In role playing games charisma is often used for "measuring force of personality". E.g. D&D 5e use the following description of charisma: "Charisma measures your ability to interact effectively with others. It includes such factors as confidence and eloquence, and it can represent a charming or commanding personality."

I'm looking for two words describing the physical and mental parts of this charisma.

Examples of physical presence:

  • Appearance. Not necessarily beauty as a horrendous monster might also command a strong physical presence.
  • Wearing the right clothes.
  • Speaking in the right tone.
  • Making the right gestures.

Examples of mental presence:

  • Knowing what appearance will provoke the wanted reactions.
  • Knowing what the right clothes are.
  • Knowing what to say.
  • Knowing what gestures to make.

What are the two words I'm looking for?

  • 2
    I think your division into two elements is somewhat artificial. Charisma in D&D represents an innate ability to charm friends and disarm (or weaken the resolve of) enemies, and has little to do with appearance or mental processes. You might be interested in the etymology: the original sense was a god-given power (which makes its D&D usage even more apt!), whereas the modern dictionary sense of charming is actually quite recent. :-) May 15, 2019 at 1:21
  • @Chappo You are correct that it can be thought of as innate. In D&D it is a stat that can be improved by gaining experience which implies that some knowledge is involved and when using the skills based on charisma the level determines success which implies having said or done the right thing. In the end it depends on what your are trying to communicate.
    – David D
    May 15, 2019 at 1:34
  • @Chappo I must say I lean more towards David's interpretation. That is charisma, in D&D, is a combination of both innate talent and experience. For my question to make any sense I think you'd have to make that assumption. It is of course open for interpretation but certainly out of scope for this forum.
    – Linus
    May 15, 2019 at 7:48
  • @DavidD I played D&D regularly a long time ago, then graduated to Arduin Grimoire, so I know how charisma works in FRP games. I think its expression is both broader and deeper than a mere physical/mental duality. But the answers given are reasonable, so I’ll leave it at that. May 15, 2019 at 23:28

3 Answers 3


For "physical presence" I would simply go for "presence", as Lexico says

The impressive manner or appearance of a person.

For "mental presence" I think "sophistication" is apt. Lexico says of sophisticated

Having, revealing, or involving a great deal of worldly experience and knowledge of fashion and culture.

And sophistication is "the quality of being sophisticated". I would expect someone with high charisma to be sophisticated.

  • I would expect someone with high charisma to be sophisticated You haven't met that charming ingenue farm girl fresh off the train have you? Jan 11 at 13:35
  • @HighPerformanceMark I think perhaps her presence is what you find charming. Jan 11 at 14:09

In addition to some very good answers by the other members, I propose bearing and savoir-faire respectively.

The way a person behaves or conducts themselves.

His bearing, his sense, his dignity and organisational skills are hailed throughout the city.

The ability to act or speak appropriately in social situations.

This is a gracious occasion, so try to behave with a bit of savoir faire.



I suggest persona and insight.

Showing confidence, eloquence, personality: persona

The personality that a person (such as an actor or politician) projects in public : IMAGE m-w

Knowing how to act/behave, what to say, wear: insight

The power or act of seeing into a situation : PENETRATION m-w

Power of acute observation and deduction Wiktionary

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