Matt Stevens (kent_allard_jr) wrote,
Matt Stevens
kent_allard_jr

Charisma

I'm always thinking of new RPG systems, and ... well, it's a stupid thing to focus on. It's like having great new ideas for fax machines. No one needs them, there's no demand, no money, no purpose. Shut up and play with Bitcoin or something.

Anyway ... It's a fantasy system, but designed for heroic myth, not post-Tolkien fantasy. A bit like D&D -- I want it to look familiar -- but with a different focus. Abilities are Strength, Dexterity, Spirit, Wisdom and Charisma. Strength indicates damage and resistance to it; Dexterity often you hit, and how hard you are to hit; Spirit how often you can use special abilities; Wisdom how many skills and special abilities you have; and Charisma ... well, Charisma is complicated.

I think Gygax confused matters when he made Charisma a proxy for charm and social skill. For most of its history, Charisma meant "favor," divine favor in particular. This was Weber meant when he talked about "charismatic authority": It meant you were given the right, by God, to throw out tradition and establish a new order. In our secular age this was translated into presence and personal magnetism ... but if you're going for an archaic atmosphere, Charisma's old meaning makes more sense.

Now D&D's clerics had a "prime requisite," Wisdom, and that score can indicate "divine favor" when combined with cleric (or druid or paladin) level. For me, though, that's part of the problem, the fact that it's only something clerics and their ilk have to worry about. However, just about every character in heroic myths -- from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Journey to the West -- is effected by their standing with the gods. Sure, they defy the gods from time to time, and sometimes they get away with it, but it isn't something they can ignore.

So in my game, I'm using "charisma" in this old-fashioned sense. How would it affect play? That's something I'll write about in another post.

This entry was originally posted at https://kent-allard-jr.dreamwidth.org/356830.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
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