Ability Scores, Stat! About Charisma

Charisma is like pornography–I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.

Erm, let me start over.

But first, a caveat: Dungeons & Dragons is intentionally open-ended and subject to interpretation. It is meant to spark decades-spanning debates, foster a sense of camaraderie, and sometimes destroy friendships. (Ok, not that last one.) The point is, all this is my opinion and my perspective, honed over 25 years of gaming, since grade school.

What is Charisma?

Let’s talk about what Charisma isn’t.

For a lot of its history, D&D has fostered this impression–not exactly a misconception, but an oversimplification–that Charisma is a measurement of how beautiful you are.

That your physical appearance is the primary factor in how well you can convince people of things, how well you can persuade people, how much people like your performance when you’re rocking it out, and how good a leader you are.

Or, y’know, how effective your sorcerer spells are. Or your paladin smites. Or your warlock invocations. Or basically any magic you do unless you’re a wizard or cleric and thus not one of the cool kids.

Hot damn. She looks like her fireballs would be hard to dodge because she’s so pretty. Wait, what? (Artist unknown, found on Fjcdn.com)

I mean, yeah, beautiful people *are* often very good at lying, and we believe CHA-focused characters (like movie stars) way more than INT-focused characters (like scientists) about things like 1) Is the Earth round? and 2) Do vaccines cause autism? and 3) Who should we elect as president, a racist yam or a competent woman who looks a bit tired?

Ahem. All right, that was too easy. Ahem.

Charisma isn’t just skin-deep.

But what is it?

History of Charisma in Dungeons and Dragons

In the early, halcyon days of kicking down doors, killing people, and taking their stuff we call early D&D, Charisma, that 6th ability score on the list, was an easy dump stat. It typically wasn’t relevant to your adventures, except for the occasional social encounter, when it would give you a static bonus or penalty to the check to determine whether randos wandering across your path would like you or not. Ostensibly, this would determine whether the randomly determined table of prostitutes (no lie, look in the back of the 1e DMG) tries to get you to hire them or tries to stab you and leave your corpse in the gutter.

I’m just saying, game designers can be lonely. And sexist. (Source: D&D 1e Dungeon Master’s Guide)

Otherwise, a high charisma served three distinct purposes: 1) allow you to qualify for the paladin class (Prerequisite: CHA 17? WTF?), 2) fuel how many followers you attracted at high levels (higher charisma equals a better leader, equals more hangers-on, you know, like in real life), or 3) indicate whether a character was female (without fail, every female character in an early D&D book has Charisma 15 or higher–fight me).

In 2e, Charisma didn’t have much purpose other than what I’ve outlined above, and some Nonweapon Proficiencies. You’d get a reaction bonus or penalty with NPCs, so you’re well served to have the charismatic PC be the face of the party. This didn’t always translate into “make the player who can talk good” into being the party leader, and often the more interested and forward roleplayer would end up with the low-to-average charisma bruiser and your kid brother who just wants to be included ends up playing the Chaotic Evil fighter/mage with the high charisma who starts ALL the fights. (True story.)

High Charisma, Zero Chill. (artist unknown, found on Gameforge.com)

When WotC rebuilt D&D for 3rd edition and later for 3.5th (rd?) edition, they decided to make Charisma more significant. They introduced the sorcerer–like a wizard, but for players who didn’t want to do all the tedious spell management and preparation and just liked a few spells they could use to blast things. They introduced the warlock, whose magic worked similarly but was largely dependent upon how clever they were in negotiation their pact with some evil eldritch entity (#Cthulhu #HighCharisma #Chosen). And there were a lot of skills, many of which actively used Charisma. No longer was it the dump stat of yore.

At this point, it became clear that Charisma wasn’t just “how much people like you.” It was still that, obviously, but it had to tap into this RAW STRENGTH OF SELF POWER. You were literally (er, figuratively) walking around with a ring with a heart symbol on it, and you did things BY THE POWER OF HEART.

Around this time, when they were picking races for 4e, WotC decided that Charisma had become so important, and that it was more about COOL than BEAUTIFUL, that tieflings went from having a Charisma PENALTY (in 3e) to having a Charisma BONUS (in 4e)*. Also because darkness is cool, kids. Eladrin (or high elves) had a Charisma bonus. Half-elves had a Charisma bonus. All the races who are cooler than you, a mere human, became literally cooler, on average, than you.

