Thursday, October 3, 2013

Saving Charisma from being the Dump Stat in OSR-style Games

Last night I was browsing through my 2nd Ed. AD&D PHB and came across a fix I forgot I'd made for Charisma. It was pasted over a ghastly full-page illustration on page 18 that has driven many to the brink of insanity. I'm hardly alone in thinking that CHA got the shaft in early iterations of the game, and I imagine that lots of DMs had handcrafted fixes for it, because, well, we were encouraged to tinker with the rules back then.

1. Extra Proficiency Slots
Characters with high CHA scores receive additional initial non-weapon proficiency slots, which may only be spent on proficiencies that would be helped by having a high CHA:

CHA 13 = 1 extra slot
CHA 14 = 2 extra slots
CHA 15 = 3 extra slots
CHA 16 = 4 extra slots
CHA 17 = 5 extra slots
CHA 18 = 6 extra slots

Allowed Proficiencies:
General: Animal Training, Artistic Ability, Dancing, Etiquette, Heraldry, Singing
Priest: Local History
Rogue: Disguise
Warrior: Gaming

Characters with low CHA scores buy the above proficiencies at a higher rate:
CHA 3 = 5 slots
CHA 4 = 4 slots
CHA 5 = 3 slots
CHA 6 = 2 slots

2. Earn Followers Early
Characters with a high CHA score get their followers at lower levels of experience than other characters, while characters with low CHA must wait longer

(There follows a complex table which I won't reproduce). You could probably do it this way:

CHA 3 = get followers 3 levels late
CHA 4 = get followers 2 levels late
CHA 5 - get followers 1 level late
CHA 16 = get followers 1 level early
CHA 17 = get followers 2 levels early
CHA 18 = get followers 3 levels early

I remember that it made having a low CHA somewhat more annoying and gave you at least some incentive to make CHA a high stat. I should say we used Method V for character generation at the time (4d6, dump low die, arrange stats in desired order).

Hope you find it useful. 


  1. I no longer own a 2e AD&D PH: what is the "ghastly illustration on page 18"? I recall 1 or two I didn't like in most of the books. I know lots of people deliberately have a lower charisma because they want higher stats in other things; I actually enjoy one of my characters having a low score, as I play her as abrasive and somewhat rude and always curt; but she saves the party repeatedly by keeping cool in any situation and even spooking some of the encounters with things she says and does. She has a familiar and one githyanki guy who'll do anything for her--but otherwise no followers. Wouldn't want them, likely.

  2. In Adventures Dark and Deep, having a higher Charisma allows you to sell treasure for a higher percentage of the true value. The thought being that if you're more persuasive, you can talk the buyer into a better price.

  3. To piggyback off of Joseph's post, I always had low charisma characters (parties especially) receive fewer monetary reward. They get the job done but nobody likes paying a jerk.

    I also gave characters with Higher Charisma built in social contacts in nearby cities from where they start or their background.

  4. I think there are so many 'fixes' for CHA out there because it is so important in real life. I always felt it was undervalued in game, and might have more than a little to do with D&D's wargaming roots. Here is my fix: