Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sanity and saving throws and morale

Yes I am thinking again, and yes I am considering adding more words to the game, and yes I realize that this is how giant fat oaks grow from tiny acorns.  No, I don't want to make Beacon more rules heavy or harder to play, but I have a couple nagging "what if's" that keep creeping into the front of my mind.  What if I was running a game with a really scary monster in it?  What if a vampire tried to seduce a character?  What if the party kills the goblin chief in front of his war band?  What if you read the post title and now you see where I'm going here?

Charisma is traditionally a dump stat, and even though the Microlite style stat and skill system makes dump stats less of a problem, there is still a likelihood that it will be the poor cousin to Mind, Dexterity and Strength.  I know that the Beacon book is all "roll 3d6 and suck it up kids", but I also know that many folks will opt for more control over where those numbers end up in the stat block.  That means dump stats.  But now, what if there was a really compelling reason to have a decent Charisma score?  Something like Sanity checks and Morale?  It doesn't even have to be a new mechanic - One thing you will notice is that the Microlite/Beacon core has no saving throws - anything that seems to require a more traditional saving throw is accomplished with a stat check.  Well by making sure that Charisma gets used for more than flashing winning smiles at a merchants to get 5% discounts on sword sharpening, you solve most of the problem.  Evil wizard is casting a fear spell - Roll CHA checks kids.  There is a horde of ogres on dragon back cresting the hill and you just put on fresh underclothes - Roll CHA check.   There are shoggoths  in the village well and seeing their pulpy masses makes you want to gibber a bit and jump on in - Roll CHA check. 
Charisma - the other mental stat. It's what separates the brave from the run-awayers - distinguishes those with steely resolve from those with vampire boyfriends.  Sure you could use MIND for these things - but that means all your magic using folks would be stalwart with firm grips on reality and you wouldn't have as many mad mages or those brave but stupid warriors, and really - that wouldn't be much fun at all. 

The only flaw in this otherwise perfect plan is that most monsters don't have a CHA score to use for combat morale and I certainly don't want to stat out all the monsters.  I guess some sort of Morale table based on HD will have to do for those cases (but how to distinguish cowardly goblins vs berserk lizardmen?). However, any NPCs with stats better have a decent CHA if they want to stand face to face against a gang of wet gibbering  PCs crawling back out of that well.

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