The silver-tongued mundane (with some constraints)

How would you design the stereotypical "silver tongued" character, who can convince a dragon to part with his treasure, sway a kingdom (or a Tribunal) with his eloquence, and convert the head hunter of the faerie host to Christianity?

Some limitations:

  1. This should be a companion character; most of his Virtues and Flaws would be focused on his persuasiveness, but perhaps not all; a little room for additional customization in that sense is a bonus.

  2. The persuasiveness can be the result of some mythic/supernatural lineage, faerie blessing etc. but should not depend on being part of supernatural tradition (like the Sahir) or be a supernatural ability itself (e.g. no Entrancement, no Faerie affinities modifying abilities etc.). But bonus points for a mythic persuasiveness that requires no supernatural association at all.

The 4e greater characteristic allowed a feat of strength (or equivalent) each day, and 5e has Reserves of Strength as a minor general virtue. Suggest seeking troupe approval for a version of that based upon Com - Charm of Persuasion?

According to the Ease Factor table (AM5th pg. 7), it sounds like you're looking for the ability to regularly roll at a 24+. Based on that assumption, the base is probably just the general format for the crazy-insane hyper-specialist, regardless of actual ability:

Characteristic +3
2 Great Characteristic +2
1 Affinity for (Ability)
1 Pussiant (Abilty)
1 Cautious with (Ability)
1 Essential Virtue (Relevant Specialization)

Assuming that the character has put 100 XP into the ability, that grants the following:
Characteristic: 5
Base Ability: 7 (+1 specialization)
Puissant: 2
Essential Virtue: 3

That grants a base 18 to whatever you're hyper-specializing in.

EDIT - things to add in if you want to specialize in talking to folks:

  1. Venus' Blessing (Maybe). That'll get you a +3 for smoothe-talking folks of the relevant gender.
  2. If you don't mind having a Heroic character, they could also get a Heroic Virtue, for another +1 specialization.
  3. I THOUGHT there was another (general) minor virtue that grants bonuses to speech, but I can't find it. If it doesn't exist, I would personally allow it to be created, and to stack with Essential Virtue; I consider EV to be a more full mind/body effect, while Soothing Voice (or whatever you want to call it) is simply the actual sound of the voice itself.
  4. Aura of Ennobled Presence - probably in a magic item (minor virtue); that'll grant another +3.

Add Self-Confidence (+1), and you have the missing +6 to reach 24 (by spending two confidence points).

However, having a single skill might not be enough to always succeed. Sometimes Etiquette will be more relevant thant Intringue, Guile or Bargain. Folk ken should not be overlooked neither.

With the list of virtues proposed by KevinSchultz you are at 6 minor virtues, +1 for self confindence. Add one more Puissant + Affinity with another social skill, and another Puissant to a third social skills and then you have a solid base for the perfect negociator/diplomate.

Inspirational can be also considered for specific role.

7 years are worth 105 XP (after childhood), so you can have a 30 years old character with three social abilities at 7 (94+94+140= 328, or 22 years), all of them worth +9 because of Puissant. And since to have an ability at +7 you need to be 36 years old or more, that does the trick - you will have extra XP to spent on support (and useful) skills like Area Lore, more social skills and some survival skills as well.
I have no doubt that such a skilled negotiator will have secured a good longevity potion, even if he is just a mundane character.

Thanks for your responses! Just a quick question: why would Essential Virtue (Minor) be of [i]any[/] benefit at all to such a character, given that the characteristic in question is already +3?

It doesn't. KevinShultz made a mistake with that.

Also a few usefull virtues:

Careful with ability: -2 Botch dice
Way of the City: +3 skill in cities -1 Botch die

My first problem is that it sounds like we're making exactly someone who has just such a Supernatural Ability like Entrancement while trying to avoid it. However, I do think we can make someone quite effective.