* Note: Tieflings also had a Charisma bonus in 2e. Because those designers knew darkness was sexy.

In 4e, Charisma became important also because it was significant to your defense. You could resist enchantment, compulsion, fear, and other such sorts of effects based on your Will defense, which was calculated either with your Wisdom OR your Charisma. Yes, you could literally tap upon your massive ego to ward off a wizard commanding you to perish with a death spell. Or to remember that you are, in fact, a high level monk on a mission to find a lost scroll, and not a small squirrel that you were just polymophed into. (Though to avoid the polymorph, that’s actually a Fortitude thing.)

High Charisma squirrel. (Found on Tumblr, because Tumblr)

(Come to think of it, I think that’s a DM ruling and not a RAW example, but anyway, you get what I’m saying.)

In 4e you could also take Combat Training (Charisma), which allowed you to use your Charisma modifier AS YOUR ATTACK MODIFIER. You could literally out-cool, out-beauty, out-insult, or out-fox an opponent. With a sword. To death.

5e tripled down on the “Make Charisma the New God-Stat, GTFO-Dexterity” quest, and now, well, everyone can stand to have a few points in this big, complicated, important ability score. Bards (the OGs of Charisma) use it for their performances and magic, sorcerers and warlocks channel it into casting spells, while paladins and even clerics (really? clerics!) use it to reflect the strength of their faith while channeling divine power.

I predict that in 6th edition, everyone will use Charisma all the time, and it will be a primary ability score for all classes. Because social skills are important, kids. Stay in school, but mostly for recess and extra curriculars. (Go Rams!)

What Charisma is, 5th edition:

Charisma is this murky combination of physical appearance, social skills, ego, self-confidence, and awareness of self.

A charismatic person is instantly likeable, instantly noticeable, and draws your attention, affection, or jealousy. They may be eloquent with words, persuasive, charming, or just deeply, emotionally supportive. You’re more likely to click with someone with a high charisma than a low one, and become friends with them quickly. If they ask for a favor, you’re likely to go right along with it, no questions asked.

High charisma people are the people you’re constantly talking about, whether in a good or bad way. They may be drama factories or cool, controlled badasses you want to emulate. You probably believe them easily and want to think the best of them, or if they’ve wronged you, it’s easy to feel manipulated or toyed with by them. This isn’t to say that you instantly fall in love with everyone you meet with a high charisma, or that anyone just becomes a stalker around a person with high charisma. But the odds are you’ll have a more favorable impression of them than some other rando you meet on the Internet, er, street.

You, man. YOU. (Fallout 4, Bethesda)

The higher the charisma, the more pronounced the effect. It’s like fame: the more famous you are, the harder it becomes to avoid notice, and the more stalkers will be drawn to you. Really high charisma becomes a curse in its own way–a lot of people like you, but it becomes difficult to tell if they like you FOR YOU, or for how charming, powerful, beautiful, popular, etc. you are.

Charisma also represents your inner strength and force of will in an offensive sense. In D&D, sorcerers can literally manipulate magic that wells up inside like a spring, and obviously Charisma is the force that does that. Warlocks are much the same way, though that power originally came from the eldritch entity they somehow convinced to give them power. Paladins use Charisma when smiting things. Etc.

Charisma is great. Important.

So what do various Charisma stats mean?

I’m gonna say a few things about each level of charisma, and try and give an example that we can all relate to. We’ve all seen the Lord of the Rings movies, right? Welp.

Charisma 0 is an object. If you have Charisma 0, you don’t know you’re not an object. You can’t tell yourself apart from the world around you.

A sentient plant is CHA 1. If you have this level of charisma, you sort of know you exist, but mostly you’re an automaton.

An animal is probably Charisma 2-3. At this level, you know you’re a separate being from the world, but you see yourself as being a part of others. Your pack, for instance, is also you. You serve a purpose in that pack. The wargs in LotR have this level of Charisma.

Brutish humanoids have Charisma 4-5. At this level, you’re a bit more settled than an animal and you sometimes disagree with others of your own kind. But generally, you do as you’re told by those you see as superior and you don’t even consider having a conversation. What would be the point? The orcs and goblins in LotR typically have Charisma around this level.

