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Appearance Has More Drawbacks, Or Does It?

Shataina's original argument: High Appearance has more drawbacks than other high Attributes. It screws you more to have high Appearance than it can screw you to have, say, high Strength. If we list mythic examples, it will help demonstrate this. General examples:

  • People are jealous. They'll hate you if they're jealous enough. If your Appearance is high enough, even gods are jealous, and jealous gods are particularly bad. Reference: Psyche.
  • Inappropriate partners lust after you. If they already have a partner, the partner hates you for it. If you already have a partner, they probably won't like it either. References: Ramayana; Helen of Troy.
  • You're more recognizable (this isn't always a drawback, but it's particularly bad for Celestials).
  • Rumours spread about you without any action on your part (this isn't always a drawback, but it's particularly bad for Celestials).
  • With high enough Appearance, you yourself might be mistaken for a god. This isn't always a bad thing, but it can be; also, keep in mind that the Fair Folk -- widely-known eaters of souls -- are most famous for being beautiful. Reference: the core book's description of Appearance 5 states that "rural people mistake you for an incarnate deity".

Debate Now, Or Else

Not to quibble with the Queen of Best Practices. But isn't this a discussion?

Not to quibble with Mr. Snark, but shouldn't whoever he is sign his comments? :) No offense, naturally, any more than you intended.

Moved. I actually thought about relocating everything to an Appearance discussion previously, but the bottom half of the Appearance page seemed to be better. In terms of this particular aim, I was thinking this would be used to list things in a more neutral format, with no commenting directly in the fields, which is why I structured this page the way I did. But that doesn't appear to work, so I've restructured it again.
~ Shataina

Arafelis makes a parallel case for Strength:

  • People are jealous. They'll hate you if they're jealous enough. If your Strength is high enough, even Dynasts are jealous, and jealous Dynasts are particularly bad. You'll get beaten up by Charm wielders who grew up being picked on as intellectuals just because they can.
  • Explotative overlords want to use you as force. If they already have servants, the other servants are jealous of you for your power. If you already have a liege, he probably won't appriciate other job offers coming in.
  • Not everyone will recognize "The guy who can lift a wagon wheel," but everyone will recognize "The guy who can lift a wagon, filled with hay and with a horse standing on top." While you can veil your face, it's much harder to hide how strong you are.
  • Rumours spread about you just because of how strong you are.
  • With high enough Strength, you yourself might be mistaken for a god. This isn't always a bad thing, but it can be; also, keep in mind that barbarians - widely-known destroyers of civilization - are most famous for being strong.

All of the above from Arafelis, who actually finds the discussion rather silly, and thinks that (as demonstrated) most of the 'drawbacks' of having a high Appearance hold essentially true for any attribute. People always recognize strengths and feel jealousy or the desire to control them. Being strong, tough, fast, beautiful, loveable, convincing, genius, quick of thought, or extremely perceptive all inspire the same mixture of admiration, respect, jealousy and lust; "You have something I want."

I wouldn't say you have to just veil your face to disguise Appearance. As for the rest of what you said, it all seems like a bit of a stretch to me, and underrepresented in actuality. How about this: Why don't we restrict this to recorded cases or stories of various Attributes being a drawback? Like myths, for example? I don't think this is best viewed as matter of how well it could, hypothetically, with enough thought, be seen as a drawback, but a matter of how often it actually is a drawback. I'd start the examples right now, but I just saw a really gross bug in my room and I'm going to have a meltdown if I stay here any longer. ~ Shataina
Whose stories? Because, I mean, I've got a stack full of comic books involving people being taken advantage of at all times for having some superhuman attribute... I mean, I could probably fill a few pages just by reading through stories of the Brotherhood or Acolytes. Say... Collosus, who, for having strength and stamina, has been used by just about everybody at some point or another...
Or, citing the bible, wherein Joseph's exceptional Charisma got him jumped by his brothers and his Wits and Perception got him abused all the freaking time in Egypt.
Likewise, I could write a story that says, "So and so was very (BLANK). So and so's stepmother/stepfather/brother/whatever was envious of their (BLANK) and did something to punish them for having it, but they ended up happy anyway," and I've basically re-written the story of Psyche. What makes my story any different from the original? - Arafelis
"What makes my story different" I can't answer. "What makes my story useful" is simple - it demonstrates that Appearance is on par with the other attributes, which is the original point of contention on this page. -- BillGarrett, who will probably research this.
How does it demonstrate that? I could make up an example study that proves that Ritalin kills children, but would that be useful for figuring out how Ritalin affects children?

What makes your story different from the original is that the original doesn't say that. Obviously. The moral of the original story is that high Appearance is dangerous, not that high Strength is dangerous. I'm not saying that having high other Attributes is never a drawback. I'm saying that, in reality, having high Appearance is a drawback a lot more often. This is why I offhandedly suggested a list in the first place; I'm positive that any such list will find a lot more actual, cited examples of Appearance being a drawback than Strength. Whether we're patient enough to actually sit down and list them all is the only question in my mind, and I'm starting to think I'm not.

Refer to my lower comments for more.
~ Shataina
Ok, now that's just silly. What I meant was, "Why is my made-up story any more or less valid than so-and-so's made-up story?" And you've implicitly compared an ancient myth to a scientific study here- by comparing your 'example study proving Ritalin kills children' to my offer to make up a story (and maintaining the position of comparing lists of stories), you're forming a contrast that suggests that Greek mythology is the equivalent to a valid scientific study. (Regarding "Thats just silly": "In reality, having a high Appearance is a drawback... This is why I offhandedly suggested a list [of fictional stories] in the fist place"? ) - Arafelis adds emphasis
Being strong, tough, fast, convincing, genius, quick of thought, or extremely perceptive require one to actually do something. No one is going to know your character is capable of Herculean feats of Strength if they never do them. Heck, a high Strength does not translate into a noticably powerful physique, let alone a gossip-worthy disgustingly hypertrophied muscles that inhibit movement (i.e. the build of a body-builder who has abused steroids). The assertion has already been made that Appearance is passive. Merely veiling the character's face won't be enough. Look at Michael Cacoyannis's film The Trojan Women. The audience sees Helen's eyes through two boards before they see anything else, and the shot is stunning and effectually communicates Helen's beauty with only a close up of her eyes. It is easier to hide your high Strength . . . because all you need to do is nothing at all.
I think Odysseus would be a case of high Manipulation having negative consequences. Achilles would be, as well. That is, both men were forced to go off to Troy because of their famed prowess and did not derive their fame solely from something one could attribute to Abilities alone. Telamonian Ajax might have something going against him from high Attributes. Paris is probably in a similar boat as Helen. - Andrew02
And until the rest of the body is seen, it's quite possible Helen is a hideous leper with absolutely gorgeous eyes. Stranger things've happened.
Having a high Appearance doesn't necessesarily translate to being automatically noticed, either- there are at least as many ways to hide beauty as there are to enhance it. If one goes about acting naturally, then yeah, they'll notice your Appearance- much like they will your Strength if you seem to be holding back all the time or accidentally break fragile things just by holding them. The 'cues' for other stats aren't as simple as seeing their eyes, but they aren't quite so hard to pick up on- unless they're being deliberately or habitually concealed- as I feel you seem to make out. - Arafelis

