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    Default [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    This is a question that comes up mostly in high-level games, with high starting stats and serious optimization.

    If you play a caster, you'll pump up everything to your casting stat, get the best headband/cloak/etc you can find, read a Tome Of Whatever and end up, say, a Beguiler with INT 36 or a Bard with a Charisma of 34. Even before 20th level, without the Tome or a cute "+2 to your important stat" race and starting, for example, with a "modest" 16, your casting stat can easily be 28 at lvl 16.

    1) How on earth do you roleplay that? More specifically, how differently would you roleplay it from a 20 Int/Wis/Cha character, who is already superhuman?

    (Oh, I know of course that personality is defined by a lot more than your mental stats, but you don't roleplay by stating a personality, you roleplay by behaving in a certain way, in character. And your intelligence, wisdom and charisma certainly affect your behavior and choices, don't they?)

    2) It seems to me that numbers like this, from one point forward, stop being an attempt to simulate your character's abilities and become a modifier, for OOC use only. At least, I can't think of a meaningful way to incorporate them IC. But hey, maybe I've missed something, I do that all the time. Is it feasible, then?

    I mean, if your Intelligence is 16 or higher, you're already playing the most Intelligent character you can manage. (Yeap, there's this rumor that D&D geeks are smarter than average, but I can't imagine anyone playing a wizard and saying "well, I thought of this great plan, but my character wouldn't have thought of it with a mere 16 INT, so never mind..." ) Same goes for Wisdom and Charisma: from 16 upwards, you're just doing the best you can, whatever that is.

    3) And, perhaps more importantly: Does it matter? Do you care? Does it ruin your fun to think "oh, but that number doesn't mean anything!" or do you find it more sensible to think "screw that, I'll just play the personality of this super smart/wise/charismatic guy, and kick tons of ass at the same time"?

    Personally, I think that it would bother me a bit to play someone with 30+INT who can't immediately think of the perfect solution to pretty much everything (and if that were the case, all the game's fun would be ruined as far as I'm concerned). I mean, I could get over it and get on with the game and enjoy the extra possibilities I'd have crunch-wise, but I'm not sure I'd like too many games like that. Opinions?
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    One possibility is that all those magical tomes only increase your intelligence with regards to a particular facet of your abilities without necessarily altering your thought process--you have a much more in-depth understanding of magic, but the solution to problems is still as difficult as ever. High charisma could just be an absolutely ludicrous force of personality, and high wisdom...well, that's where you get to noticing absolutely everything, but you likely don't have both a Wisdom and an Intelligence score in the 30's, so you can't quite figure out how to put those pieces together to solve every problem ever. And if you did manage 30's in both (like, say, if you're a Mystic Theurge), then, well...

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by nefele View Post
    Personally, I think that it would bother me a bit to play someone with 30+INT who can't immediately think of the perfect solution to pretty much everything (and if that were the case, all the game's fun would be ruined as far as I'm concerned). I mean, I could get over it and get on with the game and enjoy the extra possibilities I'd have crunch-wise, but I'm not sure I'd like too many games like that. Opinions?
    I think that that would be, for me, just a minor problem. Mostly because I see the DnD stat 'Intelligence' as Book-smarts. But coming up with a plan on the spot would be more of a personality-character quirk-experience sort of thing. I'd be more bothered if a level 20 NPC millitary leader couldn't come up with a good plan than if a 30+ int character couldn't come up with one.
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    I just metagame my high int chars.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    For the high int I once made a list of frases to say, and I mean all kind of frases... to the party, to myself, to random NPCs, to enemies in battle... good times. Just use the most difficult way and the most weird words to explain the easiest things and you are right on it.

    For high wis, a kindda of "yeah, I heared it coming like ten minutes ago" and "what do you mean withn "i can not see it"? its right there, on the mouth of the statue, twelve miles south".

    For the high charisma... dunno, I suppose i would play it like an overconfident character, who winks to all the female PCs/NPCs and tends to set himself in the center of the universe.
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    For high int, go look up strange words, then refuse to use anything else.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    I usually do it in a few ways:

    - High Intelligence represents long-term planning, learning ability, memorization, and logical thought process. I allow high-intelligence characters in my games to use internet resources to maximize the effectiveness of their current resources and some rudimentary planning of advancement. I'll sometimes offer them hints that other players wouldn't get.

