Another Look At Intelligence

A new edition, new rules and new homebrew. Every edition of DnD is a new change of pace, some like it others despise it. Anyway, I always think how I can tinker with the system, so it fits my needs better.

I had another look at Intelligence or better the aspects which surround this attribute, and present three house rules that my playing group and I agreed on.

Knowledge skills

The knowledge skills are Arcana, History, Nature, and Religion and from these four I only really like Nature. I think because I played in a rather non-religious setting, it simply did not come up much. Or when it did, it was more part of everyday life and culture.

So I decided a Culture skill would be cool, mirroring the Nature skill. Religion and History would become one and the more supernatural aspects of Religion would be covered by Arcana, which would need another name. We settled for Mystical pretty quickly.

The story could have ended here, but my group mentioned, that they felt the need of a tactics skill. I liked the idea of keeping the number of skills constant, so I agreed with the final result as follows:

Nature. Your Intelligence (Nature) check measures your ability to recall lore about terrain, plants and animals, the weather, and natural cycles.

Culture. Your Intelligence (Culture) check measures your ability to recall lore about kingdoms, historical and political events, hierarchies, laws, traditions, general etiquette, rites and what is considered holy.

Mystical. Your Intelligence (Mystic) check measures your ability to recall lore about spells, magic items, eldritch symbols, the planes of existence, and the inhabitants of those planes including deities.

Tactics. Your Intelligence (Tactics) check measures your ability to recall lore about wars, disputes, tactics, rules of leadership and strategies as well as their application to your current surroundings and situation.

Each knowledge skill also allows you to recall the who is who associated with these skills. Of course this varies from person to person, but in general it goes like this:

  • Rangers or druids would be recalled with Nature.
  • Kings or clerics would be recalled with Culture.
  • Wizards and dragons would be recalled with Mystical.
  • Generals and warriors would be recalled with Tactics.

The knowledge domain now obviously features these four skills instead of the old set of knowledge skills and things like stone-cunning would work via culture.

Classes which had access to History on their skill list gain Culture, and classes with access to Arcana gain Mystical. Classes which had access to Religion gain both.

Tactics is available to all classes which have access to the Fighting Style class feature; namely Fighter, Paladin and Ranger.

Bonus proficiencies

People who played DnD 3.x will remember bonus languages. I thought this was a pretty cool rule, and so did my group. So we brought it back, with a little twist:

  • If your Intelligence modifier is positive, you gain a number of additional tool or language proficiencies equal to your Intelligence modifier.

Example: A fighter with Intelligence 14 would have a modifier of +2 and his player wants the character to be a bit a more roguish. He could learn two additional tool proficiencies like dice set and thieves’ tools. Or he could learn two new languages like undercommon and halfling. Or a combination of both learning undercommon and thieves’ tools.

If you character’s Intelligence modifier rises due to an ability increase from leveling, you gain of course an additional proficiency.

Saving Throws against Illusions

This is something our Rogue player pointed out to me. He said due to his Skill Expertise on Investigation, he was basically impervious to many illusion spells. For some reason many of them use an Investigation roll instead of a saving throw to figure out that one is dealing with an illusion.

I had no strong feelings regarding this, but he suggested to replace the Investigation roll with an Intelligence saving throw whenever this would occur.

And that is what we did. I think you could probably make this a general rule:

  • Whenever a spell mentions a skill ckeck use the corresponding save instead.

But I don’t have the complete spell list in mind, so perhaps there might be some problems with such a general rule.

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