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Guest Article: Comeliness, it’s just misunderstood

Guest Writer: Dave Johnson

Back in November 1982 in Dragon Magazine #67, Gary Gygax talked about a new attribute to reflect how beautiful a person can look. Outward appearance can be important. In my own games, I have had the need to know just how “good looking” a person was. This may or may not be that essential to most people, but certain situations can arise that requires this judgment. Such as a “honey trap.”

The article entitled “A Beautiful Idea” was published by EGG talking about this new idea. A man by the name of Francois Marcela-Froideval had been using a “Beauty” attribute is his game. EGG thought that it had merit and wrote up some rules. In my opinion, the rules are too complex and tend to needlessly bog down the game. But, I have a need for this information. So I thought that a revisiting of the attribute was in order. Gary stated, “Francois uses a “Beauty” attribute for his characters, and I have come to the conclusion that you might also like to use such a rating.” Gary went on saying, “Comeliness is my word for the attribute. Beauty is too specific, as it calls to mind a positive state of good looks. “Comeliness” has a more neutral connotation; i.e., a character with a 3 attribute score for Beauty would be a non-beauty, but a 3 in Comeliness implies ugliness.”

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To determine comeliness one must roll all of the other stats first and then determine the comeliness score. I think that this is a great idea but I don’t want to use it like the other six stats. Comeliness should be a secondary attribute. All stats should be rolled using one of the four methods listed in UA1 & OA2 and OSRIC core rule book. My reason is this, I think that allowing for better scores is more realistic and makes for a better gaming experience. I think that EGG would agree.

Let me give you an example: Let’s say a well-to-do thief were to try a confidence play on the local nobility. Using the looks of his partner, Gwendolyn the Sweet, to talk some money out of the Lord of the Manor. Gwen’s looks will play big role in persuading the Lord to loosen his purse. This is what Comeliness was intended for. It answers the question: “How good-looking is this wench?” What are her measurements? Do her eyes hypnotize? A high comeliness score will provide us with the data. Charisma doesn’t tell the complete story. Using Charisma and Comeliness together will give the GM a better picture of how the scene will play out.

What about a contest between two gents? Who is better looking? Food for thought… .

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