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Monday, March 30, 2020

Why I Like both Wisdom and Intelligence

I have no major topic for today, so I’ll turn to a minor topic: overlapping abilities.

There’s a forum discussion about what people would pick for a seventh ability, if they were to add one, and a side topic that showed up was a complaint about Intelligence and Wisdom being “the same thing”. But of course, they aren’t the same thing. They just overlap. And I love ability overlaps.

Let’s start from the conventional wisdom (har!) that Intelligence and Wisdom are the same thing. OK, but people’s scores for those abilities are usually not the same. That means that sometimes, the GM may say “You have a chance of noticing this in time if you have high Intelligence” and you will say “I don’t, but I have high Wisdom. Does that count?” Having two chances of rolling a high score is better than one, right?

But of course, Intelligence and Wisdom aren’t the same. We don’t need to go into detail about how they are different, here, since there are several different interpretations, although most involve Intelligence being linked to learned information and Wisdom being more instinctive. The real point is: whatever the difference, there are going to be some situations where that difference is going to matter, where having a high Intelligence won’t matter in a situation, but a high Wisdom will.

By the book, high Intelligence matters when trying to control a magic sword with a high Ego, but Wisdom doesn’t matter at all. Other situations will depend on how a GM actually interprets the difference, but they will exist.

And going back to situations where either score would be useful, which score is higher will inform the player on how to play the character, and inform the GM on how the character was able to escape the situation: “You recognized the markings on the beast from an old biological treatise” vs. “You had a bad feeling about the creature” or “A small angelic voice warned you about the danger just in time.”

This is why I sometimes wish for more overlap in ability scores. But maybe there’s already some overlap hidden in the existing system? This may be a topic I will return to later.

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  1. I don’t consider INT and WIS overlapping at all actually. INT is your BIOS and ROM and WIS is like your microphone and webcam and then how that gets processed. RAM maybe or OS?

    1. Yeah, that's probably as far away from my interpretation of INT and WIS as you could get. Except for the people who interpret WIS as Will.

  2. High INT, low WIS is absent-minded genius.
    High WIS, low INT is Edith Bunker.

    The difference is clear.