Most humans range from:

Charisma 6-7: You have low social skills and limited emotional affect. You avoid others, and they avoid you. You have difficulty relating to people and a weak sense of self. Gollum has this level of Charisma, as do most Uruk-hai (augmented orcs).

Charisma 8-9: You’re gruff, brusque, rude, irritable, just some person most people don’t like very much. People don’t like paying attention to you and look forward to escaping a conversation with you. Gimli the Dwarf has this level of Charisma, as does the leader of the Uruk-hai (y’know, that jerk with the bow).

Charisma 10-11: You’re average, competent, can carry on a conversation, and are kind of forgettable. Many stranger don’t keep track of you if you don’t hang out a lot. Most hobbits in the Lord of the Rings have this level of Charisma, including Frodo and Sam.

Charisma 12-13: You are sunny, interesting, charming. You’re the one people want to be friends with. There are things about you that others want to learn or experience, such as your excellent singing voice or your inspiring bravery. Merry and Pippin have this level of Charisma, as do Eowyn and Faramir–likeable enough, but easily overshadowed by greater presences.

Then you get into the higher tiers, which are increasingly rare and make a big difference. At these tiers, you’re the kind of person who can walk into a room and all the attention goes to them, regardless of what was happening–unless someone with a higher charisma is there:

Charisma 14-15: You are magnetic, compelling. You’re the popular one in the class. You set trends, even without meaning to. You are a competent leader, but you don’t inspire fanatical loyalty. People trust and admire you and try to emulate you. You have your moments of greatness. Arwen and Boromir have this level of Charisma, and Gandalf is probably about here.

Charisma 16-17: You seize people’s attention without doing anything. You might be the beloved leader of an entire community, a great hero, or perhaps a person of great faith or principle. People may get flustered trying to talk to you, and you who can talk most people into doing whatever they want. You can lead a fellowship into battle and they will follow you into peril. This is Legolas’s level of Charisma, and it has most to do with how handsome and graceful he is.

Charisma 18-19: You are a star. People grow happy at seeing you and start crying when you’re upset, people can’t help but love you. You’re the beloved king of a nation. People have a hard time focusing on anything else while you’re there, and often people lose track of what they were saying when engaged with you. You can lead armies into battle. Aragorn has this level of charisma.

Charisma 20-21: You have an unnatural appeal and power that exudes from you like nothing most people have ever experienced. Yours is an otherworldly presence that makes most people either nervous or distracted around you. It takes a similarly strong sense of self to question you or argue with you. Galadriel has this level of Charisma, as does Sauron.

Examples of High Charisma

James Bond, for instance, has high Charisma.He’s very good at getting people to like him, and it isn’t just his sparkling personality. He’s an excellent manipulator and well known as a womanizer, which he couldn’t accomplish without high charisma.

I’ll have those dice shaken, not stirred. (image copyright MGM)

His actual attractiveness is up for debate. I mean, I’m not really much to judge, but I do know that Sean Connery and Roger Moore look fundamentally different. Daniel Craig has a hard, predatory look and riveting blue eyes that might have been chipper from an iceberg and… ahem, like I said, I’m not really much to judge. Regardless, James Bond is one charismatic asshole, emphasis on the asshole.

Speaking of charismatic assholes, Tony Stark. Sure, he’s handsome and all, but it’s mostly the money and the attitude. He just projects self-confidence, which is why he’s most compelling (IMO) when he’s at his weakest in this respect, in Iron Man 3. But I digress. Generally speaking, Tony Stark is the charismatic face of the Avengers.

Lots of money, mostly. (Image by Marvel Studios)

Tony’s charisma doesn’t always help him. Sometimes it gets dangerous people involved with him. He attracts lunatics, and I don’t just mean the big green ones. Whether they’re jealous business partners, dedicated assassins, or creepy stalkers with bad hair, many of Tony’s worst enemies are envious of his success and charm.

Speaking of charisma not always being a good thing, Galadriel.

Yes, yes we will. (Image from New Line Cinema)

Seriously, mostly people can’t even act normally around her, she’s so beautiful and graceful and serene and then when she goes DARK, it just gets MORE and… you know what, I’m going to move on.

I think you get what I’m saying.

Examples of Low Charisma

High charisma is all around us. Kings, queens, paladins, everywhere you look, there’s some charming dude or steely-willed lady commanding hapless rubes to their deaths.

