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5E Weird Interpretations for High/Low Ability Scores

I agree that it's easier just to handwave the situation I was describing, but I'd actually prefer to adhere strictly to the rules. I might say something like, "I'm worried about a loose stone collapsing on my companions, so I use my bokken as shoring and leave it behind." Or whatever.

And the reason I think it's important is so that there's a clear boundary. In the 5-Int Genius thread, Max kept throwing these scenarios at me, along the lines of "Well what if you're in a Zone of Truth and..." He was trying to find a way in which the alternative interpretation would cause actual rules to get broken, in a way that would give unfair advantage.

Or another example is the proficiency: in my fluff the only reason I'm not using a real longsword is that my sensei hasn't given me permission. If we take that fluff at face value, there's no reason I couldn't defy my sensei and pick up the real thing, even though that would break the metagame rules. But since I have zero intention of trying it, the rule remains inviolate.

I think that if you're going to play around with re-fluffing, it's important to be diligent about adhering to the rules.
I'm sure one could come up with a situation that would break the refluffing. For example there is a sword lying around and someone uses a mind control spell to attack with it or something. Or there could be some bizarre situation where the fate of thousands of people depended on your character defeating a bad guy alone, the bad guy was immune to normal damage and there was a magic sword that could hurt them, thus it would be pretty jarring if your character didn't break their wow. But of course neither of those are likely to arise unless the GM intentionally tries to cause your refluffing to to become a problem, so in practice non-issues.

But here is how I would approach this differently. If the fiction is that your character knows how to use the sword but just doesn't, and I as a GM approved that, then that's how it is, and if some bizarre situation arose where your character absolutely has to use the sword, then they will have the proficiency. And same with any refluffing. I treat them as houserules. Once the fluff is changed, then that is the fluff that informs the rules from now on, and in some rare situations that may lead to different rule-results than the original fluff would have.

Maybe I'm not understanding what you mean here, but I don't see it as disassociation of the rules and the fiction at all. It's just swapping in a different fiction that is still tightly associated to the rules. E.g. my wooden sword. It still follows all the same rules in the same way, it just has different fluff.
The bokken is a complete non-issue. Whether the wooden stick is four or six feet long doesn't matter for its combat stats because there is no sufficient granularity to differentiate between them in that context. But in fiction the bokken has certain length, and in situation where such matters, that's the length used (like whether it fits somewhere, can be used to reach something etc.)

But I want the rules to describe thing in the fiction in (somewhat) consistent manner and in any improvisation situation further ad-hoc rules flow from the fiction.
 
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Saelorn

Hero
You seem to be caught up with a very strict definition of "The DM narrates the results of the adventurer's actions"
And you seem to be very loose in your definition, to an extent not remotely intended by the game design. I would go as far as to say that your approach appears disingenuous, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
It does not interrupt the play cycle to ask a player to describe what the tremendous success or failure of their PC's action looked like. You as DM still have the power to then describe how the success or failure affected other creatures, objects, and/or the environment, which brings us back to step 1 in the play loop.
Of course, the DM always has the power to change any rules of the game, as long as their players are okay with it. But your own house rules have no bearing on the rules actually under discussion. If you choose to roll 2d10 rather than d20, then that's entirely your prerogative, but it's also irrelevant to the topic at hand.
No thank you on telling the player how their PC thinks, acts, or talks.
I get where you're coming from, and I agree with the basic idea, but you're still shirking your duty by not describing the results of their intended action. A player can describe any course of action that they intend, but that does not mean they have any power whatsoever in saying how that plays out. The character doesn't choose to slip on a banana peel as compared to tripping over a rock, and putting that choice in the hands of the player is a direct violation of the basic process of play. The rules are extremely clear on this point.
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
And you seem to be very loose in your definition, to an extent not remotely intended by the game design. I would go as far as to say that your approach appears disingenuous, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Disagree.

Of course, the DM always has the power to change any rules of the game, as long as their players are okay with it. But your own house rules have no bearing on the rules actually under discussion. If you choose to roll 2d10 rather than d20, then that's entirely your prerogative, but it's also irrelevant to the topic at hand.

