I’m seeing some Intelligence debate coming into the Constitution thread, so this is a great time for another stats topic. Today it’s intelligence, the skill that determines how many kinds of spell a wizard can scribe, and their success rating at scribing. It also affects lore... and not much else. RP-wise I guess we could see Int as an IQ thing, but to me it’s more about how much schooling a character has had, as well as their natural aptitude in intellectual skills.
Smarter than the average bear, the 2nd Ed Monster Manual puts 4 as “semi-intelligent” and has bears and elephants in this category (2-4). Then again it also has Dolphins at 11-12 and Lawful Good, so who knows how much thought was put into this.
5-7 Intelligence is categorised as “low”, on par with mummies and minotaurs. I don’t really understand why Yeslick has such low Int, and he never really exhibits it. An idea I had was that it’s to represent how easily he was fooled by Reiltar (“I’ll just give ye the keys to me mine...”), but value judgements like that could be seen more as Wisdom’s province, of which he has a considerable amount. Ultimately I think Int and Wis work together to give an NPC their mental capacity, which is why Yeslick is more clever than Minsc despite having one less Int – he has the wisdom to know he’s not intelligent, while Minsc doesn’t.
So why is Yeslick so, er, slow, to put it nicely? Can he read? I’d love to hear your ideas.
8-10 Int is “average”. Around the lower scores we find people from warrior cultures who probably don’t have much time for book learning. However, Minsc’s delusions seem to me much more a result of his abysmal Wisdom than his low-average Intelligence.
Apparently 9 Int is the minimum for using wands and scrolls. I can’t say I ever noticed Yeslick being unable to use the Wand of the Heavens, but maybe I’m misremembering. Anyway, stereotypical warrior chick from the North, so average Intelligence.
10: Jaheira, Kivan, Faldorn, Tiax, Anomen, Mazzy, Valygar, Dorn
This seems to be the average for BG NPCs. Note that Tiax is slightly stupid by gnome standards, certainly enough to entertain Quayle. Jaheira (and maybe Faldorn) was raised by druids, I would guess not big on intensive schooling (beyond knowing the different kinds of plants, etc). Lots of professional warriors again.
11-12 is “Very” intelligent.
12: Canderous, Deder, Montaron, Khalid, Ajantis, Korgan, Keldorn, Cernd, Clara
So here we have very intelligent NPCs. Some, like Ajantis and Keldorn, probably did some studying as part of their Paladin training. Others like merchant’s son Khalid most likely went to school. Seems a little high for Clara, but we never learn much about her.
13: Garrick, Eldoth, Yoshimo
13-14 intelligence is classified as “High”. Seems the same as “Very” to me, but whatever. It’s a commonly held belief that you have to be intelligent to be a musician, drummers excepted (just kidding), so it’s no surprise to see two bards here. Yoshimo too with his confidence tricks seems good here.
14: Shar-Teel, Coran, Alora, Hexxat
Surprising to see “I love bloodshed” Shar-Teel here isn’t it? Makes her a very interesting character, though perhaps her low Wisdom balances things out a bit. The same can be said of precocious talent Alora and womanising Coran – they can think fast but they’re somewhat immature.
15: Arkanis, Osprey, Kagain, Skie, Haer’Dalis
15-16 Int is “Exceptional” intelligence, and you get your first lore bonus at 15. Firstly, Kagain is very smart for a pure-class fighter, reflecting his Scrooge McDuck-without-the-warmth persona. I imagine he plays up his “I’m just a dumb fighter” to clients before hitting them with a massive bill. Skie probably has lots of tutors, so it’s no surprise that she is smart (not wise enough to see through Eldoth’s deception though). Tieflings are naturally intelligent, and combined with being a bard Haer’Dalis emerges very clever also.
16: Viconia, Safana, Aerie, Jan
Not much to say here other than Safana stands out a little.
17: Imoen, Xzar, Dynaheir, Xan, Quayle, Nalia, Sarevok, Neera
17-18 is a “genius” level intellect – aren’t you proud of your sister and brother being such geniuses? Or feeling a bit self-conscious because you dump-statted Int? Anyway, arcane casters rule here, making 17 the gold standard for professional magery, though you could conceivably be a “hedge wizard” with a far more average level of intelligence.
18: Mordaine, Edwin
At 18 Intelligence you may start referring to your comrades as simians. But in Edwin’s case, we can see how a sky-high intelligence does not prohibit you from making big mistakes (cough Nether Scroll).
19-20 Intelligence is “supra-genius” level, which is a term I’m sure Baeloth would love. Like Edwin, his smarts make him overconfident, further reinforcing the fact that high Intelligence can be very dangerous – almost a liability – without a comparable Wisdom.
I’ve got to say, this one was rather fun to do, perhaps because of it’s focus on role-playing aspects. It’s one of those questions, how do you roleplay a character that’s smarter than you are? Personally I find it fun and strangely liberating to play as “dumb” characters, imagining how they would go through Baldur’s Gate... though it has led to a *lot* of premature deaths.
So, what do you do with your Intelligence scores??