Well, the first two could considered either neat plot hook or the ST being a jerk. Recognizability isn't that big a disad. Population mobility is pretty low, so if you go someplace else, it's unlikely your meet anyone who's seen you before. As for rumors, I don't think the Immaculate Order investigates all the attractive people...well Cynis maybe. :) Again, being mistaken for a god enough to get in trouble probably counts as a plot hook or ST being a jerk. Psyche is a possiblity, but not really inevidable. I think you can mess with people who have high other attributes just as easily. For strength, just have the hero catch a beam before it falls on a kid, or something(they'll feel worse if they don't, and there is virtue rolls). I think you can make a point of it, but I don't think you have to. Considering there are appearnace 6+ insects, I think a high appearance is really only as much of a disad as the ST decides to make it. I'm not sure refrencing myths is valid, just because such a thing is possible, doesn't mean it's inevidable. It even could be considered a cool part of the charachter. There are also plenty of cases of a high appearance getting people out of trouble as in it. It seems to me there is a bigger range of effect between low and high than for most other attributes. Still seems balanced to me though. -FlowsLikeBits

My point with the referencing myths idea is to show how often Appearance has been considered a problem. People don't make up stories about things that they don't think about. The fact that we have more myths about high-Appearance people getting screwed than high-Perception people getting screwed demonstrates, to my mind, that there's more of a consciousness of high Appearance being a problem and therefore it has probably occurred more often.
~ Shataina

What is the purpose of this Discussion? Game-mechanically, I think that you are being an asshat if you run a game where characters are being punished for having high scores in the least useful Attribute. - willows

P.S. On a more serious note, I agree with other posters who suggest that other Attributes have analogous disadvantages and I, personally, think it is either shortsighted, cruel, or pathological to assume that the drawbacks of especial Appearance are unusually dramatic.

It grew out of more of a discussion of reality than a discussion of what's acceptable in a game. If you're like me, and prefer to run realistic games, that's useful. Otherwise, it's not.
~ Shataina

Since everybody else is doing it...

Point the first: the key difference between Appearance and the other attributes, at least as far as I see it, is that while high attributes of any kind can get you in trouble (i.e. someone known for being strong gets challenged by two-bit brawlers everywhere he/she goes), high Appearance does not help you survive the fallout. Being strong lets you beat up challengers who want to prove that they're stronger. Being pretty doesn't help assuage jealously caused by prettiness.

Point the second: perhaps a better way to approach this issue is to begin with the following premise...

Having a high attribute is A Good Thing.

Then, work out what the principle use of Appearance might be - I would say it is to attract attention - and classify accordingly. Someone with App 5 would be able, when they wanted to to have an entire room just stop and notice them. Since always being noticed and lusted after is a drawback, make it a Social flaw. It would be like always having to exert your full strength on everything you touched.

If you want concrete game mechanics for this method, I would suggest that whenever two people are contesting for social influence over a third (let's call him V for Victim), the less attractive of the two manipulators (or charismators) suffers a difficulty penalty equal to the difference between their Appearance scores - because they're having a harder time keeping V's attention.

- Falcon

An easier way to handle this (I agree with you; Appearance does not outweigh its drawbacks with benefits as the other Attributes do) is to simply use Appearance for those rolls unless some other Attribute is drastically more appropriate, as with Charisma and swaying large groups through force of personality, or Manipulation and making people do what you want without them realising it.
I think it's useful to call to mind those people who go around with half-closed eyes most of the time (we all know one) because their eyes are such a startling colour, and it makes them less useful to stare everyone, round-eyed, all the time. - willows
My eyes are startlingly coloured, and they're half-shut most of the time as well - but that's because I'm sleepy. :-) - F
Thank you. I should have made your first point from the start. I think it's very similar to Andrew02's good point above, that Appearance is passive and the other Attributes are active.

Personally, I think most things about Appearance as an Attribute are obvious, or are at least widely agreed-upon. Appearance not having very many benefits is one. That high Attributes should be a good thing is another. Appearance being a different "kind" of thing from the other Attributes is yet another. In some ways I think this has led me to obfuscate parts of this discussion, because I really, really don't want to get into a debate over whether Appearance is as useful as Manipulation or whatever; but I possibly should have said all these things from the start so we could all check and see that we were on the same page.

Anyway, the point of this comment is that I agree with you. Even if we were to find that high Appearance doesn't cause trouble more often than other high Attributes (and I still think we would), we need to keep in mind that high Appearance is both more difficult to avoid using and will not get the user out of the problems it causes. These are the other major reasons it's more of a drawback than the other Attributes.
~ Shataina
And to do something I probably should have done from the start but shied away from, I'll address your myths.

In most cases, high Appearance DOES get characters out of the trouble it causes, unless the story is a tragedy... Sure, Psyche had impossible tasks set out for her, but she 'somehow managed' to attract just the right sort of help she needed. In Helen's case, it depends on which trouble you're talking about- Appearance is what got her stolen away, and also what got a war fought over her. So you can say either her Appearance is what prompted her rescue, if you're considering that as the 'resolution' or you can say that without her beauty, she would never have had the happiness she did in Troy at all in the first place. But this is still skirting around the issue... I'd like to point out something.

It's not beautiful characters that have problems in the mythology of patriarchal societies. It's beautiful women, or obviously feminized males. The beauty of a women is wielded as punishment against her. If you want to understand this attitude, read Kant's "On the Sublime and the Beautiful," sometime- directly influenced by the Greek philosophers and the Enlightenment, he says things like "The virtue of the female sex is a beautiful virtue. ...They avoid the bad, not because it is wrong, but because it is ugly, and virtuous actions signify, with them, such as are morally beautiful. Nothing of ought, nothing of must, nothing of due. ...They do something but because they are pleased to do so, and the art consists but in making that which is good pleasing to them. I hardly believe the fair sex are capable of prinicples..."

Beauty attracts; this can cause problems and solve them in a measure that is at least equally weighted towards the latter. It is the nature of the mythos, however, to consider the damsel in distress and the hero the rescuer. A character who has no control over their selfhood could have any attribute wielded against them just as easily; the brute who is easily manipulated, the mind that is easily tainted, or any other such aspect held in isolation and with none of its strengths permitted. That's essentially why I disagree with this 'mythic example' idea, or with the idea that Appearance is somehow less under concious control than any other Attribute. Anyone who has seen someone else change clothes between going to work, going to school, and going on a (potentially) hot date ought to realize that Appearance, just like any other Attribute, is always a choice.

There is more I would add, but no one else has mentioned the r-word, and I don't want to be the first to spell it out. - Arafelis
Yes! Are we having a power systems discussion now? I love these! Okay. Firstly, I was a philosophy major, and I'm majorly into gender studies. I understand the attitude. Trust me. Now. Gender is a different kind of thing in "Exalted", and the power structures are also different. This does not mean that the beautiful-damsel-in-distress or whatever doesn't happen. It means that it hypothetically happens differently (and obviously this is going to be a mostly useless discussion, especially if we happen to disagree, since we're discussing a totally hypothetical world and can't prove anything). Sure, hot women in our mythologies get victimized more (but keep in mind that even in our world's mythologies, in societies where there were acceptable slightly-lower-status sex objects other than women, they got screwed for Appearance too -- Zeus, for example, raped attractive boys as well as chicks); but the structures that created lots of women being victimized for their Appearance in our world would translate to lots of, say, mortals being victimized for their Appearance in "Exalted".

