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Adding my +1 so this great analysis doesn't get lost. If I could use one of those reddit star awards I would.


Originally Posted by Topgoon
Agree there's no need to bring politics into this. Regardless of what any of us believes is "normal gender behavior", it's faulty to apply behavioral traits from the real world to a fantastical place like D&D/Toril. For better or for worst, the characteristics that we observe from our companions are due to the fantastical settings of Forgotten Realms and Larian's narrative design choices.


The Setting:
It's hard to imagine "traditional" gender roles existing in Toril as strongly as our world considering that they evolved very differently. Real gods and magic and limited sexual dimorphism vastly shifts the variables (i.e. reproduction strategies) that created any gender roles we see in our world. There is no reason why either gender should default to any class. We also need to account for how vastly different the species of D&D are. E.G. - as a Githyanki, Lae'zel was hatched from an egg. She hails from a martial, matriarchal society (ruled by an undead lich queen) where the weak are literally culled during training. To expect her behavior to be "soft" and "passive" would be world and immersion breaking.

Also, we're looking only at adventurers - a very self-selected group (and the 1% of this setting). Level 1 characters represent people on a very dedicated path to power (and thus already behave differently from typical commoners). These people kill for a living (heroically or not), and do not represent the general population. They are like the serial entrepreneurs of this world - their drive and convictions would likely define them far more than their gender.

Now with that said, it's not impossible for more soft, gentle, caring women to be our adventurers in this setting, but it would be a rarity. I would not be surprised if we do get a companion that fit this mold. But I would say it makes a lot of sense that the neutral/evil aligned female companions (the ones we have right now), would NOT fit into the mold of a gentle caretaker (and neither does a good-aligned companion necessarily need to fall into that mold either).



The Narrative Design:
More importantly, the companions we have now are designed for the narrative that Larian is trying to write.

I don't really think of our current companions as "masculine" or "feminine". To me, they all just represents different shades of insecurities. They employ different strategies to hide their unresolved trauma - Lae'zel's machismo is just as much a lie as Wyll's hero facade. They are all lack real confidence and power, and are thus susceptible to temptation - a core theme in this game.

This is one of the downsides of "Origin Characters = Companions" (at least for now) - because each companion is designed to be a main character too. The theme of power - its temptation, the illusion that it is the solution, and what we're willing to do for it - is deeply entrenched in the story we're presented. Thus, the player character needs to come from a place of lack and/or insecurity in order to give this theme weight. They all need to be at the same level of their emotional journey, and there are similarities that must be kept between them for narrative consistency.

This is why none of our companions/origin characters are more mature, self-actualized people - it goes against the arc set-out for the player character. In other RPGs, you normally get a more varied set of companions in terms of where they are in their life and emotional journey because they don't have to be introduced all at once, nor are they the main character. I.e. in BG2 you had Keldorn, Wynne in DA:O, Landry in Tyranny, "old-fart" companions that are more chill and with way less to prove, that balances out the more volatile, prideful youths.

For the record, I quite like these origin character/companions - and think they do the job of being origin characters swimmingly. My hope is that because we're also going to get non-origin companions, those companions will bring perspectives that will balance out the youthful angst we're currently have.

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Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
Charisma isn't an air of trustworthiness, some games may treat charisma that way but not always. Also a +2 modifier is nice but not good or great, she's slightly charismatic. "Je ne sais quoi" is just a quality that can't be described, an x-factor. It's not what makes someone an imperious leader.

David Bowie had a "Je ne sais quoi" about him, people were drawn to him for various reasons that we can't explain well with words. Also David Bowie would have a +10 modifier for charisma.

An average person would have a +0, but +1 is very average as well. +2 is just above average.

  • +2 modifier is equivalent to the charisma of having worked two years at Starbucks
    +3 is a successful waiter at a restaurant who helps eaters buy food that brings revenue to the restaurant
    +4 would be a successful Sommelier, Maitre D' wink (or politician)
    +5 would be Steve Jobs levels of Charisma
    +10 is David Bowie levels of Charisma

There's a lot of ways you can interpret a high charisma but I'm hitting trustworthiness a lot because she's a secretive liar. That's what you'd expect her to be good at but really she's not personable in any way. Shadowheart is dull, weak, unlikeable, shifty and has no people skills, she's cha 8 at best.

