[CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

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Supplement Four
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[CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:51 am

There's an aspect of the game I don't think the rules handle quite well. I'm rolling up a bad-guy NPC tonight. I like to do that because, as I roll, I discover who the character "is". I make assumptions about him given the dice throws. And, this helps me make the NPC unique when he interacts with the PCs. It helps make the character memorable and not just a faceless mook to get slaughtered.

So, tonight's bad guy is a 1st level Hyperborean Soldier. On NPCs, I roll 3d6, then arrange to taste (on elites, I roll 4d6, drop lowest, as I do with the PCs). I didn't roll to bad for this guy: 17, 12, 15, 9, 12, 7.

I threw the "7" into CHR. Hyperboreans have a racial -2 to that stat, so the NPC gets CHR 5.

This started me to thinking....very low CHR. I'm going to give him a visual penalty. This guy's got a scar running down his face and cheek, through his hair. This was probably due to the boy getting sliced in the head a while back. He survived, but not without this horrible, massive scar that disfigures his face so bad that he looks like Frankenstein or the bad side of Two Face.

When I started giving the character skills, I came to Intimidate. His low CHR really hinders him with the skill. I know CHR is not about the way a character looks but rather his strength of personality. But, the way a person looks does have some impact on it.

If you just saw an opponent like that, though, wouldn't it tend to scare the heck out of you? Shouldn't this strengthen his Intimidate instead of lower it?

I can understand Diplomacy and Bluff, Disguise and Gather Information being negatively affected by this....but shouldn't it strengthen Intimidate?

I guess the CHR score means he can't sell it, right? He comes across as weak? A push over?

If that's the case, then how would you work this if the character had the visual impediment and a high CHR score?

Maybe, the best way to take care of this is to use a circumstancial modifier for the scar?
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:02 am

Here's the heart of the question: How would you represent, stat-wise, someone who is repulisive and very strong at Intimidation?

You've got someone with body odor, green teeth, and a Z-Z Top beard. His skin is like sun dried leather, and you have to Save or Die when he breathes on you.

On top of this, he's got a grim attitude, thinks the world is out to get him, and couldn't carry on a decent dialogue with someone if his life depended on it.

What I've just described is someone with a low CHR score, yes? He has no personal magnetism. He pushes people away with what he says, how he acts, and how he looks.

But....shouldn't this person also be good at Intimidation? All those things I just listed that should indicate a low CHR should work for the character when he tries to Intimidate others. Don't ya think?

This is the "disconnect" I'm talking about in the Thread Subjectline.

I mean, you wouldn't give this guy a high CHR, would you? But, if he had a high CHR, he'd be good at Intimidate and unrealistically good at influincing others.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Spectator » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:40 am

Great point, maybe if the NPCs strength is high enough and he's one of those jerk Hyperboreans witchmen (who hide their ugliness behind a platinum mask), then CHR should have close to minimal or no effect. Maybe a high CHR should not give an intimidate bonus (leave the lovey-dovey-skills like Diplomacy unaffected).

After all intimidation is a function of getting hurt in the future, and Strength would have a better effect on that more than good looks/ force of personality.

I kinda like the ugliness factor being a bonus.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:04 am

I guess it depends on how you look at CHR. If you think about it, anybody with a forceful personality has a high CHR. Push-overs, the meek, the sheep have low CHR scores.

So, how much does "being pleasant" and "being attractive" and "being gregarious and well liked" play into CHR?

Thulsa Doom should have a high CHR score. He's surely not the life of the party. Thugra Khotan/Natohk, too, should have a high CHR score. Again, not the bestus-buddy type.

Those aren't your traditional "paladin" types.

Isn't it strange that a grinning, charismatic rogue type--the traditional outlaw with a heart of gold--will have a high CHR score, right next to a vile, raised-from-the-dead sorceror?
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Mach5RR » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:30 am

Have you considered using the alternate rules from Shadizar (Bk II, p. 16)? Roughly, it expands on the concept of intimidation, allowing you to use alternate stats to enhance it. STR-based is considered a bully, and an INT-based relies off of describing terrorizing situations.

Push-overs, the meek, and the sheep don't have low CHA. They have low WIS (inability to resist).

Low CHA means you are bland, oafish, or have no social skills.

Not every scar makes you look like a badass. That guy with the lopped off nose, in the movie, created disgust more than he did fear. Imagine your Hyperborean receiving a scar that makes him look like he's puckering his lips all the time, becoming more a figure of amusement.