Your argument about beauty-as-punishment myths being a product entirely and only of the patriarchy is almost compelling, except for the fact that that wonderful patriarchy isn't just scared of feminine beauty, it's always smacked down other supposedly feminine "high-Attribute" stuff too; e.g., cleverness. Women have long been reviled as devilishly smart, manipulative, etc. But you don't see myths that have a woman's, say, intelligence turning into a problem the same way a woman's beauty does. You'll find the occasional one but they aren't nearly as prevalent. Why? I continue to contest: because Intelligence is simply less of an "unbalanced problem stat" than Appearance, and it's therefore less understandable to portray it so.

As for Appearance being under less control than most things, I just disagree. Sure, you can put less effort into it, but how far can you really take model-beautiful looks down? Gorgeous people who don't brush their hair and don't wash their faces and wear office clothes instead of miniskirts are slightly less attractive, but it doesn't translate into that much of a difference; certainly not as much of a difference as deliberately not manipulating someone, or deliberately not sneaking / doing backflips / whatever else Dexterity can do, etc. And as for aspects "held in isolation" with none of their "strengths permitted" ... I can see what you mean about Appearance helping solve the problems it creates, but there are a lot more limits to its "solutions" than there are to most; I really don't think it's equally weighted towards solutions, as you assert. Sure ... Helen survived the war her beauty caused, and sure her beauty did gain her Paris's love, but her beauty did nothing to fix the fact that everyone but like 5 people continued to think she was a whore even after the battle was over; nor did it save Paris, Hektor, or anyone else she liked; nor did it get her out of returning to the marriage she ran away from.

Oh, and I think you know perfectly well that once you've mentioned it you have to spell it out. So please do. Or don't mention it at all. :)
~ Shataina
Rape doesn't happen because the victim is beautiful; it happens because the attacker is stronger than the victim. Mythologically speaking, the attractiveness of the victim is exaggerated to 'justify' the crime- we couldn't have Zeus, King of the Gods going around picking up just anyone, could we? And what's the fun in saying that the Trojan War was started over "A moderately attractive woman with great cooking skills," as opposed to, "The most beautiful woman in the world"? -I think I already addressed Ganymede, too, by including 'feminized males' in my previous comment... beautiful young men in Greek society were assigned a basically feminine status. That's why you'd see an older 'tutor' with a younger 'student'; there was no, or at least very little, homosexuality in Greek society, defined as "a relationship between two mutually attracted and roughly equal partners of the same sex." The younger male was treated as a woman. And, with you being a philosophy major, I'm sure I don't need to describe Aristotle or Plato's consideration of women... and they were the most egalitarian of the bunch!

In the cases of cleverness, it depends on the story. If it's a story wherein there's a 'wise woman,' she'll provide 'common sense' solutions but won't, say, demonstrate a grasp of geometry or algebra. If it's a story with a female protagonist, then yeah, her cleverness usually gets her into just as many 'dramatic complications' as beauty- and I'd cite examples, but I can't think of any such stories offhand. Occasionally there is a story in which a female does all the real work and fixes everything behind the scenes... and invariably cast across from a bumbling and incompetent male. These stories are intended as humorous, the political/intellectual equivalent of cross-dressing.

If you don't know a model controls her looks, I would guess you do not know any models (or the ones you do love playing the role of 'social victim', and you don't look in their bathroom or closet much).

I will go so far as to agree that the way in which Appearance provides solutions is a thing that one can lose control of. But for any of us who have spent nights up with or days isolated by our thoughts, turning a problem over and over again or distraught over a new thought/idea that's hard to fit in with our old models, it is hard to say that intelligence is any easier to control... - Arafelis
Personally, I've noticed a fair range of attractiveness between trying to attractive, and not trying or trying to be unattractive or neutral. Being a male attracted to females that could mean there is certian "artificalness" to female standards of beauty, such that more "effort" is required, and hence there is more of an exertion analogy for Appearance. What I am saying is, if the standards of beauty are more artifical, then there is more of exertion needed to use your looks, and they are easier to hide. But if the standards are based on innate things, these are much more difficult to hide. I would not be surprised if these standards were different for men and women in current society. In Exalted,it depends on the ST of course.

Technicly, cleverness is never a drawback. However, one's high opinion of one's own cleverness, even if it is deserved, can be. (Oddly enough, research has shown that these two tend to be somewhat inversly related.) This is fairly common in stories, the fact that it happens less often to female charachters is probably an unfortunate side effect of the patriarchy. Anyway, most other attributes include the ability to manage it effectivly(a high strength person does not accidentally crush things). Thus I don't see why Appearance couldn't be treated the same way. -FlowsLikeBits

Hi there!

This is a very interesting discussion, that I've had a few times.

RPG stuff. In Rolemaster, I think I can recall a curse that increases a person's beauty. This should be held in context of course...

This is also a major gender issue. The beauty of a woman is distinctly different from that of a man. Beautiful women are considered as big problems, because women in general means trouble, and hot chicks doubly so.

I think beauty has so many subtle advantages that it is hard to make a nice point of its usefulness sometimes. I believe that hot people have a much easier life in many situations. People trust them more, are more likely to offer help, and are more frequently offered amorous attention. Perhaps, things happen slower, as administrators might take their time to "get a good look", but they will happen.

In modern myth, beautiful protagonists generally gets another chance because of their beauty. James Bond, Modesty Blaise and others are often held captives to put into "use". MB is a very good reference how to use beauty in combat, to gain access behind enemy lines etc.

I think it would be significantly harder to execute an attractive person than an ugly. This is speculation because the experimental design would be somewhat unethical.

Ramblings over..Clebo

I think it's also important to note that mythology and folklore do not reflect real life in any sensible manner. It is really silly to say, "It is realistic to handle things this way because that is how it happens in stories!", unless your definition of "realistic" includes Cinderella.

It's strongly possible, and I would argue that it's the case, that being pretty is bad for you in stories because it is exactly the opposite in real life. It's a manifestation of the resentment of the ugly against the beautiful, and the general reversal of properties that happens in mythology! As others have said repeatedly, people get punished for being advantaged in all kinds of different ways in mythology.

Compare this to Real Life, where there are real studies that show that real people get tangible advantages (hired for jobs more frequently, better pay, etc) for being attractive.

I think your "jealous and raped" argument really only applies in a realistic fashion to profoundly disempowered characters who aren't able to act in meaningful ways against the world.

I don't think that this is a property of any character in Exalted. - willows

Shataina, I have nothing really to add, except my astonishment that you of all people would say that beauty is a natural correlation to rape. --dissolvegirl

I'd like to point out that Appearance doesn't even have to have that much to do with the way your body looks innately. Let me give an example. I knew a woman, moderately attractive, but nothing overly special. At best, she could be called a bit cute, except when she wanted she could just turn it into utter... sexiness. And this was dressed normally, if she put some effort into changing clothes, putting on makeup, maybe doing her hair, she was fabulous. The point is, it's not like she changed shape or anything, she just changed something in her attitude and body language. It made all the difference in the world. - haren

I'm sure there are lots of characters out there who have Strengths of 3, 4, or even more... and yet are gorgeous and slender. This does not happen in real life. If you, as a real-life person, possess the level of physical power represented by four dots of Strength, you are huge (relative to your height) and musclebound, no two ways about it. So, if we can imagine that a woman capable of lifting 200 kilograms without magical assistance can have a body type more closely resembling that of a swimsuit model than that of a professional bodybuilder (and I assert that such characters are not uncommon), we can certainly imagine that having a high Appearance does not carry with it any of the "drawbacks" it might in real life -- which I think you are basically making up in the first place. Being pretty doesn't mean you get raped more often; it means that members of the opposite sex are a lot more willing to do things for you and give you free stuff, even if you don't end up sleeping with them. This is only a problem if you have some kind of personal convictions which insist that others must ignore your obvious beauty (or strength, ruggedness, or poise) and respect you based solely on your scores in the intangible Attributes. A self-actualized character will view his astonishing beauty in the same way he does his formidable intellect, incredible toughness, or overwhelming force of personality: as a gift from the Gods, which he will use to blaze his path across the earth. Only a deeply conflicted or disempowered character would see a high Attribute score as a failing, because only that kind of character would be unwilling or unable to turn that high score to his advantage.

