D&D General The Charisma Conundrum

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While I'm inclined to chime in with pretty much all of the other responses, maybe there's a little caveat to be found here ...

While I am very opposed to the notion that the GM should judge "good roleplay", I do enjoy players coming up with fun bits of roleplaying - not necessarily great, rousing speaches, just all those small and big moments when someone came up with something funny or memorable. Normally, I think, there's no need to incentivize this, people will do it anyway. Still, I don't like the idea of "just skipping to the roll." Also, I suspect that someone who wants to play the Face of the group probably actually wants to find opportunities to shine not only by rolling dice, but also by coming up with something cool and memorable once in a while.

However, there is a lot of ways to achieve that without the GM applying some arbitraty standards of "Good Roleplaying".

The most obvious solution has already been mentioned: the player just states what they want to achieve and how, in broad terms, they're going about it. That in itself can create memorable moments if the GM and the rest of the group chime in with ideas of how exactly that went down: ("Have you seen his smug face when our bard buttered him up? Priceless!")

Also, Charisma is basically telling you how likely you are to achieve what you want, socially. You modus operandi for that could be all kinds of things. Yes, it could be holding rousing speeches or being really good at fast-talking people. But you could also be the inspector Columbo type, who acts all stammering and clueless, so that others will do exactly what you want out of arrogance - just to prove to you how easy it is to them. You could just have that irresistible smile that melts people's heart. If the GM works with the player, I'm sure they'll be able to come up with something that fits their role-playing style and is fun for everyone.

Having some pre-conceived notion of how a player should depict their charismatic character certainly is not the way (which is also a more general truth about GMing: If you have some preconceived notion of how your players should do something and regard all other courses of action as wrong ... well, you'll probably run out of players pretty fast).
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I don't require players to tell me how they swing their sword, how they cast their spells, or how they pick a lock. I'm perfectly happy with someone saying "I want to intimidate the guard and get them to let us pass".


If the player is uncharismatic due to speaking nervously, stumbling words, or anything like that, I ignore that and rule purely on the intent I perceive behind it. So no penalty. He's also free to narrate what he's doing rather than speaking in-character ("I mention to the blacksmith we saved his daughter, hoping that will convince him to tell us more about the mayor's corruption scheme", for example). If he's insulting or mistreating the NPC, I will take that into account when determining the NPC's response.


If he's insulting or mistreating the NPC, I will take that into account when determining the NPC's response.

Even here, I will generally ask a player what they are trying to accomplish and will go with that more.

One of my partners at work, has a style with clients that I'm 100% sure would get me punched in the face. He directly insults them, questions their life choices, all sorts of stuff I could never see myself doing. But by the end of the consultation, they're generally laughing and signing retention documents. Somehow, it just works for him.

That's how I see charisma. Regardless of how, are the targets doing what you want then to do? If the answer is usually yes, that's a high charisma.


I can handwave INT/WIS more where there are 4 players vs. 1 DM in coming up with solutions. I can picture that the 20 INT wizard comes up with the idea, even though the 8 INT fighter's player thought of it.
I really like that kind of "gift economy" of role-playing. If you come up with something that seems to be a better fit for another character, just offer it to them!

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