Rules for playing a dumb character?


Rules Questions

Grand Lodge

Are there any rules regarding to play a character with low mental stats (cha, wis, int)?

At what point can the GM step in and say something along the lines of "look, you've the lowest charisma (score of 8 or something) so stop being the party's spokesperson". Or "stop coming up with all of these useful ideas" (having an int of 8).

Are these valid or is it just up the player to determine how to best play their own character?


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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
claudekennilol wrote:
Are there any rules regarding to play a character with low mental stats (cha, wis, int)?

Only those about how the ability modifier works with skills and abilities.

claudekennilol wrote:
At what point can the GM step in and say something along the lines of "look, you've the lowest charisma (score of 8 or something) so stop being the party's spokesperson". Or "stop coming up with all of these useful ideas" (having an int of 8).

Rule 0. However, simply by requiring the appropriate skill rolls at the appropriate times should be sufficient. Remember to include circumstance modifiers if warranted.

claudekennilol wrote:
Are these valid or is it just up the player to determine how to best play their own character?

If I want my "dense" character to come up with something clever, I could always have him attribute it to another, such as Baldrick does in the following quote.

Baldrick: Well my cousin Bert Baldrick, Mr Gainsborough's butler's dogsbody, says that he's heard that all portraits look the same these days, 'cause they're painted to a romantic ideal rather than as a true depiction of the idiosycratic facial qualities of the person in question.
Blackadder: [impressed] Your cousin Bert obviously has a larger vocabulary than you do, Baldrick.


claudekennilol wrote:

Are there any rules regarding to play a character with low mental stats (cha, wis, int)?

At what point can the GM step in and say something along the lines of "look, you've the lowest charisma (score of 8 or something) so stop being the party's spokesperson". Or "stop coming up with all of these useful ideas" (having an int of 8).

Are these valid or is it just up the player to determine how to best play their own character?

Cha and Wis are incredibly easy. You just have to let them make their Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, Sense Motive etc. checks. The player may not believe that the halfling in front of him is a hill giant who is cloaked by an illusion and could stomp him flat. But if the halfling rolled higher on Bluff (in spite of the penalties to such a blatant lie) than the player on Sense Motive his character will believe it and that's what he has to play.


Not really besides that you need 3 intelligence or more to be able to communicate, even there I think it's only applicable to animal and not humanoid species.

I understand the question and I see here a perfect opportunity to give you a clear and simple advice: Make it fun!

Low mental stats are my getaway fun for playing character, I live playing a low wisdom sorcerer how have very little insight on the long term consequences of using his incredible powers.

You can do the same with low physical stats! I used to play this very low DEX dwarf cleric back in the day he would hit his knees everywhere, spill his beer by accident all the time.

Make these inferior stats fun for you, if 10 is the average for a human being having 8 is making you only so slightly bellow average, 3 put you at the bottom of the barrel, human wise.

A 3 intelligence player can pretty much talk short and very simple sentences, however if he had let's say 20 wisdom he would still be able to feel poetry even if would not understand the concept of rhymes or half the words in the lyrics.

A person with 3 Constitution would shiver like a leaf all the time, have basically a permanent cold and would probably break bones by accident all the time.


With a 3 constitution you might not survive childhood.

The Exchange

Ciaran Barnes wrote:
With a 3 constitution you might not survive childhood.

Although you'd make an awesome Synthesist Summoner!

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

In 2nd Edition our DM let one guy play a half-ogre with an Intelligence of 4. They came up with the idea (and didn't tell us) that "Bamm" couldn't speak or understand words with more than 4 letters.

Over the course of a few sessions we all realized in- and out-of-character how to best communicate with Bamm. The player was a super quick thinker, and could parse a sentence as he heard it and rephrase it as Bamm understood it.

It resulted in some hilarious outtakes, especially for one player who just kept saying the wrong words no matter how careful he tried to structure his sentences.

"He won't eat me, will he?" is still one of our inside jokes.


With a 3 con you would have a -4 modifier. A commoner has a d6 hit die. So, 2 hp. It is highly likely a small injury would kill you. well before adulthood.


claudekennilol wrote:
"look, you've the lowest charisma (score of 8 or something) so stop being the party's spokesperson".

There is no rule that only people with high cha scores are allowed to speak. In real life you probably know people with a low cha score who talk all the time. They aren't fun or interesting to talk to... but that is where it comes in in the game as well. They can talk to NPC's, they just aren't likely to get the reactions a more suave individual would.


bbangerter wrote:
claudekennilol wrote:
"look, you've the lowest charisma (score of 8 or something) so stop being the party's spokesperson".
There is no rule that only people with high cha scores are allowed to speak. In real life you probably know people with a low cha score who talk all the time. They aren't fun or interesting to talk to... but that is where it comes in in the game as well. They can talk to NPC's, they just aren't likely to get the reactions a more suave individual would.

This is a good point. We all likely know that one incredibly tactless person who with every word they utter they simply stuff their foot a little further into their mouth. That is your low charisma character (possibly). He might appoint himself group spokesmen, but no-one will receive him well. He will try to talk, and would likely get the party is deep trouble at some point when he offends the wrong person.

