How to punish characters with low Charisma


Advice

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I'm starting a game with my friends this Thursday and two of them are starting with vertu low rolled charisma, the lowest being 5. If it was intelligence, they would be 3 points away from not being able to speak!

So I feel like prices will be higher for them off course and randomly fights will stay because they looked at someone wrong but I'm wondering if any of you have good ideas how to punish these people.

Thank you


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Send them on a mission of diplomacy.

Sovereign Court

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Why must they be punished?


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Don't.

Key word here is friends. You don't punish friends. They aren't pets or your children.

This is a game you're playing with your friends and one of the most common reasons in situations like this they don't stick around much longer is because people feel the need to "punish." And if you're wondering did I mean the friends or the game in the previous sentence?

Yes.


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You said they rolled those stats, so why would you punish them for it? What else are they supposed to put their 5 into?

The Exchange

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They chose "lack of presence" as their low stat, so don't feel that you have to make things easy for them. I agree, though, that 'punish' is the wrong attitude to bring to the table.

Their world should be full of people who doubt them, shun them and dislike them. 'Prove your worth' should probably be a fairly common campaign theme. (Old issues of X-Men can be a gold mine of ideas for this.) Try to arrange it so that they're usually in the dungeon or wilderness, where their good stats can come into play; they won't have much fun in an urban situation where they're the usual suspects when anything goes wrong.


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...
Your game has rolled stats and two players put their lowest stat, which they're forced to keep and in no way can improve during character creation, in Charisma? A stat that they've determined to be able to take the hit without affecting their character concept/build? :/

I don't really see the issue with what they're doing within your specifications of your game to draw in-game ire to begin with.

But to address your topic, giving them random fights would just be rewarding them with potential XP and probably fun encounters for them since they probably built for combat. Or gives more social characters in party an opportunity to shine to calm randomly-grumpy NPC down.

Prices shouldn't be higher for them. That's rather arbitrarily silly/petty and they can just get party member to help buy them stuff.

But yea, more social encounters. Though if they pick up traits or feats to use something other than Charisma modifier for social skills, good for them.

The Exchange

Protoman wrote:
...Though if they pick up traits or feats to use something other than Charisma modifier for social skills, good for them.

Yeah, I never thought I'd type these words, but Intimidating Prowess might not be a bad feat choice. ;)


Some players don't want to play social characters. Maybe they just wanna go dungeon crashing. That's my group for the most part.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

kill them


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If you run a game in which CHA isn't useful, and if the players then make low-CHA characters... you made your bed and should lie in it.

If you run a game which has some CHA use in it, and the players make low-CHA characters... they'll see the folly of their choice.

There's no need to push punishment on them. Consequences have a way of working that out as it is.


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Haha. I love the suggestions! I probably won't kill unless they do it to themselves . I say punish but that's probably because I'm in the middle of reading the dresden files. Jim Butcher just punishes dresden. A more accurate way to say it is how can I use this low charisma in funny or creative ways to help grow their bond with their character.


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Don't. There's no point in heaping additional penalties onto people with house rules. Their Charisma already has important effects in game, you don't need to come up with more just to be a jerk to your friends.

The obvious penalties for a low Cha are:

- A small amount of Cha damage can push you into unconsciousness.
- You're bad at Cha based skills. This is more important than it might seem. For example, things like asking a stranger on the street for directions falls under Diplomacy, and lying is only rarely useful if there are people in the party unable to uphold the lie.
- You're especially vulnerable to Charm and Dominate effects, due to penalties to opposed Charisma checks.


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I suggest you let someone else DM the campaign instead.


Yeah I'm newer to being a gm if you couldn't tell. This will be my 5th session ever. I didn'tthink about the charm and dominate, that's really interesting considering the 3rd player in this group is going for precisely those things.

I might have random npcs throw copper at him because he is clearly homeless (in their minds) I think besides the charisma rolled things, I will just make him never truly understood. He just won't have a way with words.


Charisma is actually very badly defined and doesn't necessarily make them ugly.

See how their skills come out. What if cha 5 guy also maxed diplomacy and has a positive value on rolls at level one?


