She’s Gorgeous, but She’s a Bitch

I have this character.  Her name’s Altariel Naïlo–don’t ask me how to pronounce that, by the way, ask the D&D people who put it in the list of default last names–and she’s a grey, OKfinegray, elf.  From the SRD: “gray elves have a reputation for being aloof and arrogant (even by elven standards).”  She’s pretty darn smart and reasonably sensible, and therein lies the problem.  Well, one of two problems.

First: I’d like her to actually be arrogant at people.  The usual style of arrogance, however, is damn likely to get her, and possibly other party members, really really dead; we’re 1st level and a -2 to Con (to balance the +2 to Int that her race gets) does not make for happy hit points, especially on a d4.  Wandering around insisting on having her own way is going to lead to the rest of the party deciding they can get a new arcanist; even if I make another character, I won’t get to play this one any more, and I’m interested in her.  My solution so far has been to be arrogant in downtime, but smart enough to work as a team when actually faced with danger.  I’m not sure how it’s working.

The other problem is inherent in the awkward D&D construction of Charisma.  It’s in the book as “force of personality”, but I dare you to name a group that doesn’t also take it as “attractiveness” in some way or another.  Yes, I know that a forceful personality doesn’t also have to be an attractive one, but that’s the way it seems to usually work out, and if you conflate this with physical attractiveness the problem gets worse yet (“That’s Ogrec.  He’s a dwarf.” [gate guard studies the Cha 3 character]  “Are you sure?”).  See, I picture Altariel as being one of those absolutely flat-out gorgeous people whose looks say, quite clearly, that if you dare touch her she’ll fry you.  But she’s got a Cha of 12.  This does not work, and it annoys me. 

Some people have added a seventh stat, Comliness, which is purely how good looking you are.  This solves some problems, such as being able to build “Well he’s kinda ugly but something just makes you want to look at him” characters, or Altariel the gorgeous bitch.  However, it adds others, especially if you don’t base any possible characters on the new stat; it becomes a dump stat if you’re rolling, something to be shoved down as far as possible to raise useful stats if you’re doing point buy.  And The Book of Erotic Fantasy (which title I may be misremembering) to the contrary, basing things like spellcasting on how pretty the caster is just makes me boggle.  About the best I can come up with is allowing Comliness to be a bonus to skills like Diplomacy and Perform.  But you still have to decide how to figure it in the first place.  I like just letting the player pick, maybe with some racial modifiers, but that leads to abuse.