I had a good time watching Critical Role last night. And I noticed something for the first time. It has to do with something I have noticed in how the boys created their characters. If you had to pick one thing that I have noticed as an old ‘veteran’ of D&D, an ‘Old School Gamer’ it is that today’s characters all have much higher Charisma scores.
It goes to the concept of the ‘Dump Stat’. You have your six stats as a character. When you create your character, not every number you have to select from when rolling is going to be great. Or if you are using a point system you end up wanting to reduce one stat so you can have a higher number somewhere else. That is the nature of the game, really most RPG’s work that way.
One of the changes I am seeing in coming back to RPG’s in general and D&D specifically (including Pathfinder) is that the systems have evolved to the point where you no longer have people following the idea of a Dump Stat. And the systems even go out of their way to punish people for being willing to take a low score somewhere.
The place I notice this trend the most is with the Charisma score. Back in the old days the only people who cared about having decent Charisma scores were those who took classes where it mattered (Paladins, Bards) or if they were playing a certain character stereotype (teenage and college age males playing really good looking female characters with loose morals.)
When I was coming up with my character for my Pathfinder game I followed this old practice and dropped my character’s Charisma score. Then I was in for a rude shock when I began playing and realized how much lower my score was from the other characters. Even more so when I began to discover how much Charisma now mattered in the game.
One of the things about Critical Role is they will splash the character stat sheets on the screen as they play and I began to see that they all had good Charisma scores. No one used that as a dump score. Not even the barbarian goliath (he used Intelligence as his dump stat.)
One of the things I have seen when I work with the boys is I will take the time to re-type their character sheets after they create them. This helps me understand what the boys have. Make sure nothing is getting missed or added wrong. And none of the boys ever dumps Charisma.
This is a whole different way of playing for me. Admittedly I have some suffered from self-esteem issues most of my life so maybe that colored things. But I was not the only player who would willingly take low Charisma scores. I am not judging it, I understand how things got like this. And it is good for the games for the most part. But it is still a shock for me and one of the harder adjustments I have to make. It is a little thing, but it is still an adjustment.