Thursday, 2 December 2010

Intelligence Score (Part 4): Intelligence vs Wisdom

Anyone who read Gary’s description of Intelligence and Wisdom (AD&D DMG 15) will know they are no better off in understanding the difference, especially when it come to game play and game mechanics.

I’ll reproduce the two paragraphs.
Intelligence: The intelligence rating roughly corresponds to our modern “IQ” scores. However, it assumes mnemonic [this was D&D at it’s best stretching my teenage brain with new words and concepts], reasoning, and learning ability skills in additional areas outside the written word.
Wisdom: For game purposes wisdom ability subsumes the categories of willpower, judgment, wile, enlightenment, and intuitiveness. An example of the use of wisdom can be given by noting that while the intelligent character will know that smoking is harmful to him, he may well lack the wisdom to stop (the writer may well fall into this category).

Whilst an enjoyable read, with an intimate personal tone established between writer and reader, and a reasonable dictionary definition with a practical example of the difference between intelligence and wisdom: I never knew then, nor do I now, how best to mechanically apply this difference in game.

From edition B/X on, Wisdom gives a mechanical bonus to a saving throw related to magic/spells.
This nature of this bonus has subtly changed over the generations.

This can be accessed here in my Rules Retrospective: Wisdom Score

What struck me after compiling this table is that there is little clear consensus across the editions of what wisdom should do. The saving throw bonus (Magic, spells or mental attacks) and the benefit in resisting being overwhelmed by intelligent swords highlights one aspect of wisdom as outlined by Gary’s description – that of will. Yet oddly OD&D (Intelligence and Strength) and AD&D (Intelligence and Charisma) don’t use wisdom to fight off egotistical intelligent swords. Charisma, I can almost accept, as force of personality, but often it is used more simply asa surrogate for beauty. Strength - perhaps, provided it is not just pure muscle but represents a more full encapsulation of strength.  I think for intelligent swords, I will go with my chosen edition B/X - strength and wisdom (will). 

Whilst one could conceivably change the term Wisdom to be Will, it feels like one is danger of starting to play a different game not house ruling D&D. Wisdom is more than Will, it is as Gary says it is, also judgment, wile, enlightenment (self awareness, universe awareness) and intuitiveness.

That last one, intuitiveness, I want to pick up that idea in my next post.

Intelligence Score (Part 5): Wisdom gives players an Intuition bonus.

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