Charisma (ability stat)

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Charisma Adj. to Morale Max. # Henchmen
3-4 +3 1
5 +3 2
6 +2 2
7 +2 3
8 +1 3
9-11 nil 4
12-13 nil 5
14 -1 6
15 -2 7
16 -2 8
17 -3 9
18 -3 10

An ability stat, the measure of the character’s combined physical appearance, persuasiveness and personal magnetism, ranging from a dearth of positive characteristics to an impressive range of social acumen.

Dealings with NPCs, including hirelings, followers, ordinary persons, officials and a wide variety of creatures and monsters will ultimately be resolved through an interactive mechanic composed of conflict cards.

As henchmen are considered fanatically loyal and are run by the player characters, their loyalty is not affected by their liege’s charisma.

The table shown indicates charisma’s adjustment to standard morale, as well as the maximum number of henchmen that a character can ultimately receive as they gain levels. Remember that an increase in morale is not an improvement, as it indicates the number on 2d6 that must be thrown in order for a non-player character to maintain its will to fight.

Description of Values

Measuring charisma is an effort to quantify the effects the ability stat has upon the reactions of others, their spontaneous treatment of the individual and their overall generosity to award the individual with opportunities and status. Low charisma individuals are met with revulsion and distaste, treated with disdain and usually ostracized or left out of social gatherings and organizations. High charisma individuals are met with liking and interest, are treated as desirable and often rise to positions of authority and trust within organizations.

The increase in charisma from ugly to bewitching compounds benefits that each amount of charisma above that level also enjoys (except where it is superseded by a more rewarding benefit). Creatures are capable of being particularly cruel to individuals of low charisma, whatever they might do; while often awarding those of high charisma more than they really deserve, as they often do little to earn it.

The descriptions below only partly describe player characters. For such persons as those detailed here, it will often take years of commitment to rise through the ranks and be discovered for their charisma. Those with very high charismas, above 14, will be much less common than the dice might imaginably dictate. Some may be born with a 16 or more charisma, but a harsh life, accidents, poor health, disease and other consequences may severely diminish their potential. Only those charismatic who are born at least partly to privilege will remain so long enough to enjoy it. Players, of course, fall into this category. They, too, are unusual, even those whose fathers and mothers were common (though the character background generator adjusts their backgrounds with their charisma).

In large degree, it is suggested that a DM recognize that an extraordinarily beautiful and pleasant person moving about a late medieval or early modern world casually, as a cleric, bard, paladin or druid, would likely be seen as something of a freak. The list below is intended to effect that depiction.

Charisma-015-ugly.jpg

Ugly (3 pts.)

Reactions to such persons will often be a mixture of repugnance and horror, as ugly persons are generally misshapen, frightful and even ghastly in appearance. Unusual colour, a rank odour and outward signs that are suggestive of disease (even if no disease is present) is repellent and produces a strong aversion.

Treatment is harsh, as the ugly character tends to be manic, aggressive, needy and often unable to make themselves clearly understood, often due to the shape of their mouths and their lack of confidence, others will treat them with contempt, disrespect, abuse and verbal derision. Mockery is a common response.

Generosity is utterly lacking for such persons; it is extremely rare that they are given a place or means to make a living, unless it is in some role that is wretched or very unpleasant. They are often the victim of some person who cruelly exploits their dreadful condition. Otherwise, they are often too ugly to even beg, and are thus reduced to scavenging for food. Some are taken in and taught to be assassins ~ the only character class such persons can aspire to be, as no other profession would be moved to train them.

Ill-favoured (4 pts.)

Reactions are often a strong dislike and disinclination to interact with such persons, as the ill-favoured often appear to be physically damaged, demented or mutilated in appearance. Often deathly pale, possessed of straggling hair, off-set eyes or a strong odour, the response is usually abhorrence. However, there is a softening of the appearance occasionally, that will move another person to a sense of pity for the poor creature.

Treatment is inflexible, as the ill-favoured character cannot help their boorish mannerisms, their odd-pitched speech and their corrupt use of language; they are shuffled from place to place, living by handout, forced to feel ashamed for themselves and friendless. But there is little hate; merely callous disregard. As ever, only assassins would train such a person to level status.

