Exploring the Various Ways to Add to Charisma's Utility


Homebrew and House Rules


It at least used to be popular to try and tweak Charisma to have more utility, to give it something to add to other than certain skills and some spellcasting. I'm still thinking on that issue, so I'm trying to collect tweaks I know of so everyone can discuss them:

1) Determining minions. This can usually be summarized as "Give everyone the Leadership feat for free". Drawback is that the Gm and player might not want to have to deal with all those extra characters.

2) Bonus to Will saves. This is either in the form of straight-up replacing Wisdom or taking the higher or average of the two. Drawback here seems to be that screws with how much Will the Monk gets.

3) Influences initial reactions. Something like "For each +1 of bonus, move the NPC one step up on the Attitude table". I assume that means negative Charisma moves it down. Not sure how what I read was supposed to apply to groups: does having low-social characters drag down starting attitude?

4) Some kind of reputation system.

5) One non-Pathfinder d20 system I know makes Charisma govern how good you are managing money. (Yeah, that didn't make that much sense to me, either, so I switch for governing Will saves and gave "money management" to Wisdom.)

Personally I've long wanted to do the "adds to Will save instead of Wisdom" thing on the basis that I like the idea that unperceptive people are more resistant to mental stuff, rather than any logic.

What about Wisdom, then? I flirt with having it govern ranged attack rather than Dexterity on the basis that no matter how agile you are, if you have bad senses you can't aim well. I realize the logic doesn't work for everyone. Also some mechanical knock-on effects I'm too short-sighted to realize.


Charisma has a pretty good allotment of support in Pathfinder, actually.

There are several ways to get Charisma to AC, Charisma to hit and damage, Charisma to Initiative, and Charisma to Will saves...

Wisdom also has a decent amount of support in Pathfinder. You can get Wisdom to AC, Wisdom to hit, etc.

But those are class features, feats, and traits that reassign one stat for another.

You can talking about fundamental changes to the core mechanisms of Pathfinder. Not a bad thing, but I don't see the benefits outweighing the confusion that it will cause to anyone already familiar with the Pathfinder system.


VoodistMonk wrote:
...but I don't see the benefits outweighing the confusion that it will cause to anyone already familiar with the Pathfinder system.

That's why I've also tried to think up simple upgrades. Things like allowing Use Magic Device untrained (and Handle Animal, but that's not much of anything). How many people even notice trained/untrained? But it means that now having a few points of Charisma bonus means being tempted to keep a scroll for emergencies (at least at low level).

Or just don't let people have Charisma below 10.


I don't let anyone have any stats below an 8, and that's after racial modifiers are applied.


VoodistMonk wrote:
I don't let anyone have any stats below an 8, and that's after racial modifiers are applied.

I'd probably limit that to before racial modifiers: I really don't like letting people get too many points back for low scores.


I like to factor in the racial modifiers so that you can never have a 6.

If someone dumps a stat to 8, then applies a racial -2, it's not viable at my table.

I also give generous point buys for character creation and expect well-rounded stats...

I don't support munchkin madness murderhobo shenanigans like "dump stats".


If someone wants to dump their Charisma to a 7 or a 5, I say go for it. The last time I ran a game where someone tried to drop it to a 3, they abandoned the concept as unplayable pretty much as soon as intelligent enemies understood the character's glaring weakness. I think, once you hit around 6 or lower, any form of ability damage or drain becomes a silver bullet. At 3, poisons that target Charisma are basically just save-or-die situations.

#2 illustrates where the abstraction of six ability scores starts to break down; one's "sense of self" should definitely overlap a lot with the concept of "willpower".
I don't think it makes sense to say that being unattentive awards you any kind of mental resistance, though. Oblivious people are the easiest to influence.

#3 almost makes sense, but that's just an offshoot of a bonus to Diplomacy.

In my attempt at a d20 rules system, u had 10 attributes: Strength, Deftness, Agility, Endurance, Toughness, Intelligence, Wit, Wisdom, Spirit and Charm. That covered all the nooks and crannies I felt the 6 abilities left unfilled (the gnarled old veteran with arthritis and rock-steady aim, the wise but unobservant philosopher, the foolhardy swordsman who's easily duped but never says die).

As for confusion, I played 3rd and 3.5 for over a decade and then switched to Pathfinder. Me and my groups always managed okay. And that's with the constant houserules always changing and growing.


Quixote wrote:
If someone wants to dump their Charisma to a 7 or a 5, I say go for it. The last time I ran a game where someone tried to drop it to a 3, they abandoned the concept as unplayable pretty much as soon as intelligent enemies understood the character's glaring weakness. I think, once you hit around 6 or lower, any form of ability damage or drain becomes a silver bullet. At 3, poisons that target Charisma are basically just save-or-die situations.

How often do you break out the Charisma poisons to make this work?