So basically, I agree with willows. _Ikselam's mind is boggled, too.

Hi there! Dissolvegirl, I don't agree with your conclusion. I'd like to state, for the record, that I would never consider beauty a natural correlation with rape. First off, I have no idea what natural in such a statement means. Secondly, the statistical concept of correlation allows for many strange false conclusions. For instance, IQ is correlated with shoesize. Why? Well, both IQ and shoesize tend to generally increase with age, particularly the first ten. I like you Dissolvegirl, please explain how you came to your conslusion. Finally, I should add that the second section of my text assumes a patiarchic society, and not a personal opinion of women. I love women, and would never consider them a problem. However, some such statements are sometimes said in the absence of women -Clebo

She's not saying that's what she thinks. She's saying she's surprised that Shataina would seem to endorse such an idea. _Ikselam
Ikselam is correct; it was Shataina who made the assertion, and therefore who boggled my mind. I reworded a little to make my statement more clear. --dissolvegirl thinks the only natural correlation with rape is that it's always done by asshats.

OK, for the record people rape has almost nothing to do with beauty, and very little to do with sex. Those who rape feel an overwhelming need to dominate another, usually because he was belittled as a child. A rapist ususally picks a victim when they resemble physically a person that is dominant in their life, most often (as icky as it sounds) someone that looks like their mother. no this isn't true for all rapists, but it is percieved as the norm by psychology - Paladinltd

What are we talking about here? Rape in stories? Rape in games? Rape in real life? While rape may not correlate well with the attractiveness of the victim in real life (hard to say, as attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder and these are some messed-up beholders we are talking about), I suspect that rape does correlate with appearance in fiction - whether out of a misunderstanding of the psychology of rape or to make us more sympathetic to the victim. -szilard

That's the thing. High appearance as a drawback (and all that it entails) is supposedly necessary for a realistic game, but the examples are coming from fiction. That makes this all the more confusing, and if the assertion that "beautiful characters must get raped more often to make a realistic game" exists, then I am horrified that someone thinks that such a thing is paramount in making a game realistic. --dissolvegirl

Ok, ok. Shataina hasn't responded to anything recently, and this was sort of her discussion. Give her a chance to reply, folks! - Arafelis suggests that the discussion over rape is only one aspect to the whole issue, and is getting addressed out of proportion in its relevance to the Wiki and Exalted.

My God, people! I leave you alone for two days and look at the mess you make! <fusses>

Ookay. I can see how you would think I said that rape happens because the victim is pretty, but that isn't what I meant. :P It's pretty obvious that everyone here has a fair grasp of what my position actually is, so I won't waste your time by stating it. As for what I actually said. It's obviously idiotic of me to have used the term "rape", but what I intended was the classical meaning of the word, which was more along the lines of "carried off violently". Helen, for example, is often described as "raped". So was Ganymede, who I don't think Zeus ever explicitly had sex with (although this is the same "non-explicit sex" as happened between, say, Achilles and Patroclus). I could be wrong about Zeus and Ganymede never explicitly having sex, and if you are sure that I am wrong then it should be very easy to say so without going into a massive side rant about my ignorance of classical myths or whatever, thank you.Discussions/B> Now that I've said that, I'm going to ignore all the specific rape comments; if you think I haven't addressed yours adequately, point it out again. (And in case you're curious, my views on rape in games, including misguided attempts at realism, are here: [ http://www.gamegrene.com/node/447 ].)

As for the whole "model" thing. Assuming makes an ass, etc, Arafelis. I know several models, one of whom was my roommate in college, meaning I saw her a lot in the morning with messy hair and unmakeup'd face -- and it didn't make much of a difference. That part's obviously based on personal experience. But even when you see those "candid photos" of celebrities without their makeup teams or whatever, it's pretty rare that those celebrities seriously "degrade", Appearance-wise. I'd say the max they "lose" is maybe a dot, if that. And it's worth noting that even though models' and celebrities' looks do undeniably "degrade" when they're caught at a bad angle during daylight, there is no such thing as photography or deliberate lighting in "Exalted", which, I suspect, means that the furthest a high-Appearance character's looks can go down is through lack of makeup / good clothes / whatever, and as already noted, I am convinced that this is not that large a loss.

(1) In real life, you can become more attractive. Most people do this by eating more healthily and exercising. Some people do it just by getting older. The difference between real life and the game is that in real life, there's probably a cap on how much prettier you can get without surgery -- obviously your bone structure isn't going to change much no matter what you do, and this will affect your ability to conform to cultural standards of what constitutes a "beautiful" build.

However, the same is true of <b>all</b> the qualities which the game quantifies as Attributes. Physically, some people just have more raw potential than others; it's easier for them to train and increase their bodies' endurance, strength, speed, and coordination, and they can reach levels that others can't achieve without using drugs, blood doping, and so on. Likewise, some people are just naturally more outgoing than others (higher potential for Charisma), due to a number of factors including brain chemistry and upbringing. Others have the ability to think faster (Wits) or harder (Intelligence) than most other people ever will.

In Exalted, on the other hand, all characters are assumed to have basically limitless potential. One might argue that this is what separates a "heroic" character from a "realistic" character. Heroes can do anything they want to if they put their minds to it; real people actually can't.

Not that I can prove it or anything. And haren, I respect your personal experience, but I have to say that my own has been at odds with it; I'm sure I could go into some ridiculous analysis of the way you looked at this woman etc, but I'd prefer not to. Such personal, different experiences as yours and mine are the reason I originally proposed specific examples; more on this in a few paragraphs.

Now. Before continuing, I'd like to emphasize one thing: <b>I never said being pretty isn't an advantage
. I've repeatedly said the opposite, in fact, although apparently not enough during this discussion. (Should we maybe import the comments that actually inspired all this?) My point is, and has been all along, this: that extremely beautiful people, especially around 5 Appearance, experience many drawbacks for their beauty -- and that more drawbacks are thus experienced than are generally / realistically experienced by characters with other Attributes that high.

Your real study example, willows, is a good one, but I propose that if we tried to study what happened to the relatively small sample of extremely beautiful people, rather than to the larger sample of relatively attractive people that was doubtless used for those studies, we'd find that extremely beautiful people run into the problems I outlined very frequently. Obviously not being mistaken for a god, but say, not being hired / promoted / whatever'd out of jealousy. Arguably, this could happen with other Attributes too -- hypothetically, someone might not be hired because the employer feels threatened by their intelligence -- but an intelligent person could, for example, think of a way to demonstrate their value to the employer so they get hired, whereas a pretty person, as noted by Falcon, can't use their beauty in such a way (unless they are going for one of the rare and highly specific professions for which Appearance is the "profession stat"; I contest that such jobs are largely nonexistent compared to jobs that utilize the other Attributes).

