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D&D 5E Ability Score Increases (I've changed my mind.)

When /If I say meaningless, it's within the context of mechanics, and how those mechanics feed into the cohesiveness of the setting.

I would argue most people when bringing up 'funny hats' are doing the same.

Appearance, within 5e D&D doesn't drive mechanics, in the way ASI, does, within the crunch.

That's all, I'm not saying its meaningless from a real world perspective.

I don't think it's necessary to remove all mechanics as related to race. As I've been arguing, I prefer a racial feat system; you can, IMO, create fantasy races with real, "biological" differences and do so in a way that is intentional and mindful when it comes to real world racism. I don't see that as necessarily inconsistent.

That being said, many aspects of the different races are already not represented or not represented well :):cough:: racial ASI), and it would simplify character creation to get rid of mechanics as related to race. So I wouldn't mind, but most of the fanbase would for one reason or another, and again I don't think going to that extreme is necessary.
 

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It would be ironic if the same people who insist that floating ASIs are all about powergaming (with the implication that real roleplayers know how to work with suboptimal stats) were to then argue that non-mechanical differences between the races are insufficient to have meaningful impact on the game.

I would think that the roleplaying implications of visual differences would be enough fodder for the premises of endless adventure.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
No need to remove ASI. There is a very simple way to make every individual different. Fantasy AGE has a random table for each ancestry. Roll twice and voilà. (or choose the two that fit your character concept).

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Scribe

Hero
It would be ironic if the same people who insist that floating ASIs are all about powergaming (with the implication that real roleplayers know how to work with suboptimal stats) were to then argue that non-mechanical differences between the races are insufficient to have meaningful impact on the game.

I would think that the roleplaying implications of visual differences would be enough fodder for the premises of endless adventure.
I know you (probably) are not talking to me here, but I clearly am too tired, I cannot understand what you are going for here. :sleep:
 

Serious question: So when the fighter sees his damage output is half of the warlock or rogue, do you alter the character to not be "weakened?" I mean, the reasons are the rules built the fighter that way. But do you alter the fighter, like maybe give them a feat or magic item, so they can keep up?
Same answer as Maxperson but
It would never come to that in the first place.
My DM first moto his:" Everyone must have a chance to shine. ".
This means that if I have to manipulate treasures and make foes that would foil the warlock but not the fighter I will.
 

I know you (probably) are not talking to me here, but I clearly am too tired, I cannot understand what you are going for here. :sleep:

Some of the defenders of racial ASIs are arguing from a stance of "roleplaying moral superiority". (For example, that people who want floating ASIs are just powergamers, or that roleplaying underdogs with sub-optimal stats is fun.)

And then one of their criticisms of floating ASIs is that it's leading us inexorably toward a world where there is no mechanical differentiation between races, that the only difference is fluff (physical description, etc.).

That feels like a contradiction to me. The first argument is, "Why are you so obsessed with mechanics? Enjoy the roleplaying!" And the second argument is, "I need mechanics!"

(In some ways this is similar to the thing I observed before, how both sides are in effect saying "+1 is too small to make much of a difference in the thing you care about, but it's a huge factor in the thing I care about.")
 

Scribe

Hero
Some of the defenders of racial ASIs are arguing from a stance of "roleplaying moral superiority". (For example, that people who want floating ASIs are just powergamers, or that roleplaying underdogs with sub-optimal stats is fun.)

And then one of their criticisms of floating ASIs is that it's leading us inexorably toward a world where there is no mechanical differentiation between races, that the only difference is fluff (physical description, etc.).

That feels like a contradiction to me. The first argument is, "Why are you so obsessed with mechanics? Enjoy the roleplaying!" And the second argument is, "I need mechanics!"

(In some ways this is similar to the thing I observed before, how both sides are in effect saying "+1 is too small to make much of a difference in the thing you care about, but it's a huge factor in the thing I care about.")
I don't think those are the same people, but yeah, this is why I prefer simple statements to begin with, so people can at least form a basis of understanding, if not agreement. :)
 

You have had some good points in this thread, but this is not one of them.

