View Full Version : The (Animal) Sentience Variant

2009-04-03, 07:36 PM
Animal Sentience Variant

In the standard DnD campaign, there is humanlike sentience (above 3) and animal sentience (below 3). But it has been observed that most animals, in fact, are capable of making complex decisions and even feeling emotions, transcending the ‘non-sentience’ theory. In this variant, Intelligence is shaken up a bit, so that animals (and, for that matter, humans) are often more intelligent, though it still allows for truly insentient beings. When using this variant, “unintelligent” sheep may hide instead of only running, once single-minded wolves become reserved and sly, and dogs may grow to like or hate people at a natural rate.

As a rule of thumb, one should add 3 to the typical Intelligence score of all beings with less than 20 Intelligence score. There can be exceptions, if appropriate.

Most Mindless creatures should add 1 to their Intelligence score. If they have at least 5 Wisdom, they should usually have 2 Intelligence. As before, there are exeptions.

0 Intelligence is, as it always was, Mindless. This trait should go only to ‘puppet’ creatures whose every move is directed by a master, or creatures that do not process any information whatsoever.

2 or less Intelligence still counts as Unintelligent. This score goes to undead with limited autonomy, hivemind-reliant pests, and other beings that do not make complex decisions on their own. Anything that can process information has at least 1 Intelligence.

3 Intelligence becomes Basic Intelligence. The creature in question is intelligent enough to distinguish friend from foe, and form basic plans, but it is still incapable of higher thought. Beings that rely entirely on instinct often fall into this region.

4-8 Intelligence becomes Sentience. The creature can form complex thoughts and tell faces apart from each other, though it is rarely as intelligent as a humanoid. Several creatures that had humanlike intelligence should now fall under this category.

10 becomes Humanoid Intelligence. Naturally, this raises the standard for humanoid characters. When making a humanoid, you should still count the base Intelligence score as 8, but require at least 2 Intelligence to be added in order for the person in question to function in society. People with less than 10 Intelligence are possible, but rare.

Naturally, this raises a few issues. Once a person learns that animals are sentient, they may take great pains to avoid harming them, and killing harmless ones may become an evil act. DMs using this variant should be careful what is considered ‘right and wrong’ when playing. As a general rule, killing animals should almost never count as an evil or chaotic act unless it is done for personal pleasure; killing one for its hide or eating it is hardly ever evil, even if the person knows that the animal is intelligent.

It's a tad quickly done, but I think it may work. Any thoughts on how to refine it?

2009-04-06, 05:21 PM
What happens at int 1 and 9?

Try posting examples of the various intelligence levels (skeleton, orc, Dr. Spock, etc).

Also try to elaborate on high-intelligence levels. What would it be like to have 20 intelligence? 30? More? Who has this?

2009-04-06, 10:54 PM
2 or less INT is Unintelligent. Thus, 1 counts.

As for 11+... I'll hop to that...

2009-04-06, 11:26 PM
15-20 is Great Intelligence. Beings under this category are either smarter than most humanoids, or unusually intelligent for a humanoid. Scholars, magic-users, and particularly cunning monsters may posses great intelligence.

20-30 is Brilliance. Humanoids almost never reach this level, and thus it illustrates an impeccable grasp at information. Most brilliant creatures consider humanoids 'lesser', unless, of course, said being is humanoid.

More than 30 is Eldritch Intellect. Only a handful of beings are this intelligent.

As for examples:

Mindless: Most golems (though the elemental contained doesn't count)
Unintelligent: Oozes (they seek prey), skeletons (they take verbal commands)
Basic: Mindless undead without masters (they need to adapt now...)
Sentient: Harpies, lizardfolk (both assume you left their INT scores alone)
Humanoid: Humans, Dwarves, Halflings, Elves...
Great: Ghouls (no, this doesn't make them well-spoken... necessarily)
Brilliant: Nightshades, wyrm dragons
Eldritch: Ancient Gold Dragons

[Thought] Huh. For a type that has '0 Intelligence' in its description, there sure are a lot of intelligent undead... [.endthought/]

Tempest Fennac
2009-04-07, 01:33 AM
It's an interresting idea. I'm guessingyou're going with the idea that reptillian brains are less developed then mammal brains from the fact that reptillians wouldn't be sentinet under this system, right? (I just tend to give animals base Int and Cha stats of 10 while assuming they are intelligent in different ways to how most humans are.)

2009-04-07, 02:55 PM
Hm... I failed to notice that...

Yep, I'll have to tweak the Sentience value...