And I'm saying that fluff, while mostly in the hand's of the DM, is not the sole domain of the DM. Please cite the rule that says it is.

I get where you're coming from, and I agree with the basic idea, but you're still shirking your duty by not describing the results of their intended action. A player can describe any course of action that they intend, but that does not mean they have any power whatsoever in saying how that plays out. The character doesn't choose to slip on a banana peel as compared to tripping over a rock, and putting that choice in the hands of the player is a direct violation of the basic process of play. The rules are extremely clear on this point.

Huh? No DM is letting the player override the mechanical result adjudicated by said DM. And no trusted player is making up that there is a banana peel in the scenario for lolz if it is not appropriate to the scene (although some might play that way and if they're having fun so be it).

Duty not shirked. Result of action narrated: trip.

I'm talking about asking the player, after they've failed the roll, why their PC tripped on the rock: "my character, whose flaw is that she is distracted by shiny things, caught a sparkling glint off some mica on the wall and missed the very real trip hazard right in front of her nose." I trust my players to sometimes add appropriate flavor to what their character is doing in a success or fail state. As DM I'm either going to ask the player to describe why they tripped OR I'm simply going to say that failing the roll resulted in a trip. And we move on the the start of the play cycle either way. As DM, I'm NOT going to embellish the result any more than that by narrating what the character was otherwise doing or thinking that caused the fall: "You look up at the ceiling because you fear more piercers are in the area and trip on the rock." That is not shirking duty to avoid the embellishment, that's sticking to the DM's role.
 

Saelorn

Hero
And I'm saying that fluff, while mostly in the hand's of the DM, is not the sole domain of the DM. Please cite the rule that says it is.
[...]
I'm talking about asking the player, after they've failed the roll, why their PC tripped on the rock: "my character, whose flaw is that she is distracted by shiny things, caught a sparkling glint off some mica on the wall and missed the very real trip hazard right in front of her nose."
1. The DM describes the environment.
That's the rule. What you have, here, is the player describing the environment; which is a direct violation of that rule. More importantly, though, this is a violation of Step 3. (See below)

2. The players describe what they want to do.
Note the verb: want. The player can want to do anything. What actually happens is beyond their power of declaration. Often, what they want will inform what actually happens, but the one who narrates the results is always the DM. See also: Step 3.
Huh? No DM is letting the player override the mechanical result adjudicated by said DM.
3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions.
The DM isn't only responsible for tagging keywords within a computer program. The DM's job is to narrate the results.

The action is that they try to walk down the hallway. The result of that action (depending on other factors known to the DM, possibly involving a die roll) is that the character trips over a rock; or they slip on a banana peel; or they're distracted by something shiny; as the DM narrates. If you just say that the Prone condition is applied, and don't go into it, then that's only halfway to describing a result. It isn't really sufficient until you narrate it. The DM tells the player what happens, because that is their role in the game.

If you choose to forsake your role in narrating the results, then you have abandoned the basic rules of play. You've left the scope of the game, and you're wandering around in the weeds of house rules. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but your experiences out there are no longer applicable to the game in general.
 

EDIT - I've seen an interesting double-standard re: stats since I was a teenager, note. People want to be able to dump mental stats without the consequences of dumping them
That is an excellent point. The people I play with like role playing, so taking a 5 in a statistic would be considered a challenge for the player to incorporate the stat into an effective character, not something to be min/maxed.

DMs should absolutely demand that characters that have unusual stats, role play their stats.
That said, as someone who in 1985 played a Half-orc Fighter with 7 INT (less intelligent than a 1e carnivorous ape), and a 3 Wisdom, role playing Lenny from the novella Of Mice and Men is fun, once.

If in a rolled stats game, the DM is going to dictate that a 5 in stat must be played a particular way, then the player should be allowed a re-roll of stats.

At this point in my life, I have absolutely no desire to potentially spend years of real life time
inhabiting a role, that I have played a billion times before.
This is an extreme example, but if a DM told me I had to play a serial killer, due to a 5 WIS score, I would just pass on the game entirely.
I don't think this is supportable, and you offer no evidence or examples to support it.