I equate Tiefling to race because…it’s categorized in the game as a race. It’s not a feat any race can take. I don’t understand what’s difficult to grasp here.
It is only listed under a race because there is no better place to put it. Much like a changeling in 5e or an undead race in 4e. There is no setting in 5e that I have read where there is a kingdom of tieflings or changelings or a bazaar that has hundreds of undead vendors and merchants. These characters are meant to be rare. The fact that you can't accept is exactly what I said, it demonstrates narrow vision. This is a game with a lot of rules, and thus, you need to categorize a lot of things. "Races" is one of them.

I mean isn't one of the primary arguments of people who want floating ASIs the fact that the description of the "Race" in the PHB isn't a description of the race, but rather the player character. Hence, the descriptions aren't even a description of the race, but rather an outline the player can use when playing a character of that type.

Also your postulate about rare == charismatic is patently false. You cherry picked a few exceptions, but I would argue that in general being an outlier results in being shunned/feared/despised. But if you think otherwise I’m not interested in arguing the point.
And being shunned, feared and despised can unequivocally add to your charisma.
P.S. Also, you missed the mark asking why I “see genetics as racist.” I don’t, and that was quite a leap getting there. I said that the Tiefling Cha mod was based on genetics, not background. The result, in this case, is a racist trope. But that is not saying that genetics is racist. I genuinely hope you understand the difference.
I did miss it, and I apologize. I haven't logged on in a while and was backlogged on the discussion. My apologies.
 

That's fair, I'm not an olympic weightlifting expert. There are strict rules though which do make it harder.

For example:

1.7.2 Any deliberate oscillation of the barbell to gain advantage. The athlete and the barbell have to become motionless before starting the jerk.

I don't think we're talking about holding a boulder straight over head with legs together and everything locked out either. You're right that the weight would be less but one thing with strongman competitions is that they don't have as many form rules as powerlifting and weightlifting competitions do.
Very true. And many of the strongman winners on the boulder lift (which is just awesome to watch in my opinion) have long arms. Like literally, that is what it boils down to, having a gut to rest the boulder on, and having arms long (and of course strong) enough to lift it.

But the swinging thing is if they roll the barbell back and forth prior to lifting. And you are correct, that might give them another ten or fifteen pounds.
 

Why are we diminishing appearance as a meaningful form of difference? In the real world, the extremely minor variation of human appearance has led to the entire edifice of racism, institutional and interpersonal.

In fantasy, appearance could be a kind of world-building cue. For example, you could say "orcs have tusk-like teeth" (biological difference, noticeable as appearance). "For this reason, they are thought to be 'ferocious' by x and y clan of dwarves, even though this is not the case."

So there's a lack of nuance in saying that the descriptions as currently written are racist, and therefore the entire description should be removed. Or that the way that cultural difference is articulated is reductive, and therefore all reference to cultural difference should be removed. Rather, what those of us concerned about these kind of things want are different ways of thinking about difference in fantasy worlds.
This is an excellent discussion.

To play devil's advocate, I would argue to do that you need a baseline setting. One that is cohesive and starts off static. At present, D&D is not that. So the nuances (which I really like for a cohesive setting) would become overwhelming because in the end, D&D players want everything under the sun. They want to play a dryad, a pharaoh, an Eberron orc and a generic orc. It would instantly become far too complicated.
 

Same answer as Maxperson but
It would never come to that in the first place.
My DM first moto his:" Everyone must have a chance to shine. ".
This means that if I have to manipulate treasures and make foes that would foil the warlock but not the fighter I will.
Got it. Thank you for taking the time to explain. Not sure why I didn't get it the first time. ;)
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
You'd have to plan for everything in advance, since you don't know anything. There are spells and items that you might save or use differently if you KNEW a dragon was in the area. You might brainstorm ideas for a fey encounter. These things are just wastes of time if you don't know, since it's highly unlikely that either one is present at the moment you are passing through.

Spells you just used one of to confirm that you may possibly run into a dragon. Likely lost when the DM gave you a hint and you used it to confirm. And what if you "know" there is a dragon, but it is the innkeeper in the town you just left and you never encounter them while traveling? Now you have spent a spell slot to waste resources saving them for an event that will never happen, based off bad information that you couldn't have even gotten without using this ability.

I'm sorry Max, there is no way to make this ability good. Any sort of "we know what is around" that this allows is more easily allowed through simple DM foreshadowing. Which is free, and doesn't end up nearly as imprecise.

