The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Rules Quirks – Intelligence vs Wisdom

in·tel·li·gence [in-tel-i-juhns] –noun
1.capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.

wis·dom [wiz-duhm]–noun
1.the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.
2.scholarly knowledge or learning:

In the older editions of D&D there was a degree of ambiguity in what constituted intelligence and wisdom. I had countless players ask me over the years specifically what each was, and I generally gave the same canned answer:

Wisdom is knowledge; Intelligence is problem solving ability.

This made sense to me because that is how those two words are used in common language. Further there was nothing of importance to contradict me because the uses for those two stats in early editions were limited.

However, with the advent of 3E the definitions of Intelligence and Wisdom were revised, clarified, and ingrained in the rules as never before. In 3E (and 4E) Wisdom is common sense while Intelligence is “book learning”.

I don’t like the newer distinction because its not very clear where the line between the two falls. Why do any illiterate creature have any “book learning”? Why does Healing fall under “common sense”? (other than that they want clerics to have that skill)

Now, having said that I don’t like the newer definition, I have never felt motivated enough about it to impose my definitions on the new editions – to do so would require a huge reorganization of the skills section. And I am not sure the end result would be balanced.

Just off the top of my head the skills for 3E might look like:

  • Appraise – INT
  • Craft – WIS
  • Decipher Script – INT
  • Disable Device -INT
  • Forgery – INT
  • Heal – WIS
  • Knowledge – WIS
  • Listen – INT
  • Profession – WIS
  • Search – INT
  • Spellcraft – WIS
  • Spot – INT
  • Survival – WIS

Actually, that’s much more balanced than I expected, though its still probably more work than its worth; sometimes game terms just don’t make sense and you just have to roll with it.


October 8, 2010 - Posted by | 3.x, Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs, Rules Quirks | , ,

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