OneDnD Change in Charisma Description

I know... I know... We've been down this road before. But please hear me out: Charisma should include beauty. Right now it's "confidence, eloquence, leadership" and "... your ability to interact effectively with others. It includes such factors as confidence and eloquence, and it can represent a charming or commanding personality." Beauty needs to be included. Here's why.

  • Deception, performance, persuasion, and yes, even intimidation deals with a character's looks. There is a reason performers look the way they do. Many, if not most that do well, are very good looking. Sting could not be Sting without his looks. The same is true for Tina Turner, Cher, or many other famous artists. And are there ones that aren't? Sure. But they are far outweighed by the ones that stand out from the crowd. One only needs to look at the recent Therenos scandal to understand that it wouldn't have worked if it was run by someone that looked like a normal person. Performance is a no brainer, as that is half the sales of a performance. Persuasion, same thing. I mean, advertising uses looks, especially sexy looks, to convince people to buy things. And looks, particularly beauty, is paramount to true intimidation. The old Greek stories, Roman stories, and pretty much every ancient culture's stories laid the groundwork for this.
  • Another reason is that there is nothing on the sheet to measure beauty. Yet, beauty is one of the very first things anyone sees in a person. A tall, dark and handsome guy walks into the room and people stare. A lady with perfect features walks into the room and people stare. It seems silly to not have it listed on the character sheet somewhere since it is so (soooooo) prevalent among all societies across the world. And before anyone starts talking about beauty norms changing, please let's discuss. Because it leads to the third reason. The one that is most important. The one that is the glue to this entire claim.
  • D&D, being a different universe, must have created a different norm for beauty. I mean, if you have elephant people, turtle people, cat people, dragon people, merfolk people, silver skinned people, orange skinned people, green skinned people, robot people, demon people, devil people, bearded women, etc. AND, all these people manage to live together, side by side, with nary a remark about how ugly the others are, then it stands to reason that they have a universal definition of beauty. One that translates across species. Of all the adventure paths and NPCs created by WotC, there is never a character that spouts stuff like: "Those dwarven women are hideous. Kissin' a scratchy beard - gross!" Never a disparaging remark about tails, horns, scales, or cloven feet. So they must have a universal view of beauty. Which, in my opinion, sounds kind of nice.
There you go. Charisma should include beauty. It's just a beauty we have a hard time wrapping our head around. ;)
 

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payn

Legend
No. I want my scar faced pirate captain that looks fugly, but has a commanding presence over his crew. I want a very attractive PC who just happens to not be very confident and is often lost in the crowd.

You have a hard time wrapping your head around the beauty part because its not actually the beauty. ITs the person using their charisma to accentuate it.
 

So I think that this is a can of worms best left unopened (having beauty reflected in Charisma, that is, not discussing why or why not do so).

That aside, I think it links PC game-mechanical capabilities and appearance in a way that's going to be obnoxious to players, especially when you roll low on Charisma or play with point buy/standard array and feel you can't afford to have a high Charisma.
 


Oofta

Legend
I'm drawing a blank on actual examples, but have you never seen a movie/tv show where the drop dead handsome/gorgeous actor is giving that inspirational speech and it just falls flat? There's something about the delivery, the force of personality that just isn't there. Just because someone draws the eye, it doesn't mean that they have that "it" factor.

D&D being D&D, this is all vastly oversimplified of course and not particularly representative of the real world. Much like there are many types of intelligence, there are many types of charisma. It's the nature of a game that tries to describe all aspects of a person with 6 easy to grasp categories.

There have been many political leaders in the past that knew how to inspire and lead their populace that were far from beautiful. But they had that force of personality that just made people listen. Physical attractiveness gives people a leg up, but the rubber really hits the road when they open their mouths.
 



I've seen so many players who have characters with low charisma but describe their characters as 'strikingly beautiful until they open their mouth'.

The opposite is true for ugly characters who have lots of sway over people.

If it's an issue for your group, put Comeliness back into the game, which is a straight value for how attractive a character is.
 

Clint_L

Hero
No. Completely, absolutely not. Personal appearance should be completely up to the player to decide. Also, history is full of incredibly charismatic people who were not particularly attractive in a conventional way, and incredible jerks who were considered gorgeous.

If Lyle Lovett could marry Julia Roberts back in the day...
 

Clint_L

Hero
If it's an issue for your group, put Comeliness back into the game, which is a straight value for how attractive a character is.
And was completely sexist and widely considered one of the low moments in the game. What folks want to do at their table is up to them, but there is zero chance of WotC opening that particular can of worms again. Besides, they have their hands full at the moment, as far as controversy goes.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I know... I know... We've been down this road before. But please hear me out: Charisma should include beauty. Right now it's "confidence, eloquence, leadership" and "... your ability to interact effectively with others. It includes such factors as confidence and eloquence, and it can represent a charming or commanding personality." Beauty needs to be included. Here's why.

I can't say I find your arguments persuasive...

  • Deception, performance, persuasion, and yes, even intimidation deals with a character's looks. There is a reason performers look the way they do. Many, if not most that do well, are very good looking. Sting could not be Sting without his looks. The same is true for Tina Turner, Cher, or many other famous artists. And are there ones that aren't? Sure. But they are far outweighed by the ones that stand out from the crowd. One only needs to look at the recent Therenos scandal to understand that it wouldn't have worked if it was run by someone that looked like a normal person. Performance is a no brainer, as that is half the sales of a performance. Persuasion, same thing. I mean, advertising uses looks, especially sexy looks, to convince people to buy things. And looks, particularly beauty, is paramount to true intimidation. The old Greek stories, Roman stories, and pretty much every ancient culture's stories laid the groundwork for this.

