D&D 5E Intelligence Ratings


Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I posted something like this a little over a year ago in a rather contentious thread. Interest in this sort of thing came up again more recently in another thread, and a suggestion was made to organize such a table by ability score modifier. Here's the result:

Score (frequency using 'averaging' dice +1)BonusRange of Deviation IQFantasy Rating
1 (0.00%)-51-10'Non'-intelligent or not ratable
2-3 (0.00%)-410-28'Animal' intelligence
4-5 (0.00%)-328-46Semi-intelligent
6-7 (0.46%)-246-64Low intelligence
8-9 (11.11%)-164-82Dull-witted
10-13 (76.84%)+0 / +182-118Average (human) intelligence
14-15 (11.11%)+2118-136Highly intelligent
16-17 (0.46%)+3136-154Genius intelligence
18-19 (0.00%)+4154-172Supra-genius intelligence
20+ (0.00%)+5 or more172+Godlike intelligence
The table is designed for a population with scores generated using the 'averaging' method rather than 3d6, which I believe was always a method for generating exceptional rather than general characters. The ratings come from or are inspired by those which appear in the original Monster Manual (1977) and the Stanford-Binet (1916) classification, which I believe was in part the inspiration for Gygax's ratings, being the only IQ classification ever to use the term 'genius'.

My posting this here in no way implies that I believe that PC ability scores should be used to limit the action declarations of players, but it is my hope that such a table can be helpful, especially to DMs when deciding the actions of monsters as is the apparent intent of the original table in the MM (1977).
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


Steeliest of the dragons
Just a personal preference, I would probably combine "Supra-genius" and "Godlike" intelligence and shift things from 12 up one, filling in the gap. The terms, other than "Animal" and "Non-", though somewhat evocative, are also relatively vague. So...

(0: if it's not obvious, is completely brain dead, no involuntary functionality, ergo bodily death.)
1: -5. . .Non-intelligent, No rating, "Vegetable" intelligence.
2-3: -4 . .Animal Intelligence, acts on "instinct"
4-5: -3 . .Semi-Intelligence, I would add "above average intelligent animals" and cite this as the minimum score for language development/use.
6-7: -2 . .Low Intelligence, possibly "very intelligent" animals, for humanoids: a limited vocabulary and a general lack of knowledge. Virtually no deductive reasoning skills, limited capacity to learn more than the most basic skills, and no memory to speak of.
8-9: -1 . . Dim-witted. These people are generally just dumb. If exposed to knowledge, they generally don't know what to do with it and/or make poor choices anyway. Still poor speech though a larger vocabulary. Poor deductive reasoning skills (if conclusions are reached, at all, they are usually deduced incorrectly), limited in the amount of skills they can learn and/or advancement of the skills they do possess, and a poor memory.
10-11: 0 . .Average...is, well, average. What can usually be assumed to be "common knowledge." Know and clearly speak their native language. What we used to think of as your basic everyday "intelligence", though today I suspect the bulk of the U.S. is floating more in the 7-9 range.
12-13: +1 . Sharp-Witted : capable of grasping irony, hypocrisy, understanding and using sarcasm, generally thinking on their feet and use deductive reasoning to formulate solutions, maybe knows an additional language, and/or more than "common knowledge" details of a particular or a few [related] topics. For my personal tastes, would not be capable of more than 3rd level spells.
14-15: +2 . Very Intelligent: has "good ideas" and is "correct" about things more often than not, impressive deductive reasoning, capable of learning and using multiple (let's say, up to 3) languages, and/or possess more than "common knowledge" details on a number of subjects. For my personal tastes, would not be capable of more than 4th level spells.
16-17: +3 . Highly Intelligent: Capable of knowing several languages other than their own, very little escapes their notice, and/or they have a remarkable amount of knowledge on any number of topics, mastery of (i.e. know "every-/anything" about) at least one or two topics. There isn't much they can encounter that will be beyond their comprehension or at least their capacity to "figure it out" (given enough time). For my personal tastes, capable of learning 5th level spells.
18-19: +4 . Genius: Is a genius. Very quick ability to analyze, examine, and make -almost always- "correct" decisions/deductions/conclusions. For my personal tastes, capable of learning 6th level spells.
20+ : +5+ . Supra-genius/Godlike: ya know...knows more than you can know, mysteries of the universe "mere mortals" can't hope to comprehend, sees all situations as they are/"clearly", n' all that. Lightning quick to analyze, deduce, form "correct" decisions/conclusions. For my tastes, necessary to utilize any [arcane] spells higher than 6th level.
Last edited:

Ed Laprade

First Post
Whenever the question has come up in just about any game group I've been a part of, just multiply your INT by 10 to get your character's IQ. Pretty rough and ready, especially at the high end, but it is easy to use.