And most people around us just have average charisma. Most of us also have average charisma. We take care of ourselves, we hang out with friends, we try to be attractive if that’s what we’re looking for, etc. But most of us are just a crowd, and the high charisma people are the ones who stand out in the crowd.

What about LOW charisma, though? How is that represented in the game?

There are lots of ways to explain a lower charisma.

A character or creature with low charisma suffers from a significant deficit in one of the things Charisma represents. They might have zero social skills. They might have very little sense of self or be extremely timid, lacking confidence. They might have hideous deformations, scars, or other wounds. These might all combine to produce a low charisma character.

For example, a low charisma character might have grown up far removed from society and have no ability or interest in that society. If your wood elf has a charisma of 4, for instance, then odds are they really aren’t good with people at all.

If I were designing this character, I’d go the feral route. Your wood elf would be little more than a beast and probably doesn’t have much interest in being treated otherwise. Completely out of their depth in etiquette, social interaction, or even basic conversation. They frequently offend people even when they’re trying to be nice. They might not be house trained or able to stop themselves from making a mess of their surroundings. They might relieve themselves in public or just take their clothes off without regard to the situation.

Did you ever play Final Fantasy III/VI? Do you remember Gau, that wild kid who lived out in the wilderness, was raised essentially by wolves, and could emulate enemy attacks? IMO, that’s an example of a low charisma character.

Remember me? Me friend! (Image by Square Enix)

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Privilege Feats

I’ve said something like this before, but I was thinking about it this morning.

This is just my perspective, but I think of sorts of privilege as being like initial feats your character has. You don’t choose these feats–they are assigned to you and operate whether you want them to or not. 
(Though you could in theory take actions later in the game to modify how they operate, more on that later.)

All of them have different effects, and some are more broadly useful than others.

Having the “white” feat is almost always to your benefit, except in certain situations (wandering through a street in a black neighborhood late at night, trying to discuss racial issues with a room full of POCs, hiking in the mountains of Afghanistan or Iraq, etc). As with “straight” and “male,” it’s a pretty great, extremely OP feat that is almost always useful. (Possibly the only more OP feat is the relatively rare “Wealth” feat.)

If, on the other hand, you have say the “black” feat or the “gay” feat, it is of much more limited utility, and you run into significantly more situations where it either doesn’t help or actively injures you. Worse still if you have a bunch of underpowered feats, like a “POC” feat, “female,” “trans,” etc, which have a chaining effect. Your character’s going to run into a lot of issues in the adventure. 

As I said above, you can’t modify what feats you start with. You’re born white, you have the white feat. You’re born gay, you have the gay feat. You may be able to hide one or more of your feats (particularly the “not-straight” family of feats or “trans,” “NB,” “genderqueer,” etc), but over the long term that hinders your character quite dramatically.

You can take additional feats and skill trainings to modify how these feats operate, however. You could take the “ally” feat (which is more complicated than one might think before taking the feat) or the “feminist” feat (whose prereqs are easier if you have the “woman” feat, but doable for all). If you have skill training in Diplomacy and Empathy, then your “white” feat can be put to good use, and you might be able to take the “wealth” feat at some point despite not having the “white” feat, but it’s really, REALLY hard to get (mostly because other people with the “white” and “wealth” feats actively discourage you from getting it).

Anyway. If you’re trying to wrap your head around privilege, that might be a useful way to look at it. 🙂

Facets of Alignment: Chaos

Standard caveat: Alignment discussion is an ongoing, unending battlefield morass of discussion and debate and argument. (And, I would argue, it’s been purposefully set up that way.) You can and should develop your own perspectives on this subject, and if you disagree with what I say here, that’s cool. By all means, let’s talk about it.

Chaotic Good

Chaotic Good people run the gamut from political revolutionaries struggling against an oppressive regime to good guys who don’t much care about the rules to rugged individualists soaked in beneficence. They consider the good of people more important than the actual law, which they view with distrust or contempt. They’re often impulsive and disorganized, trusting instinct over planning, and often never run the same con or strategy twice.

Chaotic Good aims to misbehave, but always for a good reason.

Chaotic Good individuals are susceptible to their anarchic influences, and can easily end up skirting that moral line. Chaotic Good adventurers tend to be good at improvisation when their loose plans inevitably fall apart, and they consider adaptation more important than strictures. They tend to run from responsibility or authority, though sometimes they embrace it in the end because it’s the right thing to do. Their loyalty is to a cause, not to an authority.

