Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Haeg peered into the darkened tomb, taking in the dusty bones and clinging cobwebs with indifference. Something in the blackness glittered, and his face creased with a smile. He quickly lit a torch and moved toward the huge treasure chest, peering over his shoulder to make sure that his friend was still behind him. The hulking warrior threw open the lid, which burst into the air and closed once more, biting down on his head. Terrified, confused, and alone in the dark of the mimic's mouth as it clamped down on his neck, the barbarian wailed in pain. Behind him, the bright-eyed mage looked up from her book through a loose curtain of wind-blown hair. "Haeg, you consummate moron!" she yelled, a blue ball of fire snapping to life in her hand, "How many times do I have to tell you?"

Intelligence is one of my favorite attributes, because although it is often a dump stat, it affects many skills, and many of the role playing choices available to you as a player. Let me illustrate:

...is below average. You're slow. Not retarded, but pretty damn close. More likely than not, you don't know how to read. If you do know, it isn't something you enjoy or that you have fun with. Brittany Pierce (Glee) has 8 intelligence. While playing, keep in mind that your character probably doesn't know very many big words. Magic probably scares you.

...is considered average. You probably don't own any books, but you can find your way around in town without difficulty, and you probably know how to read. New skills are still difficult for you to grasp, but no more so for you than for anyone else. A great example would be Sansa Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire).

...is above average. People around you can tell that you know what you are talking about, but you aren't infallible. You're about as smart as Amy Pond. You own a few books, and might enjoy reading. You might bring philosophical questions to light as your party explores questionable moral territory that isn't obvious to everyone around you.

...is impressive. Sometimes you get lost in your own soliloquies. You probably have a vague grasp of magic, or at least understand the basic principles involved. You can think of interesting stories, even if you don't tell the well. You may have probably gone through some sort of formal educational system, so keep that in mind role playing. Mystique (X-Men) has 14 intelligence.

...is among the top 5% or so. Think straight A's. Think Harvard. Think a lot, because you do. You're the master of almost any strategy games you find, and people around you know it. You're almost always reading, honing the greatest weapon you have: your mind. You are Hermione Granger.

...is just too smart. That's all there is to it. You don't just out-think the people around you, you know what they're thinking before they do themselves. Your vocabulary doesn't just include a lot of words, it includes a lot of languages. You are River Tam.

Beyond these values, a character approaches frightening levels of intelligence. These gifts may be the product of years of study, or of some divine blessing, but they surprise anyone who encounters them.

When you're building your character, think about your educational background. Who taught you what you know? Where are they now? Do you know any spells? Rituals? What are your favorite books? Do you play an instrument? How do you keep your mind fresh? Why do you bother?

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