Written by Charisma Keller and Dixon Trimline.
To quote an article by Dixon Trimline that I love very much (the article, not Dixon Trimline… ok, and Dixon Trimline), “The power gamer is earnest in his approach to the game, in the same way that an evangelical is earnest about saving souls.”
Such a player will look at the stat for Charisma and ask, “What good is it to me? If this stat isn’t going to help me win the fight, it’s hello dump truck.” I mentioned power gamers above, but really, this isn’t exclusive to power gamers. It applies to anyone who doesn’t want to be restricted in their roleplaying effort because of a number score.
I mean, really, what good is it for? How does the Charisma stat help the game? I have a ton of role-playing ability – I don’t need a high Charisma score to help me in social situations. Besides, who is going to judge if I’m true to my Charisma score? On what scale is that person basing that judgment on – a number scale of 3-18? I don’t think so. With so many gamers having so many varying degrees of role-playing ability/comfort, who is going to say that my character would or wouldn’t act that way?
And don’t forget about filters. “Hey GM, disregard anything I say until the other players can filter it. My character has a high Charisma score, but we all know that I’m a social stink bug, so that’s why everyone else will be my filters.” I don’t think so. If you want to play a charismatic character, then role-play the charismatic character. Don’t hide behind the dice and your filters.
In my opinion, the dice are there for everything that can’t be determined at a table – because we’re sitting at a table. Yes, I can do the splits, and I can do a back flip, but I’m not going to do that at the table to show that my character’s acrobatic stunt should be successful (well, not again anyway). That’s what dice are for. What I can do at the table is role-play, and I don’t need dice or stat scores for that.
Now, Mr. Dixon Trimline, what say you to that?
Yeow, what a great idea for an article! I love your point about the double standard between physical skills and social skills, where a player doesn’t have to demonstrate his acrobatic skills to verify he deserves a 21 Dexterity.
Believe it or not, the difficult roleplaying decisions you have to make in a game don’t actually impact your real life in any way. If you’re willing to believe this, why not start stretching your roleplaying muscles, step outside your comfort zone, and act up like a big old salty ham? Sure, we can all agree that you, personally, don’t wield anything close to an 18 Charisma, but inside the game, your raging insecurities, awkward phrasing, and machinegun stammering all translate into one articulate, sexy, and irresistible bag of pure hotness.
This really is a great opportunity for you to act like the person you’ve always wanted to be, and it’s a situation that can only be bolstered by your character’s ability score when it comes to actually rolling the silly dice. I feel like all the successful and multi-dimensional games have to include some amount of social interaction, and hopefully it’s quite a lot of it. Games that are wall-to-wall combat can be thrilling, but ultimately a little flat.
What’s the point of slaying the dragon if you don’t get to ride back to town to comfort all those terrified townspeople?
Sitting at the table, you may wind up sounding like this: “Um, hey, um, guys… um. I was going… it’s like this… there was this dragon… hey, you know that dragon? It’s like, totally dead.” But in-game, your character with her 18 Charisma gets to sound like this: “Good people of Verbobonc, hear my voice! Your dark days are at an end. The dragon, the scourge of life and light, is no more! Rejoice!”
By the way, bonus points for Verbobonc.