Examples: Aragorn is Chaotic Good. Robin Hood is Chaotic Good. Zorro is Chaotic Good. Malcolm Reynolds is Chaotic Good. The Dread Pirate Roberts is Chaotic Good. Elminster is Chaotic Good. Garin Ravalis (from the World of Ruin series) is Chaotic Good.

Chaotic Neutral

Chaotic Neutral revels in chaos and disorder. A Chaotic Neutral person is unpredictable in the extreme and rarely repeats the same stratagem–if they even see it as strategy. They act on their whims and feelings and rarely edit themselves. They rely on themselves alone, take people by surprise, and often take pride in doing both. A Chaotic Neutral person generally has no use for law or authority and make go out of their way to frustrate the efforts of lawful characters and institutions.

Chaotic Neutral is independent, free, and only relies on itself.

A Chaotic Neutral person is marked by a streak of amorality–rarely do they side with a good cause, nor do they let the evil of an action make them hesitate. They need more compelling reasons than “it’s the right thing to do” to prompt them to action. However, despite its reputation, Chaotic Neutral isn’t intended to be carte blanche for “do whatever you want, whenever you want.” Yes, there is that, but Chaotic Neutral goes further. It is a lifelong commitment to defying expectation, trusting your instinct, and undermining expectations.

Examples: V from V for Vendetta is Chaotic Neutral. Deadpool is Chaotic Neutral. Harley Quinn is Chaotic Neutral. Catwoman is Chaotic Neutral. Ilira “The Fox-at-Twilight” Nathalan is Chaotic Neutral. Mask (from the World of Ruin series) is Chaotic Neutral.

Chaotic Evil

Chaotic Evil is our classic sense of what evil is–unpredictable, monstrously bad–and that seems to be intentional in the setup of the nine alignments. In truth, though, it’s no more or less evil than any other evil alignment–just often more obvious about it. This goes to how we pathologize mental illness, and we often make our villains out to be “crazy” and “chaotic,” but that’s another discussion for another time.

Chaotic Evil: Because some people just want to watch the world burn.

Just as Lawful Good isn’t necessarily Lawful Stupid, neither is Chaotic Evil necessarily Chaotic Stupid. We’re all familiar with roving, mad monsters that sow destruction and chaos for pleasure, but one can be quite a bit more subtle. There’s nothing about the alignment that says you have to be loud and bombastic. As long as you work toward the common ill, sow confusion and revel in setting people off their ease, pride yourself on being unpredictable and only serve your own interests, odds are you’re Chaotic Evil.

Examples: The Joker is Chaotic Evil. The drow, orcs, and many monsters are Chaotic Evil. Demons are Chaotic Evil. Ramsay Bolton is Chaotic Evil. Lilten Dlardrageth is Chaotic Evil (though he’s urbane about it). Fayne is Chaotic Evil, though she evolves to be more Neutral over time. Alistra Ravalis (from the World of Ruin series) is Chaotic Evil.

Thinge I learned at GenCon 50

1. I’m getting older but I can still stay up drinking and talking about totally random stuff until midnight every night. Because GenCon.

2. Even when I think I’m not networking, I am. People want to hire me for things. Just last night, I ran SotDL with some friends, which turned into a couple Sentinels of the Multiverse games, which turned into a good little chat with my oldish friend Christopher Baddell, the creator of the game, who may or may not need some design for his forthcoming Sentinels RPG. (Can neither confirm nor deny.) I have a bunch of threads there, and if you’d like some work, hit me up. I’m always open to chat and I rarely say no, because I love writing.

3. The Writer’s Symposium continues to be one of the best things about GenCon every year. This year we sold 10k tickets (yes–ten thousand!) and had all kinds of huge names and crowded events. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it.

4. Elaine Cunningham is as cool as I expected, and it was excellent to meet her in person (finally) this year. Also read the book “How to be a Tudor” on her recommendation.

5. If you want to make a splash on the con floor, run a manually operated (as in people inside it) vending machine as your storefront, ala the Exploding Kittens people. See the video (on twitter until I can get it embedded here).

