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5E Weird Interpretations for High/Low Ability Scores

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
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.
A similar conversation was recently had in the thread about using out of character knowledge. I believe that the view in opposition to yours (and to my preference) is that if the player wants to have their character think something - regardless of the mental stats - then they can. If they want their 3 INT character to think they know how to make gun powder, or all of the simple machines, or a printing press, or what the MM says about all of the monsters, or how integral and differential calculus, then that's fine. They might be wrong in that particular game world. While there were clear prohibitions of this in 1e and 2e, they do not exist in 5e. As such, it might be argued that requiring play that way is a house rule (and not just "common sense" as I might still say in spite of having found no 5e rules requiring it).
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
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.
Agreed. Rules-wise, a 5 Int means that the character has some hindrances at Intelligence-based spellcasting and that checks they make that use Intelligence are somewhat more likely to fail. That's all. The rationale as to why those checks are more likely to fail falls to the player to narrate, and should be bounded by the overall character concept as agreed upon by the player and the DM. The section on "Intelligence" in the PHB has as much controlling power over the narrative as the section on the common hair color of elves.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
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.
Yeah, as I stated way upthread, most of the objection to this are simply preference and has nothing to do with the rules of the game being broken or someone playing in a manner that is unfair.
 



TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
I'm aware of how we are discussing how Holmes could be portrayed in D&D.
And more importantly, the discussion was about offbeat interpretations of a character for purposes of playing a PC. The goal of character building isn't to model anything, it's to make playable PCs.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The things he does in the books dwarfs the lower PCs, and he does it like it was nothing.
I assume you mean "DCs" here, not "PCs," and with regard to that there are no DCs in the novels. (Or am I mistaken?) The DM has to decide on a DC based on what the player describes relative to the fictional situation. And given a set of clues or the like, a player could conceivably just reach a conclusion on his or her own without reference to an ability check.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I assume you mean "DCs" here, not "PCs," and with regard to that there are no DCs in the novels. (Or am I mistaken?) The DM has to decide on a DC based on what the player describes relative to the fictional situation. And given a set of clues or the like, a player could conceivably just reach a conclusion on his or her own without reference to an ability check.
But if he's coming to those conclusions at a Holmes level of reasoning, he is roleplaying directly against what the game has set for his PC. The game sets a 5 Int explicitly as a low ability to reason. That's very poor RP in my opinion.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
But if he's coming to those conclusions at a Holmes level of reasoning, he is roleplaying directly against what the game has set for his PC. The game sets a 5 Int explicitly as a low ability to reason. That's very poor RP in my opinion.
The game only says how an ability score "might" or "could" be portrayed. The rest is all you. And that's okay. But understand that not everyone shares your preference or table rules and that there's nowhere to go from here in this discussion.
 

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.
A Halfling with the Lucky feat is a sufficient explanation for an NPC, (though the combination still isn't an Attribute).
A player is going to want to pick a class.

The point isn't accuracy, or total fidelity....the point is allowing players to try different ideas while still being effective. I'm a powergamer by inclination, yet I will happily make a suboptimal choice if it fits "my character".
but who rolls stats that way, in 5E, in 2020?
3 out of the 4 games I am involved in have rolled stats. I know 2 more ongoing games that also use rolled stats.

Your preference is subjective and arbitrary, and should not be presumed to be universal.

The above of course also applies to my preference, to everyone's preference, really.
Sherlock Holmes isn't crazy, either. He's not going to insist that gunpowder works when it doesn't.
We don't really know that at all, being that no such short story exists. All, serialized characters eventually wind up as experts at everything the plot requires.

Remember, the prompt was a player approaches you asking to play Crazy Sherlock...and how do you respond...do you tell the player they must play Ruperick the monkey boy?
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
So your answer is indeed one must play Ruperick the monkey boy.

The point of the extreme 5 WIS/Must play a serial killer example is to illustrate that any DM prescription of how a player should role play their character can result in them reacting just as you reacted, Ruin.

Many games, (perhaps most games), are ran at what I brand as: Solve for "X" RPG Games.
The "X" variable the player is trying to determine, is what the DM will allow to work.

Some games are ran with the intention to invert that paradigm, the DM is the one that finds solutions for what the player wants to do.

Either style works, because D&D is like sex, a good intentioned, mediocre session with nice people, is still rather satisfying, even if it wasn't exactly the way you wanted it to be.
 
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Crimson Longinus

Adventurer
You are allowed to play Sherlock Holmes like character. You just can't do that by putting five in int, just like you can't play Conan by putting five in strength. This should be pretty easy to grok. (Granted, any first level character is not gonna directly equal these literature characters but at higher levels they can begin to match them.)
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
You are allowed to play Sherlock Holmes like character. You just can't do that by putting five in int, just like you can't play Conan by putting five in strength. This should be pretty easy to grok. (Granted, any first level character is not gonna directly equal these literature characters but at higher levels they can begin to match them.)
I would argue, that you are correct in 1e and 2e by RAW. But that in 5e RAW the Holmes attempt could work out much closer than the Conan attempt unless there was a table rule about out of character knowledge.

