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The first draft of DnD gave your character a hotness stat

If Gary Gygax’s first draft of the rules for DnD had been printed, players with seductive Bard PCs would have been even less bearable.

A bald smiling DnD ranger, Minsc, holds an orange and white hamster, Boo - MTG card art by Howard Lyon

Whether Charisma is your character’s dump stat, or the basis of their personality and all their abilities, modern DnD players should be thankful that there is a Charisma stat at all. The first draft of DnD instead had an ‘Appearance’ stat, a measure of how easy on the eyes a character was, and it really wasn’t well developed at all.

If you thought Charisma was the most forgettable DnD stat, with utility extremely dependent on the type of campaign you’re playing, Appearance was far worse. The text of the very first draft of DnD describes Appearance as “seldom used, and it can be ignored” – probably a reason that Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson rethought the rules before DnD was actually published.

A smiling DnD bard with a duelling rapier - MTG card art by Anna Podedworna

The original draft typescript for DnD can be found in the upcoming DnD book ‘The Making of Original DnD’, a massive archive tome set to be published by Wizards of the Coast soon. We’ve got our hands on an early copy, which is where we’ve uncovered this curiosity.

As the description above suggests, Appearance was all but an afterthought. It didn’t really have any mechanical application, and wasn’t used for any of the three original DnD classes‘ special abilities.

The text does give the suggestion that Appearance “makes some interesting situations when a male player is captured by a Witch, for example – will she turn him into a swine or keep him as a lover?”. It’s an allusion to the Greek mythic hero Odysseus being enchanted by the witch Circe in the epic story ‘The Odyssey’, and an acknowledgement that some adventures have dimensions other than fighting and looting.

A DnD witch in grecian robes surrounded by swine - 'Curse of the Swine' card art by James Ryman

The witch and pigs example is actually still there in the first printed DnD edition (retroactively named Original DnD), in the description for Charisma. Charisma was first described as “a combination of appearance, personality, and so forth”, but unlike Appearance, it had a mechanical function.

In ODnD Charisma functioned “to determine how many hirelings of unusual nature a character can attract” – this specifically meant hirelings with Class levels. It also affected the loyalty of classless men-at-arms and mercenaries, and how well NPCs responded to offers to recruit them.

We’re thankful that the Appearance stat didn’t make its way into modern DnD for other reasons. The DnD Race system is uncomfortable enough with its essentialist assertion that certain sentient species are naturally more intelligent or charismatic than others, without flatly branding certain races as fugly.

This is the second titbit we’ve excavated from the annals of DnD history, but not the most surprising. Did you know that DnD was once intended for parties of up to 50 players?