How intelligent is an Int 6 creature?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


So one of my players was complaining that his improved familiar has a low Int score. I mentioned its a Dragon type creature and to look at the fluff on a Tatzlwyrm, which is also a Dragon. This creature has an 8 Int and understands Draconic, so it can communicate (sort of) with others that speak the language and employs simple traps in the wilderness like snares and such.

We then got to discussing the baseline Familiar that comes along to help PC wizards and such. These generally begin at an Int 6 and can at least understand languages that the master/mistress speaks in, if said owner has the Linguistics skill (B/C skill sharing).

So, could an animal, with no verbal communication skills but an Int 6 find ways to communicate non-verbally? Could they understand and respond to yes/no questions, do basic math, tap out Morse code and such?

Mechanically Int 6 imposes a -2 Penalty on Int based skills and checks, but its high enough to qualify the creature as no longer being of "animal" intelligence. If a Wizard took a rank in Craft: Books and had a Valet Familiar with the ability to move things slowly with Prestidigitation, could the familiar creature make small, book-like objects or individual parts of books on their own, to exacting specifications, by virtue of the share skills ability of Familiars?

The point of all this discussion boils down to one single point of contention between me and my player, and other folks I've discussed Familiars with: until they get Speak with Master, there is no point in using a familiar for anything other than the mechanical boosts they give, and even after that due to low Int on anything other than a Sage Familiar type there's no real use for Familiars on adventures beyond those mechanical bonuses to the owner.


Well, they are considered sentient

Controlling Companions wrote:
Sentient Companions: a sentient companion (a creature that can understand language and has an Intelligence score of at least 3) is considered your ally and obeys your suggestions and orders to the best of its ability. It won’t necessarily blindly follow a suicidal order, but it has your interests at heart and does what it can to keep you alive. Paladin bonded mounts, familiars, and cohorts fall into this category, and are usually player-controlled companions.

Also, even animals can learn languages.

Intelligent Animals wrote:

Increasing an animal’s Intelligence to 3 or higher means it is smart enough to understand a language. However, unless an awaken spell is used, the animal doesn’t automatically and instantly learn a language, any more than a human child does. The animal must be taught a language, usually over the course of months, giving it the understanding of the meaning of words and sentences beyond its trained responses to commands like “attack” and “heel.”

Even if the animal is taught to understand a language, it probably lacks the anatomy to actually speak (unless awaken is used). For example, dogs, elephants, and even gorillas lack the proper physiology to speak humanoid languages, though they can use their limited “vocabulary” of sounds to articulate concepts, especially if working with a person who learns what the sounds mean.

So, the familiar both has it's own thoughts and motives and can understand at the very least a single language even if it's unable to speak the language. As a result the familiar should be able to communicate about as well as a mute human child could. Meaning it can gesture and certainly nod in order to answer yes or no type questions.

It would be able to craft books if it has some way to manipulate a writing instrument, but to the same extent that a toddler can "craft books".

I think a familiar can be used to fill many roles depending on what archetype you give it. The mauler archetype for example would allow the familiar to provide direct combat support. It is true that having a familiar go off and scout on its own is about as useful as having the druid's animal companion go off and scout. Skill wise there's nothing stopping it, however since it can't easily report back it's findings such scouting has limited usefulness.

I know on here its been mentioned that many players will give their familiar a wand of some sort and UMD in order to give it limited casting abilities. It doesn't have to wait until it gets speak with master to do this as all the wizard would have to explain is if the wand is one to be used on enemies or friends.

Familiars can be useful to filling other roles, you just have to be creative and understand its limitations.


A pathfinder human has an int of 7+, unless something bad has happened to them to lower it. A pathfinder nagaji has an int of 5+ and can still speak. A thrush or raven familiar starts with Int 6 and can speak. So could an "animal" with int 6 communicate? Yes, partly because it's no longer really an animal in PF conception (or real life).
(Tangentially related, a real life fun example of a dog communicating via sound board)

Can a valet make things with prestidigitation? Technically yes, but they aren't very useful: "Prestidigitation can create small objects, but they look crude and artificial. The materials created by a prestidigitation spell are extremely fragile, and they cannot be used as tools, weapons, or spell components."

Can the valet make things without using prestidigitation? Yes, if it has the necessary hands to do it and it can pass the check. If the create DC is 25 and it has a check of +2, it can't do it. To be really useful you'd need it to be able to take ten.