In some cases, I wonder if this was even broken in 1e/2e games on occasion with no qualms. If a puzzle or riddle (an actual puzzle or riddle) was given to the party (to the players) to solve, were only the players of characters with high WIS/INT at the table able to give guesses for the answer, or were all of the players able to do so even if the character had a low WIS/INT. I have to confess, in spite of my agreement with "people should RP like their stats", the puzzle cooperation didn't bother me too much if used sparingly. (Now, presumably if the table was stuck and it was vital the stats would matter for a roll to attempt to circumvent it when "my character attempts to use his puzzle solving skills to solve the challenge").
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
You are allowed to play Sherlock Holmes like character. You just can't do that by putting five in int, just like you can't play Conan by putting five in strength. This should be pretty easy to grok. (Granted, any first level character is not gonna directly equal these literature characters but at higher levels they can begin to match them.)
The thread is about Weird Interpretations for Low Ability Scores.

What’s your position here? Are any weird interpretations allowed?

More broadly, isn’t this about imagination? What’s conceivable within a particular framework is going to vary. If my strength 5 fighter named Konan hails from the wild lands and relies on his other qualities, why doesn’t he fit the bill? Or what if my strength 5 barbarian uses dex and a short sword for combat but uses rage solely to gain advantage on strength checks? What makes a barbarian? Must that definition include above average or high strength?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The game only says how an ability score "might" or "could" be portrayed. The rest is all you. And that's okay. But understand that not everyone shares your preference or table rules and that there's nowhere to go from here in this discussion.
There is no "might" or "could" written. It says what Int represents, not what Int "might" or "could" represent. Please don't add your preferences to what is written. It "might" confuse people.
 

Crimson Longinus

Adventurer
The thread is about Weird Interpretations for Low Ability Scores.

What’s your position here? Are any weird interpretations allowed?

More broadly, isn’t this about imagination? What’s conceivable within a particular framework is going to vary. If my strength 5 fighter named Konan hails from the wild lands and relies on his other qualities, why doesn’t he fit the bill? Or what if my strength 5 barbarian uses dex and a short sword for combat but uses rage solely to gain advantage on strength checks? What makes a barbarian? Must that definition include above average or high strength?
Weird can be fine, completely opposite to the usual interpretation less so. And yeah, a weak but agile barbarian is perfectly fine, that just isn't a character similar to Conan.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
There is no "might" or "could" written. It says what Int represents, not what Int "might" or "could" represent. Please don't add your preferences to what is written. It "might" confuse people.
I encourage you to read the section entitled "Your Character's Abilities" on page 14 of the PHB where it instructs players to think about how to portray the character. It is entirely framed as "might."

This isn't my preference. It's right there in black and white. In fact, I haven't stated a preference as to playing Int-5 in this thread one way or the other except that I prefer players play their characters as they see fit, including how they interpret their own character's ability scores.
 

A similar conversation was recently had in the thread about using out of character knowledge. I believe that the view in opposition to yours (and to my preference) is that if the player wants to have their character think something - regardless of the mental stats - then they can. If they want their 3 INT character to think they know how to make gun powder, or all of the simple machines, or a printing press, or what the MM says about all of the monsters, or how integral and differential calculus, then that's fine. They might be wrong in that particular game world. While there were clear prohibitions of this in 1e and 2e, they do not exist in 5e. As such, it might be argued that requiring play that way is a house rule (and not just "common sense" as I might still say in spite of having found no 5e rules requiring it).
So how is it okay that that's the case with INT and WIS and CHA, but not with all stats? This is a clear double-standard, and one which isn't apparently well-supported by any kind of actual rationale beyond "I want it thatta way!", to quote the Backstreet Boys.

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.
Actually I've demonstrated exactly why I think that, with an actual argument and rationale. You claiming it's nothing but personal preference isn't a counter-argument, it's just a lie, and a pretty cheap one. You can say you disagree with my rationale, or that my rationale is rubbish, but you can't lie and say I didn't offer one. You've offered no rationale I can find beyond preference (maybe I just didn't recognise it?), and you're trying to suggest I'm doing the same, which is outright false.

For you it appears, reading between the lines, because you've not really explained your position that I can see here, is that mental stats are meaningless except to rolls, and a PC is in no way bound or even to be influenced by them - correct me if I'm wrong here. Presumably in your game, I can dumpstat INT/DEX/CHA, then RP a brilliant, wise, incredibly charming character, and just be really surprised when the big penalties mean I fail at tasks involving those stats. Is that right?