I don't feel the need to justify any example. Intelligence is a D&D artifact..the D&D parameters of Intelligence don't apply to the real world. Around 50 years ago when D&D was being created, the concept of "G"...general intelligence, had not really changed from 1700's.
That is not true today.
You might as well be asking me to justify why real world medicine doesn't match D&D mechanics....or what the weight of the color yellow is.

In game terms, the Intelligence stat influences knowledge checks and formal inquiry.

A Lizardperson character with the Outlander background and a 5 INT shouldnt have to be a gormless drooler. Instead, they can simple have a world view that is so alien, that what the lizardperson knows, their whole system of knowledge, is utter nonsense to those who do not share the same world view.

The -3 to Intelligence ability checks supports this, mechanically, and reinforces the role play choices of the player.

The actual Sherlock Holmes in say Eberron, is literally crazy. Scientific Criminal Investigation is just not how Eberron works...you can't track footprints in a world replete with Pass without Trace, bird droppings and minerals don't make gunpowder. Guns are bound elemental magic items.

If a player approaches you as the DM and asks to play crazy Sherlock in Sharn, are you going to say: "No, 5 INT means you must play Ruperick the monkey boy"?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It only really becomes a problem though if the DC is frequently higher than 19 (and why is that?) and even that is something that can be overcome with, for example, bardic inspiration or other resources. Or if the DM is not employing progress combined with a setback on failed checks (and why is that?). As far as being farcical, this would require in my view the character to fail a lot and I honestly don't think that's a big problem. The character will fail a bit more than someone with higher Intelligence, but again, that's only if I have to make a check at all. A character with a higher Intelligence will fail sometimes too and we wouldn't think that is farcical, right?

Failing sometimes is probably not okay for a Holmes type PC which would only fail very rarely. To accurately model Holmes you'd need to have +6 proficiency, expertise with Investigation, a 20 Int and Reliable Talent. That would give him a floor investigation of 27 which would be Holmes like.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You have some work to do to show that the gorilla will "routinely" outsmart the PC in a way that affects play meaningfully, particularly as it's unlikely (but not impossible) that a gorilla will feature quite often in this character's adventures. It's just not a worthwhile consideration and doesn't have anything to do with the rules. It's instead to do with your apparent preference as to how a player should portray a particular ability score. You're welcome to your preferences and your table rules, of course. I just don't share them.
Intelligence in 5e is quite literally the ability to recall things accurately and the ability to reason. A 5 Int is a very low ability to recall things accurately and a very low ability to reason. If you are roleplaying your PC as the opposite to what the game says your Int represents, then in my opinion you are roleplaying very poorly, especially if you are succeeding to the level of Holmes by roleplaying that way.

It would the same as if the game said your PC was color blind, but you kept roleplaying successfully seeing in color.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don’t think they’re breaking the rule. It’s more like malicious compliance. Dexterity, in this instance, is unchanged functionally, but merely appears lucky. Like a jar jar binks bumbling around but exactly the right way and scoring kills off it.

It’s goofing. And goofing isn’t breaking the rules. The game engine remains intact. How it looks in-universe is an area open to interpretation. A dexterous Jackie Chan is radically different than a dexterous Fred Astaire. Since that presentation is open to interpretation, goofing is fair game too.
Jar Jar didn't bumble a high dex at any point. He bumbled successes. When he needed to aim at things, he missed badly because he has a low dex. The Lucky feat far more accurately models his bumbling successes.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
There is no "Luck" statistic. Describing Mr. Magoo as "lucky" is a colloquialism, that explains away Mr. Magoo's lack of Intention when he performs his dexterous feats.

Sure there is.

"Lucky. When you roll a 1 on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll."

And...

"Lucky
You have inexplicable luck that seems to kick in at just the right moment.

You have 3 luck points. Whenever you make an attack roll, an ability check, or a saving throw, you can spend one luck point to roll an additional d20. You can choose to spend one of your luck points after you roll the die, but before the outcome is determined. You choose which of the d20s is used for the attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.