That really is my problem. It's not defined as well as other abilities. I already decided it couldn't make them ugly but as much as I figure, people won't understand them. Not like they are incoherent but they won't understand their tone or motivation.


In terms of that.

What's the functional difference between a Charisma 5 character with 3 ranks in diplo/bluff/intimidate and a charisma 10 character with no ranks in said skils?

There are two player groups I know of in terms of how they consider stats/skills and how they make up a character.

Group one: Your Base stats are how the world sees you and how they respond to you.
ex: Low charisma- ugly, or low presence.

Group two: Your base stats are simply your aptitude for learning and the way the world sees you and responds to you is based on your skills (which are helped or hindered by your aptitude)
ex: low charisma: Is not as good at talking to people as he could be, but by perseverance and working on his faults he can become good at it.

I subscribe to group 2 because Pathfinder relies on stats heavily for combat purposes and it's my belief that the stats used for combat and for out of combat should draw from separate pools. With Method one someone who is a physical beast cannot ever be someone capable of speaking well, leading others, or coming up with ideas.


Whip them and grab the branding iron and push "I will not dump charisma" into their flank. That'll send the message you want. Also, spit on them, both irl and character, for being ugly jerks! In character, make god hate them so much that they get struck by lightning bolts from the sky and rocks rain on their camp every night only to be raised to do it again!

Or better yet, just don't, because you shouldn't be punishing people.

Purplefunk wrote:
A more accurate way to say it is how can I use this low charisma in funny or creative ways to help grow their bond with their character.

That's slightly better... but to be honest just let it roll out. You can have a low charisma character with great social skills and good looks. You just aren't as great as someone with fantastic charisma. Its also big on whether that's the kind of game they actually want to play, and you can be pretty rough on them and make them not want to play by taking it out on them and reminding them.


I'd ask them to think about what the character's charisma represents in that particular character.

For example, is the character just brutally honest, completely lacking in tact, knowingly or not?

Is the character really slovenly, unkept and ill mannered- farting after meals, chewing with their mouth open, leaving food stuck in his beard?

Is the character vulgar and rude?

Is the character incredibly shy and meek when the center of attention? Fumbling to say anything let alone the right thing?

The numbers should tell part of the story of the persona. Emphasize with the players that they should use their stats to help shape the character's persona.

Use examples from popular fiction and TV to help them think about what makes one character so magnetic and another loathsome. Then, just let the story evolve from the dynamic play out. What happens when the brutally honest character tells the duke he sucks at playing the mandolin? Or the vulgar character disrupts a sacred ceremony? The start of campaign or story could begin with characters being forced to complete a quest etc. Because their low charismas got them in trouble, and said duke spared them incarceration in exchange for a service.

Use the charisma scores to contribute to the story.


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A caharacter with very low cha scores but high diplomancy skill....im reminded of a shakespearian play with a fellow with an enormous nose but could sweet talk the pants off ladies.


You're a new DM; are they also new players? Regardless, I suggest allowing them to either reroll the low stats or simply raise them to something closer to the norm (for eg. 9). I'm all for having the world react to people as it should do, but you're making more work for yourself - and them - if you do.


Charisma = Confidence

High Charisma means they are confident and Low Charisma means they lack confidence. That's all there is to it. So, basically, you want to punish them for having characters that are a bit lacking in Self Esteem. I guess the best punishment you could put them through is to play a game with you as DM.


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Somebody with overweening pride (hubris) doesn't lack in confidence. But that individual can lack in charisma.

Also, the original poster misspoke about "punishment", people need to give him a break with the jabs and sarcastic comments. New DMs learn from others and from experience. It is unproductive and unnecessary to stomp on him.


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There is absolutely no reason to punish them, or anything resembling it. There are many ways to look at ability scores, and if you ask me they should not actually be regarded as very important. They certainly should not dictate everything about how a given character looks, acts, etc. A few alternative ways to look at the situation:

#1: Ability scores do not actually tell you anything about the character. What they do is signal you as a GM regarding what aspects of the character the player in question feels are important, or wants to explore. Low Charisma does not necessarily mean "this character is ugly/unlikeable/unfriendly." It means, instead, "this character may or may not be friendly or attractive, but regardless the player is not very interested in exploring or highlighting his/her social exploits."

