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Roleplaying: 20+ mental stats

Discussion in 'Dungeons & Dragons + Other RPGs' started by chevalier, May 4, 2020.

  1. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    The effect of super high physical stats tends to be easy to pin down — characters can lift very heavy things, dodge blows nobody else would dodge, tumble around in combat faster than most folks can see, or they can shrug off most poisons and wounds that would kill lesser combatants.

    Mental stats, on the other hand, are a tougher nut to crack outside of their obvious application as the main casting stat and to some extent the effect of INT on skill points and access to the Expertise chain of feats. For example 16 INT on a fighter would show itself in having way more skills than the average grunt, while the use of Expertise in combat would also be relatively obvious to anybody familiar with physical dispute resolution. ;)

    Up to the traditional 2E limit of 18, which kind of represents the pinnacle of non-supernatural human ability, or at least the expanded standard range (let's say 20 would be non-supernatural but would still have to be acquired via special means), I can more or less imagine the effect of those stats in a conversation. Characters would be extremely persuasive, insightful or smarter than everybody else you've met. But 3E-style 20+ scores are more difficult for me to visualize.

    Obviously, I'm asking this question as a result of some reflection while playing a cRPG. Namely, that's NWN1, where stat bonuses stack. This means my paladin with his perfectly natural 17 CHA at level 11 — which is clearly not the best among paladins of his level even — has a permanent 23 from items along with a further 2-5 from Eagle's Splendour (CL 11, so 11 hours, so he has it quite often) and 4 from Aura of Glory (for special occasions). As a result, at his best he can amass 32 CHA.

    And here's what I thought. Well, perhaps you wouldn't notice 32 WIS or INT on a character passing you by, though a conversation would probably be an intense, even extreme experience. But CHA of this magnitude would probably be hard to miss. I suppose personality strength or leadership ability doesn't project itself over a hundred yards' distance to all passers-by, not even 32, but it's probably 'unrealistic' to think the effect would be felt at a close distance.

    So what would 32 CHA be like, in terms of, say, NPC/environment reactions generated by a human DM, or examples from lore (e.g. D&D novels featuring characters whose 'official' stats are known)?
     
  2. SlickRCBD Gems: 24/31
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    Well, at 32CHA your paladin would be more eye catching than a Playboy centerfold or the People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive". Anybody who is attracted to their gender would be checking them out.
    They would be more persuasive than famously persuasive people like Martin Luther King or Adolf Hitler to use examples of good and evil. Heck, for the latter I've heard clips of some of his speeches and they are moving even though I don't know any German at all, which says something about his charisma since the words meant nothing, they were just sounds. Your character would be like that.
     
  3. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Out of curiosity, Slick, where would you place this (a character idea playing in my head) in terms of specific numerical values (3E)?

    Race: Human, possibly half-elf, possibly some kind of human subrace. Age: middle-aged, after the first adjustment due to age according to strict book rules.

    STR: Halway between the average person and a blacksmith. Enough for Power Attack, not necessarily much more. Most STR-based fighters should be stronger, especially on higher levels.

    DEX: A little higher than average, better reflexes, better aim but nowhere near the best among humans. No juggling, no walking on a narrow plank above a chasm without a handrail, but perhaps basic dual wielding or achery. (Yeah, well, I realize the attack bonus from the character's level makes more of a difference for archery than the DEX stat, eventually.)

    CON: Good natural health, stamina and immune system but no specific conditioning or training. Should have a slight advantage over the average human.

    INT: Quick, brilliant, sharp, keen, etc., smarter than merely 'very smart' but not yet a proper genius. This character should be more intellingent than most scholars and thinkers, but a narrow minority of elite assassins, masters at intellectual puzzles, top military strategists, brightest stewards or engineers should still be smarter (not just winning on skill ranks).

    WIS: The goto person for sage advice, figuring out life problems, spotting liars, sensing motives, resolving disputes for people and reconciling conflicting interests. Most junior clerics, paladins, rangers and monks should be less wise, but the old woman in the village could still perhaps be wiser. Senior clerics, druids and monks should also still be wiser by somewhat of a noticeable margin.

    CHA: Easily 'charismatic' but not necessarily 'very charismatic'. Natural leader, spokesman and winner of elections, easily gaining social privilege and getting information or favours or good deals out of people but not normally generating the sort of effect that a physically attractive, seductive woman has on hot-blooded males. Wouldn't beat a pick-up artist at charming women, a trained and experienced salesperson at getting the best prices or a career diplomat at proper diplomacy. Such things should be easily to learn but indeed require at least some learning or practising and should still fail on a bad day.

    So I think:

    STR: Probably not below 12 and definitely not above 14. Would probably not go below 13 due to Power Attack, though I'm not sure just how special 13 STR is supposed to be.

    DEX: Could sorta justify 13 if I needed the Dodge chain or basic dual wielding on this character, but I'm not sure just how special 13 DEX is supposed to be.

    CON: I would give 12 here if the average person had 10. Should still have +1 bonus on top of the average person, just not sure 10 is average for humans simply because it has neither a bonus nor a penalty.

    INT, WIS, CHA: definitely not below 12 and definitely not above 16.

    On a warrior's point-buy I wouldn't go above 14 on any mental stat for pragmatic reasons, though I wouldn't insist on lowering it below 14 if not necessary to keep the character legit.

    If giving this character rogue or wizard levels, I might consider 16 INT, though perhaps not on level 1.

    I'm thinking 14s in general for point-buy reasons, but I'm not sure how strict or how generous I should be here, and I don't necessarily see all of the mental stats as being equal here.

    Reasons to be generous and forgiving: Stats of cRPG NPCs. Requirements and descriptions of certain basic feats (Dodge, Power Attach, Expertise).

    Reasons to be strict and skeptical: the fact that the entire difference in CHA between something as spectacular as an aasimar and the average human being comes down to +2 stat/+1 bonus. I know an aasimar is a 'touched' human and not a demigod, but still. Or that the racial difference between elves and humans in DEX is also 2.

    Counter to skepticism: Elven archers, dwarven fighters, aasimar paladins and such like usually have way more than 12 in the relevant stat. 8 CON on elven or 8 DEX on dwarven fighters is likely there to make a point about the racial difference (similar to the iconic 8 WIS on wizards), while fighter characters supposed to be realistic usually have better scores there. 12 is not supposed to be superhuman because many humans are supposed to have much more than 12, and even basic feats like Power Attack and Dodge require 13. Any elf supposed to reflect superhuman dexterity and any dwarf supposed to reflect superhuman constitution will have a much higher score than 12 (often used to be 20 in 2E, just to drive the point home, but 16s seem to be more frequent in 3E). The same necessarily should be said about aasimar WIS and CHA, as the aasimar CHA bonus is numerically equal to the elven DEX bonus and the scale should be equal.
     
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    The way you described int being "smarter than very smart, but below a true genius" would make me peg it at 15-16.
    Also note that I'm more familiar with the 2nd edition stats, I've never done a tabletop game in 3E. I mostly know 3E from the CRPGs.
    Given how it has been rebalanced and the stat boost on level up can take things over 18 for a human, I'm not sure how well my 2E appraisals translate.

    I just know that 18 is the human maximum, so anything over that is supernaturally great, and as such things in the 30's should be treated like the 20's in 2E. 32CHA on human is almost twice the natural limit, so he should have truly godly CHA, much like a CHA of 24-25 in 2E.
     
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