Generosity permits very little. They may knock on a door in very poor times. Some will let them find shelter in an airy stable or behind a stoop. No employment would be given; only beggary is available. As before, such persons drift into the orbit of assassins, who look for persons like this with the other necessary characteristics to become heartless killers.

Base (5 pts.)

Reactions possess a hesitation to shun the person, but still to push them along so as to relieve themselves of the person’s unwanted presence. The base individual is vulgar in appearance, unclean, a whiff of odour, while disagreeable in face and posture. While distaste is rare, others will be sharply displeased or dismayed at the individual’s presence, urging them to move on and mind their business elsewhere. This is often said with some sympathy, supported by some small bit of charity … a copper coin or a direction to a proprietor to get the base person a bit of bread.

Treatment includes distaste and an urge to cross the street rather than meet the individual, but not everyone feels that way. There is daily humour at the expense of the person, but it is jovial, not cruel. Others treat the person as “a part” of their community, though from habit rather than warmth.

Generosity allows for open beggary, which even allows the person to be treated with momentary kindness. No other place would be given, except for a modest permission to allow them a permanent shelter, though an unpleasant one. Even now, only assassins would train the person to have a level.

Homely (6 pts.)

Reactions may be a sniff of the air and a moderate displeasure; the homely person’s face and body is off-putting, being bent over, gangly and somewhat lopsided. They will have a cheerful smile, however and are seen to be only unfortunate; if met, they’re rarely acknowledged, and even more rarely noticed. Others will usually given them little to no attention.

Treatment would consist of benign disinterest. Others would pass on the street with a slight nod, if giving any notice at all. Still, no one challenges their presence in the community. Folk sell them goods, exchange with the person, give a tacit approval and speak well of the person, somewhat.

Generosity provides a form of necessary work, as a gong collector, rat catcher, gravedigger or similar occupation, too mean for an ordinary folk. Some will be levelled; a fighter that’s gone to war; a ranger acting as a gamekeeper; an independent friar; a small-time thief or assassin; perhaps a very private monk, mage or illusionist, in this latter case most likely from far away and without any ties. Most would know nothing of their levelled ability, as they will use their skills infrequently, not wishing to bring attention and perhaps frighten others, who would see them as a threat.

Plain (7 pts.)

Reactions are lukewarm and indifferent, with a tacit approval that the individual belongs as part of the scene. A mild greeting is normal. Often passed over but usually acknowledged. Plain individuals lack any sort of distinctive feature, with a modest mix of eyes, nose and mouth, suggesting rural habits, honest intents and an artless lack of pretension. They are nodded to or quietly acknowledged as they pass.

Treatment is cooperative, sometimes helpful; persons are likely to remain alone all their lives, but might become a helpmate to a commonplace person or act as a servant in a household. They will be gruff, impatient and bitter. Most know their name; others will listen to their opinions but will put little store by them; occasionally, to gain support, another might ask a plain person to give their opinion.

Generosity includes, as said, with opportunities to be a servant. Most often, they work for family. As mages and illusionists, they may set up a tiny, unobtrusive shop, that will receive few customers. Some are morticians. A cleric will be an unpleasant deacon, managing a few pupils. A fighter will be a private guard for a single employer ~ and never part of a larger entity, where they would not get along with others. A ranger is most likely to act alone in some capacity, as hunters or private wardens. Assassins or thieves would roam as solitary criminals. Most common plain persons would have mediocre, painstaking work to do, with little to look forward to day-to-day.


Charisma-02-farmer.jpg

Commonplace (8 pts.)

Reactions will tend to be welcoming, if muted. While not noticed as an important person by any means, commonplace persons will be granted the same initial reception as anyone else. In appearance, they’re merely people. It will be noticed by such persons, perhaps because they come closer than those with less charisma, that there are “average folks” who are friendly and gentry who tend to overlook such persons. Commonplace persons will generally find love with others of their charisma and social standing.

Treatment is an everyday acceptance, as the individual will most likely have an extended family, responsibilities, a plot of land, a secondary skill, and compatriots of about the same level of charisma. Most others in their immediate orbit will treat them with belonging. Outsiders, particularly the gentry, will treat them with some level of disdain, as poor folks.

