Wednesday, 10 October 2012
John has been talking about stats, and the last one in particular got me thinking about
beautiful women Charisma. Let's talk about it.
The most charismatic guy I ever knew was somebody I shared a flat with in Shonan, just along the coast from Yokohama; both of us had recently arrived in the country and were working together, and we ended up flat-sharing (with A N Other). I'll call him "N".
N was not particularly tall, fairly nondescript although with mildly boyish good looks, and kept himself moderately in shape - he certainly wasn't what you'd call drop-dead gorgeous; yet women loved him. Women like confidence, and N had that in spades - just a natural way of being himself, combined with a certain swagger, a feeling of arrogance. I like to think I do okay with girls, but N was something else; to go out on the pull in Tokyo with him was akin to stepping into a Lynx advert. He was the ultimate wingman too - he was so good with girls there wasn't even a need for him to be competitive.
But he was a man's man as well. He was everybody's best friend in town, despite the fact he could barely speak a word of Japanese. There wasn't a party that went on that he wasn't invited to. When you walked through town with him every 50 yards or so somebody would stop to say 'hi' - people who you'd think "How the fuck does N know him?" There may - may - have been an element of Charisma Man about him (the noted phenomenon that white men in Asia, because of the exoticism, become more successful than they are "back home") but I don't think for him it made a great difference. He was just a charismatic guy, that's all there is to it.
Charisma isn't about looks. It's above all an issue of confidence, and intelligence too, of a kind: wit, sharpness, proficiency in conversation. Easy charm that lets you be familiar with others without becoming over-familiar. Self-deprecation. Teflon-like imperviousness to social mores which lets you get away with saying anything because you do it with an ironic smile. God knows where it comes from, but you either got it or you don't.
In view of that, I'd say Charisma is probably the D&D stat which makes the most sense, especially in its modifiers (to number of hirelings, etc.). The other stats are mostly quite incoherent and vague, but charisma undoubtedly boils down to a certain personality trait which I'm sure I'm not the only one who has encountered. Interestingly, it is sometimes argued that charisma is synonymous with sociopathy - in order to be confident and possess that certain swagger, you need to not care about other people so much. I'm not sure how true that was of N, but I wonder if anyone's ever thought of correlating Charisma with alignment: the higher your CHR, the more you lean towards evil/chaotic?