First Post
(???) Why would Sherlock Holmes have IQ 35-55 or Int 4-5?

It's a reference to my favorite thread from the late WotC boards discussing, in part, playing a low Intelligence character as something other than an idiot, imbecile or moron.

Someone put forth a way to play Sherlock Holmes with a 5 Int.


First Post
I really like the idea here but I believe there is a fundamental flaw. As someone who has taken several IQ tests and have a parent who administered them as a teacher the tests have much closer ties to the stat Wisdom than intelligence.
The tests are usually a timed set of problems based on spatial thinking, problem solving and pattern recognition. Only very rudimentary prior knowledge is required and is not being tested.

English is an awful language full of interchangeable synonyms. Smart, intelligent, wise, charismatic, bright, etc may not be tied to the stat they sound like they would be. If you look at the skills that are tied to the three mental stats it paints a better picture of what they are seen as by the game system.
Is tied to history, nature, arcana, investigation and religion. These are fields that are based on memorization and knowledge. Even investigation is taking something you find and tying it to something you know. This is all about prior knowledge and what you have learned/memorize. Also your ability to memorize and recall facts.
Is tied to perception, insight, animal handling, survival, medicine. These are much more about decision-making and problem solving. Seeing something and understanding what it is. Making insightful connections mithout prior knowledge. 'thinking on your feet' and quick wittedness is more in the wis wheelhouse.
Is tied to intimidation, deception, performance, persuasion. These are willpower. It's all about exerting your will on those around you and making them do/believe what you want them to.

This can lead to some strange things with our real-world vocab though.
Some examples;
A very 'wise' person could have just memorized dozens of proverbs and uses them, or passes them along. That's a high int not wisdom.
A great host could remember all of their guests preferences and make sure that they talk about them and that their needs are met. Also a high int, not cha.
If someone is very witty and solves problems quickly and easily that's likely a high wis not int.
To put it in simplest terms, Int is book smarts, Wis is street smarts, and Cha is willpower.
You can even see this in the way the classes cast spells from these stats.

I think some of the difficulty stems from the fact that most of our examples of 'smart' people actually would have high scores in multiple of these stats.
Last edited:


Rules Monkey
I'm more partial to the idea that the Int score isn't a measure of general intelligence, but rather a measure of specific intellect related abilities - memory (all the knowledge checks) and the ability to identify relationships between different pieces of information (Investigation) and the ability to manipulate magic in a certain way (affecting your Wizard spell save DC's.)

Otherwise your character can be as smart or as dumb as you want to play them. YMMV.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Intelligence is a funny beast. I've had people (not just one) seriously argue that the INT 6 and understanding a language steed from the paladin Find Steed was still non-intelligent, because there was no definition of "intelligent" in 5e and a INT 3 human (minimum roll) was intelligent but an INT 6 beast was not. This came up because of the section in the PHB about intelligent vs. controlled mounts.

I bring this up not to say this endeavor is doomed (DOOMED!), but to think about if your ratings still make sense when applied around, both withing the normal ranges for humanoids and also when applied to non-humanoids. For instance, if generic people follow the 3d6 bell curve, then about 1 in 8 is INT 7 or less and about 1 in 20 is INT 5 or less. I don't think we'd say 1 in 20 people are best described as "semi-intelligent".


Community Supporter
"Book smarts" is more about Skill proficiencies than it is about the Int stat itself. Because Intelligence is related to the knowledge skills and investigation, the Intelligence stat is clearly memory and the ability to infer things from incomplete knowledge. Someone with the max rolled starting Intelligence of 18 is going to have the same bonus to knowledge type stats as a level 1 trained person with an Int 14. The Int 18 person has no training in this knowledge skill, but has remembered enough and can make logical guesses to be correct as often as a quite bright person who has actually studied.

On reflection, I'm not sure IQ tests are measuring Wisdom as D&D defines it. I've never administered IQ tests, though, so I may have to acquiesce to the expert here. I just think that Wisdom's Perception, Insight, and Handle Animal skills show more of an attachment to instinct than to memory. I feel like reasoning is Int, instinct is Wis.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Rules Monkey
For instance, if generic people follow the 3d6 bell curve, then about 1 in 8 is INT 7 or less and about 1 in 20 is INT 5 or less. I don't think we'd say 1 in 20 people are best described as "semi-intelligent".