You can also spend one luck point when an attack roll is made against you. Roll a d20, and then choose whether the attack uses the attacker’s roll or yours. If more than one creature spends a luck point to influence the outcome o f a roll, the points cancel each other out; no additional dice are rolled. You regain your expended luck points when you finish a long rest."

These far more accurately model a Mr. Magoo type character. He isn't walking on that girder while blind due to a high dex. He's just getting very lucky.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
And here is a similar example of what I am talking about. You responded to elf crusher, but you didn't answer the important part of the question. The part that hurts your argument you ignored. Elfcrusher said:

"But if you're calling the description of Dexterity a "rule" then there needs to be some mechanism for applying the rule at the table. What exactly is the mechanical consequence of somebody narrating their characters actions as a clumsy but lucky Mr. Magoo character? "

You never addressed the important part, the mechanism for applying the "rule" or the mechanical consequence for not doing so. If a description is a rule, their needs to be a mechanical consequence. It similar to saying orcs are green. not the the grey color depicted in the MM. It has no mechanical consequence. Gray orcs a not a game rule, it is simply a game description.

You responded, and clearly you were happy with that response, but you didn't really answer the question.
The DM is the mechanism.

Player: "My 18 Dex PC is just bumbling around getting lucky with dex rolls."

DM: "That's not how Dex works in 5e. Dex in 5e is explicitly agility, reflexes and balance. If you have a high dex, you have high agility, reflexes and balance. What you are describing is the Lucky feat working for a low dex individual."

And done. The mechanism for applying Dex worked just fine. Rules don't need mechanics in order to be rules.
 

At least we now know the basis for your preference which appears to be an objection to certain players wanting to play "special snowflakes," whatever that means. You still haven't shown why anyone "should" portray Int 5 a particular way outside of you just preferring that they do. You're welcome to your preferences and your table rules, of course. I just don't share them.

I often play "special snowflakes", so this is simply not true, and I think you know perfectly well what that means, faux-naivete is so boring. It was described earlier in this thread without using the term (possibly by you?), being characters who play hard against type, or rely on very unusual mechanical setups.

My objection is that there has to be some basic consistency to what mental stats mean, just as there is basic consistency as to what physical stats mean, or you have an unhelpful and rather unfair double-standard.

As for showing why it should be portrayed as specific way, D&D is extremely consistent in that animals and beings who are, in colloquial terms "not very bright" have lower INT scores. I can see little deviation from this. I don't see anything that's "thick" but has 18 INT, or anything or anyone who is portrayed as brilliant, but has 8 INT. This isn't some game where the stats are totally abstract - there are RPGs like that, where you might have a "Mind" stat or the like, which might mean a lot of different things. The most abstract stat is probably WIS (which I think was a mistake, design-wise, but too late now).

So you combine those two factors I've just mentioned - firstly, that physical stats are fairly consistent and measurable and so on, which means people investing in those are tied to somewhat specific visions of characters, and secondly that D&D itself is largely consistent in how it portrays INT relative to what a "man in the street" would assume was meant by intelligence.

You've made no argument as to why a PC whose player has chosen them to have an INT score which would put them among "smart wildlife" and creatures people would be impressed managed to work a peanut dispenser or do very basic counting-based math, and among similarly-minded monsters in D&D, should in fact be some sort of well-spoken and brilliant fellow.

If we're trying to represent the Holmes from the books, I don't see how he could possibly be dump-stat CHA. He's charismatic enough to have Watson frequently commenting that the stage lost a great performer when he went into detective work, lies fluently to all kinds of fairly perceptive people, and is able to pretend to be other people so well that Watson can't see through his disguises. He's incredibly personable and charming when we wants to be--he just usually can't be bothered.

Well definitely. Book Holmes is all-round superior in capabilities, and merely misanthropic. But if we look at most modern portrayals of Holmes, whether they're the Benedict Cumberbatch take or Dr House or whatever, there seems to be centering around a more "anti-social" character, who is brilliant, but struggles with dealing with other people.