You chose mostly performers as examples, who are part of a modern advertising system that relies on physical beauty. However, a good performer can be a good actor without fitting to those standards (Danny Devito, say), and a poor performer can be poor actor while also meeting those standards.

Historically, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln were two politicians who were famously persuasive, and yet did not meet "high beauty standards." Would you give them low Charisma?

  • Another reason is that there is nothing on the sheet to measure beauty. Yet, beauty is one of the very first things anyone sees in a person. A tall, dark and handsome guy walks into the room and people stare. A lady with perfect features walks into the room and people stare. It seems silly to not have it listed on the character sheet somewhere since it is so (soooooo) prevalent among all societies across the world. And before anyone starts talking about beauty norms changing, please let's discuss. Because it leads to the third reason. The one that is most important. The one that is the glue to this entire claim.

There is a whole area on the sheet for physical descriptions. You could write "beautiful" on there if you want.

  • D&D, being a different universe, must have created a different norm for beauty. I mean, if you have elephant people, turtle people, cat people, dragon people, merfolk people, silver skinned people, orange skinned people, green skinned people, robot people, demon people, devil people, bearded women, etc. AND, all these people manage to live together, side by side, with nary a remark about how ugly the others are, then it stands to reason that they have a universal definition of beauty. One that translates across species. Of all the adventure paths and NPCs created by WotC, there is never a character that spouts stuff like: "Those dwarven women are hideous. Kissin' a scratchy beard - gross!" Never a disparaging remark about tails, horns, scales, or cloven feet. So they must have a universal view of beauty. Which, in my opinion, sounds kind of nice.

I think this actually weakens your argument. Since there are so many different kinds of people, no one beauty standards could actually fit... Whereas Strength and Constitution, etc, are more or less able to be universally measured. So Charisma, as a universal ability, has to be able to match all these different looking people. It makes more sense for Charisma to be an ability that measures your effectiveness in influencing others, rather than a physical characteristic.

There you go. Charisma should include beauty. It's just a beauty we have a hard time wrapping our head around. ;)

I cannot say that your own Charisma check to convince me worked! Famously, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I believe it should stay there. Allow each player to decide on the physical characteristics of their character. Just as how a Halfling can have high strength, allow an ugly character to have high charisma or a beautiful character to have low Charisma.
 

RareBreed

Explorer
How would you model Adolf Hitler or Abraham Lincoln then?

As pointed out by others, looks could be a part of charisma, but it's not a necessary component of it. Also, how would you rate someone who is very attractive (as rated by a majority of society for example) but who has no force of character or will, or who comes across as conceited, arrogant, etc? Since beauty is so subjective, how would you rate it? What might be beautiful to one culture may be ugly or hideous to another, so you may need to apply some kind of complicated matrix to ascertain how some other culture may perceive the character.

Back in 1e days, Unearthed Arcana had a Comeliness attribute. That didn't seem to pan out all that well, so it was not maintained.
 

As many people point out contrarian examples, if beauty is added as ONE of the descriptions for charisma, examples of normal people being persuasive can still exist. It is a skill after. One can have a low charisma, and still be persuasive. They can still be intimidating. There are backgrounds, specializations, and feats for such things.

And again, to reiterate, it could be one of the characteristics. Not the characteristic, but one. Because, in the end, beauty is an important part of social interaction. To have all these species that follow all sorts of cultural norms that we follow, but exclude this one, seems silly.

And I will say this: I can be biased as the groups I have played with for twenty years have all been able to be good players, good DMs, intelligent, reasonable, and mature. So maybe that is skewing my thinking.
 


It should be part of charisma, but it won't be. It's unpopular to acknowledge how much physical appearance impacts our reaction to others. Even if it were, it would only be one aspect of it, because appearance only goes so far (not to mention with different creatures having different versions of beauty).
 


MGibster

Legend
And was completely sexist and widely considered one of the low moments in the game. What folks want to do at their table is up to them, but there is zero chance of WotC opening that particular can of worms again. Besides, they have their hands full at the moment, as far as controversy goes.
I remember discussing with my friends that the women on the cover of the Rifts core rulebook only had a physical beauty of 14. All three of them look like super models in a one piece bathing suit and we were thinking, "If tha's a 14, what's an 18?" I know others have mentioned it, but beauty is subjective. There was a video I saw of a Korean woman on Youtube telling us that in her country she was fat, her lips were too big, and she wasn't considered all that attractive, but holy cow, she was beatiful. What would beauty mean for an orc, elf, or halfling let alone other human nations? From what I can recall, there are only three standards of beauty that are near universal: Youth, clear skin, symmetrical features.

And of course Charisma is meant to represent force of personality. I've known plenty of people who were easy on the eyes but didn't have much of a personality to speak of. No, like payn, I want my ugly pirate with a wicked scar across his face to exude personality.
 


No. I want my scar faced pirate captain that looks fugly, but has a commanding presence over his crew. I want a very attractive PC who just happens to not be very confident and is often lost in the crowd.

You have a hard time wrapping your head around the beauty part because its not actually the beauty. ITs the person using their charisma to accentuate it.
We often give descriptions of our characters (now we use art from web searches on Roll20) AND our Charisma score...

Charisma isn't beuity. It is however your ability to be noticed. SO an ugly Cha 18 makes a different first impression then an ugly Cha 8. even at just passing by.

The best example I have ever heard of is Marylin Monroe...I don't even know if it was true. But the story says she was walking with a manager or agent down the road in NYC. Nobody was coming up to her and she wasn't really in disguise... he mentioned this and she laughed and ask if he wanted to see 'her' then no make up no out fit change she just stood up and smiled (she may have taken off a hat) and all of a sudden they were being swarmed.

How hot you are is as much a mental trick as a physical one.
 


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