That's not true. You can look for probable terrain. You can use spells. Maybe the eagle totem barbarian will use his sight to look. Maybe you have spells that can help. Maybe the fey are in that copse of woods over there. But go ahead and call it not just useless, but an actual detriment to the Ranger. I'll put it to good use in my game.

Probable terrain for what? The dragon could be in the sky or underground. It could be shapeshifted in to a rat or simply lying hiding in the woods 4 miles from where you are in the woods.

If you have an Eagle Barbarian and if you are level 6, then you can see for a mile, but we were talking about the favored terrain, which is 6 miles.

What spells do you use? How was this useful to use a spell to learn that you need to use spells?

The fey could be in that copse of wood. In a veiled tree hollow 5 and half miles away. Trapped in a crystal buried in a treasure chest, underneath a berry bush. You have no idea. You have used up a precious spell slot to confirm what the DM was already hinting at. There is nothing valuable you can learn other than "yes, somewhere, there is something."

Math can't confirm anything here. It's confirmation bias. They're assuming 65% is the base, so 16 checks out to meet 65% and the ACs are in line for 65% if you have a 16. The problem is that if you assume 60%, then a 14 checks out for 60% and the ACs are in line for 60% if you have a 14.

There's nothing other than their arbitrary selection of 65% that makes 16 the "baseline." The math only serves to confirm what they want to believe.

Which is why the support by the other analysis's which show that a 16 is the most likely baseline for attributes, by being the average of the roll, by being the most likely number from putting your standard array into a race that follows the archetype, and it being the best you can do with the point-buy and getting an archetypical race, is so important. Because that shows the 16 is supported, and that that number also follows the design intent.

This isn't a one-legged stool.

So it could be 55%, 60%, 65%. 70%... They are still just arbitrarily selecting a percentage based on a vague designer statement from years ago.

72 is not equal(not identical, equal) to 81, 76, 78 or any other number that isn't 72.


These aren't arguments anymore, just you refusing to listen.


If they include rolling, then they are including a method that they know will not produce average stats most of time given the small sample size. They deliberately give unequal methods of stat generation.

Dude. They kept rolling because everyone was going to do it anyways. Rolling has been part of DnD since Chainmail. They weren't going to cut it. They had no choice but to keep it, but they knew not everyone liked random stats, which is why the array was included.

And they made sure the array was as close as they could get it, while still making sure to make easy access to an 18 unobtainable. But when designing the rest of the game, they had to assume something. And the average was the best thing they could assume for balance.

Me: "The methods are not equal because rolling at the group level produces wildly different characters from the array most of the time."

You: "That's a farce! They are equal(your claim), because I've seen people roll massively powerful and massively weak characters!!"

And the average does exist. It's called an array. It's the only way characters are going to average out in your lifetime. There's too much variation for a small sample size like a group to hit average when rolling.

This is impossible. You really need to refresh yourself on how stats work. You want to claim that the average is impossible to get unless you take the array. You are wrong. It is actually more likely to be the average (or very close) than any other set of values. That's why it is the AVERAGE.

Then you want to claim that the only place where the rolling and array will be compared is at a table of 5 people. you are wrong. The game is played by millions. The designers didn't make it so that it only worked for a specific set of five people sitting in a room in Michigan, they made it to work for millions. Which means they had to take rolling into account into the aggregate of tables. Yes, obviously, characters can vary wildly when you roll. That's the point of rolling. That is the cost-benefit that many many people want no part of.

HOWEVER, just because a single person rolls above the average doesn't disprove the existence of the average. Nor is a single person rolls below it. Or even if ten people roll above it. Because that isn't how statistics work. Claiming that the game can only be designed or conceived of at the group level, and not the level of the game as it is played by millions of people is ridiculous, because then the concept of balance wouldn't even be a discussion point.


Don't add in reliably to my argument. It's not going to show up at all at the group level.

Sure it will. That's how stats work. That's how probability works.

This is all true, but at the bolded point the DM is violating the social contract regarding fairness, rather than just enacting reasonable house rules. Your disagreement with me on my house rule does not make it unreasonable. You just don't like the reason, and that's okay. Don't play in my game or one where you can't use an array.

