Thursday, February 20, 2020
Chutzpah over Charisma
For my campaign, I ignore prime requisite scores and let people run fighters with 5 strength, a cleric with 6 wisdom and so on. I don't require it, I merely allow it for the sake of speed and fun. With my group, I have always received reciprocity from the DM where they allowed me to play such flawed characters, even if they allow for some other method of ability generation that would prevent it. It's just the way we operate.
Since I do this as a normal operating condition, I tend to see characters as problem solvers. Weak fighters develop a means to fight other than brute force. Wizards make up for a lack of spells with magic items, and so on. That's cool.
Except for Charisma. I have this mental image of a high charisma character as stylish and charming. A low charisma character, in my mind, is operating off of what they have in other stats. A low charisma doesn't force foolishness or rudeness which are the purview of intelligence and wisdom, it's merely a lack of polish. Low charisma characters are more likely to use chutzpah over an excellently described plan. They just go for it and have very little understanding as to why this shocks others.
One of these days, I'm going to pull a prank on my players. I will write down the character's stats and then pick on the guy or gal with the lowest Charisma. It will probably come up in a high pressure situation. I will ask that person to roll the dice and no matter the outcome, I will hand them a note and ask them to read it.
It will go something like this:
Mr/Ms. Charisma: Ok, the dragon is probably a sleep, so we'll kick in the door and kill it with arrows.
Me as DM: Good. You have surprise. Make your attack rolls.
Other players: Wait! What?
Mr/Ms. Charisma: The dragon probably thought of this and hired some orcs to guard the lair. And an ogre.
Me as DM: You're right! There are actually 12 orcs and 3 ogres rushing into the room.
The other players argue while being forced to roll attack dice. For some strange reason, they always have initiative and do lots of damage from covered locations. Everything seems to be slanted to the player's benefit.
Me as DM: You have defeated the orcs and orgres, here is your experience points.
Mr/Ms. Charisma, still reading from the note: Oh, but the dragon fled to the next room. I bet he is casting a spell to turn into a giant snake!
Other players: Why the hell would a dragon turn into a giant snake?
Me as DM: You hear the swoosh of scales on rock and a titanic hissing noise. Roll for surprise!
Mr/Ms. Charisma: Oh, this doesn't look good.
Me as DM: Right! The snake swallows the paladin whole!
Paladin's player: I don't want to be eaten by a snake!
Mr/Ms. Charisma: Oh, yeah. That's bad. We can't do that...
Me as DM: Ok, everyone argues against kicking in the dragon's door. So, what is the plan?
That is pretty much how someone with low charisma operates.
I wonder how long it would take my players to figure out I actually handed out experience and didn't ask them to delete it. I think I have 7 charisma myself, so group dynamic analysis is not my strong suit. But I think they'd try to keep the points and I would let them.