Quixote wrote:
I don't think it makes sense to say that being unattentive awards you any kind of mental resistance, though. Oblivious people are the easiest to influence.

If I houseruled things based on what I thought made sense I probably wouldn't have ability scores, or, at least, multiple ability modifiers would apply to each derived stat rather than one each.

Quixote wrote:

In my attempt at a d20 rules system, u had 10 attributes: Strength, Deftness, Agility, Endurance, Toughness, Intelligence, Wit, Wisdom, Spirit and Charm. That covered all the nooks and crannies I felt the 6 abilities left unfilled (the gnarled old veteran with arthritis and rock-steady aim, the wise but unobservant philosopher, the foolhardy swordsman who's easily duped but never says die).

As for confusion, I played 3rd and 3.5 for over a decade and then switched to Pathfinder. Me and my groups always managed okay. And that's with the constant houserules always changing and growing.

How many rules you'd have to change to account for having 10 scores rather than 6?


SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:

Bonus to Will saves. This is either in the form of straight-up replacing Wisdom or taking the higher or average of the two. Drawback here seems to be that screws with how much Will the Monk gets.

What about Wisdom, then? I flirt with having it govern ranged attack rather than Dexterity on the basis that no matter how agile you are, if you have bad senses you can't aim well. I realize the logic doesn't work for everyone.

Kirthfinder does both of these.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:

Bonus to Will saves. This is either in the form of straight-up replacing Wisdom or taking the higher or average of the two. Drawback here seems to be that screws with how much Will the Monk gets.

What about Wisdom, then? I flirt with having it govern ranged attack rather than Dexterity on the basis that no matter how agile you are, if you have bad senses you can't aim well. I realize the logic doesn't work for everyone.

Kirthfinder does both of these.

That's a lot of rules changes. Even talking strictly about Wisdom and Charisma, you've divided which kinds of Will saves uses which, and then there's something about Hero Points.

Have you encountered any problems your changes to these two ability scores brought up?


One thing I liked about 4e was the saves:
- Fortitude means one's ability to withstand physical exertion. Take either Constitution... or Strength (whichever is higher at the time)
- Reflexes means one's ability to react rapidly to danger. Take either Dexterity... or Intelligence (same)
- Will means one's ability to assert one's sense of self. Take either Wisdom... or Charisma (same)

It changes slightly the order in which the attributes scores are displayed (Con nearer Str), but it's quite interesting for the players.

Of course, if what you seek is to reduce dump stats, you wouldn't want that kind of option at all. And I agree with one of the proposals: if you want to enforce it, enforce it. Say "no score lower than this minimum" and go. As a GM, you have every right to do so.

[EDITs] You can also engineer your games towards more social situations, making good use of Diplomacy/Intimidate, or Perform. And it's not devoid of uses in combat: have you seen Combat Performance, for gladiators? Or a judicious application of Intimidate and Shatter Defenses?

Forget Charisma, Constitution is the one ability score underused in the game: there is only one save... and the hit points (important, but still only one effect). AFAIK, no skill and no class ability depends on Constitution. Yet everyone and their pet take at least 10 there.
Want to improve Charisma? Have your player make undead characters (for which Charisma determines the hit points)...


Louis IX wrote:

Forget Charisma, Constitution is the one ability score underused in the game: there is only one save... and the hit points (important, but still only one effect). AFAIK, no skill and no class ability depends on Constitution. Yet everyone and their pet take at least 10 there.

Want to improve Charisma? Have your player make undead characters (for which Charisma determines the hit points)...

That leads me to another idea I had: using Charisma to determine bonus hit points per level. Obviously with what I just quoted you don't want to replace Constitution, but maybe both at the same time? Maybe one gives you a bonus per level and the other gives you its score as a single bonus?


VoodistMonk wrote:

I like to factor in the racial modifiers so that you can never have a 6.

If someone dumps a stat to 8, then applies a racial -2, it's not viable at my table.

I also give generous point buys for character creation and expect well-rounded stats...

I don't support munchkin madness murderhobo shenanigans like "dump stats".

Rather than prevent such decisions, I've found it more fun to design situations that punish highlight the player's decisions when allocating strengths and weaknesses. } : D

"What's that? Drogg was carriage-sitting and saw the killer and wants into the party to warn his more intrigue-suitable friends? Sure, make that Diplomacy check, champ!"


blahpers wrote:
"What's that? Drogg was carriage-sitting and saw the killer and wants into the party to warn his more intrigue-suitable friends? Sure, make that Diplomacy check, champ!"

How often do you have to do that before it balances the mechanical benefit of reducing your Charisma score?


I've done more or less that, and the amount of yelling required to get the Droggoid player away from his phone rendered it counterproductive.


Maybe relevant skills should have rank caps attached?

For example, a character can only have a number of ranks in a skill equal to twice the relevant ability score. AKA, Fighter McFighterson, who has a charisma of 7, can never get more than 14 ranks in Bluff or Diplomacy.