Mark Hoover 330 wrote:
until they get Speak with Master, there is no point in using a familiar for anything other than the mechanical boosts they give

I've been thinking about familiars a lot recently because I have a multiclass PFS character who has a familiar stuck at effective level 3. A familiar that can't speak can still communicate empathically, which involves a lot of table variation in terms of what the familiar can communicate to the mistress. But note that with one mistress rank in linguistics, the familiar can understand one language even if it can't speak it. So it's trivial (with linguistics 1) to give a familiar an order to go and scout a place, or fly up to a high shelf and retrieve a book*, or pick up the bow you've just dropped**, but in the case of scouting getting the report back from them is harder. Familiar becomes alarmed... what does that mean? Hostile people with weapons or just a slightly big bird?

* a real example from a PFS game :)
** even birds can carry one item, if they have the strength.

Mark Hoover 330 wrote:
even after that due to low Int on anything other than a Sage Familiar type there's no real use for Familiars on adventures beyond those mechanical bonuses to the owner.

Aside from the admittedly minor utility already mentioned, they can also deliver touch spells, which has never come up for me but in theory could operate for a clutch healing (or Bear's Endurance) delivery to a downed comrade. Or, if you're really desperate for a flanking buddy, you can Enlarge Person a Tiny familiar into a Small one, and threaten.

Mauler and Protector archetypes also do stuff. I saw someone send a Figment into a place with a necklace of fireballs and detonate itself. And there's an elemental archetype that lets any familiar speak one language, which gets around that problem.

Personally I'm considering getting a Protector Thrush - good scouting, AC bonus, diplomacy bonus. Might get immolated by AoE, can't deliver touch spells, and is too weak to carry anything bigger than a wand though. Definitely useful, though. I wanted a Protector hedgehog, but I don't think it could consistently hit the AC 10 needed to Aid.


6.

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Too many political comments come to mind! :D


The problem with the d20 system is that we've got a minimum score but no maximum, which means the difference between low numbers is somehow greater than the difference between higher ones.

A 6 is as bad as a 14 is good. Mechanically, Int 6 means you're about 20% more likely to fail related rolls than Int 10, but I don't think that's enough.
Int 8-9 is one step below average. Maybe you're a little slow on the uptake or unimaginative or just ignorant.
6-7 is one step below that. You're no drooling idiot, but you're noticeably dull or dim.

Also, a 6 is exactly 4 points away from both average human intelligence and non-sentience.

But that's just comparing it to human levels. A dog is normally Int 2, and they can seem pretty smart in their way. So a creature that's three times as intelligent (or 15% more likely to succeeded at related tasks) would almost certainly strike people as more human than animal. It would probably be uncanny, at the least, or downright eerie in certain situations (a raven that goes from basic repetition to the rudiments of conversation and deductive reasoning).


My question is, how intelligent is a six in PC. Because I currently have two of them in my game but they tend to play more like a 6 Wisdom PC.


About as smart as a human toddler I would guess.


I'd think a human toddler Int 3-4. Just barely able to speak a language. 6 Int is dismayingly stupid in an adult human, but such people exist while being smarter than toddlers.


ShroudedInLight wrote:
My question is, how intelligent is a six in PC...they tend to play more like a 6 Wisdom PC.

The waters get muddy fast here, as we end up in the realms of developmental delays and cognative disability, and the overlap of Intelligence and Wisdom is vague at the best of times.

If we assume that 10-11 represents the average IQ of 80-100, then I guess 8-9 would be in the 60-79 range, and 6-7 would be around 40-59...but I don't know what the lowest IQ scores are in functioning, independent adults. Once we look at the real-world equivalent of Int 3, we realize that such an "adventurer" would most likely need round-the-clock assistance and care from a trained professional.


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PFSRD (intelligence)

So with an int of 6 a creature is “Dull-witted or slow, often misuses and mispronounces words”. Seems fairly straightforward.


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The standard deviation for 3d6 and IQ is remarkably similar.

By definition the average IQ is 100 and the average of 3d6 is 10.5. That is close enough to call an INT score of 10 equal to an IQ of 100. From there every point of INT away is +/- 5 IQ points. Giving a normal range of 65 to 150 (with +2 racial bonus) which matches the human IQ range.

An INT score of 6 is equivalent to an IQ of 80, too low to be considered for the US military but not low enough to be considered mentally retarded.


