Role-playing design notes

Random notes on the design of Gods & Monsters, and maybe even Men & Supermen if I can remember what I was drinking when I wrote it.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Why no beauty statistic?

Jerry Stratton, April 11, 2004

I love your description of Charmisma! (Yes that spelling was intended.)

May I ask why no comeliness stat?

All in all looks pretty good. I’m gonna look more into it.

Glad you enjoyed reading it.

I don’t see much benefit in quantifying raw physical beauty in the game. Every stat in a game adds to the game’s complexity, and I like to see the addition as worth it. Even for first impressions, I think that charisma will matter more than a person’s beauty when determining reactions to a character. Since a quantified “beauty” stat would not affect game mechanics much, leaving it out makes for a simpler game--which I like.

Also, I dislike character statistics which exist more in the eye of the beholder than as an integral part of the character. Strength is strength, and within the context of the game intelligence is intelligence. But a character with a high beauty in one culture could easily have a very low beauty in another culture. Other games try to quantify this by creating tables of racial preferences modifying a character’s beauty depending on who the character is “talking to”. This makes the system even more complicated. In my opinion, this is too complicated for a statistic that brings only a small benefit to begin with.

Finally, I like to leave things up to the players especially when there are no game mechanics involved; without a comeliness stat, players can choose everything about what their character looks like. Physical beauty has the same game effects as hair color and skin color. Sometimes it matters, usually it doesn’t, and it rarely modifies the player’s own rolls.

Sometimes I think that the real reason for physical beauty stats in most other games (Men & Supermen excepted, of course) is solely to make it clear that charisma is not physical beauty. I tried hard to ensure that the description of charisma makes this clear in Gods & Monsters.

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