Generosity dictates their lives will revolve around work, seasonal events, births, deaths and little opportunity past their mundane lives. However, this offers a comfort, as well as knowledge that although their lives are dull, they are sound and productive. Most levels conform to their kind, performing what skills they have for the benefit of their kin. Clerics alone stand out; with this level of charisma, they are accepted as minor priests and functionaries inside the church system, though rarely do they ever become important and never do they preach to a wide congregation.


Neighbourly (9 pts.)

Reactions will be a strong salutation, followed by several interested questions before personable matters are dropped in favour of other things. A neighbour is rugged, fine to look at, with a gentle charm. No strong bond is evident, but even with strangers there’s a sense by appearance, expression and stance that this is at least a fellow countryman, individual or person of similar breeding to the norm. Some consideration is paid by the gentry to a neighbour; but a stranger among the gentry will give no notice. A neighbour might find love among others with a point more in charisma and a social standing slightly higher.

Treatment is a low-born respect, as they have excelled somewhat among their commonplace peers. They’re given the best tables at the worker’s tavern, they are respected by guards and by officials. Their weddings are usually publicly celebrated; and at festivals they are often chosen first to compete in games. To the gentry, they are treated as peaceable, but rarely are their names remembered.

Generosity permits these lower middle class persons are upstanding members of their guilds, town watchmen and minor officials. Some are farmer leaders and foremen; most are not, and at best lower level authority is all a few are offered. They do lead healthy lives, however, and can usually trace their family half a dozen generations, at least, into the past.


Friendly (10 pts.)

Reactions to such persons will be a strong hail, with others going out of their way in public places to make sure a greeting occurs. A friendly fellow smiles, is easy to talk to, will laugh at a joke and is open to what others want to talk about. They will be more sympathetic, causing others to express their like and appreciation often. Friendly persons find committed love among others up to a 12 charisma, with a fair status above their own. They may dabble in relationships with persons up to 14.

Treatment is kindness, as they pass on the street. Well spoken of, they are friendly with guards and officials, Gentry are apt to notice them and converse for a moment or two.

Generosity enables them to become relatively successful, giving them strong houses, yards, comforts for their children and contact with family in other parts. They are more in low-level positions of authority, particularly in guilds; a reeve or hayward might be friendly, as well as a head guard, a local apothecary, a kindly minister or a willing scout and guide.


Affable (11 pts.)

Reactions by others, upon greetings, will include genuine concern for the affable person’s situation, while others will certainly beg the person’s good wishes. Folk will gather as they appear at a tavern or in the market place, to share stories. These persons may find committed love from anyone, and are often courted.

Treatment often includes others that laugh at their jokes and see them as important residents in the community, or as interesting persons that are passing through. Buying a drink for an affable person is a common request.

Generosity enables them to set up independent workshops or become senior members of guilds, while they are often approached with duties for the village or local quarter. They will often agree to become toastmasters or to head a small welcoming committee. Levelled persons are celebrated for their skills and are often encouraged to send their children to distant places for training.


Warm-hearted (12 pts.)

Reactions will be to approach the individual with concerns for the person’s welfare and situation, most likely offering a good meal upon greeting if known to the area, in an attempt to share company with the person. Others will be anxious to share news, tell the latest gossip and positively remark on the warm-hearted person’s appearance and anything new they might see.

Treatment encourages these people to sit and converse, which they will do while their friends will assume their workload. Warm-hearted people provide emotional sustenance and encouragement to others, who treat them as special benefactors.

Generosity will make allowances, so that in times of hardship they are given welfare and support, both for them and their families. They are rarely evicted; someone will find a way to create work for them or pay their rent. If necessary, they will be given light duties to perform on behalf of the town. In general, however, they rise to be important leaders of guilds, associations and collectives. Many will use their personalities to ensure receiving training when they are quite young.


Social (13 pts.)

Reactions will be for strangers to notice the person as they move up the street and to introduce themselves politely, even if they are strangers. Those of 8 or less charisma will hang back, intimidated. If known to the area, invitations to important events will often occur, with promises that a special table will be arranged, or a space at the head table. The gentry will view the individual as one of their own.

Treatment insists they have a special set of gifts that enable them to liaison between different customs and circles, as they are welcomed often even by those with which they share little in common. They are listened to fervently, their words are considered to be truth and rarely are they successfully questioned in public.