If it helps, think of CHA as that confidence in yourself to rock both your perks and flaws to their full extent. Good teeth? Then you know how to do a winning smile. Wicked scar? You know how to play it up to strike fear/awe.

Low CHA means a poorer sense of self, seeing his flaws and feeling ashamed, trying to hide them.
Remember those people you initially thought were unattractive, yet quickly proved themselves charming and the life of the party. And try to remember those beautiful people you met who quickly faded into the background as they had nothing else to bring.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:49 pm

Mach5RR wrote:Have you considered using the alternate rules from Shadizar (Bk II, p. 16)?
I have. I don't like that alternate rule. There's a similar version of the rule, somewhat expanded, in the Fiercest book, too.

My point is--take the dude in this pic:



Image



Intimidating sight, right? If you saw this guy in the woods, just standing there, you'd probably be slightly intimidated.

And, if this character has a high CHR and/or many ranks in Intimidate, that's fine.

But, what if the character doesn't have a high CHR? What if he doesn't have any ranks in Intimidate? He still looks that way. He's still intimidating, just standing there.

Thus, there's a disconnect in the rules.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Kev » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:41 pm

How about, in the specific case of the Intimidate skill, using the Charisma modifier as an absolute value?

Whether the actual value is negative or positive, treat it as a positive modifier to Intimidate.

Your Charisma 10 or 11 characters get no bonus to Intimidate or, of course, any other Charisma-based skill. They just don't stand out, one way or the other.

Those with low Charisma scores will still have their normal penalties to Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information but will have a bonus to Intimidate.

Those with high Charisma scores will, obviously, be good at all Charisma-based skills, as it should be.

Just food for thought.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Cheomesh » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:16 am

Difference between the levels of the two involved parties is also another way to do it as well. Or just a flat bonus equal to your level. Did both of those in my 3.5 days.

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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Spectator » Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:22 am

Its a toughy!
CHR is a good indicator of potential power! My powerful allies...
STR is a good indicator of present ass-kicking, I will kick your ass!

although I am not sure INT should be given a bonus. Urkel (an American TV nerd character was very smart) but I don't see him intimidating anyone.
Dont allow smartypants to gain a bonus!
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Mach5RR » Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:15 am

Supplement Four wrote:
Mach5RR wrote:Have you considered using the alternate rules from Shadizar (Bk II, p. 16)?
I have. I don't like that alternate rule. There's a similar version of the rule, somewhat expanded, in the Fiercest book, too.

My point is--take the dude in this pic:



Image



Intimidating sight, right? If you saw this guy in the woods, just standing there, you'd probably be slightly intimidated.

And, if this character has a high CHR and/or many ranks in Intimidate, that's fine.

But, what if the character doesn't have a high CHR? What if he doesn't have any ranks in Intimidate? He still looks that way. He's still intimidating, just standing there.

Thus, there's a disconnect in the rules.
And my argument is that a person with low charisma and no intimidation won't look like that - even if he's wearing the same outfit.

Imagine rolling up on your barbarian, standing out there wearing that. Slightly intimidating at first glance, but then you realize the outfit is oversized, and loose. His helmet cocked back at a stupid angle because he thought it was uncomfortable as designed to be worn. He's scratching himself in inappropriate places because he didn't think taking care of fleas was important. He's scraping bear crap off the bottom of his foot as he didn't care to watch were he was going. HE"S HUMMING THE EQUIVALENT OF VANIRIAN SHOWTUNES.

And as he sees you, he lets out his intimidating threat - except his voice cracks making you realize he's barely a bearded boy of 16. He follows through with making a threat to you in Cimmerian about skull****** you to death - except he doesn't know Cimmerian very well yet, and it comes out as him wanting to romance your village goat til the day he dies.

What I'm saying is, it doesn't matter what he's wearing, a person with a low CHA and no intimidation will probably not be able to sell it (unless he rolls really high, which means he lucked into holding together his image). Otherwise, he's just going to do/say something that ruins the effect he's going for.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Supplement Four » Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:44 pm

Mach5RR wrote:And my argument is that a person with low charisma and no intimidation won't look like that - even if he's wearing the same outfit.
I find that hard to swallow. You could take a Commoner--a big farm kid. with low CHR and no ranks in Intimidate. Throw that garb on him, and then just have him stand there in the woods, not saying anything. Not moving. He just stands there and looks at you, holding his club.

It's quite intimidating even though there is no CHR or Intimidate to make up the character.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Cheomesh » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:04 am

Get up and the like is, I think, a circumstance bonus to intimidate checks.