My personal feeling is that this is a bit more plausible for a "real-world"-ish scenario than the original Holmes, but YMMV. Certainly the RDJ Holmes was more in line with book Holmes though, in that he was charming (it's hard for RDJ to be otherwise, of course!).

These far more accurately model a Mr. Magoo type character. He isn't walking on that girder while blind due to a high dex. He's just getting very lucky.

With Magoo I think analysing it in terms of the characteristics of the character is misguided, because ultimately he's in a story, and in D&D terms, the DM would be constantly using fiat and fudging rolls to keep him alive and well, rather than him possessing any exceptional characteristics.
 

That is an excellent point. The people I play with like role playing, so taking a 5 in a statistic would be considered a challenge for the player to incorporate the stat into an effective character, not something to be min/maxed.

DMs should absolutely demand that characters that have unusual stats, role play their stats.
That said, as someone who in 1985 played a Half-orc Fighter with 7 INT (less intelligent than a 1e carnivorous ape), and a 3 Wisdom, role playing Lenny from the novella Of Mice and Men is fun, once.

If in a rolled stats game, the DM is going to dictate that a 5 in stat must be played a particular way, then the player should be allowed a re-roll of stats.

At this point in my life, I have absolutely no desire to potentially spend years of real life time
inhabiting a role, that I have played a billion times before.
This is an extreme example, but if a DM told me I had to play a serial killer, due to a 5 WIS score, I would just pass on the game entirely.

????????

Why would low WIS = serial killer? That seems like a leap in a very random direction.

I agree totally re-rerolling stats if you would have to RP a character in a way you don't like, but who rolls stats that way, in 5E, in 2020? Even in 1989, we used "arrange to taste" so no-one was forced into that. If you're rolling you're necessarily accepting you might not get the character concept you want, too.

I think we agree though. But we're discussing someone volunteering to have 5 INT, even demanding to have 5 INT, not being forced into it.

I don't feel the need to justify any example. Intelligence is a D&D artifact..the D&D parameters of Intelligence don't apply to the real world.

So why give a real-world example, particularly one that's basically a definition of ADHD, and one which more closely matches issues with WIS? Rhetorical question, I guess.

In game terms, the Intelligence stat influences knowledge checks and formal inquiry.

A Lizardperson character with the Outlander background and a 5 INT shouldnt have to be a gormless drooler. Instead, they can simple have a world view that is so alien, that what the lizardperson knows, their whole system of knowledge, is utter nonsense to those who do not share the same world view.

That's workable, if the player is good enough at that, sure, but that's not Sherlock Holmes. Main point is, the PC will be making a significant effort to RP how their low INT plays out, probably a much bigger and far more interesting effort than "I hav iNt fife so I are dumB"-type approaches. I like it. But again it's not Sherlock Holmes, which is the problem I have here.

The actual Sherlock Holmes in say Eberron, is literally crazy. Scientific Criminal Investigation is just not how Eberron works...you can't track footprints in a world replete with Pass without Trace, bird droppings and minerals don't make gunpowder. Guns are bound elemental magic items.

I don't think this holds up to the slightest scrutiny, and surprised you typed it out and then didn't edit it out. You can absolutely track footprints in Eberron, and Sherlock would obviously immediately take on board that magic existed and adapt his methods (probably after secluding himself in a magical library for a decade to learn how magic works and walking out of there a level 5 Wizard or something). The whole point is he's smart, not an idiot-savant. An idiot-savant would be totally stuffed by the rules changing in that way. Sherlock would adapt. He would discard the way gunpowder works like you discard a fast-food wrapper.

If a player approaches you as the DM and asks to play crazy Sherlock in Sharn, are you going to say: "No, 5 INT means you must play Ruperick the monkey boy"?

This makes zero sense. Sherlock Holmes isn't an idiot. He constantly updates and adapts his methods. He's not irrational (in the broad sense). Sherlock Holmes isn't crazy, either. He's not going to insist that gunpowder works when it doesn't. He'll be surprised, then take things on board. You teleport our world's Sherlock Holmes (book version say) to Sarn, and he'll be extremely successful, if he can survive the shocks of the first few weeks.