​​https://twitter.com/erikscottdebie/status/900020780951453696

6. My perpetual roomie Brian Cortijo is one of the nicest, hardest working guys in the industry and the Forgotten Realms community, and he always takes good care of me. Highly recommended as a friend. (Does Facebook do reviews?) Also, we should all be rooting for him to win the powerball because of reasons.

7. I was a writer panelist at one of Zombie Orpheus’s Gamers Live events, and it was fantastic. Must contact Chris and Sarah to do that again.

8. Larry Dixon and Mercedes Lackey are just as cool as the last time we hung out 10ish years ago. Larry remembered me and my work, too!

9. It never becomes less awesome to meet a stranger who has heard of you or likes your work. I’ll never get over that feeling.

10. If you want to push artists over the edge from “breaking even” to “turning a profit,” buy their stuff! That’s what I did with Claudio Pozas, whose work I will be displaying on my office wall shortly.

11. Food: Marriott breakfast is a bit better than the Westin’s, primarily because you can order a fresh omelette. Didn’t eat at Palomino’s this year–must make that a priority. Keep Sunday lunch at Granite City and Monday breakfast at Patachou’s an annual tradition.

12. Demo more games! It’s fun and energizing. And you never know what cool things you’ll discover. It’s so worth it.

Cheers

Facets of Alignment: Lawful

Caveat: This is a topic that has been, is being, and will be argued for time immemorial. So YMMV, of course.

I think of “Lawful” as a pattern of behavior that is organized and relies upon rules and systems to make things work. Discipline and “the rules” are how lawful people live their lives. Lawful people tend to be methodical, rigorous in sticking to a routine, and follow a very specific pattern of how they do what they do. Sometimes this makes them predictable, though sometimes they are very adept at outside-the-box thinking that can surprise opponents. While that may seem like a fundamentally chaotic thing, it only appears that way to an outside observer: a Lawful Neutral bounty hunter’s MO, for instance, might always include finding new and innovative ways to surprise a mark.

I’m going to give examples from comics, video games, and my own books to exemplify these alignments–note that these aren’t necessarily perfect examples, as many of these characters have had countless iterations and visualizations and you can argue lots of exceptions. A lot of these characters (particularly the LN ones) have good or evil tendencies, and that’s fine. In the case of Geralt, for instance, choices you make while playing the games he’s in can push him in a good or evil direction–he isn’t strictly neutral. These characters are sentient creatures who aren’t uniform in their behavior. Alignment isn’t a straight-jacket–it’s a general tool for describing behavior and outlook.

Lawful Good

A Lawful Good person believes in law and order being tools for the benefit of all, and will follow the laws of the land so long as the higher ideal of justice is served. A Lawful Good person has a strong sense of compassion and prioritizes helping those in need, even if it’s dangerous to do so. They are often extremely driven people, unable to tolerate injustice or stand by and do nothing.

Lawful Good types will be extremely uncomfortable with the very concept of bending the rules, much less breaking them, even if it’s for the greater good, in a way that a Neutral Good person would not mind as much, while a Chaotic Good person would advocate for breaking oppressive rules as the best course.

Superman, Defender of Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Examples: Superman is Lawful Good. Obi-Wan Kenobi is Lawful Good. Daredevil is Lawful Good. Triss Merrigold is Lawful Good. Kalen “Shadowbane” Dren is Lawful Good.

Lawful Neutral

A Lawful Neutral person believes in law and order for their own sake, basically “those are the rules and we should obey them because they’re the rules.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that a LN person always obeys the laws of the land they’re in, particularly as a traveler, but they always have a set of strictures or a code that they follow to the letter, and generally they default to a basic respect for the laws of the land, as in “those are the rules that others follow, and they follow them for a reason.” They are often thought of as mercenary or “just following orders” types.

There is a hierarchy of rules: a Lawful Neutral person will only violate an existing law if it comes in conflict with a more important law, and then usually with great discomfort. They may or may not put on the appearance of being good and are sometimes described as being amoral or unfeeling (which is sometimes accurate).

A True Neutral person doesn’t cleave to the law in this way, while a Chaotic Neutral person may have similar priorities to a Lawful Neutral person (getting paid to do a job, for instance) but goes about it totally differently, ignoring or violating rules and expectations as a matter of course.

Geralt of Rivia, Witcher

Examples: The Punisher is Lawful Neutral. Mace Windu is Lawful Neutral. Dexter Morgan is Lawful Neutral. Gerald of Rivia is Lawful Neutral. Levia Shadewalker (Shadowbane 3) is Lawful Neutral.

