plus Charisma bonus (minimum one) plus 1/2 level per level (e.g., sixth level, 16 Cha = 9 Fate Points gained at a level). Use 'em or lose 'em -- you get fresh ones each level-up but you don't keep unused ones from the past level.
That's almost exactly the line of thought I've been down many times over the 3rd edition years. However, I realized giving Charisma a special role as some kind of supernatural force, while it makes sense for all those weird spellcasting classes, leaves interpersonal intelligence out in the cold. Would you put Diplomacy/Bluff under Wisdom or Intelligence?

My solution:

Intelligence: Logical/analytical intelligence. Real world: Sciences, philosphy, engineering, nerds, any academic pursuit, really. Easily translates over to wizardly pursuits, ability to learn skills. (Hmm not that much in 3.5E that actually depends on INT, now that you think about it.)

Wisdom: Mental ability to withstand stress/trauma/adverse conditions, (hence, will saves), mental stability, being secure from self-doubt, spatial intelligence. Real world: mentally-tough stereotypical soldier, people who persevere, etc. Easily translates over to clerics and rangers and other divine casters. Gotta be mentally tough to channel the awesome power of deities. Makes sense because often martial classes will put points into WIS for the will saves--it makes sense for barbarians or soldiers to be mentally tough people.

Charisma: All interpersonal intelligence. All intelligence based on empathy, anything that has to do with interaction with another creature, even if they're unfamiliar. Example: guessing what that mindflayer means to do in that alien mind of his.

The big fix for CHA: Remove it as the default stat all those "weird" or "self-reliant" spellcasting classes draw their power from, and instead increase drastically the role CHA has for all characters across the board. How does the wizard create an illusion of a believable orc, complete with characteristic orcish ear-twitching? CHA. How does the ranger know the new inn built on werewolf territory will probably fail? CHA, because he realizes 1) the decorations and layout is not very inviting, not going to bring in many customers, and 2) the werewolves are definitely going to be ticked off and attack, and 3) the mayor of the nearby city is in political trouble and can't send soldiers.

This makes it even with the other two mental stats--useful for everybody, instead of SUPER-USEFUL FOR A FEW. Bards are still CHA-based, because they're fundamentally about modifying others' morale or whatever. Sorcs are being merged with Warlocks from what I hear--that's fine, one core CHA class is balanced. Things like Vigilante could be INT, the rest would just be split evenly.
Ah, but aren't social skills just ways of you using your intuition to determine what the best course is (sense motive, spot) and then applying the correct amounts of personal magnetism to force your will to get what you want (bluff, diplomacy, intimidate)? :P
I like the idea of Charisma having a sort of supernatural element to it. There is precedent for that idea in ancient and medieval thought.

It is a measure of attractiveness, charm, and grace, but also of sheer force of personality. A Paladin might be ugly, but when he enters a room, people stand up and take notice. Leaders of any kind would have a high Charisma.

Not every stat necessarily has to be valuable to every character. For a Sorcerer, Str is his dump and Cha is his main stat, even though for a Fighter it's the other way around. That's cool.

I'm just glad that they found something for Charisma to do at all. It was one of the first things I noticed about 3E that I really liked.
I could see CHR being dumped.....

One entry found for charisma.
Main Entry: cha·ris·ma
Pronunciation: k&-'riz-m&
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek, favor, gift, from charizesthai to favor, from charis grace; akin to Greek chairein to rejoice -- more at YEARN
1 : a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (as a political leader)
2 : a special magnetic charm or appeal

Websters makes it clear that WotC has moved away from the "traditional" use of the stat.

Renaming it seem the best choice.

Just my thoughts....
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