Altering her stat block isn't the problem though, the issue is we're supposed to buy her as a cleric of Shar but that just doesn't fit at all. If she had cha 8 you could sort of buy it as she started worshipping Shar because of her big secret and Shar wiped her memory because she's a total moron but we're also supposed to like her and our characters are supposed to at least tolerate her. If she's not going to be friendly she needs to have some kind of charisma.

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It's okay to dislike Shadowheart, but I can't buy into forcing a limited scope of what charisma could be onto a fictional character. Just because she's secretive doesn't mean that she has to show charisma through trustworthiness.

+2 isn't really high charisma either. There are a lot of dice rolls that are just as effective with a -1 modifier and a +2. She has the charisma of a frontline Starbucks employee and that's okay for a cleric to have.

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Originally Posted by Topgoon
This is why none of our companions/origin characters are more mature, self-actualized people - it goes against the arc set-out for the player character. In other RPGs, you normally get a more varied set of companions in terms of where they are in their life and emotional journey because they don't have to be introduced all at once, nor are they the main character. I.e. in BG2 you had Keldorn, Wynne in DA:O, Landry in Tyranny, "old-fart" companions that are more chill and with way less to prove, that balances out the more volatile, prideful youths.

That is very interesting point and good analysis overall. I am curious if there will be really difference between Origin and non-origin characters. I would really like to see someone like Landry.

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Originally Posted by Rack
There's a lot of ways you can interpret a high charisma but I'm hitting trustworthiness a lot because she's a secretive liar. That's what you'd expect her to be good at but really she's not personable in any way. Shadowheart is dull, weak, unlikeable, shifty and has no people skills, she's cha 8 at best.

Altering her stat block isn't the problem though, the issue is we're supposed to buy her as a cleric of Shar but that just doesn't fit at all. If she had cha 8 you could sort of buy it as she started worshipping Shar because of her big secret and Shar wiped her memory because she's a total moron but we're also supposed to like her and our characters are supposed to at least tolerate her. If she's not going to be friendly she needs to have some kind of charisma.
The cynical part of me thinks that we are supposed to overlook anything negative about her because she is "pretty" and therefore we should be thinking with the hormones rather than the brain. She is probably supposed to be one of those people to "save" or whatever. I don't think her Cha needs to be lowered to 8, she has probably spent most of her life hiding what she is from everyone so has some skill in deception.

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Originally Posted by Zarna
she has probably spent most of her life hiding what she is from everyone so has some skill in deception.

Then everyone she has met thus far would have been morons. I never pressed her for information, yet she ended up spilling all her beans like a guilt-ridden 4 year old, and completely unsolicited. "Oh, you worship Shar, how nice for you. Now, stop missing every blow in combat."

But the problem with secret identities is that when they're kept, they have no value. I've tried rolling characters who were actually someone else, but others only saw the cover personality, which was usually anonymous to keep a low profile.

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Originally Posted by Gimbal
Originally Posted by Zarna
she has probably spent most of her life hiding what she is from everyone so has some skill in deception.

Then everyone she has met thus far would have been morons. I never pressed her for information, yet she ended up spilling all her beans like a guilt-ridden 4 year old, and completely unsolicited. "Oh, you worship Shar, how nice for you. Now, stop missing every blow in combat."

But the problem with secret identities is that when they're kept, they have no value. I've tried rolling characters who were actually someone else, but others only saw the cover personality, which was usually anonymous to keep a low profile.

It’s worse than that. When you first meet she won’t tell you who she worships so it’s obviously pretty bad, then she has a rant about selune so it’s obviously shar. On top of that she throws a fit whenever you tell the truth which outs her as a follower of a god of deception but also someone who knows nothing about deception. If she’d confided sooner it would put her in a better light, if she had any talent in deception you wouldn’t have found out quite so easily and she’d definitely have told you before it was completely obvious.

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Originally Posted by Gimbal
Then everyone she has met thus far would have been morons. I never pressed her for information, yet she ended up spilling all her beans like a guilt-ridden 4 year old, and completely unsolicited. "Oh, you worship Shar, how nice for you. Now, stop missing every blow in combat."