Lawful Evil

A Lawful Evil person believes in law and order as a means for securing their own power and dominance. The rules are important, primarily because they can be exploited to disadvantage others. A Lawful Evil traveler pays only lip service to the laws of the land that conflict with their own personal code and set of strictures, and will ignore those laws they consider to be weaker than their own or worthless. A Lawful Evil person seeks power through organization and alliance, relying upon others to provide them the support they need to achieve their goals, which involve crushing their rivals.

Neutral Evil people may take advantage of laws but don’t feel much compunction about violating them or working outside them at the drop of a hat, while Chaotic Evil people usually revel in defying laws and rules and will gleefully shirk them whenever possible.

Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith

Examples: Lex Luthor is Lawful Evil. Two-Face is Lawful Evil. Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia are Lawful Evil. The Red Skull is Lawful Evil. Doctor Doom is Lawful Evil. Darth Vader is Lawful Evil. Vengeance (from Shadowbane 3) is Lawful Evil.

Norwescon 2017

Here is my schedule for Norwescon 2017!

Easily downloadable version here!

THURSDAY

Make A Villain – Fantasy Edition – 9:00pm – 10:00pm @ Cascade 3&4
G.R. Theron (M), Crystal Connor, Erik Scott de Bie, Esther Jones, Frog Jones
Join our panelists as they work with the audience to create a relatable, compelling antagonist.

 

FRIDAY

Let’s Build a Dungeon – 5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Cascade 9
Ogre Whiteside (M), Dylan Templar, Erik Scott de Bie, Ann Shilling
A dungeon? Of course! Where else are we going to put all the fiendish monsters and devious traps? I don’t have anywhere else to put all these chests and this huge family of mimics that looks like chests, do you? Join the panelists and other audience members in what’s sure to be the creation of one of the most bizarre dungeons of all time. It takes a committee to really make a monstrosity, right?

 

SATURDAY

Toxic Masculinity as Villain – 2 to 3 pm @ Cascade 11
Joseph Brassey (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Elliott Kay, Marta Murvosh
Masculine tropes are commonly used in the depiction of heroes, but toxic masculinity is increasingly being explored as well. What is toxic masculinity, and how does it lend itself to the writing of villainy and evil?

SF/Fantasy Battle Royale! – 3 to 4 pm @ Evergreen 3-4
Matt Youngmark (M), Erik Scott de Bie, K.M. Alexander, Jason Bourget
Who would win in a fight? A fast-paced, bracket-style, breathtakingly unscientific showdown to determine this year’s Ultimate Fictional Champion. Ready… Fight!

Comic RPG Smackdown – 5:00pm – 6:00pm @ Cascade 5&6
Spencer Ellsworth (M), Erik Scott de Bie, Matt Youngmark, Adia
Bring your favorite comic characters in mind, and our crack team of comic know-it-alls will develop stats for them to battle it out in an RPG Comics Smackdown to End All Smackdowns!

Why Do Villains Look Like That? – 6:00pm – 7:00pm @ Cascade 5&6
Julie McGalliard (M), Jeremy Zimmerman, Jaym Gates, Erik Scott de Bie
Is there a reason that, when they become bad guys, characters like Loki and the Riddler seem to be drawn smaller, more slender, and dare I say, more fey? Why do we use stereotypically feminine traits to code for villainy in comics?

Reading: Erik Scott de Bie – 9:30pm – 10:00pm @ Cascade 2
Erik Scott de Bie (M)
I’ll be reading from MASK OF THE BLOOD QUEEN and/or my forthcoming Stormtalons novel!

 

SUNDAY

Genre TV is Everywhere! – 11:00am – 12:00pm @ Cascade 10
David Fooden (M), Ogre Whiteside, Donna Prior, Erik Scott de Bie
With so many shows on TV and streaming networks, what should you be watching? Let’s discuss what’s currently on your TV, computer or portable device.

Tabletop RPGs: What’s a Story Game? – 3:00pm – 4:00pm @ Cascade 7&8
Ogre Whiteside (M), Jeremy Zimmerman, Scott Hamilton, Erik Scott de Bie
Just like what it sounds like! We’re talking about games long on story, shorter on mechanics.