Of course, it would still be worth it for Fighter McFighterson to dump to 7 in such scenarios, and a minor annoyance at high levels isn't really balance changing, but maybe something similar to that could work.

Another idea is for DMs to ask for regular old ability checks. No amount of Diplomacy skill ranks will help McFighterson if he's just rolling d20+CHA.

I've also thought about characters making "charisma saving throws" instead of will. I'm somewhat new to pathfinder: I was brought up on 5e originally, and while I would agree that things like strength saving throws or Intelligence saving throws don't really make sense (using STR or INT suggests proactive behavior, not reactive), I think CHA makes sense as a saving throw.


CopperWyrm wrote:
Another idea is for DMs to ask for regular old ability checks. No amount of Diplomacy skill ranks will help McFighterson if he's just rolling d20+CHA.

How do you determine what's a "raw" Charisma check?


CopperWyrm wrote:

Maybe relevant skills should have rank caps attached?

For example, a character can only have a number of ranks in a skill equal to twice the relevant ability score. AKA, Fighter McFighterson, who has a charisma of 7, can never get more than 14 ranks in Bluff or Diplomacy.

Of course, it would still be worth it for Fighter McFighterson to dump to 7 in such scenarios, and a minor annoyance at high levels isn't really balance changing, but maybe something similar to that could work.

More likely you could take various derived attributes, such as certain skills, and require them to be based on an average of two ability scores. Maybe Sense Motive requires Wis/Cha to reflect the fact that if you aren't social you can't learn all the social cues to give you the full ability bonus to the skill. (I admit I'm not sure which skills to cross with Charisma requirements.)

CopperWyrm wrote:
I've also thought about characters making "charisma saving throws" instead of will. I'm somewhat new to pathfinder: I was brought up on 5e originally, and while I would agree that things like strength saving throws or Intelligence saving throws don't really make sense (using STR or INT suggests proactive behavior, not reactive), I think CHA makes sense as a saving throw.

This would either require creating a whole new column on the class tables, or you'd have to divide an existing save between two abilities depending on type/circumstance (as in Kirthfinder, see above).

It's not that you couldn't, but one thing I'm hoping for this thread is not just people posting what they've done but everyone contributing to figuring out the mechanical implications of the various houserules.


CopperWyrm wrote:
Another idea is for DMs to ask for regular old ability checks. No amount of Diplomacy skill ranks will help McFighterson if he's just rolling d20+CHA.

So the character, who is obviously proficient in social interactions, shouldn't get to apply any of their expertise because someone felt a need to punish those with low charisma?

Doesn't sound fun or fair.
How would you like it if your GM decided that you had to make a Strength ability check to hit opponents instead of relying on BAB and feats?
Or that you're not allowed to add your class bonus to reflex saves because your dexterity modifier is 0?


I'm not saying it's a good idea, and these sorts of changes definitely shouldn't be sprung on a group halfway through a campaign. That's just bad DM work.

I was just making a point: That the problem with increasing Charisma's utility is that by increasing it, you are probably punishing someone else who could do "X" before CHA became relevant for that thing.

Unless you are going to come up with entirely new mechanics, it's going to screw someone else. Even if you come up with new mechanics, the utility of those options are probably going to make other stuff obsolete.


CopperWyrm wrote:
Unless you are going to come up with entirely new mechanics, it's going to screw someone else. Even if you come up with new mechanics, the utility of those options are probably going to make other stuff obsolete.

The point of this thread was to discuss what those implications would be. I don't think anyone is under the illusion that making changes to system is going to have zero consequences.


There is one way that I can think of:

Having CHA and CON count for hitpoints, so hitpoints at level-up are dx+CON+CHA.

It makes sense, since you derive HP from both your body and the strength of your personality.

It would buff spontaneous casters for sure. You could change it so that only half the CHA modifier applies.

A lot of DM's buff PC hitpoints anyway.


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I did this little change whereby APG Hero Points in my game were based on your Cha bonus (for each session). I’ve discussed this change with others here.

It worked well, and made sense: more charismatic PCs could ‘bend’ fate to their advantage more often.

I’ll admit it worked well to REWARD Cha, but did little to disincentive the guy who kept dumping it. I was tempted to give Hero Points equal to this PC’s Cha to the GM, for rolls concerning that PC. Almost as if the universe and fate kept failing for this guy.

But I didn’t have the guts to go that far...


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CopperWyrm wrote:
It would buff spontaneous casters for sure.

In the grand scheme of things, Cha-based casters could probably benefit for having their required score do more for them.

SunKing wrote:
I’ll admit it worked well to REWARD Cha, but did little to disincentive the guy who kept dumping it.

I've often seen this problem in other d20 systems when people try to fix Charisma or the equivalent. I really don't feel like it's a fix if it only applies to positive.

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