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  #1  
Old 05-17-2017, 09:33 AM
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Roleplaying a character with low/mediocre Intelligence

This might be a bit of a newbie question, but I was wondering how people generally handled role playing as regards their Intelligence stat. With all the other stats it seems simple enough - e.g. you want to lift a heavy block, then roll and apply your Strength modifier. With Intelligence though it seems a bit more problematic. So say for instance the DM throws a problem at the heroes and I think of an ingenious solution to it (hey, unlikely but possible!) but my character has an Intelligence of 9. Does that mean I should keep quiet about it as my character would never have thought of such a solution? Or do I suggest it and then maybe make a dice roll to see if my character would think of it? And if I make the roll my character can use the solution and if not she can't.

I suppose the opposite is even more problematic - what if I'm playing an 18 Intelligence character yet not being that smart myself I can only think of less than brilliant solutions to problems?

Last edited by BattlingBard; 05-17-2017 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:59 PM
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A 9 intelligence is almost average (avg being 10). I don't think there is much of a reason to 'play' into that stat. I would challenge you to point out what IQ different people have that you don't spend a ton of time with.

The important thing is to build the character concept first and don't let stats dictate the way your PC acts unless it makes sense for you to do.

From a game perspective, intelligence doesn't necessarily mean useful knowledge. You might be a physics genius, but that doesn't mean you know how to fix a car.
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Old 05-17-2017, 02:13 PM
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Problem solving can include using your character's common sense or observant, perceptive nature to deduce the answer to something. Thus, you can cite Wisdom instead of Intelligence when you have an ingenious solution, for Perception is usually wisdom based.

But to keep the INT of 9 in mind, don't use any word larger or longer than ingenious, and once in a while have your character ask the party wizard what a big word means.
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Old 05-17-2017, 04:45 PM
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Makes sense, thanks guys
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Old 05-18-2017, 08:37 PM
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I agree... I basically run the ability scale as Score x 10 equal IQ (and, I hate the IQ system, but it's a convention that works for discussion here).

10 intelligence equals 100 IQ, which is average. IQ 9 is 90, and trust me, I've known people with IQ's of that level that are managers, department heads, etc.. It means nothing.

IQ 60, 50, 40, and you can see a lot of differences, but 90?

Normal person. Maybe studying is harder for them, maybe a slightly smaller vocabulary.
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Old 05-19-2017, 02:14 AM
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'm going to move away from what a 9 Int means and address what I think is the underlying issue: how do you play a character whose attributes/personality are different from the player? When it's stated that way, it's kind of a dumb question because that's generally the point of roleplay.

No DM (that I know of) would have the player try to break down a door to see if his character could. Instead, a strength check is rolled. Similarly, if the character is smart but the player can't solve a puzzle, roll an intelligence check.

On the flip side, there are workarounds if the player solves a puzzle when the character wouldn't be expected to. Probably the easiest is to give the answer in the OOC, and have another player's character solve the puzzle IC. One time I solved a math puzzle, but none of the players felt that their PCs would be able to do so in-character. So my character guessed the correct answer IC. Nothing like halfling luck.
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Old 06-10-2017, 08:44 PM
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If Forrest Gump was a D20 character, his INT would be in the 7-8 range, (based on the chart in beginning of the movie). So if your character has a similar score, just keep in mind that Gump was able to function in modern society, learn skills, generally take care of himself, and socialize after a fashion (plot notwithstanding), so your character should be able to function just fine in game.
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Old 07-05-2017, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekidnu View Post
No DM (that I know of) would have the player try to break down a door to see if his character could. Instead, a strength check is rolled. Similarly, if the character is smart but the player can't solve a puzzle, roll an intelligence check.
I agree, though I think the more relevant issue is the actual roleplaying of the character with stats and personality vastly different from the player. Sure, checks and rolls are made to pass tests...that fighter has a good chance of making a strength check against smashing a door, or doing lots of damage. But that same fighter played by someone who was physically weak would be more challenging to roleplay, as the player would not have the day to day experiences of being strong all the time. E.g. jock mentality (not to stereotype against any bodybuilders out there), possible physical aggressiveness, automatically jumping forward to lift/move things, etc.

Likewise, an introverted player might easily pass charisma checks because of their bard's stat, but playing the bard would be interesting, as that charisma is high all the time, not just during tests, and should be roleplayed that way...which the player won't necessarily know how to do.

Aside from simply expressing a hidden side to oneself, I would think the best way to learn to portray those characters on a "daily" basis would be to watch movies or read books featuring that type of character, and use them as a model.
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Old 08-27-2017, 04:06 PM
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I actually kind of enjoy when I understand something that my character doesn't, because it's fun to work out how they would react without full knowledge of the situation. As long as it doesn't bring the game to a halt because nobody's characters can make any progress, that is.

Personally I find playing low wisdom characters more challenging, because I as a player tend to think about all the actions I take and what possible consequences they could have on the character, on the game, on the story, etc. I have to remind myself sometimes that this guy with 7 wisdom would definitely not have all those ideas running through his head when he's asked to make a decision. From time to time I have him make a snap judgment that's obviously be a bad idea, to stay true to his character build and make up for the times when I accidentally played him as wiser than he should be.