But the problem with secret identities is that when they're kept, they have no value. I've tried rolling characters who were actually someone else, but others only saw the cover personality, which was usually anonymous to keep a low profile.
She didn't do that for me. Was this something you learned by advancing dialogue with her during long rests or having a high approval? I think I only rested once or twice and wasn't paying any attention to approval. I had a couple of instances where things could have come up during random events but I respected her desire to not talk about things on one character and didn't press her for information. The other character I tried with is nosy so I kept digging but failed rolls to get her to talk. I didn't get super far with those characters (the one I finished Act 1 with didn't recruit her) so it is possible that she does this later maybe?

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Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
It's okay to dislike Shadowheart, but I can't buy into forcing a limited scope of what charisma could be onto a fictional character. Just because she's secretive doesn't mean that she has to show charisma through trustworthiness.

+2 isn't really high charisma either. There are a lot of dice rolls that are just as effective with a -1 modifier and a +2. She has the charisma of a frontline Starbucks employee and that's okay for a cleric to have.

Charisma is the ability to not have a resting bitch face, and not have one default personality for everything (dull and aloof). Not that i dislike her, she's actually the one companion i definetely like, but it's pretty evident how not charismatic she is. Her thing is prodding and insulting and if she gets prodded or insulted back her default response is 'stop pls or i leave'.

The only one less charismatic than her is probably Astarion, who twitches around when he says anything to seem like an extravagant, master conversationalist. Not counting Lae'zel 'cause it's unfair, homegirl was getting herself murdered first thing out of the ship.

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Originally Posted by Zarna
Originally Posted by Rack
There's a lot of ways you can interpret a high charisma but I'm hitting trustworthiness a lot because she's a secretive liar. That's what you'd expect her to be good at but really she's not personable in any way. Shadowheart is dull, weak, unlikeable, shifty and has no people skills, she's cha 8 at best.

Altering her stat block isn't the problem though, the issue is we're supposed to buy her as a cleric of Shar but that just doesn't fit at all. If she had cha 8 you could sort of buy it as she started worshipping Shar because of her big secret and Shar wiped her memory because she's a total moron but we're also supposed to like her and our characters are supposed to at least tolerate her. If she's not going to be friendly she needs to have some kind of charisma.
The cynical part of me thinks that we are supposed to overlook anything negative about her because she is "pretty" and therefore we should be thinking with the hormones rather than the brain. She is probably supposed to be one of those people to "save" or whatever. I don't think her Cha needs to be lowered to 8, she has probably spent most of her life hiding what she is from everyone so has some skill in deception.
Since in the real world attractive people are seen as more charismatic and intelligent than average and ugly people, it makes sense to give her above-average charisma, even if she doesn't have a flamboyant and boisterous personality - charisma is about how you are perceived by others and, more importantly, the subsequent influence you have over them due to the strength of your personality. Shadowheart is a bully, and that's where her charisma shines its best. A person with low charisma wouldn't have the backbone to say what's on their mind, and if they did they wouldn't do a very good job of convincing others to think like they do. Lae'zel's poor charisma is more to do with her inability to speak for herself when it really counts (having little confidence with the gith) and less to do with her being mean and unlikeable. Shadowheart consistently makes strong points as to the direction of the group and what they ought to do, even if she is sometimes mean about it. Charisma, as a stat, isn't as simple as how nice someone is.

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Originally Posted by Innateagle
Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
It's okay to dislike Shadowheart, but I can't buy into forcing a limited scope of what charisma could be onto a fictional character. Just because she's secretive doesn't mean that she has to show charisma through trustworthiness.

+2 isn't really high charisma either. There are a lot of dice rolls that are just as effective with a -1 modifier and a +2. She has the charisma of a frontline Starbucks employee and that's okay for a cleric to have.

Charisma is the ability to not have a resting bitch face, and not have one default personality for everything (dull and aloof). Not that i dislike her, she's actually the one companion i definetely like, but it's pretty evident how not charismatic she is. Her thing is prodding and insulting and if she gets prodded or insulted back her default response is 'stop pls or i leave'.

The only one less charismatic than her is probably Astarion, who twitches around when he says anything to seem like an extravagant, master conversationalist. Not counting Lae'zel 'cause it's unfair, homegirl was getting herself murdered first thing out of the ship.
Charisma covers a broad range of a scope, resting bitch face would be intimidation.

We can't ignore all the things charisma impacts and treat is only as acting pleasant, being nice to others, trustworthy etc. Women in videogames don't just exist to be pleasant and trustworthy to the player.


Charisma <- Note that the definition is deliberately ambiguous.