#2: Ability scores give relatively minor incremental bonuses or penalties to certain endeavors, full stop. There is no need to "interpret" what they mean. The game system does this for you. A character with a 5 Charisma has a -3 penalty when making Diplomacy checks, and therefore is likely to fail them, which will have the result of people not being especially nice to him. On the other hand, if he maxes out his Diplomacy (and other social skill) ranks and takes Skill Focus: Diplomacy, etc, then people will probably tend to treat him very well despite his low Charisma. Such a player may call such a character "charismatic" and be correct regardless of his Charisma score. The system will bear out his assertion.

#3: If you absolutely must assign some "meaning" to the abilities, then think of them merely as rough indicators of potential rather than of actual capability. They indicate, you might say, nature instead of nurture. The character is, in the end, whatever he has made himself into. Plenty of ugly ducklings have become rockstars and plenty of wimps have turned into jocks, etc.


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Insain Dragoon wrote:

In terms of that.

What's the functional difference between a Charisma 5 character with 3 ranks in diplo/bluff/intimidate and a charisma 10 character with no ranks in said skils?

There are two player groups I know of in terms of how they consider stats/skills and how they make up a character.

Group one: Your Base stats are how the world sees you and how they respond to you.
ex: Low charisma- ugly, or low presence.

Group two: Your base stats are simply your aptitude for learning and the way the world sees you and responds to you is based on your skills (which are helped or hindered by your aptitude)
ex: low charisma: Is not as good at talking to people as he could be, but by perseverance and working on his faults he can become good at it.

I subscribe to group 2 because Pathfinder relies on stats heavily for combat purposes and it's my belief that the stats used for combat and for out of combat should draw from separate pools. With Method one someone who is a physical beast cannot ever be someone capable of speaking well, leading others, or coming up with ideas.

I can see where you're coming from. How does it work when stats are used for things other than skill rolls? Charisma, for example, in addition to a bunch of class abilities, is used to make opposed Charisma checks to resist or reinforce domination effects. Strength determines carrying capacity and the ability to use brute force to break objects. Intelligence is used to resist "brain drain" when using contact other plane. Some things really do depend on the base statistic.

I prefer "group one" because I do not think a character should be good at everything. In any system, a player can pour all of their potential into one thing and then complain when their character cannot function in other situations. Pathfinder just makes it deceptively attractive by making characters who do so unstoppable murder machines--until they have to do something they aren't built for.

Edit:

Back on topic, +1 to the "don't punish them" clause. Just play it out. They lack presence, and when they are noticed their ability to assert their will on the world will largely be limited to their actions rather than their words. Ugliness and random fights and the like really aren't what Charisma is all about in Pathfinder.

Though I do like the whole "here's a silver piece, Mr. Hobo, hope there are better times ahead for you" angle! Another one along that line: Though the party consists of accomplished heroes who have saved the city numerous times, the heroes still have to shout and wave their arms to get the barkeep's attention, and nobody ever recognizes them as heroes nor believes them when informed.

I do not agree that ability scores have no in-game effect whatsoever as some seem to suggest. But a low-Strength character doesn't have to be a shrimp, a low-Dexterity character doesn't have to be overtly clumsy, and a low-Charisma character doesn't have to have a social disorder.

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Redneckdevil wrote:
A caharacter with very low cha scores but high diplomancy skill....im reminded of a shakespearian play with a fellow with an enormous nose but could sweet talk the pants off ladies.

Cyrano? He's a real historical person and not from Shakespeare at all. The novel about him was by Rostand.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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I'd advise against making up rules to hose low CHA characters. The game itself has a mechanic for it, -3 CHA modifier.


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blahpers wrote:
Insain Dragoon wrote:

In terms of that.

What's the functional difference between a Charisma 5 character with 3 ranks in diplo/bluff/intimidate and a charisma 10 character with no ranks in said skils?

There are two player groups I know of in terms of how they consider stats/skills and how they make up a character.

Group one: Your Base stats are how the world sees you and how they respond to you.
ex: Low charisma- ugly, or low presence.