The point is Max, unilaterally declaring yourself infallible because you can make the rules isn't a good attitude towards the game. I don't want players doing it either. But this constant refrain of "I'm the DM. I make the rules. Only players who obey are welcome" drives me up the wall.

Yeah. Apparently it's because you like Slippery Slopes.

"The DM removing arrays, leads to taking away hit points and giving us a different system, which leads to taking away AC and giving us something else, which leads to the DM being a jerk and making it so monsters kill us and we can't kill the monsters, which leads to dogs and cats living together, which leads to complete anarchy!" Or else I just have a few house rules that are easy to learn.

No, it doesn't lead to that. Read my post instead of trying to make me out to be incapable of doing anything other than fallacies. I was showing all of the rule changes a DM can make under this view of absolute authority. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. And your ruling exists solely because of your own preference for aesthetics. Nothing else.
 

No need to remove ASI. There is a very simple way to make every individual different. Fantasy AGE has a random table for each ancestry. Roll twice and voilà. (or choose the two that fit your character concept).

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Sidenote: what is dwarven, or elvish, or gnomish, as a racial ability? How does that make sense? Is the elven language the same for elves on different sides of the planet, or even throughout the multiverse? If the world of your fiction is small enough that "wood elves" refer to elves that live in this one specific forest, the fact that they have their own language makes sense, but otherwise does not.

It's an example of something is cultural being naturalized into something quasi-biological. Or, in my planescape game, I basically said that languages had to have an ontological reality outside of any living (or dead) speakers for it to make sense. This is ok in fantasy, because after all gods exist, and can gift language. But that's the mythic/folkloric aspect of fantasy, not a simulationist species/biology logic.
 

It is only listed under a race because there is no better place to put it. Much like a changeling in 5e or an undead race in 4e. There is no setting in 5e that I have read where there is a kingdom of tieflings or changelings or a bazaar that has hundreds of undead vendors and merchants. These characters are meant to be rare. The fact that you can't accept is exactly what I said, it demonstrates narrow vision. This is a game with a lot of rules, and thus, you need to categorize a lot of things. "Races" is one of them.

I mean isn't one of the primary arguments of people who want floating ASIs the fact that the description of the "Race" in the PHB isn't a description of the race, but rather the player character. Hence, the descriptions aren't even a description of the race, but rather an outline the player can use when playing a character of that type.

And being shunned, feared and despised can unequivocally add to your charisma.

First, you are making that up that part about "it is only listed under a race because there is nowhere else to put it." I mean, I see the logic of how you got there, and if you wanted that to be true in your game world it would be consistent...but you're making that up.

Second, if your exotic/rare theory were true, then all those other exotic & rare races would also have charisma modifiers.

Third, if your exotic/rare theory were true, then those charisma modifiers would not affect others of their own type (or really anybody else used to their presence)

Fourth, if your exotic/rare theory were true, that would mean your Charisma modifier was based on other's perception of you, not anything intrinsic to you, and thus you wouldn't get benefits of that Charisma modifier that didn't have anything to do with how other people perceive. For example, why would a Tiefling Paladin get to know extra spells? Or get extra uses of Divine Sense?

All of which points (in my opinion) to the conclusion that if one was trying to model what you are describing...and I do think it's a good idea, even if you're just making it up...then a much better mechanism for doing so would be a racial ability, instead of a charisma modifier. "The first time you interact with a humanoid who, at the DM's discretion, is unfamiliar with creatures of your type, you have advantage on ability checks that use Charisma." Or something to that effect. Or, heck, just give it proficiency bonus uses per long rest, and not usable on your own race, but otherwise totally at your discretion.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
Sidenote: what is dwarven, or elvish, or gnomish, as a racial ability? How does that make sense?

Elves are born with the knowledge of Elvish, because they inherit the collective memories of the elves before them. The process isn't perfect so they still need a few weeks to reactivate this knowledge, but that's why most elves like flowery language: innate mastery is reached in 3rd grade, around the same time they recovered the ability with bow they inherited from a huntress ancestor they call the mitochondrial E(l)ve. For dwarves, it's easier, the practical Moradin downloaded the language into their head at birth 'cause it's more complicated if two clans have separate language. And regularly updates vocabulary when new words are necessary. In Dwarvish, the great vowel shift was when Moradin got severely drunk one time. It was quickly removed, but this period is known as the Decade-Long Hungover in Dwarf history, a time where human dwarvish translators became basically useless overnight. See, it makes more sense than learning language by trying to speak it. Who does that? Ah, yes, that one species that doesn't see in the night.