Quixote wrote:
If we assume that 10-11 represents the average IQ of 80-100, then I guess 8-9 would be in the 60-79 range, and 6-7 would be around 40-59...but I don't know what the lowest IQ scores are in functioning, independent adults. Once we look at the real-world equivalent of Int 3, we realize that such an "adventurer" would most likely need round-the-clock assistance and care from a trained professional.

Sorry to call you out but the average IQ is 100 with a 15 point standard deviation covering two thirds of the population. So the average IQ range is 85-115. 95% of the population falls within two standard deviations, ie. 70 to 130. Above that are the geniuses and below that the intellectually disabled.


More intelligent than the average Pitborn barbarian.


Ok, so a non-speech enabled Familiar, with an Int of 6, could conceivably answer yes/no questions. They are “dull-witted or slow," and one "often misuses and mispronounces words,” but this clearly suggests if the Familiar were physically capable of speech they could communicate, however poorly.

So this brings me back to the "scouting" use that many have suggested and my buddy and I have also differed on. Yes, a small bird would likely have the same emotional reaction to a bigger bird as they might to, say, a goblin. But said Familiar would also possess all of the owner's skill ranks.

This suggests to me that a resourceful PC with a Familiar could quiz their little buddy in any Knowledge skills they might have, using yes/no questions, to help identify any monsters detected by the Familiar while scouting. A Familiar with Prestidigitation, or even just some dirt to paw/scratch might be able to scrawl very crude letters. If the master has been smart enough to take Linguistics this means that the Familiar should have some kind of rudimentary grasp on at least one language shared between them.

Anyway, these were all of my arguments. I posit that an Int 6 Familiar could 1. scout ahead, 2. return to answer yes/no questions: "You got scared, did you see something?" if yes, "was it a monster?" if no, "did you feel it might be a trap?" and so on, and then 3. if it was a monster it could, through nods, taps, and potentially crudely drawn letters/images help the master/mistress I.D. the foe ahead.

Now, would that be slower and less efficient than, say, sending a PC ahead to do the same scouting? Certainly, I don't disagree with that at all. I'm just saying that an Int 6 Familiar is CAPABLE by virtue of its sentience.


6 INT is a sentient being. While it may not be intelligent enough to form complex plans of actions it can carry out instructions without too much difficulty. You simply have to give is clear simply instructions. It may not be able to adjust to unexpected circumstances very well, but it can carry out what it understands. So if you send it out to scout and tell it to look for specific things that it can recognize and identify it will be able to that. If it encounters something it was not looking for it may not report that back. So if you tell it to look for humans and it finds birds it may not tell you about the birds. A lot of it will depend on the type of familiar.


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The skill system is useful for determining what low intelligence would be like. Appraise, Craft, Knowledge, Linguistics and Spellcraft are the intelligence based skills. So, the 6 intellect is relatively bad at estimating value, creating things, trivia, language and arcane information.

But also look at wisdom based skills: Heal, Perception, Profession, Sense Motive, and Survival. So, even without intelligence a character could be good at taking care of others, noticing unusual things, working a job, reading people and taking advantage of nature.


Hugo Rune wrote:
Sorry to call you out but the average IQ is 100 with a 15 point standard deviation...

Hardly feels like anyone's calling anyone out; I tried to remember the average range from something I read years ago, but it looks like I was about 10 points off. Hardly a hill to die on. As I said, it's all a guess.

The actual point of my comment still stands; it's hardly a cut-and-dry situation.
On one hand, an extremely low intelligence could be argued to represent cognative disability (the broader term that both includes mental retardation and is the new preferred term for the specific disability), which raises all kinds of questions about how such a character would behave.
But on the other hand, the lowest intelligence could be argued to fall above the range of disability, which suggests that, in Pathfinder, people with such disabilities do not exist at all.

Either way would be a PR and PC nightmare for any company, so of course things are left vague. It's an abstraction, and a pretty big one at that, but necessary.


The animals are typically adults, so it might be more appropriate to think of them as foreigners with only a rudimentary grasp of language and culture.

As animals they're beyond genius, but the common tongue is new and complex to them.

They would still have adult animal drives and understanding.

The Varnhold Vanishing represents this well. If speak with animals is used, the cat at the weavers says "My feeders left me in the red sun time when they heard the new bird song."

Fully correct and cogent, but colored by cat perspective.