My first problem is to be generally silver-tongued, all of these are needed: Bargain, Carouse, Charm, Etiquette, Guile, Intrigue, Leadership. Plus, of course, Folk Ken (and Faerie Lore as Folk Ken for Faeries) is useful, though maybe not as primary as some of the others. That's way too many to make Puissant generally effective vs Great Characteristic. General +3's to situations, if they're broad enough, seem better. Plus, you want to be able to speak with those you're charming, so languages need to fit in. My second problem is that getting Heroic stuff requires going beyond what you said as I at least needed a Redcap and thus a member of the OoH. So here's my best non-supernatural (at all) version:

Alluring to Faeries, Alluring to Magical Beings, Great Characteristic x4 (2 Communication, 2 Presence), Linguist, Natural Leader, Puissant (choose one), Venus's Blessing

That's Pre/Com +5, +3 for all faeries/magical beings (including those with the Gift), +3 for taking the lead and offering suggestions/giving orders or with the appropriate gender in appropriate situations. I like Inspirational, but that doesn't quite fit since it's about getting people to do things they are better instead of acting agains their norm. That still leaves room for one Puissant or similar, as I listed.

So you have Ability+5 at a minimum for the influence Abilities, Ability+8 at a minimum for much of the convincing you want to do, and those become Ability+8 or Ability+11 if your target is Faerie or Magical. Add in another +2 for your chosen area of expertise. Plus you can afford more languages to do your convincing in.

Does not Essential Trait use the highest of the Characteristic or the bonus from ET so if you already have +5 in Communication you wont get the bonus of +3 from ET.

Quote from RoM:p 54
"These ET modify the appropiate Characteristic in circumstances applicable to the speciality like so: If the Char. is possitive and the trait is beneficial use the greater of the two."

Huh. Learn something new every day. I've never actually read that part of RoP:M, and instead was just treating an Essential Trait as the general form of the "+3 for a specialized Ability bonus", as the virtue itself suggests.


EDIT - although if you wanted to optimize even more, you could drop the 2 Great Characteristics, and instead take the Major Essential Trait (Smooth Talker), which grants a +6 in that scenario. Personally I wouldn't (as that's a pretty lame major virtue, when 2 minor virtues do it almost just as well, but are more general), but technically you could....and I suppose put the normal attribute points you didn't put into Com into Pre, or something...

EDIT II - although if you go Callen's route, you can use the Major ET for 3 points, rather than spending 4 points on 4 Great Characteristics.

Yes, if I'd been going for a very specialized character, I might have gone that way. However, I was also trying to avoid anything marked as supernatural.

Now, if I wanted to go super-specialized, I might well build a character who only ventures out at certain times, knowing when to apply himself and when to wait in the shadows. Perhaps something like this:

Affinity with (choose one), (Astrological) Mutable Alluring to Faeries, (Astrological) Mutable Alluring to Magical Beings, (Astrological) Mutable Cautious with (choose one), (Astrological) Mutable Great Communication, (Astrological) Mutable Great Presence, (Astrological) Mutable Puissant (choose one), (Astrological) Mutable Ways of the City, either (Astrological) Mutable Natural Leader or (Astrological) Mutable Venus's Blessing, Linguist

So you've got something, let's say Charm, picking up experience quickly via Affinity. Meanwhile You work off a Characteristic of +5 and another +4 for the Ability. Then you get with +6 for any Faerie, magical being, or city dweller. Add another +6 for let's say Venus's Blessing.

So you've got a high Ability that gets a minimum of +9, usually +15, and potentially +21. That only works four months of the year, but during those four months you're really, really good. And you'll rarely botch with 4 or 5 botch dice removed. Oh, and you have lots of languages so you can use your Ability broadly.

Speaking of which, if you want to write well you write one book a year, using three of your available four months with

(Astrological) Mutable Essential Virtue: Great Writer + (Astrological) Mutable Good Teacher

All you have to invest in Communication is 0. So you've spent 2 points of Virtues and can now write with a base Quality of 18. Did I break things? :smiling_imp:

@callen; I believe no "astrological virtue" can affect a seasonal activity, since it's active only part of the season. But I think that's a bit off topic.

