D&D 5e Guide: What is Charisma?

In D&D, a character’s charisma is a measure of their natural charisma and their social and artistic skills.

Charismatic characters in 5e tend to be good with people, charming, knowledgeable about music and art, and able to use words and body language to manipulate or scare people.

They might be able to use their inner strength to cast spells as well.

Charisma is one of the six main ability scores that show how smart and strong a character is.

Charisma is also linked to skill checks that involve lying, scaring, persuading, and performance.

Some people seem to think that charisma is a measure of how attractive a person is naturally, but this is a false idea.

Charisma has nothing to do with how physically appealing a person is.

In D&D 5e, there is no way to capture a character’s physical attractiveness through rules or mechanics.

Instead, players are encouraged to use their imaginations to give their characters unique physical traits.

To cast spells, bards, sorcerers, and warlocks depend a lot on their charisma. So usually, it should be their highest score.

Paladins also use charisma to cast divine spells, so it should usually be their second or third best skill.

People with a lot of charisma often act as the “face” of a group, which means they may do most of the talking in social situations and negotiations.

But a player shouldn’t be afraid to talk to other people just because they have low charisma or poor social skills.

Failing charisma skill checks can add a lot of fun, flavor, and drama to an adventure. It’s also not fair to players with low charisma to put them in the background during exciting roleplaying scenes.

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Charisma can be treated as a dump stat by players who don’t care about being convinced or intimidated.

Skills

Deception, Intimidation, Performance, and Persuasion are all tied to Charisma.

Deception

Deception measures your ability to mislead other creatures, either verbally or otherwise. At its simplest, you might use a Charisma (Deception) check to tell a lie, but you might also use Deception to confuse, distract, or otherwise mislead other creatures.

When you attempt to decieve another creature, you make a Charisma (Deception) check against their Passive Insight (10 + your Insight modifier). If you meet or beat their Passive Insight, you succeed.

Intimidation

Intimidation measures your ability to coerce, cajole, or bully other creatures using overt threats, hostile actions, and physical violence. Intimidation is often used to scare off thugs, to coerce uncooperative prisoners into revealing information, or to force to someone to do something for you or to give you something which they otherwise wouldn’t.

Performance

Performance measures your ability to delight and entertain an audience by any number of means, whether by singing, dancing, acting, or playing an instrument. The precise nature of the performance isn’t specified by the skill, and is left up to the player and the DM to decide.

Persuasion

Persuasion measures your ability to peacefully and politely influence other creatures. This often involves good manners, tact, and observance of social graces. Persuasion is often used to negotiate or to diffuse hostile situations peacefully.

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What Are Charisma Saving Throws?

Charisma saving throws don’t come up very often, so a low charisma saving throw probably won’t hurt players very much.

There aren’t many spells that need cha-saving throws, but there are a few.

List of Charisma-Based Skill Checks

A character’s ability to lie, trick, or hide the truth in some other way is called “deception.” This can be done through words or actions.

This can mean lying or being vague in social situations, gambling, or putting on a fake disguise.

Intimidation is a character’s ability to get other people to do what they want by making threats, hostile gestures, or intimidating comments.

Intimidation can take many forms, from flexing muscles or staring at a non-player character (NPC) to making threats or implying bad things will happen if someone doesn’t play nice.

Even though most of the time, intimidation is used as a Charisma check, many DMs will sometimes let players roll intimidation as a different kind of check, like strength or intelligence.

Persuasion is the ability to get other people to agree with you through words or actions.

This can include trying to convince someone that you are telling the truth when you are not, trying to negotiate or bargain, building relationships or business partnerships, talking a mob into or out of violence, or trying to charm someone into coming to dinner with you.

Persuasion can be used in a wide range of social situations in D&D 5e. If you try to convince someone by lying or scaring them, you usually have to switch to deception or intimidation.

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Performance: Shows how well a character can entertain others by singing, dancing, telling stories, acting, making music, etc.

It can also be used to distract people, make money through performances, or maybe get a crowd of people to feel something.

When these skills are used, they often overlap with each other, just like the other social skills. Even if a character doesn’t have performance proficiency, they can still add a proficiency bonus to the rolls they make with an instrument they know how to play well.

If a character is proficient in both the performance skill and an instrument, they don’t get a double proficiency bonus.

However, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything says that the DM could give an advantage to a skill check if the character is proficient in both the performance skill and an instrument.

Final Thoughts

Charisma is a fun ability for characters who want to get other people to do what they want.

But it’s only important for classes with spells or skills that depend a lot on charisma.