What you seem to be describing is a severely mentally-ill person who would constantly make delusional assertions about how things work.

If a player wants to play someone who is severely mentally unwell like that, well, first off I'd discourage them because approximately 95% of attempts to do that end up in a pretty stereotypical/bad comedy place that's frankly at best uncomfortable if you know actual people with schizophrenia, delusions, or the like, but assuming they were a master of subtlety and capable of pulling it off, I'd expect them to be exactly what I described earlier in this thread - REPEATEDLY - the man who walks into a room and utters a load of total bollocks with great confidence. I'd also say INT 5 wasn't really the appropriate way to do that unless their mental problems are extremely deep-rooted, like, they can't solve puzzles, they can't parse complex text (but they could of course pretend they did), they're bad at math, and so on.

You need to RP INT 5 as a full array of being bad at INT-based tasks, not just "cute insanity" when its convenient/funny, if you're going that way. Just like we'd expect someone with STR 5 to RP their character as weak, not just "weak when its funny/convenient". The Lizardman example you gave is awesome and would do that. "IM SHERLOCK HOLMES BUT IM NUTS LOLOLOLOLOL" is eye-roll.

(My personal bugbear here is CHA though, as a DM I have HAD IT, seriously HAD IT with players who dumpstat CHA then try to act like this means they're totally likeable and cool and charming, just not a great leader (and sometimes they even forget the last bit!). INT is the second-worst for this though - low WIS people often play it up, sometimes even excessively, but INT? Pffft, you're lucky if some players even acknowledge that they picked INT 10 or even 8. I was delighted when one of my players totally subverted his own portrayal of his INT 9 Barbarian after he got a Headband of Intellect though.)
 

DM Dave1

Adventurer
1. The DM describes the environment.
That's the rule. What you have, here, is the player describing the environment; which is a direct violation of that rule. More importantly, though, this is a violation of Step 3. (See below)

2. The players describe what they want to do.
Note the verb: want. The player can want to do anything. What actually happens is beyond their power of declaration. Often, what they want will inform what actually happens, but the one who narrates the results is always the DM. See also: Step 3.

3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions.
The DM isn't only responsible for tagging keywords within a computer program. The DM's job is to narrate the results.

The action is that they try to walk down the hallway. The result of that action (depending on other factors known to the DM, possibly involving a die roll) is that the character trips over a rock; or they slip on a banana peel; or they're distracted by something shiny; as the DM narrates. If you just say that the Prone condition is applied, and don't go into it, then that's only halfway to describing a result. It isn't really sufficient until you narrate it. The DM tells the player what happens, because that is their role in the game.

Ok, one last try here:

1. The DM describes the environment.
If the DM has done a good enough job - explicitly or implicitly - of describing the environment, then the player certainly can invoke part of the environment as part of describing what their character is doing, thinking, or saying.

2. The players describe what they want to do.
The actual actions, thoughts, and words of a PC are the domain of the player. The consequences of those actions, thought, and words are the domain of the DM. You are possibly conflating the two.

3. The DM narrates the results of the adventurers’ actions.
The DM can absolutely throw it back to the player to describe what the success or failure looked like in terms of the actions, thoughts, and words of the PC. That does not change the game we're playing nor does it change the mechanical outcome nor do the rules preclude it. "You failed the roll and your PC trips on the rock, falling flat on his face. Describe how that happened". In fact, such a simple technique enhances gameplay in that it gets the player more involved in developing the fun, memorable story.

Do you feel the rules of 5e are forcing the DM to foresake their role when a player is deciding to knock out an enemy rather than kill it? (PHB 198: The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt.)
DM: Nice attack roll! Now roll damage.
Player: 15!
DM: You take a mighty swing and the blade slices off the orcs head!
Player: Wait a second! I wanted to knock out the orc!
DM: Too late, I already finished step 3 of the play loop.

Of course, this is bit of an exaggeration but do you see the issue here? Either the DM must insist that the player declare a knock out preemptively every round they think the PC might slay the orc OR the DM prompts the player every time potential killing damage is done OR the DM lets the player describe what the action looked like. The first two options seem quite tiresome to me over the course of a campaign. It is literally impossible for the player to know a specific amount of damage drops the orc without the DM resolving the action.