(2) So, do you have any kind of basis on which to make this assertion, other than personal conviction? Also, lousy example at the end. To properly control, you shouldn't pit a plain smart person against a gorgeous idiot; you should compare the success of a plain person to that of a pretty person who is equally intelligent and capable. _Ikselam

Ikselam, I understand the idea that only disempowered people who are unwilling to use their Appearance aren't gonna get the benefits, but as I said, that's not my point. Gorgeous people get benefits; they use those benefits; personally, I generally systemize this by just giving them lots of extra social dice to every social roll after I replace the Appearance stat with something else. The fact that a beautiful person is getting benefits from their beauty does not mean that they are not also getting drawbacks; I guess I already said this, but I felt the need to say it again.

(3) I am unclear on why you bother to make up a whole extra system for "Presentation" when you just end up giving bonus dice for "Appearance" anyway. What's the big difference? Also, I assert that a character's level of motivation determines whether or not her high Appearance is something she uses to her advantage, or is something that causes her to be constantly exploited by others, just as with any other high Attribute score. _Ikselam

Onward! Realism vs. myth. I never meant to imply that myths are real, that myths are an accurate reflection of reality, etc. I know gryphons don't exist, people. What I do think is that myths are an accurate reflection of the attitudes and concerns of their spawning culture.

My entire motivation with the whole list idea was to try and demonstrate that attitudes, realistically, mostly come down to a condemnation of beauty / emphasis on its drawbacks. I would have suggested that we list real-life examples if there were enough third-party real-life examples to draw from.

(4) I can give you a whole lot of third-party real-life examples. Go to the movies. Look at the posters. How many actors' names do you recognize? How many of these names are the names of very attractive people? Hollywood stars are massively rich and famous; for many of them (especially actresses), this is due in no small part to their stunning good looks. People idolize these gorgeous actors, to the extent that a whole genre of periodicals exists with no purpose other than to document every little detail of celebrities' lives. A lot of people resent celebrities, sure. But they still can't look away. They obsess over whether or not Britney Spears is getting fat. They eagerly devour rumors of Brad Pitt cheating on his wife. Their jealousy actually helps make its objects more successful. _Ikselam

I thought myths would be good because: (a) there are a lot of them; (b) they are relatively neutral in that they have little personal relation to us (that is, you can't say, "I was there when this myth happened and ...!") and they are often very simple, therefore hard to argue about (that is, it's harder to say stuff like, "Ah yes, but Psyche wasn't really persecuted for her beauty, you're mistaking the intent of the author!"); and (c) we, as fantasy gamers, are likely to know a lot of them. We could use, say, more recent novels too (Cather's Sapphira and the Slave GirlDiscussions/I> comes to mind, off the top of my head, although someone will probably say that that involves an explicitly disempowered woman -- but she could have successfully, at the very least, pretended not to have any other high-scored Attribute besides Appearance, couldn't she?). Or not.

Here's the thing about Appearance as a passive stat. Yes, it is easy to argue that Appearance can be consciously used. It is also easy to argue that Appearance should be defined as consciously used, and a choice, etc, in order to bring it in line with the other stats.

(5) <i>I'd argue that Appearance isn't the only passive stat. Perception is pretty passive; so's Intelligence. Stamina is a classic example of a passive trait -- you can't turn toughness on or off at will. What's wrong with passive traits, anyway? _Ikselam

However, the actual canon text about Appearance kind of contradicts this, portraying it as a more static, unchangeable thing. The name itself also contradicts it.

(6) These are two claims I think you need to back up. Quotes would be good on the first; on the second, I just have no idea how you reach the conclusion you do. Why does the name "Appearance" suggest a static quality to you? _Ikselam

This is yet another reason I houserule Appearance and rename it Presentation; the systemic changes are very few, but it takes care of all these annoying semantic issues. And I think that doing that is right and good; and I think that most of the people on the thread seem to do that generally, if to a lesser degree than I myself do. But! As has frequently been pointed out (often, and generally patronizingly and in an assmonkeyish way, to me, when I already know it, so I'm trying really hard to be particularly nice here and I don't mean to imply that you guys don't already know this), houserules != canon. Feel free to contradict my interpretation of canon Appearance! But it is not quite relevant to tell me how Appearance shouldDiscussions/B> be done (I already know that; I houseruled it didn't I?). In other words: keep in mind that your houseruled interpretation of Appearance does not prove anything about the canonical high levels of Appearance.

Side note: there's a lot to be said about Appearance that isn't really relevant to this particular specific point of mine; anyone think we should open a general Appearance discussion so we can shunt that kind of thing over there?

Phew. Um ... did I miss anything ...? I feel like I missed something ... <hunts over mass of comments> argh ... I had something else to say, but in the madness of the last zillion and one paragraphs I seem to have lost it. Doubtless someone else will bring it up and I will be humiliated tomorrow. But for now, my friends, goodnight.
~ Shataina

PS: Arafelis, did your edit title imply that you think me attracted helplessly to red things? Because that's just ... not ... true ... <trails off while observing her red clothes, her red coat and her red bag>

As a minor addendum to my example, I should have explained that it wasn't based on only my own opinions at all. I had once been talking about the person in question with another friend (who I've found tends to be attracted to VERY different people than myself). He mentioned it, and later out of curiousity, I carefully talked to other people, trying to not guide the conversation in such a way as to taint the sample. Out of the 30 people I talked to, 26 had similar responses. I should have probably been more clear. ^_^ - haren who is a scientist at heart sometimes
Again, I mean absolutely no offense by saying this, but your personal experience is less than relevant here, the same way my personal experience with various models is less than relevant here. Sorry I'm repeating this point, but I guess I didn't say it clearly enough the first time; when I said stuff like "I can't prove this or anything" or "I don't want to analyze this", I meant that I thought it was incredibly unconstructive. We can't use stuff like "But <b>I know someone ..." to prove a point; we have to try to find neutral examples that don't matter to either of us and haven't occurred in anyone's life. This isn't to say I don't care what you think, but it is to say that I'm positive that if we start talking about people we know or whatever, this discussion will degrade into that Platonic ideal of uselessness that is all too common on Internet forums.
~ Shataina

PS: Remembered what I meant to say; it's nice of you to try to quiet the furor when I was away, Arafelis, especially since it was entirely based on a misunderstanding, but I really don't want people thinking this is "my" discussion or whatever. One of the things I like most about wikis is the whole lack of ownership thing.
Ah, my mistake. Please forgive my obtuseness. But, I think the problem is more from the types of stories about great beauty (or beautiful people being not beautiful if they want) is problematic because of the skewing of the stories. In western culture, beauty is often paired with helplessness, which leads to a lack of control of any aspect of their life, much less their beauty. In some eastern cultures, it is often paired to shapeshifting which muddies the waters. And so I've had to turn to less mythic and more modern references. But, my library is somewhat lacking so I can't point to exact pages or stories as reference.