Quixote wrote:
Hugo Rune wrote:
Sorry to call you out but the average IQ is 100 with a 15 point standard deviation...

Hardly feels like anyone's calling anyone out; I tried to remember the average range from something I read years ago, but it looks like I was about 10 points off. Hardly a hill to die on. As I said, it's all a guess.

The actual point of my comment still stands; it's hardly a cut-and-dry situation.
On one hand, an extremely low intelligence could be argued to represent cognative disability (the broader term that both includes mental retardation and is the new preferred term for the specific disability), which raises all kinds of questions about how such a character would behave.
But on the other hand, the lowest intelligence could be argued to fall above the range of disability, which suggests that, in Pathfinder, people with such disabilities do not exist at all.

Either way would be a PR and PC nightmare for any company, so of course things are left vague. It's an abstraction, and a pretty big one at that, but necessary.

I would argue that those people are special cases and fall outside the realm of normal character creation. Also, in my head cannon at least, ‘Intelligence’ as a concept is more an average of the three mental stats representing different areas of mental prowess. So if you had someone with a seven int, a thirteen wisdom, and a ten charisma, then you have someone with a bit of a weakness when it comes to things like academics, who is whoever good at judging people and such and ok at dealing wit social issues. In all, average.


One thing to keep in mind is that in the game INT is the ability to learn and reason. It has nothing to do with common sense, awareness or intuition; those are all covered by WIS. CHA basically covers your ability to influence others. When looking at what a creature can do you really have to look at more than just a single stat. In the real world people with severe mental disabilities often have low scores in all the mental stats.

Your typical starting familiar is going to have a 6 INT, 12 WIS, and a 7 CHA. I have seen a lot of starting characters that have similar stats. If the familiar is useless because of its stats so should the barbarian that dumped INT and CHA. In fact the familiar probably has a better WIS many martial characters.


Arssanguinus wrote:
I would argue that those people are special cases and fall outside the realm of normal character creation.

Sure, which would result in the same confusing and potentially extremely insulting situations. Special cases? Normal? These muddy waters are more mud than water, now.

Arssanguinus wrote:
Also, in my head cannon at least, ‘Intelligence’ as a concept is more an average of the three mental stats representing different areas of mental prowess.

Again, sure. That makes good sense. But then you've got someone who has delayed or impaired cognative development, which leads to them struggling in school, unable to use complex logic or reasoning, and are socially awkward and make other people uncomfortable.

Something as minor as a learning disability could be represented by a slightly low Int, or even just a lack of certain skills.

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Mysterious Stranger wrote:
Your typical starting familiar is going to have a 6 INT, 12 WIS, and a 7 CHA. I have seen a lot of starting characters that have similar stats. If the familiar is useless because of its stats so should the barbarian that dumped INT and CHA. In fact the familiar probably has a better WIS many martial characters.

Player Characters who dump INT and CHR that low should be useless.


I've always assumed int=IQ%10. That's probably an oversimplification though.


Yqatuba wrote:
I've always assumed int=IQ%10. That's probably an oversimplification though.

Rather. An IQ30 fighter wouldn't be capable of dressing themselves or feeding themselves, let alone wield a weapon effectively.


Yqatuba wrote:
I've always assumed int=IQ%10. That's probably an oversimplification though.

Yeah, that's a little too extreme. A better estimate I think would be 100 + (IntMod * 10). A 7 Int PC would be sitting around 85, an 18 Int character would be 140 (obviously not rounding the modifier to whole numbers, but "int mod" is easier to write than "(int - 10)*5". It still isn't a great estimate, because it gets worse the further from 10 Int that you get, but it roughly covers a reasonable range.


Virid Dillest wrote:
A better estimate I think would be 100 + (IntMod * 10). A 7 Int PC would be sitting around 85, an 18 Int character would be 140 (obviously not rounding the modifier to whole numbers, but "int mod" is easier to write than "(int - 10)*5".

I think what you're after is 5*Int + 50.


Lucy_Valentine wrote:
Virid Dillest wrote:
A better estimate I think would be 100 + (IntMod * 10). A 7 Int PC would be sitting around 85, an 18 Int character would be 140 (obviously not rounding the modifier to whole numbers, but "int mod" is easier to write than "(int - 10)*5".
I think what you're after is 5*Int + 50.

Yikes. It is indeed. I am shame.

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