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Has the Speech/Charisma stat become nothing more than fluff in this last generation?

I want to preface this by saying I'm not one of those people who think new gaming = bad, old gaming = good. Many genres have been introduced or have grown in these last two generations and with all the games and avenues to play them we have now, it's truly remarkable where gaming is now.

Having said THAT, there is one particular aspect that seems to stand out to me as having been "cheapened" in recent RPGs, and even overall games as more and more genres seem to be including some sort of RPG mechanics. The ability to talk your way out of a situation in a game is nothing new, hell, if we want to go back to the origin of the RPG genre, it's existence precedes gaming, and I seem to be seeing more and more games today introducing some sort of mechanics where there are "other avenues" instead of mindlessly mowing down legions of whatever enemy it has to offer. However, in so many titles today it feels incredibly forced in it's implementation.

I've recently started replaying Planescape Torment recently bc one of my friends was interested in watching me stream it since he didn't want to get invested in the gameplay themselves. As I wanted to show everything the game had to offer from a writing stand point, I went with a typical high CHAR/WIS/INT build to have as many dialogue choices as possible. While I realize I'm using a bit of an extreme example in terms of writing and dialogue options, it impressed me how this game from when I was younger really took these stats you selected and made everything seem organic in their implementation.

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Yes, many of the situations MECHANICALLY broke into a few ways you could go about doing it. If we were to draw up a flow chart, many of the branches would look the same as a modern RPG that includes moral dilemmas and decision making. However, subtle tweaks and further depth added so much to what seems to be the same concept.

The game not indicating which dialogue option is as a result of your build or stats for one makes things feel more natural. Just bc you're an incredibly knowledgeable person doesn't mean you won't say the odd stupid thing. It gives you more options to choose from since you know about more things, but in no way does the game point to the "win condition" of the conversation. While it's usually straightforward to figure out for yourself the best route to take the conversation, it still gives the player agency with being able to choose that branching path for themselves. It adds to the idea that you're role playing as the character you created or are playing as, even if you are limited as a byproduct of everything being predefined.

The second thing I noticed, and this is probably the bigger one, is how much more sense many of these options make to their modern counterparts. Just because you're smart or happen to be charming shouldn't make people woo over you by default. To switch over to another game, Fallout 1 allows you to get past the final encounter without having to fight. However, it's not a simple skill check when you happen to get there. Using your stat skills, you have to be able to set up the work, find the evidence you need to back your claim, AND THEN you need to be able to present it in a way that antagonist is willing to listen to you. People shouldn't be willing to back off simply bc they like the cut of your jib, but because you were able to leverage what you have in order to get out of a sticky situation.

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In comparison, many of these modern games seem to think that the player should be able to charm the pants off of anyone you meet. It doesn't matter how long they've been working towards what they have planned, or the sheer conviction in their actions, with a little bit of smooth talking and some puppy eyes thrown in, you can get out of the situation and convince them to drop whatever they're doing because… well because you said so.

And I'm not going on record to say that this is across the board, but I did want to pose the question to the people in this subreddit. Do you feel like the ability to use non combat skills (speech specifically) in a game is being used in a crude way in order to have it as a selling point for some sort of replicability claim? Do you think that it's becoming a bigger and bigger trend as time goes on? How would you improve on the current system, perhaps even taking it further than the games from long, long ago?


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