Having low charism doesn't mean you can't talk for the party, it just means if they are, the party shouldn't get what they want.

The only time having a low ability score is difficult to translate into mechanics to limit the character is on INT for coming up with ideas. And, if it is a problem ask the player to instead tell his idea to the player of a high INT character (if available). The idea could be valid, and may be something that the character (whom is smarter than the player) would think of even if the player does not.


Ciaran Barnes wrote:
With a 3 constitution you might not survive childhood.

You could have 18 STR, 18 DEX and 3 CON

Meaning that you have a body in incredible shape, incredible reflexes and hand eye coordination. But you are suffering from a very grave immune disease, any scratch might infect you with a deadly ill, the smell of liquor is enough to make your drunk. Your heart is very weak and you get tired very easily.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

This is why I liked the optional "Comeliness" stat back in 2nd Edition. It represented your outward appearance, looks, and how well you took care of yourself.

"Charisma" represented your tact, force of personality, likability, and ability to talk to someone.

A high Comeliness and low Charisma meant you looked pretty, and people would come up to you at a party, but when you spoke you could only muster a "Hi pretty lady!".

A high Charisma and low Comeliness meant you were intimidating, or persuasive, but maybe heavily scarred, or smelly, or unkempt.

Combining the two into one stat leads to problems like what the OP has.


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My Favorite Quote explaining stats, using a tomato.

"Strength is being able to crush a tomato.
Dexterity is being able to dodge a tomato.
Constitution is being able to eat a bad tomato.
Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.
Charisma is being able to sell a tomato based fruit salad. (Salsa!)"

IMO There is a difference between having low stats and being dumb.
I see INT as your stored knowledge, the facts, figures, memories, names and places you can recall at a moments notice. Someone with amazing math skills, and an encyclopedic knowledge of griffin biology is an example of a high INT char.
A street thug, who spent his life working cruddy jobs, forced to make do with what he could find/buy/steal, until he made it as an adventurer may not know how to read, but he has the WIS to know people, read situations, improvise unique solutions to problems and to see consequences even when he may not understand the mechanics of them.
An incredibly handsome man with thick muscles, beautiful clothing show CHA, but if he is shy, stumbles over his words, and is slow to come up with a reply that affects how he interacts with others. The opposite can be true, a scarred, warty ratfolk with a silver tongue can be quite charming and befuddling to those it speaks with.

Sovereign Court

Just pretend to be a member of congress, you'll come across as having near zero wisdom and intelligence while strangely having enough charisma to be popular with more than 50% of a demographic.


From the Dungeon Master's Guide they talk about metagaming and there is a blip about a lower int char under player knowledge, pg. 61:

"(or sophisticated concepts that clash with the voice of his Intelligence 7 barbarian), the information likely comes from player knowledge."

Now, this is referring to metagaming, so, it doesn't 100% comply. However, it does talk about how your character's Int score should apply to your character's vocabulary and 'voice'. By, voice, I take that as literary voice, not actual voice, and so you should act in a way that someone of lessor intelligence should act.

Now, I have friends that have lower than 10 int scores in real life. They aren't brain dead. They have memory and good ideas. But, one friend can't figure out fractions, and thus, struggles with all math, because his brain just...wont...do...it.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
ProfPotts wrote:
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
With a 3 constitution you might not survive childhood.
Although you'd make an awesome Synthesist Summoner!

No you wouldn't -- you would be in for a horrible surprise when you take so much damage that the "suit" drops. Strength and dexterity are the only stats you can afford to dump that low.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
David knott 242 wrote:
Strength and dexterity are the only stats you can afford to dump that low.

Shadows LOVE it when you dump strength!

My Life Oracle dumped Dexterity. I figured I could always heal whatever damage I took from AoE spells, and Reflex saves aren't an Oracle's best suit anyways, so why bother.

He's died twice now, to the same thing: surprise round Evocation spells, failing the save, and going so late in Initiative that another Evocation spell killed him before he could act.


Also, at the end of the "Player Knowledge" section it talks about a genius who want's to play a dumb guy. That's great, but if he keeps solving all the puzzles, that is a role playing problem. It doesn't effect mechanics as much, but the feel and fun of the game, maybe. Also, with a character who has an Int score of 22 but doesn't have much input during puzzles or plans, this can be solved by the DM saying, "hey, Jim, role an intelligence check," then give them clues.

I think the idea from Claxon is awesome, and I will use it. Just Out of Character (OoC) tell your buddy who has a smart character some idea. The character should have been smart enough to come up with it, even if the player didn't.

Another thing. Something about Wisdom. I always thought of the Wisdom score as your senses. Whether part of the five, or the sense in reading people or a situation. If you have a high wisdom, you could use a little OoC knowledge and gain a bit of spider sense. If you have low (and I have never seen this or done it, but I will now) wisdom act like I do in real life. At most sounds, even if someone calls your name, don't react right away. Blindly trust bad guys. Wear glasses. MAN!!! This sounds so fun, why didn't I think of this before!?

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