Can I equally dumpstat STR/DEX/CON, and claim to be a musclebound athlete with top-notch endurance who has never been ill a day in his life? I doubt it, but if you say yes, at least that's consistent with stats being meaningless except to rolls.

I don't think anyone who worked on any edition of D&D intended it to be played that way, and seems like it's a case of "From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!" (I guess you're Anakin and I'm Obi-Wan in this scenario), but at least it would be consistent, and there are other RPGs which do abstract stats to that degree, making them more "narrative ability" than actual stat - i.e. INT would cease being any kind of measure of the character's actual intellectual ability, and merely instead become their narrative ability to succeed at tasks related to intelligence.

That's kind of fun on a certain level, but it's not viable if you don't do it with physical stats, and it's clearly not intended given the strong correlation between INT and described intelligence in the MMs, NPCs, and so on.

3 out of the 4 games I am involved in have rolled stats. I know 2 more ongoing games that also use rolled stats.

Your preference is subjective and arbitrary, and should not be presumed to be universal.

The above of course also applies to my preference, to everyone's preference, really.
Dude, let's stay in the real world here, instead of this fanciful realm where anything is possible, at least re: chargen. Every larger-scale survey of 5E players that I'm aware of suggests a minority of people roll their stats as their main method for playing 5E (specifically - OSR is a different story). Whilst I haven't seen many surveys about it, those who do roll, when it is discussed, seem to indicate they use pretty generous methods.

Your concern is only a real concern if you roll using a "down-the-line" method of rolling. I very much doubt that more than a fraction of a percentage point of 5E players roll "down-the-line", and even those that do probably don't use methods which can result in the stats you describe.

And if you are in a game that rolls "down-the-line", you know what you signed up for, which is to say, totally random stats which you then have to make the best of.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I would argue, that you are correct in 1e and 2e by RAW. But that in 5e RAW the Holmes attempt could work out much closer than the Conan attempt unless there was a table rule about out of character knowledge.

In some cases, I wonder if this was even broken in 1e/2e games on occasion with no qualms. If a puzzle or riddle (an actual puzzle or riddle) was given to the party (to the players) to solve, were only the players of characters with high WIS/INT at the table able to give guesses for the answer, or were all of the players able to do so even if the character had a low WIS/INT. I have to confess, in spite of my agreement with "people should RP like their stats", the puzzle cooperation didn't bother me too much if used sparingly. (Now, presumably if the table was stuck and it was vital the stats would matter for a roll to attempt to circumvent it when "my character attempts to use his puzzle solving skills to solve the challenge").
Which, to me, argues that people are well-advised to refrain from sitting in judgment of how other people portray their ability scores. It's not useful in my view and adds nothing to the game experience. If a given player wants to play an Int-5 character as a dunce, great. If not, also fine.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Actually I've demonstrated exactly why I think that, with an actual argument and rationale. You claiming it's nothing but personal preference isn't a counter-argument, it's just a lie, and a pretty cheap one. You can say you disagree with my rationale, or that my rationale is rubbish, but you can't lie and say I didn't offer one. You've offered no rationale I can find beyond preference (maybe I just didn't recognise it?), and you're trying to suggest I'm doing the same, which is outright false.
The rules outright say it's up to the player to determine what the character thinks, does, and says. Ability scores do not constrain that except as the player decides. That you prefer constraints is exactly that - a preference. And that's fine.

For you it appears, reading between the lines, because you've not really explained your position that I can see here, is that mental stats are meaningless except to rolls, and a PC is in no way bound or even to be influenced by them - correct me if I'm wrong here. Presumably in your game, I can dumpstat INT/DEX/CHA, then RP a brilliant, wise, incredibly charming character, and just be really surprised when the big penalties mean I fail at tasks involving those stats. Is that right?

Can I equally dumpstat STR/DEX/CON, and claim to be a musclebound athlete with top-notch endurance who has never been ill a day in his life? I doubt it, but if you say yes, at least that's consistent with stats being meaningless except to rolls.
My position is easy to understand: The player decides how they portray their own character.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I encourage you to read the section entitled "Your Character's Abilities" on page 14 of the PHB where it instructs players to think about how to portray the character. It is entirely framed as "might."

This isn't my preference. It's right there in black and white. In fact, I haven't stated a preference as to playing Int-5 in this thread one way or the other except that I prefer players play their characters as they see fit, including how they interpret their own character's ability scores.
Yep. A low wisdom might be foolhardy or absentminded or oblivious. There is no, might be very wise. Those "mights" are right in line with the what abilities represent sections with ability checks.

If you are misrepresenting low or high stats, you are going against what both page 14 and the ability check section are telling you.

A low Int might be represented a number of ways that indicate poor reasoning ability. There is no way of representing a low Int by being Holmes that fits page 14 or the ability check section.

You are adding to the game that which is not there.
 

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