On the other hand, I don't see the position where race are Funny Hats going forward as "extreme" as some posters have stated. I don't think WotC would lose customers if they just said "race: it determines your physical appearance. Stats are determined by your individual character creation, and knowledge and some abilities from background (expanded from what they are now)". It would no longer allow racial languages (they'd be gotten from "living in a gnome community" background instead of coming from the gnome race), but I don't think it would drive people away anymore than they are now driven away by the lack of racial ASIs in the newest races. And specific settings could of course have a "Son of Gruumsh background" that make orcs the "classic orc" for tables who're fine with them and seek genre emulation.



Is the elven language the same for elves on different sides of the planet, or even throughout the multiverse?

Apparently. You can create as many language as you want in your campaign, of course, but in the default setting there is only Elvish (which is the Common among elves...) so you can speak Elvish with someone who just planeshifted. And you can read Elvish texts from 2,000 years ago with ease.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
Sidenote: what is dwarven, or elvish, or gnomish, as a racial ability? How does that make sense? Is the elven language the same for elves on different sides of the planet, or even throughout the multiverse? If the world of your fiction is small enough that "wood elves" refer to elves that live in this one specific forest, the fact that they have their own language makes sense, but otherwise does not.

It's an example of something is cultural being naturalized into something quasi-biological. Or, in my planescape game, I basically said that languages had to have an ontological reality outside of any living (or dead) speakers for it to make sense. This is ok in fantasy, because after all gods exist, and can gift language. But that's the mythic/folkloric aspect of fantasy, not a simulationist species/biology logic.
Keith Baker actually tries to make sense of this in Eberron, but only for elves: "IFAQ: The Elvish Language."
 

I really don't feel one needs to overthink things like the Elvish language. Elves usually speak Elvish, humans speak Common. Does this make sense, shouldn't there be countless different languages among both humans and elves? Sure, there should, but this is just a convenient baseline for an adventuring game. If you want to track more languages you can easily invent such for your setting. It just means that unless you increase the number of languages the characters know, there might be a lot of communication difficulties when the characters travel around the world.
 
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Second, if your exotic/rare theory were true, then all those other exotic & rare races would also have charisma modifiers.
Changelings do get +2 charisma. Remnants and graveborns from 4e do get +2 charisma.
Third, if your exotic/rare theory were true, then those charisma modifiers would not affect others of their own type (or really anybody else used to their presence)
This is correct. It is as I have said all along, rules need to be generalizations. That's how the game works. So, on average, the modifier would be there. It is the same with athletics or acrobatics, investigation or perception, wisdom saves or intelligence saves, etc. There is quite a bit of common ground. So it needs to be generalized.
But you are 100% correct. It should not work on members of their own "race." Which is why this:
All of which points (in my opinion) to the conclusion that if one was trying to model what you are describing...and I do think it's a good idea, even if you're just making it up...then a much better mechanism for doing so would be a racial ability, instead of a charisma modifier. "The first time you interact with a humanoid who, at the DM's discretion, is unfamiliar with creatures of your type, you have advantage on ability checks that use Charisma." Or something to that effect. Or, heck, just give it proficiency bonus uses per long rest, and not usable on your own race, but otherwise totally at your discretion.
is a great idea. It is a bit too specific for some tables tastes, like many specific rules. But I like it.
First, you are making that up that part about "it is only listed under a race because there is nowhere else to put it." I mean, I see the logic of how you got there, and if you wanted that to be true in your game world it would be consistent...but you're making that up.

