Vitality as Charisma?

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Dave “the Game” Chalker wrote up a wonderful play summary of his first time running a game of Leverage the role-playing game. I really enjoy reading actual play reports, especially for games I’m already interested in. I’m glad his experience confirmed that Leverage makes a great pick-up game requiring little preparation and no more than a few hours. I tuned in to one part of his report in particular, that I wanted to tease out here. He mentioned missing a Charisma stat, for tasks like plain old grifts or impersonations. Meanwhile he had a tricky time integrating other stats into the flow of the game, such as Vitality. I understand he doesn’t have a problem with the Vitality stat or the lack of a Charisma stat, I just want to riff off the thoughts ignited in my mind when he put those two together.

The way I understand it, plain old grifts (the kind Sophie almost always starts a con with in the show) may be exactly the time to call for Vitality.


The Leverage rules do a magnificent job addressing both the physical and social aspects of abilities. I like this approach. Someone with good Strength doesn’t necessarily need muscles, but could have the social presence capable of throwing weight around or making people move. Likewise, Leverage addresses the absence of a charisma stat by pointing out that charisma is really situational applications of Intelligence, Willpower, Vitality, some Strength, and maybe even Agility, depending on the situation. Persuasion or pushing one’s will upon another would use Willpower, social dominance or intimidation could use Strength, impressing someone with knowledge of a niche or specialty subject area would use Intelligence.

Vitality, in Leverage, is not just Endurance. While some examples of it’s use point to enduring or persevering hardship (an all night hacking session, etc.), I like the way it’s mental aspect can enter the spotlight: Vitality is exuberant physical strength or mental vigor, basically, liveliness or the capacity for continued meaningful life and growth (ala In that respect, Vitality is that quality which makes people “interesting.” If they have liveliness of mind they will be interesting due to their mind’s self-motivated activity exploring patterns, seeking fresh experiences, and making new connections. If they have liveliness of body, maintained consistently, they will likely be fit and healthy, not to mention energetic and spry.


To tease this thread further I suspect that what most people consider beautiful or attractive is tightly connected to innate physical liveliness, or evidence thereof, even though that may point to influences more primal than we care to admit. I won’t go into the biological factors of survival value and perceived reproductive capacity as it pertains to perceptions of beauty, but let’s just say all of that is part of Vitality just as much as one’s ability to take a punch or go without sleep.

Thus, when Sophie approaches the Mark the first time sporting a carefully chosen outfit, high heels, a smile, and a beguiling accent, trying to catch his eye and his interest, I would guess she’s rolling Vitality.


Interestingly, I believe this goes much deeper than Leverage, or games in general. If I am out of shape should I aim to lose wait or would I do better directing my energy toward increasing my vitality? Or from the other side, can people simply choose to become more interesting, and thereby more attractive; or do they become interesting as a side-effect of passionately and avidly pursuing various other seemingly inconsequential avenues of exploration? How exactly would one go about intentionally improving one’s vitality, one’s livliness? What do you think? I’m sure I’ll explore that topic more another time.

About Adam

I'm a husband, father, explorer of the inexhaustible, and synergy cultivator. Starting with D&D, my explorations into role-playing and game design have brought me to savor mining diverse systems, initially Cortex Plus, then PbtA, ORE, Forged in the Dark, and now anything I can get my hands on.