    - High Wisdom is incredible common sense, fast thinking, and the ability to stay on one's mental feet. High-Wisdom characters are rarely surprised, hardly ever lose their cool, and are great at making the most out of whatever situation they've been plopped into. Where I let high intelligence characters plan ahead, I give high wisdom characters hints during encounters, in addition to more detailed descriptions of their environs.

    - High Charisma is not necessarily ability to lead, but rather the ability to convince others that you can lead. High Charisma characters are magnetic; heads turn when they walk into rooms, people want to be near them and around them, and their words carry weight based solely on the fact that they are speaking them. A high-Charisma character has an unshakeable self-confidence that can (very) often lead to arrogance - after all, why should your way be better than hers?


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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Gareth View Post
    - High Charisma is not necessarily ability to lead,
    I would modify that by saying high charisma means you CAN lead, but that without the prudence (wisdom) or forethought (intelligence), you may not be leading in the right direction.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Gareth View Post
    - High Charisma is not necessarily ability to lead, but rather the ability to convince others that you can lead.
    Bit of a nitpick: But that is how you lead, by convincing others that you should. Is it the ability to lead well? No, but that is by definition the ability to lead.

    Player-wise, I don't worry about it.

    DM-wise, I usually slip a note to my incredibly intelligent or wise characters that they remember/recall/thought of something different. Do I give them a plan? No, but I give them a lot more information than I would someone INT 10 to 14.

    For example, an intelligence 10 character who tries to plan an attack on an enemy fortress would realize that the enemy probably has archers, probably patrols the lands around the fortress and probably has a supply train going to/from the fortress.

    An intelligence 20 character would get the above, plus realize that the enemy probably has a secret escape route, a weak point in the wall's guard due to the rotation of the guard, where the enemy would likely place food stores and where the guardhouse probably is.

    Intelligence 30 would know all that plus where the enemy leader probably is, the exact guard route changes, where the enemy's water stores are, how the enemy forges it's armor and weapons and finally where the enemy's fortifications are physically weakest.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Gareth View Post
    - High Intelligence represents long-term planning, learning ability, memorization, and logical thought process. I allow high-intelligence characters in my games to use internet resources to maximize the effectiveness of their current resources and some rudimentary planning of advancement. I'll sometimes offer them hints that other players wouldn't get.

    - High Wisdom is incredible common sense, fast thinking, and the ability to stay on one's mental feet. High-Wisdom characters are rarely surprised, hardly ever lose their cool, and are great at making the most out of whatever situation they've been plopped into. Where I let high intelligence characters plan ahead, I give high wisdom characters hints during encounters, in addition to more detailed descriptions of their environs.
    Oh, you're talking how the DM can make high-stat characters believable. I hadn't thought of that, it's very interesting and seems to make perfect sense. Nice. (Same goes to ZeroNumerous, I just saw your answer.)

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    For high INT I basically talk like Vaarsuvius. I'm rather fond of 50 cent words in real life, so it doesn't take much effort to increase it to "insufferable know-it-all" levels.

    For high WIS I basically act very serene and "one with the universe" like.

    Not sure how to fake high CHA. If I did I could probably apply it to real life.
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Starscream View Post
    Not sure how to fake high CHA. If I did I could probably apply it to real life.
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    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroNumerous View Post
    Intelligence 30 would know all that plus where the enemy leader probably is, the exact guard route changes, where the enemy's water stores are, how the enemy forges it's armor and weapons and finally where the enemy's fortifications are physically weakest.
    Really? You need to be smarter than the smartest monsters that ever existed to figure this out?

    A DC 20 knowledge Architecture & Engineering for keeps to small castles should probably suffice.
    Last edited by Myrmex; 2009-06-20 at 08:13 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    Really? You need to be smarter than the smartest monsters that ever existed to figure this out?

    A DC 20 knowledge Architecture & Engineering for keeps to small castles should probably suffice.
    Well, the INT 30 guy doesn't need to know architecture, he just looks at it and sees the most logical way for it to work.
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    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Well, the INT 30 guy doesn't need to know architecture, he just looks at it and sees the most logical way for it to work.
    The int 20 guy wouldn't even bother thinking about such mundane stuff, much less the int 30 guy. Both would have world spanning plots where they suffer defeat attacking this castle, because it would serve their inscrutable purposes better.

    They could give you an extremely detailed description of how to attack the castle and any contingencies- rattle it off non-chalantly and rapidly- then frown, look at you, and tell you you're not looking at the big picture.