I once had a run-in with a beefcake - those orange types with the spiky hair. His attempts at intimidation were rather fail due to his sheer lack of ability to really emote them. He was muscular alright, with some tattoos and a neck scar but he just couldn't pull it off. Hard to explain, but his attempts at "marking territory" actually relieved me a bit.

M.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:41 am

Cheomesh wrote:Get up and the like is, I think, a circumstance bonus to intimidate checks.

I once had a run-in with a beefcake - those orange types with the spiky hair. His attempts at intimidation were rather fail due to his sheer lack of ability to really emote them. He was muscular alright, with some tattoos and a neck scar but he just couldn't pull it off. Hard to explain, but his attempts at "marking territory" actually relieved me a bit.

M.
I understand what you're saying. You're talking about "selling" it. That, basically, is what CHR is...a character's ability to "sell it".

And, you're probably right about the equipment and outfit being a circumstance bonus to Intimidate. I think even the Barbaric Warrior has something on that when discussing Woad.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Mach5RR » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:57 am

Supplement Four wrote: I understand what you're saying. You're talking about "selling" it. That, basically, is what CHR is...a character's ability to "sell it".

And, you're probably right about the equipment and outfit being a circumstance bonus to Intimidate. I think even the Barbaric Warrior has something on that when discussing Woad.
You asked if I would be intimidated by the guy in the picture. I'm an out of shape guy who'd be intimidated by a man in a dark alley with a knife, let alone a man in a bearskin rug with a big-ass club. But everybody's playing someone heroic. The character seeing this could be wearing an Aquilonian soldier, wearing finely crafted breastplate, a helm in a skull motif, carrying a perfectly balanced broadsword forged by the master himself - and he's supposed to be scared of some backwards, uncivilized dirt dweller carrying a stick?
So clothes/outfits can be kind of a wash. And if it gets back that even farmers wear that, it kind of loses its intimidation factor (like all those foreign generallisimos you see on the news wearing tons of awards that mean nothing).
But even if someone spots your low CHA no intimidation barbarian, dressed by someone else who has the know-how to be intimidating, who has been told not to move as not to spoil the effect? Then what good is he at the intimidation skill? He has to interact with whoever he is attempting to intimidate to try to gather information - and once he starts asking those questions, his personality (or lack thereof) is going to start to shine through. Same thing in combat, as he actually has to be in a threatening square to use the demoralize opponent portion of intimidation. You may get away with not speaking the same language on this one, but it still comes down to body language. That intense stare, the way you carry yourself that says "You're going to be in an intense amount of pain for the brief time you have left". Body language that a person with low CHA and no intimidation can't really replicate as he doesn't know how (if he did, then he would have points in intimidation).

So, what good is someone dressed like that for intimidation. Aid other. Someone else, with better intimidation asks the questions, and our bearskin rug adorned lunatic looks on threateningly, smacking his club in the ground. Others can chime in, sharpening their weapons menacingly. You get the picture.

But lets go back to the soldier you initially created. A Hyperborean takes a -2 CHA loss, meaning a -1 penalty on all CHA rolls. But they gain a +2 racial bonus to all intimidation checks, putting them at a +1 overall. You chose to use CHA as his dump stat, giving him less than average CHA for even a Hyperborean. Think of what his stats mean for him, as his WIS is average or better. This is a man who knows himself, not as a scary man, but one who relies off of his powerful blows (I'm assuming high STR) and hearty CON (+2 for being Hyperborean should render it good) to see him through his future escapades. He'll never be a real leader of men, but his competence in taking lives will give him the reputation of someone not to be trifled with. And while he may not be scary now (only 1st level), he can learn to be if he sets his mind to it.
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Re: [CONAN] A disconnect with CHR?

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:13 pm

Mach5RR wrote:But lets go back to the soldier you initially created. A Hyperborean takes a -2 CHA loss, meaning a -1 penalty on all CHA rolls. But they gain a +2 racial bonus to all intimidation checks, putting them at a +1 overall. You chose to use CHA as his dump stat, giving him less than average CHA for even a Hyperborean. Think of what his stats mean for him, as his WIS is average or better. This is a man who knows himself, not as a scary man, but one who relies off of his powerful blows (I'm assuming high STR) and hearty CON (+2 for being Hyperborean should render it good) to see him through his future escapades. He'll never be a real leader of men, but his competence in taking lives will give him the reputation of someone not to be trifled with. And while he may not be scary now (only 1st level), he can learn to be if he sets his mind to it.
Nice take on him.

(Another reason why I like rolling dice for my NPC's.)

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