That being said, I do think a great arguement can be made for Appearance being more than just how you look. It's a mentioned in stories I've read how a character feels an irresistable attraction to someone beyond just how they look. Some people just have a tangible aura of desire or some sort of presence to them. Haven't you ever read a story and just hated a character for some reason other than how they acted? You just somehow had a feeling of badness about them. It's sort of the same thing. But, it's just my sense of the issue. - haren
There are a fair number of stories where one could say Appearance is "applied", Carrie is the only one I can think of off-hand, as I tend to hate those types of stories. I can't think of a classical myth version, although there are a couple biblical stories(ARG!). Also, this is the entire concept behind makeover shows(which I also dislike). Given that one is commonly going from "nobody notices them" to "center of attention", that's probably at least a 2 dot raise, and 3 seems reasonable also. I think one can make an argument that there is a cultural precedent for "applying" appearance. I know Shataina disagree's, but I figured I'd mention it for other people. -FlowsLikeBits
If you see a model in the morning, you will seem them without the makeup they put on every day. However, you *won't* see them as they would look if they were deliberately trying to make themselves look 'average,' or even how they would look if they simply didn't use their skills or products for a couple weeks and generally didn't show any concern over their appearance beyond basic health (using handsoap, etc). Beauty is deliberate, and can vanish quickly if desired. I can't use stories other people have made up for this, because in all the mythic examples, beauty is assumed to be a 'natural' state which people can occasionally cover up with a disguise if they absolutely must. Look, instead, at makeover TV shows or other modern ugly duckling stories. Changing as little as how someone moves their body as they walk can turn them from simply 'pretty' to 'stunning.'
I don't think any of us like the text for Appearance. Appealing to that as anything other than a description of just how beautiful a general level indicates is probably irrelevant- for instance, saying, "..the actual canon text about Appearance [portrays] it as a more static, unchangeable thing," doesn't really apply to most of the arguments here. The primary difference of opinion in this discussion seems to be not, "Does Appearance work as ruled?," but, "Can Appearance be a useful statistic? How/using what interpretation? If not, what should be the guiding principles for a re-write or alteration?" Rather than arguing against cannon, you need to demonstrate the usefulness and accuracy of believing that Appearance has drawbacks. I don't mean any offense by this, but I do not accept mythic examples as strong evidence of accuracy- they are certainly useful, but do not seem to make a strong central foundation.
Please never use the comment "assuming makes an ass of us all," because I will begin to respond to it with bulleted lists of things that you assume constantly, like, y'know, we have agreed-upon understandings of certain words, or, say, the assumption that myths weren't written by a fractious singular percent of society with a madly skewed view of their society's reality. =P The very nature of the word suggests that one knows it is based on incomplete data. </minirant> - Arafelis called this Shataina's discussion because she seems to be the only one arguing in favor of the subject, surrounded by a hostile sea of at least a half-dozen others who disagree.
I agree with Shataina on the grounds that high Appearance brings with it more general problems than high Whatever-Else. (As a minor digression, I think more RPGs need a Whatever-Else skill. Anyway...) I just disagree on what the new version should look like. - F
I'd argue that Appearance isn't the only passive stat. Perception is pretty passive; so's Intelligence. Stamina is a classic example of a passive trait -- you can't turn toughness on or off at will. What's wrong with passive traits, anyway? _Ikselam
I copied Ikselam's comment down here for a slight readability fix.Discussions/I> I'm not sure that we're using the same definiton for passive traits, so I'll tidy up mine a bit: A passive stat is one that you must always use at the highest rating you've got. It's one you can turn up or down (or off) at will. I would argue that the passive stats are Stamina, Appearance and Perception. Of these, a high Stamina is a) only ever a drawback when you want to die and can't and b) almost wholly impossible to determine without it being demonstrated. High Perception can be a drawback in situations where you really <i>don'tDiscussions/I> want to know what's going on - which might be quite common in the courts of the fae, or similar locations - but I think this is balanced by how amazingly useful it is the rest of the time. It's also wholly undetectable by outside observers.
High Appearance, though... even without pointing out its lack of general usefulness (hence the 8 million house rules for it) it brings with it some fairly major disadvantages in the world of Exalted. I present some of them, in approximate order of severity. First, being gorgeous attracts a lot of attention and makes people remember you. If you're a newly Exalted Solar, being hunted by an entire <i>nationDiscussions/I> of elementally empowered ninja assassins and their mysterious masters (Digression 2: The Sidereals are ultra-bureaucrats, so they spend all day in meetings with people that they hate and can never get anything done because of the red tape. No wonder they're all such badass martial artists - nothing makes you want to punch someone in the face like a day at the office.), attention is the last thing you want. Also, Creation is riddled with slavers. Your stunningly beautiful character goes straight to the top of the 'must be mine' list every time they see you. To them, you are worth ���s like you wouldn't believe, even worth the hassle of throwing legions of troops at you. It's annoying, if not dangerous. Finally, two of the nastiest things stalking Creation are fair folk and Abyssal Exalted. Fair folk are well known for being stunningly gorgeous, and certain Abyssals are likely to be known for being that way too. Superstitious villagers may well throw rocks at you because clearly, no normal person can be that beautiful. Finally finally, not only can you not turn (canon) Appearance off, it's blatantly, hugely obvious to everyone nearby. Hence why, as written, it's better to have an App of 2 or 3 than an App of 5, which you can't really say about any other stat. - F
Just to address what seems to be something of a inconsistency in your arguement here. I'm so pretty I'm going to be mistaken for a Fae or an Abyssal, and this will mean all the slavers want to get their hands on me to sell me for ���?! This is in a world where the Guild (the biggest slavers there are) has a standing prodcedure of "Let them go, pay them off, just get them away from us!" when it comes to Exalts. In addition, no villagers in their right mind are gonna start stoning you because of your prettyness, because high appearance is also the domain of Goddesses and Gods, and in the Threshold, you don't go around stoning divine beings. It does not lead to stories to tell your children about. Or, indeed, to you being in the position to have children. What you do instead, is be very polite, give them what they ask for, and hope they leave you and your village alone.

Yes, it does make you (slightly) easier to track with the wyld hunt, but no more so than a 6ft golden sword, a breastplate that shines like the sun or any of the other distinctive artifacts that Solars seem to pick up. Even if you're 'stealthing it up' with Jade Daikliaves and things like that, most circles are a fairly easy-to-describe thing, even if they don't have a Goddess walking with them. - Kraken
Different people react in different ways, even to the same thing. Saying that one set of people will assume a 5-Appearance person is a Fair and throw rocks at her, and that another set will see her and think she's just a valuable piece and instantly want to enslave and sell her, is no more contradictory than saying that some people think green is a springlike colour and some think it a Malfean colour. Moreover, in the Threshhold, some people do go about stoning gods, or chasing them off, or trying to kill them, or calling other deities down on their heads, or whatever (reference). As for Circles, and orichalcum artifacts right out in the open, and everything, all this stuff is only easy to describe and noticeable as long as the relevant people act stupid and blatant. The whole point of the Appearance problem is that you don't have to act stupid and blatant to be easy to describe and noticeable. Even a veil is just going to make you mysterious and intriguing so people try extra hard to find out what you look like and rumours spread anyway (unless you're in the highly specific area of Chiaroscuro, and then it only works for males); also, a veil won't hide your body or your hair; you could cover every inch of yourself in loose concealing garments, but that, I would argue, is about as blatant anyway.
~ Shataina

I edited your comments, Ikselam, for readability, but didn't make any major changes besides the italicization. Hope you don't mind. I also put (number) markers in them so we'd know what I'm referring to for this list.