Fourth, if your exotic/rare theory were true, that would mean your Charisma modifier was based on other's perception of you, not anything intrinsic to you, and thus you wouldn't get benefits of that Charisma modifier that didn't have anything to do with how other people perceive. For example, why would a Tiefling Paladin get to know extra spells? Or get extra uses of Divine Sense?
I really don't feel like I am making anything up. I am applying a bit of logic to a game system. That's all. Maybe my logic is flawed. If so, then I will stand in the minority.
The second part of your quote, well, that brings us to the most important rule of D&D - don't examine it too closely. It's like asking what is charisma? We know what it is. But if you analyze it, it is deeply flawed:
  • your confidence, shyness, allure, sexiness, etc.
  • your appearance
  • your body language
  • your word choice
  • your laughter, voice, tenor, etc.
  • your flaws and scars
  • and all of this depends on how others see you.

You have a character with a massive scar that makes them intimidating. Should it help when they try to persuade a child to gently drop the exploding flask? Should it help with a performance where they sing a song about love? Should it help the be able to lie more fluidly to the guy or gal they love?

Point is, just like grouping "races," the designers had to group skills and attributes. Once you pull back the curtain and pull out your magnifying glass, all of it is deeply flawed. But as a whole, it reacts well together. That is how my logic (or as you call it, making it up) is sound in my opinion.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Elves are born with the knowledge of Elvish, because they inherit the collective memories of the elves before them. The process isn't perfect so they still need a few weeks to reactivate this knowledge, but that's why most elves like flowery language: innate mastery is reached in 3rd grade, around the same time they recovered the ability with bow they inherited from a huntress ancestor they call the mitochondrial E(l)ve. For dwarves, it's easier, the practical Moradin downloaded the language into their head at birth 'cause it's more complicated if two clans have separate language. And regularly updates vocabulary when new words are necessary. In Dwarvish, the great vowel shift was when Moradin got severely drunk one time. It was quickly removed, but this period is known as the Decade-Long Hungover in Dwarf history, a time where human dwarvish translators became basically useless overnight. See, it makes more sense than learning language by trying to speak it. Who does that? Ah, yes, that one species that doesn't see in the night.

Honestly, I kind of love this. Though I almost want to go more extreme and have "True dwarvish" that is the language the god developed solely for dwarves, but that gets a bit more complicated. It does however help give that very "dwarves were made" vibe that I always like.

Apparently. You can create as many language as you want in your campaign, of course, but in the default setting there is only Elvish (which is the Common among elves...) so you can speak Elvish with someone who just planeshifted. And you can read Elvish texts from 2,000 years ago with ease.

A lot of that is just ease of play, to be fair. I actually was in a short-lived campaign where we were strangers in a land and nobody spoke the language and nobody understood us. It was... a bit torturous. Even with Tongues and Comprehend Language just the sheer break down of any ability to do anything was a pain. Especially since the DM tried to implement mysteries and plots revolving around us talking to people.
 

Changelings do get +2 charisma. Remnants and graveborns from 4e do get +2 charisma.

Changelings get their bonus even if they are in human (or other innocuous) form. Which contradicts your theory.

I really don't feel like I am making anything up. I am applying a bit of logic to a game system. That's all. Maybe my logic is flawed. If so, then I will stand in the minority.
No, the logic isn’t flawed. It’s a fine interpretation, and is mostly consistent with the published information. But it’s just one possible interpretation. That’s great if you prefer it, but you can’t (logically) present it as fact to support your argument

The second part of your quote, well, that brings us to the most important rule of D&D - don't examine it too closely. It's like asking what is charisma? We know what it is. But if you analyze it, it is deeply flawed:
  • your confidence, shyness, allure, sexiness, etc.
  • your appearance
  • your body language
  • your word choice
  • your laughter, voice, tenor, etc.
  • your flaws and scars
  • and all of this depends on how others see you.

You have a character with a massive scar that makes them intimidating. Should it help when they try to persuade a child to gently drop the exploding flask? Should it help with a performance where they sing a song about love? Should it help the be able to lie more fluidly to the guy or gal they love?

Point is, just like grouping "races," the designers had to group skills and attributes. Once you pull back the curtain and pull out your magnifying glass, all of it is deeply flawed. But as a whole, it reacts well together. That is how my logic (or as you call it, making it up) is sound in my opinion.

All of which is why Charisma can only be an intrinsic but abstract “strength of character” and not anything on your list. Those outward signs might partially reflect Charisma, but they can’t cause it. You’ve got cart and horse backwards.
 

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