I do struggle with the issue of roleplaying high social stats that I don't share. Recently I (as a high charisma/diplomacy bard for the party) was supposed to win over and interrogate a captured prisoner to figure out where we had to go next. It was a face to face game and my mind went completely blank. I had to break character and tell the GM that I just have no idea how to interrogate someone in real life, so he let me make a diplomacy roll and try to convey the general concept of what I wanted to know. I think that watching more movies or reading more books in the genre of the campaign we're doing would definitely help me out.

Thinking about these kinds of things is what makes RP fun, and something to keep working on.
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Old 08-29-2017, 06:14 PM
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I don't think a 9 int is that bad. Sure you are not the brightest of the bunch, but you are not a bumbling idiot ether.

I am sure you can think of quit a few people in your life that would have a 9 int. friends and family that well.....are a bit on the slow side. But still hold down jobs and have a life. What would they do? They can't crack open a physics book or understand Hawkins "meaning of the universe" but that does not make them bumbling idiots drooling at the mouth ether.

As for an 18 int. I can't do chemistry, but my character can.

I don't have instant recall, but my character does.
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  #11  
Old 09-12-2017, 12:42 AM
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This is a fun topic! Typically it's not a big deal if you're +/- 2 of average, i.e. 8-12 might be realistic for normal people, and your focus in roleplaying at that point should probably be on the character's background and experiences rather than their innate abilities (and I use 'ability' in the str/dex/con/int/wis/cha D&D sense, not the typical meaning in English). It's realistic to expect a normal distribution of abilities in real life. The fact that an IQ of 100 is statistically average doesn't preclude half of the population to be noticeably 'smart' or 'stupid'. It's only the extreme outliers that stand out. Hence, when abilities are exceptionally high (i.e. outside of that proposed range), it would be fair for a DM to offer, say, an intelligence check to get a hint for a puzzle if the player simply has no idea, but the PC has an int of 20.

On the other hand, "roll play" should never supersede roleplay and therefore a terribly unconvincing attempt to befriend an enemy (e.g. "Hi, you're stupid and ugly. Where's the nearest tavern?") would probably not even earn you a chance to bring out the dice (or if a DM was generous, you might do so with a hefty penalty).

In the case of particularly low stats, such as a 6-7, you might have to be your own police at that point. Low int might mean sometimes choosing the objectively worse option when presented with a choice. (e.g. "Do I want to quietly pick them off one by one, or charge right in while yelling at the top of my lungs?") Low wis might mean being particularly aloof or susceptible to malicious influences. (e.g. "Hey, if you picked up that cursed sword you might be super strong!" "Hmm... well actually, my calculations do support that the magical sword might bestow a strong effect on the wielder. Perhaps the skull and crossbones were just a stylistic flourish... Let's do it!") And finally, low cha might mean having difficulty asserting or expressing yourself. (e.g. Bard in the party goes, "Hey everybody let's go this way! It looks fun!!!" The 6 cha Wizard quietly grumbles to himself, "Well the ranger did mention having a hunch that something big was down that way... aww screw it, don't want to split the party.")
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  #12  
Old 09-16-2017, 01:43 PM
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This is difficult - what is intelligence? The ability to comprehend and process information? Characters with 'low intelligence' in film/tv are often portrayed having a limited vocabulary, and have a difficult time understanding others. I imagine that might get a little annoying in gaming context! Still...it is perhaps easier to portray a character with less intelligence than one that is a genius! (At least that's true for me )
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Old 10-13-2017, 09:01 PM
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It's a stat based off of popular psychology myth. Psychologists don't even use the term "intelligence" any more, but instead speak to skills and aptitudes. But these are RPGs. A nice model might be emulating a character you feel is around that particular game stat intelligence range, and using language and mannerisms that apply.
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Old 10-30-2017, 08:17 PM
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One of the best games I played on this site (thanks AbuDhabi!) was Commoners' Quest. It had iron rules and my druid had an INT of about 6. He was just plain stupid. You had to explain everything to him three times and even then half the time he wouldn't get it. Some dude named Birched had to put up with it all.

Kale Brinbat was his name.The game seems to have vanished from the site, very unfortunately.

Anyway, he was also off the charts wise. What's a player to do? He was perceptive for sure, and playing him was challenging and fun. I would definitely encourage playing such a character as a means to develop one's RP skills. The character need not be an albatross ALL the time...Elric had miserable STR and CON scores, after all, and he managed to get things done by the end of the day.

Kale had a highly limited vocabulary, trouble with most concepts of social interaction, and no idea at all how to handle anything more complicated than a doorknob. But he was valuable to the party because he was very kind and gentle by nature, always ready to help, and practically immune to criticism, barbs, japes, etc.

And also he made like every Spot and Listen check.
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Last edited by ridin gaijin; 10-30-2017 at 08:19 PM. Reason: ...that's Elric of Melnibone, for the youngsters out there
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Old 10-31-2017, 10:57 PM
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Have fun with it

I have discovered that people with average intelligence dont always have the answer to problems. In many ways, people deal with this problem in many ways based upon their personality. Some may lie about the solution and make something up. Others may sit quietly looking to someone else. Another may just avoid the problem altogether. Make it an awesome role play experience whatever you do.

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