Group two: Your base stats are simply your aptitude for learning and the way the world sees you and responds to you is based on your skills (which are helped or hindered by your aptitude)
ex: low charisma: Is not as good at talking to people as he could be, but by perseverance and working on his faults he can become good at it...

I can see where you're coming from. How does it work when stats are used for things other than skill rolls? Charisma, for example, in addition to a bunch of class abilities, is used to make opposed Charisma checks to resist or reinforce domination effects. Strength determines carrying capacity and the ability to use brute force to break objects. Intelligence is used to resist "brain drain" when using contact other plane. Some things really do depend on the base statistic.

I prefer "group one" because I do not think a character should be good at everything...

I absolutely prefer group two, for one reason in particular: I believe players should have as much freedom and control as possible over bringing their concept for a character to life. The ability score system simply makes this impossible, in many cases, by tying scores to classes in the way they do. If a GM is bound and determined to enforce the idea that, for instance, "you must have a high Charisma score in order to be physically attractive," then you are screwed if you want to play, for instance, an attractive fighter (like, say, Kitiara from the Dragonlance novels). The price you pay in terms of effectiveness is simply too high if you must spend 5 ability buy points earning a 14 Cha (or whatever) when you could have gained 3 points by dumping the stat to 7. That's a net cost of 8 ability buy points, which is a huge chunk of your total. And for what? Just so you can describe your character as attractive? And get a paltry +2 to a few skill checks for things that aren't the focus of your build? It's madness.

As far as your objection (that characters shouldn't be good at everything), I would agree with it if I thought it was actually an issue. The practice of not interpreting ability scores doesn't actually make anyone better at anything. It just keeps GMs from adding some extra, totally arbitrary interpretive layer to the roleplay based on some numbers that are completely ill defined from an objective standpoint. And that is as it should be.

EDIT: And yes, you're correct that some things depend on the raw score. But the number of cases where this comes up is small enough that it can be ignored for the greater good. It's only a big issue if you force it to be. Not to mention that you already get stupid situations where the stupid Int 7 Barbarian rolls a 20 on his Int check and solves the puzzle before the genius Int 22 Wizard, who rolled a 10. Honestly, it's best just not to think about it.


First of all, don't worry about the trolls. Trolls gunna troll.

Second of all, thank everyone for taking time to help me out. You are kind people.

I really needed this. I know what strength does in the game, I knew what intelligence does, charisma ended up confusing me.

Looking at all these view points, I think the one that sticks out the most is just let it play out. The third player is a sorceress with 15 charisma so it's not like I can set them up for for something that she could defuse.

All the topics brought up have made me realize what aspect charisma can have in the non combat world.


Oh, one thing I wanted to add was that I pretty much begged them to reroll it but they wanted to stick with it. One is playing a lawful neutral monk and the other is a druid based on the lotr bjorn. They picked the low stat for roleplay effect and I wanted to make sure it had such effect.

Webstore Gninja Minion

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Changed thread title so players = characters. Also, please be nice to each other folks. Everybody was a beginner GM at one point.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Make sure to include Cha-based checks in your game, and the dice will do more punishment than you ever could.

Lincoln Hills wrote:
Yeah, I never thought I'd type these words, but Intimidating Prowess might not be a bad feat choice. ;)

It has helped my Storm Druid in Skull and Shackles be one of the scariest PCs in the party. :)


Purplefunk wrote:

I'm starting a game with my friends this Thursday and two of them are starting with vertu low rolled charisma, the lowest being 5. If it was intelligence, they would be 3 points away from not being able to speak!

So I feel like prices will be higher for them off course and randomly fights will stay because they looked at someone wrong but I'm wondering if any of you have good ideas how to punish these people.

I like to force my players with low CHA to fight it out in The Pit. But I wouldn't change anything in the game to punish their characters.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

+1, group 2
people can't talk when their int goes below 3.


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A five charisma means -3 to skill checks. The other side of that is a 17 Charisma is +3 to skills. They are not freaks with 5. Let them play their characters. Please.


