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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dumping on Dump Stats or Have Followers but No Charisma - Do You Have a Favorite Dump Stat and Why?

From what I've seen during my 35 years of gaming, Charisma seems to be "the" dump stat of the various D&D editions. I never fully understood why, as Wisdom and Intelligence can serve the same purpose for most non spell casters without giving you a negative reaction adjustment. Or maybe I understand why, but don't agree with the "why."

Wait, your DM doesn't take Charisma into account for reaction rolls? Heck, he doesn't even bother with reaction rolls? Yep, that's how we were as teens - Charisma adjustments got handwaved and therefore Charisma become the dump stat.

High intelligence gives extra languages, high Wisdom gives a bonus for certain spell saves (at least in AD&D) but if you are ignoring Charisma adjustments to reaction, loyalty and even more importantly - maximum number of followers, you're playing it wrong (IMHO - your opinion may differ. No opinions were harmed in the writing of this post. Lack of sleep due to overtime and puppy power may have influenced this post. Don't post and drive.)

One of my favorite characters had a 5 intelligence and 7 wisdom with decent combat stats and a 13 for charisma. Of course, I named him Gru and he had a fondness for cheese dip...


  1. Gru, boy that was a great comic! We used to really enjoy reading it. So much relate-able situations in Gru.

  2. More and more, Intelligence is becoming my dump stat. I would much rather play an idiot who can't read and write than an oaf who can't sweet-talk a barmaid. Plus that way you can still have smart followers who do the thinking for you.

  3. When playing a fighter-type, Int is definitely my dump stat. I'd much rather be charming than bright. Who cares about comprehension, that's what spell-slinging poindexters and pointy-ears are for! Where the bad guys and monsters at? *whap*

  4. Heh. Comeliness.

    Thank you Unearthed Arcana.

  5. Other than magic users and thieves, Intelligence is probably the best. Thieves, I'll use Wisdom as a dump Stat - if they were wise, they'd have someone else searching for traps. Magic Users , I think Charisma is still the best. "I don't care what you think of me, I can cast Tac Nuke, so you better trust me with respect!"

  6. I prefer Strength as a dump stat, but I enjo playing imperious spellcasters who have people to carry around their crap.

  7. This is how I prioritize stats in AD&D:

    Fighters: STR, CON, DEX, CHA, WIS, INT (dump stat)
    Magic-users: INT, CHA (hire muscle and con people to stay alive with only 1d4 hp), DEX (missiles and flaming oil), CON, WIS, STR (dump stat - magic-users should not be meleeing)
    Clerics: WIS, STR, CHA, CON, DEX (can't use many missiles), INT (dump stat)
    Thieves: DEX, CHA (hire muscle and con people to stay alive with only 1d6 hp), STR (for backstabbing and carrying loot), CON, WIS, INT (dump stat - I guess everyone's stupid except for magic-users)

    This is assuming a typical Old School approach with plenty of hirelings and reaction checks. If the DM handwaves those, then of course CHA is a dump stat. But whose fault is that?

  8. Charisma.

    One thing I don't like about Charisma as a dump stat is the opposite of the usual reason. The usual reason players like Charisma as a dump stat is, as you mentioned, they can role-play their way out of a bad stat number.

    The reason I don't like it is because too many players "role-play a bad Charisma" by being jerks and bullies. They tend to undermine the role-playing of other people (who have a high Charisma stat because they like the social interactions in games) when after that player does a good job with an NPC and then the other PC simply punches the NPC because" its "role-playing the low Charisma" completing negating what the other player just did.

    Same thing with a low Int. The party comes up with a good plan and the low Int character/player negates everything by doing something stupid and saying "I'm just playing my stat". Usually this is because the player is bored, frustrated or wants the attention.

    Too often, a low Charisma/Int is a just an excuse to be a jerk.

    1. My opinion (as a DM) is that a player who uses a low INT, WIS, or CHA as an excuse to behave like a moron, a fool, or a boor is displaying poor sportsmanship. Playing less than your best hurts your whole team, and doing it in the name of amateur dinner theater is no excuse.

  9. I sort of like how Joseph Goodman approached this "problem" in DCC RPG; by rolling Charisma and Wisdom into a single attribute, Personality. Because exactly like Eric, we always hand-waved the charisma stuff and very few people wanted to mess with hirelings or henchmen with any regularity.

  10. The way I roll dice, I generally have to pick two or three dump stats. :(
    Totally race/class dependent which it will be. STR & CON for MUs, INT or STR & DEX for clerics. WIS & CHA for assassins. WIS and either CHA or INT for fighters. Don't usually qualify for ranger, druid, etc. -- actually assassin is often pushing it since you need 2 12s!

    1. But when I was first starting in D&D yes, CHA was always the dump stat, because we didn't really use reactions, henchmen, hirelings, etc.

  11. There is no real dump stat just DMs and Players that have limited campaigns without a comprehensive range of scenarios and situations that fail to explore how far the game can go.
    Player that roleplay their way out of a bad INT,WIS, or CHA score hav. DMs that aren't paying attention to the ability scores.

  12. No such thing as a dump stat if the GM is any good. Sounds like a lot of crappy GMs out there.

  13. Charisma is never a dump stat if your GM runs it right. Courtney Campbell has a great rules supplement "On the NPC" that helps out tremendously with the 2d6 reaction roll and charisma! I recommend checking it out. Here's a review:



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