This Retort reduces all hiring costs for Heroes and Mercenaries, as well as the purchase costs for Magical Items offered by an Item Merchant by 50%. Additionally, diplomatic relations with other Wizards will improve twice as quickly, and deteriorate only half as fast.
This Retort costs 1 pick, and has no prerequisites.
The Charismatic wizard has a certain air about him, a certain attitude that seems to friends of staunch opponents, lowering their guard. It is possible that the Charismatic wizard acquired this trait from magical sources, arcane influences that wrap him like a cloak, or perhaps it is an inborn quality that was the whole reason that drove that person to become so influential and ambitious. In either case, it is a powerful ability to have.
Thanks to this ability, the Charismatic wizard can talk his way into fantastic deals, purchasing both magical relics and the services of powerful Heroes and other sell-swords for ridiculously-low prices. But haggling a good price is the least of the benefits of Charisma, as that same way with words enables a wizard to lull his rivals into a (false?) sense of security. It is always best to convince your enemies that you are their friend, as they will never suspect it until the knife is in their backs. Or, perhaps, Charisma can ensure that those who would one day become friends do not spend too much time dragging their feet before committing to friendship?
Hiring Discounts Edit
The Charismatic wizard receives a hefty discount of 50% on the hiring cost of both Heroes and Mercenaries, whenever they appear for hire. This reduction applies only to the hiring cost - i.e. the initial payment that must be made to recruit the unit - not to its per-turn Upkeep Cost, which is unaffected.
The lowered hiring cost also means that both Heroes and Mercenaries will appear more frequently when the Charismatic wizard is short on funds. These units only appear for hire if the wizard can afford to hire them at all, and the Charismatic wizard needs far less Gold to be eligible. When coffers are full, of course, the rate of appearance would be the same for any wizard. [BUG] In v1.31, although the cost of the unit is halved, the wizard must still have the full amount in the treasury in order for the mercenary/hero dialog to appear. This was fixed in the v1.40n Insecticide patch.
The lowered cost for Mercenaries is strategically more important, as it may allow the wizard to rely mostly on mercenary troops instead of producing his own (which can also be beneficial if his starting Race is not very combat-oriented). It may be more cost-effective to produce Gold in towns rather than units, and then use that gold to hire Experienced troops.
Item Purchase Discounts Edit
Like Heroes and Mercenaries (see above), the opportunity to purchase an item is lost if the wizard does not have a sufficient amount of Gold when the game decides to throw an Item Merchant encounter. Therefore, the reduction in item price also means that Item Merchants will appear more often when the Charismatic wizard is low on funds, since he will more often be able to afford those items. Also, Charismatic wizards should see a statistically higher-quality selection of items offered, since they will more easily be able to afford such items.
Note: The discount only applies to the price of the item, not to its actual value. This means that if a Charismatic Wizard buys an item of value X, he pays 1/2 X in Gold for that item, and can then smash that item to gain an amount of Mana also equal to 1/2 X. This is a lossless conversion of Gold into Mana, and can come in handy in certain circumstances.
Positively-Biased Rival Relations Edit
Charismatic wizards have a much easier time cultivating good relations with their rivals, and a harder time souring relations. This is the result of two separate but related effects.
For one, whenever the Charismatic Wizard performs an action that would improve relations with a rival, such as engaging in generous trades, maintaining a treaty or casting Aura of Majesty, relations will be improved by twice the normal amount. This makes it easier to get on a rival's good side, and hastens the speed at which one can reach relations that are amiable enough to forge alliances.
Similarly, whenever the Charismatic Wizard performs an action that would worsen relations with another Wizard, such as encroaching on their territory or doing battle with their units or towns, the impact of the action on relations is halved. Therefore, relations will deteriorate only half as quickly as they would otherwise, meaning that it is harder for the Charismatic wizard to offend her neighbours. She is less likely to trigger wars, and won't cause alliances to break as quickly due to small unintentional offenses.
It's important to mention that this effect is applied when the shift in Visible Relation is calculated in the Diplomatic Reaction. This means that any interaction that doesn't go through that subsystem, including tributes and threatening, does not benefit from Charismatic. In the 1.50 unofficial patch, where the rival wizards can ask the player to break an Alliance or declare War, the penalty for refusing these requests does not benefit from Charismatic either. Additionally, the Visible Relation bonus earned when destroying the troops of a shared enemy isn't affected either.
Note of course that on higher difficulty settings, rival wizards are pretty much pre-programmed to declare war on the human player, even if great care is taken not to offend them. At these difficulties, the Charismatic Retort will merely delay the inevitable for a short while, and does not guarantee amiable relations with any rival for any long period of time.
Cost and Requirements Edit
When creating a new Wizard, the Charismatic Retort consumes 1 pick. It has no prerequisites.
The Charismatic Retort lends itself to some very interesting strategies revolving around Heroes and Mercenaries, as well as Diplomacy with rivals (primarily on lower difficulty settings). It does not provide an overwhelming advantage as some other Retorts do, but does offer a challenge to wizards to develop a strategy that would capitalize on its seemingly mild benefits.
First off, Charismatic wizards will find it very easy to hire Heroes, even good ones, and deck them out with some powerful pre-made Magical Items. Though the expenses involved may still be high, a Charismatic wizard will often find himself with a strong force of these early on, and will likely want to build up those Heroes quickly to gain a dominant position.
Furthermore, the availability and low cost of Mercenaries may make construction of fresh new Normal Units redundant or even undesired. Instead, Towns can be developed to concentrate on Gold production, and that Gold can be used to hire strong Mercenaries. Mercenaries often possess high Experience Levels straight away, increasing their survivability and usefulness in combat - whereas fresh new Normal Units often get destroyed before they can gain any combat experience. Mercenaries can come from many different Races as well, allowing the Charismatic wizard to build very versatile armies that would be otherwise unavailable with the starting Race he had chosen, or the races available within his immediate vicinity.
As to Item Merchants, the advantage here can be obvious: buy as many Magical Items as you can, with your 50% discount, and deck out every singly Hero you hire with as many of them as possible. Don't be shy, as you can always smash unneeded items for an amount of Mana equal to the Gold you spent on them. Be on constant lookout for better and better items.
For all the above points, Charismatic coupled with the Famous Retort makes an incredibly potent combination. Famous will significantly increase the rate of appearance of Heroes, Mercenaries and Item Merchants, as well as the quality of troops offered during these events. Remember that higher Fame also reduces Gold-based Upkeep Costs, which will come in handy with all the units you will be hiring.
You may want to add 3 Life books to the mix, so that you can start out with the Just Cause and Heroism spells. These will boost your Fame and troop Experience Level respectively. With 20 fame so early in the campaign, you can rely on Mercenaries and high end Heroes for pretty much the rest of the game. The Warlord Retort, if you can afford it, completes the package by adding a bonus Experience Level to all troops - giving you a terrifyingly-powerful army very early on.