I totally agree with whomever suggested Self-Confident as a Virtue.
A good reputation (including one earned in play) should also not be discounted!

In general, it seems that there's a lot to be gained for specializing the silver-tongue mundane: either for use in certain times (with astrological virtues... but I think that's not really worth it) for use "against" certain targets (Venus Blessing, Alluring to ) or for specific uses. Ultimately, I find the latter the most interesting. As Ezechiel first and callen later pointed out, if you want to be "well-rounded" in social interaction, you need a high score in Bargain, Charm, Folk ken, Leadership, Guile; plus possibly Intrigue, Etiquette, Artes Liberales (for rethoric). But many of these abilities are different means to the same end, even though some might be more effective than others in certain circumstances, in the same way that different weapon skills are different means to the same end. You can convince a merchant to barter a horse for your sheep by driving a really hard Bargain; by spinning some incredible story about the value of the sheep (or maybe about some illness having taken the horse...) with your Guile; by seducing him with your Charm; etc.

Is it worth investing in half a dozen abilities, or is it better to focus only on one or two, accepting that they'll be less than ideal in a few situations (and of course, having basic skills in the others)? The latter seems a better solution, not only because you can then focus your xp, but because you can focus your Virtues: Affinity, Puissant, and the oft forgotten Learn from Mistakes (as well as Cautious, of course). And which skills would you choose to complement each other?

One thing to keep in mind is that the rules for debate revolve around three "attack" skills (Folk Ken, Intrigue, and Artes Liberales) and three "defense" skills (Charm, Guile, and Leadership). If one is engaging often in debate, it might be worth to invest in one attack skill and one defense skill, accepting that the adversary might gain a +3 bonus to his attacks (and impose a -3 penalty to yours) by choosing the correct response. Folk Ken + Guile seems a solid combination that will almost always net you a +1 bonus to your Guile roll. Intrigue is also useful in many many contexts, and if one goes that way, Charm has less potential to backfire than Guile. Leadership seems more restricted, since it generally acts only on those you have (or are trying to assert) authority on. Artes Liberales is useful for the magus (and the Astrologer!) but much less so for the "general" social character.

That's why you write only during the months when it's active. Seasons are explicitly an abstraction and that's from the core book. Then there are other books that deal with multiple seasons overlapping and spread over the whole year. You can write any three months to get a season of writing so you can get it active the whole time. What you can't do is use it on something that must be tied to the seasons, and at least in one of 4th or 5th I believe it was stated that lab activities are restricted to being seasonal due to the nature of magic.

My troupe would claim that's against both the letter and the spirit of the rules, for example. But please note: this is off topic!

Note that Essential Traits are considered General virtues rather than Supernatural. (I think - Serf's parma.)

IoQ necklace (+4 affect breathing and speaking bonus)? :unamused:

Check that out: General. That's really odd considering the explicit statement in the same book about them being "part of the power of the Magic realm."

However, if Essential Traits are part of something's "Essential Nature" that means they are as difficult to alter or remove as General virtues or flaws - so in the same way the General Flaw "Blind" is a flaw of essential nature so you can't easily fix it with a healing ritual, you can't say "Can I use Muto magic to alter my Essential Trait?" because it's Essential.

This could lead to some strange edge cases - if a magical human with an essential trait gets initiated into The Heartbeast by a Bjornaer and eventually develops the inner heartbeast, presumably their Essential Trait they display as a human would be suppressed while in Heartbeast shape.

Back on topic, Jason72's suggestion for an item of quality is a good one - likewise using beautifully made clothing as per C&G or even wondrous items would allow mundane characters with no access to Hermetic magic to do impressive things.

Sub Rosa issue 8 in the article on Belin describes a supernatural power that might interest you, Legend Spinning:

The article described the power as a supernatural virtue associated with the Faerie Realm.