Content of the article: "Intelligence"
So I'm finally addressing this with a player… Intelligence is a real bad ability right? Four absurdly specific affiliate skills and one other that's barely differentiated from perception?
I mean, we know and agree that having a history proficiency doesn't mean you know something about the history of a people you never learned about… Much less that's never been discovered or studied before? Ditto nature Ditto arcana Ditto religion.
And as importantly… what about every other knowledge domain? Technology? Literature? Linguistics? Geography? Mathematics? Alchemy? So much else. Why specify the skills that are in there and ignore so many other core subjects?
Another issue is this reduces intelligence to mere knowledge, which is hardly what it is in the real world, much less how it's defined in the phb.
I think part of the reason intelligence becomes such a common dump stat is the reality that a typical intelligence challenge is usually handled not by the character but by the player. Puzzles aren't solved by intelligent characters, they're solved by intelligent players. Ditto riddles, mysteries, fact recalls, and problems solved.
But shouldn't intelligent characters have a leg up in those common scenarios? Shouldn't a high int, for example, help a character solve a puzzle the same way a high charisma character can charm her way past a guard or a high strength character can bust through a locked door?
Additionally, doesn't intelligence inform WAY more than just knowledge? Like shouldn't knowing how to pinpoint a blade strike to maximize damage increase the effect of a sword attack? Or understanding how the guard's psychological makeup works improve an attempt to deceive or charm him? What about how a brilliant and charismatic debator is more effective than a simply charismatic yet moronic one? The best athletes are extraordinarily intelligent. The best magicians intuitively know their audiences. In truth, what DOESN'T intelligence improve, or a lack thereof diminish?
So I have two ideas that I'd love feedback on. One is changing the way we use the intelligence modifier. The other is changing the ability's affiliate skills.
First, what if all skill checks added the intelligence modifier? So a smarter character was more able to effectively utilize his or her skills than an oafish one? If you dumped int… Bad move! If you sacrificed some of another ability for higher int… It's gonna pay off all the time. Because having a brilliant character in the party SHOULD pay off on the regular, rather than simply being a combat liability.
Second, what if instead of the current five intelligence skills we used these five: recall; problem solving; learning; deduction; processing.
Recall checks are used when a character needs to remember information he or she has learned or details from something they experienced.
Problem solving checks are used when a character needs to figure out how to get past a hurdle of some kind. A successful check presents a clue or hint… A massively successful check nets the answer.
Learning checks measure a character's ability to observe or be taught something new. The brilliant professor watches as the captain explains how to navigate the high seas. Now she knows how to do it herself.
Deduction checks connect pieces of information to form a solution. You saw this piece of evidence in that suspect's home… You realize the suspect was lying about his alibi.
Processing checks allow a character to think quickly, perhaps under pressure. In the fast paced inquisition, the genius inventor sees through to the heart of the line of questioning and pieces together his cover story, seeming to slow down the pace of questioning and keeping his answers well thought out and unassailably consistent.
There are issues here that I recognize! For one, big rolls could bypass what were supposed to be crucial puzzles or problems that the group was supposed to solve. But we let other abilities do this all the time! A high strength check gets a player through a door without finding the key. A great charisma roll eliminates a potential battle through persuasion. A big wisdom roll overcomes a powerful magical attack. Great dexterity rolls pick locks.
Meanwhile, the genius character sits in the back essentially worthless when in truth, having a genius around ought to be a huge boon to a party's success chances. Why shouldn't the smart character, who is smart at the expense of his or her other abilities, have regular days in the sun just like the strong dumb character or the nimble but awkward character or the charming but short-sighted character?
Intelligence should be a core ability, not a dump stat.
- How I make intelligence a more desirable stat.
- Charisma is not a measure of your character’s physical attractiveness.
- How I rule Deception and Persuasion checks to reward my players!
© Post "Intelligence" for game Dungeons & Dragons Online.
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