Let's not assume that the charisma stat is "charismatic". Because someone who has charisma is not always charismatic.
Charismatic

Even if we treat charisma as being charismatic:
"His military successes go hand in hand with his charismatic leadership." - The example sentence, notice that it doesn't imply whether they were charming or intimidating, charisma is an x-factor that drives these traits.

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Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
Originally Posted by Innateagle
Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
It's okay to dislike Shadowheart, but I can't buy into forcing a limited scope of what charisma could be onto a fictional character. Just because she's secretive doesn't mean that she has to show charisma through trustworthiness.

+2 isn't really high charisma either. There are a lot of dice rolls that are just as effective with a -1 modifier and a +2. She has the charisma of a frontline Starbucks employee and that's okay for a cleric to have.

Charisma is the ability to not have a resting bitch face, and not have one default personality for everything (dull and aloof). Not that i dislike her, she's actually the one companion i definetely like, but it's pretty evident how not charismatic she is. Her thing is prodding and insulting and if she gets prodded or insulted back her default response is 'stop pls or i leave'.

The only one less charismatic than her is probably Astarion, who twitches around when he says anything to seem like an extravagant, master conversationalist. Not counting Lae'zel 'cause it's unfair, homegirl was getting herself murdered first thing out of the ship.
Charisma covers a broad range of a scope, resting bitch face would be intimidation.

We can't ignore all the things charisma impacts and treat is only as acting pleasant, being nice to others, trustworthy etc. Women in videogames don't just exist to be pleasant and trustworthy to the player.


Charisma <- Note that the definition is deliberately ambiguous.

Let's not assume that the charisma stat is "charismatic". Because someone who has charisma is not always charismatic.
Charismatic

Even if we treat charisma as being charismatic:
"His military successes go hand in hand with his charismatic leadership." - The example sentence, notice that it doesn't imply whether they were charming or intimidating, charisma is an x-factor that drives these traits.

Yeah, but the character we're talking about is a potato. Her resting bitch face isn't intimidating, she's not charismatic in the traditional sense, and not particularly witty either.

Having said that, she certainly shows more leadership than others during and after the night the tadpole acts up, and a case could be made about her looks, but that's about it.

I was gonna say that could lead to a 14 charisma but nah. Gale's got 13, and he's got about the same amount of leadership and look, along with being more persuasive and deceptive. Pretty sure stats are purely a class thing in this game.

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+1 and +2 to charisma are both run-of-the-mill. Neither are high charisma, Shadowheart rolled a 12 and gets an upgrade of two, for being a half-elf.

She has above average charisma for being a cleric who can influence people as a cleric. She doesn't have to be charismatic, she's not a bard. Half-elves just have a presence about them that characters are slightly drawn to.

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Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
+1 and +2 to charisma are both run-of-the-mill. Neither are high charisma, Shadowheart rolled a 12 and gets an upgrade of two, for being a half-elf.

She has above average charisma for being a cleric who can influence people as a cleric. She doesn't have to be charismatic, she's not a bard. Half-elves just have a presence about them that characters are slightly drawn to.

I find it interesting how 12-14 CHA is considered run of the mill now. Old tabletop days, those where decent scores. Not all characters were min maxed.

But yeah, these days the games are designed with min maxing in mind. I mean I do it too but it’s sorta unfortunate because now there’s a cookie cutter stat array that everyone uses.

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Originally Posted by spectralhunter
Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
+1 and +2 to charisma are both run-of-the-mill. Neither are high charisma, Shadowheart rolled a 12 and gets an upgrade of two, for being a half-elf.

She has above average charisma for being a cleric who can influence people as a cleric. She doesn't have to be charismatic, she's not a bard. Half-elves just have a presence about them that characters are slightly drawn to.

I find it interesting how 12-14 CHA is considered run of the mill now. Old tabletop days, those where decent scores. Not all characters were min maxed.

But yeah, these days the games are designed with min maxing in mind. I mean I do it too but it’s sorta unfortunate because now there’s a cookie cutter star array that everyone uses.

If you assume people use the 3d6 method then 14 is about top 30% so things haven't changed too much. It's just I'd say Shadowheart is more bottom 10% than top 30%. She's the awkward goth kid who doesn't shower, is belligerant even when she's trying to be ingratiating, is arrogant while also having a massive inferiority complex, sullen, moody and dull.