  1. I would argue that Appearance is flat-out more static than the other things you listed, and I thought about writing a giant paragraph to explain myself, but I don't think it will boil down to anything more than opinion, much as yours did. So we'll have to agree to disagree here.
  2. I didn't say I was pitting a gorgeous idiot against a more qualified plain person. I can see how you arrived at that conclusion, but what I meant to imply was two separate examples. (A) gorgeous, equally qualified person against ungorgeous person. Ungorgeous person gets hired because employer is annoyed / threatened by gorgeous person. (B) intelligent, equally qualified person against unintelligent person. Employer is tempted to hire unintelligent person because he feels annoyed or threatened, but intelligent person uses intelligence to think of a way to demonstrate value to employer. And no, I don't have any scientific basis on which to make that assertion or anything like that, but I do think that it's a reasonable and logical counter to willows's example; my general point here is that I think we're talking about a range of Appearance that has not been tested for, and I am presenting a hypothesis about what would happen if it were tested for. Obviously, once again, we're not going to get anywhere by arguing about the hypothesis, but my point about the extremity of the range stands.
  3. The difference is that my system gives general dice for Appearance to all social rolls, rather than making Appearance a separate Attribute and requiring that it be rolled separately. That is, under my rules, Appearance is a generally good thing socially, all the time, whereas otherwise, it would only apply when it's called upon, and otherwise, it would only be called upon to the exclusion of the other social Attributes. As for exploitation, it is true that a character with high Appearance may be motivated or whatever enough to avoid exploitation, but motivation will not save him / her from all the other stuff that's been mentioned. Being fallen in love with isn't being exploited, and you can't avoid it with motivation'd Appearance; same goes for being attacked for hypothetical godhood; etc.
  4. Again. I never said Appearance wasn't an advantage. Clearly, Appearance is awesome for celebrities. But celebrities deal with drawbacks for it too! They're constantly recognized in public and mobbed; as you say, they're resented, a lot; they get psycho stalkers who have fallen in love with them; etc. Their beauty helps their success -- something I've already said happens -- but it brings drawbacks that many other successful Attribute-users don't have. Bill Gates, for example, is a recognizable celebrity, but I suspect that he is not mobbed in public nearly as much as Angelina Jolie, and that he doesn't get freaky psycho love letters or have to fear stalkers. Once again, I have no evidence for this assertion, so you can feel free to brush it aside if you wish.
  5. There isn't really a problem with passive traits, unless there's a reason you'd want to turn them off, but can't. Falcon went into this more above.
  6. I don't have my book with me, so I can't get that many quotations; but I will point out to you the fact that most people here seem to think that Appearance as defined by the book is static. That may be an appeal to authority, but it suggests to me that there is a textual implication of such. I didn't think I needed to back this up with quotations because it never occurred to me that anyone disagreed. :P As for the name, I assert that it sounds static because, as you yourself noted, someone's physical appearance doesn't tend to change very much unless major outside-sourced physical changes are enacted. And "Appearance", obviously, means physical aspect. Now, "Attractiveness" would not have sounded as static, for example, because it isn't dependent on such an unchangeable descriptor. Again, yet another reason I renamed it "Presentation".

haren: I've come to agree about the myths thing being a bad idea. As for Appearance being more than how you look, that is fine, but as I've said, it's at odds with the canon description. Incidentally, don't call yourself obtuse. :)

Arafelis: This discussion started as a discussion of canon Appearance, and how to use it. All my arguments have been based on canon Appearance. I know you've read my Appearance houserules, so it should be obvious that I don't think any of this can't be houseruled away effectively. To state this as clearly as possible: I have been arguing that canonical high Appearance has prohibitively annoying drawbacks; I have not been arguing that you can't houserule Appearance into acceptability.Discussions/B> If you have been discussing some sort of "general idea" of Appearance this whole time, then we have been at crosspurposes ever since the beginning. As for the assumption thing, I was frankly irritated that you chose to assume something about my personal life based on a random opinion. You can feel free to go into the assumptions I've been making, but I think that it's a lot more polite to have general conversational assumptions, which you yourself seem to imply that every conversation has, than to assume things about your opponents personally. Not trying to start a flamewar here; I'm just saying, please don't assume things about me personally based on my "Exalted" commentary. At least not out loud, or out typed, as the case may be. :P Especially, don't assume that I don't have any personal experience with a subject because of an opinion I have. That's horribly patronizing. It's like someone saying I must have no experience with, like, "Exalted" itself, because I disagree on how games should be run.

Anyway. It's looking like this Discussion has outlived its usefulness for me, particularly since we're not actually going to use it for its original intended purpose (the examples), and I appear to be discussing canonical Appearance when everyone else is talking about something more abstract. Moreover, we're repeating ourselves, which is always a bad sign. So, if you have the burning need to make a point you think I've missed, don't make it here. And if you want to discuss Appearance houserules, I invite you to check out mine and we can talk from there.
~ Shataina

All I really have to say at this point is that if you wanted to have a discussion about how right your assumptions are, you should not have phrased the name of the page as a question. Doing so implies you are actually interested in entertaining opposing viewpoints -- which you're clearly not, since your response to examples which might contradict your hypothesis is to dismiss them out-of-hand. You should have called the pageDiscussions/HighAppearanceIsADrawback instead; that might have gotten you the response you seem to be after. _Ikselam

I agree. In Shataina's defence, that is essentially how the page <i>was</i> originally lain out- not as a discussion, but as a comparison chart for drawbacks of different attributes. Shataina described the drawbacks possible with Appearance; I was slightly miffed at how general they seemed to be, and appended a comment addressing this to my post of Strength drawbacks. "In snarkiness has it begun, in snarkiness so shall it end!" - Arafelis <i>forges One Snark to Rule Them All.</i>
Actually, I'm going to summarize my arguments here for the record. Attributes are inherently passive; some of them moreso than others. If you're ridiculously strong, you can't just decide to be a weakling- someone mentioned (for instance) a wall collapsing onto a loved one. That is, they're all "always on." Canon appearance, like all canon stats, has no listed drawbacks- simply *being* is not enough to be penalized.

I'm a bit miffed that Shataina doesn't seem to have researched any of her claims regarding how the world treats attractive people... ten minutes on Google got me to those terms (click the link), starting with generalized terms like 'study' 'beauty' 'promotion' etc.

Finally, I wish Shataina had clarified her position at the beginning. The rules- as mentioned- offer no explicit drawbacks. I was honestly under the impression that Shataina was proposing drawbacks that realistically ought to be a part of the stat; my arguments occur to support my premise that such suggested drawbacks are neither realistic nor useful. I did not realize the intent of the discussion was simply an effort at interpreting canon Appearance. &Arafelis

Bah. I hate it when I miss the point of a page. The problem with canonical appearance is that, it's only used in seduction rolls. This would make high appearance a drawback in the sense that you wasted your dots. The result of this is that pretty much any use of it is a house rule, as discussing the canonical interpretation is a nonissue(the result of this being the only characther who will have a high appearance are those who intend to use seduction rolls as their primary social leverge. This becomes funny quickly. "Their attractive, they must want something!") To address the issues Shataina gives, I think it's possible to interpret Appearance in that manner, but I don't think there is really any cannon support for interpreting Appearance in that manner. Specificly, I don't think there is any cannon support for not giving Appearance the ability to manage itself in the same way as other attributes(high perception does not make you hypersensative). Specificly:

  1. Psyche is a lit refrence, rather than a canon one. I think this falles under management.
  2. This I think is a wash, in that you can get people to do stuff for inappropraitly also, which is a big advantage. I.e. the advantage outweighs the disad.
  3. This isn't that much of a disad, in that your only more recognizable to people who've seen you before. You're not any more describeable. This really kinda goes both ways(as you mentioned). If it's more of an advantage or disadvantage really depends on the situation.
  4. pretty much the same the previous one. Depends on the situation.
  5. This is also kinda +/- thing, depending on the situation. Personally, I don't think the cannon description is meant to be taken literally. I.e. it's more of a cute way of saying that 'your as attractive as people thing gods should be'. I think other evidence of supernatural ability beyond just a high appearance would be needed to cause such a mistake to actually happen.