    See, if you knock this castle over, and depose the monarchy there, you're going to dishearten the peasants, shake their faith in the monarchy. Xicxat & Bacon showed that not only is production down 3.2% in the year after a monarch is deposed, but it causes other monarchs to tighten their grip, reducing systemic production by upwards of 30% and bring war, famine and plague within a decade, and tends to shift the alignment of regions towards evil.

    Furthermore, the rulers of this particular demesne are on good terms with the barbarians to the north, because they have related blood lines going back generations. If you depose them, the barbarians will go back to raiding with their stone giant allies, which will depress the economy and force the King to send troops north, which takes pressure off the orcs to the south and west, who have historically been held in check through extended military campaigns. Red dragons and orcs are traditional allies, and the red dragon that escaped us will surely take the chance to push northward with the orcs.
    Last edited by Myrmex; 2009-06-20 at 08:30 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    The int 20 guy wouldn't even bother thinking about such mundane stuff, much less the int 30 guy. Both would have world spanning plots where they suffer defeat attacking this castle, because it would serve their inscrutable purposes better.
    Or, you know, where winning the battle advances the cause just as much if not better. Not all high-INT people are Xanatos.
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    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Well, the INT 30 guy doesn't need to know architecture, he just looks at it and sees the most logical way for it to work.
    the most logical way is generally not the way that castles are built. They're often quite illogical.
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayabalard View Post
    the most logical way is generally not the way that castles are built. They're often quite illogical.
    30 INT is enough to recognize that other people are idiots and did it wrong, as well as how significant this idiocy is and how that would affect the building.
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayabalard View Post
    the most logical way is generally not the way that castles are built. They're often quite illogical.
    Depends on the magic and siege weaponry in play. With adamantine weaponry, a castle wall can be breached in minutes. Then there's blink, fly, spider climb, invisibility, teleport, shatter, and dozens of other low level spells that pretty much make castles nothing more than scenery in internally inconsistent setting.

    Historically, especially in western europe, castles enjoyed a period of being almost invulnerable.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    Or, you know, where winning the battle advances the cause just as much if not better. Not all high-INT people are Xanatos.
    If you have 30 int, there's no reason for you to be attacking a castle. Castles are only built by things below level 6. After that, they're totally superfluous structures.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    If you have 30 int, there's no reason for you to be attacking a castle. Castles are only built by things below level 6. After that, they're totally superfluous structures.
    The castle is Animated, and terrorizing your home village. There, happy now?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thorin View Post
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flickerdart View Post
    The castle is Animated, and terrorizing your home village. There, happy now?
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    for the role-playing of a genius, just speak as if bored of the subject, and exasperate often.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Highly intelligent people tend to be just like everyone else, though if they have any particularly cerebral interests, they can get kind of difficult to understand.

    People with a great deal of wisdom tend to not make nearly as many mistakes, catch the errors of others, and learn from others' mistakes.

    People with high Charismas have all read the Tome of Leadership and Influence. (I'm reading it right now, in point of fact; great book.)

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    Really? You need to be smarter than the smartest monsters that ever existed to figure this out?

    A DC 20 knowledge Architecture & Engineering for keeps to small castles should probably suffice.
    Notice how I never said I'd required any sort of knowledge checks? It's just what he knows from simple observation. Further, it's an example. Nit-picking it sort of defeats the point of using an example.

    Plus, there are plenty of Castles that incredibly high intelligence characters have to worry about. Heck, OotS recently had that whole big thing about a relatively high intelligence character(Redcloak) attacking a castle.

    Highly intelligent people tend to be just like everyone else, though if they have any particularly cerebral interests, they can get kind of difficult to understand.
    Unless they're high WIS and high INT. Then they can explain quantum physics to your grandmother.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Obviously, charisma is impossible to roleplay, since charisma is your roleplaying stat. That's rather like "Your role in the play is an actor who is much better at acting than you are."

    Note that an INT 30 character makes a DC 20 knowledge check no matter what. That means he can instantly recall something useful about every monster below CR 10. It means that if you give him a test of really hard questions about something he's never studied, he has a good chance of passing it.

    Since D&D is a simplified world, you can simulate this by using the forums, rulebooks, etc. to make sure you're always knowledgable about everything, and then make sure that ingame your character has no hesitation before whipping out the answer it took an entire forum two weeks to hammer out.
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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroNumerous View Post
    Notice how I never said I'd required any sort of knowledge checks? It's just what he knows from simple observation.
    But any character with positive mental modifiers could make the same observations. I would expect Knights, Fighters, Rogues and ToBers to pretty much be making mental notes of that stuff all the time, as part of their training or experience. The wizard, on the other hand, would be somewhat clueless without formal training or actually pondering it.