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Originally Posted by spectralhunter
Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
+1 and +2 to charisma are both run-of-the-mill. Neither are high charisma, Shadowheart rolled a 12 and gets an upgrade of two, for being a half-elf.

She has above average charisma for being a cleric who can influence people as a cleric. She doesn't have to be charismatic, she's not a bard. Half-elves just have a presence about them that characters are slightly drawn to.

I find it interesting how 12-14 CHA is considered run of the mill now. Old tabletop days, those where decent scores. Not all characters were min maxed.

But yeah, these days the games are designed with min maxing in mind. I mean I do it too but it’s sorta unfortunate because now there’s a cookie cutter stat array that everyone uses.

The expected outcome of 4d6 drop the lowest is 12, so a modifier of +1 is average for an adventurer in 5e. +2 is only one step from average.

Also, a cleric isn't going to make charisma their dump-stat. Especially when charisma is defined as a "divinely conferred gift or power". And DnD clearly uses charisma that way by having warlock use charisma.

I'm mostly talking about this because it's ridiculous to attack a character's charisma stat of 14, because the character isn't kind or trustworthy.
Should we all be trusting the Warlock with a charisma stat of 18 who has clearly been taking actions to aid Tiamat? Could it be the warlock has a high charisma stat because of their pact with Tiamat?

A warlock can be untrustworthy and have charisma, so can Shadowheart.

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Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
The expected outcome of 4d6 drop the lowest is 12, so a modifier of +1 is average for an adventurer in 5e. +2 is only one step from average.

Also, a cleric isn't going to make charisma their dump-stat. Especially when charisma is defined as a "divinely conferred gift or power". And DnD clearly uses charisma that way by having warlock use charisma.

I'm mostly talking about this because it's ridiculous to attack a character's charisma stat of 14, because the character isn't kind or trustworthy.
Should we all be trusting the Warlock with a charisma stat of 18 who has clearly been taking actions to aid Tiamat? Could it be the warlock has a high charisma stat because of their pact with Tiamat?

A warlock can be untrustworthy and have charisma, so can Shadowheart.

An untrustworthy liar can't be a success. Appearing trustworthy is a necessary trait for a liar.

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Shadowheart could just be rolling low. Maybe she'll have better luck with her deception from the 1st person perspective. xD

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Maybe it's just a catch 22 with Shadowheart. She's got to be good enough at withholding information to hold her gimmick as a Cleric of Shar, but also has to have hints that she'll spill the beans to work as a party member. Like, we can't have a party member you can romance/know intimately that keeps information from you as you get to know them. Blindsides tend not to be fun. Players like having hints so game designers give them.

What makes her interesting to me is that she's trying to put on a deception while most likely under a deception herself. That's a reason why she's "so bad at lying" and seems like a goth kid. It's easy for us to see that something just isn't right with her demeanor, but that's as meta as the player already knowing Astarion is a vampire.

I also want to add that these characters, including our two "meanie" female companions, are deeper than you'd expect. If you are camping only twice, that's a reason you get cardboard cut outs of characters rather than a dimensional one. If you're killing them on sight that's another reason. If you play a certain way that gets either of their disapproval, you need to settle that that will always be the case. It's not bad writing when you roleplay your character consistently and the companions respond consistently. And it certainly isn't bad writing when you decide to settle that characters are one dimensional when you only play a certain way to see only one side. You will really expand your enjoyment of the game by trying out a different character or two since the producers have said time and time again that the companions are a big part of the experience.

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Originally Posted by DragonSnooz
+1 and +2 to charisma are both run-of-the-mill. Neither are high charisma, Shadowheart rolled a 12 and gets an upgrade of two, for being a half-elf.

She has above average charisma for being a cleric who can influence people as a cleric. She doesn't have to be charismatic, she's not a bard. Half-elves just have a presence about them that characters are slightly drawn to.

Okay, but it still doesn't make any sense that her charisma is higher than Gale's. That is, if stats aren't just numbers, independant from how a character actually is and behaves.

Which they mostly likely are in this game, seeing how the guy who talks his way around revealing anything to the MC before he wants to do it is at 13, and the gal who can't not eat her foot and mention she's a servant of satan is at 14. Like, yo, to smell trouble on Gale he needs to literally die, and he still talks his way around an interrogation. SH sees a shrine and spills the beans.

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