Charisma: Reaction Adjustment

As part of my ongoing adventures and dealing with new players asking hard questions, one such stumbling point has come across that I’m sure many people have looked at quizzically. With no apparent mechanic to be found, large swaths of players summarily assign their worst score to the most classic dump stat in the game. Please consult your Players Handbook and point out where it describes how to use the Charisma based reaction adjustment.

It’s not in the PHB. Hell, it’s not really in the DMG for that matter, as the only good reference comes from another table which explicitly talks about the DM making choices for monsters and NPC’s based on what the Players intentions are. This is buried in the Encounters section of the DMG, which parsing through gives you a lot of fluff on how to run an encounter, something most of us just pick up and run with naturally. I’ve been re-writing large sections of the 2e PHB in my spare time lately, and this is one piece that I wanted to share as it probably clears up a lot of confusion when used in this way.

I would wager, with this sort of ruling being more clearly defined, a leader with a high Charisma score suddenly becomes much more important. Not just in dealing with random encounters, but with city-based NPC’s, guards, and people you’re trying to earn a living from. Put those silver tongues to work!

Reaction Adjustment indicates the penalty or bonus due to the character because of Charisma when dealing with nonplayer characters and intelligent creatures.

This is not well explained in the original books, and is vaguely detailed in the DMG on pg. 140. Because it is not specifically implied that Players might use this chart, it is often a very overlooked and under-used stat block. As the entire point of re-writing these rules is to bring clarity to the system, see the following description for how your Charisma-based Reaction Adjustment can be used.

If player characters charge a band of randomly encountered orcs with weapons drawn, the DM can easily say, “They snarl and leap to the defense!”. Selection of the reaction based on the situation ensures rational behavior and avoids the illogical results that random die rolls can often give.

However, there are times when the player characters may wish to influence an encounter. If appropriate, a player can attempt to modify an encounter reaction by rolling for a result on the following table. To use the table, roll 2d10 and add the numbers on the two dice. Increase or decrease this number by the players Charisma modifier, against the NPCs starting attitude.

The result is a general indication of how the creatures will react. This reaction must be interpreted by the DM to fit the situation, and does not guarantee their actions will entirely comply the reaction listed. A group of hostile orcs with weapons drawn might only take an extra moment caution to hear out the players, before launching an all-out offensive for violating their territory.

Die Roll 2d10 Friendly Indifferent Threatening Hostile
20 Friendly Friendly Friendly Flight
19 Friendly Friendly Friendly Flight
18 Friendly Friendly Cautious Flight
17 Friendly Friendly Cautious Flight
16 Friendly Friendly Cautious Cautious
15 Friendly Indifferent Cautious Cautious
14 Indifferent Indifferent Cautious Cautious
13 Indifferent Indifferent Cautious Threatening
12 Indifferent Indifferent Threatening Threatening
11 Indifferent Indifferent Threatening Threatening
10 Cautious Cautious Threatening Threatening
9 Cautious Cautious Threatening Hostile
8 Cautious Cautious Threatening Hostile
7 Cautious Threatening Threatening Hostile
6 Threatening Threatening Hostile Hostile
5 Threatening Threatening Hostile Hostile
4 Threatening Threatening Hostile Hostile
3 Hostile Hostile Hostile Hostile
2 or less Hostile Hostile Hostile Hostile

Within these broad guidelines, a large number of specific reactions are possible.

Flight: Avoidance, panic, terror, or surrender.

Friendly: Kind, helpful, conciliatory, or simply non-aggressive.

Indifferent: Neutral, bored, businesslike, unconcerned, unimpressed, or simply oblivious.

Cautious: Suspicious, wary, dubious, paranoid, guarded, untrusting, or mildly conciliatory.

Threatening: Boastful, bravado, blustering, intimidating, short-tempered, or bluffing.

Hostile: Irritable, hot-tempered, aggressive, or violent.

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