Last edited:


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Just because it's the type of geek I am, I mapped the 3d6 bell curve probabilities to IQ distribution in the population.

I've seen the same distribution several places, so I'll assume this is legit:

That first standard distribution of 85 to 115 is 68% of the results. That maps out quite nicely to the 8 to 13 on 3d6 (67.78%). One standard distribution isn't particularly wide, so these people all pass as normal, though some are a big slower or faster.

The second standard distribution is where you have more noticeable differences. These are the people you'd notice as dumb or smart. It's 14% on either side, say 5-7 and 14-16 which are each 14.35%.

"Gifted" starts around 130, which equates to starting around a 16. On the other side (and I'm saying this clinically) mild retardation is 50 to 70, so a 5 is the most functional part of "mild retardation" - still able to function in society. So playing an 8 like you are dim and a 6 as extremely stupid isn't really supported.

The next 2% on either side get you down to 55 or up to 145. 3-4 and 17-18 are 1.85% which is as close as we're going to get. The bottom end of the scale - INT 3 - is still in the population distribution for the lower end of "mildly retarted", but still well above moderate, severe or profound. In other words, INT 3 should be able to function in society with some help. Yeah, I always think of INT 3 as drooling idiots, but in the population, 1 in 216 on the low side is only mildly impaired.

The top end is not quite to genius, at 150. 3d6 isn't granular enough to actually show genius, it's less frequent then 1 in 216. But we can safely assume INT 19-20 will get there. However for those we're into bonuses and outside 3d6 distribution so it's outside this analysis.

So for those looking for a "easy IQ conversion", IQ of 50 + 5*INT gives a rough fit that's about as good as you can get with that simple of a formula. (Okay, 47.5 * 5*INT, but really, evenly divisible by 5 is nicer.)

In play:
3-4 mildly impaired (-4)
5-7 slow (-3 to -2)
8-13 - average joe (-1 to +1)
14-16 bright (+2 to +3)
17-18 gifted (+4)
19-20 genius (+5)


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Good stuff. Humans have +1 to all ability scores, though, so everything would get ticked up by one.

You know, shifting everything by one, but then having most of the other races using the now lower portion means that as a race, humans find just about every other race to be a little bit slow. The magical High Elves are on par, and those dang Gnomes are quick witted, but everyone else isn't so bright.


First Post
Good stuff. Humans have +1 to all ability scores, though, so everything would get ticked up by one.
Only if you are making a PC, or a PC-like NPC, and they are exceptional. Grunt Commoners (as per MM) have an Int of 10 (+0), as do Acolytes, Bandits, Cultists, Cult Fanatics, Gladiators, Guards, Thugs and Veterans.


Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Humans have +1 to all ability scores, though, so everything would get ticked up by one.

I've edited the OP to reflect an average human INT of 11.5. Racial ability score bonuses do indeed apply to general characters as well as exceptional characters. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Whenever the question has come up in just about any game group I've been a part of, just multiply your INT by 10 to get your character's IQ. Pretty rough and ready, especially at the high end, but it is easy to use.
The math surrounding it has already been discussed to death, but I find the more fundamental problem with this rule of thumb is that it doesn't help because people don't have an intuitive understanding of what "IQ 80" or "IQ 120" actually looks like. Think of the smart people you know -- are they IQ 120 smart, IQ 150 smart, or IQ 180 smart? If you know, you know your friends' test scores better than I do mine, because I have no idea. It's not like height, where you know exactly how tall 6'5" is because it's a direct analog measure. (And this isn't even getting to the part where intelligence can manifest in many, many different ways.)


Since PCs will regularly get a 20 Intelligence, I'd hesitate to call them "godlike". Wizards are already too hoity toity. B-) So I agree more with [MENTION=20564]Blue[/MENTION] on this, that a 19-20 is "genius".

Of course trying to equate IQ to Int is always going to be limited - after all Wisdom is probably also considered a type of intelligence for a lot of people. Skills (such as History) on the other hand reflect book learning.

How to describe intelligence at the low end? Personally I look at what the designers thought.

Orcs have a 6 intelligence. They're usually represented as slow learners, but not necessarily imbeciles (reflected by their 11 wisdom). Not exactly book smart, more driven by instinct.

Ogres have a 5 intelligence and have a hard time counting to 11 without getting arrested for indecent exposure. Their use of language is limited and generally only use simple weapons.

A baboon is a 4 intelligence, and most animals are a 2-3.

An Advertisement