    Further, it's an example. Nit-picking it sort of defeats the point of using an example.
    It wasn't a very good example. I think that would be a bigger issue in defeating it's purpose as an example.

    Plus, there are plenty of Castles that incredibly high intelligence characters have to worry about. Heck, OotS recently had that whole big thing about a relatively high intelligence character(Redcloak) attacking a castle.
    Except that there were only the PCs and and like 4 NPCs that really mattered in the whole thing. Everything else was merely window dressing.

    There's no reason to assemble a bunch of level 1 to level 5 warriors in D&D, ever. Unless you're going to be using them to fuel epic magic or sacrifice them and take their souls. Or there are no high level characters and everything is low magic. Or everything regarding plot is blocked from every magical effect that negates the need for siege engines or whatnot.

    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post
    Since D&D is a simplified world, you can simulate this by using the forums, rulebooks, etc. to make sure you're always knowledgable about everything, and then make sure that ingame your character has no hesitation before whipping out the answer it took an entire forum two weeks to hammer out.
    That's what I do when I play high int characters. As a DM, I try to provide high int/wis or knowledgable characters with facts or insights about what they're facing.

    Alternatively, I let the players brainstorm a bit OoC, help them a little, then let the smart or wise character propose that course of action.
    Last edited by Myrmex; 2009-06-20 at 09:05 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    Quote Originally Posted by Myrmex View Post
    Except that there were only the PCs and and like 4 NPCs that really mattered in the whole thing. Everything else was merely window dressing.

    There's no reason to assemble a bunch of level 1 to level 5 warriors in D&D, ever. Unless you're going to be using them to fuel epic magic or sacrifice them and take their souls. Or there are no high level characters and everything is low magic. Or everything regarding plot is blocked from every magical effect that negates the need for siege engines or whatnot.
    Actually, it's quite possible to make even low level mooks a threat. Get a dragonfire inspiration bard with a war-drum and a bunch of commoners with longbows, and you can devastate an invading army (even one that outnumbers you threefold; just make sure there are proper fortifications and that you have a small handful of commoners attacking any given opponent until they drop).

    An army of 1st level crusaders with the right maneuvers could whup ass considerably more than you'd expect; add the aforesaid bard in with them, and you've got a finely-oiled machine o' death.

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    Default Re: [3.5] How do you roleplay obscenely high mental stats?

    I just do the best I can. The personality of my smart characters isn't any different from my less cerebral characters, but I do have them make strategems or tactics that extend further into the future the smarter and wiser they are. Except with my young boy genius character Jo Pistachio, but that's because he has a 6 wisdom whenever I play him. I got a few ovations (not standing, unfortunately) for a few complex Xanatos gambits that I've pulled, though they usually relied in the climax on a "once per campaign ability" (ability that breaks the campaign, which is then immediately banned.) so I'm not sure if the clapping is over my genius plot, or my use of rules exploits. (For the record, I use it on mooks, asking the DM beforehand if he minds if I use one on him in case it's an important guy in disguise. He's said for a power gamer, that I'm surprisingly considerate of the campaign as a whole.)

    An example was getting captured and having my loot confiscated, rescuing the entire party, stealing back our loot, getting it all back, stealing all of their stuff, blaming myself, and getting paid monthly to get it all back from myself.

    Do stuff like that, and it will make your character seem fairly smart. Best to prove by action, rather than RP, in the case of stats. Even if you aren't as smart as Einstein IRL, most games are willing to overlook some details that you've missed that may have foiled your otherwise intelligent scheme. You just need the confidence to try them.

    For the record, I don't think my int is any higher than a 14. I just have the guts to carefully plan out an elaborate, potentially flawed course of action, with the hopes that the DM will overlook possible flaws that I'm not smart enough to find. The thing being, my DM isn't really smarter than I am.
    Last edited by Yukitsu; 2009-06-20 at 10:48 PM.
    Me: I'd get the paladin to help, but we might end up with a kid that believes in fairy tales.
    DM: aye, and it's not like she's been saved by a mysterious little girl and a band of real live puppets from a bad man and worse step-sister to go live with the faries in the happy land.
    Me: Yeah, a knight in shining armour might just bring her over the edge.

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