DM: Nice attack roll! Now roll damage.
Player: 15!
DM: The orc is going down! What did that look like?
Player: Actually, I used the flat of my blade that time to hit the orc powerfully across the temple in an attempt to knock it out.
DM: The orc crumples to the ground, in rough shape and unconscious, but still breathes.

If you choose to forsake your role in narrating the results, then you have abandoned the basic rules of play. You've left the scope of the game, and you're wandering around in the weeds of house rules. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course, but your experiences out there are no longer applicable to the game in general.

Nope. No forsaking going on. Still talking about 5e here.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Failing sometimes is probably not okay for a Holmes type PC which would only fail very rarely. To accurately model Holmes you'd need to have +6 proficiency, expertise with Investigation, a 20 Int and Reliable Talent. That would give him a floor investigation of 27 which would be Holmes like.

Has Sherlock Holmes not sometimes failed?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Intelligence in 5e is quite literally the ability to recall things accurately and the ability to reason. A 5 Int is a very low ability to recall things accurately and a very low ability to reason. If you are roleplaying your PC as the opposite to what the game says your Int represents, then in my opinion you are roleplaying very poorly, especially if you are succeeding to the level of Holmes by roleplaying that way.

Yeah, in your opinion. The game's rules don't care. What you are stating is a preference. I don't share it. People can play their characters how they want. The Intelligence stat will be relevant when there's a mechanic that calls it into play.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
My objection is that there has to be some basic consistency to what mental stats mean, just as there is basic consistency as to what physical stats mean, or you have an unhelpful and rather unfair double-standard.

As for showing why it should be portrayed as specific way, D&D is extremely consistent in that animals and beings who are, in colloquial terms "not very bright" have lower INT scores. I can see little deviation from this. I don't see anything that's "thick" but has 18 INT, or anything or anyone who is portrayed as brilliant, but has 8 INT. This isn't some game where the stats are totally abstract - there are RPGs like that, where you might have a "Mind" stat or the like, which might mean a lot of different things. The most abstract stat is probably WIS (which I think was a mistake, design-wise, but too late now).

So you combine those two factors I've just mentioned - firstly, that physical stats are fairly consistent and measurable and so on, which means people investing in those are tied to somewhat specific visions of characters, and secondly that D&D itself is largely consistent in how it portrays INT relative to what a "man in the street" would assume was meant by intelligence.

You've made no argument as to why a PC whose player has chosen them to have an INT score which would put them among "smart wildlife" and creatures people would be impressed managed to work a peanut dispenser or do very basic counting-based math, and among similarly-minded monsters in D&D, should in fact be some sort of well-spoken and brilliant fellow.

Players determine how their characters act, what they say, and how they think. A gorilla's Intelligence score has no bearing on how a character is portrayed unless the player decides that it does. You seem to say that you think it's somehow unfair that a player portrays an Int-5 character as something other than "thick." But again, you have nothing to back this up other than personal preference. A preference I don't share.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Has Sherlock Holmes not sometimes failed?
Sometimes is more often than he has failed. He rarely fails and succeeds on very hard to almost impossible DCs on a regular basis. In game terms his investigation would be at +15 or higher and with Reliable Talent. No Int 5 PC can match that.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Sometimes is more often than he has failed. He rarely fails and succeeds on very hard to almost impossible DCs on a regular basis. In game terms his investigation would be at +15 or higher and with Reliable Talent. No Int 5 PC can match that.

I doubt there are any DCs in the Sherlock Holmes books, but I'm willing to be wrong if you can cite an example. I'll wait.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yeah, in your opinion. The game's rules don't care. What you are stating is a preference. I don't share it. People can play their characters how they want. The Intelligence stat will be relevant when there's a mechanic that calls it into play.
Yeah. I know you're okay with the color blind PC being roleplayed as seeing color, the equivalent of a 5 Int PC being roleplayed as a Holmes level investigator. I just view that as very poor RP.
 


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