Generosity encourages them to set aside labour entirely and be organizers, courtiers, hosts, social reformers, political leaders and others like voices. They are very busy. They move behind doors where those with less charisma would hardly be allowed. They exist in large enough numbers that they make up the majority of the cultural hoi polloi. Those lacking skills may still move in these corridors, though less well ~ somehow, on charm, they get by.


Chivalrous (14 pts.)

Reactions of all persons, except the gentry, will be somewhat intimidated, but nevertheless very welcoming. There will be a distinct use of genuflection (show deference) from those of 10 or less charisma, while others will hail and engage in short, polite conversations. Invitations, when they occur, will occasionally arise from the middle classes and the gentry, but the lower classes will be satisfied to gaze on the person from afar. Shopkeepers will rush to please.

Treatment of these persons is a mixture of homage and appreciation for their contributions. These are especially celebrated entities whose capabilities outweigh the gentry around them. They move about in carriages, with retainers and hangers-on, with others who appeal to them for moments of their time.

Generosity enables them to become captains of the guard, respected courtiers, persons in charge of the finances and running of the area; though of course, subordinate to aristocrats with titles. Those without special knowledge or wisdom are given duties that fit their limited skills.


Charisma-03-whitequeen.jpg

Fair (15 pts.)

Reactions of the non-gentry will be muted and deeply respectful, accepting company if it is given but never seeking to impose. The gentry will, if given the opportunity, seek to adopt the person, bringing them around to the house, introducing them to children of marriageable age, encouraging the person to begin in business or some other respectable activity. The gentry will, in fact, be something of a pest in this regard.

Treatment begins to reflect the relative rarity of these persons. As persons of consequence, they do not have to work so hard as their lesser peers to be heard in the halls of power. Even if they are not especially bright, they are usually found a place, as they are a pleasure to be near, for persons of great stature.

Generosity allows many who do not have skills to marry into the upper echelons. Some may obtain power through less savoury means, as gigolos and courtesans ~ but most exploit their skills while around them, they are celebrated for their personalities alone.


Beautiful (16 pts.)

Reactions will be strong and highly appreciative. Most persons, even the gentry, will tend to give space and respectfully give acknowledgement. All persons, from the shopkeeper up to and including the gentry, will show varying levels of making room, giving attention or otherwise dashing about as they serve and attend to the person. The single exception will be persons with legitimate power and title, who will view the person as a person to know and to engage with.


Treatment demonstrates that these are likely the most beautiful persons that ordinary people will ever see in person. Even at that, they are rarely viewed directly; most of the time, they will protect their appearance with privacy, not because they are truly threatened, as they usually surrounded, but rather because their beauty disturbs persons.

Generosity ensures that most of them are directly connected with court or with persons of power and title. Generally, they will escape the provinces for the comparatively comfortable life to be had in capitals. They may be enlightened persons of consequence, or they may surrender that to become manipulators behind the scenes, moving less attractive persons as puppets.


Charisma-04-dark prince.jpg

Graceful (17 pts.)

Reactions will be distant; most persons, except those with power and title, will consider themselves inadequate to hold discourse with the person. Less attractive persons will be pushed out of the person’s presence; an aura of space will expand around the person should they go anywhere. Those with power and title will suggest paths towards marriage or political power.

Treatment is hushed and reverential. It will be difficult to speak directly to lesser persons, who will describe themselves as unworthy. The degree of intimidation others feel will be very high.

Generosity will lead them to become lords and ladies through marriage, or by gifts bestowed upon them. Paladins will be profound, unusually prized members of court, as their appearance is startling and tends to strike even courtiers with astonishment.


Bewitching (18 pts.)

Reactions will be something approaching awe. It will be generally held belief that a person cannot be so charismatic without having some special powers, to charm, beguile or fascinate persons out of all safety. In some quarters among the gentry, there will be an unspoken, strong resentment, that may be problematic in the right circumstances. Lower establishments will refuse to serve, considering themselves unworthy. An ordinary life is possible only through disguise.

Treatment is exceptional and mystifying. Such persons are probably never ordinarily seen by even gentry; their incongruous presence is eerie and unnatural. Even kings and queens are made humble by their appearance and their personalities. Because of this, persons of this appearance are vulnerable. They will often wear a mask or covering of some type, to minimize their outward effect.

Generosity of their charisma enables them to become master manipulators behind the scenes. A few become usurpers. Each is an entity onto themselves, defying categorization.

See Player Characters