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I love low charisma characters. They can be fun. Unlike many, I do not like low charisma characters whose players pretend they are average charisma characters. We all occasionally suffer from Illusory Superiority and we tend to pass this onto our characters.

Roleplaying difficulties caused by in-game negative social interaction is NOT punishment. It can be an interesting RP opportunity.


Redneckdevil wrote:
A caharacter with very low cha scores but high diplomancy skill....im reminded of a shakespearian play with a fellow with an enormous nose but could sweet talk the pants off ladies.

Cyrano de Bergerac was a real person, lived in France in the early 1600s.

The story you have in mind was a play based on his life, written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand.


Purplefunk wrote:
Oh, one thing I wanted to add was that I pretty much begged them to reroll it but they wanted to stick with it. One is playing a lawful neutral monk and the other is a druid based on the lotr bjorn. They picked the low stat for roleplay effect and I wanted to make sure it had such effect.

If they wanted to role play, talk to them about what they have in mind. What kind of reactions are they expecting? What kind of problems do they think it would cause them?

Several people posted some good suggestions for different ways to role play low charisma. Ask your players what they want to do with it.


Physical look is the domain of str, dex and con as well as player choice of desciption. Good sense of fashion fall more into cha. So is sense of self, reckless roleplay in social situation is good whit cha pin. *Pointing out janitor Willy from the Simpsons*

From your OP, roleplay npc first impression on those pc as outcast and not as an outrage to humanoids lifeform ( they are not aberration). Have the group be seen as associate and of the same kind as those low cha machine, so the high cha social bard can shine as it turn the situation around.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Just dont let dropping a stat below 10 add points to their pool. There is no need to "punish" the players. This is supposed to be a fun experience, not GM vs Players. They are using the system to its best effect, not trying to pull one over on you. If you dislike it, do the suggestion I stated instead of trying to "win".

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If they wish to do Diplomacy/social encounters, advise the one with the decent Charisma do the talking, and have the others do Aid Another.

Also, lessen the need to roll during social encounters and/or give them bonuses based on what they say.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

physical appearance WAS the domain of comeliness, which was removed because it was pretty not useful unless you had a TON of it, which gave you free charm persons or some such.


"How to punish characters with low Charisma"

Well, there's your problem.

You want to punish them, there will be backlash.

As is, their Cha related skills are going to be horrible, generally punishment enough. Outside of combat, they're not gonna be of much use.

If you wish to emphasize it, then throw more social encounters their way.

Otherwise, they're likely gonna decide that you throwing things at them that AREN'T part of the game, "I feel like prices will be higher for them off course and randomly fights will stay because they looked at someone wrong" is you being a jerk, and they might decide to find a different more fair GM.

Try talking to them, best advice you can get, talk with them figure out why they did it, make sure they understand your frustration. And figure out where you go from there.

This ISN'T your game, it's all of the players, including you. You run it, they play it. It's a joint endeavor, try to solve this problem jointly.

Good luck. :)


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

they already said themselves apparently that they want their characters to roleplay with low chr and have impacts, so, punishment was a joke on the OP's part.


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Ask the players why their character's CHA is so low and how they want to roleplay the low CHA.

Work off that.

I was in a group once with a character with a low CHA. Character was played with a loud, screeching voice that was roleplayed perfectly. Was so perfect everyone at the table wanted to either kill him or gag him. :)


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

so i finally managed to get this.

a score of 5 in charisma to the guy in there indicates that the character doesn't consider other people, people.

Liberty's Edge

Bandw2 wrote:

so i finally managed to get this.

a score of 5 in charisma to the guy in there indicates that the character doesn't consider other people, people.

The issue with that is that someone with low Charisma is actually more helpful and eager to please than a high Charisma guy...which makes that explanation not make a lot of sense.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:

so i finally managed to get this.

a score of 5 in charisma to the guy in there indicates that the character doesn't consider other people, people.

The issue with that is that someone with low Charisma is actually more helpful and eager to please than a high Charisma guy...which makes that explanation not make a lot of sense.

I don't follow exactly

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Diplomacy DCs are calculated using the targets Cha modifier. So low Cha characters have lower Diplomacy DCs and are easier to request aid from.

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