Personally, I would like to know if there is cannon support for Appearance having drawbacks. It just seems to be not mentioned to me(thus, useless, which is itself a drawback. But not like we are talking about here) - FlowsLikeBits

I didn't read absolutely all of this stuff, but was struck by an idea people might use to make Appearance a bit more interesting. It's based on the following: when humans appreciate beauty, be it in other humans, buildings, seashells or anything else, what they are subconsciously appreciating is symmetry and proportion. When comparing two similar things, generally the one that is more symmetric and proportionate will be considered more attractive by observers.

In particular, the proportion people react to is the golden ratio. Take a line labeled A on one end, B on the other and add a point C such that the ratio between AC and CB is the same as the ratio between AB and AC. This ratio, about 1.618 to 1, is called the golden ratio and it shows up everywhere, particularly in things considered beautiful, including the human face.

The comment above about the model who still looked beautiful even when frumpy turns out to be correct, because her tossled hair doesn't change the symmetry of her face. What's more, this has been proven empirically.

So, people with a high Appearance are more symmetric and proportionate. So what?

Well, consider for a moment the way manses work in Exalted. The flow of essence through them is entirely related to their design and geometry. Imperfections in the design disrupt the flow and make the manse less efficient.

Take that a step further and extend it to humans. Suppose asymmetry in a human messes up the flow of essence within them, too. That would mean that the higher the Appearance, the better conductor of essence you are.

I'm not sure how this would manifest, exactly. Perhaps people with high appearance regain essence more quickly. Perhaps they can pull more essence out of a manse. Perhaps each dot of appearance over two allows the character to increase the size of her personal pool while decreasing her peripheral pool by the same amount (in effect, moving points from peripheral into personal).

Just a thought. - Wordman

That’s a neat idea but it puts appearance into the realm of the permanent supernatural effect; a place where it probably shouldn’t go. It’s an interesting idea for a merit though. Something like “Geomantic Anatomy” or similar.
Personally I’ve never had a problem with appearance as an attribute because my players and I have always simply ruled that appearance, while representing beauty, represented HOW you used your Appearance more then simply what you look like. We roll things like Appearance + Larceny to pull off a disguise (not to create a disguise, that’s covered under the normal disguise rolls. To wear the disguise is something else. In resisted rolls against Perception + Larceny, we use Appearance.), or Appearance + Presence to look intimidating.
We typically use Appearance in an initial roll in social encounters. All types of social encounters, from typical "ball-room" scenes to the hostile meetings of fated enemies. We use Appearance rolls to create the to create the a sort of initial social playing field. People roll their Appearance + (Relevant Trait) to create the first impression that they want. These rolls can have major affects on other die-rolls because first impressions count.
As written though, Appearance tends to get the shaft in terms of applicability. - Halloween
Less than three, Wordman. Write it!
I think allowing Appearance to somehow improve respiration would make more sense than adjusting their Essence pools, but the latter would also be pretty freaking nifty as a Merit. And then you could have Merits like "Gaian Harmony," also known as the Disney Princess Merit...
I really like the idea of giving Appearance a way to function as a semi-passive benefit- although I hadn't made the jump to Manse technology. It'd be nice if it were possible to work in a mechanical Appearance check or ref for players in relevant situations- but it's hard to justify making an Appearance + Socialize roll for players to get promoted- few Solars work in cubicles. Maybe as extra successes which can be distributed- say, an Appearance + Socialize roll which grants extra successes to distribute during an evening of socialization? Hmm...
Although oddly, that makes me think of all kinds of situations where high Appearance characters are already benefitted... STs looking at a Circle of three App 2 chars and an App 4, and having the stranger walk up to the App 4... etc. - Arafelis

That came up in one of my games actually. One of the characters was a Dawn-caste sword master but he only had Appearance 1. He had a heroic mortal follower with App. 4. Everyone who met them constantly mistook the mortal for the Solar because he looked the part of the hero, while the real hero didn’t.
What would the Disney Princess Merit imply?
It’s stuff like that, that makes Appearance a useful trait. It’s all a matter of how you use things. But, as I mentioned, App. does get the shaft in terms of pure mechanics. – Halloween
Attributes similar to a Disney Princess, ie, animals randomly walk up to you (with even typically predatory animals being calm and affectionate), things growing better around you, people you're around heal faster, work faster, etc. - Arafelis
Seems like those might just be examples of Appearance + Survival, Medicine, or Craft rolls. _Ikselam
I have always taken the approach that apearance is "how people react to your very pressence, before you act or say anything." Charisma is what happens once you are active, or open your mouth. Also, I assume all 5's or higher in stats are fairly obvious. A 5 stamina person take stairs 3 at a time, and is never out of breath, take slow, deep breaths, and is the picture of health. A 5 perception person is contantly scanning their surroundings in subtle ways that make other look around to wonder what they're missing. -[[[ImaginalDisc]]]

I'm a latecomer to this appearance discussion, but I generally disagree with the 'passive' view of Appearance. I disagree in general with the way you bandy the word 'passive,' but for now I will address the Appearance issue. If you've ever heard anyone speaking about Marilyn Monroe you can probably dredge up instances where an anonymous woman walks through a crowd, dressed like everyone else, and no one notices. Suddenly this woman stops in her tracks and removes her hat, or shakes out her hair.. and every head in the crowd turns, every voice is caught in a gasp! My girlfriend is easily high appearance (4+). She moves around in a hazy way and you would think her a 2 or 3 on a 'good day.' Then she slips up, you blink a few times.. because she is absolutely gorgeous. Much like a man can walk through a crowd without letting on that his muscles can crack bricks, there comes a point in time where he can cease hiding and there it is.. for all the world to see, a karate master. (I disagree that strength 4 or 5 come with huge muscles, even in real life. I've seen slender people arm-wrestle big muscled men and win with little effort.) I believe that a high manipulation is necessary, perhaps with enough perception to be aware of people's reactions, to cloak your natural stamina, beauty, strength, or any stat. Maybe high cunning to have thought about it at all. -Paincake

I just want to mention something, for the sake of completeness. In the example (used more than once in the discussion) of a person with high Appearance trying to get a job versus a person with high Intelligence trying to get a job, it is no less viable for the high-Appearance individual to use his or her Appearance and Dexterity to get the job anyway than it is for the high-Intelligence individual to use his or her Intelligence and Wits to do so. The main difference between the two is that it is far more socially (to others) and morally (to oneself) acceptable to offer cunning ideas than it is to offer lapdances. ~ WeepingStar <i>who isn't trying to be lewd, just illustrate a point.</i>